Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Information sought on a German Soldier of the 31st Reserve Infantry Regiment


Lee Smart

Recommended Posts

Ladies and Gents,

Once more I look to this august forum to try to add some detail to a document a friend has passed to me which I believe to be the Death Notification of his Great Grandfather, from Kiel, in 1916 during the Great War. The soldier in question is a Hauptmann (?) Klinck of the 6th Company in the Ersattz Bataillion of the 31st Reserve Infanterie Regiment Nr 31.

He was killed on 30th June 1916 (although Heino quoted 29th and the  in the vicinity of the Artois Region which seems to be Picardy/Pas de Calais Region This is slightly too early for the Battle of Fromelles which took place in July that year.. 

I'm not able to read much of the handwritten elements as it's in old German script that I just can't decipher - including his actual rank.  Heino, my friend, is hoping to ask some of the older family members but he is in America and they are back in Germany and being older they are less contactable over the pond. I have also asked if he could give me his full name and date of birth and will pass them on as soon as I get them.

image.png.bef2615b2e096259db34e02d14ea02a5.png

I would be very grateful if anyone can add any detail to this notification - in particular of the 3ist Reserve Infantry Regiment and its actions around that time.

Many thanks in anticipation.

Lee

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is notification to Mrs Frida Klinck that her husband Ersatz-Reservist (Private) Wilhelm August Heinrich Klinck of No.6 Company RIR31 had been killed on 28th June 1916 by Handgrenade splinters to his buttocks and both legs, during the trench warfare near Angres in Artois. He was buried on 30th June in the War Cemetery of the IX Reserve Corps in Sallaumines, Plot 7.

Charlie

He was not serving with the Ersatz-Bataillon RIR 31, the notification was sent to his wife by the Ersatz-Bataillon after the battalion had received notification from the regiment in the field.

Edited by charlie2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, charlie2 said:

It is notification to Mrs Frida Klinck that her husband Ersatz-Reservist (Private) Wilhelm August Heinrich Klinck of No.6 Company RIR31 had been killed on 28th June 1916 by Handgrenade splinters to his buttocks and both legs, during the trench warfare near Angres in Artois. He was buried on 30th June in the War Cemetery of the IX Army Corps in Salumines, Plot 7.

Charlie

It's the war cemetery of the IX. Reserve Corps in Sallaumines (near Lens). His body was probably repatriated as he can't be found in Lens Sallaumines today.

Jan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is the man being mentioned in the Verlustlisten: http://des.genealogy.net/search/show/4042802

He was apparently from Johnholz near Rieseby in Schleswig-Holstein. He is not mentioned on the war memorial in Rieseby (that may be explained by the fact he lived with his wife in Kiel). He is mentioned in the memorial book of Kiel: http://denkmalprojekt.org/2013/kiel_gedenkbuch_wk1_k_schlesw-holst.html

Jan

Edited by AOK4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the Regimental History RIR31

00:10 am, heavy firing and gas discharges suddenly begin on the regimental sector. 2:00 a.m. A weak enemy advance against the right flank W is easily repulsed by the 5th Company. 2:50 a.m. the second infantry attack is made against W and X. Here the enemy penetrates with about 20 men at Sap B, but is thrown out again after a short fight. Only after 3:00 am does the enemy fire gradually weaken. The companies that were surprised by the enemy barrage while working on the wire and the second trench performed excellently. According to a captured Englishman from the „18th Battalion/5th Land.Inf. Brigade“ (sic), 8 officers and 130 men took part in the attack. 3 Englishmen were killed in close combat in our trench. 

Charlie

IMG_4970.jpeg

IMG_4971.jpeg

Edited by charlie2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, AOK4 said:

His body was probably repatriated as he can't be found in Lens Sallaumines today.

Hi Jan

Have you a particular reason for suggesting his body was repatriated, rather than him being among the unknowns?

