A History of the Great War, 1914-1918

By C. R. M. F. Cruttwell | Go to book overview

XVII EVENTS IN THE EAST IN 1916

I

THE winter lull lasted for more than five months ( October 1915-March 1916) unbroken except for a futile Russian attack at Czernowitz in the Bukovina, where it was perhaps hoped that a success might incline the wavering Rumanian balance. In both camps it was a time of intense preparations. The Russians had pledged themselves at the Chantilly Conference ( December 1915) to attack with all their strength not later than June 15th. Their position had in almost every respect improved and was still improving. In spite of their gigantic losses they had as yet mobilized a smaller proportion of their manhood than any of the great Powers at war, with the exception of Great Britain.1 They would be able to open the new campaign with a reserve of at least a million men, who now received the reasonable amount of three months' training before being drafted to the front. Even the great rifle shortage had been overcome, mainly by importations, but their own factories had risen to an output of 100,000 per month. Though still undergunned and undershelled, they could look forward with reasonable confidence to a supply sufficient for the summer offensive, provided that they passed quickly from trench to open warfare. Regiments were now supplied with two or three times as many machine-guns as had figured in their pre-war establishment. The situation in the air alone remained thoroughly unsatisfactory. Their machines were very few and inferior in quality compared with those of the enemy. Throughout 1916 the system of spotting for artillery, which was being developed to an exact science in the West, was in an embryonic stage in the East. Their defence against the air was absurdly inadequate. As late as August 1916 Knox tells

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1
The Russian proportion was 10 per cent. against the French 14 per cent., the highest of all the combatants.

-280-

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