Primary Documents - Alexei Brusilov's Announcements Regarding the Kerenski Offensive, 7-22 July 1917
Reproduced below is the text of Russian Revolutionary Army Commander-in-Chief Alexei Brusilov's official announcements issued between 7-22 July 1917 concerning the Kerenski Offensive.
The offensive began promisingly - 10,000 prisoners were taken on the first day alone - but soon faltered with poor morale, supply difficulties and the arrival of German reserves quickly slowing progress until, in mid-July, the attack was effectively called off - finally breaking the cohesion of the army. Its failure helped to doom the already struggling Provisional Government, paving the way for the onset of the Bolshevik October Revolution.
Brusilov's dispatches make clear his own frustration with increasing difficulties in countering Bolshevik activism which led to the effective disintegration of the Russian Army.
Russian Army Commander-in-Chief Alexei Brusilov's Official Announcements of the Kerenski Offensive
7 July 1917
In the direction of Zloczow [on the Lemberg-Tarnopol railway], in the region of Batkow-Manajow, after artillery preparation, our infantry attacked the strongly fortified positions of the enemy and occupied three lines of trenches, but towards evening the enemy succeeded, by a series of counter-attacks, in pressing back our detachments.
On the sector of the heights north of Presowce, Lawrykowce, Trawotloki, Hodow [all near Zborow and north of Brzezany], and the wood to the west of Koniuchy, our detachments conducted an offensive and engaged in a stubborn battle throughout the day of July 6th.
Fortified positions constantly changed hands. The enemy bringing up fresh reserves, executed a series of counter-attacks. The more formidable of these counter-attacks came from the direction of the village Urlow and the woods to the west of Koniuchy, where in certain places the enemy succeeded in pressing back our attacking detachments.
Towards the evening there remained in our hands the heights to the northwest of Presowce, the villages of Lawrykowce and Trawotloki, and the heights to the east of Hodow.
In the battle of July 6th we captured 17 officers and 672 Men.
In the direction of Zloczow during the night of July 6th-7th the enemy launched energetic counter-attacks on the front of Hodow and in the wood to the west of Koniuchy, attempting to dislodge our troops from the positions which they captured in the battle on July 6th. All these attacks were repelled. Attacks by dense enemy columns supported by armoured motor-cars west of Byszki, were also repelled.
10 July 1917
DIRECTION OF DOLINA - On July 8th, about midday, after artillery preparation, the troops of Gen, Kornilov's army attacked the fortified positions of the enemy to the west of Stanislau, on the Jamnica front, and, having pierced the foremost and most important position of the enemy, our troops advanced and captured in battle the small town of Jezupol [on the Bystrzyca] and the villages of Ciesow, Pawelcze, Rybno, and Stary Lysiec [all west of or on the same river].
Our cavalry, giving immediate pursuit to the retreating enemy, reached the River Lukwa [about eight miles behind the enemy first line].
During the course of the day 131 officers and 7,000 rank and file were taken prisoners; 48 guns (including 12 heavy guns) and numerous machine guns were also captured.
10 July 1917
Yesterday the troops of Gen. Kornilov continued the offensive in the region west of Stanislau. The Austro-Germans offered an energetic resistance, launching desperate counter-attacks.
Fighting of a most stubborn and sanguinary character took place on the roads leading to Halicz in the vicinity of the villages of Huciska, Pacykow and Pawelcze. In the streets of the last-named village hand-to-hand fighting occurred, which ended in the complete defeat of the enemy.
In yesterday's fighting we captured more than 1,000 Austro-German prisoners, three field guns, and a large quantity of trench engines, machine guns and engineering and war material.
The gallant conduct of our troops was beyond praise and the officers were everywhere in the forefront.
19 July 1917
West of Halicz the detachments occupying the village of Bludniki retired, whereupon the enemy, profiting by this movement, occupied the place. The effort to win back this village was unsuccessful.
According to supplementary reports received, on July 17th about 7 o'clock in the evening, when the enemy took the offensive and seized the height to the south of the village of Nowica (south of Kalusz), one of our regiments began to leave.
Maj.-Gen. Prince Gagarin, commanding the Caucasian Native Horse Division, seeing the critical situation, at once moved forward a battalion of the Ukhnoff Regiment, placing himself at its head and disposing three of his regiments - the Daghestanians on the right, the Circassians and the Kabardians on the left.
With a furious onslaught the Ukhnoff Regiment and the horsemen rushed forward, bearing also with them the Russian regiment which had retired.
The general onslaught soon changed the situation in our favour. The advancing enemy fled in disorderly fashion, and our former position was restored. The brilliant work of the artillery of this command contributed decisively to the success.
21 July 1917
NORTHEAST GALICIA - After strong artillery preparation, the enemy persistently attacked our detachments on the Pieniaki-Harbuzow front [on both sides of the headwaters of the Sereth and 2o miles south of Brody]. At first all these attacks were repelled.
At 10 o'clock, July 19th, the 607th Mlynoff Regiment, situated between Batkow and 11-Ianajow (in the same region), left their trenches voluntarily and retired, with the result that the neighbouring units had to retire also. This gave the enemy the opportunity for developing his success.
Our failure is explained to a considerable degree by the fact that under the influence of the extremists (Bolsheviks) several detachments, having received the command to support the attacked detachments, held meetings and discussed the advisability of obeying the order, whereupon some of the regiments refused to obey the military command. The efforts of the commanders and committees to arouse the men to the fulfilment of the commands were fruitless.
22 July 1917
Our troops, having manifested absolute disobedience to the commanders, continued to retreat to the River Sereth, part giving themselves up as prisoners.
Only the 155th infantry division in the district of Dolzanka-Domamoricz, and the armoured cars which fired on the German cavalry on the Tarnopol road, put up any opposition to the enemy.
With immense superiority in forces and technic on our side in the sections attacked, the retreat continued almost without a break. This was due to the absolute instability of our troops and discussions as to whether to obey or not to obey orders of commanders, and to the criminal propaganda of the Bolsheviks.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. V, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
Duck-Boards comprised slatted wooden planking used for flooring trenches or muddy ground.
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