RUSSIA’S GREAT VICTORY
BATTLE OP AUGUSTOVO. ENEMY FLUNG BACK INTO PRUSSIA The London correspondent of the Melbourne ‘ Age ’ wrote on November 9 : The official news of a great Russian victory over the German forces on the frontier of East Prussia is of the utmost significance. The German army in this quarter was estimated to bo about 200,000 strong, and took the offensive against the Russians and invaded Poland. The opinion was expressed in tho ‘Ago” at the time that this “invasion” was a blow in tho air, which would recoil on the invaders. The prediction has been justified by events. The German invading army has been completely defeated and flung back in disorder to the German frontier, hotly pursued by the victorious Russians. The significance of the victory lies in the fact that the German army has for tho first time in tho war encountered alone the troops of a nation for which the German officers have always expressed a complete contempt as a fighting force. The Russian soldier' has been laughed at; the Russian general sneered at by German militarism. Yet in the first battle between the two nations, on ground of Germany’s own choosing, the ,Russian soldier has proved the better fighter and tho Russian general infinitely the better strategist. In addition to its military importance, this latest Russian victory should have political effects of the highest consequence. Once tho Russians again push forward their advance into East Prussia, and they are always vigorously pursuing the enemy, the Germans may at least realise that all is not well with their armies.
Coming to the details of the battle itself, a glance at the map is necessary to show the extent ol tho German retreat m the 10 days’ battle in the region of the Niemen JRivcr. Tho bdttlo t which started oti 2nd September and lasted for 10 days, was a desperate struggle on the Germans part for the possession of the river. _ The battle of Augustovo, which is 37 miles west of Grodno, began on tho former date by a heavy bombardment, followed by an attack on Augustovo, tho enemy at the same time trving to break up tho Russian forces at Druskycniki (Druskeniki), a watering-place on tho Niemen, about 17 miles north-west from Grodno. The day after tho commencement of tho battle tho Germans also attempted to capture the Osowiec fort, guarding tho railway where it crosses the Niemen. All these attempts ended in disaster for the Germans, who were driven back to their own frontier and into Prussia, abandoning as they fled their wounded, as well as convoy’s, guns, and munitions. “Tho Germans left our territory in a hurry,” the Petrograd official report announced. “At certain points tho- retreat was in tlie nature of a flight.” According to tho reports of the Russian army commanders, “ in tho battle of Augustovo the Russian troops gave evidence of heroic valor and extraordinary courage. Several regiments fought without any rest for a week, and supported tho most painful trials with dignity.” It was added that the fights were “ extraordinarily stubborn,” and that in the environs of Suvalki, where the enemy 7 had fortified the frontier and concentrated very important forces, he offered a most desperate resistance. The Russians frequently carried trenches at tho point of the bayonet, and inflicted very heavy losses on the enemy. The Germans themselves took such a serious view of this reverse that reinforcements were hurried up from the fortress of Kocnigsbcrg, and attempts are being made to hold strongly the fortified positions along the Russo-German frontier line, where heavy 7 fortress gnus have been brought to stay the Russian advance. —Unselfish Russian Strategy.— Thus the unselfishness of the Russian strategy in this war has reaped its reward, and the Russian advance into Prussia will now bo resumed with nothing to stop it this time. When Russia took tho field towards tho end of August her fighting strength, owing to tho difficulties of Russian mobilisation, was far from complete. Yet in her desire to relieve tho pressure on the French and British forces in tho western field of tho war ( she unselfishly pushed on to meet superior forces of the enemy both in Galicia and East Prussia. It is semi-officially stated that the order actually 7 given to General Rennenkampf was that ho should go as far as ho could into East Prussia, regardless of what it might cost. The sequel will be remembered. Ho sustained a reverse in East Prussia which was really a moral victory, for it helped to relieve the pressure on the allied forces in France. Tho battles of Galicia and South Poland were won by generalship, and not by numbers. Tho result of these operations was that the Germans withdrew seven army corps, or about 300,000 men, and 1,100 guns from France. Russia is now ready; she has beaten in turn formidable Austrian and German armies, and the Potsdam professors arc now ruefully revising their contemptuous estimate of the Russian fighting quality. It is probable they will have further cause for reconsideration when the tremendous struggle pending in South Poland is decided. With tho destruction of the German menace in the north, the centre of gravity of the operations on the eastern front has shifted to tho Silesian front. By the Silesian front is understood a lino extending along tho whole of the western frontier of Poland, flanked on the north by the fortress of Thorn and on tho south by tho fortress of Cracow. It is evident’that the Germans and Austrians have concentrated their strongest forces on their right wing of this vast battle line. This is partly to meet frontally the Russian main offensive on Cracow through Galicia and partly to direct an attack on the flank of this advance. The ensuing battle, in which more than 1,000,000 men will ho engaged on both sides, will probably last for weeks, like tho battle of tho Aisne, before a decisive result is achieved. —The Russian Plans.—
Tho semi-official ‘ Russia Invalid,' in an authoritative article on the position in the eastern theatre of war, says the forces •which Germany has brought to tho east front are divided into two portions, each of which consists of six corps. With one of these she is supporting from Silesia and Cracow the remnants of the Austrian army, and with the other she is demonstrating in East Prussia, where she is attempting to divert to herself some of the Russian forces and prevent an advance to the west by pressure on the Russian flank and immediate rear. The paper considers that tho attempted German double advance from Cracow and Konigsberg is not justified by strategy, which would have permitted it only in the case of numerical superiority, and this the Germans do not possess oil their east front.
Tho journal, in a guarded reference to tho strength of the Russian forces opposing Germany, admits that Russia is continually bringing forward new forces, and will have enormous superiority of numbers This will afford Russia the possibility of conducting parallel operations against the Cracow and Konigsberg groups of Germans, with larger numbers in both regions. The article then concludes :
“ Naturally it is more profitable to beat tho Cracow group. By the time that was done most probably the group on the Lower Vistula would be exhausted if it had not been cut off from the river and pushed back to Konigsberg. In any case, tho destruction of one of these groups would provide an opening for our operations the direotioi* by
flank or the other. The fortresses Przemysl and Cracow, as well as Konigsberg, we shall hardly besiege with vigor, as there is no necessity for_ doing so None will deny, however, that if too many remnants of the destroyed enemies’ armies were driven into these places, they might become the object of siege or storm by our troops. The disembarkation of Germans on the Baltic shores',' which is talked about, would not be dangerous, Germany has no superfluous forces for such risky and secondary adventures. Nor is feeling in Russia such that rumors or disembarkations themselves would be felt as a shock to tha nerves. Finally, wo must remember that our fleet would not refrain from taking part in those events, and would open its operations onj these disembarkations. Any kind of dispersion and breaking up of "German forces would be advantageous to us, and therefore desirable. The damage done by it would be compensated for by the mere fact of the dispersion.”
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RUSSIA’S GREAT VICTORY, Evening Star, Issue 15663, 30 November 1914