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War diary

December 1914

In December 1914, the situation of Austro-Hungarian troops on the Russian front became critical. The Russians broke deep into the interior of the country, occupied Galicia, passed through the Carpathians, threatened Hungary. The possibility of retreating to the Danube line was also raised in the military leadership. The mere replenishment of the armies that suffered great losses also encountered difficulties. Uncontrolled sections of the front line opened up to attacks by the Russians. One of these defense gaps had to be occupied by the 10th Cavalry Division led by General Herberstein on December 8, 1914. In the fighting around the village of Limanowa, the miracle happened, the Hungarian Hussars held off the Russian mass attacks and consolidated the front.

The 9th Hussar regiment was in reserve at the guard house east of Golcok. On the morning of December 8, Colonel Ottmar Muhr arrived here with reinforcements from and took command of the 9th Hussar Regiment. The regiment and insurgent forces had to occupy trenches about 1,000 steps north of Starawies. The Golcow heights were occupied by a squadron of Polish legionaries, a squadron of  the 13th Hussar regiment, and machine gunners of the 9th Hussar regiment. At 1:00 a.m. on the 9th, the Russians took over Golcow position in fierce fighting. The 9th Hussar regiment and the insurgents had to retreat to Starawies.

At 5:00 a.m. on December 11, the 9th Hussar Regiment and the 13th Hussar Regiment were supposed to replace the 10th Hussar Regiment in the Baitner Group. At 5:00 a.m., the two regiments reached the eastern edge of Limanowa, where they left the horses. The Baitner Group’s positions were attacked three times by the Russians on the afternoon of December 10. For several times, the defenders were able to restrain the enemy only through close combat. On December 11, the Russians attacked again at 1:00 and 3:00, but both times they had to retreat. The enemy, however, ignored his losses because they wanted to take the Jabloniec peak at all costs. At 5:00 a.m., they again stormed the Baitner Group’s posts with large crowds, and in the middle of the defensive posts, where only few remaining hussars defended, they broke in.

Colonel Muhr, commander of hussars 13 and 9 on the eastern edge of Limanowa, immediately rushed with his hussars to support his comrades when he heard the noise of the battle on Jabloniec. Colonel Muhr climbed the high ground in the fierce fire of the enemy. In the thick fog, soldiers could only see it a few steps away. When Colonel Muhr got to the high ground, he found only Russians. “Forward boys!” “Long live the king!” he ran to the Russians with his hussars. The desperate group which consisted of less than 250 hussars, as it had no bayonets, gripped the barrel of the carbine and destroyed the enemy with huge blows of the carbine’s breech. The Hussars, who rushed out of the fog with wild determination and with their unusual mode of grappling, surprised the Russians. Colonel Muhr’s hussars have recaptured the key of the defense posts, the Jabloniec peak.

It was an expensive victory. The bodies of hussars and Russians lay around the post by the hundreds. Colonel Muhr, was killed in action during the first few minutes by a Russian machine gun hits. Besides, 12 other officers and many hussars died here. After the victory in Limanowa, the Russian military ordered a general retreat.

The memories of Colonel Muhr have been preserved. On top of Jabloniec where he died a monument was erected already during the Great War. It still stands and is kept in very good shape by Polish friends. Also in Sopron, the home city of the 9th Hussars a monument was erected rather recently to commemorate the Colonel’s death.

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