29 Jul 1917: The day German forces advanced through Seletyn

There have been certain genealogy finds that, when found, I desperately wished my Dad were alive so we could discuss them at great length. The 29 July 1917 “Germans advancing through Bukowina toward Seletyn and push forward into Moldova Valley” articles is the most prime of examples.

I have found HUNDREDS of articles (all a variation of the two below) on that day that note our surname as the name of a town/city/village that the German troops marched through in July of 1917. Below is a sample of the article. Beneath the articles is an excerpt that best sums up the events as they led through Seletyn.

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The Ogden Standard
Ogden, Utah
30 Jul 1917, Mon  •  Page 1
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Evening Star
Washington, District of Columbia
29 Jul 1917, Sun  •  Page 1
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Evening Star
Washington, District of Columbia
29 Jul 1917, Sun  •  Page 1
Source: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nnc1.cu18789170&view=1up&seq=28
C/4: The Town of Seletyn
The Times war atlas and gazetteer.
Published 1916
Author: Times Publishing Company, London.

Bukovina (Romanian: Bucovina; German: Bukowina/Buchenland; Polish: Bukowina; Hungarian: Bukovina; Ukrainian: Буковина, Bukovyna is a historical region, variously described as in Central or Eastern Europe. The region is located on the northern slopes of the central Eastern Carpathians and the adjoining plains, today divided between Romania and Ukraine.

A region of Moldavia during the Middle Ages, the territory of what became known as Bukovina was, from 1774 to 1918, an administrative division of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire, and Austria-Hungary. After World War I, Romania established its control over Bukovina. In 1940, the northern half of Bukovina was annexed by the Soviet Union in violation of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, and currently is part of Ukraine.

Location of Bukovina within northern Romania and neighbouring Ukraine
Location of Bukovina within northern Romania and neighbouring Ukraine
Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5d/Bucovina_Romania_Ukraine.png

THE RUSSIAN ROUT IN GALICIA AND THE BUKOWINA

Source: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29385/29385-h/29385-h.htm

Day by day the Russians’ disorganization became worse. Instances of defection became more frequent as the German offensive movement increased in violence. With their usual thoroughness, and with almost incredible swiftness, the forces of the Central Powers struck. Again the Russian Government was forced to admit officially that Russian commanders had lost control over their troops.

By July 21, 1917, the Germans and Austrians in the region west of Tarnopol managed to reach the Brzezany-Tarnopol railway at several points. Near Brzezany the Seventh Russian Army also began to yield to increasing pressure on its flanks. The number of prisoners and the amount of booty were large. At Jezierna rich supplies of provisions, munitions, and other war stores fell into German hands.

The Russian Offensive and Retreat in Galicia.

Late in the afternoon the Germans forced their way forward from Tarnopol to as far as the Sereth bridgehead. During the fight the railway line from Kozowa to Tarnopol was reached at several points. The Russian masses southeast of Brzezany began to yield. The town of Tarnopol and numerous villages east of the Sereth soon were in flames. On the lower Narayuvka River the artillery duel increased to considerable intensity. On the river Lomnitza after a bombardment the Germans took the offensive in the regions of the villages of Babino and Studzianka and forced Russian troops to evacuate Babino and cross the right bank of the Lomnitza. By the end of the day the whole Russian front from the Zlota Lipa close up to the Dniester was wavering under the pressure of the German-Austrian attack on the Sereth.

In the north, however, the Russians were still fighting back, though unsuccessfully. Between Krevo and Smorgon the Russians after a strong artillery preparation attacked with a strong force. Their assaults broke down with heavy losses on the German troops. After an agitated night fresh fighting broke out at that point. Northward as far as Naroz Lake and also between Drysviaty Lake and Dvinsk increased artillery fighting continued.

The offensive movements undertaken by the Russians in the northern sector were continued on July 22, 1917. In the direction of Vilna, in the neighborhood of Krevo, Russian troops attacked and occupied German positions in the district of Tsary-Bogushi, penetrating to a depth of two miles in places. Over one thousand Germans were taken prisoner.

However, the spirit of disobedience was gradually spreading among the Russian troops. “The development of a further success is being jeopardized by the instability and moral weakness of certain detachments. Particularly noteworthy was the gallant conduct of the officers, great numbers of them perishing during the fulfillment of their duties,” says the official Russian statement. On the upper course of the Sereth, from Zalovce to Tarnopol, there was considerable rifle firing. South of Berezovica-Velka the Germans conducted an intense artillery fire. Between the rivers Sereth, Stripa, and Zlota Lipa they continued their offensive, occupying the villages of Nastasov, Beniave (on the Stripa), Uvse, and Slavintin. The strategic effect of the German operations in East Galicia was continually becoming more powerful. The Russians began retreating from the northern Carpathian front. From the Sereth to the wooded Carpathians the Germans were pressing forward over a front of 155 miles wide.

By July 23, 1917, the victorious German army corps had forced their way over the Sereth, crossing to the south near Tarnopol. Near Trembowla desperate Russian mass attacks were repulsed. The Germans advanced beyond Podhaytse, Halicz, and the Bystritza Solotvina River. The booty was large. Several divisions reported 3,000 prisoners each. Numerous heavy guns, including those of the largest calibers, railway trucks filled with foodstuffs and fodder, munitions, armored cars and motor lorries, tents, articles left on the field, and every kind of war material were captured.

