White Dawn – Alternative Timeline of Russian Revolution and WW1

Many Timelines concerning “Kornilov putsch” were written, but someone is a bit ASBish, someone were written only in order to glorify the Russian general who could have stopped Bolshevism, someone other to demonize him. All Timelines I saw begin with the assumption that Kornilov wanted absolute power. But he never wanted political power, he wanted only to restore order in Russian Army, to face German-Austrian armies and to protect the new republican Provisional Government from an eventual Bolshevik coup, a clear and present danger since July 1917. Historian Richard Pipes collected a lot of written and oral documentation to demonstrate that the “Kornilov putsch” was only a myth, borne from the mind of Alexander Kerenskij (the pemier of Provisional Government who feared a rightist coup those days) and Bolshevik historiography. The “Kornilov putsch” grew in the minds of Provisional Government, Army generals and Soviet member’s minds after an incredible series of misperceptions and misrepresentation of each other’s intentions. That was an incredible chain of events which eventually led to the complete collapse of Russian military forces and then to the Bolshevik Revolution. The failed “Kornilov putsch” provoked, directly, serious consequences in WW1, on many fronts: Italy, Middle East and Baltic were directly affected by Russian events of August-November 1917. For example, Cadorna put Italian forces on the defensive just after Kornilov affaire. That decision doomed the Italian Army, exposing it to Austro-German counterstrike in Caporetto. A German offensive in Moldova was called off (because it was not necessary anymore) and those forces were re-deployed against Italy: another move which resulted essential for Caporetto’s success. The collapse of Russian army, in September-October 1917, led to German amphibious victory in the Gulf of Riga and then to complete German naval domination in the Baltic. In the Middle East, that same collapse of Russian military forces, gave the Turks the opportunity to re-deploy the newly formed German-Turkish Yilderim Army Group in Palestine, to face mounting British forces. Ottomans were defeated anyway, but that move prevented a quick collapse of Palestinian front. Finally, the Bolshevik revolution and the end of military Russia engagement in WW1, led to German last offensives in France in 1918.
In my opinion (but this is only MY opinion, not History), Entente lost at least 2 great opportunities for strategic victories in that same period (September-October 1917). First: a strong Entente offensive in Italy, in September or October, could have exploited the incredible weakness of A-H Army in that period. And eventually, it could have led A-H to a separate peace. The other great opportunity was lost by Royal Navy. From 12 to 21 October 1917, all the best units of German High Seas Fleet (HSF) were deployed in the Gulf of Riga, to cover the amphibious operations against the Estonian islands. That was a unique opportunity for a British massive incursion in the Baltic, whose entrance was loosely guarded by two neutral states (Denmark and Sweden) and only half of German HSF. That incursion (conceived by admiral Fisher since 1914), could have inflicted a severe defeat to German naval forces, posed a new direct threat to Germany and helped Russia.
Mix together all these “what if’s”, concentrated in just 4 months, and you can have a very different History.
August - the first step

Just a little background: the February Revolution (March 8th 1917) overthrow the Czar in Russia. The big Empire, exhausted after 2 years and half engaged in the World War 1 on the Entente’s side, became a Federal Republic. The former Empire was led since then by a Provisional Government. Who decided to continue the war against Central Powers, on Entente’s side. But a second, parallel, government, was set up by the Trade Unions: the Soviet. That second government wanted peace, social and land reforms. After a first pro-Soviet uprising in April 1917 (which led to the fall of the first Provisional Government), the most radical pro-Soviet party, the Bolshevik Party, illegal under Czar’s rule, led by Vladimir Lenin, began to regroup and plans a coup, in order to establish a “worker’s dictatorship”. In July, the first Bolshevik uprising failed. Provisional Government discovered documents about a strict link between Bolshevik Party (which wanted an immediate separate peace with CP) and German secret services. But, after a strange order given by then Prime Minister Alexander Kerenskij, the Provisional Government did not denounce publicly that treacherous liaison. In the same time, the Russian Army was severely defeated by Austro-German forces in Galicia, after her last failed offensive (named “Kerenskij’s Offensive). The popular and charismatic General Lavr Kornilov was appointed Commander in Chief (CinC) in order to boost the army’s morale, resist future Austro-German offensives and… prevent an eventual Bolshevik coup.

August 3rd 1917 (this and all the other dates: Gregorian , our calendar): the newly named CinC of Russian Armed Forces, General Lavr Kornilov, poses 4 requests to Provisional Governments, to restore order in Russian Army and continue the war on Enetente’s side. Those requests were: 1) no responsibility of Stavka (supreme command) in front of the Government 2) No governmental interference on all military decisions c) death penalty in the armed forces, both in first line and in all zones behind the front d) militarization of railways and weapons factories. Prime Minister of the republican government , Alexander Kerenskij, rejects all four requests.

