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|Liborius Ritter von Frank|
|FML Liborius Ritter von Frank was given command of the VII. Corps in June 1908, just as the Bosnian crisis was heating up. He succeeded FZM Ludwig Ritter Schwitzer von Bayersheim. This appointment was held by Frank until April 1910, when he was replaced by FML Anton Seefranz. Frank was commander of the Austrian V. Army at the outset of WWI, with a rank of General der Infanterie. The V. Army was situated in Syrmia north of Serbia, and extended around the Macva region of Serbia along the Save and Drina Rivers. The II. Army under General Böhm-Ermolli was supposed to coöperate with Frank's army in an invasion of Serbia, but the mobilisation of Russia necessitated the II. Army's removal to Galicia for defensive purposes.
This left the V. Army with no support on its left wing as it crossed the Save river into the Macva region of northwestern Serbia. See narrative below for further information. For his failure to defeat the Serbian Armies after three invasions, both Frank and General Potiorek were dismissed on 27 December 1914. The V. Army was taken over by General Tersztyanszky and later reorganised.
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|Orders of Battle: The Serbian Campaign, August 1914
Immediately preceding the invasion of Serbia in August 1914
General Potiorek, Commander of the Southwestern Front, end of summer 1914
V. Armee, General der Infanterie L. Ritter von Frank
VII. Korps, General der Kavallerie Giesl von Gieslingen
IX. inf. div., Feldmarschalleutnant von Scheuchenstüel
XXI. Schützen inf. div., Feldmlt. Przyborski
XIII. Korps, Gen. d. Inf. von Rhemen zu Bärensfeld
XXXVI. inf. div., Feldmlt. Czibulka
XLII. Honved inf. div., Feldmlt. von Sarkotic
|The First Invasion of Serbia, August 1914
The V. Army arched around the Macva (Matschwa), the northeastern corner of Serbia where the Save and Drina rivers met. General Potiorek's VI. Army was situated in Bosnia along the length of the Drina to the right of Frank, while the II. Army under General Böhm-Ermolli covered the Serbian frontier from the confluence of the Save and Danube to the Iron Gate on the Roumanian frontier.
Frank invaded Serbia on the night of 11 August 1914 by crossing the Drina and advancing up the Jadar River to encircle the Serbian II. Army. Potiorek crossed further up the Drina at the same time. Conrad intended that Böhm-Ermolli should advance up the Morava and thus deal the Serbs a three-way blow (and in fact the IV. and IX. Corps crossed the Save), but the Russian threat in the east caused the II. Army to spend much of August in transfer. Meanwhile, Frank's army struggled into the wild mountains of Serbia, where a signal lack of communications and infrastructure of any kind caused nearly as much trouble as the pressure from a battle-tested Serbian Army.
With the transfer of the Austrian II. Army, the Serbian II. Army under General Stefanovic abandoned its positions around Belgrade and moved into the Macva. The Serbian I. Army under General Bojovic moved to cover Belgrade, and the III. Army under General Jurisic-Sturm centred on Valjevo, which was supposed to be Frank's ultimate aim. But, the Serbian II. Army fortified the Cer Ridge above the Jadar valley, and Frank directed his troops to take the heights.
By August 16, the Austrian XIII. Corps under General Adolf v. Rhemen seized Krupanj on the southern side of the Jadar valley after beating back the Serbian III. Army with great losses to both sides. Frank gained part of the Cer Ridge by defeating the right flank of the II. Army on August 17, but Stefanovic won a counterstroke the next day by driving the Austrians out of Kozaninograd on the other end of the ridge. This threatened Frank's whole right flank and General Giesl with the entire VIII. Korps could not resist the attack from above. He was forced back across the Drina by August 23.
During this period, significant damage and atrocities were committed by the Austrians as they advanced into Serbia. Looting was not punished, and the burning of villages was mandatory upon evacuation in late August. But the damage inflicted on the Serbians was not without a terrible price: all together, the Austrians suffered 50,000 casualties in this first campaign (about 8,000 killed, 4,000 prisoners, and 30,000+ wounded), as well as many guns and much equipment.
|Serbian soldiers cross the upper Kolubara river on a destroyed bridge, autumn 1914.|
|The Second Invasion of Serbia, September 1914
Frank's main concern at the beginning of September was to push back the Serbian I. Army's invasion of Syrmia. Potiorek directed the VIII. and XIII. Corps in their second invasion of Serbia. This campaign was not so much as to bring Serbia to its knees as to prevent any further adventures by Putnik.
The Third Invasion of Serbia, November 1914
Potiorek initiated a third invasion of Serbia at the beginning of November. General Frank sent the VIII. Corps against the Serbian II. Army and drove them from the Maljen Ridge south of Valjevo. Putnik ordered a retreat to the Kolubara with the intention of holding the V. Army there. But, Frank's advance could not be halted this time; they crossed the Kolubara, and Putnik abandoned Belgrade to the Austrian until he was able to gather enough supplies for a counteroffensive. The Austrians entered Belgrade on December 1.
While Potiorek sent his VI. Army toward Rudnik, General Putnik launched his counteroffensive between the VI. and V. Armies. By doing this, the I. Army under General Misic drove deep between the enemy forces. This had the effect of splitting communications between the two armies and causd Potiorek to order a retreat. Frank withdrew his V. Army slowly and with order, but the losses were tremendous.
The Austrians retreating in fierce winter weather might have been routed, but the Serbs were so weak from the last round of fighting that they were barely able to follow the Austrians to the frontier, much less attack them. General Frank was relieved of his command following this latest failure.