Sarikamis Operation of 1914–15
Sarikamiş Operation of 1914–15
combat operations by the Russian Caucasian Army in the vicinity of Sarikamiş, (now in Turkey, Kars Vilayet) from Dec. 9 (22), 1914, until Jan. 4(17), 1915, during World War I.
The command of the Turkish Third Army (commanded by the minister of war, General Enver Pasha; chief of staff, German General P. Bronsart von Schellendorf) decided to surround and destroy the main forces (Sarikamiş, Detachment) of the Caucasian Army (commander in chief, General I. I. Vo-rontsov-Dashkov; actually the army was commanded by his assistant, General A. Z. Myshlaevskii) with the objective of subsequently seizing Kars. To achieve this, the Turkish XI Corps, 2nd Cavalry Division, and Kurdish Cavalry Corps were to pin down the Sarikamiş Detachment (headed by General G. E. Berkhman) from the front, while the Turkish IX and X corps would reach its rear through Oltu and Bardiz.
On December 9 (22) the Turkish IX and X corps went over to the offensive and, driving back General N. M. Istomin’s Oltu Detachment, which was outnumbered six to one, took Bardiz on December 12 (25) and then turned toward Sankamiş. During the attack, the Turks suffered great losses; the cold weather added to their casualties. The Turkish XI Corps launched its attack from the front, and the Sankamiş Detachment withdrew to the state frontier. On Myshlaevskii’s orders, part of the forces were sent from the front and from the army reserve for the defense of Sankamiş. Until their arrival, Sankamiş was stubbornly defended by the small composite detachment of Colonel Bukretov.
On December 14 (27), General M. A. Przheval’skii took over leadership of the defense. Russian forces repulsed the attacks of the Turks and on December 16 (29) drove them back and went over to the counteroffensive. The Turkish detachment of German Major Stanke, which had moved against Ardahan, was also crushed. On December 20 (January 2), Russian forces took Bardiz and on December 22 (January 4) surrounded and captured the entire Turkish IX Corps. The remnants of the X Corps withdrew to the initial attack positions. By January 4–6 (17–19), the Russian forces had fully reestablished their position. Turkish losses were approximately 70,000 (out of 90,000), and the Russians lost about 20,000.
As a result of the Sankamiş Operation, the position of the Russian Caucasian Army was solidified and the tasks of the British forces in Iraq and those defending the Suez were made easier.