August 5th: Kornilov’s reform program is publishd by the newspaper Russkoje Slovo, boosting the general’s popularity among liberal and nationalists circles and fear among socialist parties and movements.

August 8th: Kornilov formally accepts the rank of Supreme Commander of Stavka; with much regret, PM Kerenskij accepts formally all four points of Kornilov’s program. He knows that their application could be very difficult, because of Soviet’s strong opposition.

August 15th: in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, a general military conference was held with Turkish and German high commanders. There are three alternative course of action for the immediate future: deploy the newly formed Yilderim Army Group in Palestine for a preventive offensive against British (suggested by Falkenhein), in Mesopotamia for a counter-offensive against British Indian forces (suggested by Enver Pasha) or keep it in northern Syria as a strategic reserve, to be deployed against eventual enemy offensives from Caucasus, Mesopotamia or Palestine (suggested by Djemal Pasha). The Enver’s point of view prevails: Yilderim was put under command of Mustafa Kemal in Aleppo, ready for a counter-offensive in Mesopotamia.

August 17th: Kornilov meets the Provisional Government in Petrograd (then capital of Russia) and expose the state of the art of Russian Armed Forces. Many ministers suggest him to be “prudent” in his speech. They suggest him the idea that the Government is, in fact, under Soviet’s surveillance.
August 20th: under Provisional Government’s request, the III Cavalry Corps is re-deployed in Velike Luki, midway between Moscow and Petrograd, in order to suffocate and eventual Bolshevik uprising.

August 22nd: Kerenskij refuses to sign a decree which would have reintroduced death penalty in the Army, both in first line and behind the lines; Kornilov gives him an “ultimatum”, menacing his own resignation.

August 24th: Kornilov and Kerenskij meet in Petrograd, War Minister Savinkov mediates. In the end of the meeting, Kerenskij accepts the first three points of Kornilov’s program (no military responsibility, no government interference and death penalty), but rejects the fourth (militarization of weapon’s industry and railways). Kornilov accepts this compromise.

August 25th: general brainstorming in Baden Command, headquarter of Austro-Hungarian Empire. The situation of armed forces is considered “critical”, both in Eastern and Italian fronts. Austro-Hungarian forces can no longer keep the offensive in Russian front and risk a collapse in Italian front. Generals want German help. Emperor Karl doesn’t want it, officially because he considers them not necessary, secretly because he never lose hope for a separate peace with Entente. The Baden Command consider the possibility of an counter-strike in Italy, with or without German reinforces.

August 28th: Conference of State was held in Moscow. Kornilov is acclaimed as a hero by Liberal and Nationalist ranks and contested by Socialists. Kerenskij begins to fear him as a rival, more then an ally.

to be continued...

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I agree that having Kornilov save the Provisional Government would make for a good timeline, and even one that is reasonable. The Bolsheviks probably would not have survived a military crackdown after the "July Days". Also not allowing the formation of the Red Guards would have limited any trouble they could cause. However:
That was an incredible chain of events which eventually led to the complete collapse of Russian military forces and then to the Bolshevik Revolution.
The Russian military was already on the ropes by this stage of the war. The Bolsheviks were able to draw on a large body of troops who just refused to go to the front. Even with Kornilov in charge, it's quite likely the Russian army will still fail, and probably not much longer than OTL. Just look at the 'Kerensky Offensive' the month prior to the 'Kornilov revolt'. Not only had damage already been done by Soviet Order No. 1 (and the popular support for it that made it happen), Austro-German counter attacks completely gutted it.

So good POD... but I'm hoping this isn't going to end up with a Russian military victory. By 1917 there is pretty much nothing the Russians can do to save the situation. To do that you need some kind outside intervention... and it still might be too late.
>But he never wanted political power, he wanted only to restore order in Russian Army, to face German-Austrian armies and to protect the new republican Provisional Government from an eventual Bolshevik coup, a clear and present danger since July 1917.

Trouble is, most military putsches start with this premise - "we don't want political power as such, we only want to improve the situation of the army... and since the government doesn't want to listen to us we will save the country by temporary takeover... you understand, only for a short time, until we sort out the army issues..."
And 10 years later the issues are still not solved and the generals are still in power.
The making of a "putsch"

September 1st: master alarm in Petrograd: Russian lines near Riga are broken after German's offensive. German von Hutier’s Eighth Army experimented successfully new infiltration tactics (learned by Russians last year), but the Russian garrison opposed little or no resistance at all; in that same day, the Russian newspaper Russkoje Slovo publishes a scoop: the details of the future Bolshevik coup.

