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German IR 170


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I am trying to find any information regarding the battles or operations in which the German 170 Infantry Regiment was involved durring the War. As I don't read German, searching the internet has turned up little. There seems to be a great storehouse of knowledge in this forum so I'm hoping someone can assist. So far my search here has only turned up the fact that the regiment was involved at the Somme near Serre.

I'm particularly interested in Company 5 (Second Battalion), but tjat might be a little too specific. I'd appreciate any information or pointers to other (English language) resources.

Thanks in advance from Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Jim

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Hi Jim,

I’m hoping the following information taken from “Histories of the 251 Divisions of the German Army (1914-1918), will help you.

The regiment at the start of the war belonged to the 84th Brigade in the 29th Division ( 14th army Corps), the history says :

29th Division

1914

ALSACE-LORRAINE

Entering the campaign with its three Brigades, it fought at Mulhouse on August 9th, 1914. On August 14th taken to the right bank of the Rhine, it entrained for Zabern and took part in the battle on the 20th, after which it crossed the French Frontier at Lorraine. Suffering heavily on the Meurthe, it retired to Dieuze, from which place it was sent to the front at La haye west of Pont on Mousson.

ARTOIS

It was transferred to the area North of Arras at the beginning of October ,1914. (front of La Bassee, Ablain, St Nazaire).

1915

ARTOIS

From October 1914, to May 1915, all the regiments of the 29th Division suffered heavy losses on the plateau of Nortre Dame de Lorette. On January 28, 1915, the 3rd Company of the 196th I Regiment had only 38 men left (letter). The 58th Brigade, especially, which contained a greater number of Alsace-Lorrainers than the others, lost very heavily in the course of this winter. At the end of November, 1914, the 142nd I regiment had already had casualties of 44 officers and 2,603 men. On February 24, 1915, The 2nd Company of the 142nd Infantry Regiment had already received 358 men as successive replacements. But it was from May 8 to 13 that the regiments of the Division suffered most heavily ( 1,000 men of the 114th I Regiment). In March the 84th Brigade was taken from the 28th (should read “29th” ) Division and transferred to the 52nd Division (New Formation).

52nd Division.

1915

The 52nd Division was formed in March 1915, by taking the 169th and 170th Infantry regiments from the 29th Division and the 66th Landwehr Regiment from the 7th Division. On April 6, 1917, the last named regiment was replaced by the 111th I Regiment

Artois

In April 1915, 52nd Division was in line south of Arras (Monchy aux Bois, Hebuterne. It occupied this sector until September 1916.

1916

SOMME

During the Franco-English offensive on the Somme the 52nd Division bore to the south and held the sector Hebuterne, Beaumont-Hamel, north of Thiepval (September-November, 1916)

On November 26th the Division was withdrawn from the front and sent to rest in the vicinity of Bouchain (December).

1917

ALSACE

On January 13, 1917, the 52nd Division was sent to Alsace (Northward of Bale).

About the middle of January it took over the sector Altkirch (Carspach-Hirtzbach), which it held until the end of March.

After a few days at rest (at the beginning of April) in the Grand Duchy of Baden south of Muellheim, ite entrained on April 16 north of Bale and was transferred to the Aisne, already including men of the 1918 class in its ranks.

1917

AISNE

On April21 it went into the line south of Juvincourt. It occupied this sector until July 10, with a period of rest from June 1 to 15.

CALFORNIE PLATEAU

About July 24 it went back into the line on the Californie Platteau, where it launched an attack on September 14.

Sent into rest in the vicinity of Sissonne about the end of September, it appeared in the vicinity of Pinon about the middle of October, where it went into action and lost heavily on the 23rd.

CHAMPAGNE

After a rest in the vicinity of Chimay (beginning of November), it went into the line on the Champagne front (Butte du Mesnil- Maisons de Champagne); it remained there until December 15.

From December 15 until January, 1918, it was at rest in the vicinity of Vouziers.

RECRUITING.

Since April, 1917, the 52nd Division has been amost puyrely Badensian. Besides the Bdenians, who form almost all the drafts, we find men from the neighbouring districts of the Empire (Rhine province, Hesse Nassau).

VALUE- 1917 estimate.

In general the morale of the 52nd Division has appreared very high. In the sector of Juvincourt (April to July 1917) troops of the Division showed nerve and dash in the course of the local operations in which they took part.

The Division had few losses until the month of September.

