In the region of the Lipa Austrian artillery continued to bombard the Russian front with heavy artillery and field artillery. Desperate attacks made by newly arrived German troops were, however, repulsed with heavy losses to the attacking forces.
Near Thumacz an attack of cavalry, who charged six deep along a front of three kilometers, was successfully repulsed by Austro-Hungarian troops.
German forces drove back Russian troops south of Ugrinow, west of Tortschin, and near Sokal.
At other points on the Kovel front engagements likewise took place, though the violence of the combat had somewhat abated.
West of Kolki, southwest of Sokal, and near Viczny, German forces conquered Russian positions. West and southwest of Lutsk various local engagements occurred. Here the Russians on June 30, 1916, lost fifteen officers, 1,365 men; since June 16th, twenty-six officers, 3,165 men.
The next objective of General Lechitsky's army was Stanislau, about thirty miles farther northwest than Kolomea, on the Czernovitz-Lemberg railway. On July 1, 1916, in the region west of Kolomea, the army of General Lechitsky, after intense fighting, took by storm some strong Austrian positions and captured some 2,000 men.
Further north, German and Austro-Hungarian troops of General von Bothmer's army stormed the hill of Vorobijowka, a height southwest of Tarnopol, which had been occupied by the Russians, and took seven officers and 891 men. Seven machine guns and two mine throwers were captured.
On the Volhynia front the German troops continued to deliver desperate attacks against some sectors between the Styr and Stokhod and south of the Stokhod.
In the afternoon German artillery produced gusts of fire in the region of Koptchie, Ghelenovka and Zabary, southwest of Sokal. An energetic attack then followed, but was repulsed. Southwest of Kiselin Russian fire stopped an offensive. At the village of Seniawa and in the same region near the village of Seublino there was a warm engagement. A series of fresh German attacks southwest of Kiselin-Zubilno-Kochey was repulsed. The German columns were put to flight with heavy losses. The fugitives were killed in large numbers, but, reenforced by reserves, the attacks were promptly renewed, without, however, meeting with much success.
South of the village of Zaturze, near the village of Koscheff, Russian forces stopped an Austrian offensive by a counteroffensive. Austrian attempts to cross the River Shara southwest of Lipsk and south of Baranovitchy were likewise repulsed.
On July 2, 1916, Russian torpedo boats bombarded the Courland coast east of Raggazem without result. They were attacked effectively by German coastal batteries and by aeroplanes.
At many points along the front of Field Marshal von Hindenburg the Russians increased their fire, and repeatedly undertook advances. These led to fighting within the German lines near Niki, north of Smorgon. The Russians were ejected with losses.
On the front of Prince Leopold the Russians attacked northeast and east of Gorodische and on both sides of the Baranovitchy railway, after artillery preparation lasting four hours.
Farther south fierce battles occurred between the Styr and the Stokhod and to the south of these rivers. On the Koptche-Ghelenovka-Zobary front, after gusts of gunfire, the Germans left their trenches and opened an assault upon the Russian line. Under cover of a bombardment of extreme violence German troops opened an offensive south of Linievka, but were checked. In the region of Zubilno and Zaturze (west of Lutsk) the Austrians took the offensive in massed formation, but were repulsed with heavy losses. East of the village of Ougrinov, midway between Lutsk and Gorochoff, fresh German forces held up Russian attacks. At other points on the front of General von Linsingen strong Russian counterattacks were delivered west and southwest of Lutsk, but failed to stop the German advance. Large cavalry attacks broke down under German fire. The number of prisoners was increased by the Germans by about 1,800. As the result of a week of costly onslaughts by the Austro-German army between the Stokhod and the Styr Rivers in Volhynia, the Russian forces had now been forced back a distance of five miles along the greatest part of the front before Kovel.
In the region of Issakoff, on the right bank of the Dniester, southeast of Nijniff, the Austrians took the offensive in superior numbers. The Russians launched a counteroffensive, which resulted in a fierce fight.
On July 3, 1916, the Russian advance west of Kolomea still continued in this direction. The Austrians were dislodged from several positions, and as a result of this the Russians occupied the village of Potok Tcharny. The booty taken by the Russians here was four cannon and a few hundred prisoners.
Further north in Galicia the army group of General Count von Bothmer, southeast of Thumacz, in a quick advance, forced back the Russians on a front more than twelve and a half miles wide and more than five and a quarter miles deep.
On the Styr-Stokhod front the Russians again threw strong forces, part of them recently brought up to this front, in masses against the German lines to stay their advance, but were repulsed.
An attempt of German troops to cross the Styr in the region of the village of Lipa was repulsed. During the night the Russians captured on this front eleven officers, nearly 1,000 men and five machine guns.
Still farther north, local counterattacks at points where the Russians first succeeded in making some advances, all yielded finally some successes for the Germans, who captured thirteen officers and 1,883 men. Two lines of German works south of Tzirine, northeast of Baranovitchy, however, were pierced by the Russians. In this fighting they captured seventy-two officers, 2,700 men, eleven cannon and several machine guns and bomb throwers.
On the northerly front there was lively artillery fire, which became violent at some points. In the region of the village of Baltaguzy, east of Lake Vichnevskoye the Germans attempted to leave their trenches, but were prevented by Russian fire. A Russian air squadron raided the Baranovitchy railway station.
Once more, on July 4, 1916, the coast of Courland was bombarded fruitlessly from the sea by Russian ships. The operations of the Russian forces against the front of Field Marshal von Hindenburg were continued, especially on both sides of Smorgon. On the Riga-Dvinsk front the artillery duels were growing more intense. Northwest of Goduziesk, Russian troops dislodged German forces from the outskirts of a wood. German aeroplane squadrons dropped bombs freely on the railway.
The Russians recommenced attacking the front from Tzirin to a point southeast of Baranovitchy. Hand-to-hand fights in some places were very stubborn. The Russians were driven out of the sections of the German lines into which they had broken and suffered very heavy losses.
On the lower Styr and on the front between the Styr and Stokhod, and farther south as far as the region of the lower Lipa, everywhere there were fought most desperate engagements.
In the region of Vulka-Galouziskai the Russians broke through wire entanglements fitted with land mines. In a very desperate fight on the Styr west of Kolki the Russians overthrew the Germans and took more than 1,000 prisoners, together with three guns, seventeen machine guns and two searchlights, and several thousand rifles.
In the region north of Zaturse and near Volia Sadovska the Russians seized the first line of enemy trenches, and stopped by artillery fire an enemy attack on Schkline.
In the region of the lower Lipa the Germans made a most stubborn attack without result. At another point the Germans, who crossed the Styr above the mouth of the Lipa, near the village of Peremel, were attacked and driven back to the river.
On the Galician front, in the direction of the Carpathians, there was an artillery action. The left wing of the Russians continued to press the Austrians back. On the road between Kolomea and Dalatyn the Russians captured the village of Sadzadka at the point of the bayonet.
Southeast of Riga and at many points on the front between Postavy and Vishnieff, further partial attacks by the Russians were repulsed on July 5, 1916. On the Dvina front and the Dvinsk position and further south there were also lively artillery engagements at numerous points. Near Boyare, on the Dvina above Friedrichstadt, Russian light artillery smashed a German light battery. Attempts by the Germans to remove the guns were unsuccessful. The gun team, which endeavored to save one of the guns, was annihilated. All the guns were eventually abandoned.
Extremely fierce fighting, especially in the region east of Worodische and south of Darovo, was everywhere in German favor. The losses of the Russians were very considerable.
In the direction of Baranovitchy the fighting continues, developing to Russian advantage. The Germans delivered repeated counterattacks in order to regain positions captured by the Russians, but each was easily repulsed.
South of the Pinsk Marshes the Russians had important new successes. In the region of Gostioukhovka they captured an entire German battery and took prisoners twenty-two officers and 350 soldiers. Northwest of Baznitchi, on the Styr, north of Kolki, the Russians captured two cannon, three machine guns, and 2,322 prisoners. North of Stegrouziatine they captured German trenches and took more than 300 prisoners and one machine gun. Between the Styr and the Stokhod, west of Sokal and southward, the Germans launched many counterattacks under the protection of artillery.
In Galicia, after intense artillery preparations, the Russians took up an energetic offensive west of the lower Strypa and on the right bank of the Dniester. The Germans were defeated and driven back. The Russian troops were now approaching the Koropice and Souhodolek Rivers, tributaries of the Dniester. They took here nearly 5,000 prisoners and eleven machine guns. On the front of the Barysz sector the defense, after the repulse of repeated Russian attacks, was partially transferred to the Koropice sector. Russian assaults frequently broke down before the German lines on both sides of Chocimirz, southeast of Tlumach.
Near Sadzadka the Russians with superior forces were successful in penetrating the Austrian positions, who then retreated about five miles to the west, where they formed a new line and repulsed all attacks.
Southwest and northwest of Kolomea the Austrians maintained their positions against all Russian efforts.
Southwest of Buczacz, after heavy fighting at Koropice Brook, the Austrians recaptured their line.
THE GERMAN STAND ON THE STOKHOD
General Von Linsingen saw himself forced to abandon on July 6, 1916, a corner of the German lines protruding toward Czartorysk on account of the superior pressure on its sides near Kostiukovka and west of Kolki, and new lines of defense were selected along the Stokhod. On both sides of Sokal, Russian attacks broke down with heavy losses. West and southwest of Lutsk the situation remained unchanged that day.
