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Hermann Kövess von Kövessháza
The Last Supreme Commander

Freiherr Hermann Kövess von Kövessháza was born in 1854.   As of June 1911, FML Kövess was in control of the XII. Corps.  He held this important command until September 1915.  At the outset of WWI, he was ranked General der Infanterie and his Corps was in the II. Army, led by General Böhm-Ermolli.   His Corps was the II. Army's only representative on the Eastern Front, as the rest of the army was in transit from the Vojvodina Front.  As it turns out, Kövess' Corps was assigned to defend against the entire Russian III. Army under General Russky—see orders of battle below for details and narrative.  Kövess accepted the command of the III. Army, replacing General Tersztyanszky, who took command of Army Group Tersztyanszky for the purpose of invading Serbia.  (As for the XII. Corps, it was taken over by FML Johann Ritter von Henriquez.)  The III. army then was situated in the Vojvodina, and what followed was the tremendous defeat of the Serbians in autumn 1915. 

Following the surrender of the Montenegrin army after being harried by three Austrian Corps,  Kövess was the military governor for the tiny state from 17 January 1916 until 26 February, when he turned the reigns of government over to FML
Viktor Weber. (Kövess would be named to this governorship in late October 1918, but he was also handed many other important titles that amounted to little at such a late date.)

Kövess transferred the III. Army into the Tirol in March 1916 to prepare for the Tirol Offensive.  Kövess was given the rank of Generaloberst in May 1916, most likely for the successful occupation of Serbia by January 1916. 

He transferred from the III. Army on 20 October 1916, being replaced by GdK
Kirchbach. He took command of the VII. Army on the same day, replacing GO Pflanzer-Baltin who had led the army for two years.  He held this command until January 16, 1918.  After this, he asssumed command of Army Front Kövess, which encompassed the whole Moldavian Front from the Dobruja to Galicia.  This was eliminated on 5 April 1918.  He then commanded Army Group Kövess, formed on 1 October 1918, which controlled the whole Balkan Front.  This Front was stretching as the Entente invaded Serbia following Bulgaria's surrender on 28 September 1918. 

Kövess' final ascension was at the last hour: 
Kaiser Karl appointed him supreme commander in his own stead on 1 November 1918; Karl asked for an armistice the same day, and recognised Hungary's independence as well.  This left Kövess in a strange situation, since he was a Hungarian. Nevertheless, he accepted the honour knowing full well that time had run out for both the monarchy and the K.u.K. Army.  He was annoyed to learn on November 3 that the Italian Armies violated the armistice agreement by claiming their translation allowed for advance movement one extra day; that is, after the Austrians had stacked their rifles in anticipation of peace, Italian units moved forward and assaulted them, taking many prisoners and leaving many casualties.  Kövess likened the situation to the Italians' misinterpretations of the Alliance with Ethiopia [that led to a humiliating defeat for Italy at Adowa in 1896] by claiming that the Italians were "always mistranslating treaties" to their benefit.

Much as his comrades FM
Conrad, GO Hazai, and GO Pflanzer-Baltin had to suffer, Kövess also lost a son in the first campaigns in Galicia in 1914.  FM Hermann Freiherr Kövess von Kövessháza died in Vienna on 22 September 1924, and his body was buried in Budapest

