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WINTER AND THE WAR, Issue 15668, 5 December 1914
WINTER AND THE WAR
GERMANS UNTRAINED IN COLD WEATHER WORK. RUSSIA’S GREAT ALLY. The winter will play a most important part for those countries only which are engaged in East Prussia, Silesia, and in Galicia, where the frosts become sometimes very severe, especially iu East. Prussia, which is an open, flat, country, situated on the const of the Baltic Sea. Strong, icy, north winds often blow ceaselessly for many days, and snow covers the whole country as in Siberia. The rivers, streams, and lakes become icebound in Silesia. In the second half of November Russia and East Prussia are, with rare exceptions, covered with snow, and very shortly afterwards the winter begins in Silesia as well, where severe cold weather reigns from the midle of December to the end of January, and sometimes the beginning of February.^ Of course, the German General Staff knows very well the great difficulties which the Germany army must undoubtedly face with the approach of winter, and it is hastening to achieve some positive success before this trouble comes. German people, as well as French, English, Belgians, and Italians, are not, accustomed to extreme cold weather, except the inhabitants of East Prussia, who, comparatively, are not numerous. —Mild.— In Germany, as is well known, the winter is rather mi,d, and in the central part of the Kaiser’s country frosts arc very rarely harder than 25deg to 50deg below freezing point. So that the German army has never had an opportunity of getting accustomed to really rough winter conditions, except a few divisions quartered in the north-east of the empire. 9ho military operations during the winter, even if it is mild, necessitate a considerable change of tactics, lightening sonic ta.sks on the one hand, but increasing the number of sick among the soldiers on the other. The movement of troops in the snow is also more difficult, as well as the masking of the inarch of the army. The use of fires on the bivouacs or in‘the fortified positions. without which no army could exist, during severe cold, also brings many disadvantages : it attracts the attention of the enemy and the fire of his artillery. Napoleon’s army on entering Russia experienced the Russian winter, and, in fact, was destroyed by what the Rushans call the "red frost,” which Germans fear more than Russian Cossacks, Anyone who knows Germany, and has had an opportunity of visiting German towns, will remember how the Germans like a rather warm temperature. Their houses, hotels, theatres, and soldiers’ barracks throughout the country are extremely well heated. The slightest draught makes a Gorman ill, and I was always very much surprised to see how sensitive the Germans are to a chango of temperature. When 1 was ■studying the German army my attention was attracted, of course, to the so-called " winter manoeuvres,” which, in reality, are only tactical exercises lasting not more than one or two days. Always alter such manoeuvres the military hospitals were overflowing with sick men, and German officers complained of the “ silly ” custom of the. authorities in ordering manoeuvres in such weather. “ When the war comes, then we shall bo able to bear everything, but in this way we min the health of our reservists,” they often told me. The war has come, and I can eav positively that the German army are not" trained at all to fight in a severe winter. —Poems of Frost.— Now let us consider Russia. The Russian people like the winter very much. Russian poetry is full of poems singing the beauty of it, and the “Red. Frost, the Red Nose.'” is the principal hero of them. The whole Russian population always looks forward to the approach of winter, and the more intense the frost becomes the happier a. Russian is. The winter in Russia is known as a “beauty in white sarafan - ” (sarafan b the national drets of Russian women). It is ! also called by peasants “ our little mother winter,” and many pet names arc given to this great ally of the Russian might. Russian soldiers also like the winter; they become like new men. smarter and more active. From his childhood the Russian peasant is quite familiar with deep snow, to temperatures of lOOdeg below freezing point, and the snowstorms of Russia., which ato unique. Let ns remember (he passing of the army of General Gurko through the Balkans in 1877 and 1878 during the Russo-Turkish | War. and the celebrated winter battles on the Schipka Pass. The Russian soldier can sleep in the snow with the same comfort- as in his bed in barracks, and he is specially trained, as Russian sappers are, tomanceime and work in it. In Russia there is a special period of winter manoeuvres which coincides with Die hardest weather of the season between January and the first half of February. These manoeuvres last throe weeks or a month, and are ordered for ihe whole of Russia. Especially well (rained in this- respect. are the troops of the Warsaw military district, which are now in contact with the Gormans in East Prussia, and never after such manoeuvres have the Russian soldiers complained of them. On tho contrarv. thev always preferred them to the summer grand Tiriiioeuvres, and came back stronger and without the slightest sign of fatigue. A good illustration of how (he Russian army can hoar frost is the celebrated parade on the frozen Neva, which takes place every year on January 6, when flic temperature usually i<q 50deg to 60deg below freezing point. Tin's parade is commanded by the Tsar himself, and it is famous because the whole garrison is dressed in full dress, without. overcoats, and the whole army corps, from 6 o'clock in the morning, arrair the appearance of the Tsar from ihe Winter Palace, which often is only at 12 o'clock noon. All military schools lake part in this parade, and ail the cadets are proud to stand the cold a? long n.s possible. It, must he noticed that, no furs nr (hick linings, are allowed either tg the officers or men. Similar parades take piaca throughout Russia.. Very seldom are there eases nf death or illness. The Russian soldiers must he stronger than the frost. Could they he weaker than the Gormans?—‘Daily Express.’ i
WINTER AND THE WAR, Issue 15668, 5 December 1914
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