Against the front of Field Marshal von Hindenburg, the Russians continued their operations. They attacked with strong forces south of Lake Narotch, but after fierce fighting were repulsed. Northeast of Smorgon and at other points they were easily repulsed.
The fighting in the vicinity of Kolomea was extended. A strong Russian advance west of the town was checked by a counterattack. Southeast of Tlumach German and Austro-Hungarian troops broke up with artillery and infantry fire an attack over a front of one and a half kilometers by a large force of Russian cavalry.
The number of prisoners the Russians took on July 4 and 5, 1916, during the fighting which still continued on west of the line of the Styr and below the town of Kolki, totals more than 300 officers and 7,415 men, mostly unwounded. The Russians also captured six guns, twenty-three machine guns, two searchlights, several thousand rifles, eleven bomb throwers, and seventy-three ammunition lights.
The Russians repulsed violent German attacks near Gruziatyn. On the right bank of the Dniester, in the region of Jidatcheff and Hotzizrz, there also was desperate fighting.
There was a lively artillery duel in many sectors of the front north of the Pinsk Marshes. East of Baranovitchy, the Austro-Hungarian forces launched several desperate counterattacks which were repulsed by the Russians. Several times the Austrians opened gusts of fire with their heavy and light guns against the region of the village of Labuzy, east of Baranovitchy. Under cover of this fire, the Austrians delivered two violent counterattacks. The Russians drove the Austro-Hungarians back on both occasions, bringing to bear on them the fire of their artillery, machine guns, and rifles.
During the repulse of repeated attacks made on July 7, 1916, south of Lake Narotch, the Germans captured two officers and 210 men. They repelled weak advances at other points.
Repeated efforts by strong Russian forces against the front from Tzirin to the southeast of Gorodische and on both sides of the Darovo ended in complete failure. The dead lying before the German positions numbered thousands. In addition to these the Russians lost a considerable number of prisoners.
Austro-Hungarian troops fighting along the bend of the Styr, opposed for four weeks past to hostile forces which have increased from threefold to fivefold superiority, found it necessary to withdraw their advanced lines which were exposed to a double outflanking movement. Assisted by the cooperation of German troops west of Kolki and by the Polish Legion near Kaloda, the movement was executed undisturbed by the Russians.
In the region of the lower Styr, west of the Czartorysk sector, the Russians were closely pressing the Austrians. After the battle they occupied the Gorodok-Manevichi station on the Okonsk-Zagorovka-Gruziatyn line. In combats seventy-five officers in the zone of the railway were taken with 2,000 men, and also in the Gruziatyn region.
Following the capture of the village of Grady, and after a hot bayonet encounter, the village of Dolzyca, on the main road between Kolki and Manevichi, and village of Gruziatyn were taken. The number of German and Austrian prisoners continued to increase.
In the region of Optevo a great number of Austrians were sabered during pursuit by the Russians after a cavalry charge. More than 600 men, five cannon, six machine guns, and three machine gun detachments, with complete equipment, were captured.
East of Monasterzyska (Galicia), the Russians took possession of the village of Gregorov, carrying off more than 1,000 prisoners. There were artillery duels at many points. Russian troops continued to press back the Austrians. In southeastern Galicia, between Delatyn and Sadzovka, a Russian attack in strong force was defeated by Alpine Territorials.
In the Bukowina, in successful engagements, Austrian troops brought in 500 prisoners and four machine guns.
On July 8, 1916, the Russians fighting against the army group of Prince Leopold of Bavaria, repeated several times their strong attacks. The attacks again broke down, with heavy losses for the Russians. In the fighting of the last few days the Germans captured two officers and 631 men.
The Russian offensive on the lower Stokhod continued. South of the Sarny-Kovel railway the villages of Goulevitchi and Kachova were occupied after fighting. Farther south there were fires everywhere in the region of the villages of Arsenovitchi, Janovka, and Douchtch.
In southern Galicia, General Lechitsky occupied Delatyn after very violent fighting. Delatyn is a railway junction of great importance. Depots of war material, steel shields, grenades, cartridges, iron, and wire abandoned by the Austrians have been captured at many points.
On the northern section of the front, apart from fruitless Russian attacks in the region of Skobowa, east of Gorodische, nothing of importance occurred on July 9, 1916.
The Russians advancing toward the Stokhod line were repulsed everywhere. Their attacks west and southwest of Lutsk were unsuccessful. German aeroplane squadrons made a successful attack on Russian shelters east of the Stokhod.
Near the villages of Svidniki, Starly Mossor and Novy Mossor, on the left bank of the Stokhod, lively fighting was in progress. The Russians took German prisoners at three points. Between Kiselin and Zubilno the Austrians attempted a surprise attack, but it was repulsed with heavy loss.
The total number of prisoners taken by General Kaledine, from July 4 to July 8, 1916, was 341 officers and 9,145 unwounded soldiers. He also captured ten pieces of artillery, forty-eight machine guns, sixteen bomb throwers, 7,930 rifles, and depots of engineering materials. These figures were supposed to be added to those given previously, which included 300 officers, 12,000 men and forty-five pieces of artillery.
On the Galician front there was a particularly intense artillery action on both banks of the Dniester.
From the coast to Pinsk no events of special importance occurred during July 10, 1916.
The Russians made futile attacks with very strong forces at several points against the German line along the Stokhod River, notably near Czereviscze, Hulevicze, Korysmi and Janmaka, and on both sides of the Kovel-Rovno railway.
Near Hulevicze the Germans drove back Russian troops beyond their position by a strong counterattack, capturing more than 700 prisoners and three machine guns.
In the Stokhod region the Germans received strong reenforcements and brought up powerful artillery, enabling them to offer a very stubborn resistance.
On the Briaza-Fondoul-Moldava front, northwest of Kimpolung, in the southern Bukowina, considerable Austro-Hungarian forces were thrown back by Russian troops after violent engagements at various points.
German aeroplanes successfully attacked the railway station at Zamirie on the Minsk-Baranovitchy railway line, dropping as many as sixty bombs.
An attempt to cross the Dvina made by weak Russian forces west of Friedrichstadt on July 11, 1916, and attacks south of Narotch Lake were frustrated.
Russian detachments which attempted to establish themselves on the left bank of the Stokhod River, near Janowka, were attacked. Not a single man of these detachments got away from the southern bank. At this point and on the Kovel-Rovno railroad the Germans took more than 800 prisoners. The booty taken on the Stokhod during the two days, apart from a number of officers and 1,932 men, included twelve machine guns. The German aerial squadron continued their activity in attacks east of the Stokhod. A Russian captive balloon was shot down.
Russian artillery dispersed Germans who were attempting to bring artillery against the Ikakul works. Near the village of Grouchivka, north of Hulevicze, the Germans made their appearance on the right bank of the river, but later were ejected therefrom.
In the sector of the Tscherkassy farm, south of Krevo, the Germans, supported by violent artillery fire, took the offensive, but were repulsed by Russian counterattacks.
On the whole front from Riga to Poliessie, there was intermittent artillery fire, together with rifle fire. German aviators dropped bombs on the station of Zamirie and the town of Niesvij, where several houses were set on fire.
German troops, belonging to General von Bothmer's army group, by an encircling counterattack, carried out near and to the north of Olessa, northwest of Buczacz, on July 12, 1916, drove back Russian troops which had pushed forward and took more than 400 prisoners.
On the Stokhod there were violent artillery duels. German aeroplanes appeared behind the Russian front and dropped many bombs, doing considerable damage.
Again, on July 13, 1916, the Russians advanced on the Stokhod, near Zarecz, but were driven back by troops belonging to General von Linsingen's army, and lost a few hundred men and some machine guns which fell into the hands of the Germans. Other German detachments successfully repeated their attacks on the east bank of the Stokhod River.
German aeroplanes bombarded Lutsk and the railway station at Kivertsk, northeast of Lutsk.
To the north of the Sarny-Kovel railway the Russians gained a footing in their opponents' positions on the west bank of the Stokhod. A surprise attack, made by strong German forces late in the evening, drove them back again to the opposite bank.
In the region of the lower Lipa, German guns opened a violent fire against the Russian trenches and inflicted heavy losses.
The town of Polonetchki, northeast of Baranovitchy, was attacked by German aeroplanes, which threw many bombs and caused considerable damage.
West of the Strypa the Austro-German forces launched a series of furious counterattacks, as a result of which the Russians claimed to have captured over 3,000 prisoners.
West and northwest of Buczacz the Russians made two attacks on a broad front which were repulsed. During the third assault, however, they succeeded in penetrating the Austro-Hungarian positions northwest of Buczacz, but were completely ejected during a most bitter night battle.
On July 14, 1916, the Germans under cover of a violent fire, approached the barbed-wire entanglements of the Russians on the grounds in the region of the River Servitch, a tributary of the Niemen. They were repulsed by Russian artillery fire.
The same day the Germans opened a violent artillery fire against Russian lines eastward of Gorodichtche (Baranovitchy sector), after they assumed the offensive in the region of the village of Skrobowa, but were repulsed with heavy losses. A little later, after a continuation of the bombardment, the Germans took the offensive in massed formation a little farther north of Skrobowa, but were again repulsed by Russian fire.
After having taken breath the Germans made a fresh attack in the region of the same village, but the Russian troops repulsed the Germans with machine-gun and rifle fire. The Russians then made a counterattack which resulted in the capture of more ground.
Repeated German attempts to advance toward the sector southwest of the village of Skrobowa were also repulsed by Russian fire.
