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Remembered Today:

Great photo find


Ralph J. Whitehead

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I know the arguments for and against splitting up collections, medal groups, etc. In the case of photos this might be the only way you are able to obtain some rare photos of units you have been researching for years.

In my case a rather large photo album from RIR 99 was recently sold on eBay by individual cards/photos or in small groups of similar subjects. There were a number of rare and unusual cards and photos of locations, units and activities I have only read about and have never seen.

The photo shown below is of a 7.6cm light minenwerfer position with crew. The men are from Minenwerfer Company 226 (26th Reserve Division) and was taken in 1915 most likely. The shouder strap is quite clear and shows MW on top, next XIII and finally 226 below. I have never seen a photo for this unit in the years I have been researching this division and I am glad i was able to get this one and about 34 more.

These photos have required me to make some changes in my upcoming book by replacing certain photos, a process that was more involved than I had expected.

Ralph

P.S. The safety pin is still inserted in the fuze.

post-32-1246154021.jpg

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Glad you got this, I thought of you when I saw all the RIR 99 photos. Does this mean we will have to wait even longer for your book?!

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Hello Simon,

The book was already delayed and I need to get the final copies to the publisher shortly. These photos came at just the right time and I am almost finished placing them in the book. Everything is on schedule for December this year.

Send me your e-mail address through PM if you would. I lost a hard drive and all e-mail messages and addresses. I have a particular card of La Boisselle and the area by the craters I would like to send over to you.

Ralph

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Great photo, Ralph. Congratulations. Would it be improper to tell the clueless more about your book?

Bob Lembke

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Hello Bob, My book will be in 2 volumes. The first covers the XIV Reserve Corps on the Somme from September 1914 through the end of June 1916, 11 chapters in all. I have used period books, regimental histories, period diaries and letters and unpublished manuscripts to show how the front formed and how it transformed from farm land to a strong defensive position. I used some 375+ illustrations, more than half from my collections and previously unpublished. The rest all relate to the men and units mentioned in the book with the exception of 3 or 4 that while not XIV Reserve Corps units can be used to provide an illustration for something mentioned in the book. The book is over 650 pages in length with numerous maps taken from period maps to provide the reader with additional information on points made in the narrative.

I used a number of memorial cards and photos of the men who died on the Somme and have a casualty list for 7 infantry and one artillery regiment for the same period. All in all I tried to give a comprehensive picture of how the Somme front formed and evolved and tried to use as many first hand accounts as possible to give more of a personal level to the narrative for the reader.

Volume 2 carries the story from 1 July through the end of the war and the post-war veteran groups. I just want to see the finished copy and it seems time is moving rapidly trying to integrate the new photos and once done I am sure time will suddenly seem to slow down as I await the final results.

Ralph

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Hi Ralph.

Reading the postings I get the impression you are an authority on the subject of Germany in the first world war. At any rate, you know your subject.

Looking at this fantastic and atmospheric image I can see why the British and allied troops in the trenches were in fear of their lives.

you state that the image dates from around 1915. This has prompted me to think of my research (minor compared to yours).

My GG Uncle died at the battle of Bellewarde, 16th June 1915 and although the battle lasted one day many young men lost their lives.

Do you have any knowledge about this battle from the German point of view. Was this type of minenwerfer typical and how effective was it?

I am sorry to skew your posting, but any info on this would be great.

I wish you well on the publication of your work.

All the best

Martin

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Ralph.

That is a special photo, thanks for posting it.

I hope you will be permitted to inform forum members of the publication of your book. I for one will be very interested in purchasing a copy of both volumes. If it would be deemed to be advertising please pm me when published.

Regards

John

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Hello Martin,

The German army is the area of my interest and in particular the battle of the Somme. I have done some research on Bellewarde for 1915, later in September if I can recall correctly. However the regiments did not move much and most of the ones I reviewed were probably involved in some of the fighting you mentioned. I will look through my records to see what turns up.

In regard to the minenwerfer the one shown was quite common. It was an effective weapon with a fairly good range and ability to cover a wide area using the swivel aspect of the base and the design of the emplacement opening. I have some technical details as to range, rate of fire, etc. that I will pass along. It was normally loaded and fired by the use of the lanyard being held by the man on the left. It had a recoil system and far more complicated than the British Stokes mortar.

