The Battle of Hill 70 – Mackensen Advances in Romania I THE GREAT WAR Week 160


Russia’s army had been badly defeated in
Galicia, and the men were in full retreat, with tens of thousands of deserters. But what would they find when they reached
Russia? Well, if they reached home now, they’d find
chaos and misery. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week the Central Powers began two offensives
in Romania, the Russian army was ever more chaotic and the political situation at home
in Petrograd was deteriorating, and the Allies continued their huge summer offensive in the
oceans of mud in Flanders fields – the Third Battle of Ypres. And they continued it again this week. The action lasted for a couple of days from
the 16th. The French saw success on the northern flank
of the sector, and the British attack adjacent to them gained ground near Langemarck, but
the attacks on the Gheluvelt Plateau, the major objective, failed with heavy casualties. The Germans knew the strategic importance
of the plateau and most of their batteries were out of sight on its reverse slope. The heavy casualties, the unending German
artillery, and the rains and swampy muddy ground had seriously eroded British morale. British General Sir Hugh Gough, in charge
of the offensive, said, (Hart), “The state of the ground was by
this time frightful. The labor of bringing up supplies and ammunition,
of moving or firing the guns, which often sunk up to their axles, was a fearful strain
on the officers and men… When it came time to the advance… across
the waterlogged shell holes, movement was so slow and fatiguing that only the shortest
advances could be contemplated… I informed the commander in chief that tactical
success was not possible… and advised that the attack should be abandoned. I had many talks with (British Commander-in-Chief
Sir Douglas) Haig during these days… he told me that the attack must be continued.” And further south, some other action on the
western front had begun a day earlier. On the 15th, the Battle of Hill 70 began. This was the Canadian Corps under Arthur Currie
attacking the German 6th Army near Lens in France. It was the first major action for by the Canadian
Corps under Canadian leadership of the war. One purpose of this was to pull German troops
away from Ypres to make things easier up there. Currie had been ordered to take the city,
which the Germans had held since 1914, but he reasoned that taking the city while the
Germans still held the hill above would put his men in worse position than they were in
already. The attack had actually been planned to go
off in late July, but bad weather had postponed it, though by this time artillery had taken
out 40% of the German batteries. When the attack finally went off, the Canadians
captured many of their objectives right away, and as the week came to an end they began
to secure their hold on Hill 70, with its commanding view of the region. Some other Allied forces were also doing well
this week, in Romania. At the Battle of Oltuz. The Romanians were reinforced on the 11th,
and that evening the armored cars and mountain troops of the Romanian II Corps pushed back
the enemy. On the 12th, they scored a big victory at
Ciresoaia Mountain, inflicting heavy casualties on the Austrians and taking hundreds of prisoners,
though the following day on the Oltuz River, they themselves lost 800 men for little ground. And the Battle of Marasesti continued elsewhere
in the region. German Field Marshal August von Mackensen
crossed the Sereth River the 11th, taking 7,000 prisoners, and through the week had
the Russo-Romanian forces retreating in the Sereth River Valley, though they held their
ground in the Suritsa River Valley. And it seemed that yet another front was about
to become active again, the Italian Front. On August 11th, an Italian air raid on Bainsizza
Plateau destroyed the Austrians’ main ammunition dump there, weakening their artillery support
in the region, and that was important because the Italians were planning something. The Austrians knew this; for weeks they’d
been getting detailed intelligence from Italian deserters. Italian army Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna’s
plans for what would become the 11th Battle of the Isonzo River had split objectives. He had his artillery spread from Tolmin all
the way to the Adriatic. The 2nd Army, under Luigi Capello, was to
capture the Bainsizza Plateau. His attack would for the first time feature
Italian shock troops, the Arditi – the daring ones – and they were drawn from the most physically
fit and aggressive of soldiers. It was they who would spearhead attacks and
their first action as units would be the upcoming battle. In addition to Capello’s task, the Duke
of Aosta was to try again to break through on the Carso Plateau. For all of this, Cadorna had put together
over 5,000 big guns and 600 battalions of men. Opposing him were Austrian General Svetozar