September 3rd: Riga is fallen in German hands. Kornilov writes a memorandum to Kerenskij, alerting him about the miserable conditions of discipline in Russian armed forces. The fall of Riga is the practical demonstration of his argument; the German offensive stops immediately after the fall of the Russian Baltic fortified city. Not only because Winter is coming and could prevent any prolonged offensive in Northern Russia, but especially because general Ludendorff (CinC German Army) is politically prudent. A direct attack on Petrograd is possible, but it could revive Russian patriotism. Otherwise, a series of limited strikes could provoke a collapse in enemy’s morale.

September 4th: Russian defence minister Savinkov goes to Mogilev, Headquarters of Stavka. He meets Kornilov with a Kerenskij’s request: dispatch at least a cavalry division near Petrograd, in order to prevent a possible Bolshevik coup. That cavalry forces should be placed under direct Kerenskij’s command, as the other units of Petrograd’s garrison. Kerenskij will then guarantee the full application of all 4 Kornilov requests. That same day, an unknown nationalist politician, Vladimir L’vov (not to be confused with count L’vov, former Prime Minister), meets Kerenskij and tells him that Kornilov is preparing a military coup, in order to save Russia. Kerenskij ignores the warning and liquidates the guest in few minutes. But the doubt is still alive in his mind.

September 5th: the new agreements between Kornilov and Kerenskij are signed in Mogilev; Kerenskij will apply all the 4 Kornilov’s reforms (death penalty in the Army, independence of military command, autonomy of military decisions and militarization of weapon’s industry and railways), but gradually and keeping a strict silence with the press. Kornilov will deploy the III Cavalry Army Corps near Petrograd and transfer its command in Kerenskij’s hands.

September 6th: Savinkov, back to Petrograd, informs Kerenskij that the agreement is accepted by Kornilov. That same day, L’vov arrives in Mogilev. He introduces himself as an emissary of the Provisional Government and asks Kornilov if he accepts the idea to take part of an emergency government, with quasi-dictatorial powers, in order to prevent a Bolshevik coup. Kornilov seems interested. But his chief of staff, general Lukomskij suspects that L’vov is a spy. He calls the government and he has the right answer: Kerenskij knows no L’vov. The letter is immediately put under custody in Mogilev.

September 8th: Kornilov sends general Krymov’s III Cavalry Army Corps in Petrograd; as requested informally by Savinkov, the Caucasian “Savage” Division is separated from the rest of the Army Corps and sent on the Moldovan front.

September 10th: the III Cavalry Army Corps entrenched in its new base, Karskoe Selo, near Petrograd. Prime Minister Kerenskij takes formally its command. The executive command remains in the hands of general Krymov.

September 12th: the Provisional Government abolishes the Order Number 1, which gave soldier’s Soviets the faculty to discuss officer’s orders. Soldier’s Soviets are not at all abolished, but their functions were strictly limited to consultative power in few fields like food and permissions. Soldiers can continue to adhere to all political parties they want. But they’ll no more discuss their officer’s decisions.

September 13th: there are few resistance to the abolition of the Order Number 1, less than expected. Soviets are still alive after this reform, after all. Mutinies break out in the most radicalized units in the Baltic Fleet, Estonia and Galicia. All mutinies are easily contained.

September 14th: Kornilov orders the suppression of mutinied units: their men dispersed and transferred to other units along all fronts, their officers transferred to first line roles. The Supreme Soviet of Petrograd firmly condemns the abolition of Order Number 1, but rejects a Bolshevik and Leftist Social Revolutionary request to form a revolutionary Army. Secretly, the Bolshevik Party immediately begins to regroup and organize all deserters and mutinied soldiers under its Military Organization.

September 15th: the German High Command (OHL) analyze with growing concern the developments of Russian army. The quick failure of the Army rebellion is a bad sign for Germany: it means that in 5 or 6 months the Russian army will be operative again and ready for a new offensive. Ludendorff definitely decides that all efforts of the next fall campaign shall be concentrated against Russia. In order to throw the former Empire out of conflict. Two main plans are approved: the amphibious assault against the Estonian islands, near Petrograd. And a huge offensive against Russian and Rumanian forces in Moldova. The OHL decides also to ignore the Austro-Hungarian request for help on Italian front: there are no available troops now. Last but not least, the OHL suggests to Ottoman command to concentrate the new Yilderim Army Group in the Caucasus front, where it can join the Ottoman Third Army and launch a quick offensive against Russian and Armenian forces.

September 16th: Alexander Kerenskij proclaims the birth of the Russian Federal Republic.

