The Christmas Battles fought by the renowned Latvian Riflemen were one of the largest and most decisive operations in Latvia during the First World War. Dozens gathered at the battle sites of Tīreļpurvs and Ložmetējkalns to ark the occasion, reported Latvian Television Saturday.
"Today, all day long, despite the winter frost, we commemorated the Latvian soldiers who fell in the Christmas battles. The Latvian nation does not need to create myths about the past, if it has the kind of heroism that the Latvian Riflemen demonstrated in the Christmas battles a little more than a hundred years ago," said Defense Minister Ināra Mūrniece at the commemoration.
"Freedom and independence - these were the values that the Latvian Riflemen fought for. And these are the values for which we stand today and the Ukrainian soldiers are fighting selflessly, without sparing their lives," added Mūrniece.
The Minister of Defense also met with scouts and guides who, with the support of the National Armed Forces, are participating in the annual winter camp "White Wolf", learning skills for dealing with various crisis situations and living outdoors in winter conditions. Latvian Television has a report from the camp below.
The Christmas battles took place between the German 8th and Tsarist Russian 12th army units, which consisted of eight Latvian rifle regiments. Under the leadership of General August Misiņš, the Riflemen without artillery support managed to break through the German front despite extremely difficult conditions and dangerous terrain.
Casualty rates were high, but at the same time they boosted burgeoning national self-confidence and confirmed the ability of Latvians to defend their interests with military force when necessary.
The Christmas Battles are so named because they took place from December 23 to 29, 1916, according to the old style Julian calendar in use across the Russian Empire at the time, or from January 5 to 11, 1917, according to the modern Gregorian calendar.