The Battle of Lake Naroch, an offensive on the Eastern Front by the Russian army during World War I, ends with this day in 1916 after attaining small success against German positions near Lake Naroch and the Russian town of Vilna (in modern day-day Lithuania).
With French forces below heavy attack at the fortress town of Verdun, French Commander in Chief Joseph Joffre called on his allies in early 1916 to launch offensive operations of these personal to be able to divert German sources and ease pressure on Verdun. Britain’s response to this entreaty would come only months later, at the Somme in June. Czar Nicholas II and the Russian chief of staff, General Mikhail Alekseyev, responded quicker, with a well planned offensive drive in the Vilna-Naroch region, where 1.5 million Russian soldiers would face just 1 million combined German and Austro-Hungarian troops. In their haste to come quickly to France’s aid, however, the Russian command appeared to overestimate the ability and preparedness of these own troops, against the properly-educated specifically, nicely-organized German army machine.
The Russian offensive, launched on March 18, 1916, began with a two-day-lengthy artillery bombardment (the longest but seen on the Eastern Front) contrary to the Germans that for probably the most portion didn’t do the planned harm because of inaccuracy. Russian infantry troops from the Tenth Army, commanded by General Alexei Evert, then moved forward against a heavily fortified German defense, suffering heavy casualties. Due to the spring thaw, numerous of the approaching infantrymen became bogged down in the mud, slowing the offensive having less a competent supply system also hurt the Russians, nearly per month because the battle stretched on for. An inferior sized operation near Riga, begun on March 21 by the northern Russian army division of General Alexei Kuropatkin, met with equal benefits.
By enough time artillery attacks were turn off on April 14, the Germans had recovered the entirety of what small ground that they had lost. Russian casualties numbered 110,000, as the Germans lost only 20,000. Both armies’ casualty rates were boosted by deaths because of contact with the harsh northern climate: 12,000 Russian soldiers died from frostbite.
Also on April 14, as battle concluded about Lake Naroch, General Alexei Brusilov, commander of the Russian South-west Army, presented his program for an ambitious attack along an easy stretch of the Eastern Front, month to take location within the coming. Like the British making use of their Somme offensive, Brusilov saw the heavy German involvement at Verdun being an possiblity to launch new attacks elsewhere. The famed Brusilov Offensive, launched June 4, 1916, would safe a lot more territory than any Allied offensive of the war and would succeed not merely in diverting German focus and resources from Verdun but would also almost knock Austria-Hungary from the war.
Meanwhile, in the British trenches on the Western Front that exact same day, Winston Churchill, in command of an infantry battalion then, wrote to his wife, Clementine, expressing anxiety on the planned upsurge in fighting on all fronts because of the upcoming Allied offensives: I drastically worry the overall outcome. More than I’ve ever completed before, I recognize the stupendous nature of the work and the unwisdom with which our affairs are performed makes me nearly despair at cases of a victorious issueDo you are feeling we must flourish in an offensive, if the Germans can’t take action at Verdun with almost all their skill and science?