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Coucy Le Chateau May 1917


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I have german field postcard of 16th April 1917 showing 2 german officers and a civilian seated holding a posy of flowers in a ruined building . I wondered if anyone could help me identifying the arm of service of the officers and help translate the reverse as it could be interesting as they demolished the chateau and town in late March .Thank you

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2 hours ago, GROBBY said:

I have german field postcard of 16th April 1917 showing 2 german officers and a civilian seated holding a posy of flowers in a ruined building . I wondered if anyone could help me identifying the arm of service of the officers and help translate the reverse as it could be interesting as they demolished the chateau and town in late March .Thank you

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img002.pdf 460.5 kB · 5 downloads


Not totally demolished. The ruins of the chateau are still well worth visiting. The keep, the biggest in Europe, was blown up with 28 tons of explosive on Ludendorff,s orders, but, to quote Barbara Tuchman’s classic history of the 14th century, ‘A Distant Mirror’, 


« The outer  walls, foundations, underground chambers and tunnels, portions of inner walls and doorways survive over acres of tumbled stones. »


The village was indeed destroyed apart from one house which was being used by German officers, according to the website of the commune.


Nearby is the emplacement of a long-range German gun which is also interesting.


Sorry I can’t help with the translation but no doubt someone will be along soon who can.


Cheers Martin B


P.S. Grobby, you have an extraneous letter in your topic headline. It’s Coucy not Courcy.



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My German great-grandfather's division (Saxon 241. Infanterie-Division) retook Coucy-le-Chateau in April 1918. This is what the castle looked like by then:


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Hi thanks for the replys .My bad for the exta R it was a slip of the keys .I would love to know if the officers or the civilian were involved in the destruction, and it seems strange a civilian with german officers sitting holding flowers .I can read a bit of the regiment postmark and seems to be an Ersats Division .Im sure someone out there will tell me .I would love to explore round the area .Who knows when this lockdown is over perhaps I will .

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I hope I'm not being presumptuous, but I saw this as an opportunity practice transcribing Sütterlin. I am sure someone will be along shortly to correct my mistakes ;-) Because of my low skill I could not properly read the rank of the soldier, sorry about that.


Abs. Lands...rekrut? Emil Kotte

Feldrekruten Depot 4. Kompanie

Deutsche Feldpost 1010


Geschrieben den 15. April 1917

Lieber Vater

Ich habe schon lange auf Nachricht ge

lauert aber wie es scheint hast? Du

nicht viel Zeit. Mir geht es noch ganz

gut. Bin noch gesund was ich von

Dir auch hoffe. Es grüsst Dein Sohn Emil

Auf Wiedersehen.


Sender: Lands...recruit Emil Kotte

Fieldrecruit depot 4th Company

German field post 1010


Written April 15, 1917

Dear father

I've been waiting for news for a long time, but you don't seem to have much time. I'm still doing pretty well. I'm still healthy, I hope you are too. Greetings from your son Emil. Goodbye.

Edited by knittinganddeath
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Feldpost 1010 corresponds to the 4. Ersatz-Division. The sender is a fresh Landsturmrekrut who has (presumably quite recently) been sent to this division from Germany as a replacement, and is currently assigned to the Infanterie-Feldrekrutendepot of the division for further training under actual field conditions (and use as labour for working parties) while waiting to be assigned to one of the division's infantry regiments.

4. Ersatz-Division had been in the vicinity of Le Transloy / Guedecourt on the Somme before the German withdrawal in March 1917. They pulled back towards Cambrai, and were thus nowhere near Coucy-le-Chateau in April. Presumably your man just liked this postcard?


Edited by bierast
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A very banal message on the back of an intriguing image. I would like to think it showed some enlightened German officers trying to commiserate with a French civilian on the destruction of a magnificent historic landmark.


Again, to quote Tuchman:


 ‘’Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, commander of the Sixth Army, urged.... Ludendorff.... to ensure that the castle of Coucy be spared as a unique architectural treasure of no current military value. Neither side, he pointed out, had attempted to use it for military purposes, and its destruction ‘would only mean a blow to our own prestige quite uselessly.’ Ludendorff did not like appeals to culture. Coucy having been unwisely called to his attention, he decided to make it an example of superior values. Rammed with 28 tons of explosives at his orders, the colossus..... was dynamited to the ground.’’


Cheers Martin B

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Thank you so much for your input and translation, It was an unusual picture and i wondered if those on the front sent it .I have a few of dozen of the field postcards and postletters with regimental stamps and some have great photos. If anyones interested I will post more .Knittinganddeath  thanks again and if you want more practice I have lots to work on.

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Hi @GROBBY I would love to do more, but they need to be written in dark ink or very sharp pencil. Otherwise I can't see the shape of the letters well enough to decipher them. :( Hopefully I'll improve with practice, so maybe in a few months I can try again with the card from Pagny a. Mosel! 


That Feldbäckerei photo is fantastic, am working on the transcription & translation.

