Center for Strategic Assessment and forecasts

Autonomous non-profit organization

Home / Defence and security / Special Operations: Theory and capabilities / Articles
Russian partisans in world
Material posted: Publication date: 06-06-2013

Guerrilla actions played a significant role in many wars. The first world war in this respect stands alone. Far from the European fronts in Mesopotamia, Palestine and East Africa – quite successfully acted such prominent guerrilla commanders of the time, as Paul of Lettow-Vorbeck and Thomas Edward Lawrence. But in the strategic scale they were insignificant. Their main achievement lies mainly in the fact that they demonstrated the potential of Partizanska in the future. On the Russian front was not even that.

First of all it should be noted that during the First world war, the guerrilla squad was called light force directed on the flanks and in the rear of the enemy army for destruction of physical harm and psychological impact on the enemy. Squad was making a mess and confusion on the lines of communications of the enemy army, making it difficult to transport supplies from the rear, interrupting the communication between the individual units and forcing your opponent to allocate substantial forces to counter. A characteristic feature of Partizanska freedom commanders of guerrilla groups. Of course, the squad going to search or RAID in accordance with the order of commander of the army, received General instructions about the purpose of action and the approximate base area.

In other respects the independence of the partisan should not be constrained by anything. Looking up from the army for a long time, guerrilla commander chose the most profitable and effective means to perform this as requested. Indigenous conditions for the success of the guerrilla group were the speed of movement and the suddenness of the attack. Naturally, out of itself imply that guerrilla activities are best suited the cavalry and only in some cases (e.g. when there is no cavalry or action on adverse terrain), it can be partly replaced by infantry. This concept of army Partizanska was not new: in practice it worked even in 1812 the Russian partisan commanders Denisov, Kudashev, Davydov, Seslavin and other, as theorized by the famous Denis Davydov in the book "Experience of the theory of guerrilla actions".

That is, the concept was, but the trouble is that applying it was much earlier and in a different way. But everything in order. ...In the winter of 1915-1916, on the fronts there was a lull. The cavalry of the Russian army was in reserve during his preparations for the spring campaign. Given the current favorable situation, the Russian command has decided to recruit volunteers for the guerrilla warfare behind German lines. The latter did not present any difficulties, since the cavalry always had a lot of hunters to perform different desperate enterprises. In addition, the early guerrilla operations were facilitated by the friendly attitude of the civilian population captured by the Germans territories, and swampy forest in the area, and the presence of the beautiful staff for such enterprises in the face of Cossacks.

Guerrilla activities, by their very nature, demanded from the people belonging to the detachment, qualities such as experience in being a guard and the intelligence services, some skill in stealth of movement and distraction of the enemy, ability to make independent decisions in a complex combat situation and, finally, these people should be devoted to military Affairs. Such demands were especially satisfied with the "cavalry, formed in a natural way", that is, due to historical and domestic conditions. Representatives of this "natural" cavalry in Russia were the Cossacks. "Faced with half-wild tribes, warring with us, the Cossacks learned from them the way of waging war, which is based on tireless mobility consisted in sudden raids, shapeless, but quick, bold and wild.

Under the influence of such conditions in the Cossacks developed a military dust — that spirit of selfless bravery, courage, not knowing myself of obstacles, ...develop skill with weapons, skill in single combat; vigilance, caution, shrewdness, resourcefulness, the ability to military stratagems, finally, developed and known physical abilities to the subtleties developed the eye, ear, etc. ...What could be after the best Cossack in the sense of horseman, which may be more than appropriate Cossack for partisan service? ...Indeed, it is impossible not to acknowledge the Cossacks a good example of the partisan cavalry," said Russian military writer F. K. Hershelman in his book "guerrilla war" (1885). Note that in the cavalry the Russia of that time was put in much better terms than any European state.

In excess with such an expensive weapon of war, as cavalry General and Cossack in particular, the Russian command was able to deploy a guerrilla war on a massive scale, without simultaneously weakening the main army and not depriving them of light cavalry.

In addition, Russian cavalry guerrilla activity was quite natural, making her "mentality", the national strategy and tactics. Note that before the outbreak of the First world war in the Russian military press a few times the question was raised about the usefulness and the importance of partisan activities in the rear of the enemy army.