GWS, 1/01
Orders of Battle:  Galician Front, end of Summer 1914
Immediately preceding the invasion of Russian Poland in August 1914
II. Armee, General der Kavallerie von Böhm-Ermolli
Army Group Kövess (Note:  III., IV., and VII. Korps were in transit throughout early August and did not assist Kövess' XII. Korps until later in the month)
     XII. Korps, Gen. d. Infanterie Kövess von Kövesshaza
          XVI. inf. div., Feldmarschalleutnant. Paukert
          XXXV. inf. div., Generalmajor Hauninger
          XXXVIII. Honved inf. div., Feldmlt. Karg von Bebenburg
Orders of Battle:  Eastern Front, May 1915
Immediately preceding the Dunajec offensive
Armee Woyrsch, preuß. Generaloberst
v. Woyrsch
    Chief of Staff, preuß. Obstlt. Heye
   Army Group Kövess (XII. Korps), Gen. d. Inf. v. Kövess
    Chief of Staff, Oberst
Frh. Zeidler-Daublebsky v. Sterneck
       35. inf. div., Genmj. v. Podhoranszky
               69. inf. brig., Genmj. v. Baitz
                70. inf. brig., Genmj. Edl. v. Salmon
                35. field art. brig., Genmj. Gröschl
        16. inf. div., Feldmlt.
v. Schariczer
                inf. reg. 2, inf. reg. 31
                16. field art. brig., Feldmlt. v. Dobler
        9. kav. div., Gen. d. Kav.
Frh. v. Hauer
                1. kav. brig., Genmj. Ostermuth
                9. kav. brig., Oberst Frh. v. Sessler
                32. IBrig. (Gruppe) Genmj.
         7. kav. div., Genmj. Ritt. v. Micewski
                11. kav. brig., Genmj. v. Mold
                20. kav. brig., Genmj. v. le Gay
Orders of Battle:  Galician Front, early January 1915
Immediately preceding the battles for the Carpathians
Army Group Woyrsch, Öst. II. Armee, Gen. d. Kav. von Böhm-Ermolli
   Öst. XII. Korps, Gen. d. Inf. Kövess von Kövesshaza
          XVI. inf. div., Feldmlt.
          Deutsch XXXV. res. div., Generalleutnant von Schmettau
          III. kav. div., Feldmlt.
von Brudermann
          VII. kav. div., Feldmlt.
von Korda
          IX. kav. div., Feldmlt.
von Hauer
Orders of Battle:  K.u.K. forces assigned to the German armies, Aug. 1915
Immediately following the summer offensive against the Russians
To Army Group Woyrsch:  XII. Korps, Gen. d. Inf. Kövess von Kövesshaza
XXXV. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Podhoranszky
          XVI. inf. div., Genmj. R. Krauss
Orders of Battle:  Serbian Front, end of September 1915
Immediately preceding the Quadruple Alliance's invasion of Serbia in October 1915
III. Armee, Gen. d. Inf. Kövess von Kövesshaza
LXII. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Kasler
          Streith Group, Genmj. Streith
          Sorsic Group, Feldmlt.
von Sorsic
     XIX. Korps, Feldmlt.
          LIII. inf. div., Genmj. von Pongracz
     XXII. Deutsch res. Korps, Gen. Falkenhayn
          XLIII. inf. div., Genmj. von Runckel
          XLIV. res. div., Genmj. von Dorrer
          XXVI. (I. k. Württemberg) inf. div., Genlt. Herzog Wilhelm von Urach
     VIII. Korps, Feldzeugmeister
von Scheuchensteuel
          LVII. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Goiginger
          LIX. inf. div., Feldmlt. Snjaric
Orders of Battle:  Serbian Front, October 1915
Amidst the Quadruple Alliance's invasion of Serbia in October 1915

Mackensen Army, Gen.
August Mackensen
III. Armee, Gen. d. Inf. Kövess von Kövesshaza
          LXII. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Kasler
          Streith Group, Genmj. Streith
          Sorsic Group, Feldmlt.
von Sorsic
     XIX. Korps, Feldmlt.
          LIII. inf. div., Genmj. von Pongracz
     XXII. Deutsch res. Korps, Gen. Falkenhayn
          XLIII. inf. div., Genmj. von Runckel
          XLIV. res. div., Genmj. von Dorrer
          XXVI. (I. k. Württemberg) inf. div., Genlt. Herzog Wilhelm von Urach
     VIII. Korps, Feldz.
von Scheuchensteuel
          LVII. inf. div., Feldmlt.
von Goiginger
          LIX. inf. div., Feldmlt. Snjaric
Orders of Battle:  Albanian Front, January 1916
Following the Quadruple Alliance's defeat of Serbia and Montenegro and invasion of Albania

III. Army, Gen. d. Inf. Kövess von Kövesshaza
XIX. Korps, Feldmlt. Trollmann
               Schieß brigade
               Streith brigade
          XLVII. inf. div., Feldmlt.
von Weber
     Support:  LXII. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Kasler
     VIII. Korps, Feldz.
von Scheuchensteuel
          LIII. inf. div., Genmj. von Pongracz
          LIX. inf. div., Feldmlt.
          LVII. inf. div., Feldmlt. Goiginger
Orders of Battle:  Tirol Front, May 1916
Immediately preceding the Tirol Offensive
Army Group Archduke Eugen, GO Archduke Eugen
     Chief of Staff, Feldmlt.
Alfred Krauss
III. Army, GO Hermann v. Kövess
     XVII. Korps, Gen. d. Inf.
Karl Kritek
          18. Inf. Div., Genmj. Stracker
          2. Mtn. Brig., Obst. Panzenböck
               8. Mtn. Brig., Genmj. Wossala
               181. Inf. Brig., Genmj. Kindl
     I. Korps, Gen. d. Kav.
Karl Frh. v. Kirchbach
          10. Inf. Div., Feldmlt.
Edler v. Mecenseffy
          34. Inf. Div., Feldmlt. Rudolf Krauss
          43. Schützen Div., Genmj. Tunk
     XXI. Korps, Feldmlt. Fhr. V. Lütgendorf
          Kaiser Schützen Div., Genmj. Englert
          44. Schützen Div., Feldmlt. Nemeczek
The Start of Something Spectacular:  The Tirol Offensive, May 1916

