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4thGordons

250 German Divisional Histories

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4thGordons

I was trawling through google books looking for a couple of particular references when I stumbled upon THIS (CLICK HERE) which I had not seen before. Not really my area but it looks like it might be useful for quick look-ups.

Not sure how accurate it is (based on intelligence gathered and published soon after the end of the war) but.... you get what you pay for. It is full text (searchable and indexed) and can be downloaded as a pdf or txt file.

Chris

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Ken S.

Like so many other goodies on there, I can't download it, nor view it.

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4thGordons
Like so many other goodies on there, I can't download it, nor view it.

PM me an email and I'll send you the pdf file

its 29MB

Happy to do so for anyone

Chris

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sjustice

The entire book is available for free download or easy search and browsing at Archive.org

Histories of two hundred and fifty-one divisions of the German army which participated in the war (1914-1918) (1920)

Enjoy.

Kind Regards,

SMJ

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NeilEvans

Thanks Chris, Simon.

Just downloaded it.

Neil

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Simon Jones

Thank you!

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Greenwoodman

Its a great site - so far I've found Wheeler Holohan's history of the Rangers, and O'Neill's of the RF. Plus many others of interest.

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fritz

Thank you very much Chris and Simon. I downloaded it and found it very interesting for my archives.

Kind regards

Fritz

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Andrew Hesketh

Lovely!

I was aware of the sites and have used both a lot, but that book passed me by.

Ta very much. :rolleyes:

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JulianB

Great news, I'd certainly like to download it BUT I need to answer tthese questions first

please could anybody tell me which German divisions were at

High Wood (or Wood Lane) on 18th August 1916

Flers on 15th and 16th Sept 1916

Bapaume (and just south-west of) on 24th - 25th March 1918

thanks

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4thGordons
Great news, I'd certainly like to download it BUT I need to answer tthese questions first

please could anybody tell me which German divisions were at

High Wood (or Wood Lane) on 18th August 1916

Flers on 15th and 16th Sept 1916

Bapaume (and just south-west of) on 24th - 25th March 1918

thanks

You might be able to find this by searching the book.

I just quickly searched the file for Flers and found a reference to the "5th Bavarian Divsion.....suffered heavy losses in the fights around Ginchy and during the British attack of September 15th [1916] (Flers Guedecourt)" p121 similar refs to the 6th Bavarian Division (p135)

1st Gaurd Reserve Div is mentioned in the context of Bapaume in March 1918 (p25)

As the text is searchable you can find this stuff with a bit of a search I think.

Chris

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bob lembke

I have seen criticism of this work from knowledgable sources, but any such work must be, by necessity, imperfect, even at 800 pages. The composition of German units became more flexible as the war went on, and the traditional relationships between units broke down. Later in the war the fixed relationships between, for example, a division and its regiments broke down. The divisional staff and the divisional artillery might remain in place, while infantry regiments, as depleted in combat, were rolled in and out of the division, for combat, and then for rehabilitation and refit. Therefore the accuracy of such a book had to be necessarily less perfect as the war went on, as the old rigid relationships became much looser.

I have never bothered to get a copy of this book (I have some related materials in German) but, being an old-fashioned kind of guy, I have started to print this one off.

Bob Lembke

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JulianB

Thanks Chris, I'll get on to it

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Wesley

Chris – thank you so very much for flagging up this site – it’s fantastic and has certainly kept me occupied for a few hours! :D

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sjustice

I notice that the American General Staff have included "Value Estimates" by year for each division e.g. in 1918 rated as first-class (excellent fighting unit) or fourth class (not good, lost abnormally high level of prisoners). This sounds a little subjective to say the least. Does anyone know the precise provenance of these assessments and if there were any published or otherwise primary German measurements of the (1918 in particular) divisions?

Kind Regards,

SMJ

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MartH

Hi SMJ

Some of this is covered in the introduction which I have included at the bottom of the post.

My understanding is that it is based upon a French staff model where the intelligence arm produced/had for each German division a book or history which was constantly updated. Most of the information came from POW's, the classification was based upon the French Intelligence Department method which included an appreciation on how and where the Germans had used them previously.

I know the British and Empire Forces also contributed to the production of these.

It would be very useful if one could get to the original documents/portfolios that this work is just a distillation of. Has any member interested in the German side and done serious research such as Jack Sheldon or an American come across the originals? It would add greatly to the knowledge of the German units in the English or French language.

I do know this work was used in the production of the Official Histories, and Bean's copy is still extant in the AWM, with his pencilled notes.

I have often wondered if the Germany Army produced a similar work on the Allied Divisions, the content of which would produce a long debate, uproar and revolt on this forum.

Hope this helps a little

Mart

"INTRODUCTION.

The following pages contain the record of the organization and service of the 251

divisions of the German Army during the years 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, and 1918, or

during as many of these years as they existed - for a number of them were created

after the war had started. The record of each has been known as a "divisional

history."

The history of an enemy division is a summary of all the information obtained

from all sources. It includes the latest composition - that is, the regiments and

other units that make up the division; a record of its past engagements; its recruit-

ment and racial features; commanders; present strength; and morale. On a basis of

these factors the division's fighting quality is rated on a standard of classes adopted

by General Headquarters and noted in the history. The data is collected and filed

daily at various troop headquarters and eventually in the Enemy Order of Battle

subsection of the General Staff, Intelligence Section at the General Headquarters.

