Who's Who - Yuri Danilov

Yuri Danilov (1866-1937) was the primary architect of Russia's blueprint for war, Plan 19.  His wartime career was however, despite its trademark dynamism, marked by his eventual inability to influence the military course of events.

As the principal author of Plan 19, Danilov intended to concentrate Russian military strength in readiness for an attack upon Germany via East Prussia, with Berlin as its eventual aim.

Unfortunately for Danilov, dissent among the military high command (Stavka) resulted in a somewhat compromised and diluted war blueprint.  While Danilov saw Germany as Russia's main threat (correctly, as it transpired) others viewed Austria-Hungary as the more likely key opponent.

This resulted in Russia's planned four armies (of 19 corps) being divided.  Two were to attack Germany via East Prussia while two were to remain in readiness to defend against an Austro-Hungarian initiative.

Once war was declared in August 1914 Danilov was appointed Commander in Chief Grand Duke Nikolai's Deputy Chief of Staff, nominal third in command at Stavka.  A highly energetic staff officer however, Danilov came to dominate policy at Stavka, and was responsible for co-ordinating operations on the Eastern Front.

Despite his real ability and abundant energy, Danilov was fatally hampered by the Russian army's chronically poor system of communications.  In essence, once the army had been mobilised Stavka's control of operations effectively came to an end, with local field commanders determining strategy (often disastrously, as at Tannenberg in August 1914).

With the Tsar's decision to take personal command of the army at the front in August 1915, both the Grand Duke and Danilov lost their positions.  Whereas Nikolai was sent to the Caucasus to passively supervise the continuing successful operations led by Nikolai Yudenich, Danilov was despatched to the northern sector of the Eastern Front where, following a spell as a corps commander, he eventually rose to command the Russian Fifth Army.

Having retired from the army in the wake of the February Revolution of 1917, Danilov subsequently emigrated to France in 1918 where he remained until his death in 1937.

A cartwheel was a particular type of aerial manoeuvre.

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