Borojevic von Bojna with 2,000 guns and 250 battalions. They were very much outnumbered, but they
were defending home territory that they knew well and the magnificent Austro-Hungarian
engineers had again done miracles repairing or building fortifications. But the Italians had something else up their
sleeves. Lieutenant General Enrico Caviglia, in command
of the 2nd Army’s XXIV Corps, had chosen for his attack a 5km stretch between Descia
and Logo, north of Plava, right? This part of the -front had not seen action
up until now because any Italians attacking would have to cross the river under fire from
an enemy above the river, and then climb steep slopes to make their own attack. Who would do that? Borojevic thought “nobody”, so – being
stretched really thin – he put his weakest unit in this sector, and was thus ripe for
a real surprise. I said his “weakest” units, but that’s
not really true. It was actually his “most damaged” unit,
and it had been a very effective one before its battles with the Serbs and the Russians. It was the Czech 21st Rifle Division under
Karl Haas, and they had been placed there for a period of recovery. And far to the southeast, someone else was
planning attacks. General Edmund Allenby, in charge of the British
forces on the Palestine Front, received directions from the British war Cabinet August 11th. He was ordered to take advantage of the recent
Arab revolt capture of the port of Aqaba and attack the Ottomans. “…a good success achieved against them
will tend to strengthen the morale and staying power of this country during a season when
important successes in Europe may not be feasible.” See, they were worried that the collapsing
Russian army would suddenly liberate thousands and thousands of Ottoman soldiers from the
Caucasus front to fight in Palestine or Mesopotamia. It made sense, but the War Cabinet was also
relying on Lawrence of Arabia’s assertions that he could raise the tribesmen in Syria
next month to ruin the Ottoman rail network while Allenby’s troops attacked from the
south. The Ottomans would be trapped in Palestine. Theoretically, at least, it was a good plan,
although the War Cabinet had not given Allenby enough troops to advance beyond Jerusalem,
should he even get that far and take that city. And speaking of the collapsing Russian army,
things also seemed to be collapsing in Russia at home. This week, the former Tsar Nicholas, now just
Colonel Romanov, was sent with his family from Tsarskoe Selo to western Siberia. While the details of his removal and destination
were not revealed to the public at large, they had bigger things to worry about. In Petrograd, desperate food shortages continued,
and civil unrest was pretty much a daily thing. Donald Thompson, the war photographer, left
Petrograd this week, heading for the United States. (Caught in the Revolution), “Five months
previously he had seen the people of Petrograd march with a clearness of intent – for the
idealistic revolutionary concept of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality; but now he could find
no more words of hope, “I see Russia going to hell; as a country never went before.” Since March, 568 businesses had closed down,
laying off over 100,000 workers. While prices in general had gone up 250% since
the beginning of the war, in Moscow they were now 836% what they had been. Wages, on the other hand, have fallen by nearly
half from their 1914 levels. In just this month, August 1917, there would
be 440 cases of peasants and soldiers seizing the land from large estates. It was virtually impossible for the Provisional
Kerensky Government to keep up with all the uprisings, let alone the antiwar activity
of the Bolsheviks, and at the end of this week, a man named Josef Stalin was elected
to the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks. And one more note this week, on the 14th,
China declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. So the week ends, with ever more chaos in
Russia, Allied success in France but not so much in Belgium, success for both sides in
Romania, and plans being made in Italy and the Middle East. Poor Russia. From heady optimism at home and success in
the field just six weeks ago, they’ve now gone to an army in full flight on the Eastern
Front, and chaos and violence at home. The Kerensky government was more and more
unpopular, and revolutionary activity grew on the left and the right; nobody knew what
the future held. I’m gonna say something from a 2017 perspective
now: once you throw in Josef Stalin, it’s probably not going to go well. If you want to know why and how China joined
this war, you can click right here for our China special. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Incarno
– thank you for your ongoing support on Patreon, it’s the best way to support this show. Don’t forget to subscribe, see you next