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Oof, that last one will be tough because of the sloppy writing, but I'll give it a try later this week/next week. I looked up his parents' address "Niederbüren 11" on GoogleMaps...iit seems to now be Niederbürener Strasse 11 in Bremen right next to the river...wonder if the house there is the one that his letter came to.

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This is the Feldbäckerei postcard. I really doubt the accuracy of the transcription. His handwriting gave me trouble and I feel like he lost his train of thought in a few places.


I am not very sure whether "Richter Max" is a correct reading. But there are several Max Richters who appear in the Verlustlisten serving with IR 106, RIR 106, and LIR 106.


den 22. März 1917

L[iebe] Mutter


Zunächst besten Dank f[ür] d[ie] P[akete] v[on] 12.3.

sowie f[ür] d[en] Brief. Dass Richter Max auch bei

106 ist habe ich noch nicht gewusst.

L[ie]b[e] Mutter lasse die Sache mit den

nur in Ruhe die ist gefutsch? auch

die andere Sache lasst auch

einstweilen sein. Es muss

doch mal mit werden, bei

uns giebt? es wiedermal tuchtige

Kälte sonst alles beim alten.

Auf Wiedersehn

mit Gruss an Alle

Euer Rudolf


Abs. Sold.

R. Wagner

I.R. 178 1 Komp.


March 22, 1917

Dear Mother


First of all, thank you very much for the package of 12.3 as well as for the letter. I didn't know that Richter Max was also with 106.

Dear Mother, leave the thing with it alone, it's gone* also let the other thing go for now. It must be with me, here it's terribly cold again, everything else is the same as before. Goodbye and greetings to all, your Rudolf


Sender: Soldier

R. Wagner

IR 178 1st Company


*alternately: leave the matter with them alone, it's foolish

It felt like there was a word missing here -- "die Sache mit den" can mean "the thing with those" or "the thing with the [plural noun]"



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On 11/03/2021 at 15:49, GROBBY said:

I have 30 to 40 of these feldpimg003.pdfostbrief as well img001.pdf



Pio. Ahrens. I., 9.(?) A.K., 17. d. D.,

I. Pio. Batt. 9., 5. Feldkomp.(?)



Herrn Christ. Ahrens

Niederbüren 11

Post-Burg b./Bremen


Schützengraben, d. 17.9.15

Meine Lieben!

Lieber Grossvater [ich] erhielte

heute Abend deinen

lieben Brief wofür ich

herzlich danke. Morgen

komme ich beim Minen

werfer. Bitte schickt mich

Eier u[nd] Butter. Bin noch

immer sehr gesund und

munter was ich auch von

Euch hoffe. Jetzt? sehr? wohl

auf Wiedersehen.


Euer Christian


Johanne? soll mich schreiben ob Sie meine Ringe bei K.... hat.


Trench, 17.9.15

My dear ones!

Dear Grandfather [I] received your dear letter this evening, for which I thank you heartily. Tomorrow I'll be at the Minenwerfer. Please send me eggs and butter. I'm still very healthy and cheerful, and I hope that you all are too. Goodbye for now.

Yours, Christian

Johanne? is supposed to write me [to say] if she has my rings at K....



There is a Christian Ahrens from Niederbüren who appears as severely wounded in the Verlustlisten of 6 September 1918.

Niederbürener Landstrasse 11 in Bremen on Google Maps

Re: his request for eggs, apparently it was possible to send fresh eggs via Feldpost!

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Thank you for doing the translations for me .I find them so very interesting . I have another 8 sent by Christian Ahrens  2 have Johanne Ahrens name on the front the others Christians but all signed Christian dating from late 1914 to end 1915 ,Its amazing about the eggs . Thank you for your time and effort

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18 hours ago, GROBBY said:

Thank you for your time and effort

It's my pleasure! These postcards are great practice because they are so short. I feel very accomplished when one card is done ;-) Just keep posting what you have, and I will get to them eventually.


Also wanted to add that the card from Emil Kotte -- the first one in the thread -- is addressed to his father at the Bilz-Sanatorium in Oberlössnitz. Friedrich Eduard Bilz was a naturopath who wrote a big book about natural healing that became very successful and was regularly reprinted up until the 1950s. According to the German Wikipedia entry, "Bilz's cure method relied on the self-healing powers of humans, supported by natural means. Air cures, massages, water applications or movement therapies should help treat diseases of the respiratory and digestive organs, metabolism and nervous system as well as urological, gynecological and dermatological diseases, among other things." Quite a few pictures on Wiki of the place.


ETA: Do you have more from Emil Kotte? I showed it to some of my friends and they are intrigued by the son's disappointment at the father's lack of correspondence.

Edited by knittinganddeath
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Hi  Knittinganddeath I have checked through my postcards and that was the only one from Emil Kotte .Im thinking that the delay in reply was because his father was having treatment or he could have just been that type of man . I have another posted by a german prisoner of war in a french camp but think this should be on another thread .I would love to know what it says though so will post it seperate

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Here's the postcard from Pagny a. Mosel.


