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Balkan and Italian Fronts 3. RUMANIAN CAMPAIGN King Frost is holding back the armies of the Central Powers, having made impossible a continuation of their victorious advance after the Sereth River was reached. During the final stages of mobile warfare on that front Russian resistance had become considerably stiffened, particularly in the battle for Galatz.
In the region of the "three countries' corner," in the northern sector of the wooded Carpathian front, the troops of the Central Powers have lately made a series of successful advances. The battles in the Meste-Canesti sector, on the Jacobeny-Kimpolung railway, may signify the beginning of a renewed offensive in the Rumanian campaign. At present that front runs as follows: West of Polgyes Pass and Gyimes Pass, east of the wooded Carpathians, as far as the region west of Tergu Okna, along the railway running north from Focsani, east of Oitutz Pass to the Putna west of Panciu, then along the Putna to east of Focsani, to the bridgehead Fundeni, Nemoloasa, to the Sereth, along that river as far as Braila, and further across the Danube into the Dobrudja. This line is held by the following armies of the Central Powers: (1) Army of General von Gerok, (right wing of army group Kovess.) (2) Army group Arz von Straussenburg. (3) Army of General Krafft von Delmensingen. (4) Army of General Morgen, (Falkenhayn's Ninth Army.) (5) Army Koch, (Danube Army.) (6) Army Nezerow, (Dobrudja Army.)
4. ITALIAN FRONT- The Isonzo front is no exception to the sudden flareup of preparatory activity which is marking all other chief battle lines. Austro-Hungarian troops have attacked the Italian on the Carso Plateau, on the heights to the east and southeast of Goritzia, thus taking the initiative in a reopening of mobile operations. Fighting also has been resumed around Tolmein. Even Italian military experts had predicted that after the conclusion of the Rumanian campaign the forces released on the German side would be sent against Italy.
5. MACEDONIAN FRONT-At the great war council of the Allies in Rome at the beginning of the year, which was attended by Lloyd George and Briand, Italy's backbone was to be stiffened. Particularly, she was to be induced to participate in the fighting in Macedonia, Military necessity had made it imperative for the Entente to render the Greek Army armless, thus removing the menace of a possible enemy in the rear of the Saloniki expedition. Italy has from the outset disapproved of the Entente's policy toward Greece. Rome never trusted the ambitions and aims of Venizelos, and Italy as far as she could stood off from the military events in Macedonia. Since the Rome war council Italian forces have appeared in greater strength on the Macedonian theatre, without, however, relieving the stagnation of the military situation on that front. Here, too, renewed mobility of action has been begun by the Central Powers. The storming of a height to the east of Paralovo defended by Italian troops signifies no exciting military event in itself. However, it gains interesting color by the fact that the attackers were Germans. It had been a long time since German participation in operations on the Macedonian front had been heard of.
6. TIGRIS FRONT-Of the extra European theatres of war the Mesopotamian front has again come into the forefront of war news of late. The British expeditionary army has resumed its advance against Kut-el-Amara, on the road to Bagdad. As far as the military situation in this region can be judged at this time, it appears that the Turks have been driven off from the southern banks of the Tigris. It is more than probable, however, that only advance positions have been abandoned, since the Turkish main forces are concentrated on the northern banks. But these battles undoubtedly will play an important rôle in connection with the expected decisive combats looked for in the coming Spring, since for England success or failure in Mesopotamia means security or menace to the Persian Gulf.
N. N. Pokrovsky, Who Succeeds M. Sturmer in the Foreign
(Photo from Press Illustrating Co.)
The Month's Strategic Developments
From January 15 to February 15, 1917
By J. B. W. Gardiner
HE prevalence of extreme Winter
temperature on all the battle fronts
negatived to a great extent all fighting during the last month. Local actions of an unimportant character have been the only indications of activity. The Russian move against the Riga lines, which was just beginning as last month's review was being written, was followed by a heavy countermove on the part of the Germans. Both the Russian and the German efforts, however, proved abortive and soon died out, leaving the situation exactly as it was at the outset. From Riga to the Rumanian front there has been no change in the general situation.
