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Imperial Germany’s “Iron Regiment” of the First World War; War Memorie


German IR 169
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Greetings,

I am John Rieth and have recently published the book, Imperial Germany’s “Iron Regiment” of the First World War; War Memories of Service with Infantry Regiment 169. The book, inspired by the wartime journal of my grandfather, Albert Rieth, focuses on first-person accounts of service in a German unit in the World War One. I believe this book would be of significant interest to serious students of WWI, as it provides a complete and unique, English-language history of a Germany infantry regiment that fought in many of the major battles in the Great War. I welcome a dialogue with members who may be interested in the book and experiences of this unit. The book is a result of nearly 20 years of research, to include visits to the battlefields that my grandfather fought at.Press Release IR 169.docx

At one point or another, Infantry Regiment 169 (IR 169) served in every sector of the Western Front. They fought soldiers from France, Britain, India, and at least on one occasion, a French colonial unit from Senegal. Towards the war’s end, they also encountered Kiwi’s from New Zealand as well as American soldiers and marines. Beginning with the Battle of Mulhouse in August 9, IR 169 was in the midst of the war’s brief maneuver phase that continued in through the bloody Battle of the Frontiers. The regiment marched in the Race to the Sea and suffered terrible losses in Flanders. In 1915, the regiment moved into the then ‘quiet’ trenches of the Somme, only to be in the midst of one of the climatic slaughters of the war when the British launched their disastrous Somme Offensive in July 1916. In 1917, the regiment saw service that ranged from the trenches of the southern Alsace to pitched battles along the Aisne. In 1918, IR 169 fought in the major Spring Offensives that pushed the Allied lines back towards Paris, and then returned to Flanders and the Somme to face the ensuing Allied counterattacks. Finally, the regiment met its destruction at the hands of United States Marines and Army tanks in the Meuse-Argonne at the very end of the war.

The book, published by the Badgley Publishing Company, went into print in October 2014 and consists of 321 pages, 33 photographs and illustrations and 20 maps. It is available through Amazon and is in softcover and Kindle formats.

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There's a nice gruppenfoto listed on eBay at the moment:

http://www.ebay.de/itm/17-8-Badisches-Infanterie-Regiment-Nr-169-Lahr-/121462037248?pt=Militaria&hash=item1c47b39b00#ht_91wt_1121

I will definitely order a copy of your book.

I also have a copy of Lais' little book on the Somme and a project I have been considering is an "unauthorized" translation.

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Hi Ken, thanks for the note and the tip on the photo -it is a great picture. My grandfather was a trumpeter in IR 169's 9th Company, which was in the same battalion. The Lais account is indeed fascinating. Hope you enjoy the read. All the best, John.

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Ordered a copy from Amazon. Just over a tenner seems great value. Thanks for your efforts and I look forward to reading it. Any new stuff on German units must be welcomed.

TT

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  • Thank you sir! I welcome your comments after you have a chance to dig into it. All the best, John

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Greetings John.

I shall acquire your work with interest. I am happy to find material that someone has converted into something I can understand.

So far I rely on Junger and Limbach.

Junger appears to have been a warmonger but " Honest and Decent ", Limbach was not a warmonger but "Honest and Decent"

I shall be happy to read of Albert's experience.

The only worry I have is the title - which implies strength and a desire to fight.

I have already disclosed, on this forum, that my GF was a with IR171 - If I titled a book for him it would be

"The War, I Will Not Speak of It"

and he did not, so it would not have been much of a book.

But I wish he had so we got his account. I can only imagine it was beyond description.

Martin.

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Hi Martin, thanks for your comments and fascinating family tree. My grandfather was wounded at the Battle of La Bassee in January 1915, and was fortunate to be discharged shortly afterwards. For those, like Albert, who were in service with the Regiment in August 1914, there was a 400% chance of being killed or wounded before the war's end. Indeed, Infantry Regiment 169 suffered a 100% attrition rate in the first 6 months! I think Albert would agree with you over not being keen on the "Iron Regiment" title of the book. He hated war beyond measure, and it was only after getting his journal translated many years after his death that I could really begin to understand why. Still, the "Iron Regiment" is the moniker the regiment earned at the Battle of the Somme, and in truth, makes for a more interesting title than its prewar nickname of the "Handcraftsman" Regiment! Thanks again and I look forward to your comments after you read it. All the Best, John

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John

I have read the press release and I have ordered the book. It is true that there is very little German material for English language readers so this will be very useful.

( I ordered it via the yellow link at the top of this forums page as it helps to support the Forum. )

In fact the Amazon Link lets you have a read of a few pages and I can see that this book is exactly what I want. Walt reading the German script and translating it for us is fairly epic.

I see your family tree is interesting too, given your closing Army rank status.

Martin.

