Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
phil andrade

Stephen Westman : Surgeon with the Kaiser's Army.

Recommended Posts

phil andrade

A brief scan of one of my old books, Surgeon with the Kaiser's Army, by Stephen Westman, reveals between pages 61 and 63, an account of a battle fought in the vicinity of La Bassee in the earlier part of 1915 - at least, that''s my assumption, because Westman doesn't bother with chronology...he likes anecdotes, and remembers details of people and what happened to them without being precise as to time and place. To be fair, what soldier can, when he's engaged with the worm's eye view of that kind of warfare ?

He enlisted in IR113, having studied Medicine at Freiburg, which, I suppose, indicates that he fought as a Wurtemburger. Please tell me if I'm wrong.

The battle he describes was fought against the British, and, if his account is accurate, has all the hallmarks of failure and bloodshed on the German side that we associate with British failures such as Aubers Ridge. I was even wondering whether he is describing one of those counter attacks at Neuve Chapelle, that were, supposedly, repulsed with great loss.

Our colonel strongly opposed an order from the Army Corps Commander to launch a frontal attack over a flat stretch of ground and in broad daylight. We were supposed to take a brickworks, situated about four hundred yards in front of our trenches, not far from the La Bassee Canal.

Brickworks...is this the St Eloi sector ?

Anyway, the attack goes ahead and is bloodily repulsed

Although the whole episode lasted only half an hour or less, for us it seemed an eternity. The German army Bulletin merely reported that there was "some flare up of trench warfare on the Western Front" . But no fewer than nine hundred and sixty young men had been killed, and this just to satisfy the whim of an irresponsible and overambitious general.

Can anyone enlighten me as to when and where this action occurred, and what mention there is of it in British accounts ?

The mention of a loss of 960 killed is startling : it implies several thousand casualties...perhaps he meant casualties of killed, wounded and missing, which would equate to about a third of the regiment's strength. Is there any official German casualty list for this engagement, and, if so, what are the figures ?

Phil (PJA)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michelle Young

The brickstacks were close to Givenchy,which is indeed close to La Bassee. They get a mention in Goodbye To All That among other works.

Michelle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
centurion

Brick works at:

Montauban (near Longueval-Maricourt road)

Best (by station)

Zonnebeke (Bremen redoubt)

Bonnay

All saw fighting between British and Germans

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ken S.

The battle you are referring to involved the regiment that he had transferred to, which I believe he doesn't identify, but I believe would have been a reserve regiment from Baden manned (allegedly) primarily with "wartime volutneers" (Kriegsfreiwilliger).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
hillgorilla

Could it be relating to ther German attack on the 25/01/15 at the Brickstacks, Cuinchy,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ken S.

I've had a look at my copy of the regimental history for IR113 (the 1925 "Erinnerungsblätter") and for his time with that regiment in general it's chronological but there are a few discrepancies. Beginning with "Sarreburg" the battle took place on the 20th, not the 23rd. The battalion commander killed was that for II., Major Friedrich von Langsdorff, and only one son, Walther, was killed. The attack toward Baccarat occurred on the 24th (no officers killed). In general his account of the fighting in Baccarat on the 25th in consistent with the regimental history. There was an MG in the church tower and this was dealt with by guns from FAR30. The number of French dead on the bridge was 97. The only officer killed was Hptm. d. R. Rühl. No mention of a wounded lieutenant being shot in the regimental history. On the 29th the regiment was relieved by troops from the Garde-Ers.-Brigade. Entrained on 3rd Oct. at Vantoux. 54 hour train journey to Valenciennes. In regards to Vermelles, occupied late Nov. and vacated 5th-6th Dec.

Westmann states that he was wounded after he was transferred but he does not appear in the Verlustliste as far as I can tell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ken S.

I should note I'm reading the original edition; I believe the reprint has biographical information, so I'm not sure I'm adding anything by posting this:

In 1917 after transferring several times he was assigned to an artillery battalion, which by his description had to have been a Fußartillerie-Bataillon affiliated with Badisches Fußartillerie-Regiment Nr.14. He states that the CO, a native of Straßburg, was killed sometime in 1917 and was replaced by a Hauptmann who had been a professor in Freiburg. He also states that one of the officers later became mayor (Bürgermeister) of the town of Meersburg. This is a list of the town's post-war mayors:

http://www.meersburg.de/260

The most likely candidate is Dr. Karl Moll. Wikipedia article states that he joined Badisches Fußartillerie-Regiment Nr. 14 and he appears in the casualty lists late 1916 "lightly wounded - still with unit" as a member of 10. Batterie / Reserve-Fußartillerie-Regiment Nr. 14.

http://des.genealogy.net/search/show/5280592

http://wiki-de.genealogy.net/ResFu%C3%9F-AR_14

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AOK4

IR 113 was a regiment from Baden, not Württemberg (both were still separate entities at that time).

 

Jan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...