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Remembered Today:

German soldier on the Somme

Chris Boonzaier

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I found this letter (printed in a book) today and thought

1) it may be of interest

2) someone may have an Idea what unit he served in? I guess a Lt in a MG Komp.?

Alfred Sauer

Born: 4th May 1895 in Berlin

Died: 12th March 1917 on the Somme

Letter written on the Somme 1st September.

Those who have bee fighting on the Somme since the beginning, unfortuantely no longer many, say that they have never seen a barrage like yesterdays. Mine after mine, grenade after grenade, shell after shell. When moving forward to relieve another unit, the torture starts way behind the lines already. The enemy does not concentrate on the front lines, he keeps kilometeres of ground under constant fire. And the weather ! It rained for days, the trenches were knee deep in water, the ground a sea of mud.When I came forward with my guns we ran half the way and slipped the rest.

The weather has improved a bit since yesterday, it seems the enemy has been waiting for this. Words cannot begin to describe the conditions. The men sit in their dugouts, it is as quiet as the grave, and sometimes these dugouts become their graves. One man from each gun stands guard in the trench, looking anxiously upwards. There is a special look on a mans face when the nerves are stretched to breaking point, it makes his features look as if they were carved in stone.

The mines are easy to follow, they shoot upwards, then curve slowly downwards speeding up as they crash into the trenches, one to the left, one to the right, one to the left, one to the right. Thud after thud, explosion after explosion. It goes without saying that we have high losses during this period, whole guncrews and infantry groups lay buried in their bunkers. One of my guns took a direct hit and not even a bolt was to be found, the crew itself was buried alive. My bunker is superb and I don't think much can happen to me. A part of our front line has dissapeared, replaced by a huge shellhole. I think if thr enemy had attacked last night he would have made it into the shellhole, but what would the point have been? The whole drama would have had to be repeated for another advance.

Assuming he had enough ammunition to spend the next half year shooting like he did yesterday, he would probably be able to take a number of trench lines. But I think this is not possible, I do not believe that that is that much iron in the whole world. And secondly... he will have achieved nothing! They have heavier losses than us, as can be expected when one attacks, and the land is a desert. The towns and villages are now piles of rubble and the land unusable. Poor France! If the war ends there will be many a peasant returning to his home and finding only a grave yard. What am I saying? Graveyard? They to are hard to find. We bury the dead, and a few days later there is nothing left but a few splintered crosses. When you are here, it does not seem so strange, you get used to it.

We hope to be relieved soon. The rations are not bad, but our lunch arrives at one in the morning and is ice cold, the only warmth we have is from the cigarette smoke.

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Okay, found it. Died as a Vizefeldwebel, buried at Fricourt, unfortunately no unit given.

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