At the same time, the General staff did absolutely nothing to prepare Partizanska, moreover, he, apparently, forgot all about this important means of struggle. This situation is reminiscent of another war, the Great Patriotic: then beforehand carried out serious preparatory activities in order that in case of an attack could in the shortest time to deploy organized a guerrilla struggle at the rear of the advancing enemy armies; and despite it, in the summer of 1941, I suddenly found that for "kindling the flame of national struggle", as they said, there is absolutely nothing.

Terrible 1937-the year hadn't gone by Soviet saboteurs: almost all of them were repressed, and the base and bookmarks with the weapon, explosives and products is eliminated. But it will be later in three decades. And while the yard is 1915. Assessing the then on the fronts of the situation, it can be concluded that the military leadership of Russia has been missed two periods, which could be very favorable for partisan operations. First of all, the period of mobilization. At that moment the numerous guerrilla cavalry troops daring raids and sabotage on the lines of communications of the enemy have been able to seriously slow down the deployment of the Austro-Hungarian army in the war.

The second most favored nation for guerilla war is the period of time when the Russian army retreated under the pressure of superior enemy. Here it was necessary to leave a small cavalry troops, equipped with adequate instructions. The sympathy of the local population, small and poorly protected roads, as well as numerous forests and swamps of the area, which hosted the Western front, — all this allowed for the deployment of guerrilla activity with the lowest cost and largest scale. But... nothing was done. On the contrary, a separate Russian cavalry mounts parts, found themselves cut off from their and trying thus to disturb the enemy rear, command of Russian or simply was not noticed, or displeasing their "wrongness."

For example, in September and October of 1914 as a result of extremely rapid offensive of the German corps of General Hindenburg at Warsaw on the left Bank of Vistula were cut off from their divisions, several squadrons of Russian cavalry. It was the 6th squadron of the 14th Yamburg Uhlan regiment, 5th squadron of the 14th Mitau hussar regiment and the 1st squadron of the 5th hussar Alexandria regiment. The emergence of Russian horse traveling in the rear of German army and perfect their German RAID on the convoy was so bothered by the command of the enemy that it was forced to send to the search unit, consisting of a cavalry regiment and infantry battalion.

After failing to catch escaped from their squads, the Germans hung in nearby villages of the proclamation, which offered Russians to voluntarily lay down their arms and surrender. However, the Russian cavalry these appeals for some reason didn't believe and continued his search for the enemy rear areas.

Local farmers were adjusted in relation to the Russian is quite friendly, supplied them with food and fodder, and also strictly warned about the danger. When as a result of successful actions of the Russian troops in the Warsaw-Ivangorod operation, the enemy retreated, the squads safely withdrew from the German hinterland towards the advancing infantry of the 9th Russian army. Paradoxically, a command of the Russian army not only could not understand opening before him the prospects (from the point of view of the beginning of full-scale guerrilla warfare); it is not even appreciated the actions of the soldiers and officers. In an official document, sorting their activities in the rear, stated that "senior commanders of eskadrennyj brought itself to passive wandering around the rear with the aim to find a way out of dangerous situations, not thinking about hurting the opponent".

It is possible that Russian cavalry and in fact was too passive in that situation, but we must remember the important fact that the Marching cavalry Charter in 1912 outlined the activities of the intelligence squads (the closest to guerrilla activity) only in the most General terms, and in peacetime the cavalry practiced their skills of searching only in the offensive. In short, the high command before and during the first period of the war nothing was done for the preparation and drafting of regulations on partisan activities. However, the natural need in her, and the realization of the considerable benefits that the partisan struggle could bring Russia, has resulted in numerous proposals about the formation of guerrilla groups entering the Bet and the headquarters of fronts.

Andrei Grigor'evich Shkuro, became later a prominent figure in the White movement, claimed in his memoirs "notes of a white partisan" that he first came up with the idea of creating a guerrilla group for raids in the enemy's rear. However, some historical documents allow us to doubt it.

For example, General V. N. Klembovsky in the book "Guerrilla activities" (1919) wrote that the first such proposal was addressed in Bid A. Kuchinsky, and this occurred in August 1915. However, Shkuro remembered about that period: "the Organization of the guerrilla unit I drawn: each regiment of the division sends from its group of 30-40 brave and experienced Cossacks, who organized a guerrilla division of the hundred. It penetrates into the enemy's rear, destroying railroads, cutting Telegraph and telephone wires, blowing up bridges, burning warehouses and in General, as the forces destroying communications and supplies of the enemy, excites against it the local population, supplying it with weapons and teaches the technique of guerrilla warfare, but also supports his communication with our command".

