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WESTERN FRONT -
SOME BACKGROUND NOTES FOR KRAUSE ROAD TO SOUTH RUSSIA
(A) GERMAN DIVISIONS INVOLVED
23 DIVISION: 1914
3. Armee-Oberkommando - [ARMY COMMAND]
Imperial Germany's Third Army, 2 August 1914
Oberbefehlshaber: Generaloberst Max Klemens FH von Hausen
Stabschef: Generalmajor Ernst von Hoeppner
1.Generalstabsoffizier: Oberstleutnant Hasse
Adjutant: Major Bramsch
Oberquartiermaster: Generalmajor Leuthold
General der Pioniere: Generalmajor Franz Adams
HQ: Clervaux, Lux (formed in Dresden)
Troop Strength: 180,000
- XII. Armeekorps (1. Sächsischses): General der Infanterie Karl Ludwig d'Elsa
Stabschef: Oberst Hans von Eulitz
1.GSO: Major von Loeben
Adjutant: Major von Zeschau
- 23. Infanterie Division (1. Sächsischse) - Dresden: Generalleutnant Karl FH von Lindeman
Stabschef: Major von Hingst
Adjutant: Major Gericke
- 2. Infanterie-Brigade Nr. 46 - Dresden: Generalmajor Bernhard von Watzdorf [46. (Sächsische) Landwehr-Division - Bernhard Gustav von Watzdorf -His assignment and command: 02.08.1914 46. Infanterie-Brigade (2. Königlich Sächsische) = 3. Armee]
Adjutant: Hauptmann von Wittern
Königlich Sächsisches Schützen (Füsilier)-Regiment Prinz Georg Nr. 108 - Dresden: Oberst Woldemar Graf Vitzthum v. Eckstädt
Königlich Sächsisches 16. Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 182 - Freiberg: Oberst Franz Francke
http://home.comcast.net/~jcviser/army/OBc.htm and http://home.comcast.net/~jcviser/akb/watzdorf.htm
Das deutsche Westheer beim Beginn des Vormarsches 18.August 1914 ...
46.Inf.Brig. (Generalmajor v.Watzdorff)
Königlich sächsisches (Füs.)Reg.Prinz Georg Nr.108
Königlich sächsisches 16.Inf.Reg. Nr.182
The 23rd Division (23. Division), also known as the 1st Division No. 23 (1. Division Nr. 23) was a unit of the Saxon and then Imperial German Army ... The division was headquartered in Dresden ... The division was subordinated in peacetime to the XII (1st Royal Saxon) Army Corps (XII. (1. Königlich Sächsisches) Armeekorps) ...
On mobilization for World War I in August 1914 it again became the 1st Infantry Division No. 23, although it was for convenience referred to outside of Saxony as the 23rd Infantry Division or the 23rd (1st Royal Saxon) Infantry Division. The division was disbanded in 1919 during the demobilization of the German Army after World War I.
The division was recruited in eastern Saxony, especially around Dresden ...
On mobilization in August 1914 at the beginning of World War I, most divisional cavalry, including brigade headquarters, was withdrawn to form cavalry divisions or split up among divisions as reconnaissance units. Divisions received engineer companies and other support units from their higher headquarters. The division was again redesignated an infantry division. Its initial wartime organization was as follows: ...
- 2. Infanterie-Brigade Nr. 46 (46. Infanterie-Brigade)
- Schützen (Füsilier)-Regiment Prinz Georg Nr. 108
- 16. Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 182 ...
Divisions underwent many changes during the war, with regiments moving from division to division, and some being destroyed and rebuilt. During the war, most divisions became triangular - one infantry brigade with three infantry regiments rather than two infantry brigades of two regiments (a "square division"). An artillery commander replaced the artillery brigade headquarters, the cavalry was further reduced, the engineer contingent was increased, and a divisional signals command was created ...
Hans Reinhard trat am 30. März 1908 als Fahnenjunker in die Kaiserliche Armee ein. Er kam dabei zum Königlich Sächsisches 8. Infanterie-Regiment "Prinz Johann Georg" Nr. 107. In diesem wurde er am 19. August 1909 zum Leutnant befördert. Das Patent wurde dabei auf den 20. August 1907 datiert. Vor dem 1. Weltkrieg war er als Oberleutnant beim 16. Königlich Sächsisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 182 im Einsatz. Im 1. Weltkrieg wurde er dann am 27. Januar 1917 zum Hauptmann befördert. Im Ersten Weltkrieg wurde er mit beiden Eisernen Kreuzen und anderen Orden ausgezeichnet.
[Royal Saxon 16th Infantry Regiment No. 182 (46.Inf.-Brig./23.Inf.-Div./XII Armeek./3.Armee.) (Location: Freiberg) Commander: Colonel Francke ]
Example from 1914-18.info - http://www.pixel-partisan.de/webkatalog.php?artikel=finden&finden=bautzen
1914-18.Info - http://www.1914-18.info/erster-weltkrieg-namen-index.php?finden=Georg
1914 - 1918
Histories of Two-Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German
Army which participated in the War (1914-1918), pp. 333-336 -
(2) 123 DIVISION: 1915-1916
The 123rd Infantry Division (123. Infanterie-Division) was a unit of the Imperial German Army in World War I. The division was formed on April 1, 1915 and organized over the next several weeks ... It was part of a wave of new infantry divisions formed in the spring of 1915. The division was disbanded in 1919 during the demobilization of the German Army after World War I. The division was a Royal Saxon division, made up of troops from that kingdom. It was formed primarily from the excess infantry regiments of regular infantry divisions which were being triangularized. The division's 245th Infantry Brigade was the former 64th Infantry Brigade of the 32nd (3rd Royal Saxon) Infantry Division, and came to the division with the 182nd Infantry Regiment. The 106th Reserve Infantry Regiment came from the 24th (Royal Saxon) Reserve Division and the 178th Infantry Regiment came from the 23rd (1st Royal Saxon) Infantry Division. The division's 193rd Infantry Platoon came from Yugoslavia ...