Charlie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charlie, Jan, GreyC

Many thanks for such a rapid response, as ever I am in awe of the support you all provide with your knowledge and insight.

I have managed to find some more detail on the 31st Reserve Infantry regiment:

https://wiki.genealogy.net/RIR_31  

The 31st Reserve Regiment was mobilized on August 2, 1914  according to the Imperial Army’s mobilization plan, on 2nd August 1914. The regiment was set up in Altona, in Hamburg, under the command of Oberst-Leutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) von Alt-Stutterheim with a regimental staff, 1st Battalion (1st – 4th Companies) and 2nd Battalion (5th – 8th Companies), and a machine gun company (Wilhelm therefore served in the 6th Company, 2nd Battalion).

The Regiment’s 3rd Battalion (9th-12th Companies) was set up in Bremerhaven in October 1914 but was detached to the 4th (Kgl.Bavarian) Infantry Brigade and fought at Arbre de Cannyn and then at Soissons In January 1915 with III Army Corps, and later in June with IX Army Corps at Moulins-sous-Touvent and September, in the Sieck Regiment unit with Hartz's division, near Thélus (No further information).

Each of the Regiment's battalions consisted of 4 infantry companies.  The MG company consisted of 6 Maxim Machine Guns and was subordinate to the 2nd Battalion which was also responsible for the Signals Detachment with 4 Telephone Squads. The Regiment’s recruit depot and training/replacement battalion were established at Altona and acted as the Home Depot when the Regiment itself then deployed with the Army to take part in the campaign against France.

The 31st Reserve Regiment was part of the 34th Reserve Infantry Brigade, 18th Reserve Division of the IX. Army Reserve Corps in the Northern Army which takes part in the Advance through Belgium a, Flanders and into France with Von Kluck’s 1st Army, advancing just short of Paris before retreating back to Aisne in September 1914.

 In March 1915  The 34th Reserve Infantry Brigade was disbanded and the regiment became part of the 35th Reserve Infantry Brigade alongside the 84th RIR and 86th RIR.

In March, 1915  The regiment is reinforced with a 13th Company in the 2nd Battalion, and a 14th Company in the 3rd Battalion. In November it is further reinforced with the 15th Company into the 1st Battalion, and the 16th with the 2nd Battalion .However, in December 1915 a 4th Battalion is formed using the 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th Companies but this is later disbanded in June 1916.

On 25th July 1916, nearly a month after Wilhelm’s death, the Regiment is issued with the new M1916 Stahheim to replace their traditional Pickelhaubes.

The Regimental Diary was published and is available here: https://portal.dnb.de/bookviewer/view/1032200111#page/46/mode/2up 

I was also able to find more on the action in which Wilhelm died from a personal diary of one of the officers of the 18th Bn London Irish Rifles which recounts the action that day from the other side:

https://www.londonirishrifles.com/index.php/first-world-war/1-18th-battalion-in-the-first-world-war/june-july-1916/

Having returned to the Angres front (10 Miles SW of Lille and just 6 miles North of Arras) on 12 June, the 18th Bn London Irish Rifles had settled into trench routine “although the Germans were somewhat aggressive and harried the Battalion’s area with rifle grenades, trench mortars and aerial torpedoes. Normal routine was disturbed by information, which was received on the afternoon of 14th June, suggesting that the enemy might blow a mine in the evening which never materialised. Instead, Brigade issued instructions for steps to be taken to clear the old derelict French trenches in and around the Bajolle Line – from the junction of Corons d’Aix and Flapper Alley, Bajolle Line and Angres Alley – and for saps to be pushed out from, and including, Saps 12 and 16”. This was preparation for a raid which the Battalion would conduct after it had been withdrawn for four days rest (21st – 25th). The Battle of the Somme was due to start only two days after the raid.