In the end, the Russian command decided to "settle" the question of the partisans, as in the Bet there are so many proposals on this issue that simply to dismiss them has been impossible. However in the Bet there was not one person who at least theoretically had been trained in guerrilla warfare. Therefore, in the early autumn of 1915 the headquarters of the Supreme commander was sent to all the fronts of the inquiry, which included only two questions: first, what units and in what quantity is formed at this front, and secondly, should develop for such units of a single state? The last question demonstrates how far were the employees of the headquarters with the nature of guerrilla warfare.

However, the fronts reported, whereby it appeared that on the Northern front guerrilla groups was six (three consisted of two officers and fifty-five lower ranks, and three of five officers and one hundred and twenty-five lower ranks, plus two machine guns), on the Western front — six (two cavalry detachment of three officers and seventy-eighty horsemen; in addition, there were four partisan party consisting of two officers and nine to twenty-five lower ranks), on the South-Western front was as much as eleven groups and parties of different numbers.

About the practical application of military partisans, the chief of staff of the Supreme commander, General Alekseyev pointed out in a resolution on "the possibility of strong attacks by small mounted units to introduce strong disorder into the rear service agencies, driving the brutes that serve oboznyi, the bakers, the workers. ...Broken and burnt wagons, destroyed the kitchen — all this is achievable, this will bring a disorder in the activity of the enemy".

Here, to clarify: the Japanese mean by "scoundrels" not the Germans, and Russian prisoners the Germans and Austrians in great quantities used for servicing your rear. However, the time for deployment of guerrilla activity had been already lost. By this time the enemy's location represented a solid fortified position, well-developed deep and thickly braided with barbed wire. Given all this, attempts by partisan parties to penetrate into enemy territory was not a success and was mainly confined to the destruction of enemy stations and outposts. Nevertheless, on 30 October 1915 came the order No. 2 of the ataman of the Cossack armies of Grand Prince Boris Vladimirovich, who was ordered to form guerrilla groups in accordance with the special instruction applied to the order. It was further ordered to immediately begin a guerrilla operation; if local conditions do not permit, it is possible to keep selected partisans on a special account until they can be put to use.

Six months later, on April 29, 1916, in addition to the above-mentioned instruction of the headquarters of ataman was sent to "a list of special property" that were supposed to be supplied with the units sent in behind enemy lines. So, for every ten partisans had to stand out: a pair of binoculars, two compasses, two hours, three lamps, ten hand grenades and ten bombs Novitsky (for making gaps in the wire fences), two axes, one saw, two guns, a subversive pack (including tol and fuse). Here attracts attention the surprising lack of supply of the guerrillas, which is completely justified by the lack of funds on the fronts. However, these are only documents.

What happened in practice? In late 1915 and early 1916 A. Shkuro formed a guerrilla hundred of the Kuban Cossacks. This hundred was renamed the Kuban cavalry detachment of special purpose. Since the end of January 1916 began the military service. In his memoirs Shkuro wrote: "Every two days we went out in night raids, are often added to my squad of infantry scouts. We were very disturbed by the Germans, so give added vigilance that we had to constantly change the place of our work. We took many prisoners, often have led them a hundred and more. However, the main goal of our work is the organization of guerrilla activities of the population in the enemy rear, which was not achieved through passivity and intimidation of the population". General Brusilov, who was at that time commander of the front, later recalled the partisans on the site negatively. He noted that with the emergence of guerrilla groups formed in the rear, began to occur all sorts of misunderstandings, and even big trouble with the locals, because the guerrillas were not dying at the front line, but made a lot of looting and hooliganism.

However, Brusilov did not blame the commanders of these units, realizing that the horse fights in conditions of continuous long-term defense had no chance. Probably, in those specific circumstances, according to Brusilov, the only possibility to make searches and raids was to set foot troops and send them into the German rear accompanied by guides from the local community. The only military operation of Russian partisans became "swoop" at the nevele. November 6, 1915 was promoted to staff-captain of the 12th cavalry division Tkachenko made a planned exploration, after which he invited the chiefs of the guerrilla detachments of the 7th, the 11th, the Composite-guards, 1st the don and Orenburg divisions plan a joint attack on the towns of Nevel and Idaci. At the General Council, the plan was approved.