To be continued…

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September 17th: Lev Trockij freed from jail. Kerenskij unilaterally abolished the political counter-espionage (the last vestige of former Czarist political police, the Ochrana); Kornilov opposed the move, but he has no chance to counter it.
In Constantinople, Enver Pasha draw the definitive plan for the Fall campaign. Falkenheyn suggests that the recovery and reorganization of the Russian army will pose a direct threat to Anatolia the next spring. The immediate threat is on the Palestinian front, where British are regrouping a large army. Enver, in line with OHL estimates, is more concerned by Russian, also for political reasons: he aims to seize the control of Caucasus and his last objective is the conquest of Turkestan. If Russians will recover, he could lost any future opportunity to realize his “pan-Turanian” (union of all Turkish speaking peoples) project. So he decided to launch the main offensive (with the newly formed Yilderim Army Group) in the Caucasus and a secondary offensive in Persia.
September 18th: In Italy, general Luigi Cadorna is a bit more optimist over the resistance of the Russian front. In his memorandum, he promises to allies a 12th offensive against Isonzo Front. Most probably, it will be the last and decisive offensive, because of the miserable conditions of Austro-Hungarian forces. He asks the allies all the possible support: munitions, new heavy British artillery batteries and a task force of French tanks: 100 FT-17 and 20 Schneiders. They’ll be used as training vehicles for Italian personnel.
September 21st: French intelligence discovers German preparations for an amphibious assault against Estonian Islands, in the Gulf of Riga. General Kornilov orders the rotation of all garrisons in the islands of Oesel, Soela and Moon, sending them the most loyal regiments.
September 25th: Kornilov makes personally an accurate inspection of all the Baltic Islands defenses, he gives speech to troops and personally orders the reinforcement of coastal trenches and fortifications. The fortress of Zerel is reinforced, new trenches are dug in the beaches of Tagga Bay (Oesel Island) and in all the other points of a possible German landing. New mines are laid all along the coast, in the Irben strait, in Soela and Moon Sounds.
September 26th: Enver Pasha makes the first move of the Fall campaign. Troops of I Turkish Caucasian Corps and IV Corps enter Persia, in order to join forces with the XIII Corps and begin a wider offensive against Russian forces.

The Battle of Gilan and the Siege of Van (September 27th - October 11th)

Russian forces in Caucasus and Persian fronts were very weak in September 1917. Massive desertions and Bolshevik subversion were common in all units.
In Persia, the Russians were commanded by general Baratov. He could rely on almost 2000-3000 loyal men (mostly Terek and Kuban Cossacks) at all. In his territory, in the region of Gilan (on the Caspian Sea) there were a 1500 men strong nationalist movement, the Jangali Movement, led by Mirza Kuchik Khan. He fought on Ottoman’s side in 1916 campaign, against Czarist’s Russian forces. When the Russian Revolution broke out in March 1917 and the Teheran government changed in May, those forces became neutral.
In Caucasus, the situation for Russians was no less dramatic. Along all the front, they could rely only to three Armenian Brigades (not yet completely ready to fight), the 1st Don Cossack Division, the 4th and 5th Turkestan Brigades, the 1st Transcaspian Cossack Brigade and some Georgian regiments. All Russian infantry divisions were already disintegrated.
Enver Pasha knows that he would met almost no resistance in his advance through Persia and Caucasus. The primary target for his III and VII Army (Yilderim Army Group) in Caucasus are: the recapture of all lost territories and the capture of Baku. The III Army has to advance from Lake Van to Lake Urmia (East). The new VII Army (along with the German Asia Corps) has to advance deeply in Persia, reach the Caspian Sea and then advance to Teheran.

The map below shows: the plans for Ottoman Seventh and Third Armies (red) against the Russian front (dark green), the first objectives (bright green) and the supposed British help to Russians (blue)
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The map below shows: the plans for Ottoman Seventh and Third Armies (red) against the Russian front (dark green), the first objectives (bright green) and the supposed British help to Russians (blue)

The Ottoman Yilderim (lightning) offensive

Please, follow the map below.
Red lines: Ottoman Forces.
Blue lines: British forces.
Purple lines: Persian regular forces
Green lines: Russian forces.
III: Ottoman Third Army (of Caucasus)
I CA: Ottoman I Caucasus Corps
XIII: Ottoman XIII Corps
IV: Ottoman IV Corps
1st Cav: Ottoman 1st Cavalry division (attack on Helmand)
VII: Ottoman Seventh Army
J: Jangali Movement
Q: Qashqai tribesmen
VI: Ottoman VI Army (of Mesopotamia)

M: Maude Army of Mesopotamia
PR: Persian Rifle Division
DF: Dunsterville Column (DunsterForce)
P: Persian Cossack Division
R: Russian forces under Baratov