The information comes chiefly fr'om the front-line troops, resulting from their observa-

tion, reconnaissance, and the interrogation of the prisoners they take. This evidence

is often fragmentary and inconclusive, being gathered as more or less disassociated

items, here and there along the whole front. But when it is consolidated and collated

it becomes of great value and warrants deductions which may be depended upon.

Prisoners' statements and captured documents are the source of almost all the

information contained in a divisional history. The outline of the past engagements

of a division is known from the Battle-Order records. Prisoners add to this specific

account of successes, citations, failures, internal disturbance, etc. The divisional

composition is established by prisoners, and in the case of the smaller divisional units

from addresses on captured letters. The effective strength is deduced from prisoners'

stories of recent losses incurred and drafts of new men arriving. In estimating the

quality of a division the Intelligence Section considers principally the conditions

under which the enemy command has used it in previous military operations.

All this information is kept posted up to date so that a history of present value

can be written without delay and dispatched to our front-line troops opposite whom a

new or additional enemy unit has appeared or is about to appear.

The use to our troops of these histories is obvious. Much of the information con-

tained is of direct value to our commanders. The strength, morale, and fighting

qualities of the opposing divisions are, of course, an important factor in our plans

and operations. Other items, such as the names of the enemy commanders, assist

the examining officer in checking the veracity and accuracy of prisoners' statements.

It has been often observed that the more the intelligence officer knows or appears to

know of the prisoner's organization the better results he obtains from his questions.

The uses to which information of the enemy may he put have proved so various and

unexpected that the principle is established that no fact about the enemy is too

unimportant to he recorded.

In preparing this set of Histories of German Divisions the histories published by

French General Headquarters have been used fur the years prior to 1918. For the last

year of the war the histories were written By the Second Section of the General Staff,

General Headquarters, A. E. F., from the American records. These included all

information firom American sources and also that which was received from Allied Armies."

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sjustice
Hi SMJ

Some of this is covered in the introduction which I have included at the bottom of the post.

<snip>

In preparing this set of Histories of German Divisions the histories published by

French General Headquarters have been used fur the years prior to 1918. For the last

year of the war the histories were written By the Second Section of the General Staff,

General Headquarters, A. E. F., from the American records. These included all

information firom American sources and also that which was received from Allied Armies."

Hi Mart,

Thanks for drawing my attention to that intro. I should have read it first.

That explains the unusual patterns of English used in most of the appraisals. Regarding 1918 the AEF would still need to rely on it's Allies for almost all of the information as outlined there.

Now...where can we find the primary evidence?

Kind Regards,

SMJ

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MartH

Hi SMJ

Some source material I think Click Lick

Just wish I could find the full histories of the division.

Regards

Mart

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sjustice
Hi SMJ

Some source material I think Click Lick

Just wish I could find the full histories of the division.

Regards

Mart

That looks promising. Well found.

Files are huge so this could take a while...

SMJ

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4thGordons
Hi SMJ

Some source material I think Click Lick

Just wish I could find the full histories of the division.

Regards

Mart

Mart,

I am not certain this is what you meant but when you said "The division" were you referring to the US 1st Division?

If so..... CLICKETY CLICK

I could also contact the 1st Div museum at Wheaton (IL) for you to see what they have in the way of source materials as I shall be going there in the next few weeks.

Sorry if I have the wrong end of the stick and you were looking for a particular German Div.

Chris

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sjustice
Some source material...

<snip>

Mart, that is spot on. Detailed (very) telephone and telegram reports coming in from the field relating to movements, logistics and prisoners etc.

Seems to be (from a quick scan) relating to the French/American collaborative attacks and general French intelligence.

Now, where is the British equivalent?

:ph34r:

Kind Regards,

SMJ

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MartH
Mart,

I am not certain this is what you meant but when you said "The division" were you referring to the US 1st Division?

If so..... CLICKETY CLICK

I could also contact the 1st Div museum at Wheaton (IL) for you to see what they have in the way of source materials as I shall be going there in the next few weeks.

Sorry if I have the wrong end of the stick and you were looking for a particular German Div.

Chris

Hi Chris

I wasn't referring to the US 1st Division which of course is interesting having done several Tours which did US actions it the GW. What one is interested in and could be a very good resource is the source material used by the A.E.F to produce "Histories of two hundred and fifty-one divisions of the German army which participated in the war (1914-1918)" which where individual "books" on each German division. Now I did a link to some reports at Leavenworth which where source material. I reckon the original "books" still exist, we just need to find them. So any thoughts or leads on the ground like Wheaton would be really useful!

Mart

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Paul Hederer
I notice that the American General Staff have included "Value Estimates" by year for each division e.g. in 1918 rated as first-class (excellent fighting unit) or fourth class (not good, lost abnormally high level of prisoners). This sounds a little subjective to say the least. Does anyone know the precise provenance of these assessments and if there were any published or otherwise primary German measurements of the (1918 in particular) divisions?

Kind Regards,

SMJ

251 (I think you short-changed them by one) divisions should be used with caution. It is a useful resource, but it's based on intelligence reports and contains mistakes.

Paul

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