In the night from 14 to 15 November, Russian partisans, conducting a thorough preliminary investigation, attacked the farmstead near the Nevel, which was the headquarters of the 82nd German reserve division, and the Nevel, where were stationed two infantry companies of the enemy. The attack was made simultaneously from two directions, from the North and from the East. The attack was completely unexpected for the Germans. Acting mainly with bayonets and grenades, Russian partisans killed about six hundred soldiers and officers of the enemy, captured two generals, three officers, doctors and a few lower ranks. In addition, were detonated two artillery shells, crushed provision warehouses and burned wagon trains of the enemy.

During the battle, the partisans lost in killed one officer and one private, and wounded three officers and six lower ranks. At a time when the main forces of the guerrillas attacked Nevel, several separate groups of soldiers provided, as one would say now, "the isolation of the area and of the object plaque", that is, resisted the attacks of the German reserves who were trying to surround the detachment. Cornet Crimean horse regiment Alexander Liventsov in Chapter 25 of the guerrillas "took significantly remote from the main force chokepoint, hard fight restrained her, knocked several times strongest opponent and fire contributed to the victory over the enemy, securing the rear of the main forces of the guerrillas, without which the latter would have got in a difficult position," according to the report.

Ensign 1st regiment Volgskoe Mikhail Vishnevsky was in command of a small party of soldiers. He before attack German infantry "personally, with a few partisans attacked the German guard and had him on the run, and then himself with two guerrillas, armed with a rifle, arranged ahead of the Russians circuits in an ambush the reeds". When it seemed the German circuit, the guerrillas missed their target and then opened unexpected frequent gun fire in the rear and the flank, which forced the enemy to retreat disorderly to their trenches. At the same time, the cornet of the 12th Dragoon regiment Starodubovsky Konstantin Ivanov, under the command of which there were two groups of partisans, their actions "kept the attack superior forces of the enemy and gave the squad an opportunity with the captured General to retreat and to cross the river Strumień, then fight crossed himself with his people and burned the bridge behind him". Such examples in the battle were many, the most distinguished officers were later awarded with St. George cross and the George weapon.

But we emphasize again: this daring RAID was a rare exception in the conditions of trench warfare. At great distances on the East and West stretched moves traffic, pitfalls, bunkers, barbed wire and minefields. The cavalry, whose responsibilities included supervision, communications and development success, in these circumstances, could not manifest their qualities. In addition, the tactical rear of the enemy were so densely filled with reserves and quartermaster services that partisan work was simply impossible. However, in the South-Western front was more the horse fights, because there wasn't heaps of trenches and concrete fortifications. However the partisans to fight here still had on foot — or in the mountains do not go. A. G. Shkuro later wrote that he "had been handed another three partisan groups: one Cossack captain Abramov (abramovici) and guerrilla detachment of the 13th cavalry division.

So now under my command consisted of over six hundred pieces. Working in the spurs of the southern Carpathians, and our work was coordinated with the tasks entrusted to the infantry. While the infantry was preparing a frontal attack, I climbed into the enemy rear area, disrupting communications, made the defeat of the rears, but if it was possible, and attacked the enemy from the rear. The mountains were terribly steep, promotion carts impossible, and the supply of products had to be conducted on the packsaddle mountain trails, the removal of the wounded was difficult. Generally, the work was terribly difficult".

And yet, despite these isolated cases of successful application of partisans, large-scale guerrilla warfare during the First world war failed. Of course, not the fault of the Russian cavalry that separate raids behind enemy lines from turning into full-fledged guerrilla war. Boris Mikhailovich Shaposhnikov thirty years, during the great Patriotic war, became chief of the General staff of the red army, wrote in his book "the Cavalry" (1923): "the Extensive marshy-wooded area; off-road; full sympathy of the population; the wealth in the cavalry; long communication lines of the enemy; our retreat, contributed to the abandonment of guerrilla groups in the rear of the enemy; initial sympathy towards a guerrilla action, — all contributed to the guerrilla war no less than in 1812.

But the results are zero". What is the reason of failure? Shaposhnikov had seen her at that favourable moment for deploying military Partizanska, which was at the beginning of the war was lost. And in the autumn of 1915 began a full-scale trench warfare, which put an end to all projects of the guerrilla operations.

 

Oleg RYAZANOV

Source: http://www.bratishka.ru/archiv/2009/3/2009_3_14.php


RELATED MATERIALS: Defence and security
Возрастное ограничение