The war diary of Lieutenant Sidney F Major, a member of the Battalion throughout the war states:

"‘moved into the front line on the afternoon of 25th June and relieved the 20th Battalion in “A” sub-Section, Angres Section. A minor operation was about to be undertaken and the artillery was busy carrying out organised shoots to which the enemy was responding with considerable vigour. During the night of 26th/27th June, an attack was observed on Vimy Ridge when, following a furious bout of shelling, there was a splendid display of red, green and white rockets while, above the roar of guns, the staccato clatter of machine guns and the crackle of rifles was plainly heard.

On 27th June, the Battalion spent a busy time perfecting the arrangements designed to assist the 19th Battalion in the raid, which was due to take place that night. To support the raid, the Battalion was required to send over a smoke screen at stipulated times, while gas was to be discharged from the front line and a barrage of rifle grenades and trench mortars fired on certain important tactical points in accordance with an elaborate schedule, which was timed to seconds.

The raid was to be made by two groups of men: Party “A”- comprising 140 all ranks, two RE NCOs and four sappers – were detailed to occupy the northern portion of the enemy salient opposite trenches Vasseau, Lever and Dupuis; Party “B”- consisting of 50 men, 1 RE NCO and two sappers – were required to occupy the Bully craters and the enemy front line due east of Castle Street, Bully Alley and Saps 11 and 12. Eleven Bombers of the London Irish, under Cpl Edwards were attached to the raiding party to participate in the operation.

At 1115pm, gas and smoke were projected along the whole of the Angres Section for two hours, all accompanied by artillery fire. At 115am on 28th June, the raiding parties pushed forward towards the German trenches. The enemy put up a stout defence and met Party “B” in no-man’s land with bayonets. Party “A”, however, succeeded in entering the enemy defences with less difficulty.

The raid achieved its objective, identification of enemy troops was secured, many dugouts were bombed and a considerable number of casualties inflicted on the enemy.

During the action, casualties in the London Irish lines (including attached troops) amounted to four men killed and thirty wounded. On the right of the line, between Saps 12 and Solfrino, the trenches were practically obliterated by shell fire but, elsewhere, the firing line was not materially damaged.

Ruin caused by enemy shell fire, the flooded state of some sections of line and sandbags pulled down from the parapets as protection for the gas cylinders, gave the line a very dilapidated and battered appearance. Many gas cylinders were leaking and the front line was so full of gas that masks had to be worn for a considerable time. By 2am, the excitement was diminishing and, shortly afterwards, apart from heavy shells which continued to crash on the support line, normal conditions prevailed and the remainder of the night was quiet. Every man that could be spared was immediately set to work clearing up the debris and repairing the damaged line, but tasks were much hampered by heavy rain and working parties spent a most depressing night."

The four London Irish fatalities, all buried in the TRANCHEE DE MECKNES CEMETERY, at AIX-NOULETTE, were: 

3767 Rifleman W C CAKEBREAD, Age 18 years old. Son of William and Mary Cakebread, of "The Nook," Hart Rd., Harlow, Essex (Grave G.15).

1762 Rifleman C S ORTON: Age 31 years old. Son of James E. and Isabella Orton, of 19, Barmouth Rd., Wandsworth, London (also G. 15).

 4443 Rifleman  E R HATCHER, Age 22 years old. Son of Frederick Hatcher; husband of Elizabeth Hatcher. (G.16)

2723 Rifleman R H JACKMAN, (also  G. 16.)

A 5th Rifleman is recorded dying that day but is buried in a cemetery BARLIN COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, a few miles from the others: 

3692 Rifleman E INWOOD (Grave I. J. 19.)

 

Edited by Lee Smart
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, charlie2 said:

Hi Jan

Have you a particular reason for suggesting his body was repatriated, rather than him being among the unknowns?

Charlie

He isn't mentioned on the Volksbund website as among the unknowns. This usually indicates that, since he was originally buried there, his name was later scrapped from the cemetery's burial list after being repatriated.

