18/9/1915 Germany takes Vilna, but its run of victories against Russia is drawing to a close

The Lithuanian city of Vilna falls to German forces today. But this was not as easy a victory over the Russians as the Germans have been used to. The Russians put up a skilful defence, repelling German attacks and only surrendering Vilna to avoid encirclement.

The long run of victories the Germans have enjoyed since the commencement of the Gorlice-Tarnów offensive are starting to come to an end. Russian resistance is stronger and the German supply lines are increasingly stretched. The weather is beginning to turn, with autumn rains making it difficult to move troops or supplies along the bad roads of Poland and Russia.

The Russians have suffered enormous casualties since the beginning of the Gorlice-Tarnów offensive, perhaps as many as 1.4 million men. But they seem able to find new recruits to fill the gaps in their ranks. And by trading space for time they have denied Germany the kind of victory that would force Russia to the negotiating table.

German chief of staff Falkenhayn was always sceptical of eastern commanders Hindenburg and Ludendorff when they claimed that Russia could be knocked out of the war. Events seem to have proved him right. And the Germans have themselves suffered considerable casualties in the course of the fighting. The capture of Vilna alone has cost the Germans some 50,000 casualties.

image source (NavWeaps Discussion Board)

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