The 123rd Infantry Division initially fought on the Western Front in World War I, entering the line in the Aisne region in mid-April 1915. Later in 1915, it fought in the Battle of Loos. It remained on the front in the Flanders and Artois regions into 1916, and in July entered the Battle of the Somme, where it reportedly lost 6,000 men. It was transferred to the Eastern Front at the end of the month , where it went into the line near Lake Narač until November 1917, when it returned to the Western Front. It went into the line near Verdun until May 1918. It later fought in the Second Battle of the Marne and then returned to the line near Verdun. Late in 1918, it faced the Allied Meuse-Argonne Offensive. It remained in the line until the end of the war. Allied intelligence rated the division as third class and of mediocre combat value.
Order of battle on formation
The 123rd Infantry Division was formed as a triangular division. The order of battle of the division on April 1, 1915 was as follows ...
Kgl. Sächsisches Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 106
Kgl. Sächsisches 13. Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 178
Kgl. Sächsisches 16. Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 182
1.Eskadron/Kgl. Sächsisches 1. Husaren-Regiment "König Albert" Nr. 18
5.Eskadron/Kgl. Sächsisches 3. Husaren-Regiment Nr. 20
Kgl. Sächsisches Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 245
Fußartillerie-Batterie Nr. 123
Kgl. Sächsische Pionier-Kompanie Nr. 245
Late-war order of battle ...
The order of battle on June 3, 1918 was as follows: ... [Not included in the Division after it transferred in 1918 to the western front: Kgl. Sächsisches 16. Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 182; 1.Eskadron/Kgl. Sächsisches 1. Husaren-Regiment "König Albert" Nr. 18; Fußartillerie-Batterie Nr. 123]
123rd Infantry Division (German Empire): Late-war order of battle The division underwent relatively few organizational changes over the course of the war. The 182nd Infantry Regiment was sent to the newly-formed 212th Infantry Division [Independent Division - Note: the 182nd went to the 216th Division in 1916, then to the 212th in 1917] in 1916 and was replaced by the 425th Infantry Regiment, which was in turn replaced by the 351st Infantry Regiment. Cavalry was reduced, artillery and signals commands were formed, and combat engineer support was expanded to a full pioneer battalion.
The 123 Inf Div was a formation of the Royal Saxon Army (Königlich Sächsische Armee), the third largest of four German national armies. Since 1867, its units had been numbered within the Prussian sequence (like the Württembergers, but unlike the Bavarians) and reformed on the Prussian model. Nevertheless it retained to the end its own jealously guarded pool of manpower, separate officer corps and War Ministry; the latter closely followed the Prussian lead, but the interpretation and implementation of its regulations rested entirely in Saxon hands. There was also a separate Saxon General Staff, although (unlike Bavarians) Saxon staff officers were trained in Prussia. Saxon recruits swore their military oath of loyalty to H M King Friedrich August III, who as commander in chief (with the Prussian rank of Generalfeldmarschall) controlled the appointment of officers; imperial dominance was imposed via acknowledgement of the Kaiser as supreme commander in the military oath, and an imperial veto on Saxon appointments of corps and higher commanders. Administratively the Saxon Army, together with the Prussian Gardekorps, was supervised by the Second Army Inspectorate (2 Armeeinspektion) in Berlin. By 1914, only the most senior Saxon officers could remember genuine national sovereignty, and the romantic Pan–Germanism of younger generations was increasingly dominant. Saxon official history acknowledged the war of 1866 but emphasised that of 1870, and the upholding of Saxony's honour alongside its federal partners. Prussian military pre–eminence was acknowledged whilst the Saxons quietly prided themselves on the fact that their army was more highly cultured, more tolerant, better educated and less class–ridden than those of its peers.
Although the Royal Saxon Army had fought alongside the Austrians against Prussian hegemony in 1866, it proceeded to distinguish itself as the XII Armeekorps (23 and 24 Inf Div) in the Prussian–led war of 1870–1. In the new German Empire, the necessarily moderate and pragmatic Kingdom (a constitutional monarchy with a Catholic monarch, predominantly Protestant and socialist–leaning majority population and Catholic Slav minority) enjoyed impressive economic and industrial growth. Bolstered by immigration from less prosperous German states, it was, by 1914, the most densely populated state in the Empire, with a population approaching 5,000,000. Its army had also grown dramatically, now comprising in peacetime XII (Dresden 23 and 32 Inf Div) and XIX (Leipzig 24 and 40 Inf Div) Armeekorps; the expansion of the artillery was especially spectacular, from one field artillery regiment (FAR 12) in 1870 to eight field and two foot (heavy) regiments before mobilisation in 1914. King Albert (who commanded with distinction in 1870–1 as Crown Prince) had used Saxony's share of French reparations to furnish XII Armeekorps with the (then) largest single barracks complex in Germany, at Dresden on the north bank of the Elbe. This Albertstadt was virtually untouched by the catastrophic bombing of 1945, and survives essentially intact today.
The outbreak of war in 1914 brought no direct threat to the centrally located Kingdom, but the Pan–Slavist ambition of dismembering Austria–Hungary was recognised as a serious menace, and solidarity with Saxony's traditional allies and with its federal partners was widespread and sincere; the author's great–grandfather Arno Bierast was one of thousands who volunteered in Dresden that August. Upon mobilisation, the two regular corps were immediately joined by the XII Reservekorps (23 and 24 Reserve–Division). These three corps – initially accompanied by the Prussian XI Armeekorps) – were united under a Saxon staff as 3 Armee. Titular commander was the former Saxon war minister Generaloberst Max Freiherr von Hausen, although with the Prussian Generalmajor von Hoeppner (later the first commander of the German Air Force, the Luftstreitkräfte) as Chief of Staff. The advance of 3 Armee into Belgium was to be the last occasion that the Royal Saxon Army, or rather, all of its major components, took to the field as a single body. Already, during the Battle of the Marne in September - October 1914, XII and XIX Armeekorps had been sent to reinforce 2 and 6 Armee respectively; in an especially harsh blow to Saxon military pride, the elderly Freiherr von Hausen, who had served in 1866, was relieved of his command on 12 September due to illness and replaced by the Prussian General von Einem.
