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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.

Operation Albion
Part of World War I
Operation Albion Map.jpg
Operation Albion amphibious operations 12–20 October
Date12 October – 20 October 1917
LocationWest Estonian archipelago, Baltic Sea
Coordinates: 58°30′N 23°0′E / 58.500°N 23.000°E / 58.500; 23.000
Result German victory
Belligerents
Flag of the German Empire.svg Germany Russia
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
German Empire Oskar von Hutier
German Empire Hugo von Kathen
German Empire Ludwig von Estorff
German Empire Ehrhard Schmidt
Russia Mikhail Bakhirev
Russia Vasily Altvater
Strength

1 Battlecruiser
10 Dreadnought battleships
9 Light cruiser
1 Mine cruisers
50 Torpedo boats
6 U-boats
19 Transport ships
6 airships
102 combat aircraft
24,500 Soldiers
8500 Horses
2400 Vehicles
150 Machine guns
54 Guns

12 Mortars and ammunition

2 Pre-dreadnought battleships
2 Cruiser
1 Protected cruiser
3 Gunboats
21 Destroyers
3 submarines

about 24,000 soldiers
Casualties and losses

Torpedo boat S 64 destroyed
7 Minesweepers destroyed
9 Trawlers and auxiliary vessels destroyed
Many ships damaged by mines
5 aircraft shot down
156 Dead and 60 wounded (Navy)

54 Killed and 141 wounded (Army)

Battleship Slava destroyed
Destroyer Grom destroyed
Submarine HMS C32 destroyed
20,130 men captured
141 Guns (47 heavy) lost
130 Machine guns lost

40 aircraft lost
Panorama of the Tagalaht Bay, Saaremaa, Estonia. This was the location of the German landing on 12 October 1917.
The gun turrets of a battleship. A grey dirigible flies overhead.
German battleship Grosser Kurfürst photographed during Operation Albion in October 1917. Above is the Schütte-Lanz company naval airship S.L.20 (Type 'f').

After two failed attempts, the Germans managed to land on Hiiumaa on 12 October and captured 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 October.

Contents

Strategic significanceEdit

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 battleEdit

German unitsEdit

  • 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 unitsEdit

British unitsEdit

See alsoEdit

FootnotesEdit

  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

BibliographyEdit

  • 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.

External linksEdit