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4thGordons

250 German Divisional Histories

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4thGordons
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

Mart,

I just arranged a visit up to Wheaton at the end of the month and heard back from their research historian who indicated that in their collection they have:

"a 25 volume set of World War Records, First Division......a large volume on each of the four major campaigns with translated German records of Cantigny, Soissons, St. Mihiel, and Meuse Argonne.....an oversized Atlas of German maps translated......two volumes of G2 Intelligence records of the First Division, and additional information from regimental records.....also a collection of papers collected by Colonel Thomas Gowenlock, First Division G2."

I shall have poke around and report what I find. I thought the "two volumes of GC intelligence records" might be interesting in regard to the source materials and the search for the books on the German Divisions.

Chris

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MartH
Mart,

I just arranged a visit up to Wheaton at the end of the month and heard back from their research historian who indicated that in their collection they have:

"a 25 volume set of World War Records, First Division......a large volume on each of the four major campaigns with translated German records of Cantigny, Soissons, St. Mihiel, and Meuse Argonne.....an oversized Atlas of German maps translated......two volumes of G2 Intelligence records of the First Division, and additional information from regimental records.....also a collection of papers collected by Colonel Thomas Gowenlock, First Division G2."

I shall have poke around and report what I find. I thought the "two volumes of GC intelligence records" might be interesting in regard to the source materials and the search for the books on the German Divisions.

Chris

Chris

This is really wonderful, and very interesting. I think you are on to the source material, or part of the source material of 251 Divisions. I also know the German maps are scarce, I'm sure Smithmaps will be interested, I'll pm about this thread.

Regards

Mart

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bierast
"a 25 volume set of World War Records, First Division......a large volume on each of the four major campaigns with translated German records of Cantigny, Soissons, St. Mihiel, and Meuse Argonne.....an oversized Atlas of German maps translated......two volumes of G2 Intelligence records of the First Division, and additional information from regimental records.....also a collection of papers collected by Colonel Thomas Gowenlock, First Division G2."

I shall be following this one with great interest, as 241 Div. encountered the Americans West of Soissons in July 1918 (though only peripherally, their primary assailants being French colonial troops).

A lot of the paperwork for the division and its units will have fallen into allied hands, as two of its infantry regiments had their HQs overrun and staffs virtually wiped out on 18th July 1918. I've already located a translated German document on the personnel and areas of responsibility within Arko 241 (divisional artillery staff) via google, located on the NARA site.

ARL

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4thGordons

Hi All,

I spent the day at the 1st Division museum and archive today. I did not have time to look at everything (I had a 200 mile drive either end!)

Bad News:The multi volume set is not original US intelligence reports of German divisions etc so I assume they are not the basis of the 251 division with which the thread started. These documents were translated in the later 20s AFTER the 251 divs was published. I did not have time to get to the G2 docs.

Good ? News (or at least interesting to me I assume many others were fully aware of this source)

What they are is thousands of pages of translated German documents (war diaries for all sorts of units plus all the supporting documentation and messages.)

These were from records held in the Reichsarchive and translated and compiled (strictly chronologically and by unit )by 1st Division Historians between 1927 and 1932 (ish).

(Question: How many of these documents survive in German archives?)

There are large B/W reproductions of about 125 German maps (translated) showing all sorts of things (artillery positions and grids, machine gun defences, day by day movements etc.)

There was also a volume of French reports and documents sent to the 1st Div (and hidden in here were a couple from the 15th Div BEF who took over from the 1st Div AEF at some point). I went through a couple of volumes and tried to make notes on the contents and index.

The criteria for inclusions appears simple - was the unit opposed to the US 1st Division? there is a huge volume each on Cantigny, St Mihiel, Soissons and Meuse-Argonne I examined the latter two plus the French documents. The archivist (very helpful) was not aware if other divisions compiled records like this or not.

I photographed a number of the maps and about 100 pages of reports that were of interest to me, I apologise in advance (Andi) I forgot my notecards upon which I had noted the particular interests here so if I got anything regarding the 241 it will be sheer chance but I'll look. I'll post an example of the maps if the quality warrants it.

One thing I know I copied was a French intelligence report on the interrogation of a German Prisoner who had been captured during a raid, so if that is legible and of interest I will see if I can transcribe it.

Regarding one element raised in the discussion above regarding the strength of units etc The Germans appear to have had a similar system for self evaluation of their own units. Some of the reports also contained enemy order of battles (ie lists of US and French units - categorised as identified, probable and possible)

I will be going back in the next month or so without doubt but for now I am worn out!

I'll attempt to post some of the documents mentioned above tomorrow

Chris

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Paul Hederer

Chris,

The US goverment gave copies of all these documents back to the German achives as a good will gesture. If you look in the BA-MA online search you'll see that most of the surviving unit documents are these documents, which explains why the vast majority of them are from later in the war, and from units that opposed American forces.

Paul

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bierast
I photographed a number of the maps and about 100 pages of reports that were of interest to me, I apologise in advance (Andi) I forgot my notecards upon which I had noted the particular interests here so if I got anything regarding the 241 it will be sheer chance but I'll look. I'll post an example of the maps if the quality warrants it.

Anything relevant very much appreciated - thanks!

I will be going back in the next month or so without doubt but for now I am worn out!

I'll attempt to post some of the documents mentioned above tomorrow

Sounds like you were very busy indeed - thanks again on behalf of all interested parties here. :)

ARL

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4thGordons
Chris,

The US goverment gave copies of all these documents back to the German achives as a good will gesture. If you look in the BA-MA online search you'll see that most of the surviving unit documents are these documents, which explains why the vast majority of them are from later in the war, and from units that opposed American forces.