However it lost heavily on October 23 ( battle of La Malmaison), especially the 170th I Regiment.

1918

CHAMPAGNE

The 52nd Division which has been resting near Vouziers since December 15, relieved the 52nd Reserve Division near Tahure ( north east of Suippes) on the 10th of January. During the time the Division held this sector the elements not actually in the front line being trained in open warfare. Early in March it was relieved by the 52nd reserve Division and went to the Vouziers area, where it received still more intensive training in the war of movement.

PICARDY

The Division entrained near Vouziers on the 22nd of March, and detrained on the following day near Bohain. On the 24th it left and marched via Frsnoy le Grand-Holnon Wood (26th)-Bethenicourt 27th-Etalon-Liancourt-Fosse to Fresnoy les Roye. It relieved the 28th Division near Hangest en Santerre (northwest of Montdidier) on the 28th. It was relieved by the 76th Reserve Division on the 14th of April and went to rest in the Sedan Area.

AISNE

Here it was thoroughly reconstituted. It entrained on the 23rd of may, arriving at La malmaison (southeast of Laon) the same day. On the 26th it went into the line near Juvincourt (East of Craonne), and took part in the initial attack on the following day. It crossed the Aisne between Pontavert and Gernicourt; proceeding via Bouvaincourt and Guyancourt, it crossed the Vesle at Jonquery on the 28th, reached Favrolles on the 29th, Olizy on the 31st, and the Marne, in the region of Verneuil, on June 2. The Division was at first ordered to cross the same day, but the order was subsequently rescinded. It was withdrawn, after having suffered severly, abouth the 10th, and was reported to be at rest in the sedan area on the 15th. On the 20th it was reported in reserve in the Tournai region.

LENS

During the night of July 12-13th it relieved the 119th Division in the Avion sector (south of Lens). It was relieved about the 5th of August by the extension of the fronts of the flanking divisions.

ARMENTIERES

During the night of the 6th-7th it relieved the 207th Division near Vie ux Berquin (south west of Bailleul), the 207th Division taking over the sector just vacated by the 52nd Division. On the 17th it was withdrawn, the neighbouring divisions extending their fronts.

BAPAUME

Five days later it reinforced the battle front near Miraumont (West of Bapaume. It was withdrawn about the 4th of September, after having lost over 1,300 prisoners, and went to rest in the Courtrai area. Here the battalions were reduced to three companies, the strength of which was further made up by drafts of the 29th Ersatz Regiment (223rd Division disbanded).

ARGONNE

On September 28 the Division reinforced the front near Exermont (southeast of Grandpre). In the heavy fighting that followed the division was driven back to Landres et St Georges, where it was withdrawn about the 14th of October after having suffered heavy losses (almost 600 in prisoners alone).

During the night of October 31-1 November the Division, which had received large numbers of replacements during it’s two weeks’ rest, relieved the 41st Division east of Busancy (notrth of Granpre). It was still in the line on the 11th.

VALUE 1918 Estimate

The 52nd is rated as one of the best German Divisions. It was in a great deal of heavy fighting during 1918 (as in preceding years) and acquitted itself most creditably.

Regards

KOYLI

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Can you be a bit more specific? I have the history of IR 170, not that it is especially detailed, but if you refine what you want I might be able to help.

Jack

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Hi Jim,

I’m hoping the following information taken from “Histories of the 251 Divisions of the German Army (1914-1918), will help you.

The regiment at the start of the war belonged to the 84th Brigade in the 29th Division ( 14th army Corps), the history says :

koyli,

Thank you so much for such a quick and detailed reply. This is what I was looking for so I might further research descriptions of the operations the IR 170. As I said in my original post, this forum is a wealth of information and now armed with such a complete set of dates and places, I'm sure I'll be able to to discover more here.

Thank you so much again for your knowledgeable reply and extensive typng effort.

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"Can you be a bit more specific? I have the history of IR 170, not that it is especially detailed, but if you refine what you want I might be able to help."

Jack

Jack,

Thank you for your interest. I am trying to track the involvement of IR 170 in the Great War, particularly Company 5 if your information has anytihing that detailed.

For my birthday this year my brother gave me a pistol - a P 08, grip strap marked 170.R.5.1. Although I'm not a collector, I realized this was probably a WWI weapon. From what I've been able to learn this piece was issued to the 170 Infantry Regiment, Company 5, 1st weapon in 1909. This has piqued my interest in The Great War, probably taking too much time from other things I should be doing. I'm trying to view the conflict from the perspective as to where this pistol might have been.