Archduke Joseph’s north wing now joined in a movement which had commenced to the south of the Dniester. There was strong Russian firing activity along that whole front.

In the north the fighting, too, was severe. In some places the Russians made decided gains, only to lose them again by the refusal of certain troops to obey their commanders. Southwest of Dvinsk Russian detachments, after strong artillery preparation, occupied German positions on both sides of the Dvinsk-Vilna railway. After this success entire units, without any pressure on the part of the Germans, voluntarily returned to their original trenches. A number of these units refused to carry out military commands during the battle.

Detachments of the Twenty-fourth Division, the Tulsk, Lovitsky, and Saraosky regiments, and the “Battalion of Death,” consisting of women, acted especially heroically, and as at other points the gallantry of the officers was noteworthy. Their losses were large. In the direction of Vilna and in the region north of Krevo the Germans delivered a number of counterattacks, and succeeded in occupying one of the heights north of Bogush, which had been captured by the Russians on the previous day, July 22, 1917. Heroic exertion by the Russian officers was required to restrain the men from withdrawing to the rear in great numbers.

The German successes became more and more important and the Russian route more and more complete. Stanislau and Nadvorna were now in German hands and German forces were rapidly approaching Buczacz.

In the Carpathians, too, the Russians began to give way.

Prime Minister Kerensky had rushed to the Galician front as soon as news had reached him of the Russian débâcle. However, even his presence could not stem the Austro-German advance and the Russian flight. It was reported that he had even risked his life in this attempt.

On July 25, 1917, the Austro-German successes were still farther extended. During stubborn engagements Austro-German divisions gained heights west of Tarnopol and the Gniza River sector to the Trembowla-Husiatyn road. Farther southwest Buczacz, Tiumacz, Ottynia, and Delatyn were taken.

The Russian Carpathian front, owing to the pressure on the north of the Dniester, now commenced to weaken to the south of the Tartar Pass. The Russians were retreating there in the direction of Czernowitz.

In the north, south of Smorgon, concentrated German artillery fire partly closed up the breach in the German lines made by the Russians. The latter were compelled to retreat, and the Germans regained almost all of their former positions.

July 26, 1917, brought still further defeats to the Russian forces in Galicia. In a bitter struggle near Tarnopol, German divisions extended their gains by a powerful attack at the bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Sereth, which recently had been contested hotly. Farther south, in spite of stubborn resistance of Russians, who were sent forward regardless of the fact that thousands upon thousands of them were being mowed down under destructive German fire, the Germans captured the Gniza and Sereth crossings from Trembowla to Skomorocze. They were also advancing rapidly on both sides of the Dniester. Kolomea was captured by Bavarian and Austro-Hungarian troops. In the northeastern portion of the wooded Carpathians Austrian troops were following on the heels of the Russians who retreated in the direction of the Pruth.

The Entire Eastern Battle Front, August 1, 1917.

Without let-up the Germans and Austrians continued to press back the disorganized Russian armies. By July 27, 1917, the Austro-German divisions under General von Boehm-Ermolli had crossed the Jablonica-Horodenka-Zablowow line. Austrian troops on the northern wing were drawing close to the Pruth Plateau below Kolomea. West of Seletyn-Fundul, on the Moldavian Road in the wooded Carpathians, German and Austro-Hungarian troops wrested some heights positions from the still resisting Russians.

By July 28, 1917, the Russians on both sides of Husiatyn had retired behind the frontier. German corps had reached Zbrocz. Others approached the confluence of the northern Sereth and the Dniester. Between the Dniester and the Pruth the Russian rear guard made a stand. The Germans in a powerful attack broke through their positions and pursued the Russians on both banks of the Dniester. In the Cheremosh Valley Kuty was taken. Above and below the town a crossing of the river was effected by the Austrians.

In the last days of July, 1917, the Russian resistance stiffened slightly. Still the Teutonic forces gained new successes in eastern Galicia and Bukowina. The river Zbrocz was crossed at many points by German and Austro-Hungarian divisions from above Husiatyn to south of Skala, on a front of thirty-one miles, in spite of the bitter resistance of the Russians. Between the Dniester and the Pruth the allied Teutonic troops captured Werenocanka and Sniatyn, in the direction of Czernowitz.

In a strong assault German chasseurs broke through Russian rear-guard positions near Visnitz. The Russians were thereby forced to evacuate the Cheremosh line and retired toward the east. Also in the wooded Carpathians, on the upper course of the southern Sereth, and on both sides of the Moldava and the Suczawa, the Austro-Germans gained ground in an attack toward the east. Under pressure of this success the Russians abandoned their first-line positions in the Meste-Canaste sector.

That the Russian rout was not worse, and that they managed to save a large part of their armies, was due largely to the assistance rendered by Belgian and British armored cars.

File:On the Roumanian front in the Carpathian Mountains. Archduke Joseph inspecting a machine gun emplacement in the front trench. March 1917 - NARA - 17390368.jpg
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki
Title: On the Roumanian front in the Carpathian Mountains. Archduke Joseph inspecting a machine gun emplacement in the front trench. March 1917.
File:On the Roumanian front in the Carpathian Mountains. Archduke Joseph speaking to men of the "Hidenburg" regiment. March 1917 - NARA - 17390370.jpg
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki
Title: On the Roumanian front in the Carpathian Mountains. Archduke Joseph speaking to men of the “Hidenburg” regiment. March 1917.
Image result for archduke joseph 1917
WWI, Austro-Hungarian Archduke Joseph

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