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100 thoughts on “The Battle of Hill 70 – Mackensen Advances in Romania I THE GREAT WAR Week 160”

  1. Thomas Lawrie says:


  2. Jordin Gussé says:

    Hey The Great War, will you guys make a special about the belgian army. Greetings from Belgium

  3. ericswain70 says:


  4. Raymond Saint says:

    Upvote if you laughed when Indie said "the 11th battle for Isonzo".

  5. Apollo9791 says:

    Hey Indy! Could you please take your time and say "Czechoslovak" instead of "Czech"? Because it's not the same thing… btw, love the show!

  6. Walter Flanagin says:

    Your animations keep getting better and so beautiful keep up the good work

  7. Nuberu Roxu says:

    I suppose this channel considers October's revolution a bad thing…

  8. Goals from a camera says:

    Luigi Cadorna be like : Another one

  9. jien1988 says:

    8:23 I thought it's Luigi but it turns out that he's Super Mario

  10. Cheerful Pessimist says:

    Cadorna: Yo pass the Italian Army!
    Italian Government: You better not attack the Izonso again…
    Cadorna: 𝟭𝟭𝘁𝗵 𝗕𝗔𝗧𝗧𝗟𝗘 𝗢𝗙 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗜𝗭𝗢𝗡𝗦𝗢

  11. Dead Baron says:

    2:46, second from left, that looks like a skinny young kid. Also what's the context there? That looks like a German kid next to Entente soldiers.

  12. PapaBear Paw says:

    I really enjoy hearing about the Eastern Front because I've never studied it. Shame because it's a "great" listen. Great job as always folks.
    Side note, whenever I hear about "Hill 70" I'm always going to think about the Korean war. That was a bloody mess.

  13. LeaveMeAloneYouTube says:

    Okay, how many battles of Isonzo does it take to get Cadorna fired? You think after 4 or 5 the King would figure out that Cadorna was the problem all along.

  14. oOkenzoOo says:

    You could have mention that the French were preparing for the second battle of Verdun that lasted from 20 August to 18 September 1917
    But i guess it will have to wait for the next week right ?

  15. Pulsatyr says:

    Maybe you could market Cadorna batteries; they never give up!

  16. GravesRWFiA says:

    it was 3rd Ypres that really sealed haig's reputation

  17. Jugie Rayson says:

    Stalin looks like mario.

  18. B says:

    Interesting you say the Gen. Gough was complaining about German artillery cutting the Allied supply lines. My Grandfather served with the West Yorkshire regiment at Passchendaele. He's said the supply lines were so thin it was common amongst the men he served with, to pick-up German arms when possible.The theory being that as long you kept advancing you'd be able to find ammunition. He said up until this time, captured arms were piled and burnt. Some would souvenir pistols etc, but now they'd sort through what they'd captured and put aside the usable ones.

  19. Peter Lynch says:

    Wikipedia shows Emanuele Filbierto, Duke of Aosta living from 1869-1932 so I think the date in the video is wrong.

  20. Universal Squid says:

    Hey guys, i was just wondering if you could do a Great war special on Pipers in the war, (if you do actually do this talk about the 2 pipers that got the V.C.) and could you also do an episode on Canadian engineers? (My cadet corp is an Engineer corp so i would be could to learn about the things that they did in the great war). Thanks!

  21. Dan Movilă says:

    Wait a moment! Something is wrong here!
    The germans never cross the Sereth river! They advance along its right bank (west) fighting the russians, but they did not cross the river. There was a discussion in the german high command about this because here the left bank was high and hard to conquer and some stuff officers argued that the offensive should have take place further to the east. This proposal was abandoned, the aim for the moment being to capture the Romanian 2nd Army west of the Sereth river. Romanian 1st Army was on the left (east) bank.

  22. Bird Bird Bird says:

    China was using German helmets and declared war on Germany 😀

  23. BrownBombero7 says:

    0:55 – Ypres in British control
    2:18 – "Currie had been ordered to take this city, which the Germans had held since 1914"


  24. Jonathan Luoto says:

    Luigi is going for the Isonzo again.