P.S, I would have gone with the title " IR169 The Craftsman Regiment" sounds much better. ( Gives the impression of Cuckoo Clock makers- Etc )

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Martin,

Can you give me a heads up on Limbach? I assume he is another of the German writers translated into English who has so evaded me. If so have you details of his book please.

Regards

David

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Right up my alley! I will order a copy immediately. Very interested to see what he says about 1914. My reading list is getting bigger not shorter…

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Hello,

Two questions:

1. Does the book cover the whole war (1914 to 1918)?

2. Did you use any sources from the archives in Karlsruhe?

Regards,

Jan

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Hi Joe and Jan: Thanks very much for the interest in the book. The book indeed covers the entire war. While I did not get into the Karlsruhe achieves, I was able to assemble many first person information on the regiment's service. In addition to my Grandfather's journal, many came from a comprehensive book on Baden Regiments in the First World War (Badener im Weltkrieg), a unit history/field journal, an account written by Otto Lais (a veteran of the unit), and other sources found over the years. My overall intent was to link the soldier accounts with what was happening around them at the regimental, divisional and front basis (and why it mattered at the time why so many of these men died in some obscure field in France.) All the best! John

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It's arrived. Looks good and will post review when read but still half way thro another book at mo

TT

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Thanks for the note Kirky, I welcome your comments after you have had the chance to read it. All the Best, John

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Ordered, hope someday to do the same with my grand fathers diary from the 27th Jaeger Battalion.

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My copy has arrived and I just flicked through to get a flavour and it is just what I wanted.

I also landed on page 94, which is Auchy October 1914, Just the place where Fritz Limbach would be killed 11 months later

( Post 10 ) above.

The opening chapters are very interesting to me. I always wanted to know how the armies were made up and how many men were in a company, regiment, brigade, Division, Corps etc and these aspects are covered along which which rank does what and where they fit in.

I will shut up now..

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This book is now on my ever growing Christmas list,my book shelves are on the verge of collapse.

I can't wait to read another account from the German side,I currently only have jungers work and the two excellent volumes of "The other side of the wire" by Ralph j Whitehead.

Congratulations on your hard work and research in getting this to print.

Shane

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I have just ordered my copy now and can't wait to read your book.

I have been trying to find out which german regiment/battalion would have been postioned in the trenches facing the Sucrerie at Collincamps in the Somme/Serre sector on the 19th/20th October 1915? A German soldier ended up in the British trenches on the evening of the 19th & 20th at around 12.30 am and seemingly on his own, had a fight with a couple of British Soldiers before making his escape.

I just wondered if in your research you had any idea which regiment/battalion it was and whether I can get access to any German war diary entries or similar for those two days ? The German soldier had an automatic weapon and shot one soldier and stabbed another before escaping back to his own lines. May have got some gallantry citation of some sort for his actions on this night. It may be described as Sucrerie/Mailley Mallet sector.

(I know I should wait for your book but if you have any knowledge I would greatly appreciate any help?)

Regards

Clive

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Hi Shane and Clive, Thanks for the goods words of encouragement. Shane, I hope my book doesn't break the back of your shelves - I know the feeling with my ever-growing collection! Clive, In my research, I found that IR 169 entered the Serre trenches in May 1916. As of (circa May) 1915, IR 169's sister unit from Baden, IR 170, occupied the Serre sector, so it is possible the German soldier you mentioned above could have been from that unit. A great reference book that may help you vector on the regiment in question is Jack Sheldon's "The German Army at the Somme." He goes into significant detail on the locations of the German divisions and regiments. Good luck with your search on additional information and please drop a line if you find anything further.

Regards, John Rieth

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  • 4 weeks later...

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! While I only focused on the first three chapters I found this to be very well written and easy to understand. It was well-documented. Following the story of one individual the author dovetailed the work throughout the Regiment. I thought it was very well placed. While I might disagree with this point or that and his use of Tuchman as a source this is what books are about. It makes you think about those things. It is an easy read that I found myself quickly turning pages on. I recommend anyone who wants to read this to do so. I only wish we had had some of those insights when we wrote our big book. Great job!

Two books I did not see in your bibliography which are English language works might directly impact your knowledge and understanding of the craftsman/Baden Regiments. These English-language texts would be an expansion and deeper explanation of what you presented but they are in no means capable of supplanting your base work. But they are in the English language and might help you expand your knowledge of this area.

http://www.naval-military-press.com/great-war-dawning-germany-and-its-army-at-the-start-of-world-war-i.html

http://www.amazon.com/Great-War-Urban-Life-Germany/dp/0521109779/ref=asap_B001HCV7Q6?ie=UTF8

Thanks for writing this I really had a good time. One small point the red plume on the top of a parade helmet signified musicians. Musicians and Bavarian artillery are the only two types that used red.

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