Than German flamethrowers shocked Russian soldiers in the First world

History 26/12/19 Than German flamethrowers shocked Russian soldiers in the First world

In the trenches near the village Skrobova in November of 1916, Russian soldiers had to face an unprecedented weapon – the flamethrower. The consequences of the German attack showed that moral Russian soldiers was not quite prepared.

News from the Western front

armed with the Kaiser’s army had three types of flamethrowers. They were first used against the allies on the Western front in mid-1915 and early 1916. It turned out that the weapons are effective only in specific conditions, especially at night. Under cover of darkness flamethrower crept up to the enemy trenches and, lying in the craters from shells rained fire on the defenders. Burning and blinded people have become an easy target for the crowd of Marines.

exaggerated rumors about the “terrible German guns” were in the Russian print and distributed among the soldiers on the Eastern front.

the Attack near Skrobova

November 9, 1916, the Germans used flamethrowers on the front North of Baranovichi in Belarus. The position of the opponents here were at a distance of not more than 200 meters from each other, and sometimes just 15-20 metres. This prompted the Germans to test new weapons on this site.
Intelligence had pre-warned the Russian command that preparing a flamethrower attack. The squadron commanders told the soldiers, explaining what they have to deal with. However, these warnings were almost useless as the officers, themselves not seen flame throwers, very roughly imagined their device and action. In some companies, where the commanders were especially eloquent, even caused unnecessary nervousness.

the Attack began at 6 am with a hurricane of artillery fire and mortars. The barrage lasted half a day, and in the period between 14 and 15 hours, the Germans took the offensive on all fronts – and then was the IPused flamethrowers.
Coming out of the trench, the flamethrower first, short shots on the ground created a black smoky cloud, and under its cover, and ran towards the Russian trenches, near which was made the main issue of the fire. The flamethrower is operated by a group of 5-10 people, while they were supported by machine-gunners and grenade throwers.

In the essay the history of gametangia published in 1941 in the “journal of Military history,” describes that decisive for the success of the attack under Skrobova flamethrowers did not have. However, in certain sections of the Russian defense faltered. Particularly strong flamethrower attack has affected those units where there was a lot burned. In the 218th infantry regiment wounded during the withdrawal to the rear shouted “the Trenches are burning!”, “The Germans let go fire!”, demoralizing thus the second and third line of defense. The burns of the wounded had a yellow color, sometimes the skin is cracked to the blood.

“Despite the fact that there was very little burnt and dead from the fire, it seems, was not altogether, had to retreat. During this attack the second line of our defense was surrounded and captured half-company of Russian soldiers – said the researcher of trench warfare Alexei Ardashev.
a Russian Commission that studied the battle of Skrobova, came to the conclusion that at a distance of 30-40 meters flamethrowers are an effective additional means of attacking side.

Russian fire

Felt the power of the flamethrower attack, the Russians realized a long-standing error. The fact that in 1909, German engineer Richard Fiedler during his visit to Russia, introduced a military Ministry he developed a flamethrower. The action of the weapon was demonstrated to representatives of the General staff near the settlement of Ust-Izhora. However, in the end, after much discussion, it was decided to refrain from buying the “secondary weapons” in favor of the acquisition of the means of defence for fortresses.

In 1916 and 1917 Russian finished the development of their own flamethrowers of three types. The first (system Towarnicka) was a lightweight maneuverable agnamet, called “knapsack”. The second was called “poltroncina”. And the third, “trench”, was the heavy weight. By the end of the First world war flamethrowers were used by all parties mainly in the defense, as during the attacks flamethrower groups quickly disabling the opponent.

Timur Sagdiyev

© Russian Seven

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