Fresh from a victorious campaign against Austria's hated enemy Serbia, General der Infanterie Kövess was tapped by GdI Franz Conrad and the theatre commander, Archduke Eugen, to put his battle-winning III. Army to the ultimate test:  bringing down Austria's traditional enemy, Italy.  For this, Kövess was dispatched to Trient and then to his HQ at Levico in March 1916.  But here, he realised the difficulty of the terrain.  The Dolemite peaks in winter were no place for assembling an army.   Almost no preparations could be made when many higher passes were blocked with sixty feet of snow.  The lower passes were guarded by avalanche-prone heights and slick slopes.  Kövess' III. Army formed the left punch to this offensive, ranged from the Val Sugana with the town of Borgo as the first objective, to the Val d'Astico with Arsiero as the focal point of Gruppe Vissodic (situated between the 22. Infantry Division and the XIV. Corps of the XI. Army).  Because of the horrendous weather even for the Dolemites, Conrad was forced to move his offensive ahead on the calendar by two weeks.  The initial bombardment was launched by the XI. Army on 14 May 1916, and lasted all day.  The next morning, both armies advanced across the whole front of the campaign.   The first success for Kövess occurred when the Armentara ridge overlooking the Brenta river was secured.  With these heights under their control, the III. Army proceeded to pound the Italian lines and force passage to Borgo.  This locale was within Austria's pre-war frontiers and an important town in the Val Sugana.  To be continued...

GWS, 3/02
Orders of Battle:  Eastern Front, August 1916
Following the Brussilov Offensive and Roumania's declaration of war against the Empire

III. Armee, Generaloberst Kövess von Kövesshaza
VIII. Korps, Feldz. von Benigni
          LIX. inf. div., Genmj. Kroupa
          XLIV. Schützen div., Feldmlt. Nemeczek
     I. Korps, Gen. d. Kav.
von Kirchbach auf Lauterbach
          XXX. inf. div., Genmj. Jesser
          XLII. Honved inf. div., Feldmlt.
          LI. Honved inf. div., Genmj. Foglar
     Hadfy Group, Feldmlt.
von Hadfy
          XXI. Schützen div., Genmj. Podhajsky
          V. Honved kav. div., Feldmlt. von Apor
     Deutsch Kräwel (Deutsch) Group, Genlt. von Kräwel
          VI. K.u.K. kav. div., Genmj. von Schwer
          CXIX. Deutsch div., Genmj. von Behr
          CV. Deutsch div., Genlt. von Kraewe
     K.u.K. Group, Genmj. Leide
     Reserve:  V. inf. div., Genmj. von Felix

A fresh counteroffensive was set for two weeks later than the counteroffensive in the north; that is, in the third week of August.  It was made by fresh reinforcements in the Südarmee, and the Austrian III. Army had arrived in the east from the Tirol.  By the end of August, Lechitski was forced to cede some ground.  But the earlier successes of General Lechitski against the VII. Army convinced Roumania to declare war on Austria-Hungary.  General Pflanzer-Baltin was relieved of his command and temporarily retired.  The successes of Lechitski withered soon after that.  The Germans scrambled to fight the Roumanians, allowing Kövess and his III. Army to proceed unabated against the Russian IX. Army.  All of the territory was recaptured by mid-October, and Kövess traded commands on 20 October 1916 with Karl Graf von Kirchbach auf Lauterbach, who had taken Pflanzer-Baltin’s place in the VII. Army.

GWS, 9/03
Orders of Battle:  Roumanian Front, November 1916
Following the Quadruple Alliance's counteroffensive and invasion of Roumania

Army Front Erzherzog Karl, Generaloberst
Karl Franz Josef
VII. K.u.K. Armee, Generaloberst Kövess von Kövesshaza
      XI. Korps, Feldmlt. von Habermann
      I. Korps, Feldz.
von Scheuchensteuel
      Deutsch Karpathen Korps, ?
      XXV. Deutsch res. Korps, Genlt. Suren
      Reserve:  Brudermann kav. Korps, Feldmlt.
von Brudermann
Orders of Battle:  Eastern Front, July 1917
Immediately preceding Brussilov's second offensive (Kerensky Offensive)

