A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 194

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RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE IN GALICIA


answering fire weakened, the Russian infantry was ordered to stomi the first line of works* They leaped out and, going fomard at a run, took the defences and ^yoneted tlie few men who remained by the few guns not yet destroyed by the Russian howitzers. Then, from the second line, the Austrians tried to annihilate the attackers by slirapnel from light field artillery and by rifle and machine gun fire. But the enemy's heavy guns on tlie second line were by this time also too badly damaged to counter the big Russian guns. These shelled and shrapnelled the opposing light artillery and machine guns, and thus relieved the infantry occupying the first Austrian lines. When all the enemy's artillery had been mastered, the defending troops did not await the final bayonet attack, but retired from their works—the retreat changing into a rout as their rearguardsAgave way. This rearguard action was of the most extraordinary kind only in a German or Austrian retreat could it have occurred. To save themselves and their own countrynien the Austrian and Hungarian officers ranged on their rear the Slav regiments Little Russians of Galicia, Poles, Serbs of Bosnia, and mutinous Bohemians. Thisrearguardscreenwasthrownoutontheroad to Gorociok, and to prevent the Slavs from refusing to fight and from going over to the Russians, a line of Hungarians stood behind them, with orders to shoot them in the back the moment they showed any hesitation. Happily, tWs state of things became known to thc'Russian commander. At the critical moment he ordered a devastating artillery fire, with the guns at a high angle, to be opened on the rearguard. The shells and shrapnel were so aimed that they passed high over the heads of the Slav regiments and fell and exploded on the retieating Austrians and Hungarians. It was this surprising, terrifying hail of high- explosive shells and wrecking shrapnel bursts that changed the retreat from Lemberg into a panic flight. The columns broke and scattered along all the western paths, abandoning g\ins, ammunition and supplies, and fleeing in terror towards the next fortress of Gorociok. NortUH^ind east and south the Russians closed on the town, taking the last line of forff, and then pouring into the streets at nine o'clock on Thursday, September 3. Some Austrian detachments tried to fight back the victors in the thoroughfares of.the.city,]butwerecutof!andpaptured. TheSlavpopulation

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