Who's Who - Georg Bruchmuller

Georg Bruchmuller Georg Bruchmuller (1863-1948) gained wide renown throughout the German Army as a pioneer of artillery tactics during World War One.

Born in Berlin to a middle class family Bruchmuller was commissioned into the German Foot Artillery in 1885, remaining concerned with artillery and fortress assignments (which included a period spent as an instructor) until his eventual medical discharge in 1913 through illness.

Still relatively junior in rank at his retirement - a Lieutenant Colonel - Bruchmuller was dug out of retirement towards the close of 1914 as the war on the Eastern Front expanded.  Recalled therefore to temporary active duty Bruchmuller was given responsibility for overseeing artillery preparations with the 86th Infantry Division.

At this early stage of the war artillery bombardments tended to span several days (and sometimes a week or more) prior to the actual commencement of infantry action.  Artillery was in effect being used as a means of demolishing the opposition, although most available evidence demonstrated its continuing failure as a breakthrough weapon.  Furthermore extensive artillery bombardments were taken as a sure sign of a forthcoming infantry offensive by the opposing force.

Bruchmuller conversely recommended short, sharp artillery offensives as a means of neutralising rather than destroying the enemy while maintaining the crucial element of surprise.  Rather than targeting fixed locations and maintaining a steady barrage he ensured the artillery barrage constantly shifted focus, always targeting important strategic and command posts rather than the enemy front line.  He also made extensive use of gas shells to aid enemy confusion.

Bruchmuller's tactics were brilliantly demonstrated at the March 1916 Battle of Lake Naroch, where the German Army destroyed Russian General Evert's force.  Bruchmuller was similarly successful at Riga (on von Hutier's staff) in September 1917.  The same year he was awarded the prestigious Pour le Merite.

Transferred to the Western Front Bruchmuller, still only a Lieutenant Colonel, demonstrated the same level of success during Ludendorff's series of major offensives in Spring 1918 (during the course of which Hubert Gough's British Fifth Army suffered particularly notable losses).  He was promoted full Colonel in March 1918.  As an indication of the measure of Bruchmuller's preferred approach, some 3.2 million shells were fired during the opening barrage alone at St. Quentin on 21 March 1918.

Following the armistice Bruchmuller retired for a second time in 1919, subsequently writing several influential books documenting his artillery techniques.

Finally promoted Major General in August 1939 on the retired list, Georg Bruchmuller (commonly referred to as Durchbruchmuller ('breakthrough Muller') died in 1948.

Prevalent dysentery among Allied soldiers in Gallipoli came to be referred to as "the Gallipoli gallop".

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