Following the Western Front from north to south, the first Saxon sector faced the Ypres Salient north of the Menin Road (Becelaere – Broodseinde), where the hastily raised XXVII Reservekorps – nicknamed 'Kinderkorps' due to its large proportion of young and under-trained volunteers – had remained after their terrible baptism of fire in October during the First Battle of Ypres. The corps staff, entire 53 Reserve-Division (northern sub–sector) and about a quarter of 54 Reserve-Division (southern sub–sector) were Saxon; the remainder were Württembergers. Immediately to their south was the Prussian XV Armeekorps (30 and 39 Inf Div), in which IR 105 served both in peace and wartime as the principal Saxon contribution to the garrison of the federally administered Reichsland Elsass–Löthringen. Across the Franco–Belgian border, XIX Armeekorps (based in Lille) held the line opposite Armentières from north of Ploegsteert Wood (40 Inf Div) to Bois Grenier (24 Inf Div); these were the Saxons who famously fraternised at Christmas 1914, and were substantially responsible for this area's British reputation as a quiet sector.
The remaining Saxon sectors all lay opposite the French. XII Armeekorps held the Aisne valley on the eastern end of the Chemin des Dames, from Craonne to Berry–au–Bac, with the Saxon 47 Landwehr–Brigade intermittently attached on the south-eastern flank at Loivre. East of Reims, XII Reservekorps held the front Moronvilliers - Auberive - St Souplet. Finally 19 Ersatz–Division, mobilised in August from trained reservists, but incompletely equipped and provisionally organised, held the line Lagarde - Blâmont - Cirey–sur–Vezouze in the Vosges southwest of Saarburg.
Loos to St Eloi – the Experience of the Saxon 123 Infanterie–Division on the Western Front, 1915
1915 - 1918
Histories of Two-Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German
Army which participated in the War (1914-1918), pp. 620-622 -
The German Forces in the Field, 6th Revision, April 1918, Independent Divisions -p. 183 - http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924027944838
XII CORPS - 1914
The organization of the XII (1st Royal Saxon) Corps in 1914, shortly before the outbreak of World War I, was as follows:
23rd Division (1st Royal Saxon)
32nd Division (3rd Royal Saxon)
2nd Royal Saxon Foot Artillery Regiment No. 19
1st Royal Saxon Pioneer Battalion No. 12
1st Royal Saxon Train Battalion No. 12
Telegraph Battalion No. 7
XII CORPS - 1918
46th Infantry Brigade (as well as its 16. Royal Saxon Infantry Regiment 182) of the 23 Division (1st Royal Saxon) Not Included
(C) ON THE FRONT
Sited on the Meuse River and some 50km south of the German siege of Namur, the town of Dinant in Belgium fell to the German Third Army (under von Hausen) on 23 August 1914. It was the latest step in the German strategy of overrunning Belgium during the month of August 1914. Although the town fell to von Hausen's troops on 23 August the occupation was not initially peaceful. German soldiers who were repairing the town bridge were allegedly fired upon by local inhabitants ...
August 21-24, 1914
Military Bureau for the Investigation of Offenses Against the Laws of War.
Fight of the Belgian People
from August 21-24, 1914.
Immediately after crossing the Belgian frontier the Twelfth Army Corps had difficulties with the civilian population of Belgium, which reached their height in and around Dinant.
For the advance Dinant was of especial importance, in so far as the corps was to cross the river Meuse there.
The town with its suburbs of Leffe and Les Rivages on the right bank, and of Neffe, St. Médard and Bouvignes on the left bank of the Meuse lies along the river in a deep-cut valley. Both banks are steep and in many places rocky and rise up in terraces to a height of about 70 meters, the right side being a little higher than the left. Above the center of the town, on the right bank towers the fort, about one hundred meters high. Close near it, to the north, ends the main road which runs from Sorinnes. There are two further accesses from the East in the deep side valleys which end at Leffe and Les Rivages.
On August 15, 1914, a venture of German cavalry, in which among others the sharpshooters' battalion No. 12 took part, had resulted in a temporary occupation of the right Meuse bank. It was given up again before superior numbers of the enemy on the same day, numerous dead and a few wounded being left behind.
On August 17 the enemy's troops withdrew to the left Meuse bank. From that time Dinant, Leffe and Les Rivages were free from the regular troops of the enemy.
On August 21st, the Twelfth Army Corps (1st Royal Saxon Corps) became active outside Dinant. On the evening of that day the 2nd battalion of the sharpshooters, Fusilier-Regiment No. 108 went on a reconnaissance in force to Dinant accompanied by a detachment of pioneers. When they reached the first houses on the road that leads from Sorinnes, a signal shot was suddenly fired. At the next moment shots cracked on all sides. They were fired from all the houses, and blazed from the hill sides. The houses were stoutly barricaded so that clubs, axes and hand-grenades had to enforce access. Wires had been stretched across the street to cause the soldiers to stumble. Many of our men were wounded with small shot. Also stones were thrown at them.
The battalion penetrated as far as the bridge, where it ascertained that the bridge was occupied by the enemy's troops, and then returned, all the while being shot at from the houses. A thorough clearing of [p. 62] the place from franctireurs was not possible owing to the necessary haste. It was tried to overpower part of them by setting fire to those houses from which shots came.
It was evident that the populace made this assault on the reconnoitering detachment in accordance with a preconceived plan. It was also evident that Dinant had known of the impending venture and had turned to use measures which had been prepared long beforehand for that purpose. That preparation had been made was proved, among other things, by the loopholes with which numerous houses and walls had been provided.
After that experience it was to be expected that in future operations too, the civilian population would take part in the fight, but the fears entertained in that respect were far surpassed by the extent and the stubbornness that participation actually assumed.
On August 23rd the left Meuse bank was to be taken by the Twelfth Corps. After preparatory artillery fire the infantry advanced in the direction of Dinant, the 32nd infantry division northward, and the 23rd infantry division southward. The left wing of the enemy was attacked by Grenadier-Regiment No. 100 (Body Guards), and Infantry Regiment No. 132 and, next to that, the Sharpshooters' Regiment No. 108, whilst Infantry Regiment No. 178 reached Leffe through the Leffe valley.