On the front of the Russian position southeast of Riga the Germans took the offensive against the Russian sectors near Frantz, northeast of Pulkarn, but were repulsed by Russian artillery and infantry fire and by hand-grenade fighting. Russian detachments which attempted to cross the Dvina, near Lennewaden, northwest of Friedrichstadt, were repulsed. Numerous bombs were dropped from German aeroplanes on railway stations on the Smorgon-Molodetchna line.
On the right wing of their Riga positions, the Russians, supported strongly by artillery on land and sea, made some progress during July 15, 1916, in the region west of Kemmern. On the remainder of the north front there were some local engagements which, however, did not modify the general situation.
Troops belonging to the army of Field Marshal Prince Leopold of Bavaria recaptured some positions in the region of Skrobowa, which had been lost the previous day. The Russians in turn attempted to regain this ground by making a number of very strong counterattacks, but were not successful. In this attempt they lost a few hundred men and six officers.
Austrian troops dispersed some Russian detachments southwest of Moldaha. Near Jablonica their patrols captured, by a number of daring undertakings, a few hundred prisoners.
Near Delatyn, in the Carpathian Mountains, there was increased activity. Russian advance guards entered Delatyn, but were driven back to the southern outskirts. Another Russian attack to the southwest of the town broke down under the Austrian fire.
There also was a renewal of the fighting in the region southwest of Lutsk, west of Torchin. A number of Russian attacks were repulsed in this neighborhood.
At other points of the Volhynian front, in the region southeast of Sviniusky, near Lutsk, the Germans again assumed the offensive and attacked in massed formations. This resulted in a series of strong counterattacks, which enabled the Russians to maintain their positions.
At many points in the region of Ostoff and Goubine, Russian troops registered local successes by very swiftly executed attacks which threatened to outflank their opponents, who were, therefore, forced to retreat in great haste. As a result of this, the Russians captured one heavy and one light battery as well as numerous cannon which had been installed in isolated locations. Upward of 3,000 prisoners fell into their hands.
In Volhynia, on July 16, 1916, to the east and southeast of Svinisuky village, Russian troops under General Sakharoff broke down the resistance of the Germans. In battles in the region of Pustomyty, more than 1,000 Germans and Austrian prisoners have been taken, together with three machine guns and much other military booty.
In the region of the lower Lipa the successful Russian advance continued. The Germans were making a stubborn resistance. In battles in this region the Russians took many prisoners and guns, as well as fourteen machine guns, a few thousand rifles and other equipment.
The total number of prisoners taken on July 16, 1916, in battles in Volhynia, was claimed to be 314 officers and 12,637 men. The Russians also claimed to have captured thirty guns, of which seventeen were heavy pieces, and a great many machine guns and much other material.
In the direction of Kirliababa, on the frontier of Transylvania, Russians have occupied a set of new positions.
In the region of Riga, skirmishes on both sides have been successful for the Russians, and parts of German trenches have been taken, together with prisoners. Increased fire west and south of Riga and on the Dvina front preceded Russian enterprises. Near Katarinehof, south of Riga, considerable Russian forces attacked. Lively fighting developed here.
On the Riga front artillery engagements continued throughout July 17 and 18, 1916. At Lake Miadziol, Russian infantry and a lake flotilla made a surprise attack on the Germans in the night. German airmen manifested great activity from the region south of the Dvina to the Pinsk Marshes.
On the Stokhod there was artillery fighting at many places.
Russian troops repulsed by artillery fire an attempt on the part of the Germans to take the offensive north of the Odzer Marsh. Owing to the heavy rains the Dniester rose almost two and one half meters, destroying bridges, buttresses and ferry-boats, and considerably curtailing military operations.
On the Russian left flank, in the region of the Rivers Black and White Tscheremosche, southwest of Kuty, Russian infantry were advancing toward the mountain defiles.
Southwest of Delatyn the German troops drove back across the Pruth Russian detachments which had crossed to the western bank. The Germans took 300 prisoners.
On July 19, 1916, General Lechitsky's forces, which were advancing from the Bukowina and southern Galicia toward the passes of the Carpathians leading to the plains of Hungary, met with strong opposition in the region of Jablonica, situated at the northern end of a pass leading through the Carpathians to the important railroad center of Korosmezo, in Hungary.
Jablonica is about thirty-three miles west of Kuty and fifteen miles south of Delatyn. It is on the right of the sixty-mile front occupied by the advancing army of General Lechitsky.
No let-up was noticeable in the battle along the Stokhod, where the combined forces of the Central Powers seemed to be able to withstand all Russian attacks. Along the Lipa increased artillery fire was the order of the day. In Galicia the floods in the Dniester Valley continued to hamper military operations. Many minor engagements were fought both in the northern and central sectors of the front.
INCREASED STRENGTH OF THE RUSSIAN DRIVE
As the month of July approached its end the Russian assaults became more and more violent. Along the entire front the most bitter and sanguinary fighting took place day after day and night after night. Artillery bombardments such as never had been heard before raged at hundreds of places at the same time. Troops in masses that passed all former experience were employed by the Russians to break the resistance of the Teutonic allies.
The latter, however, seemed to have their affairs well in hand. At many points they lost local engagements. At other points advanced positions had to be given up, and at still other points occasional withdrawals of a few miles became inevitable. But, all in all, the Austro-German lines held considerably well.
During the last two or three days of July, 1916, however, the German-Austrian forces suffered some serious reverses. On July 21, 1916, General Sakharoff had succeeded in crossing the Lipa River and in establishing himself firmly on its south bank. This brought him within striking distance of the important railway point of Brody on the Dubno-Lemberg railway, very close to the Russo-Galician border, and only fifty miles northeast of Lemberg.
In spite of the most determined resistance on the part of the Austrian troops, the Russian general was able to push his advantage during the next few days, and on July 27, 1916, Brody fell into his hands.
Less successful was the continued attack on the Stokhod line with the object of reaching Kovel. There the German-Austrian forces repulsed all Russian advances.
In the Bukowina, however, the Russians gradually pushed on. Slowly but surely they approached once more the Carpathian Mountain passes.
The same was true in eastern Galicia. After the fall of Kolomea in the early part of the month, the Russian advance had progressed steadily, even if slowly, in the direction of Stanislau and Lemberg. Closer and closer to Stanislau the Russian forces came, until on July 30, 1916, they were well within striking distance.
In the north, too, General Kuropatkin displayed greatly increased activity against Von Hindenburg's front, although as a result he gained only local successes.
Midsummer, 1916, then saw the Russians once more on a strong offensive along their entire front. How far this movement would ultimately carry them, it was hard to tell. Once more the way into the Hungarian plains seemed to be open to the czar's soldiers, and a sufficiently successful campaign in Galicia might easily force back the center of the line to such an extent that they might then have prospects of regaining some of the ground lost during their great retreat.
Interesting details of the terrific struggle which had been going on on the eastern front for many weeks are given in the following letter from an English special correspondent:
"I reached the headquarters of a certain Siberian corps about midnight on July 15, 1916, to find the artillery preparation, which had started at 4 p. m., in full blast. Floundering around through the mud, we came almost on to the positions, which were suddenly illuminated with fires started by Austrian shells in two villages near by, while the jagged flashes of bursting shells ahead caused us to extinguish the lights of the motor and to turn across the fields, ultimately arriving at the headquarters of a corps which I knew well on the Bzura line in Poland.
"Sitting in a tiny room in an unpretentious cottage with the commander, I followed the preparations which were being made for the assault. The ticking of the instruments gave news from the front, the line of which was visible from the windows by flares and rockets and burning villages. By midnight ten breaches had been made in the barbed wire, each approximately twenty paces broad, and the attacks were ordered for three o'clock in the morning.
"Rising at 5 a. m. I accompanied the commander of the corps to his observation point on a ridge. The attacks had already swept away the resistance of the enemy's first line.
"Thousands of prisoners were in our hands, and the enemy was already retiring rapidly. He therefore halted but a few minutes, pushing on to the advanced positions. The commander stopped repeatedly by the roadside tapping the field wires, and giving further instructions as to the disposition of the troops.
"As we moved forward we began to meet the flood from the battle field, first the lightly wounded, and then Austrian prisoners helping our heavily wounded, who were in carts.
"Before we were halfway to the positions a cavalry general splashed with mud met the commander and informed him that six guns were already in our hands. The next report from the field telephone increased the number to ten guns, with 2,000 prisoners, including some Germans.
"At quite an early hour the entire country was alive, and every department of the army beginning to move forward. All the roads were choked with ammunition parks, batteries, and transports following up our advancing troops; while the stream of returning caissons, the wounded, and the prisoners equaled in volume the tide of the advancing columns.
"The commander took up his position on a ridge which but a few hours before had been our advanced line. Thence the country could be observed for miles. Each road was black with moving troops, pushing forward on the heels of the enemy, whose field gun shells were bursting on the ridges just beyond.
"Here I met the commander of the division and his staff. Plans were immediately made for following up our success. Evidently the size of our group was discernible from some distant enemy observation point, for within five minutes came the howl of an approaching projectile and a 6-inch shell burst with a terrific crash in a neighboring field. Its arrival, which was followed at regular intervals by others ranging from 4-inch upward, was apparently unnoticed by the general, whose interest was entirely occupied with pressing his advantage.
"So swift was our advance that nearly half an hour elapsed before the newly strung field wires were working properly.
