Georg Bruchmüller

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Georg Bruchmüller
Oberst Bruchmueller.jpg
Georg Bruchmüller
Born(1863-12-11)11 December 1863
Berlin
Died 26 January 1948(1948-01-26) (aged 84)
Garmisch-Partenkirchen
AllegianceFlag of the German Empire.svg  German Empire
Service/branch Kaiserstandarte.svg Imperial German Army
Years of service 1885–1919
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars

World War I

Awards Pour le Mérite with Oak Leaves
Iron Cross

Georg Bruchmüller (11 December 1863 – 26 January 1948), nicknamed Durchbruchmüller, was a German artillery officer who greatly influenced the development of modern artillery tactics. His nickname Durchbruchmüller is a combination of the German word Durchbruch (breakthrough) with his name.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Artillery class of weapons which fires munitions beyond the range and power of personal weapons

Artillery is a class of heavy military weapons built to fire munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls, and fortifications during sieges, and led to heavy, fairly immobile siege engines. As technology improved, lighter, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today; modern self-propelled artillery vehicles are highly mobile weapons of great versatility providing the large share of an army's total firepower.

Contents

Early life

Bruchmüller was born in Berlin into a middle-class family. He studied physics at Berlin University; when he left in 1883 he became a three-year volunteer in the Imperial Army. [1] Two years later, he was commissioned into the Fußartillerie (foot artillery), the branch of the German army armed with heavier guns, howitzers and mortars, designed principally for siege warfare, which now was assuming a role in field operations.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

In 1897 and 1898, Bruchmüller served as a battery commander in Fußartillerie-Regiment Nr. 3 in the Fortress of Mainz. [2] Next, he commanded a battery in the Lehr-Bataillon (Demonstration Battalion) of the Royal Prussian Fußartillerie-Schießschule (Foot Artillery Firing School) in Jüterbog from 1901–1902. During this time, he worked with one of the instructors at the Fußartillerie-Schießschule, Hauptmann Arthur Bilse, a heavy artillery specialist. (Bilse, when General der Fußartillerie 15, was killed in action on New Year's Day 1916, at Les Baraques France.) [3] In 1908, Bruchmüller was promoted to major and assigned to write the tactical manual for foot artillery. In 1913 he was thrown from his horse and subsequently had a nervous breakdown. He was medically discharged as a lieutenant colonel, but with major's pay. [4]

Fortress of Mainz fortress in Germany

The Fortress of Mainz was a fortressed garrison town between 1620 and 1918. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, under the term of the 1815 Peace of Paris, the control of Mainz passed to the German Confederation and became part of a chain of strategic fortresses which protected the Confederation. With the dissolution of the Confederation and the Austro-Prussian War, control of the fortress first passed to Prussia, and, after the 1871 Unification of Germany, to the German Empire.

Jüterbog Place in Brandenburg, Germany

Jüterbog is a historic village in north-eastern Germany, in the Teltow-Fläming district of Brandenburg. It is on the Nuthe river at the northern slope of the Fläming hill range, about 65 km (40 mi) southwest of Berlin.

World War I

At the beginning of World War I he was recalled to active duty, soon becoming artillery commander of the 86th Division on the Eastern Front. In 1915 he fought in thirteen actions, winning the Iron Cross First Class and Second Class. The Russians conducted the Lake Naroch Offensive from 18–30 March 1916. For the counter-attack, Bruchmüller persuaded the Tenth Army commander Generaloberst Hermann von Eichhorn, to centralize the artillery command. Bruchmüller planned to lead the infantry attack with a creeping barrage, which contributed to the German victory, for which he was awarded the Pour le Mérite, Germany's highest military award, in 1917 (one of only four senior artillery officers to receive this honor during the war).

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

The 86th Infantry Division was a formation of the Imperial German Army in World War I. The division was formed in November 1914 as the Wernitz Division, named after its commander General Theodor von Wernitz, and became the 86th Infantry Division in August 1915. The division was disbanded in 1919 during the demobilization of the German Army after World War I.

Eastern Front (World War I) part of World War I

The Eastern Front or Eastern Theater of World War I was a theatre of operations that encompassed at its greatest extent the entire frontier between the Russian Empire and Romania on one side and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire on the other. It stretched from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south, involved most of Eastern Europe and stretched deep into Central Europe as well. The term contrasts with "Western Front", which was being fought in Belgium and France.

The French and British used prolonged bombardments before an infantry assault, to try to destroy the defenders, like the seven-day barrage opening the Battle of the Somme, while the Germans favored short, intense bombardments, like the ten-hour opening the Battle of Verdun. Bruchmüller devised intricate, centrally-controlled firing plans for intense bombardments. His operations emphasized fire in depth throughout the enemy positions, switching rapidly from target to target and then back again, which required strict, detailed control of every gun, to cause maximum disruption of the defenders. Each battery of each type of weapon received fire missions on a timetable. The first stage hit headquarters, phone links, command posts, enemy batteries and infantry positions. The fire was sudden, concentrated and made extensive use of gas shells. In the second stage more guns engaged the enemy batteries. Many shots were required: for example 100 shells from 6 in (150 mm) howitzers were considered necessary to eliminate a gun pit. [5] The third stage directed fire for effect on targets, some batteries continued to shell infantry positions, while heavy pieces engaged long range targets to cut off reinforcements. The advancing infantry followed a precisely organized creeping barrage, the Feuerwalze  (de ). For some of the key counter-attacks during Russia’s Brusilov Offensive, he directed the 76 artillery batteries of Heeresgruppe von Linsingen . In July 1917, he commanded 134 batteries during the counter-attack that recovered Tarnopol from the Russians, after its loss during the Kerensky Offensive.