Normally, the old burial lists (copies given to the French government according to the Armistice Conditions and the Peace Treaty conditions) were used in the 1920s by the French government when they put the German cemeteries in order and these lists, together with the French data, were used to create new lists. Names that were on the first list but not on the second, were then at some point believed to be in the mass graves (created by the French) and are listed as such today on the Volksbund's website.

Jan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From my collection two photos showing members of RIR 31.

1st: Group photo from the Ersatzbataillon. First it was in Rendsburg, then, some time between 15th May and July 1916, in Heide.

2nd: Soldiers from RIR 31 in the trenches.

GreyC

x31_RIREB1_RekrutendepotRendsburgMutzemitSchirmohneSchirm1915Kopie2.jpeg.5d254ec73efb9523eabd98a3f28f4f65.jpeg

x31_RIRFeldgrauGrabenKopie2.jpeg.f87fc147a1ae06799ff4c8c804b76de2.jpeg

 

Edited by GreyC
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, AOK4 said:

Names that were on the first list but not on the second, were then at some point believed to be in the mass graves (created by the French) and are listed as such today on the Volksbund's website.

Thanks Jan, I‘ve learned something new. 
Charlie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, charlie2 said:

Thanks Jan, I‘ve learned something new. 
Charlie

You won't learn that from the Volksbund as they have no idea themselves (this predates their involvement as official authority over the war graves abroad, which started ca 1953 in Belgium and even later in France).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Supplementary Question: The Eiserne Kruez; The Iron Cross - there were apparently over 5 million awarded during the War - is there a list somewhere of who they were awarded to?

Answered eleswhere in the Medals Forum - many thanks (https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/306936-imperial-german-army-eiserne-kreuz-iron-cross-awards-list/)

Edited by Lee Smart
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Charlie2; A0K4 (Jan) and GreyC,

Thank you very much for your preceeding responses - it is very evident that you are all exceptionally knowledgable about the Imperial German Army. I would be very grateful if you could answer a few questions that I have not been able to tie down yet.

Wilhelm's Date of Birth was 28 April 1884, (married to Frida on 2nd Dec 1905) which would make him the grand old age of 30 at the start of the war.

  • Presumably he would have done his conscription in 1904-1905 - would this likely have been with the 31st “Graf Bose” (1st Thuringian) Infantry Regiment? Was this an associated unit - I think RIR No.31's battalions were only formed at the start of the war.
  • ...likely based in The Viktoria Barracks?  (Built in 1883) , in Altona near Hamburg (now, I believe, it is asuburb of Hamburg).
  • Once they had completed their conscription was there then an annual training commitment for soldiers placedinto the Reserves, such as a two week summer camp (as as the case with the British Army Reserves), and would this be through their old Regiment - back at their original conscript barracks? or elsewhere at a centralised Training/Reserve unit?
  • Would the call up at the start of the war have back-filled the original Regular Regiment and then the associated Reserve Regiment to form the new Battalions? .
  • Dd they put conscripts of the same intake who had done their original service together into the same Reserve Companies/Battalions or were they all mixed up?
  • With his title of 'Ersatz-Reservist (Private) ' would this imply that he had first gone through the Ersatz-Battalion for a perio of revision training before later deploying out with the 2nd Bn? or is it possible he was called up immediatly as a trained reservist and likely deployed in August 1914? 
  • Your photo shows the Rekrut-depot as based in Rendsberg up to 1915 - I can only find 36th Bde and 85 Inf Regt in the Wrangleberg/Prinz Leopold Barracks there. Was this where the Ersatz battalion were based? (until May 1915 then moved to Heide, as you mentioned above).
  • If Wilhelm had deployed at the start of the war - would he have got some leave at home during the subsequent 20 months before his death?

 

Edited by Lee Smart
Link to comment
Share on other sites

44 minutes ago, Lee Smart said:

With his title of 'Ersatz-Reservist (Private) ' would this imply that he had first gone through the Ersatz-Battalion for a perio of revision training before later deploying out with the 2nd Bn? or is it possible he was called up immediatly as a trained reservist and likely deployed in August 1914? 

