Hello to all ; an interesting article......................................
THE GERMAN AIR FORCE IN THE WINTER BATTLE OF THE MASURIAN LAKES, FEBRUARY 1915.
The 50th, 51st and 52nd aviation squadrons were assigned to the tenth Army, while the 14th, 16th and 49th were assigned to the Eight Army. Aerial reconnaissance was initiated 8 February. It was necessary to determine whether the Russians were attempting to reinforce the flanks. The aerial missions assigned were to observe the railway as far as Kovno and to reconnoiter those zones in which the flanks might be threatened-in the north along the Niemen in the vicinity of Jurburg, in the south the area in the vicinity of the Ostrolenka and Lomza fortresses. Eventually the reconnaissance was ordered to cover the terrain along which the forward movement was progressing --in the north the area Pillkallen-Wirballen, In the south the area Lotzen-Arys-Lyck.
On 8 February only the 14th and 16th squadrons were ready, the others having been held up by the snow. Despite the difficulties encountered due to the severity of the weather, the squadrons employed carried out their assigned missions. Following the reports made by seven observers, all fears concerning any Russian reinforcements were allayed. The various squadrons reported themselves ready in the following order: the 51st on 9 February, the 50th on 12 February, the 52d on 13 February and the 49th on 17 February. On the 9th, as well as the 14th, nine reconnaissance flights were carried out, and on the 10th, fourteen. On the 9th observers spotted that the enemy was beginning a general withdrawal. From the 9th to the 14th they reported that all movement along the railway to Kovno was limited to departing transports only. The observers also covered the fortified cities of Kovno, Olita, Grodno, Osowiec and Lomza; the double-track railways that run eastwards from Kovno and Grodno that part of the Niemen River between these two cities. The reconnaissance reports concerning the Russian withdrawal were not only rich in their significance, but were rendered to the High Command of the Tenth and Eighth Armies with such timely dispatch that the latter were able to get a perfect picture of the withdrawal. The reports on the situation of the German troops were highly significant in the interest of command, as communication between the various units and between these and their higher command posts were, due to the severity of the weather, often completely broken off. On the evening of 14 February the mass of the Russian Tenth Army was compressed in the Augustow-Suwalki area. Retreat toward the east was blocked by the XXI Army Corps which constituted the left flank of the Tenth Army, but was open toward the southeast and south along the snow covered forest lanes of the extensive Augustow Forest. This exit, however, was closed by the XXI Army Corps which was ordered to circumvent the forest and march toward the area northwest of Grodno. Due to inclement weather no reconnaissance flights could be undertaken on 15 and 16 February.
Between 17 and 20 February planes were assigned the missions to observe the railroad from Pilwiszki to Kovno, to secure information on the unloading of troops at Grodno and to reconnoiter the right flank in the area occupied by the fortified positions from Lomza to Osowiec. Accordingly, on 17 February five reconnaissance flights were carried out, on the 18th ten, and on the 19th nine. Their reports informed the higher command of the following situation: On 17 February the divisions of the northern and southern flanks, were combined in the vicinity of Augustow. Parts of the Russian Tenth Army, which up to 20 February had been attempting to get through the Augustow Forest toward Grodno, were completely imprisoned. On 21 February the enemy failed in his last attempt to crash through, and his resistance began to weaken. The grand operation for encircling the Russian Tenth Army had come to an end. The German Eighth and Tenth Armies had captured 120,000 men and 300 pieces of artillery and inflicted equally heavy casualties upon the enemy. The Army of General Siewers had ceased to exist.
The Support which was rendered by the flying personnel cannot be lightly passed over. Between 8 and 20 February the squadrons assigned to the Eighth and Tenth Armies carried out 73 reconnaissance missions, making flights which totaled 10,674 miles.
Source: Catalog of Selected Periodical Articles. RML Vol XX. Nº 79. Dec 1940.
Cheers. Raúl M .