Erzurum Operation of 1916

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Erzurum Operation of 1916


an offensive by the Russian Caucasus Army during World War I that lasted from Dec. 28, 1915 (Jan. 10, 1916) to Feb. 18 (Mar. 2), 1916.

The Caucasus Army (about 103,000 men and 338 fieldpieces), under the command of General N. N. Iudenich, was assigned the task of routing the main forces of the Turkish Third Army (about 60,000 men and 122 fieldpieces) before it could be joined by reinforcements being brought in from the straits area after the collapse of the Allies’ Gallipoli Expedition of 1915; in addition, the Russians were to capture the fortress at Erzurum.

On December 28 (January 10) the Turkestan II Corps went on the offensive on the Oltu axis against the Turkish X Corps; on December 30 (January 12) the Caucasus I Corps and an army assault group moved to the offensive on the Sankamiş axis against the Turkish XI and IX corps. The offensive was mounted under difficult conditions: the Russian forces had to contend with high mountains, snowdrifts, strong winds, and a temperature of – 30°C. Russian troops nevertheless broke through the Turkish front lines near Köprüköy toward the end of January 1 (14), and in the early hours of January 4 (17) the Turkish troops, threatened with encirclement, began a disorderly retreat.

The Russian troops approached the outer fortifications of the fortress at Erzurum on January 8 (21), launched an assault on the fortress on January 30 (February 12), and took it on February 3 (16). They captured more than 8,000 men and 315 fieldpieces.

The Russians continued pursuing the Turks until February 18 (March 2), when the front line became stabilized 70–100 km west of Erzurum. The depth of operation was more than 150 km. The Turks lost about 66,000 men, including 13,000 prisoners; 2,300 Russians were killed, and 14,700 were wounded or frostbitten. The Erzurum Operation greatly helped the British forces in Egypt and Mesopotamia by forcing the Turkish troops to suspend active operations in those regions.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.