His rank of Ersatz-Reservist indicates he had no previous military service. Even though conscription was in force not all those liable were called up in peacetime. Those that were not conscripted were placed in the Ersatz-Reserve as a pool of untrained but suitable and eligible men. 
Charlie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charlie, 

From that, can I presume that it would have been most unlikely that Wilhelm Kinck would have been with the Regiment when it first deployed to Beligum on 23/24th August.

As an Ersatz-Reservist would he have been more likely to be called up at a much later date? and would they have been taking the younger cohorts first?

Training from scratch would take some time - perhaps at least 3 to six months as a minimum?

This is quite useful as I have realised that 31 RIR where heavily implicated in the sacking of Louvain/Leuvan/Lowans (25-28th August '14) ...and five-six days (4-6th Sep '14) later with similar treatment being doled out at Telmonde; Both events that have gone down in infamy and were some of the activities fired up the Allied propaganda about 'the Germans' and the destruction of civilisation'. I was not looking to exposing that to my friend; Wilhelms Great grandson.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He would have been called up probably somewhere during the first months of the war and trained and then sent to the front where he may have been in a Rekruten unit still for some time. I would say he may have arrived in a frontline unit at the earliest late 1914, but more probably somewhere in the Spring of 1915. However, all this is pure guesswork as there may be all kinds of reasons why he may have ended up in another unit first or may have been sent to the front only much later.

As an Ersatz-Reservist, it's unlikely he was in Leuven or Dendermonde. And both "affairs" are a lot more complicated than is often described in general history books.

 

Edited by AOK4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to underline Jan‘s post, a search of the Denkmal Projekt database http://denkmalprojekt.org  gives the first recorded (in the database) fatality of a soldier with the rank of Ersatz-Reservist as October 1914. It is not concrete proof as not all regiments are contained in the database. Only the Officer fatalities of RIR31 are recorded in the database.

Charlie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, Lee Smart said:

Your photo shows the Rekrut-depot as based in Rendsberg up to 1915 - I can only find 36th Bde and 85 Inf Regt in the Wrangleberg/Prinz Leopold Barracks there. Was this where the Ersatz battalion were based? (until May 1915 then moved to Heide, as you mentioned above).

Ers. Btl. RIR31 was formed by IR85 on 02.08.1914 in line with the mobilisation plan. 
 

 

On 30/08/2023 at 15:35, GreyC said:

First it was in Rendsburg, then, some time between 15th May and July 1916, in Heide.

Hi GreyC, do have new evidence for this, is it a mistake by Dr. Kraus?


For other readers - According to Dr. Kraus‘ „Handbuch der Verbände und Truppen des deutschen Heeres 1914-18, Volume 3 - Ersatztruppen und Feld-Rekrutendepots“ the battalion relocated from Rendsburg in May 1917.

Charlie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 23/10/2023 at 10:25, charlie2 said:

is it a mistake by Dr. Kraus?

Yes (I am sorry to say, as I highly value Dr. Kraus´work).

There is archival evidence for what I wrote. However, there are also recollections of a volunteer asigned to RIR 31 who wrote that they were relocated from Rendsburg to Heide as early as 18th. Sept. 1914. So 1917 is definitely wrong.

For those able to read German here is the snippet from the volunteers memoirs:

Bildschirmfoto2023-10-24um16_53_53.png.228c2340f6af9e57ac49ce124491232b.png

GreyC

(offline for the next 10 days at least)

Edited by GreyC
Link to comment
Share on other sites

32 minutes ago, GreyC said:

Yes (I am sorry to say, as I highly value Dr. Kraus´work).

Thanks GreyC. I shall make a note to go in my book. The book is after all 10 years old and new information always comes to light.

Charlie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...