The enemy was expelled from the heights of the left Meuse bank on the same day. August 23rd, with comparatively small losses to our side. The losses, on the other hand, which the hostile civilian population of Dinant and the neighboring places inflicted on the Twelfth Corps on August 23rd were very considerable; so were the exertions needed to break down the resistance, completely organized as it was, of the civilian population on August 23rd and the subsequent days.
Again, as on August 21st, the people of Dinant and its surroundings seemed to be informed that the advance of the Corps was imminent, and they were prepared in proportion.
The 1st battalion of the Regiment of Body Guards came from Herbuchenne and marched down a steep slope. During their descent they were taken under a brisk fire from houses and passages. In part it was necessary to fight for each house separately and to make use of hand grenades in order to drive the occupants out of their hiding places, from where they used all sorts of weapons, being concealed from the cellar to the attic. Those who were caught with arms in hand were shot on the spot, while suspects were first of all taken to the city jail as hostages. In spite of these measures the populace continued to shoot at the Body Guard grenadiers who suffered considerable losses, especially in officers. Amongst others Lieutenant Treusch von Buttlar fell here, while Captain Legler was seriously wounded.
[p. 63] In the meantime a large portion of the place was in flames partly owing to the use of hand-grenades, partly to French and German artillery fire. But all this had not been enough to convince the population that their participation in the fight was both useless and dangerous. Until evening, even when on the march to the crossing point which had been prepared at Les Rivages, the regiment was shot at from the houses.
Regiments No. 108 and 182 made the same experiences when they reached Dinant north of the regiment of Body Guards. Even from the easternmost houses they were shot at. The Ferme Malais was stormed by the 1st battalion of Regiment No. 108 of the sharpshooter-fusiliers. All franctireurs who offered resistance there were killed. In a fierce fight for every house an advance was made in the direction of the market place, the men expecting all the time to be shot at by invisible enemies from cellars, caves and slopes. Amongst others Major Lommatzsch of Infantry Regiment No. 182 was mortally wounded here by shots fired by two civilians from the windows of a house. Shots were even fired from the Cathedral. As early as in the course of the morning the commander of the 46th Brigade recognized that it was impossible to subdue the fanatical population without a bombardment of the place by artillery. But the troops were too far engaged in the house-to-house fighting to be withdrawn immediately. Only after 3 P. M. the regiments could be withdrawn to the heights north of Dinant so that now the artillery, particularly, parts of field artillery regiment No. 12 and a battery of heavy artillery could more effectively take Dinant under fire from Leffe.
Early in the morning, Infantry Regiment No. 178 had begun its march from Thynes to Leffe, using the low road along the Leffe valley. Even before reaching Leffe, the company marching at the head was shot at from isolated lots and from steep slopes that lay along both sides of the road and were partly wounded. Particularly brisk was the fire from the paper factory on the left of the road and the adjacent houses pertaining thereto. Therefore the slopes were searched for franctireurs, later with the help of the 11th Sharpshooters. The barricaded houses were forcibly opened and cleared of their inhabitants. All who were caught with arms in hand were shot. The trouble caused to the advancing regiment by the people hidden in the houses grew ever more violent. Shots came out of every house, although in many houses no one could be found, the snipers retreating into their hiding places, only to leave them later and shoot again at the German troops. Thus it became imperative to set fire to a number of houses in order to force the snipers out of their coverts. A number of inhabitant's were taken to the convent yard as hostages.
The 9th Company of Regiment No. 178, making front against the enemy on the left Meuse bank, occupied a garden lot along the river which belonged to a villa and a factory. Here too the soldiers were [p. 64] shot at. The villa and the factory were consequently cleared of their occupants. The owner and a number of his workmen were fetched from the cellar of the factory and shot. The women and children found with them were accommodated in the convent yard.
Nearly all day Regiment No. 178 fought fiercely with the Leffe population suffering many losses.
Infantry Regiment No. 103 which arrived at Leffe towards evening was also shot at by franctireurs from the slopes of the Leffe-ravine and from houses. The same measures of defense had to be taken: men caught with arms were disarmed and shot, and fire was set to such houses as could not otherwise be cleared. In the evening it became quiet at Leffe. But the assumption that no more was to be feared from the populace proved erroneous. After dusk the pickets on the left wing, which the 2nd battalion of Infantry Regiment No. 178 had placed towards the Meuse as a safeguard, were attacked by a large number of inhabitants south of the barracks of the 12th Belgian Infantry Regiment. A reinforcement of troops cleared that region and the adjacent part of the town, being all the while kept under fire from the houses by franctireurs. A considerable number of persons who were caught with arms in hand were shot.
About midnight the von Zeschau detachment coming from Houx arrived at the northern entrance of Leffe. Barely were the first houses reached when a brisk gun fire was poured from them on the foremost companies. The doors of the houses had been barred and the windows barricaded with bedsteads and other furniture. Those houses were stormed and set on fire as a protection against franctireurs who could not otherwise be caught. The men who were found in those houses with arms were shot. Also from the above mentioned factory was a brisk and constant fire poured on the detachment, especially on the machine gun Company of Infantry Regiment No. 177, and the fire of the franctireurs only ceased when the factory was set on fire.
Whilst these events happened in the North of Dinant, sanguinary battles with the civilian population also ensued in the South, at Les Rivages and Anseremme.
Late in the afternoon Grenadier Regiment No. 101 together with the third company of field-pioneers arrived at Les Rivages on the road which terminates there, in order to cross the river Meuse. Already in the morning the pioneers, with pontoon wagons to bridge the river, had reached that section of Dinant which the regiment of body guards had occupied. But they had been obliged to retreat to the height because they had been fired at from the houses, and could not check the shooting in spite of their efforts to clear them, in which efforts they were supported by the infantry.
[p. 65] First of all, the village of Les Rivages appeared as dead. On the opposite bank the houses of Neffe were ablaze, from hits of our artillery fire.