  25. Petargrad 2 says:

    They won't attack Isonzo again,I'm sure of it,it doesn't make any sense

  26. Răzvan P. says:

    Battle of Oituz…not Oltuz…

  27. Hakadummbadaff says:

    Hey Indy and Crew, here's a question for OOTT:

    Most of the news about the Russian mayhem are from the European parts of Russia. But that country literally extended across the entire length of Asia. How were things in the eastern parts of Russia?

  28. Cameron Robinson says:

    I'll do nothing wrong……..

  29. Dominic Tee says:

    Well guys, you'd better quit Stalin and get to telling us what happens next. This Josef lad seems like a fine, cultured young man.

  30. Sor Alb says:

    I think I know this guy Joseph Stalin from somewhere.

  31. Vaidas Šukaukas says:

    Fun fact: Joseph Stalin, Sigmund Freud, Josip Tito, Hitler, Trotsky, lived in Vienna for a short period of time in the same neighourhood in 1913. At least I think that's a true fact xD

  32. unstaible child says:

    ok so with the war almost over in a year (who knows ^_0) i think on the fanaly episode they should do a reenactment of the german surrender

  33. Paolo Lombardi says:

    I live near Oituz and each 2 km there is a ww1 cemetery but not only there, in the whole area as it was very very active. Mount Cosna (5km) away was the place where Rommel itself thought, I was there two weeks ago on the 100 year cellebration, the place is untouched since then, after heavy rain bodies reveal in barbed wire, rifles, shells, bullets, bombs everywere, trenches ecc. The place look like the battle was last week, very very violent batlle took there, in the end romanian took the hill as the german got destroyed. Thank you for nominating the area in your episode. If you are in ww1 history i really reccomend the area as the place remained untouched since then, no new buildings were costructed above and you can clearly see the battle zone on the terrain.

  34. The Jawnski says:

    Canadian Troops were lead by Aquaman in WWI… hm.

  35. lorenzo says:

    Könnt ihr bitte wenn ihr mit englisch fertig seit wider mit deutsch anfangen bitte

  36. SQSNSQ says:

    Stalin was the best ruler of Russia in XX century.

  37. Товарищ Сильвио says:

    What's up with the kukri on your desk? Is it for people who confuse the First World War as the second?

  38. Brayden Shaffer says:

    I like this channel but I'm more interested in the second world war. Would anyone happen to know a channel similar in style but focused around World War Two? Thank you.

  39. ealtar says:

    if russian deserters reached home they would find chaos and misery ….soo you mean … RUSSIA !!

  40. Crusaderman says:

    Question for Out of the Trenches. Did any of the Combatants (Germany, France, and etc) trade goods with each other on the field?

  41. sylvain falquet says:

    You guys should really look into the Niedermayer–Hentig Expedition, very cool stuff. You could make their trip into a action movie pretty much.

  42. Ὅρα Μή· says:

    07:43 Businesses shutting down, unemployment skyrocketing, wages cut by half, the price of goods up 800%…
    Sounds just like today. The IMF and World Bank have implemented the exact same plan to save the world!
    …hope it works!

  43. br uh says:

    Yo dawg. I heard you like WW1, so I WW1 your WW1 so you WW1 while your WW1ing

  44. Bobobob556556 1 says:

    Know any ww2 channel?

  45. Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler says:

    Just nuke the fuckers!

  46. Ricardo Carrillo says:

    Hey Indy and team, huge fan, I have seen every single one of your videos. I have a question for out of the trenches…on Netflix there is this mini series about the Brits first encounter of ww1 at the battle of mons on the Belgium border; in one episode the series depicted a British MG platoon go up against 500 German infantrymen and completely wiping them out before having to retreat to mons themselves. My question is: could this have been a real depiction of what it was like at the beginning of the war or is this exaggerated? Ps. The series is called "our world war"
    I have a second question. My grandfather was a mason within the lodge in Mexico City, he once told me a story that the masons, were involved in some way or another in the war, having masons present as military leader and normal infantry men, I also remember him making a comment that's the group behind the dukes assassinations were actually masons themselves..; do you have any knowledge about this if this could be true or not??? Ps. Love the show, you should make a special for the crew of the show they deserve more love especially flo.