On Feb. 15 the Germans officially reported taking two important heights in Rumania, but the fact remains that the forces confronting each other on that front are at present without essential advantage to either side. There was for time some sharp fighting along the southern Sereth, where the Russians had retreated across the river and had taken up a position in front of the fortified post of Galatz. Evidently the Russians had reached the line which was intended by the High Command to be held, for the Germans were able to make no headway.
Checked in the south, they turned their attention to the passage through the mountains at Oituz. This is the most important point on the entire Transylvanian frontier at the present time, as through it alone can the positions along the Trotus River, which positions are a northern extension of the Sereth line, be attacked. The mountains are entirely closed north of the Oituz Pass, and between it and the crossing of the Trotus there is not a single passage. If the way through this pass were cleared, therefore, the Germans would be in an excellent position to carry their lines across the
Putna to the Trotus and middle Sereth and force this smaller stream, thus flanking the entire line of defense.
Here also, however, the Germans met with a distinct check. The Russians were assisted at what appeared to be a critical time by heavy snows and extreme cold. These, combined with the natural strength of the Russian defenses, finally caused cessation of fighting, so that the long line from Riga to the Danube settled down to do nothing until the weather became more propitious.
British Fighting on the Ancre On the western front the British alone have been active. Trench raids have been frequent on all sides, but these are for purposes of reconnoissance and involve little fighting. All the fighting that has been done has been along the Ancre in the Somme district. It has been presumed that the battle of the Somme had ended, the presumption being entirely on the part of the Germans. Arguing from their own experience at Verdun they came to the conclusion that the cessation of the fighting there last November meant an allied defeat and a German victory. The two battles, however, have little in
Verdun was lost in April. At least by April it was evident that the Germans had been checked and that whatever they had hoped to accomplish had escaped from them. The battle ceased to be fought in July. From July to the end of October is the best fighting weather of the year. Had the Germans not been defeated, had they not seen the futility of carrying the battle further, and, above all, had they not been furnished with an excellent excuse for crying quits by the combined allied attack, the battle could have gone on without hindrance. But they
COURT (THIEPVAL COURCELETTE
DELVILLE WOOD ANCRE REGION, SCENE OF RECENT BRITISH ADVANCES IN FRANCE were defeated, and, seeing the opportu ations until the ground would permit the nity of stopping the attack because of passage of infantry and artillery. the worldwide distraction caused by the During the last month excessive cold allied offensive, judged that the chance prevailed on the Somme front during alto withdraw was too good to lose.
most the entire period. The ground was The situation at the battle of the frozen, as was also the stream itself. Somme is in no way to be compared with This afforded the British an opportunity this situation. In the first place, the Al to continue where they left off last Fall. lies had no one objective. There was no It will be remembered that the last strongly fortified point in their front to effort made on the Somme was a British ward which their military aspirations led attack along the Ancre, which resulted them. Bapaume was there, also Péronne, in an advance on both sides of the stream but neither of these is of sufficient im and the occupation of Beaucourt and portance either from a military or a sen Beaumont Hamel. It was in an extension timental viewpoint to be considered the of this section of the front that the Britfinal objective of such a titanic effort. ish effort was exerted. Taking first a And when the fighting ended it was not trench on the south bank of the river, because the advance of the Allies was then one on the north bank, the British checked. On the contrary, the rate of ad gradually extended their lines until the vance with each successive major attack town of Grandcourt was almost surwas greater in the final days of the fight rounded. The Germans were placed in a ing than it was at the beginning. The desperate position, and, lest their line of question was decided for the time being retreat be closed altogether and they be by weather conditions. The whole front forced back against the stream, they had been turned into a sea by heavy evacuated the town without making a rains. The Ancre, instead of being, as in fight to defend it. normal times, a stream scarcely larger The British since Grandcourt fell have than a brook, was a wide river, a no been conducting the same sort of operaman's land between the rival trenches tion against Serre. There has been no passable only in boats. There was noth attempt to break the line, no grand efing for the Allies to do but suspend oper fort such as marked the Fall operations