"The fire had become so persistent that our group scattered and hundreds of prisoners, whose black mass could be seen by the enemy, were removed beyond the possibility of observation. Then the corps commander, stretched on straw on the crest of the ridge, with his maps spread out, dictated directions to the operator of the field telephone who crouched beside him.
"Before and beneath us lay the abandoned line of Austrian trenches, separated from ours by a small stream, where since daylight the heroic engineers were laboring under heavy shell fire to construct a bridge to enable our cavalry and guns to pass in pursuit.
"Leaving the general we proceeded. Our troops had forced the line here at 3 a. m., wading under machine-gun and rifle fire in water and marsh above their waists, often to their armpits. The Austrian end of the bridge was a horrible place, as it was congested with dead, dying and horribly wounded men, who, as the ambulances were on the other side of the river, could not be removed. A sweating officer was urging forward the completion of the bridge, which was then barely wide enough to permit the waiting cavalry squadrons to pass in single file. On the opposite bank waited the ambulance to get across after the troops had passed. A number of German ambulance men were working furiously over their own and the Austrian wounded, many of whom, I think, must have been wounded by their own guns in an attempt to prevent the bridging of the stream. A more bloody scene I have not witnessed, though within a few hours the entire place was probably cleared up.
"Passing on I, for the first time, witnessed the actual taking of prisoners, and watched their long blue files as they passed out from their own trenches and were formed in groups allotted to Russian soldiers, who served as guides rather than guards, and sent to the rear.
"Near here I encountered about fifty captured Germans and talked with about a dozen of them. Certainly none of them showed the smallest lack of morale or any depression.
"By noon sufficient details of the fighting were available to indicate that this corps alone had taken between three and five thousand prisoners and twenty guns, of which four are said to be howitzers. When one is near the front the perspective of operations is nearly always faulty, and it was, therefore, impossible to estimate the effect of the movement as a whole, but I understand that all the other corps engaged had great success and everywhere advanced."
PART IV—THE BALKANS
HOLDING FAST IN SALONIKI
The six months ending with March, 1916, had been not only an eventful period in the Balkans, but a most unfortunate one for the Allies. In no theater of the war had they sustained such a series of smashing disasters in diplomacy as well as on the field of battle. First of all, early in the fall, the Austrians had begun their fourth invasion of Serbia, this time heavily reenforced by the Germans and in such numbers that it was obvious before the first attack was begun that Serbia by herself would not be able to hold back the invaders. And then, hardly had the real fighting begun, when Bulgaria definitely cast her lot in with the Teutons and Hungarians and attacked the Serbians from the rear.
While it was true that King Ferdinand and his governing clique had made this decision months before, it is nevertheless a fact that it was probably the blundering diplomacy of the Allies which was responsible for this action on the part of the Bulgarians. Under all circumstances King Ferdinand would probably have favored the Teutons, since by birth and early training he is an Austrian and, moreover, as he once expressed himself publicly, he was firmly convinced that the Teutons would ultimately win. But the Bulgarian people are sentimentally inclined toward the Russians and dislike the Germans. Had not the diplomatic policy of the Allies played into the hands of the king, they would naturally have turned toward the Allies.
Above all else the Bulgarians have desired either the freedom or the annexation of Macedonia, which is almost entirely inhabited by Bulgars. The Germans made the definite promise that Macedonia should be theirs if they allied themselves with them. The Allies endeavored to promise as much, but the protests of Greece and Serbia stood in the way. Neither of these two nations was willing to give up its possessions in this disputed territory, though later, when she saw that her very existence was at stake, Serbia did make some concessions, but not until after Bulgaria had already taken her decision. Had the Allies disregarded these greedy bickerings on the part of her minor allies and promised as much as the Germans had promised, there is no doubt that the popular sentiment in Bulgaria would have been strong enough to block Ferdinand's policy.
In Greece, too, there had been the same blundering policy. Here the situation was much the same as in Bulgaria; the king, with his Teutonic affiliations, was in favor of the Germans, while the sentiment of the people was in favor of the Allies. Moreover, here the popular sentiment was voiced by and personified in quite the strongest statesman in Greece, Eleutherios Venizelos. Had the Allies made known to the Greeks definitely and in a public manner just what they were to expect by joining the Entente, the policy of the king would have been frustrated. But here again the ambitions of Italy in Asia Minor and in the Greek archipelago caused the same hesitation. The result was that popular enthusiasm was so dampened that the king was able to pursue his own policy.
Then came the disastrous invasion of Serbia; the Serbian armies were overwhelmed and practically annihilated, a few remnants only being able to escape through Albania. The assistance that was sent in the form of an Anglo-French army under General Sarrail came just too late. Having swept Macedonia clear of the Serbians, the Bulgarians next attacked the forces under Sarrail and hurled them back into the Greek territory about Saloniki.
The Italians, too, had attempted to take part in the Balkan operations, but with their own national interests obviously placed above the general interests of the whole Entente. They had landed on the Albanian coast, at Durazzo and Avlona, hoping to hold territory which they desire ultimately to annex. Then followed the invasion of Montenegro and Albania by the Austrians and the Bulgarians, and the Italians were driven out of Durazzo, retaining only a foothold in Avlona.
By March, 1916, all major military operations had ceased. Except for the British and French at Saloniki and the Italians at Avlona, the Teutons and the Bulgarians had cleared the whole Balkan peninsula south of the Danube of their enemies and were in complete possession. The railroad running down through Serbia and Bulgaria to Constantinople was repaired where the Serbians had had time to injure it, and communications were established between Berlin and the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which had been one of the main objects of the campaign.
In the beginning, however, the Bulgarians did not venture to push their lines across the Greek frontier, though this is a part of Macedonia which is essentially Bulgarian in population. There are several reasons why the Bulgarians should have restrained themselves. The traditional hatred which the Greeks feel for the Bulgarians, so bitter that an American cannot comprehend its depths, would undoubtedly have been so roused by the presence of Bulgarian soldiers on Greek soil that the king would not have been able to have opposed successfully Venizelos and his party, who were strong adherents of the Allies. This would not have suited German policy, though to the victorious Bulgarians it would probably not have made much difference. Another reason was, as has developed since, that the Bulgarian communications were but feebly organized, and a further advance would have been extremely precarious. The roads through Macedonia are few, and the best are not suited to automobile traffic. The few prisoners that the French and English were able to take evinced the fact that the Bulgarians were being badly supplied and that the soldiers were starved to the point of exhaustion. And finally, from a military point of view, the Allied troops were now in the most favorable position. Their lines were drawn in close to their base, Saloniki, with short, interior communications. The Bulgarians, on the contrary, were obliged to spread themselves around the wide semicircle formed by the Anglo-French lines. To have taken Saloniki would have been for them an extremely costly undertaking, if, indeed, it would have at all been possible.
On the other hand, it was equally obvious that the Allies were not, and would not be, for a long time to come, in a position to direct an effective offensive against the Bulgarians in Macedonia. That they and their German allies realized this was apparent from the fact that the German forces now began withdrawing in large numbers.
The Bulgarians, however, did not attempt to assist their German allies on any of the other fronts, a fact which throws some light on the Bulgarian policy. Naturally, it is in the interests of the Bulgarians that the Teutons should win the war, therefore it might have been expected that they would support them on other fronts, notably in Galicia. That this has never been done shows conclusively that the alliance with the Germans is not popular among the Bulgarians. They have, rather reluctantly, been willing to fight on their own territory, or what they considered rightly their own territory, but they have not placed themselves at the disposal of the Germans on the other fronts. It is obvious that Ferdinand has not trusted to oppose his soldiers against the Russians.
Meanwhile the forces under Sarrail were being daily augmented and their position about Saloniki was being strengthened. By this time all the Serbians who had fled through Albania, including the aged King Peter, had been transported to the island of Corfu, where a huge sanitarium was established, for few were the refugees that did not require some medical treatment. Cholera did, in fact, break out among them, which caused a protest on the part of the Greek Government. Just how many Serbians arrived at Corfu has never been definitely stated, but recent reports would indicate that they numbered approximately 100,000. All those fit for further campaigning needed to be equipped anew and rearmed.
MILITARY AND POLITICAL EVENTS IN GREECE
On March 27, 1916, a squadron of seven German aeroplanes attempted to make a raid on Saloniki. Their purpose was to drop bombs on the British and French warships in the harbor, but the fire of the Allied guns frustrated their efforts and four of the aeroplanes were brought down. But during the encounter some of these aircraft dropped bombs into the city and twenty Greek civilians were killed, one of the bombs falling before the residence of General Moschopoulos, commander of the Greek forces in Saloniki.
Deep resentment against the Germans flared up throughout Greece on account of this raid, which found expression in bitter editorials in the Liberal press against the continued neutrality of Greece. The question of the declaration of martial law was raised in an exciting session of the Chamber of Deputies, which lasted till late at night. The Government discouraged all hostile comment on the action of the Germans, and Premier Skouloudis declined to continue a debate involving discussion of foreign relations "because the highest interests impose silence." Notwithstanding the attitude of the government the raid was characterized in the chamber as "simply assassination" and as "German frightfulness." Plans were started to hold mass meetings in Athens and Saloniki, but the police forbade them. At the funerals of the victims, however, large crowds gathered in spite of the efforts of the police to disperse them and the ceremonies were marked by cries of "Down with the barbarians!" and "Down with the Germans!"