However, the rate of fire could be increased to 46 rounds per minute for short periods of time if sufficient ammunition was present, the crew was very good and lucky. Instead of loading, cocking the firing pin and then firing the men would set the firing pin to the striking position and drop the rounds down the tube. As they struck the pin they would instantly fire. All the crew had to do was drop a fresh shell down as quickly as possible after the last one fired.

This could do damage to the gun so it was used in emergencies only. There were two basic models of this weapon in addition to numerous types from different times of the war. The larger one, the heavy minenwerfer used a shell weighing 200 pounds, 100 of which was an explosive charge. When this weapon fired a direct hit was considered anything within 10 meters of the point of impact as the blast range and remaining crater were massive.

Let me see what I can find on your subject. Thanks for the kind comments on the book.

Ralph

Ralph.

That is a special photo, thanks for posting it.

I hope you will be permitted to inform forum members of the publication of your book. I for one will be very interested in purchasing a copy of both volumes. If it would be deemed to be advertising please pm me when published.

Regards

John

Thanks John,

I will talk to the forum moderators to see what is and what is not allowed. You can find more details on the Helion & Co. web site by searching under Whitehead. I will keep you informed.

Ralph

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Hello Martin,

First of all, what was the regiment your relative belonged to? I ask as there are 3 possible German units though I suspect it was RIR 246, a Württemberg unit. I thought I had the regimental on this unit but I have RIR 247 and RIR 248. I believe I can obtain the appropriate portion if it turns out to be the one.

I looked at the Verlustlisten for the regiments involved and I suspect that the III/R246 was holding the front line with the 10th, 11th and 12/R246 in the front and the 9/R246 in support judging by the number of men lost and the categories applied to their names. Most were missing, a number wer captured, some wounded and a few killed. Eventually the missing would be sorted out to indicate their true category but just at looking at the loss figures my bet is that your relative faced off against the III/R246 and then the other two battalions as they moved forward in support.

Let me know the unit and I can check my maps and make certain of the opposing unit ID, thanks.

Ralph

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Hi Ralph.

1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. Companies WXYZ, my relation was a Lance Corporal in W company.

After the shelling W company attacked from Railway Wood toward the German trenches.

Many thanks Ralph.

Martin

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Hello Martin,

Your relativer was up against RIR 246, the III Battalion, 10th, 11th and 12th Coy holding the battle trench while the 9th Coy was nearby in reserve. The remaining two battalions were positioned in support and reserve. The Verlustlisten matches the accounts of the battalion locations and actions played during the fighting exactly.

The III Bn suffered the most losses followed by the other battalions. I was able to obtain the regimental details from Jack Sheldon, another forum member who is an expert on the German army. From a quick look it seems that they were aware of the impending attack, the battle trench garrison suffered the most and that the British advance suffered greatly under fire from their own guns, etc.

I will see what other details I can locate and post them shortly.

Ralph

P.S. There was another photo posted here but it seemed to get lost in the original posting, I have moved it to a posting all on its own.

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Hi Ralph

This is really great news. For me, being able to see what both sides were doing in such a small area near Ypres is spine chilling, it makes it seem so recent.

I would be very grateful of any information, even in German as I have an Aunt who can translate for me.

I have put many hours work into this and now being able to get hold of this information is the 'topping on the cake'.

I don't know if you are interested, but I have the Battalion War diary fot the 16th which goes into great detail. I also

have the Battalion casualy list, most of those shown as missing actually were deaths. Due to this fact I have created a list of those who died using

information from the casualty list, CWGC and Medal Index Cards.

If you would like a copy of any or all let me know?

Thanks again Ralph.

Martin

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Hello Martin,

I am glad that you are able to use this information. I would be happy to pass along the regimental accounts from the history. Just PM me your e-mail address where I could send the scans.

I also have some copies of the casualty lists for RIR 246 for this period. It probably covers the bombardment phase as well as the heavy fighting. The lists provide ranks for those above private soldier, their birthplace and the status of their casualty.

I will discuss more about the German account and your kind offer through e-mail.

Ralph

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