The Petrograd operation

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15. October 1919

In the summer of 1919, the Triple Entente began to plan a large military operation against the Soviet power. The Russian White's North-Western Army, supported by the Estonian Peoples Force, was supposed to give the first blow towards Petrograd.

The Triple Entente's plan suited Estonian military command's aim to hold the war away from Estonian soil. The Estonian people, however, were tired of war and didn't trust the Triple Entente, because those still had not acknowledged Estonia de jure.

On September 28, 1919, the Russian White's North-Western Army, consisting of 40,000 men and carrying good equipment, began their assault from Jaama region. Due to great superiority, they reached the uplands of Pulkovo by October 21, and Tsarskoye Selo was captured.

On the same day, the Red Army dealt a strong counterattack, forcing the demoralized Whites todisorderly flee, who came to Estonia. Thus, it was decided to disband the North-Western Army, the soldiers and civilian refugees from Russia were placed in to camps in the eastern part of Virumaa. There, tens of thousands died of typhus.

The Peoples Force made the biggest descent of the War of Independence during the Petrograd operation. The 2000 man landing took place in the Kaporje bay on October 15, 1919. Goal was to take the forts situated in front of Petrograd, and thus restrain the threat of the Baltic Navy in Kronstadt. The operation failed and by November 9, Peoples Force took positions at Ingria Lakes and Lauga River. On the southern front, the units of the Peoples Force made several attempts to advance towards Pihkva, but despite their relative success, they were forced to draw back to the Izborsk line by October.

In Latvia, a German friendly Colonel of the Czar's Army, Pavel Bermondt-Avalov (see image), began to threaten the city of Riga. He had used German volunteers to form the Western Army, with the aim of increasing his area of influence. On October 9, 1919, Bermondt took the whole southern coast of the Daugava River, along with a big part of Riga.

Ulmanis' administration asked Estonia and Lithuania for help. Estonia decided to help, sending two armored trains to Riga. Those provided big moral support to the defenders of Riga and in October 10-23, Estonians and Latvians countered Bermondt's forces attempts to cross the river. In the beginning of November, with the help of the British Navy, Latvian army forced the Western Army out of Latvia. Latter events showed, that the grandeur anti-Bolshevik plans of the Entente had failed.

Source: Eesti ajalugu. VI, Vabadussõjast taasiseseisvumiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006.                                                                                                  

Image source: http://www.hot.ee/vabadussoda/suurtukk.jpg 


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