Hardly had this agitation died down when Venizelos, who for a long time had remained silent, so aloof from politics that, to quote his own statement, "I do not even read the reports of the proceedings in the Chamber," resumed active participation in the nation's affairs by giving out a lengthy interview to the press, as well as with an editorial in his own personal organ. This latter occupied an entire page and reviewed completely the position of the Greek monarch since the dissolution of the last Chamber of Deputies. Referring to the king's alleged characterization of himself as a "dreamer," M. Venizelos said:
"By keeping the country in a state of chronic peaceful war through purposeless mobilization, the present government has brought Greece to the verge of economic, material and moral bankruptcy. This policy, unhappily, is not a dream, but downright folly." He further laid great stress on the Bulgarian peril, pointing out that the utmost to be gained by the present policy would be to leave Greece the same size, while Bulgaria, flushed with victory, trained for war, enlarged by the addition of Serbia and Macedonia and allied with the Turks, would not wait long before falling on her southern neighbor. "Who thinks," he continued, "that under these conditions that Greece, unaided, could drive the Bulgars from Macedonia, once they have seized it, is a fool. The politicians who do not see this inevitable danger, are blind, and unfortunate are the kings following such politicians, and more unfortunate still the lands where sovereigns fall their victims."
And, indeed, the ex-premier's references to the economic ruin of the country were strongly supported by the dispatches that had for some time been coming from the Greek capital. "Greece," said a prominent official to a press correspondent, "is much more likely to be starved into war than Germany is to be starved out of it."
The deficit in the Greek treasury for the previous year was now shown to have amounted to L17,000,000, or $85,000,000. The budget for 1916 authorized an expenditure of $100,000,000, which was double the entire state revenues. For the masses the situation was daily becoming more difficult. The streets of Athens were said to be alive with the beggars, while the island of Samos was in a sporadic state of revolt. At Piraeus and Patras there were disquieting demonstrations of popular discontent with the increasing cost of living. Many commodities had more than doubled in price. This situation was largely due to the mobilization, as in the case of the fishermen. As most of them were with the colors, the price of fish, which had hitherto been one of the main food supplies, had become prohibitive to the poorer families.
The sentiment of the people was further expressed on April 7, 1916, when the Greeks celebrated the 100th anniversary of their national independence. On this occasion Venizelos appeared in public for the first time since his retirement from political life, after he had been obliged to resign by the king. When he left the cathedral in Athens, where services were held, thousands of persons followed his motor car, cheering enthusiastically. Finally his car could proceed no farther, being densely packed about by the people, who broke forth into deafening cheers and shouts of "Long live our national leader!" and "Long live Venizelos!"
At about this time, on April 14, 1916, a new critical situation was precipitated between the Allies and the Greek Government. On that date the British Minister at Athens had asked permission of the Greek Government to transport Serbian troops from Corfu to Saloniki by way of Patras, Larissa, and Volo, which involved the use of the Peloponnesian railway. This was peremptorily refused as involving a breach of Greek neutrality.
Under ordinary conditions transports would have conveyed the Serbians from Corfu to Saloniki, such a trip requiring less than three days. But the German submarines had been so active in these waters of late that the Allies desired to evade this danger, contending that it was with the connivance of the Greek Government officials that the Germans were able to maintain submarine bases among the islands. Moreover, they also contended that the cases were different from what it would have been had the request concerned French or British troops. The Greeks were allies of the Serbians, bound to them by a formal treaty, and though they had refused to assist them in a military sense, as the terms of the treaty demanded, they might at least help them in their need. Two days later, on April 16, 1916, the Chamber of Deputies adjourned for the session, which left the whole matter in the hands of the government. However, this question hung fire for some time, and later dispatches would indicate that the Allies did not press their point, for eventually when the arrival of the Serbian troops in Saloniki was announced, it was stated incidentally that they had come by means of transports.
But meanwhile Venizelos was continuing his campaign against the ministry. On April 16, 1916, the Liberals had attempted to hold several public meetings in Athens, which were vigorously broken up by the police, or, according to some reports, by agents of the government in civilian dress. The following day Venizelos gave out an interview to the press in which he said:
"I beg you to bring the events of yesterday and the earnest protest of a majority of the Greeks to the knowledge of the American people, who have struggled for so long to establish free speech as the fundamental right of a free people. Here in Greece we are confronted by the question whether we are to have a democracy presided over by a king or whether at this hour of our history we must accept the doctrine of the divine rights of kings. The present government represents in no sense the majority of the Greek people. We Liberals, in the course of a year received the vote of the majority. At the last election, which was nothing more than a burlesque on the free exercise of the right of suffrage, we were not willing to participate in a farcical formality.... Now it is even sought to deny us the right of free speech. Our meetings were held within inclosed buildings. Those who came to them were invited, but the police threw out our doorkeepers, put in their own and let enter whomsoever they, the police, wanted to be present at the meetings."
It was now evident that Venizelos had determined to fight the present government to the bitter end.
On May 7, 1916, it was demonstrated that the contention of the king, that the agitation in favor of Venizelos and the demonstrations in his favor were largely artificial, was not true, in one electoral district of Greece at least. Venizelos had been nominated candidate for deputy to the National Assembly in Mytelene, and when the election took place, on the above date, he was elected with practically no opposition and amid a tremendous enthusiasm. On the following day, May 8, 1916, at a by-election in Kavalla, Eastern Macedonia, Constantine Jourdanou, a candidate of the Venizelos Liberty party, was also elected a deputy to the National Assembly by an 85 per cent majority vote.
But these were merely demonstrations—meant merely as indications of popular sentiment—for neither Venizelos nor the Kavalla representative had any intention of taking their seats in the chamber, which they considered illegally elected.
Meanwhile practically no military activity had been displayed. On March 17, 1916, a dispatch was issued from Vienna to the effect that the Austrian army had reached the vicinity of Avlona and had engaged the Italians in pitched battle outside the town, into which they were driving them. But apparently there was little truth in this report, for some weeks later a body of Italian troops were reported to have crossed the Greek frontier in Epirus, which caused an exchange of notes between the Greek and Italian governments, by no means the best of friends, on account of their conflicting ambitions in Albania. Further encounters between both Austrians and Bulgarians and the Italians in Avlona were reported during the spring, but apparently the Italians were well able to hold their own.
There were, however, indications that the Allies in Saloniki had been steadily strengthening their positions and augmenting their numbers, and that, conscious of their growing strength, they were throwing out their lines. In the first week in May came a dispatch announcing that they had occupied Florina, a small town only some fifteen miles south of Monastir, though still on Greek territory.
That there was really some truth in these announcements; that the Allies were really showing some indications of expanding their lines and were assuming a threatening attitude, was indicated by the next move made on the board, this time by the Bulgarians; a move, however, which was obviously of a defensive nature, though at the time it seemed to portend a Bulgarian offensive.
On May 26, 1916, the Bulgarians for the first time ventured across the Greek frontier. And not only did they cross the frontier, but, instead of attacking the Allies, they forced the Greek forces occupying a point of strategic value to evacuate it and occupied it themselves.
Fort Rupel, on the Struma River, and north of Demir Hissar, is about six miles within Greek territory. It commands a deep gorge, or defile, which forms a sort of natural passageway through which troops can be marched easily into Greek territory from Bulgaria. To either side tower difficult mountains and rocky hills. On account of these natural features Greece had fortified this defile after the Balkan Wars so that she might command it in case of a Bulgarian invasion. On the commanding prominences the Greeks had also built fortifications.
It was the chief, the most important, of these forts that the Bulgarians took. A courier was sent forward with notice to the Greek commander that he had two hours in which to evacuate the position with his troops. This he did peacefully, and before evening the Bulgarians were installed, though it was said that they had given due assurances that their occupation was merely a temporary measure undertaken as a defensive precaution, and that as soon as the need should cease the fort would be returned to Greece.
On the following day came the announcement that the Bulgarians, in strong force, had deployed from Fort Rupel and had also occupied Fort Dragotin and Fort Kanivo. At the same time unusual activity on the part of the Bulgarians was also reported from Xanthi. Here, on the left bank of the Mesta River, which for some distance from its mouth forms the Bulgar-Greek boundary, the Bulgarians were collecting material for building pontoon bridges.
Naturally this action on the part of the Bulgarians caused wild excitement throughout Greece. The government organs stated that the forts had been taken by German forces, but this was soon proved to be untrue.
In reporting this movement the Bulgarian Government added, by way of explanation and excuse:
"Two months ago the Anglo-French troops began the abandonment of the fortified camp at Saloniki and started a movement toward our frontier. The principal enemy forces were stationed in the Vardar Valley and to the eastward through Dovatupete to the Struma Valley, and to the westward through the district of Subotsko and Vodena to Florina. A part of the reconstituted Serbian army has also been landed at Saloniki. Artillery fire has occurred daily during the past month."
Evidently Bulgaria was anxious to impress on the outside world the fact that she had invaded Greek territory entirely for defensive purposes, for only several days later a correspondent of the Associated Press was allowed to send through a report of an inspection he had made of the Bulgarian camp, something that had not previously been permitted. From this report it was evident that the Bulgarian army was not contemplating a forward movement.
These assurances probably had their effect in calming the excitement in Greece, a result which Germany was no doubt wishful of obtaining. Nevertheless the fact that the government had quietly permitted the Bulgarians to take the forts was not by any means calculated to increase its popularity with the masses and made for the strengthening of the Venizelos party.
