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WarChron - August 1914 - Russian War Command - Battle Fronts

 

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The Year 1914

On 1 August, Germany declared war on Russia. Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke was the German Commander in Chief, with General Headquarters at Koblenz. The Austro-Hungarians were still in the process of mobilizing. Their Commander in Chief was Archduke Friedrich, with Chief of Staff Field Marshall Conrad von Hoetzendorf.

The British Cabinet was still divided over what course to take. Foreign Minster Lord Edward Grey was seeking a last minute diplomatic solution. The German Ambassador in London sent Berlin two telegrams implying that Britain would remain neutral. Learning of this the Kaiser demanded that his generals stop preparations for a campaign in the West and turn to the East. Moltke informed him that this was now impossible. The British Cabinet, unwilling to send troops to France, now realized that a guarantee of 1839 to Belgium was at issue.

On 1 August, Russia small-arms factories were turning out only six rifles per day, although they had a capacity for 2,000 per day. Only a short time before the war Russia had depleted a part of her reserves by sending Serbia 120,000 rifles. Russia now had an industrial force of three million workers. During 1914 there were over 3,500 strikes, involving over 1.3 million workers. Most of these strikes were on the every eve of the war.

On 2 August, at St. Petersburg, the Tsar summoned a special session of the State Duma to explain the situation and signed the manifesto declaring war on Germany. The next day he appointed his uncle, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich as Supreme Commander-in-Chief. His move opened the way for a split between “front” and “rear” that eventually led to an administrative chaos that would plague the Russian war effort until the Tsar finally took command in August 1915.

In the Baltic Sea, the Russian Fleet had four old battleships, 10 cruisers, 36 destroyers, five submarines, and six mine layers, with their main naval base at Kronshtadt. The Germans hadight cruisers, ten torpedo boats, and four submarines. In the Baltic, German cruisers Magdeburg and Augsburg bombarded the port of Libau and laid 100 mines outside the harbor.

On 2 August, Russian troops entered East Prussia, near Schwidden. German Landwehr Army units from Thorn pushed into northwest Poland on scouting missions. Other German Landwehr units from Posen, Glogau, and Breslau entered Poland, and began moves to occupy Kalisch and Chenstokhov.

 
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The Year 1914

On 2 August, Turkey joined a Treaty of Alliance with Germany against Russia. On the grounds that they need time to complete military preparations Turkey remained neutral until October. Facing the imminent Russia advance into East Prussia stood the German 8th Army, led by General von Prittwitz, HQ at Posen, with Chief of Staff, General von Waldersee.

On the Allied Western Front, Germany sent a Note to Belgium, demanding that she remain passive. Belgium immediately refused. German troops quickly moved into Luxembourg, and entered France at four points. The French Army was still in the slow process of mobilizing. Italy declared its neutrality. The British Cabinet agreed to protect the French coasts since most of the French Fleet was in the Mediterranean Sea. France declared martial law. Note: It is not within the purpose of this work to extensively cover the other Allied fronts. Such coverage will only appear when certain key events occurred that had some direct bearing on Russia.

On 3 August, there were skirmishes between Russian and German outposts on the Baltic coast. Russian units began moving on Johannesburg.

On 3 August, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich became commander of all Russian forces. His Chief of Staff was General N.N. Yanushkevich, with General Yu.N. Danilov as Quartermaster General. Russian GHQ (Stavka) was being established at Baranovichi. The Grand Duke would finally arrive there thirteen days later. There was a growing discord between Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich and War Minister Sukhomlinov, who had very much wanted to be named commander.

The Russian Northwest Front was commanded by General Ya.G. Zhilinskiy, with its HQ at Bialystok. His forces included General P.G. Rennenkampf's 1st Army and General A.V. Samsonov's 2nd Army.

The Russian Southwest Front was commanded by General N.Yu. Ivanov, with HQ at Kiev, shortly to move to Rovno. His forces included the Russian 9th Army, led by General P.A. Lechitskiy, with HQ at Warsaw; the Russian 4th Army, commanded by General A.E. Zaltsa, with HQ at Lublin; the Russian 5th Army, commanded by General P.A. Pleve, with HQ at Kholm; the Russian 3rd Army, headed by General N.V. Ruzskiy, with HQ at Dubno; and the Russian 8th Army, led by General A.A. Brusilov, HQ at Proskurov. The 6th Army, under General K.P. Fan-der-Flit, was forming at Odessa.

 


 
Emblem

The Year 1914

On 3 August, the Polish Congress was established in Warsaw. Jozef Pilsudski organized a small “Cadre Company” of 200 Galicians and volunteers from Russian Poland who wanted to fight against Russia and led them across the Austro-Hungarian border north of Krakau. They would later become the nucleus of the Polish Legion.

Germany declared war on France. Orders were issued for British mobilization. German battle cruisers Goeben and Breslau entered the Mediterranean at Gibraltar on their way to the Dardanelles. They would soon join the Turkish fleet.

On 3 August, in Romania, a Crown Council was convened at Sinaia which rejected the King's request for Romania to join the war on side of the Central Powers.

On 4 August, Great Britain finally issued mobilization orders. Lord Kitchener became the British Secretary of War. Germany declared war on Great Britain and Belgium. France and Great Britain declared war on Germany. The United States announced its neutrality and offered its good offices in mediation. Crowds sacked the German Embassy in St. Petersburg.

In the Mediterranean Sea, German battle cruisers Goeben and Breslau, on their way to the Dardanelles, shelled French Algerian ports at Bone and Phillipeville.

On 5 August, the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army, led by General Rudolf von Brudermann, left Bratislava for the Russian front. They began arriving piecemeal at Sambor, Stryj, Chyrow, and Varanno by the 10th. Their II Corps was at Jaroslau, with the VIth Corps at Przemysl. The Austro-Hungarian 1st and 4th Armies began moving into southern Poland. The Russian 3rd and 8th Armies were moving forward on the Zlota Lipa River line against the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army and Army Group Kovess.

Belgium declared war on Germany.

On 6 August, Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia.

German 8th Army troops engaged in skirmishes with the Russians in northern Poland near Thorn, Soldau and Lyck. Russian troops occupied towns in East Prussia. The German 8th Army was supported by Feldfliegerabteilung (flying sections) 14, 15, 16 and 17.

The Union for the Liberation of the Ukraine was founded in Lemberg (Lvov) (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.) The Union had been funded by the Austrians who hoped to foment anti-Russian feelings. It was formed by a group of Ukrainian political émigrés from Russia, in close co-operation with Austrian Ukrainian leaders from Galicia. In late August they moved their headquarters to Vienna.


 
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