A few moments ago this trail became a little more interesting with koyli's generous reply, as my grandfather, serving with the AEF, was at the Aggonne in 1918.

Before I found this forum, someone suggested a copy of German Army on the Somme 1914-1916, which seems to be your book. Unfortunately it is currently sold out here, vendors are suggesting January 2007 for the paperback release.

Thanks again for your time,

Jim

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5th_Company_Infantry_Regiment_170.doc

Jim

Attached is small amount of information that I have been able to add from a quick look through the regimental history, which comprises mainly an abbreviated chronology. I hope that it helps to round out your picture of events and personalities. I am sorry you could not find a copy of my book; it was reprinted again in July, so there ought to be copies available everywhere. However, as you mention, it is appearing in paperback in Janury next year, so should be easy to come by then.

Best of luck for your research

Jack

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Jim;

As of May 6, 1910, the following was a selection of the officers of the 9. badisches Infanterie=Regiment Nr. 170, which was garrisoned in Offenburg.

Regimental CO: Oberst Schuch - dor 22. 03. 07.

5th Company: CO - Hauptmann Collani - dor 18. 05. 07.

Zug COs for the 5th Company: Oberleutnant Coqui - dor 15. 09. 04.

Leutnant Hempel - dor 27. 01. 03.

Leutnant von Szymborski - dor 27. 01. 05.

Interestingly, the regiment only had two battalions and eight companies. The CO of II. Bataillon was Major von Jarotzky, dor 27. 01. 07. The "Date of Rank" can be useful when looking up these officers in other sources, such as Dienstalters=Listen.

The information comes from the 1910 Rangliste for the Prussian and Wuerttemburg Armies, pages 309-310. I am sorry that I do not have the 1909 Rangliste, but the officers most likely held the same positions in 1909. Many P 08s were handed out to "Other Ranks" during the war (my father, a pioneer private, carried one), but I would guess that the first were handed out to officers, relatively few enlisted men carried one, and the concept of gutes deutsches Ordnung might have led to pistol # 1 being issued to Hauptmann Collani, and almost certainly to one of the company officers. If only we can find a bit of DNA on the grip, we might narrow it down to one of them, if you can find relatives. (Only kidding.)

It is possible that Hauptmann Collani preferred to carry another weapon, and someone else received pistol # 1. My grand-father, a gun collector and serious shooter, preferred the Mauser C 96, and carried one through the war, almost certainly his own. He probably was issued one as a junior artillery officer in the 1890's.

Bob Lembke

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Some local colour on the regiment which may interest you.

In 1914 there were three battallions I and II at Offenburg and III at Donauschingen.

It was the junior infantry Regiment of the Baden forces and was only formed in 1897. Unusually for such a young regiment it had a nickname, the unflattering one of the "Cow Murderers"

The Regimental Quick March was "Helenenmarsch", a popular march with no paricular Regimental associations.

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Attached is small amount of information that I have been able to add from a quick look through the regimental history, which comprises mainly an abbreviated chronology.

Jack,

Thanks for taking the time to add the names and dates of 5th Company's COs. This does help flesh out the history. The battles about which individual accounts were written were probably more signifigant to the unit, so I'll search for those first.

I'll search some other military book stores online for a hardbound copy of German Army on the Somme 1914-1916. As it was republished in July, I also would think it should be available. Looking forward to reading it.

Jim

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As of May 6, 1910, the following was a selection of the officers of the 9. badisches Infanterie=Regiment Nr. 170, which was garrisoned in Offenburg.

Bob,

Thank you for the Regimental and Company information. I'm picking up more and more about this unit as aI go along. it's making the unit seem more real to me both pre-war and wartime.

Many P 08s were handed out to "Other Ranks" during the war (my father, a pioneer private, carried one), but I would guess that the first were handed out to officers, relatively few enlisted men carried one

My understanding from some people that collect Imperial pistols is that sidearms were issued to those whose functions made it difficult to carry a rifle. From what I've been told (I haven't done the research on this) pistols which were unit marked belonged to the regiment and usually were issued to "Other Ranks," including noncommissined officers. Again second hand research - commissioned officers were required to purchase thier own sidearms as well as uniforms. I hope someone will correct this if it is incorrect.