I thought he was writing to his sister, as they share a surname and her title is given as Miss, but then he says that he hopes that she, her parents, and siblings are well. Perhaps a fiancée unofficially using his surname? Or a weird joke -- her name, Milly Johne, sounds like "million" in German.


Am posting now despite the gaps because I don't think I will ever be able to decipher those parts.


Abs. Wehrm. Oskar Johne

Landw. Inf. Regmt. 8/102


Fräulein Milly Johne

Ort? Gi. . . . . b/Potschappel

Bergstr, 13. Bez. Dresden

in Sachsen


Liebe Milly

Deine Schokolade habe ich erhalten

wofür ich Dir hiermit vielmals

danke, Liebe Milly. Bei uns

Regnet? es alle Tage? und habe jede[n]

Tag Arbeit. Soweit geht es . . . . .

was ich von Dir und Deinen Eltern u[nd]

Geschwister hoffe. Viele Grüsse an Euch alle

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .


Sender: Wehrmann Oskar Johne

Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment 8/102


Miss Milly Johne

Place?: Gi . . . . near Potschappel

Berg Street, 13th district, Dresden

in Saxony


Dear Milly,

I received your chocolate, for which I thank you very much, dear Milly. It's raining all the time here and [we] have work every day.

So far it's going . . . . . and I hope the same is true of you, your parents, and siblings. Greetings to you all. . . . .

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Thank you so much Knittingandeath .Perhaps its a neice which would give the same surname and be able to have parents and siblings i think .It dos not matter how much you translate as its a lot more than I can do or get done. If you would like another i have added it . Its lovely to get an insite into somebody a hundred years ago



I am putting the translation in a sleeve with the postcard to show my children and granchildren

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4 hours ago, GROBBY said:

If you would like another i have added it

Just started it, and am sufficiently intrigued by the contents that I simply have to ask -- do you have any others from this soldier dated around 22 April 1915 (a few days after this one)? He says in this letter that he intends to write around that time and send photographs.

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Im sorry I have been through them and I dont . I only have a couple that have more than 1 .Pioneer Ahrens has 8 and a man called Vissen has 4 but I have a couple of letters that run 3 pages long if you wish to see them

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No worries, I was just curious. I think we had better save the letters for later. Right now the postcards are just the right little challenge, they are really helping me to build the confidence that will be necessary for the longer letters. Like you, I really enjoy these glimpses into their lives.

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Let me know when you are ready for another one and I will post it .Perhaps I will put any more on another thread as we are getting very far from Courcy le Chateau

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Sorry for the delay. Here's what I could figure out from the Feldpostkarte from Gefreiter Pützscher from the Landwehr in Königsberg. It is addressed to Fräulein Anna Vietor in Bremen. I kept hoping that I'd be able to decipher more, but that wasn't the case; and unfortunately all the key words are the ones that confounded me.


L[iebe] frl[äulein]. V[ietor].! Morgen oder

22.4 schreibe ich dir? 3. Kl. wieder, ich hoffe einige Photogra-

phien beilegen zu können, die . . . . . unterm . . . .

sonst so - gezeigt werden. Einen sehr schönen Bericht über

 den "Flug über eine russische Festung G., vor der wir s.Z. auch

gelegen haben, möchte ich mit einlegen; vielleicht hat er

auch im Gr. Nachr. gestanden (von v. Koschützki). Es wird . . .

etwas reichlich? an alle Schülerinnen, die mich mit Liebesgaben

freundlichst bedacht haben, einzeln zu schreiben; ich will das?

wagen, bes. wenn wir wirklich etwas erlebt haben,

lieber an Alle schreiben. Jetzt ist unser Leben . . . sehr ein . . . .

. . . In d. Ztg. steht täglich: Im Osten ist die Lage unverändert. Die

Schlage auf den alle warten, kommt aber noch. G. . . . jetzt

grossartiges . . . . . . . . . . . . . allmähl. trocken. Mit besten Grüssen auch

an Frl. L. x Kolleginnen. Ihr P.


Dear Miss V! Tomorrow or on 22.4 I will write you by 3rd class again, I hope to enclose several photographs that show . . . . . . I want to include a very good view of the "Flight over the Russian fort G, beside which we previously made camp; perhaps it has already appeared in the Grosse Nachrichten (of von Koschützki). It is a bit much to write singly to all the schoolgirls who so kindly sent me Liebesgaben; I would rather write to all of them at once especially once we've really experienced something. Now our life is very . . . . . In the newspaper every day it says: the situation in the east is unchanged. But the battle (victory?) that we are all waiting for will come soon enough. . . . . . gradually dry. With best wishes also to Miss L. and colleagues. Your P.


Rudolf von Koschutzki (1866-1954) was a journalist who worked as a war reporter during WWI.

Liebesgaben refers to the packages sent by civilians to the front, often containing alcohol, knitted socks, chocolate, etc.

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  • Michelle Young changed the title to Coucy Le Chateau May 1917

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