  47. Guilherme Oliveira says:

    Episode about Stalin, please! You guys are the best!

  48. James Ngeth says:

    Hello, the great war. I was wondering if you could do a video about the Asian and African that European brought to fought the war. Thank you in advance.

  49. KommandoCraft says:

    How accurate is the map showing the whole theater in europe? I always thought the western front was almost only on french and belgian soil, when did the french capture amost all of Elsass-Lothringen and even cross the Rhine river?

  50. LeaveMeAloneYouTube says:

    So what's going on with the Armenia Genocide? It has been a while since we've heard about it. Has it been ongoing or has the Turkish Government threaten to have YouTube shut down the channel?

  51. Mid-Night Thinking says:

    Do a ww1 biography on Joseph Stalin

  52. Joacim Andreasen Berthelsen says:

    will you do a special on Norway or Denmark in the great war? you did Sweden… 😀

  53. Χάρης Ζαβέρδας says:

    I'm so excited to see Stalin killing all the goddamn fascists 🙂

  54. Rich Anpoor says:

    Whats the story with Mackensens hat? Did others have the same or was it unique to him? Is it still around in a museum or something?

  55. Joseph Stalin says:

    When did you change of studio?

  56. apo kos says:

    Flo, Indy, and the rest of the crew, thank you for your great work, but please, my humble opinion is that you should refrain from political talk about such sensitive cases as that of J.Stalin. remember that there is too much hate-talk on the internet about the subject and noone can prove anything with absolute certainty. the role of the historian is to give us the facts, not his personal view. by your faithful supporter, peace.

  57. C D says:

    As much as you people try to belittle stalin, anyone who with an iq above 5 cannot deny that he turned russia into a ruined country, to a superpower of the world in under a century.

  58. Johnnyc drums says:

    Perfidious means unfaithful in the Catholic Church and I should not have been chastised for using it.

  59. Kaiser Wilhelm says:

    Does anyone know what the fudge Chiang was doing back then? I did see some things of him in the Japanese Army amd later returning to China, but can't find out what Chinag Kai Shek did in WW1.

  60. josh Hulst says:

    Two things are guaranteed in life. Death, and the ltalians attacking the Izonso.

  61. Caleb Campbell says:

    can you talk about the German occupation of Poland

  62. Yeung Man Kiu says:

    "Stalin: The Demon Rises" topic for a special episode maybe.

  63. Yauch says:

    Dear Indy, will you do the same with the 2nd WO?

  64. NicholsZiegler says:

    Oituz not OLTUZ

  65. Andro A says:

    Indy has a Gurkha knife? Didn't notice that before.

  66. Lonnie Rooks says:

    Hi Indy and Gang 😀 this is my favorite show on YouTube . Anyway my great uncle on my dad's side fought with Canada up to Vimy Ridge, where he was shot by machine gun fire and died . He was the only person to die from my small City, Estevan Saskatchewan out of dozens that went . As opposed to another small town Frobisher just a short distance away where 11 men died in WW1 . In comparison Estevan continued to grow and is the biggest community in the area , where Frobisher has fallen to just a few hundred people over the last century . There may be other circumstances to Frobishers troubles but I'm sure losing 11 men in the early days of founding a town helped allot . Do you have any stories or examples of towns or cities suffering because of a situation like Frobishers .

    Thanks Lonnie Rooks

  67. Podemos URSS says:

    It's over, Cadorna! I have the high ground!
    You underestimate my morale!

  68. merdiolu says:

    As an avid reviewer Indy from Turkey I would like to know what happened on East Anatolian Caucasian front in 1917. Ottoman armies under command of Mustafa Kemal counter attacked retook Mus and Bitlis though Erzurum remained under Russian control in 1916. No fight in 1917 ?

  69. merdiolu says:

    As a reviewer from Turkey I also would like to add what a great series this is. By the way my great grandfather was a staff officer in Ottoman Army in Palastine. I think he will feel push of this Edmund Allenby fellow soon before years end.