The crossing began at once. First the 2nd and then the 11th Company of Grenadier Regiment No. 101 gained the left bank and started a large frontal attack against the enemy's infantry on the western river heights. The 11th Company in passing the narrow lane at Neffe were fired at, in quick succession, with five loads of small-shot. The barricaded house was forced open, the snipers, one man and two women, were shot.
Immediately afterwards the company, led by the captain, reached the railway dam. At that place, an outlet for water traversed that embankment. In front of it lay a civilian, shot, with a carbine-like weapon in his possession. In the dark tunnel people could be seen. The Captain called out loud: "Sortez, on ne vous fera rien." (Come out, no harm will be done to you.) Neither an answer came back from the dark passage nor did the people hidden there leave it. The consequence was that a number of gunshots were fired into the passage. The grenadiers rushed across the railway embankment further up the height. The detachment which had been left behind to secure and clear the passage hunted from 35 to 40 civilians out of it, men, half-grown boys, women and children, also found 8 to 10 rifles, not hunting rifles, but apparently military guns. A part of the civilians were killed or wounded by the fire of the grenadiers.
In the meantime everything kept quiet at Les Rivages. The first person who made his appearance was a lame man. He said that he was the Mayor, and that the people of Les Rivages were peaceful in contrast to those of Neffe. He was, therefore, sent over to Neffe with orders to admonish the Neffe people to keep quiet; if they did, no harm would come to them.
The commander of the Grenadier Regiment No. 101 secured from the nearest houses a number of persons to avail himself of them as hostages in case of hostile actions on the part of the population. It was explained to them that their lives were pledged for the safety of the troops. That measure was caused by the revolt of the native population of Dinant, which had become known, and by the report, made at that very moment by an officer, that he had been fired at out of the houses close to Les Rivages, south of that place in the direction of Anseremme. The men were placed along a garden wall to the left of the crossing point, the women and children, who had come out of the houses with them, a little lower down the stream.
The crossing and the bridging of the river continued. When the bridge had advanced about forty meters, franctireurs suddenly began a brisk gun fire out of the houses of Les Rivages and from the rocky [p. 66] slopes south of the "Rocker Bayard" and its proximity. The shots were fired on the close formation of the grenadiers who were waiting for passage and on the working pioneers. The greatest consternation and confusion ensued. In consequence, the male hostages who were gathered at the garden wall were shot.
The shooting of the hostages which was evidently noticed by the unseen franctireurs had the result that the firing ceased, and the bridge building continued.
On August 24th and partly in the previous night the troops of the corps managed to cross the Meuse at Les Rivages and Leffe. On August 25th the hindmost formations of the corps also crossed the river.
But the stringent measures taken on August 23rd had by no means finally checked the franctireurs. Also on the two following days, passing columns and single individuals were shot at from the slopes and out of houses though not to such an extent as on August 23rd. Those actions had again to lead to reprisals. Some civilians caught in the act were shot, and the artillery bombarded the buildings which were occupied by franctireurs. The latter happened at Neffe and St. Médard on August 24th, the former in all parts of the town on August 24th and 25th.
If one surveys the entire resistance offered to the German troops by the people of Dinant and its suburbs, the plan and method of that resistance is the most striking feature.
Even before August 23rd those who lived in the surroundings of Dinant knew that an organization existed at that place for the purpose of treacherously attacking the German troops. It was known that the assaults made by native civilians on German troops at Sorinnes and other places east of the Meuse were partly due to emissaries from Dinant.
That organization was remarkable for its careful preparation and its wide extent.
The houses had been put in a state of defense, doors being barred and windows barricaded, loopholes being cut and large supplies of fire arms and ammunitions stored up. That there was a large supply of ammunition is evident, among other things, from the fact that projectiles would constantly explode in the burning houses. At the time of the venture in the night of August 21st wires were strung across the street to make the soldiers stumble over them.
The firearms were only partly sporting guns; there were also machine guns and Belgian military rifles. That permits of the conclusion that the Belgian Government gave its support to the organization. The whole of Dinant with all its suburbs on the right and left of the Meuse river was equally well prepared. At Leffe, at Les Rivages, at Neffe, everywhere we found barricaded houses, loopholes and firearms. Moreover, the fighting reports emphasize that the Belgian civilians wore no [p. 67] military emblems. The entire population was agreed to check the German advance. They have only themselves to blame if they partly perished in the dangers to which they exposed themselves of their own will.
The resistance offered was most stubborn. It was carried on with all kinds of weapons, with military and sporting guns, with bullet and shot, with revolvers, knives and stones. All callings, even the clergy, took part in it, all joined—men and women, old people and children. Firing would continue from the cellars of burning houses, and one franctireur even fired at the firing squad with a revolver at the very moment when he was to be summarily shot.
With malice and treachery people fired, invisible themselves to those outside, out of loophole from behind at passing divisions or at individual officers. When the Germans entered the snipers would escape through back doors into the numerous caves and subterranean passages to continue their assassins' work in other places.
Some male franctireurs had donned woman's dress.
The Geneva emblem was misused by individual persons and for buildings in order to harm the Germans under its protection.
Even wounded soldiers who were being retransported as well as the sanitary staff were shot at from the houses.
But the climax in the revolting outrages to which their fanaticism drove the population was reached in such acts as cruelly assassinating the sleeping, outraging the dead, burning the wounded soldiers who for the purpose were tied down with wire.
In viewing the attitude taken by the troops of the Twelfth Corps with regard to the extremely hostile proceeding of the civilian population who employed all and any means, however reprehensible, the tactical aim of that Corps must not be lost sight of, which was speedily to cross the Meuse and drive the enemy from the left bank of the river. It was a military necessity quickly to overcome the resistance of the inhabitants who opposed that aim: an aim which had to be attained by every means. From that point of view it was certainly justified to bombard with artillery the town which had taken active part in the fight, to burn the houses which were occupied by franctireurs, and to shoot the inhabitants who were caught with arms in hand.
