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Kreß von Kressenstein in 1916

Friedrich Freiherr Kreß von Kressenstein (April 24, 1870 - October 16, 1948) was a German General from Nuremberg. He was a member of the group of German officers who assisted in the direction of the Ottoman Army during World War I.

Kreß von Kressenstein was part of Otto Liman von Sanders military mission to Turkey. This German mission arrived in Turkey shortly before World War I broke out.

Contents

World War One

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Palestine

He joined Djemal Pasha's army in Palestine as a military engineer and later chief of staff. Djemal Pasha was given the job by the Turkish leader Enver Pasha of capturing or disabling the Suez Canal. This effort is called the First Suez Offensive and it occurred in January 1915. Kreß von Kressenstein was responsible for creating special boats for crossing the canal (pontoons) as well as organizing the crossing of the Sinai desert. While the desert was crossed with little loss of life, the British were aware of their approach and their attack on the Suez came as no surprise to the defenders. The Turkish forces were repulsed easily and after two days of fighting, they retreated. Kreß von Kressenstein's special pontoons were never used.

More than a year passed when the Turks tried a second attack on the Suez. With Djemal Pasha directing affairs from his base in Damascus, Kreß von Kressenstein led a larger Ottoman army across the Sinai desert, again. This attack ran into a strong British defensive fortification at Romani, some 40 kilometers east of the canal. The Ottoman army prepared a major set-piece assault on Romani, scheduled for August 3, 1916 (see the Battle of Romani for a detailed description). The attack was beaten off and again the Turks retreated back to their bases in Palestine.

The British responded with an attack of their own. They captured some small Turkish forts in the Sinai, built a railroad and water pipe across the desert and then launched an assault on the Ottoman fort at Gaza. Kreß von Kressenstein was in charge of the Ottoman defences along with an Ottoman General Tala Bey. In the First Battle of Gaza (March 1917), the British were defeated, largely due to their own errors. In the Second Battle of Gaza in April 1917, the British were defeated again, the credit for this victory largely going to Kreß von Kressenstein.

The British removed their unsuccessful generals and replaced them with General Allenby. The Ottomans also replaced their top leadership, bringing in the former Chief of the German General Staff, General von Falkenhayn. Kress von Kressenstein was kept on as commander of the Turkish 8th Army defending Gaza and he was also awarded Prussia's highest order, the Pour le Mérite.

In November 1917, the British under General Allenby breached the Ottoman defensive positions at the Battle of Beersheba and the Third Battle of Gaza. Kreß von Kressenstein was able to withdraw his defeated troops in fairly good order to new defensive positions in the north.

Caucasus

In the middle of 1918, with the Ottoman-German alliance breaking down, Kreß von Kressenstein was sent with a small German force to Georgia, that was protected by Germany after its independence. He helped to frustrate the Red Army's invasion of Abkhazia.

Late life

He retired from the German army in 1929 and died in Munich in 1948.

He wrote at least one paper 'The Campaign in Palestine from the Enemy's Side' published in the Royal United Services Institute Journal.

Notes

  • Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a title, translated as Baron, not a first or middle name. The female forms are Freifrau and Freiin.
  • "Kreß" is part of the family name, not a given name; hence, "Kreß von Kressenstein" is his full family, or last, name.

See also

References


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