In spite of the formal protests which the Greek Government made against the occupation of its territory and fortifications by Bulgarian troops, there was not a little reason for suspecting that the Skouloudis government was working on some secret understanding, if not with the Bulgarians, then with the Germans. At least this was the general impression that was created in France and England, as reflected in the daily press.
On June 8, 1916, it was reported from Saloniki that the Allies were about to institute a commercial blockade of Greek ports, preliminary to presenting certain demands, the exact nature of which was not given out, but which were expected to include the demobilization of the Greek army.
The notice of the blockade again aroused the excitement of the Greek population, but not so much against the Allies as against the Skouloudis government. And this was because what the Allies were expected to demand was just what the majority of the Greek masses seemed most to want, the demobilization of the army; the return to their vocations of the thousands of workingmen with the colors. The Venizelos party was especially in favor of such a measure, for its leaders claimed that it was because the mass of the voters was with the army and was therefore deprived of their suffrage, that the sentiment of the Greek people could not be determined.
On June 9, 1916, it was announced from Athens that the king had signed an order demobilizing twelve classes of the army, amounting to 150,000 men. But this order was not, for some reason, put into execution, nor was there any indication of the Allies putting an end to the blockade. On the contrary, on the same day it was announced that the Greek captain of the port at Saloniki had been removed and a French naval officer had been put in his place. Entry to the port had also been refused to Greek ships from Kavala, and an embargo had been placed on Greek ships in French ports. Obviously the Allies were demanding something more than the demobilization of the army. As a matter of fact, they had not yet formally presented their demands.
From later reports it was shown that the Allies had prepared their demands formally and that they were to have been presented on June 13, 1916. But the evening before, on the 12th, certain events took place in Athens which caused them to delay the presentation of their note, holding it back for revision.
On the 12th a military fete had been held at the Stadium, at which members of the British Legation were present, including the military attache and Admiral Palmer, the new chief of the British Naval Mission. When the king and his suite appeared at the Stadium, Greek police officers immediately grouped themselves around the British representatives, giving the inference that the royal party needed to be protected from them. The indignant Englishmen immediately left the Stadium. After the fete a mob collected in the street and began a demonstration against the Allies. The crowd was escorted by fifty or sixty policemen in uniform. It first marched to the Hotel Grande Bretagne, where the French Minister resided, and began shouting insulting remarks. Next the British Legation building was visited and a similar hostile demonstration was made. Thence the mob proceeded to the office of the "Nea Hellas," a Venizelist journal, hurled stones through the windows and assaulted the editor and his staff. The editor, in defending himself, fired a revolver over the heads of the mob, whereupon he was arrested and thrown into jail. During the same evening another demonstration was made in a theater, in which the performers made most insulting remarks regarding the representatives of the Allies. Several meetings were held in other parts of the city at the same time, at which resolutions were passed against the Allies, one of these resolutions denouncing the conduct of the Allies toward neutral countries, "and especially their conduct toward the President of the United States."
Finally, on June 23, 1916, the full text of the demands of the Allies on Greece, signed by the representatives of France, Great Britain, and Russia and indorsed by Italy, was given out, simultaneously with the official announcement that all the conditions had been accepted by the Greek Government. The text was as follows:
"As they have already solemnly declared verbally and in writing, the three Protecting Powers of Greece do not ask her to emerge from her neutrality. Of this fact they furnish a striking proof by placing foremost among their demands the complete demobilization of the Greek army in order to insure to the Greek people tranquillity and peace. But they have numerous and legitimate grounds for suspicion against the Greek Government, whose attitude toward them has not been in conformity with repeated engagements, nor even with the principles of loyal neutrality.
"Thus, the Greek Government has all too often favored the activities of certain foreigners who have openly striven to lead astray Greek public opinion, to distort the national feeling of Greece, and to create in Hellenic territory hostile organizations which are contrary to the neutrality of the country and tend to compromise the security of the military and naval forces of the Allies.
"The entrance of Bulgarian forces into Greece and the occupation of Fort Rupel and other strategic points, with the connivance of the Hellenic Government, constitute for the allied troops a new threat which imposes on the three powers the obligation of demanding guarantees and immediate measures.
"Furthermore, the Greek Constitution has been disregarded, the free exercise of universal suffrage has been impeded, the Chamber of Deputies has been dissolved a second time within a period of less than a year against the clearly expressed will of the people, and the electorate has been summoned to the polls during a period of mobilization, with the result that the present chamber only represents an insignificant portion of the electoral college, and that the whole country has been subjected to a system of oppression and of political tyranny, and has been kept in leading strings without regard for the legitimate representations of the powers.
"These powers have not only the right, but also the imperative duty, of protesting against such violations of the liberties, of which they are the guardians in the eyes of the Greek people.
"The hostile attitude of the Hellenic Government toward the powers, who have emancipated Greece from an alien yoke, and have secured her independence, and the evident collusion of the present cabinet with the enemies of these powers, constitute for them still stronger reasons for acting with firmness, in reliance upon the rights which they derive from treaties, and which have been vindicated for the preservation of the Greek people upon every occasion upon which it has been menaced in the exercise of its rights or in the enjoyment of its liberties.
"The Protecting Powers accordingly see themselves compelled to exact immediate application of the following measures:
"1. Real and complete demobilization of the Greek Army, which shall revert as speedily as possible to a peace footing.
"2. Immediate substitution for the existing ministry of a business cabinet devoid of any political prejudice and presenting all the necessary guarantees for the application of that benevolent neutrality which Greece is pledged to observe toward the Allied Powers and for the honesty of a fresh appeal to the electors.
"3. Immediate dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, followed by fresh elections within the time limits provided by the constitution, and as soon as general demobilization will have restored the electoral body to its normal condition.
"4. Dismissal, in agreement with the Allied Powers, of certain police officials whose attitude, influenced by foreign guidance, has facilitated the perpetration of notorious assaults upon peaceable citizens and the insults which have been leveled at the Allied Legations and their members.
"The Protecting Powers, who continue to be inspired with the utmost friendliness and benevolence toward Greece, but who are, at the same time, determined to secure, without discussion or delay, the application of these indispensable measures, can but leave to the Hellenic Government entire responsibility for the events which might supervene if their just demands were not immediately accepted."
The treaties referred to in the note, on which the "three Protecting Powers" base their right to intervene in the affairs of Greece to enforce the carrying out of her constitution, date back to the early period of last century, when the three nations in question assisted the newly liberated Greeks in establishing a government and assumed a semiprotectorate.
This note was presented to Premier Skouloudis, but he refused to accept it on the ground that no Greek Cabinet existed, as it had been deposited at the Foreign Office while he was on his way back from the residence of the king, where he had presented the resignation of the ministry.
The people were unaware of what had happened until evening, when newspapers and handbills, distributed broadcast, made known the text of the demands. King Constantine returned hastily to Athens. All the troops in the city were ordered under arms. The Deputies were summoned to the Chamber, where Skouloudis announced that he had resigned, after which the Chamber immediately adjourned again.
On the following day the king summoned Alexander Zaimis, a Greek politician, reputed to be in favor of the Allies, to form a new Cabinet. He immediately organized a new ministry, comprising himself as Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs; General Callaris, Minister of War and Marine; George Rallis, Minister of Finance; Phocian Negria, of Communications; Colonel Harlambis, of the Interior; Anthony Momperatos, of Justice; Constantine Libourkis, of Instruction, and Colligas, of National Economy. The first act of the new Cabinet was to announce a new election of Deputies to the National Chamber, to take place on August 7, 1916. The new Premier also announced that the demands of the Allies would be carried out to the letter. As a token of good faith, the chief of police of Athens was immediately dismissed and Colonel Zimbrakakis, who had been police chief during the Venizelos regime, was installed in his place. The Allies, on their part, at once raised the blockade and agreed to advance Greece a loan to tide over her present financial difficulties.
For some days afterward large and enthusiastic pro-Venizelos demonstrations took place in Athens and other Greek cities, in which the labor unions and the soldiers were reported to take a very prominent part. Meanwhile the demobilization of the Greek army was begun in good faith.
During this period there had been no further aggression, or advance, on the part of the Bulgarians. And while there had been a number of German officers present at the demand for the evacuation of Fort Rupel by the Greeks, as well as a small force of German engineers, all the reports emanating from Bulgaria indicated, directly or indirectly, that the German forces had been almost entirely drawn away from the Balkans, to meet the gradually increasing pressure that both the Russians on the eastern front and the English and French on the western front were bringing to exert on the Teutonic forces. Being practically left to themselves, for the Turks, too, had their hands full in their Asiatic provinces, and considering the need of forces for garrison duty in conquered territory, especially in Albania and upper Serbia, as well as the army needed to watch the movements of the Rumanians, it was doubtful if the Bulgarians had more than 300,000 men to spare for their lines opposing those of the Allies at Saloniki.
The Allies, on the other hand, had been daily waxing stronger. At least 100,000 Serbians had been added to their forces about Saloniki before the beginning of August. There were, at this time, about 350,000 French and British soldiers in Saloniki, so that the total force was not very far short of half a million. General Mahon, the British commander, had gone to Egypt, to superintend the removal to Saloniki of the British troops there, who had been provided as a defending force when the danger of a German attack in that section seemed imminent. These forces were estimated at another 200,000. Added to this the favorable position of the Allies from a strategic point of view, it was obvious, by the middle of August, that if active hostilities were to break out on the Saloniki front very shortly, the initiative would most likely come from the Allies.