Likewise in agreement with the law was the shooting of the hostages which took place in various localities. The troops that were fighting in the town were in dire distress since, under the artillery, machine gun and rifle fire of the regular army of the enemy which was stationed on the left Meuse bank, they were shot at by the inhabitants both in their rear and on their sides. The hostages were secured in order to stop the action of the franctireurs. As nevertheless the people continued to inflict losses on the fighting troops the shooting of the hostages [p. 68] had to be resorted to. Otherwise their seizure would only have meant a vain threat. The shooting of the hostages was all the more justified as their innocence was not likely considering that the population in general took part in the fight, and it was inevitable in regard of the military object in view and of the distress of the troops, who were being treacherously attacked from behind.
The lives of women and children, unless they were caught in the act, or self-defense was necessary against them, have been spared on principle. If, in spite of this, women and children were killed and wounded the existing situation easily explains that. They were partly struck by hostile projectiles which came from the left bank of the Meuse, and partly by shots gone astray during the fight in the houses and streets. At Les Rivages, too, during the shooting of the, hostages, some women and children were hit who, contrary to the direction given, in the general confusion had left their place, which was separate from that of the male hostages, and had crowded together with these.
That the conduct of the. troops of the Twelfth Corps was not ruthless or cruel, is proved by numerous cases where they made provision for women, old men and children, acts which were most creditable under the obtaining circumstances. A number of confined women were carried from endangered houses to a place of safety and bedded on mattresses near our wounded soldiers. Wounded inhabitants-the wounds were generally the result of the enemy's fire-were bandaged and received conscientious medical treatment. Little children who were found alone were assigned to the care of women. The large number of women and children who had come from the burning town of Dinant, and were at Les Rivages in the night from the 23rd to the 24th of August, were sheltered in a house and provided with food and drink. In the morning they all got hot coffee from a field kitchen of the regiment of body guards.
The statements made by the surviving inhabitants of Dinant concerning the fights about their town, and the reports, based on those statements, of the Belgian Investigation Commission and of the hostile press are all characterized by ignoring the part taken by the population in the fight against our troops and by reporting merely and with intentional exaggeration what our troops have done to ward off that participation in the fight. In view of the established facts it is a malicious distortion of actual conditions to state that civilian inhabitants had fired no shots since they were ordered to deliver all arms.
Without doubt it is a matter of profound regret that in consequence of the occurrences on August 23rd and 24th the prosperous town of Dinant with its suburbs was burned and ruined to a large extent, and numerous human lives lost. Not the German army, however, but exclusively the inhabitants of Dinant bear the responsibility for it. The [p. 69] whole population of Dinant, contrary to international law, fought against the German troops fanatically and treacherously, and compelled them to take such reprisals as the military aims required.
If the population had kept aloot from armed resistance and open participation in the fights they would hardly have been injured in life and property, however much the military operations might have endangered their condition.
Berlin, April 11th, 1915.
Military Commission for the Investigation of offenses against the laws of war.
(Signed) Major Bauer. (Signed) Dr. Wagner, District Court Councillor.
La Malmaison, December 9, 1914.
Present: Military Court Councillor Näumann.
Military Court Clerk Schwarzbach.
In matters of the investigation into the violations of international law perpetrated against the German troops, first class private Säring, appeared as witness and after having been impressed with the significance of the oath, testified as follows:
My name is Johann Georg Säring, I am 22 years old, a Lutheran, locksmith by trade, and a first class private in the twelfth company of Infantry Regiment No. 182.
On Sunday, August 23, 1914, at Dinant I observed during the forenoon the arm of a man protruding out of a first story window of the pharmacy. The hand held a revolver, with which we soldiers were shot upon. I distinctly saw the Red Cross band on the arm. I smashed the locked door with an axe, and children, women, an elderly man, and at last the man with the Red Cross band on his arm came out. This man was taken before Colonel Franke, while the other civilians were held in a corner.
We then hurried toward the church in which civilians had been gathered. I am absolutely certain that we were fired upon from the church steeple. This could have been done only by inhabitants, as hostile soldiers were not seen all day.
Read, approved, signed.
(Signed) Johann Georg Säring.
The witness was thereupon sworn.
(Signed) Näumann. (Signed) Schwarzbach.
La Malmaison, December 9, 1914.
Present: Military Court Councillor Näumann.
Military Court Clerk Schwarzbach.
In matters of investigation concerning the violations of international law committed against German troops first class private of reserve; Einax of the 11th company of infantry regiment No. 182 appeared and after being informed of the meaning of the oath testified as follows:
My name is Karl Hermann Einax, twenty-eight years of age, a Protestant, cooper by profession, first class private since November 21, 1914.
On Sunday, August 23, 1914, at 2 P. M., when we marched into Dinant, we were fired upon. It was found that the firing came from the other side of the Meuse. We then entered the houses and searched them. I saw that an elderly looking man with gray, unkempt hair, cams out of a house which our troops had entered, and shot at us. Major Lommatsch who was severely wounded died in the afternoon as the result of his injuries.
When being questioned witness testified:
I also plainly observed that eight rifle barrels stuck out of the attic windows of a house on the main street, from which shots were fired upon us. Also from the tower of the church and from the cellars people were shooting upon us. They all were civilians.
I remember distinctly that from one house from which shots were fired, eight men—among them the priest with the red cross band on his arm—were brought out.
Our Captain, Baron von Gregory, himself had entered the house from which the priest was brought out. The captain is in Freiberg at present.
Read, approved, signed.
(Signed) Karl Hermann Einax.
Witness was then sworn.
(Signed) Näumann. (Signed) Schwarzbach.
Present: Military Court Councillor Näumann.
Military Court Clerk Schwarzbach.
La Malmaison, December 5, 1914.
In matters of investigation of the offenses committed against German troops contrary to the law of nations, Müller, private in the transport service of the reserves, 2nd field engineer-company, engineer battalion 12, appeared as witness.
The solemnity of the oath was impressed on him, and he gave evidence as follows:
My name is Erwin Müller. I am twenty-six years of age, a Protestant and a fruit grower.
On August 25, 1914, in the afternoon Sergeant Fehrmann and I noticed the corpses of a number of male civilians and one woman lying outside a house in a cross street at Dinant. We entered the house. In the room to the right lay an officer, lieutenant of Infantry Regiment No. 182, a cushion below his head. His head and part of his chest were covered with a white cloth. Two soldiers lay on one side of him, and [p. 85] one soldier on the other. All three soldiers wore the uniform of regiment No. 182. In the adjoining room a sergeant and five soldiers of the sane regiment lay likewise dead.
