Feldwebel Erich Krall photographed at at a German aid station in the aftermath of his “Great Raid”. Krall was leader of a raiding party comprised of 4 so-called “Immortals” who set forth in March 1916; they penetrated 3 kilometers behind British lines and for two days wreaked havoc with their personal weapons and, once all their ammunition was expended, captured British rifles and grenades. In the process of destroying a large ammunition dump, Krall was caught up in the blast and had to be dragged by his two remaining comrades back to the German lines. According to the photographer, Krall’s words to him were “What are you looking at? And why can’t I stand up?”

from  They Wouldn’t Die: Memoirs of An Investigation into Germany’s Most Secret Military Unit  (1931) by Captain Jacob Klemenz, USMC (ret.)

Germans Enter Warsaw

August 4 1915, Warsaw–The Russians had largely recovered from the initial German successes along the Narew in July. However, the Germans had had more luck with the Ninth Army to the south (despite having no numerical superiority), and Mackensen’s forces even further south were threatening to cut off the Russians there. In the end, Stavka had little confidence in her own men or commanders, and on the 19th told Alexeyev “You can evacuate Warsaw, if you feel you must.”

The evacuation was rather orderly; the determined defense at the fortress of Osowiec prevented Warsaw from being cut off, so the Russians had two weeks’ advance notice to evacuate troops, stores of supplies, their own bureaucracy, and even heavy industrial machinery. This effort did, however, use up most of the local railroad capacity, making evacuation difficult for other parts of Poland. This was especially true for the outdated fortress of Novogeorgievsk, which Stavka decided to defend rather than evacuate, hoping it could hold out for months like Przemyśl.

On the night of August 4, the Germans entered Warsaw with little resistance; Ivangorod further up the river the next day, and Novogeorgievsk would be surrounded the day after that.

Sources include: Norman Stone, The Eastern Front 1914-1917.

Edith Cavell Arrested

Edith Cavell (1865-1915)

August 3 1915, Brussels–The British nurse Edith Cavell had been working in Brussels as the head of a nursing school there for several years.  At the outbreak of the war, the Red Cross took over her school, and she continued working there after the occupation.  However, she also began to help Allied soldiers escape from behind German lines.  Months of this secret activity wore Cavell out, and by May she had handed off most of her escape network to local architect Philippe Baucq; it was soon clear Cavell’s moves were being watched by the Germans.  One of Baucq’s agents, the French national Louise Thuliez, recalled:

When the routes were unknown to us, we used smugglers as guides, and it must be said they were among our best assistants.  But these men, accustomed to danger, sometimes lacked prudence: the only time we dared confied to one of them a night expedition with ten men, he forgot the rule of silence and got himself arrested.  The troop dispersed and the passage had to be undertaken a second time.

On our trips we noted sunken paths where the men were allowed to smoke and refresh themselves with the fresh water of a stream.  For these nocturnal trips the men wore rope espadrilles to deaden the noise of their steps and advanced slowly in columns, ready at the first warning to throw themselves into the ditch beside the road.  We feared cars, foot patrols, German bicyclists, supply convoys that immobilized us for long periods hidden in the meadows or lying in the fields, and we cursed the dogs whose barking awoke sleeping villages.

On July 31, Thuliez had arranged the movement of French mechanics from occupied France to Brussels.  However, they never arrived, and that night Thuliez and Baucq were arrested.  On her person, she had false identity papers, a coded address book, letters from soldiers, and French accoutrements of patriotism.  On August 3, the Germans arrested Cavell as well. In her nearly ten months of work, she had helped over 200 Allied soldiers escape to the Netherlands and back to Britain.

Sources include: Margaret R. Higonnet (ed.), Lines of Fire; Helen McPhail, The Long Silence.

John M. Browning’s son, Lt. Val Browning, with the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle.

In 1918, Browning was commissioned as a second lieutenant with the United States Army, and served with the 79th Infantry Division at Verdun. In 1920, he became the manager of the manufacturing of John Browning guns in Liege, Belgium, and served as his father’s personal representative to the Fabrique Nationale de Herstal company. Upon his father’s death in 1926, Browning had the responsibility of completing the projects that were not finished by his father, including the Browning Superposed shotgun and the Browning Hi-Power pistol (GP-35) (the latter in cooperation with his father’s Belgian assistant, Dieudonné Saive). Val Allen Browning was born August 20, 1895 and died May 16, 1994 at age 98. (Colourised by Benjamin Thomas from Australia)