PART V—AUSTRO-ITALIAN CAMPAIGN
RESUMPTION OF OPERATIONS ON THE ITALIAN FRONT
Throughout the early part of March, 1916, military operations on the Italian front were very restricted. At the end of February the atmospheric conditions, which up till then had remained exceptionally favorable, changed suddenly, giving place to a period of bad weather, with meteorological phenomena particularly remarkable in that theater of the operations, which among all those of the European war is the most Alpine and the most difficult. In the mountain zone snow fell very heavily, causing frequent great avalanches and sometimes the movement of extensive snow fields. Communications of every kind were seriously interrupted. Not only shelters and huts, but in many cases columns of men and supplies on the march were swept away. The unceasing tempest made it difficult and in some cases quite impossible to render any aid, but owing to an organized service for such eventualities, ample and effective assistance was given in the great majority of cases. This led to the speedy restoration of communications and supplies. Nevertheless the distressing but inevitable loss of human lives was comparatively large.
In the lowland zone heavy and constant rains caused landslides in the lines of defense and shelters. The rise of the rivers and the consequent floods soon made the ground impassable. Even the main roads were interrupted at several points. In the whole theater of operations it was a regular battle against adverse circumstances.
Austrian troops in many places used the heavy snowfall to their advantage. By means of mines, bombs and artillery fire they produced avalanches artificially. Thus on March 8, 1916, some damage was done in this manner to Italian positions in the Lagaznos zone. On the same day Italian forces succeeded in pushing their lines forward for a slight distance in the zone between the Iofana peaks (in the Dolomites), as well as in the valley of the middle Isonzo and in the Zagara sector. Along the entire front vigorous artillery fire was maintained.
The artillery combat gradually increased in vehemence during the next few days, especially on the Isonzo front, indicating a resumption of offensive movements. About the middle of March, 1916, Italian troops began again to attack the Austrian positions. On March 15, 1916, a lively artillery duel and a series of attacks and counterattacks were repulsed from the Isonzo front.
Italian infantry carried out a number of successive attacks in the region of Monte Rombon in the Plezzo basin and on the height commanding the position of Lucinico, southeast of San Martino del Carso. After an intensive preparation by artillery fire the Austrians, on March 16, 1916, launched at dawn a counterattack against the positions conquered by the Italians the day before, but were at first everywhere repulsed, suffering heavy losses.
The Austrian concentration of artillery fire, in which guns of all caliber were employed, lasted uninterruptedly throughout the day, forcing the Italians to evacuate the positions during the course of the night.
The Fella sector of the Carinthian front and also the Col di Lana sector in the Tyrol were shelled by Italian artillery. Italian airmen dropped bombs on Trieste without doing any damage.
Again atmospheric conditions enforced a lull in military operations during the next few days and brought to a sudden end what had seemed to be an extensive offensive movement on the part of the Italian forces on the Isonzo front.
On March 17, 1916, however, violent fighting again developed on the Isonzo front in the region of the Tolmino bridgehead. It began with greatly increased artillery activity along the entire sector between Tolmino and Flitsch. Later that day the Austro-Hungarians launched an attack against the Italian forces which netted them considerable ground on the northern part of the bridgehead, as well as some 500 prisoners.
The battle in the Tolmino sector continued on March 18 and 19, 1916, and to a slighter degree on March 20, 1916. On the first of these three days the Austro-Hungarian troops succeeded in advancing beyond the road between Celo and Ciginj and to the west of the St. Maria Mountain. Italian counterattacks failed. South of the Mrzli, too, the Italians lost a position and had to withdraw toward Gabrije, losing some 300 prisoners. Increased artillery activity was noticeable on the Carinthian front, particularly in the Fella sector; in the Dolomites, especially in the Col di Lana sector; in the Sugana Valley and at some points on the west Tyrol front. Goritz, too, was again subjected to heavy Italian gunfire.
On the following day, March 19, 1916, fighting continued at the Tolmino bridgehead as a result of Italian efforts to conquer positions firmly in Austro-Hungarian hands. The number of Italians captured reached 925 and the number of machine guns taken was increased to seven. Several Italian attacks against Mrzli and Krn (Monte Nero) broke down. On the Rombon the Austro-Hungarians captured a position and took 145 Italians and two machine guns.
Lively fighting continued on the Carinthian front. In the Tyrol frontier district Italian artillery again held the Col di Lana section and some points south of the front under heavy artillery fire.
On the Goritz bridgehead Austro-Hungarians in the morning set fire to an Italian position before the southern part of Podgora Height. In the afternoon Austro-Hungarian artillery shelled heavily the front before the bridgehead. During the night they ejected Italian forces from a trench before Bevma.
Again on March 20, 1916, Italian counterattacks against the positions captured by the Austro-Hungarians during the preceding days failed. Again fighting slowed down for a few days.
As usual, resumption of military operations was indicated by increased artillery fire.
In the Rovereto zone on March 23, 1916, an artillery duel was followed during the night by Austro-Hungarian attacks against Italian positions at Moriviccio, near Rio Comeraso, and in the Adige and Terragnole Valleys. These were repulsed. Throughout the theater of operations bad weather limited, however, artillery action on the Isonzo, which was active only near Tolmino and the heights northwest of Goritz.
On March 25, 1916, Italian artillery again bombarded the Doberdo Plateau (south of Goritz), the Fella Valley and various points on the Tyrolese front. East of Ploecken Pass (on the Carnia front) Italian positions were penetrated and Italian attacks repulsed near Marter (Sugana Valley).
Severe fighting took place on March 26, 1916, at several points. At the Goritz bridgehead the Austro-Hungarians captured an Italian position fronting on the northern portion of Podgora Heights, taking 525 prisoners. Throughout the entire day and the following night the Italian troops in vain attempted to regain the positions which they had lost the day before east of Ploecken Pass.
In the Doberdo sector on March 27, 1916, the artillery was again active on both sides. Italian attacks on the north slope of Monte San Michele and near the village of San Martino were repulsed. East of Selz a severe engagement developed.
In the Ploecken sector all Italian attacks were beaten back under heavy losses. Before the portion of the Carinthian front held by the Eighth Chasseurs Battalion more than 500 dead Italians were observed. Austro-Hungarian airmen dropped bombs on railroads in the province of Venice.
Especially severe fighting occurred once more in the region of the Gonby bridgehead during March 27, 28 and 29, 1916. On the last of these days the Italians lost some 350 prisoners. Without cessation the guns thundered on both sides on these three days on the Doberdo Plateau, along the Fella and Ploecken sectors, in the Dolomites and to the east of Selz. Scattered Italian attacks at various points failed. Then, with the end of March, the weather again necessitated a stoppage of military operations.
An interesting description of the territory in which most of this fighting occurred was rendered by a special correspondent of the London "Times" who, in part, says:
"There is no prospect on earth quite like the immense irregular crescent of serrated peak and towering mountain wall that is thrown around Italy on the north, as it unrolls itself from the plains of Lombardy and Venetia. How often one has gazed at it in sheer delight over its bewildering wealth of contrasting color and fantastic form, its effect of light and shade and measureless space! But now, for these many months past, keen eyes have been bent upon it; eyes, not of the artist or the poet, but those of the soldier.
"It was such a pair of military eyes that I had beside me a day or two ago, as I stood upon the topmost roofs of a high tower, in a certain little town in northern Italy, where much history has been made of late; and, since the owner of the eyes was likewise the possessor of a very well-ordered mind and a gift of lucid exposition, I found myself able to grasp the main elements of the extraordinarily complex strategic problem with which the chiefs of the Italian army have had to grapple. As I looked and listened I felt that the chapter which Italy is contributing to the record of the greatest war of all time is one of which she will have every reason to be proud when she has at length brought it to its victorious conclusion.
"There are few such viewpoints as this. In the luminous stillness of a perfect morning of the Italian summer I could look north, and east, and west, upon more than a third of the battle line, that goes snaking among the mountains from near the Swiss frontier to the Adriatic. And what a length of line it is! In England some people seem to think this is a little war that Italy has on hand, little in comparison with the campaigns in France and Russia. But it is not small, weighed even in that exacting balance. The front measures out at over 450 miles, which is not very far short of the length of ribbon of trench and earthwork that is drawn across western Europe.
"Here, as there, every yard is held and guarded. It is true that there is not a continuous row of sentries; for on the Austro-Italian front there are places where the natural barriers are impassable even for the Alpine troops, who will climb to the aerie of the eagles. But wherever nature has not barred the way against both sides alike the trenches and fortified galleries run, stretching across the saddle between two inaccessible peaks, ringing around the shoulder of a mountain, dipping it into the valley, and then rising again to the very summit or passing over it.
"There are guns everywhere—machine guns, mountain guns, field guns, huge guns of position, 6-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch—which have been dragged or carried with all their mountings, their equipment, their tools and appurtenances, up to their stations, it may be, 3,000, 4,000, 6,000 feet above the level. And at those heights are the larders of shell which must always be kept full so that the carnivorous mouths of the man-eaters may not go hungry even for the single hour of the single day which, at any point, an attack may develop.
"Such is the long Italian battle line. When you know what it is you are not surprised that here and there, and now and again, it should bend and give a little before an enemy better supplied with heavy artillery, and much favored by the topographical conditions; for he has the higher mountain passes behind him instead of in front, and is coming down the great Alpine stairway instead of going up.