Paul

Thanks Paul I was not aware of that. I assume this means that other US Divisions compiled similar records too?

Andi, I have just started going through the maps....and

Apologies for the quality, if you would like a much larger printable version pm me an email.

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bierast

Good stuff! Will pm you forthwith...

This shows the position immediately before the opening of 241 Division's own 'black day' on 18/07/1918, with some details I had not seen before...especially good to see more detail on the Bavarians directly to the left.

Here's part of a very large German map of the situation at the same time:

180718.jpg

And the disposition of FAR48's guns, from their regimental history (note also attached elements of FAR502, assigned from Armee reserve I believe?)

FAR48_Soissons.gif

And this is from the history of IR473, showing the dispositions of various divisional assets in the days immediately after the catastrophe:

IR473_Soissons.jpg

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Paul Hederer
Thanks Paul I was not aware of that. I assume this means that other US Divisions compiled similar records too?

Chris,

I don't think I'm quite tracking...the records were gathered by US officers who visited the archives between the wars and copied documents there. Are we talking about the same things?

Paul

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4thGordons
Chris,

I don't think I'm quite tracking...the records were gathered by US officers who visited the archives between the wars and copied documents there. Are we talking about the same things?

Paul

Paul, Sorry it is probably my fault I am a little out of my depth here as this is my first foray into German records of any sort.

However I think the answer is YES. The records were copied from files held in the Reichsarchive, but the records collected together in these volumes relate only to those units opposite the US 1st Division and appear to have been translated and compiled by members of the 1st Division My question was, was this a part of a general AEF wide effort - or was it done on a division by division basis?

Between asking and your response I reexamined the introduction and I am still not certain if this was part of an Army Wide (cf mention of Army War College) effort or a "special project" of the US 1st Division.

Here is the intro/acknowledgments from the front:

Acknowledgment

This volume concludes the publication of the documenting of

German units opposed to the First Division in the World War.

The work was started in November 1930 by Major Paul L,

Ransom with a selected detachment of enlisted men of the First

Division. Captain George L. Morrow was placed in charge in April

1931 to completion.

It has been conducted under the supervision of the Historical

Section, Army War College, and is an official publication. One

hundred sets have been produced and distributed to War Department

agencies and to representative R.O.T.C. institutions.

As no government funds were available to bind the volumes,

the Society of the First Division financed this phase of the

project as its tribute to the veterans of the First Division.

The present active First Division has cooperated generously in

donating funds and in furnishing competent enlisted personnel

for the clerical work.

The intro then goes on to list many of the personnel involved.

Chris

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Paul Hederer

Hello Chris,

No worries. Interesting information, thanks for posting that. Yes, I think we're talking about the same documents, I didn't know they had also been used to produce accounts of individual divisions, but that sure makes sense.

Some of the originals survived in the files used to write the German official history. My area of interest is AOK 5 at Verdun (1916), and I ordered a copy of a translation of a lessons learned document from the Americans only to later find a copy of the original in one of the files at BA-MA used in writing the section on Verdun for the German OH!

Most of the files available for the various armies and units at BA-MA come courtesy of the US archives--not much, but a boon I'm sure to those especially interested in that phase of the war. Only a fraction of the original records--a real loss.

Paul

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Paul Hederer

Chris,

Took me awhile to find this. Something I posted on another group months ago:

RECORDS OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT GENERAL AND SPECIAL STAFFS, RG 165

Among the records originated by the Army War College’s Historical Section, a series

of German military records relating to World War I (identified as Entry 320 in NM-

84, Preliminary Inventory of the Textual Records of the War Department General

and Special Staffs), generally arranged by German army, corps, and unit, constitutes

the most significant collection of German military records for the First World War in

NARA custody. From 1920 to 1940, the Historical Section cooperated with the

German Reichsarchiv in transcribing copies of approximately 96,000 original German

documents of field commands, principally for those that confronted U.S. Army

forces in France, 1917–18, but including some documentation dated as early as 1914.

These records include copies of war diaries and accompanying reports of German

armies, corps, and divisions, as well as some records of the Army High Command,

and thus complement the captured German documents series in RG 120. Duplicate

copies of these materials were donated to the Bundesarchiv in 1976. Access to the

records is provided by a series of name and subject card indexes and other finding

aids to German military records relating to World War I (NM-84, Entry 319).

Additional intelligence information on the German Army in World War I, including

translations of postwar German articles and essays relating to the war, are located

among the formerly security-classified correspondence and reports of the Military

Intelligence Division (MID), 1917–1941 (NM-84, Entry 65). These records are

arranged according to a complex filing scheme that includes a master file number,

followed by an alphabetical and/or numerical suffix; much of the documentation for

the German Army during the war is located under master file numbers 2016 and

2553. Several series of card indexes provide access to the contents of these records,

particularly subject entry “Army, German” in the formerly security-classified

subject index (NM-84, Entry 58).

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4thGordons

Thanks for clarifying that Paul, much appreciated.

There was this interesting note in the front of the volume which speaks to their production process, intention and perhaps the subsquent history.

As you say the absence of many of the other (earlier) records is a significant loss.

GLM was Morrow who, incidentally is credited as the translator of all the docs! (I assume head of a team of translators given the volume of documents)

Chris

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Paul Hederer

Chris,

Yes, that all ties together nicely--interesting note you posted. The translation I have of the Verdun documents I mentioned have the original corrections on them. The initial translation is a bit rough!!

Paul

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