I raised the cloth from the dead lieutenant's body and noticed that he had a gun shot wound in his head. I noticed no further wounds on him.
By the side of the lieutenant lay a soldier with his abdomen exposed. He had been shot in the abdomen. Blood was coming from a gash which extended at least 10 centimeters from the larynx, sideways to the left; the edges of the wound stood about one centimeter apart. The blood had trickled down to his side. In my opinion it could only be a wound caused by cutting.
There was a soldier in the other room who also had his abdomen exposed. He had a wound about three centimeters wide in his abdomen. The wound was due either to a cut or to a stab. The clothes of the other soldiers were not disarranged, they had all gunshot wounds.
I had the impression as if the officer, the sergeant and the men had been taken by surprise in their quarters during sleep. I think so because 1 found the officer with a sofa cushion, and the others with a blanket or their knapsack under their heads. Their rifles stood in a corner.
Reserve Engineer Kretzschmann was in the house together with Fehrmann and myself.
Read, approved, signed.
(Signed) Emil Erwin Müller.
Witness was sworn.
(Signed) Naumann. (Signed) Schwarzbach.
Wood south-west of La Ville aux Bois,
February 5th, 1915.
By order of the Rifle (Fusilier) Regiment " Prince George " No. 108 there appeared as witness Corporal Schmieder of the loth Company.
Warned to speak the whole truth, he made the following deposition :
As to Person : My name is Hermann Walter Schmieder. I am 20 years of age ; of the Evangelical-Lutheran faith ; gardener by calling ; now corporal in the 10th Company.
As to Case : On the Sorinnes-Dinant road the following occurrence took place in the part of the town of Dinant which hes on both sides of the road. I witnessed how two male civilians discharged pistol-shots at Major Lommatsch, Battalion Commander, 16th Infantry Regiment No. 182, from the first storey of a house standing directly on the road. Major Lommatsch immediately collapsed,
Read over, approved,
signed. Signed : Schmieder.
The witness was sworn in accordance with regulations.
Signed : Lassow, Lieutenant and Ofiicer of the Court.
Signed : Schubert, Acting-Sergeant-Major
The German army in Belgium, the white book of May 1915 (), p. 118 - http://www.archive.org/details/germanarmyinbelg00germrich
1st Lieutenant Grau, as Officer of the Court.
Acting-Sergeant-Major Limbacker, as Clerk of the Court.
"The Front," February 28th, 1915.
There appeared as witness Major-General Francke, who, after reference to the significance of the oath, was examined as follows :
As to Person : My name is Franz Samuel Ludwig Francke. I am 51 years old; Protestant; Major-General and Regimental Commander, Infantry Regiment No. 182.
As to Case : I confirm that in Dinant a civilian who wore a white band with the Geneva Cross was brought to me by a corporal and two men of the 12th Company. The party assured me that they had seen an arm with a Geneva brassard project from between the shutters of a window on the first floor of a house distant about thirty paces from where I was, and that it had discharged a pistol into the street which was thronged with soldiers. Several dead and wounded soldiers were lying in the street who could only have been hit from the houses or straight through from the houses on the riverside. The soldiers stated that they had broken into the house and had fetched out the occupants, among whom was this man.
The civilian explained to me, without being asked, at first in hardly intelligible German, and then in French when I addressed him in French, that he was a doctor, and that he had protected the women who were in the houses, and had not fired on the soldiers. I thereupon ordered him to immediately bandage one of the wounded lying there. On his assertion that he had no bandages, I told him to fetch some bandages from the pharmacy which was situated directly behind me. I had already wondered that he had not taken this simple step if he was really a doctor. As I was very much occupied I could not watch him further myself, but ordered a corporal and one man to accompany and keep watch on the supposed doctor. Some time after, the corporal came to me and reported that, as they entered the ground floor of the pharmacy, the doctor had suddenly run into the rear part of the house and not into the room used for the pharmacy on the street front, whereupon they had brought him out and shot him.
Read over, approved, signed.
Signed : Franz Francke.
The witness was thereupon sworn.
Signed : Grau, 1st Lieutenant and Officer of the Court.
Signed : Limbäcker, Acting-Sergeant-Major, as Clerk of the Military Court.
- The German army in Belgium, the white book of May 1915 (), pp. 120-121 - http://www.archive.org/details/germanarmyinbelg00germrich
President of the Military Court, Naumann.
Secretary of the Military Court, Schwarzbach.
La Malmaison, December 1914.
In the investigation concerning the violation of international law committed against the German troops, there appeared as witness Corporal Saring, who, after reference to the significance of the oath, was examined as follows :
My name is Johann Georg Saring. I am 22 years of age ; Protestant ; locksmith by trade ; corporal, 12th Company, Infantry Regiment No. 182.
On the afternoon of Sunday the 23rd August, 1914, I saw in Dinant the arm of a man thrust itself out from the first storey of the pharmacy. The hand held a pistol. The pistol was fired at us soldiers. The arm was wearing, as I plainly saw, the Red Cross band. I burst the door in with a pick-axe ; there came out children, women, and an elderly man, and, last of all, the man with the Red Cross band. This man was taken to Colonel Francke, whilst the other civilians were detained in the corner of a house. We then rushed towards the church in which the inhabitants had been brought together. As I know for certain, we were fired on from the tower of the church. This could only have been done by the inhabitants ; enemy troops were not to be seen the whole of the day.
Read over, approved, signed.
Signed: Johann Georg Saring.
The witness was thereupon sworn.
Signed : Naumann.
Signed : Schwarzbach.
Military Magistrate, Naumann.
Secretary of the Military Court, Schwarzbach.
La Malmaison, December 5th, 1914.
In the inquiry concerning the violations of International Law committed against German troops, there appeared as witness Transport Soldier of Reserve Miiller, 2nd Field Pioneer Company, Pioneer Battalion No. 12, who, after the importance of the oath had been pointed out to him, made the following statement :
My name is Emil Erwin Miiller, 26 years old ; Protestant ; fruit grower.