September 27th: The Ottoman newly formed Seventh Army (German Asia Corps, I Caucasus Corps, IV and XIII Corps) advances along all her line, facing virtually no Russian resistance. All Russian units abandon their positions and escape or surrender to Ottoman advancing forces. General Baratov, in Kazvin, asked immediately for British help and orders a general retreat of all its forces. British Indian Command is really scared by the Turkish offensive. It reminds them the fictional novel “Greenmantle” (very popular in 1917), in which German and Ottoman agents try to ignite a global Jihad against the British Empire. If the Ottoman Yilderim offensive would reach the Afghan-Persian border and the Turkish speaking Russian Central Asia, a global Jihad could become a reality. British command in Baghdad (general Maude: he was very sick, but he could give orders, already) orders the Dunsterville mechanized column (“Dunsterforce”) to move immediately inside Persia, along the road Kermanshah-Helmand-Kazvin, in order to join Russian efforts and stop the Ottoman advance on Teheran. Persian Cossacks (commanded by Russian officers) move from Teheran to Kazvin; the British commanded Persian Rifles, move from Isfahan to Helmand. The “Rush to Caspian Sea” begins…
On the Caucasus front, the Ottoman Third Army has a much harder task to accomplish. The Russian regular infantry units disbanded under the first Turkish wave. But the newly formed Armenian Brigades opposed a fierce resistance all day and begin a retreat only during the night. The few prisoners taken by the Ottomans are executed on the spot.

September 28th: On the Persian front all Russian units disband. Turkish Seventh Army forces divide themselves: the I Caucasus Corps (along with German Asia Corps) marches to Arbil; the IV on Rasht and the sea, the XIII directly to Kazvin, the Russian HQ. General Baratov orders all loyal forces (almost 3000 Cossacks) to retreat inside Kazvin. He decides to abandon all of his positions and consolidate a new defense line from Kazvin to the sea, in order to protect the road to Teheran. He knows that British “Dunsterforce” is coming from Mesopotamia and he doesn’t lose all hopes.
On the Caucasus front, the three Armenian Brigades completes their retreat to Van and reinforce the city’s defenses. Ottoman Third Army begin to advance to Van, in order to seize the city in two or three days. Her advance is slowed by sporadic Armenian pockets of resistance and by a very bad road system.

September 29th: in Petrograd, the Provisional Government realizes the danger of the situation in the Southern Front. In Mogilev, Kornilov removes immediately the military command of Transcaucasus Committee and he appoints general Judenic to the head of Russian Caucasus Army. Kornilov gives Judenic “carte blanche” to restore order and keep the lines in the South.
From his exile in Finland, Vladimir Lenin sends a letter to the Bolshevik HQ in Petrograd: “Bolsheviks must take power”. He argues that, once taken the majority inside Moscow and Petrograd Soviet, the Party has to take political power by force. He firmly believes that time has come to take power.
On the Persian front, the British Dunsterforce wins the first stop of the “Rush to Caspian Sea”. Dunsterville reaches Kermanshah and occupies the city. In Kazvin, Baratov begins to regroup his Cossacks around the city. Later in the night, Persian Cossack Division reaches his forces. Baratov can now form a new defensive line from Kazvin to the sea, with a 15.000 men strong forces.
On the Caucasus front, all the available Armenian and Russian forces entrench in Van; the Ottoman Third Army heavy artillery begins to shell the city.

September 30th: Northern front, German Zeppelin and Gotha airplanes bombs the Baltic Islands. They hit the Zerel fortress which controls the Irben Strait. Germans inflicts few losses and damages, but provokes a wave of panic in Petrograd.
Caucasus front: the Ottoman Third Army’s vanguard approaches Armenian defences, but is repulsed by a strong resistance. Kachi Pasha (Third Army commander) orders a massive assault on the city.
Persian front: Dunsterville orders to leave Kermanshah and moves his column to the next stop: Hamadan. He leaves in Kermanshah only the 9th and 7th infantry battalions, because he knows that Turks has no forces enough to attack the newly occupied city and (given the bad condition of road system in their Persian occupied provinces) they are very slow. He’s awaiting for Persian Rifles, which are scheduled to arrive in Kermanshah in two or three days. In Kazvin, Baratov can regroup many other groups of disbanded Russian units, reaching a force of 20.000 men (including Persian Cossack Division).

October 1st: Lenin sends a second letter to the Bolshevik HQ in Petrograd: “Marxism and insurrection”, in which he explains that an armed takeover is coherent with Marxist theory. He explains to his comrades that the “objective strategic situation” is now much better then July (when he attempted and failed his first coup).
Caucasus front: the Third Ottoman Army launches a massive assault against Armenian defenses in Van. It’s a colossal failure: Ottoman losses (about 5000 deaths, wounded and prisoners) outnumbers Armenian’s 4 to 1. Kachi Pasha orders another attack for the next day.
Persian front: little rearguards Russian units, which was abandoning their positions in Rasht, Pahlevi and Manjil, are suddenly attacked and destroyed by guerrilla forces of Jangali Movement. His leader, Mirza Kuchik Khan, with his irregular forces (already trained and armed by German officers), join the Ottoman cause.