"That of course is the salient feature of the campaign. The Italians are going up, the Austrians coming, or trying to come, down. On the loftier uplands, range beyond range, in enemy territory, the Austrians before the war had their forts and fortified posts and their strategic roads; and almost everywhere along the front they have observing stations which overlook, at greater or less distance, the Italian lines. Thus the Italians have had to make their advance, and build their trenches, and place their guns, in the face of an enemy who lies generally much above them, sometimes so much above them that he can watch them from his nests of earth and rock as though he were soaring in an aeroplane."
THE SPRING OF 1916 ON THE AUSTRO-ITALIAN FRONT
During the early part of the spring of 1916, a large number of engagements took place at many scattered points along the entire Austro-Italian front. Neither side apparently had determined as yet upon any definite plan of operations, or, if they had, they took special pains to avoid a premature disclosure. To a certain extent the fighting which occurred was little more than of a reconnoitering nature. Each side attempted with all the facilities at its command to improve its positions, even if only in a small way, and to find out weak spots in the lines of its adversary. It was only natural that during the process of this type of warfare, fortune should smile one day on one side and turn its back promptly the next day.
During the first week of April, 1916, there was little to report anywhere along the front. On the 6th, however, considerable artillery activity developed along the Isonzo front, where the Italians shelled once more the city of Goritz. This activity gradually increased in vehemence. At the end of about two weeks it decreased slightly for a few days, only to be taken up again with renewed vigor and to be maintained with hardly a break during the balance of April, 1916.
Coincident with this artillery duel there developed a series of violent engagements on the Carso plateau to the east of the lower Isonzo. The first of these occurred on April 12, 1916, when Italian advance detachments approached Austrian trenches between Monte San Michelo and San Martino, wrecking them with hand grenades and bombs. Another engagement of somewhat greater importance occurred on April 22, 1916, east of Selz. Italian infantry, supported by artillery, despite obstinate resistance occupied strong trenches 350 meters long. The Austrians receiving reenforcements, violently counterattacked twice during the night, the second time succeeding in retaking part of the lost trenches. After a deadly hand-to-hand struggle in which the Austrians suffered severely, the Italians drove them out, capturing 133, including six officers, two machine guns, 200 rifles, several flame throwers, and numerous cases of ammunition and bombs.
The following day, April 23, 1916, Austrian artillery of all calibers violently shelled the trenches occupied east of Selz, obliging the Italians to evacuate a small section north of the Selz Valley, which was especially exposed to the Austrian fire. Another strong attack, supported by a very destructive gunfire was launched by the Austrians against these trenches on April 25, 1916, and enabled them to reoccupy some of the ground previously lost.
Two days later the Italians attempted to regain these positions. At first they succeeded in entering the Austrian trenches on a larger front than they had held originally, but when they manifested an intention to continue the attack, the Austro-Hungarians, by counterattacks drove them into their former positions and even ejected them from these in bitter hand-to-hand fighting, thereby regaining all their former positions.
During the balance of April, and up to May 15, 1916, military operations on the entire Isonzo front were restricted to artillery bombardments, which, however, at various times, became extremely violent, especially so with respect to Goritz and the surrounding positions.
In the next sector, the Doberdo Plateau, much the same condition was prevalent. From the 1st of April, until the middle of May, 1916, there was always more or less artillery activity. Occasionally infantry engagements of varying importance and extent would occur. On April 7, 1916, the Italians were driven back from some advanced saps. South of Mrzlivrh, Austro-Hungarian troops conquered Italian positions, taking forty-three prisoners and one machine gun.
Again on the 9th, hand-to-hand fighting, preceded by bomb throwing, was reported on the Mrzlivrh front. Another attack, launched early in the morning of April 13, 1916, by the Austrians, lasted throughout the day, with varying fortune, but finally resulted in a success for the Italians. On April 14, 1916, the Austro-Hungarians captured an Italian position at Mrzlivrh and repulsed several counterattacks. The Italians suffered heavy losses. Artillery vigorously shelled the Italian positions at Flitsch and Hontebra.
Other violent engagements took place on the Doberdo Plateau on April 27, May 9, 10, 12, and 13, without, however, having any influence on the general situation.
In all the other sectors very much the same conditions prevailed. Artillery fire was maintained on both sides almost constantly. Infantry attacks were launched wherever and whenever the slightest opportunity offered itself. Scarcely any of these, however, resulted in any noticeable advantage to either side, especially in view of the fact that whenever one side would register a slight gain, the other side immediately would respond by counterattack and frequently nullify all previous successes. Comparatively unimportant and restricted, though, as most of this fighting was, it was so only because it exerted practically no influence on the general situation. On the other hand, it was carried on with the greatest display of valor and persistence that can be imagined and, because of the very nature of the ground on which it occurred, it forms one of the most spectacular periods of the war on the Austro-Italian front.
Of these many local operations there were only a few which developed to such an extent that they need to be mentioned specifically.
One of these was a series of engagements in the Ledro Valley, southwest of Riva and west of Lake Garda. There the Italians on April 11, 1916, by systematic offensive actions, pushed their occupation of the heights north of Rio Tonale, between Concei Valley and Lake Garda. Efficaciously supported by their artillery, their infantry carried with the bayonet a strong line of intrenchments and redoubts along the southern slopes of Monte Pari Cimadoro and the crags of Monte Sperone. On the following day, however, April 12, 1916, the Austro-Hungarians, by violent surprise attacks, succeeded in rushing a part of the trenches taken by the Italians at Monte Sperone. In the evening, after an intense preparation by artillery, Italian infantry counterattacked, reoccupying the lost positions, after a deadly hand-to-hand struggle and extending their occupation to the slopes of Monte Sperone. This was followed by a still further extension on April 16, 1916.
Much of the fighting involved positions on mountain peaks of great height, creating difficulties for both the attacker and the defender, which at first glance appeared to be almost insurmountable. Of this type of warfare in the high mountains, the special correspondent of the London "Times" gives the following vivid description:
"The Italian dispositions are very complete, and it is at this point necessary to say a few words upon Alpini warfare, which the Italians have brought to such a pitch of perfection. They are not the only mountaineers in the world, nor the only people to possess warriors famous on the hillside, but they were the first people in Europe, except the Swiss, to organize mountain warfare scientifically, and in their Alpine groups they possess a force unrivaled for combat in the higher mountains. The Alpini are individualists who think and act for themselves and so can fight for themselves. They are the cream of the army.
"Locally recruited, they know every track and cranny of the hills, which have no terrors for them at any season, and their self-contained groups, which are practically the equivalent of divisions, contain very tough fighters and have achieved remarkable results during the war. Their equipment, clothing, artillery, and transport are all well adapted to mountain warfare, and as the whole frontier has been accurately surveyed, and well studied from every point of view, the Italians are at a great advantage in the hills.
"There is nothing new about these troops, whose turnout and tactics have been a subject of admiration for many years, but in this war much has changed, in the Alps as elsewhere, and the use of the heaviest artillery in the mountains is one of the most striking of these changes. One finds oneself under the fire of twelve-inch howitzers from the other side of mountains 10,000 feet high, and it is no extraordinary experience to find Italian heavy howitzers sheltering behind precipices rising sheer up several thousand feet, and fighting with Austrian guns ten miles distant, and beyond one, if not two, high ranges of hills. One imagines that the Austrians must have many twelve-inch howitzers to spare, for there are, to give an example, a couple near Mauthen, beyond the crest of the Carnic Alps, and other heavy artillery in the same district hidden in caverns. In these caverns, which are extremely hard to locate, they are secure against shrapnel and cannot be seen by airmen. I fancy the Austrians use galleries with several gun positions, which are used in turn.
"This style of fighting compels the Italians to follow suit, or at least it is supposed to do so, and then, as no road means no heavy guns, there comes in the Italian engineer, the roadmaker, and the mason, and in the art of roadmaking the Italian is supreme.
"They are very wonderful, these mountain roads. They play with the Alps and make impossibilities possible. Thanks to them, and to the filovia, or air railway on chains, it is possible to proceed from point to point with great rapidity, and to keep garrisons and posts well supplied. The telephones run everywhere, and observing stations on the highest peaks enable Italian howitzers to make sure of their aim. I am not quite sure whether the Italians do not trust too much to their telephones and will not regret the absence of good flag signalers. When large forces are operating, and many shells bursting, the telephone is often a broken reed. The motor lorries, with about a one and one-half ton of useful load, get about wherever there is a road, and the handy little steam tractors, which make light of dragging the heaviest guns up the steepest gradients, are valuable adjuncts to the defense. At the turns of bad zigzags, the Italians have a remarkable drill for men on the dragropes, and in fact all difficulties have been overcome.
"I recall some Italian batteries mounted at an elevation of about 9,000 feet, of which each gun weighed eleven tons, the carriage five tons, and the platform, which was divided into sections, thirty tons. These guns, the battery officers declared, were brought up from the plains by a new mountain road in seven hours, and placed in position on these platforms five hours later. It is all a question of roads, but the filovia can carry 400 kilos, and any gun under that weight can get up to a peak by way of the air.
"It is all very marvelous and very perfect, and the Italians are also adepts at trench building, and make them most artistically. The only objection I can see to the mountain road is that, when the enemy gets a hold of the territory which they serve, he has the benefit of them. This is true of Trentino operations now, and the enemy has many more roads at his disposal than the old maps show. Sometimes I wonder whether the Italians do not immerse themselves a little too much in these means of war and lose sight a little of the ends, but over nine-tenths of Italy's frontier the war is Alpine, and it must be allowed that Italian soldiers have brought the art of mountain fighting to a degree of perfection which it has never attained before.