On the afternoon of August 25th, 1914, in company with Non-commissioned Officer Fehrmann, I saw a number of bodies of civilians and that of a woman lying in front of a house in a cross-street in Dinant. We entered the house. In the room on the right there lay an officer—a lieutenant of Infantry Regiment No. 182—a sofa-cushion under his head ; his head and a part of his chest were covered with a white cloth. All three civilians wore the uniform of Infantry Regiment No. 182. In the adjoining room there lay stretched out dead a non-commissioned officer and five privates of the same regiment.
I lifted up the cloth covering the lieutenant and saw that he had received a shot in the head. I did not see any further injuries to the officer.
One of the privates who lay beside the lieutenant had his trousers unbuttoned in front so that one could see his body. This soldier had a shot in the lower part of the body. Extending from the larynx to at least 10 cm. to the left was a cut which was bloody and the edges were probably 1 cm. apart. The blood had flowed down towards the side. I am convinced that it could only have been a wound from a cut.
In the other room the trousers of one of the soldiers were unbuttoned so that one could see the body. This man had a cut or stab wound in the lower body about 3 cm. wide. The clothing of the remaining soldiers showed no disarrangement, they all bore shot-wounds.
The scene conveyed the impression that the officer, the non-commissioned officer and the men had been attacked in their sleep by the inhabitants in that quarter. I infer this from the fact that the officer had a sofa-cushion and the others either a cloth or a knapsack under their heads. The rifles stood in a corner.
In the house with Fehrmann and myself was also Pioneer of Reserve Kretzschmann.
Read over, approved, signed.
Signed : Emil Erwin MÜLLER.
The witness was thereupon sworn.
Signed : Naumann. Signed : Schwarzbach.
The name of the "Battle of the Marne" is a little deceptive. In fact, fighting raged across about three hundred kilometres, from Senlis to Verdun. Even the chronology of the battle is also variable, depending on what are considered to be the western and the eastern parts of this long front. In the west, the end of fighting was signalled by the recapture of the château of Mondement on the 9th September. From Sompuis to Verdun in the east, fighting continued until the 12th September ...
1914 - 1915
NORTH-WEST OF RHEIMS
(iii) CRAONNE TO BERRY AU BEC
The distance from Craonne to Berry au Bac is about six miles. Craonne on the Chemia des Dames, is about 12 miles south east of Laon ...
[Craonne is eighteen miles north-west of Reims Craonne is eighteen miles north-west of Reims, and eleven miles southeast of Laon ...]
NORTH-WEST OF RHEIMS
[In March-September, prior to the battle of Champagne that began September 25, 1915] In order that you may get clearly in your mind the setting of this titanic conflict, in which nearly a million and a half Frenchmen and Germans were engaged and in which Europe lost more men in killed and wounded than fought at Gettysburg, get out your atlas, and on the map of eastern France draw a more or less irregular line from Rheims to Verdun. This line roughly corresponds to the battle-front in Champagne. On the south side of it were the French, on the north the Germans ...
The Germans had held the line from Auberive to the Forest of the Argonne since the battle of the Marne ...
During the First World War Lille was a busy centre of commerce and was occupied by the German Army for exactly four years from October 1914 to October 1918 ...
German soldiers in the trenches near Roclincourt (Arras, 1915)
Souchez Front - May - July, 1915
Battle of Artois, May - July, 1915
On October 8, the Germans launched a massive counterattack against the Loos position. This was largely defeated by determined British resistance. As a result, the counter-offensive was halted that evening ...
In the later October fighting for the Redoubt [Hohenzollern Redoubt, near to Auchy-les-Mines in France], the Guards Division was heavily engaged on October 8 in beating back German assaults ...
Map as at 13th October 1915. Hohenzollern Redoubt is slightly left of centre; British trenches at lower left in blue; German at upper right in red
1915 - 1916
(i) YPRES TO COMINES
The Ypres-Comines canal (now disused) ran South-East from Ypres between Zillebeke and Voormezeele; and about 11 miles South-West of Zillebeke village, where it approaches the old front line, its bed lies between banks of spoil thrown up when it was made ...
During 1915 and 1916, the German Navy had developed Bruges from a small Flanders port into a major naval centre with large concrete bunkers for U-boats to shelter from nightly bombing raids, extensive barracks and training facilities for U-boat crews, and similar facilities for other classes of raiding warship ...
Fresh German troops were continually being brought to the relief of those which kept up the pressure on the Hooge-St. Eloi line, and the German regiments were relieved on the average every ten days. British and Canadians were generally in the trenches for a " tour " of a month. In all, fourteen German divisions were identified at various times against the three which held the southern end of the salient ...
Holding The Salient, 1916 - The Fighting At St. Eloi - http://www.oldandsold.com/articles11/canada-worldwar1-20.shtml
It was estimated that in the first month of the Allied offensive on the Somme the German casualties amounted to about 200,000 men, while the Anglo-French forces lost less than a fourth of that number. The Allies claimed to have captured about 13,000 prisoners and between sixty and seventy field guns, exclusive of machine guns and the smaller artillery.
With the capture of Pozières it might be said that the second phase of the Battle of the Somme was concluded. The Allied forces were well established on the line to which the second main "push" which began July 14, 1916, was directed ...
"Saturday, 8.8.14. Started at 12.15 P.M. Marched without a halt till 7 the next morning to take part in the fighting at Novion [Nouvion]. It lasted till 2 P.M. Village stormed and looted.
"Monday, 31.8.14. At 7 marched with nothing to eat. We passed through the town of Rethel, where we halted for two hours. Wine and champagne in abundance; we looted with a will.
"Friday, 4.9. 14. Noon. We cooked, boiling and roasting; wine and champagne in abundance."
Germany's violations of the laws of war, 1914-15 - No. 43. Extract from the note-book of Baum, a soldier of the 182nd Regiment of Infantry, concerning looting at at Novion, Rethel, etc. , pp. 122-123. http://www.archive.org/details/germanysviolatio00fran