October 2nd: on the Caucasus front, the second massive assault of the Ottoman Third Army against Van fails. Armenians, now supported by the 1st Transcaspian Cossack Division, inflicts heavy losses to Turkish units. Kachi Pasha lays siege to the city and orders the Third Army to move North.
On the Persian front, Baratov orders the Persian Cossack Division to join British advancing forces in Hamadan. Noticing enemy movements close to his right flank, Ottoman general Sevki Pasha orders his 1st cavalry division to move to Hamadan, in order to prevent the British occupation of the city.

October 3rd: on the Caucasus front, Ottoman Third Army leaves three divisions and Kurdish irregular forces around Van, but the main force moves North, in order to reach Baku as soon as possible.
On the Persian front, the Persian Cossack Division begins his movement to Hamadan; Dunsterforce is ambushed near Kangawar, on the road to Hamadan, by Qashqai tribe irregular forces (armed and commanded by German officers). Thanks to superior firepower and training, British troops easily repulses the attack, but their advance to Hamadan is stopped all the day.
In Moscow, Bolsheviks win the Soviet elections

October 4th: on the Caucasus front, general Judenic establishes his command post in Baku. He tries to regroup forces, fixing three strong points in Barkari, Koin and Albengi. He extended his command also to units in Northern Persia, cut off from the Baratov’s forces, ordering them a general redeployment along the Tabriz-Astara line. That day, his orders are only on paper: he realizes that the entire chain of command and control is completely collapsed.
On the Persian front, the Jangali irregular forces attempts a surprise attack on Kazvin, but they are easily rejected by Cossack forces commanded personally by Baratov; this first little victory boosts the morale of disbanded Russian conscripts, who join their forces to Kazvin defenders. Dunsterforce advances quickly to Hamadan. The Persian Rifles reaches Kermanshah

October 5th: on the Caucasus front, while Ottoman forces are slowed by several Armenian ambushes, Judenic goes personally to Albengi, on the road to Baku and personally incites resistance in disbanded Russian forces; he contributes to regroup and re-direct to the frontline some regiments which were in full retreat.
On the Persian front, Dunsterforce reaches Hamadan, just few hours before the arrival of the Ottoman 1st cavalry division (supported by Kurdish irregular forces and Qashqai tribesmen). British forces are not yet entrenched in their new positions, so the Turks tries to dislodge them with a massive mounted charge. But this attack resulted in a disaster: British infantry, supported by armoured cars, one mortar battery and two airplanes, repulse the assault, inflicting heavy losses to the Ottoman, Kurdish and Qashqai forces.

October 6th: on the Caucasus front, Judenic goes to Koin and ignites the morale of local volunteers and Russian conscripts; they begin to prepare a new defensive trench line, waiting for the attack of the Third Ottoman Army.
On the Persian front, the Ottoman IV Corps join the routed 1st cavalry division, some miles North of Hamadan and launch a frontal assault on Dunsterforce. British forces, although outnumbered, hold on. Until the Ottoman left flank is counterattacked by the Persian Cossack Division. This unexpected move induces Sevki Pasha to suspend the attack, in order to regroup forces and launch a coordinated assault of IV and XIII Corps against the Kazvin-Hamadan line

October 7th: on the Caucasus front, the Third Army attacks for the first time the Russian units in the Barkari-Koi-Albengi line, but they are stopped by an unexpected resistance by Russian and Turkestan infantry units; general Judenic and his staff travel all day along the frontline and the rearguards to boost troop’s morale. His effort proved useful: all the positions hold on.
On the Persian front, the Ottoman I Caucasus Corps and the German Asia Corps attack Russian and Armenian positions in Tabriz and Ardebil, but they are stopped in both sectors with heavy losses.

October 8th: on the Caucasus front, Ottoman Third Army, supported by heavy artillery, launches a well coordinated assault on Russian and Turkestan forces in all their line, from Lake Van to Lake Urmia. Some Turkestan units sympathizes with Ottoman forces and abandon their positions, but all the breaches are quickly fixed by Cossack reserves units. The Third Army concludes her assault with few territorial gains and heavy losses.
On the Persian front, the Ottoman XIII Corps reaches the Caspian Sea at Pahlevi. That harbor and the city of Rasht are already occupied and administered by the Jangali Movement.