Army Front Erzherzog Josef, Generaloberst
Erzherzog Josef
VII. Armee, Generaloberst Kövess von Kövesshaza
      Krauss Group, Feldmlt.
von Krauss
      support:  CXVII. Deutsch inf. div., Gennmj. Seydel
      XI. Korps, Feldmlt. von Habermann
            LI. Honved inf. div., Genmj. von Benke
            LXXIV. Honved inf. div., Genmj. Grallert
      Apor Group, Feldmlt. Apor
            V. Honved kav. div., Feldmlt. Apor
            VI. kav. div., Genmj. von Schwer
      Pichler Group, Feldmlt. Pichler
            XI. Honved kav. div., Genmj. von Jony
            LIX. inf. div., Feldmlt. Pichler
      Deutsch Karpathen Korps, Genlt. von Conta
            XL. Honved inf. div., Genmj.
von Nagy
            I. Deutsch inf. div., Genmj. Paschen
            CC. Deutsch inf. div., Genlt. Böß
      XVI. K.u.K. Korps, Feldmlt. von Fabini
            VIII. kav. div., Genmj. von Dokonal
            XXXIV. inf. div., Genmj. von Luxardo
            XXX. inf. div., Feldmlt. Jeßer
Kerensky:  "This is our Last Chance!"

General Kornilov was ordered to prepare the Russian Army for yet another summer offensive.  He entrusted the task to General Brussilov, whose 1916 summer offensive had begun so spectacularly.  Tapped for the effort was the the XI. Army under General Erdelli, the VII. Army under General Belkovich, and the VIII. Army under General Kornilov. 

Kövess' VII. Army was opposite Kornilov, holding the Carpathian passes.  Brussilov launched the offensive on 1 July 1917, and, as before, the successes were initially brilliant.  Kövess' centre and left flank caved before the Russian attacks, and fell back a dozen miles in the first day.  Hard fighting occurred in the passes and all along the escarpments of the mountains. 

Further north, the III. Army under General
Tersztyanszky folded even worse, causing Kövess to wonder whether he would be circled from the left by the advancing Russian VIII. Army.  But, like the offensive in 1916, Brussilov's endeavour soon withered as the supplies ran low and the enemy's resistance stiffened.

General Hoffmann, in charge of the entire Eastern Front, quickly drew up a plan of counterattack, and this was entrusted to the German Süd Armee about 100 miles to the north.  Their success from 19 July was great enough to cause Kornilov to allow a strategic retreat.  This soon turned into a flight as Kövess poured pressure on the Russians' rearguard.  Before the month was out, the Austrian VII. Army reconquered the Bukowina for the final time (Czernowitz, entered by elements of the III. and VII. Armies, changed hands for the eleventh time in the war).

GWS, 12/00
Enemy Portrait:  General Lavr Georgevich Kornilov
Kornilov was born in 1870, and fought in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905.  During WWI, he was captured by the Austrians during the siege of Przemysl and flown by them out of the fortress to a POW camp.  Kornilov managed to escape back to Russia in 1916.  After the March 1917 Revolution, he was appointed Russia's Commander-in-Chief by Kerensky.  His main task was to bring discipline to the demoralised troops.  He designed the so-called "Kerensky Offensive" (interesting to note that contemporaries called the action the "Kornilov Offensive").  Following the collapse of Russia's last effort in WWI, the whole governmental structure was on the verge of collapse. In September of 1917, he sent troops to Petrograd to force Kerensky to take his orders. Kerensky replied by dismissing Kornilov and, following refusal, had him arrested on charges of treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government.  After the bolsheviks' November Revolution, Kornilov escaped from Petrograd and joined  General Alexeev in southern Russia.  He had trouble keeping his anti-bolshevik army together, especially after the Germans seized Rostov in mid-1918 and caused the Don Cossacks to rebel against him.  The Volunteer Army of Kornilov was anti-bolshevik and anti-German, and appealed to the Entente for support.  However, there was no way for them to give aid, and therefore 1918 was a difficult year for the anti-bolshevik Whites.  Kornilov was killed in action while trying to take the town of Ekaterinodar in late summer 1918.  He was succeeded by General Denikin.

GWS, 1/01
Orders of Battle:  Balkan Front, October 1918
Following the Entente's defeat of Bulgaria and invasion of Macedonia

Kövess Army Group, Feldmarschal Kövess von Kövesshaza
XI. Deutsch Armee, Gen. d. Inf. von Steuben
      XI. K.u.K. Korps, Feldzm. von Habermann
            IX. inf. div., Feldmlt. Greiner von Madonna
            XXX. inf. div., Genmj. Phelps
            XXXIX. Deutsch res. Korps, Genlt. von Staabs
      Deutsch Alpen Korps, Genmj. von Tutschek
            CCXIX. Deutsch inf. div., Genmj. von Kotsch
            LIII. Deutsch gen. kom., Genlt. Limbourg
            CCXVII. Deutsch inf. div., Genmj. von Gallwitz
            VI. Deutsch res. div., Genmj. Dietrich
      To Kövess Army Group, LIX. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Pichler
            IV. kav. div., Genmj. Lubienski