Like you, I was thinking the No. 1 weapon probably went to the top soldier entitled to be issued a pistol. Didn't realize there was a term for this - gutes deutsches Ordnung. I was thinking probably the top non-com. I don't know enough about the German ranks of the period to know what this rank might be.

If only we can find a bit of DNA on the grip, we might narrow it down to one of them, if you can find relatives. (Only kidding.)

I hadn't thought of that (Also only kidding....I think).

i hope your family still has your grandfathers's "Broomhndle."

Thanks agin for your time and information.

Jim

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tintin1689,

It was the junior infantry Regiment of the Baden forces and was only formed in 1897. Unusually for such a young regiment it had a nickname, the unflattering one of the "Cow Murderers"

The Regimental Quick March was "Helenenmarsch", a popular march with no paricular Regimental associations.

Thank you - great trivia. It makes the unit seem much more real. I've certainly added it to the collection of information. I would love to know the origin "Cow Murderers." Lost in history, I'm sure. Probably a training incident involving a local farmer.

Jim

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Jim;

I did not know that officers had to purchase their own sidearms, but it fits in with other things.

The top-ranking Other Rank would be the Feldwebel, i.e., the First Sergeant (Yank) or Sergeant-Major (Brit). Despite the literal translation, the Vize=Feldwebel was not an assistant to the Feldwebel, but rather a Platoon Sergeant. Later in the war many platoons (Zuege) were commanded by its Vize=Feldwebel, rather than by a Leutnant, as the army expanded, officers were lost, and the standards for regular officers were only slackened a bit.

In my father's unit, a flame unit, no one, or almost no one, carried a rifle. He mentioned their weapons in detail, and never once mentioned anyone carrying a rifle in combat. From another source, at one time, in an interesting reversal, all the Other Ranks in a Trupp carried a P 08, besides their crew-served weapons or sacks of grenades, and the NCO commanding the squad might have carried a slung carbine, but not a rifle. I would guess that 90% or more of the ORs in his company carried a P 08.

My father came to the US in 1926, and he certainly did not come with his father's hand-gun(s) (he was still alive), but he did come off the ship in New York City with a pocket pistol in his back pants pocket. Riding in a taxi-cab from the pier, the pistol hurt his butt sitting in the cab and took it out to shift it, and the cab driver skreeched to a stop and threw his hands up, assuming that he was being stuck up. Pop assured him that he was not, and the cab driver mentioned the Sullivan Law, the very strict NYC hand-gun law that dates froim 1912. (It is a bother, but at least we have no crime in New York City!) So Pop returned to the ship and gave the gun to a steward to return it to Germany.

My grand-father died in the 1930's and his guns were probably dispersed at that time, but certainly few Germans would have dared to retain handguns during the Allied occupation (It was a crime for a German to make a phone call, never mind having a hand-gun; my father's best friend was thrown into a POW cage and shipped to France as a slave laborer for nine months for having a phone on his desk at work, although he had a sign at the desk from the Allied command saying that he had a license to make phone-calls, as he managed a power plant.) Also, the post-war government does not allow, I am sure, most citizens to have hand-guns at the present time. Jim, I see that you must live on the east coast of the US, as I do; we are spoiled and assume that others can possess firearms like we can. I understand that the UK Olympic pistol team must travel to continental Europe to train for the Olympics. Amazing!

I digress wildly. I hope that I was amusing. But the Germans realized early on in the war that the rifle-born bayonet was an unimportant, as opposed to the worship of the almost useless weapon by the Brits and the French, and late in the war the German rifleman himself was becoming a vanishing species, as they were running out of men, and more crew-served weapons became available. A rifle with the typical long bayonet was simply too long to be used effectively in trench fighting.

Bob Lembke

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Bob,

Thanks for the correct ranks and lower level command structure. I suppose the most probable guess as to whom weapon No. 1 was issued would be a Feldwebel. I really don't expect to put a name with this pistol, by wartime, it would all be conjecture.

Your father's account of the weapons used certainly corroborates the function over status issue for sidearm usage by German troops.

Germans would have dared to retain handguns during the Allied occupation (It was a crime for a German to make a phone call, never mind having a hand-gun;

I should have remembered this as I have seen numerous photos of stacks, crates, barrels of rifles, pistols, holsters being collected from the post Worls War II German citizenry.

Thanks again, Bob, for passing along your German military information and your father's recollections.

Jim

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