October 9th: on the Caucasus front, the Ottoman Third Army tries a second offensive, but it failed again. The Russian resistance is harder than expected, the morale of Russian and Armenian conscripts and volunteers is very high, because of previous victories and the presence of Judenic on the battlefield.
On the Persian front, Ottoman general Sevki Pasha orders a general offensive for the next day. The IV Corps will attack British and Persian forces in Hamadan; the XIII Corps will attack the Russian forces in Kazvin and clear the road to Teheran. In the North, the I Caucasus Corps will attack the Tabriz-Ardebil line, hold by mixed Russian and Armenian units and clear the road to Baku.
In Petrograd, the Bolsheviks win the Soviet elections. Lenin moves from Helsinki to Vyborg, in order to stay closer to the Bolshevik HQ

October 10th: on the Caucasus front, after an all night long artillery preparation, the Ottoman Third Army attacks again all the Van-Urmia line. But Russian forces hold on again. Russians have now 70.000 men and they are determined to resist. This front is definitely stabilized since now. The city of Van (defended by the three Armenian brigades) remains behind the Ottoman lines. The Russian main resistance line runs North, for 100 miles of hills and forests, from the northern coast of Lake Van to the northern coast of Lake Urmia, blocking any Ottoman advance.
On the Persian front, Sevki Pasha’s offensive fails with heavy losses in all its three sectors. The I Caucasus Corps is repulsed in Tabriz and Ardebil; the XIII Corps is stopped by Baratov’s forces near Kavzin; the IV Corps is again repulsed by Persian Cossacks and Dunsterforce at Hamadan.
Turkish logistical lines are stretched to their limits. Ottoman troops advanced for 400 miles in Persia and 100 miles in Caucasus, in just two weeks. They created a wedge between Russian and British forces, from the Mesoptamian frontier to the Caspian Sea. Mustafa Kemal, who commands the whole Yilderim Army Group is satisfied by the results of the first phase of the offensive. He halts all the operations. In the same time, the news of a new victory in the Caucasus runs all over Russia, boosting the morale of troops and the Provisional Government.
But another offensive is coming. In the Baltic.
To be continued…

The battle of Gulf of Riga

October 11th: the German Operation Albion begins. The main target are the islands in the Gulf of Riga. With this little amphibious operation, German High Command hopes to strike a blow on Russians close to their capital Petrograd and provoke a final crisis in enemy morale. A huge naval task force takes position in the Eastern Baltic Sea. Troops from 131st and 138th Regiments, plus two cyclist assault battalions embark in Libau.

October 12th: Germans attack Tagga Bay in Oesel Island. But the first landing units hit the Russian mines and sink. Alerted by huge explosions, Russian garrison immediately opens fire on the approaching enemy. The Russian local command orders 426th and 472nd Regiment to reach coastal defenses. German 131st and 138th Regiments try a landing, but they are met by an intense infantry fire, supported by two batteries. The German fleet’s big guns (especially the 15inch guns of the SMS Bayern) raze to the ground the two coastal batteris of Hundsort and Ninnast, but the landing operation is almost failed in the end of the day. Germans never succeed in consolidate a beachhead and suffer heavy losses all day. The cyclist assault battalion lands in Pamerort (East to Tagga) and it advances to the Arensburg-Orrisar road. But it met the Russian 425th Regiment and the attack failed. The cyclist battalion is dispersed before the night. Many of its assault troops are encircled and captured. The second cyclist battalion advances directly to Orrisar, but its advance is stopped by the 107th Russian Regiment. During the night, German destroyers of the Rosenberg Flotilla try to force Soela Sound, but they are intercepted by the Russian light cruiser Makharov and the attackers have to call off the action.
In Vyborg, Lenin sends a third letter to the Bolshevik’s HQ in Petrograd: “The crisis is mature”. He’s absolutely persuaded that the Germans will win this battle, that a military defeat of the Provisional Government is only a matter of a month or two.

October 13th: Russian 426th and 472nd Regiments, supported by 425th (coming from South) counterattack Germans on their precarious beachhead in Tagga Bay. Thanks to battleship’s covering fire, German repulses all attacks. But the conditions of landing forces are now desperates. German naval operations suffer a no less tragic humiliation that day: the light cruiser Emden tries unsuccessfully to force Soela Sound. Attacked by a Russian destroyer flotilla and shelled by coastal batteries, the Emden has to call off the action. The same happens in the Irben Strait: German minesweeper, supported by the big guns of the fleet, try to clear the Irben strait. Shelled by the 13inch guns of Zerel fortress, they have to call off their action.
In his Riga HQ, general Von Hutiers receives all those bad news and decides to call off the entire operation. The specter of a new Gallipoli is always in the heads of German officers and they want to repeat the British disastrous campaign. A quick retreat is better than a long and bloody failure. Protected by darkness and by a huge artillery barrage of navy’s big guns, all German units abandons Tagga Bay. The cyclist battalion, isolated in Orrisar, successfully return to the Pamerort beachhead where they are relieved by the destroyers of the Rosenberg Flotilla.

