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Bartley

German dogtag: why only Ersatz battalion?

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Bartley

The following is the only unit information on a German dogtag I have which was taken by a relation from the Western Front:

 

  II. E.B.J.R.67.1.K.No.II.51

 

I take this to mean "2nd Ersatz Battalion, Infantry Regiment Nr. 67, 1st company, roll number II 51". There is no other unit given on the dogtag. But is it possible that a soldier could belong to an Ersatz battalion (which is usually a training battalion) throughout the war? Usually the dogtag would mention the active service unit to which the owner was assigned before deployment, but not in this case.

 

The German enlisted in early 1916 and the dogtag was taken in October 1918, so the dogtag cannot have been a preliminary one that later got replaced. While a few regiments did retain an Ersatz battalion, this does not appear to have been the case for Infantry Regiment 67. For example, I have  searched the lists of missing Germans (Verlustlisten) for entries from the regiment but found no entry where the person is associated with an Ersatz battalion (although I found many when I looked at some other regiments).

 

It may or may not be relevant that the man in question was 40 years old when he signed up, very unusually surely for someone assigned to a regular regiment rather than a landwehr or landsturm one.

 

After weeks researching this I'm now stuck and hoping some good person on the forum might offer me some help.

 

 

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AOK4

If you would immediately give all available information, it would save people that want to help from unnecessary and difficult searching... There should be a name, where has this dog tag been found, ...

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Bartley

Thank you for the suggestion AOK4. The full text on the dogtag is

 

MAX REPPIN

BERLIN. S.O. REICHENBERGER STRA. 96A.

25.6.75

II. E.B.J.R.67.1.K.No.II .51

 

The dogtag is of the type used in 1915/16. A great-nephew of Max Reppin has given me a picture of the owner taken "somewhere in France July 31st 1916". It is on its original neck cord (coloured black and white). Also attached to the cord is an Iron Cross Second Class (with no ribbon).

 

Infanterie-Regiment 67 belonged to the German 34th Division throughout the war and fought only on the Western Front.

 

My research has led me to conclude that the New Zealand Division (to which my relation who acquired the dogtag belonged) and the German 34th Division never met on the battlefield, That it might have been taken by him (or any member of the NZ Division) from a POW seems unlikely as the NZ Division was part of the British 3rd Army whereas the German 34th Division only ever (in the period in question) fought units of the 4th Army (as well as French units). So the dogtag was most likely acquired by my relation by way of trade.

 

During the period from late September 1918 to the end of the war the 34th Division only faced British troops at Sequehart and Petit-Verly (and here there were as many French as allied divisions). Earlier in the year its only encounter with British forces seems to have been in the first two month or so of the Spring Offensive (roughly late March to perhaps early June), after which this part of the front was taken over by the French). 

 

Perhaps the presence of the Iron Cross might indicate that the owner had not had it long before it was taken (as it was more usual I believe to send an Iron Cross home), which might suggest it was taken in October 1918 rather than earlier in the year. Max Reppin survived the war but there is no mention of him in the German missing lists (Verlustlisten) or the lists of the International Red Cross.

 

That's about all I know.I hope it is useful and thank you again for any help you might be able to give.

 

 

 

 

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AOK4

Hello,

 

Most probably the man was issued with a new dog tag once he was at the front line and decided to keep his old dag tag as a souvenir. If he was born in 1875, chances are real he wasn't serving in a front line infantry unit, but rather in a Landsturm unit or a logistics unit or an Armierungs-Bataillon. Although it isn't impossible. I doubt he would have served in IR 67 or any other front line unit of the 34th Infantry Division. It would be interesting to see the picture.

BTW, 34th Division was fighting British units on the Menin Road near Gheluvelt in the Summer of 1917...

 

Jan

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Bartley

Thank you very much AOK4, that is very helpful.

 

1. So it's possible for  a 40-year-old recruit to be sent to an Ersatz battalion of a regular regiment even if his age at sign-up indicated he would only ever serve in a Landwehr or other non-frontline unit. Have I understood that correctly??

 

2. Given he started with an Ersatz battalion he was presumably sent to the associated field recruit depot. i.e. the one associated with Infanterie-Regiment 67. Can we conclude from that that whatever active service unit he was  assigned to would have been part of the 34th Division?

 

I am attaching a photo of the man, this one from 1917 on home leave in Berlin as it shows his uniform best. Perhaps it carries some extra information.

 

Thank you for the information for the Menin Road information.

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AOK4

The Ersatz-Bataillone of active Infantry units were also providing men to Armierungs-Bataillone etc. which had nothing to do with the division of the front line unit.

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Bartley

Thank you for this - I did not know about Armierungs-Bataillone.

 

I should have

(i) pointed out that as he won the Iron Cross (assuming it is his) then at some point he must have been at the front line and

(ii) attached the photo, which I now do.

 

 

 

MaxR.jpeg

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AOK4

The Iron Cross was not just given to soldiers in the front line. It was also given to men far behind the lines for all kinds of reasons (and not just for bravery). Plenty of Iron Crosses were still given in 1918 (by the left-wing soldiers' councils) and after the war.

He wasn't wearing an Iron Cross ribbon in 1917, so he must not have had it by this time?

Unfortunately the pic doesn't say much. He seems to be missing the German cockade though...

 

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trajan
On 11/02/2019 at 21:43, AOK4 said:

... Unfortunately the pic doesn't say much. He seems to be missing the German cockade though...

 

 

Doesn't that mean the photograph was taken before 1897 when the Reich cockade was introduced?

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AOK4
6 minutes ago, trajan said:

 

Doesn't that mean the photograph was taken before 1897 when the Reich cockade was introduced?

 

The fieldgray uniform wasn't introduced until 1907/1910...

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Bartley

Trajan, I'm certain the photo is from 1917.  I attach a photo of his identify tag and iron cross.

DSC_0120_1.JPG

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