  70. Calin Gilea says:

    Indy's great quote of this week: "One you throw in Joseph Stalin, it's probably not going to go well." 🙂

  71. John Sproule says:

    There is a ski hill in Canada named Hill 70 at St. Sauveur, north of Montreal. It is now surrounded by Hills 68, 69, 71, and 72, but Hill 70 was the original and it was named after the WWI battle.

  72. mike johnson says:

    Hill 70 is revered in my Regiment The Calgary Highlanders. Harry Brown of the 10th Battalion CEF, of which are descended, won the Victoria Cross there and our Regimental gallery at The Military Museums of Calgary is currently working on putting Browns VC on permanent display.

  73. Roland Bruno says:

    Channel idea! A history of communism. It's time for a reminder on what a vile system it is.

  74. annoyed707 says:

    The Canadian Corp. Resistance is futile.

  75. Not Russian says:


  76. yaakhee says:

    August von mackensen with his awesome fucking SKULL HAT!!!

  77. yaakhee says:

    7.44 onwards sounds like a description of Venezuela today so sad to see such misery repeated.

  78. cervsancho says:

    Few informations about the batle of Moldova, between jul-sep.1917, were was 3 major confrontations:Mărăști, Mărășești and Oituz and where germans, austro-hungarians was defeated and stoped, by romanian armies 2 (Averescu), 1 (Cristescu and Grigorescu), and for a time by russians of 4,6,9 arm.

  79. Maurizio Pavel says:

    Pe aici nu se trece!

  80. W S says:

    chinese…they probably just wanted soem land or something, its like the other powers decide to attack the weakened powers becuase they are too weak themselves to try an do something alone.

  81. Bucket Sessions says:

    I can say WW1 is pure stupidity.

  82. Pete Shylenko says:

    3:21 with this epic hat von Mackensen definitely outshined all the crazy moustaches of the Great War. Wish I could get one like this in 2017

  83. A V says:

    Stalin played second fiddle to Lenin though…

  84. Young Shatterhand says:

    You guys are awesome. I really enjoy your videos

  85. Pikkabuu says:

    "Italians were planning something."
    Oh gee…another attack at Izonso?

  86. Alabaster Scarf says:


  87. TheHueisOver™ says:

    This stalin boy looks promising, i am sure he can't be worse than the czars … r-right?

  88. S Ryan says:

    Imagine going from Tsar to colonel, what a demotion.At least he can only go up from there right?

  89. Ian Moore says:

    I feel like the entire Italian front is just guys named Luigi losing on the Isonzo

  90. Jon Deurloo says:

    In August of last year I had the chance to attend the official opening of the Hill 70 memorial in Loos, France. Unfortunately it is unfinished up today as it is receiving no funding from the Canadian government. The town graciously donated the land and many private groups have sponsored its construction. However, if we could get some donations from a few people who care about and want to be a part of the history of this much forgotten battle to donate. We could do something great and just maybe we could give this battle the publicity and respect it deserves. If you are at all interested please look up the Hill 70 memorial project.

  91. A bottle of Auqafina left out in the sun says:

    Little do you know, the 200th battle of the Isonzo is gonna start next week, and THIS time it'll work.

  92. Amitabha Kusari says:

    Not a expression or a meme, but I hit and hurt my head facepalming everytime Cadorna is mentioned. More hundreds of thousands are going to die. And this show constantly makes me forget that it's not 1917.

  93. marc balaram says:

    Who else was just WAITING for the 11th battle of the Isonzo river? 😁😂

  94. MileagePluser H. says:


  95. Plague Doctor says:

    Oituz*, not Oltuz…damn

  96. punchdogggy says:

    Haig was a butcher

  97. Matthew Doel says:

    Wikipedia tells me the Duke of Aosta was dead by this point.

  98. Steve Barrett says:

    Lawrence promised to raise more troops in Syria? It was recently stated that Lawrence said the inhabitants of Syria had no national identity and, if memory serves, were 'loyal to' or associated with, their villages. He couldn't start an insurrection against the Ottomans in those circumstances. I guess this is where British gold plays its part.

  99. Adam Williams says:

    I still love this channel

  100. CyrilleParis says:

    3:18 what is it on the ground?

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