Battle of the Somme battle of the Western Front, World War I

The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of World War I fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. The battle was intended to hasten a victory for the Allies and was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front. More than three million men fought in the battle and one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. The Battle of the Somme was fought in the traditional style of World War I battles on the Western Front: trench warfare. The trench warfare gave the Germans an advantage because they dug their trenches deeper than the allied forces which gave them a better line of sight for warfare. The Battle of the Somme also has the distinction of being the first battle fought with tanks. However, the tanks were still in the early stages of development, and as a result, many broke down after maxing out at their top speed of 4 miles per hour.

Battle of Verdun battle on the Western Front during the First World War

The Battle of Verdun, fought from 21 February to 18 December 1916, the longest battle of the First World War was fought on the Western Front between the German and French armies. The battle took place on the hills north of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France. The German 5th Army attacked the defences of the Fortified Region of Verdun and those of the French Second Army on the right bank of the Meuse. Inspired by the experience of the Second Battle of Champagne in 1915, the Germans planned to capture the Meuse Heights, an excellent defensive position with good observation for artillery-fire on Verdun. The Germans hoped that the French would commit their strategic reserve to recapture the position and suffer catastrophic losses in a battle of annihilation, at little cost to the Germans, dug in on tactically advantageous positions on the heights.

Brusilov Offensive battle on the Eastern Front during World War I

The Brusilov Offensive, also known as the "June Advance", of June to September 1916 was the Russian Empire's greatest feat of arms during World War I, and among the most lethal offensives in world history. Historian Graydon Tunstall called the Brusilov Offensive the worst crisis of World War I for Austria-Hungary and the Triple Entente's greatest victory, but it came at a tremendous loss of life.

Surprise was essential for creating maximum disruption, so Bruchmüller adopted the Pulkowski Method, for bombardments without the customary registration fire. The position of each gun was surveyed. [6] Knowing the muzzle velocity of the gun and taking into account variables like air temperature, wind velocity and direction and using tables provided by mathematicians, it was possible to fire fairly accurately at targets on the gunnery maps. The Germans concealed their attack preparations but their initial target data had to be precise. (The British had fired from the map in their assault at Cambrai on 20 November 1917.) [7]

Muzzle velocity is the speed of a projectile at the moment it leaves the muzzle of a gun. Muzzle velocities range from approximately 120 m/s (390 ft/s) to 370 m/s (1,200 ft/s) in black powder muskets, to more than 1,200 m/s (3,900 ft/s) in modern rifles with high-performance cartridges such as the .220 Swift and .204 Ruger, all the way to 1,700 m/s (5,600 ft/s) for tank guns firing kinetic energy penetrator ammunition. To simulate orbital debris impacts on spacecraft, NASA launches projectiles through light-gas guns at speeds up to 8,500 m/s (28,000 ft/s).

Battle of Cambrai (1917) 1917 World War I battle

The Battle of Cambrai was a British attack followed by the biggest German counter-attack against the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) since 1914, in the First World War. The town of Cambrai, in the département of Nord, was an important supply point for the German Siegfriedstellung and capture of the town and the nearby Bourlon Ridge would threaten the rear of the German line to the north. Major General Henry Tudor, Commander, Royal Artillery (CRA) of the 9th (Scottish) Division, advocated the use of new artillery-infantry techniques on his sector of the front. During preparations, J. F. C. Fuller, a staff officer with the Tank Corps, looked for places to use tanks for raids. General Julian Byng, commander of the British Third Army, decided to combine both plans. The French and British armies had used tanks in mass earlier in 1917, although to considerably less effect.

Bruchmüller commanded the artillery of the 8th Army (General Oskar von Hutier) during the Victory at Riga in September 1917. The 8th Army moved west soon thereafter, where in the first months of 1918, Bruchmüller's techniques were taught to gunners at a special school in Belgium, before the German Spring Offensive of 1918. [8] Infantry officers were also taught his methods and there were joint infantry-artillery exercises with live ammunition, with advances shielded by the creeping barrage. The first attack, Operation Michael, began with a barrage of 3.5 million shells in five hours, almost 200 shells a second. Defying instructions, Bruchmüller eliminated preliminary registration by firing from the map and then directed the artillery during the next attack at the Battle of the Lys on Flanders, where the artillery had not yet been trained in the Pulkowski method. The guns were registered by observation during the first phase of the bombardment. Bruchmüller was awarded the oak leaves to his Pour le Mérite on March 26, 1918; one of just two higher artillery commanders decorated this way. [9] Still only a Lieutenant-Colonel and a retired officer on temporary recall, he commanded the artillery in Heeresgruppe Deutscher Kronprinz in the Third Battle of the Aisne and the Second Battle of the Marne. The artillery fired from the map in darkness and the infantry advanced at first light. [10] Ludendorff cited him as an example of "... the decisive influence of personality on the course of events in war ..." [11]

Post-war

Bruchmüller was not eligible for the post-war Reichswehr , because the Versailles Treaty prohibited heavy artillery, and he was retired in 1919 as a full colonel. He wrote several books on artillery that were translated into English, French and Russian. In 1939, on the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Tannenberg, he was promoted to major-general on the retired list. [12] Bruchmüller died at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1948.

Footnotes

  1. Zabecki, 1994, pp. 27–31
  2. PA, 1898, nopp
  3. PKM, 1902, nopp
  4. Zabecki, 1994, p. 28.
  5. Broad, 1922, pp. 222–241
  6. Zabecki, 1994, pp. 49–50
  7. Kloot, 2014, pp. 152–154
  8. Sulzbach, 1981, pp. 49–50
  9. Zabecki, 1994, p. 78.
  10. Zabecki, 2006, p. 216
  11. Ludendorff, 1919, p. 239.
  12. Zabecki, 1996, p. 144

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