While I'm generally really skeptical of any White Dawns and their optimistic outcomes, this has so far been great writing and an interesting focus on the Caucasus. Please do go on.
Fatal decisions

October 14th: the failure of Operation Albion is celebrated in Russia by the Provisional Government. Prime Minister Kerenskij orders a day of festivity and gives a speech to the “brave patriots of the Baltic Fleet who defended the Russian Republic and the Spirit of the Revolution”. That same day, admiral Kolchak (coming back from a diplomatic mission in the Usa) takes again the command of the Baltic Fleet.
After Albion, the morale in Russian forces reaches its peak since the February revolution. But their military strength is very weak as always. Kornilov is cautiously optimistic: he knows that Germans are ready to strike a new blow, in Galicia or Moldova, or both. He doesn’t even imagine that Germans are ready to commit their military suicide…
The failure in the Gulf of Riga is frustrating for Germany: the operation could have been an “overkilling” of an inferior enemy, but it resulted in an aborted landing. Human losses are relatively few: just 2000 men (dead, wounded, prisoners), a little parcel of the losses suffered in the Western Front battles. But the morale is low, especially inside the Navy. The German OHL considers that defeat as a secondary failure in a sideshow theatre of operations. The main effort is in the Western Front, where the largest portion of the German army is engaged in a hard struggle against the BEF in the Flanders. The main offensive in the Eastern Front is scheduled for October 20th in Moldova. And so, Ludendorff is upset, but not at all panicked because of the failure in the Gulf of Riga. But the Navy has a very different point of view. The best of the battleships of the High Seas Fleet (Koenig, Grosser Korfurst, Kronprinz, Markgraf, Kaiser, Kaiserin, Prinzregent Luitpold, Friedrich der Grosse, Bayern and the battlecruiser Moltke) were engaged in the Gulf of Riga and achieved nothing. They suffered no sensible losses, but they missed an opportunity of a naval victory against a very weak enemy. Inside the High Seas Fleet the morale was very low since the last summer. In August, the crews of the battleship have shown some signs of rebellion, when they shouted “Hunger!” instead of “Hurrah!” while they were welcoming the Kaiser onboard. The sailors are hungry and repressed by a hard discipline. The officers want a battle after one entire year of inactivity. And now, after the failure of the Operation Albion, they want their revenge. Admiral Reinhard von Scheer (commander of the High Seas Fleet) realizes that the situation is no longer sustainable. A mutiny could broke out. And so he suggests a new action in North Sea. He had already planned a little sortie of the light cruisers Bremsee and Brummer against the daily Scandinavian Convoy, between Norway and Scotland. He simply extends the existing plan to a large operation of battlecruisers, supported by the HSF. The whole fleet will take part to an easy operation, the morale will rise.

October 15th: the German naval task force of the Gulf of Riga comes back to Kiel. Visiting the ships and their commanders, admiral Scheer validates his impressions: mutiny can broke out, an urgent and victorious action is needed. The answer from the Admiralstab to his plan is negative: the supreme command of the Navy doesn’t want an action in open seas. Admiral Koch explains that the Navy has to rely only to the submarine campaign. Surface fleet has to be preserved, in order to keep the supremacy in the Baltic Sea, defend the German coasts and have a bargain chip during eventual peace negotiations. But admiral Scheer holds on. He wants to explain his plan directly to the Kaiser. And, during the night, he orders the execution of all the preliminary moves (scout submarines and zeppelins leaved their bases, the battleships in the Baltic cross the Kiel canal, the units already in Jade Bay reach the Schilling Roads), disguising them as an exercise.

October 16th: thanks to the intervention of Erich Ludendorff, admiral Scheer sends his memorandum to Wilhelm II. The reader, Adolf von Trotha, knows very well how to persuade his sovereign. An important aspect of Kaiser’s personality is impulsivity. He tends to accept the first of the project examined, considering it “resolutive”. Von Trotha illustrates him the Scheer’s memorandum, favoring an immediate action in North Sea. Only after, he illustrates the Koch’s memorandum, which advocate a defensive strategy. As usual, the Kaiser authorizes the action.
During the night, the entire HSF take the sea. The first to leave the Jade Bay is the First Scouting Group (battlecruisers Hindemburg, Derfflinger, Seydlitz, Von der Tann, Moltke) and the Second Scouting Group (light cruisers). They are followed, two hours later, by the entire High Seas Fleet:
III Battle Squadron: Koenig, Grosser Korfurst, Kronprinz, Markgraf, Kaiser, Kaiserin, Prinzregent Luitpold, Friedrich der Grosse, Bayern
I Battle Squadron: Ostfriesland, Thuringen, Helgoland, Oldenburg, Posen, Rheinland, Nassau, Westphalen, Baden
II Battle Squadron (old pre-dreadnoughts): Deutschland, Hessen, Hannover, Schlesien, Schleswig Holstein
This immense naval force is steaming North, in order to destroy two convoys, 24 ships at all, escorted by 4 British destroyers and nothing more. It will be a very easy mission. Germans don’t even know that the British Admiralty has already intercepted all their radio traffic and alerted the Grand Fleet.

to be continued...

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