Operation Albion

Operation Albion
Part of World War I

Operation Albion amphibious operations 12–20 October
Date12–20 October 1917
Location
Result German victory
Belligerents
Germany Russia
United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Oskar von Hutier
Hugo von Kathen
Ludwig von Estorff
Ehrhard Schmidt
Mikhail Bakhirev
Vasily Altvater
Strength
1 battlecruiser
10 dreadnought battleships
9 light cruisers
1 mine cruiser
50 torpedo boats
6 U-boats
19 transports

6 airships
102 combat aircraft

24,500 soldiers
8,500 horses
2,400 vehicles
150 machine guns
54 guns
12 mortars
2 pre-dreadnought battleships
2 cruisers
1 protected cruiser
21 destroyers
3 gunboats
3 submarines

24,000 soldiers
Casualties and losses
1 torpedo boat sunk (S 64)
7 minesweepers destroyed
9 trawlers & auxiliary vessels destroyed
5 aircraft shot down
156 killed
60 wounded (Navy)
54 killed
141 wounded (Army)
1 battleship sunk (Slava)
1 destroyer sunk (Grom)
1 submarine destroyed (HMS C32)
unknown dead and wounded

20,130 captured
141 guns lost(47 heavy guns)
130 machine guns lost

40 aircraft lost

Operation Albion was the codename for the German air, land and naval operation in October 1917 to occupy the West Estonian Archipelago, part of the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia, Russian Republic. The land campaign opened with landings at the Tagalaht, Saaremaa, on 12 October 1917, after extensive naval operations to clear mines and subdue coastal artillery batteries. The Germans secured the island by 16 October and the Russian Army evacuated Muhu on 20 October.

After two failed attempts, the Germans landed on Hiiumaa on 12 October, capturing the island on the following day. The Russian Baltic Fleet had to withdraw from the Suur Strait after its losses at the Battle of Moon Sound. The Germans claimed 20,000 prisoners and 100 guns captured during Operation Albion from 12 to 20 October.

Strategic significance

At the beginning of World War I the islands were of little importance to Imperial Russia or Germany. After the revolutionary turmoil in Russia during the early part of 1917, the German high command believed capturing the islands would outflank Russian defences and lay Petrograd (St. Petersburg) vulnerable to attack.[1]

Order of battle

German units

  • Naval Forces[2] (Sonderverband): Vice Admiral Ehrhard Schmidt
    • Battlecruiser: Moltke (flagship)
    • 3rd Battle Squadron (III. Geschwader)(Vice Admiral Paul Behncke) dreadnought battleships: König (flagship), Bayern, Grosser Kurfürst, Kronprinz, Markgraf
    • 4th Battle Squadron (IV. Geschwader) (Vice Admiral Wilhelm Souchon) dreadnought battleships: Friedrich der Grosse (flagship), König Albert, Kaiserin, Prinzregent Luitpold, Kaiser
    • 2nd Cruiser Squadron (II. Aufklärungsgruppe) (Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter) cruisers: Königsberg (flagship), Karlsruhe, Nürnberg, Frankfurt, Danzig
    • 4th Cruiser Squadron (VI. Aufklärungsgruppe) (Rear Admiral Albert Hopman) cruisers: Kolberg (flagship), Strassburg, Augsburg; minelayer: Nautilus; tender: Blitz
    • Torpedo Boats (Commodore Heinrich) cruiser: Emden (flagship)
      • 2nd Torpedo Boat Flotilla: B 98; 3rd Half-Flotilla: G 101, V 100, G 103, G 104; 4th Half-Flotilla: B 109, B 110, B 111, B 97, B 112
      • 6th Torpedo Boat Flotilla: V 69; 12th Half-Flotilla: V 43, S 50, V 44, V 45, V 46; 13th Half-Flotilla: V 82, S 64 , S 61, S 63, V 74
      • 8th Torpedo Boat Flotilla: V 180; 15th Half-Flotilla: V 183, V 185, V 181, V 184, V 182; 16th Half-Flotilla: S 176, S 178, G 174, S 179, V 186
      • 10th Torpedo Boat Flotilla:: S 56; 19th Half-Flotilla: T 170, T 169, T 172, G 175, T 165; 20th Half-Flotilla: V 78, V 77, G 89, S 65, S 66
      • 7th Half-Flotilla: T 154, T 158, T 157, T 151, T 160, T 145, T 140, T 139
    • Courland Submarine Flotilla (U-BootsFlottille Kurland): UC 56, UC 57, UC 58, UC 59, UC 60, UC 78
    • Minesweepers (Minensuchdienst)
      • 2nd Minesweeper Flotilla: A 62; 3rd Half-Flotilla: T 136, M 67, M 68, M 75, M 76, M 77, T 59, T 65, T 68, T 82, T 85; 4th Half-Flotilla: T 104, T 53, T 54, T 55, T 56, T 60, T 61, T 62, T 66, T 67, T 69; 8th Half-Flotilla: M 64, M 11, M 31, M 32, M 39, A 35
      • 3rd Half-Flotilla of the Search Flotilla: T 141, 15 motor-boats
      • Mine-Searcher Group of the Outpost Half-Flotilla East: 6 fishing vessels
      • 1st Minesweeper Division (Riga): 11 motor-boats
      • 2nd Minesweeper Division: 12 motor-boats
      • 3rd Minesweeper Division: 12 motor-boats
      • 4th Minesweeper Division: 10 motor-boats; outpost boat O 2
      • Mine-barrage Breaker group (Sperrbrechergruppe): Rio Parbo, Lothar, Schwaben, Elass
    • Anti-Submarine Forces (U-Bootsabwehr)
      • Baltic Search Flotilla: T 144; 1st half-flotilla: T 142, A 32, A 28, A 30, 32 fishing vessels; 2nd half-flotilla: T 130, A 31, A 27, A 29, 24 fishing vessels
  • Ground Forces

Russian units

  • 425th, 426th and 472nd Infantry Regiments
  • Battleships: Tsesarevich, Slava
  • Armored cruiser: Admiral Makarov
  • Destroyers: Desna, Novik, Pobeditel, Zabijaka, Grom, Konstantin
  • Gunboats: Chivinetz, Grozyashchi
  • Blockship: Lavwija
  • Minelayer: Pripyat[3]

British units

See also

Footnotes

  1. Barrett 2008, p. 8.
  2. Ernst Freiherr von Gagern, Der Krieg zur See 1914–1918: Der Krieg in der Ostsee Bd.3 (Frankfurt: Mittler & Sohn, 1964), Beilage 3.
  3. Operation Albion: The Attack On The Baltic Islands

Bibliography

  • Barrett, M. B. (2008). Operation Albion: The German Conquest of the Baltic Islands. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34969-9. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
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