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Remembered Today:

Who is Otto Wolter?


stevedrew
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Otto Wolter is buried in Wavans Military Cemetery in France. It is a Commonwealth War Graves Site, the final resting place of Robert Alexander Little (Australia's highest scoring Ace of the Great War), and also J T B McCudden VC.

The details on his headstone are OTTO WOLTER

1 M G K J R 83

10.9.18

I'm unsure of what the letters signify, or why he is interred in a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetary. Was he a P.O.W? If so, why were his remains not repatriated back to Germany? (He was a German combatant, not just someone who had a Germanic sounding name, as there was an Iron Cross emblazoned on his headstone). I do not know whether I can post the pic here.

This enigma has been puzzling me for some time. I came across the pic again today, and so came here for help. I understand he might not be as famous as the others I mentioned, but I am intrigued to find out more about him, and why he is interred there.

German Forumites would be pleased to know that his grave is pristine, and kept in perfect condition. I paid my respects.

Steve

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He was in the 1st Machine Gun Company Imfantry Regiment 83. Died 10 September 1918.

I do not know the finer points of burial details for the Commonwealth War Graves but I have seen a number of German burials in many of them. I am sure some were captured and died in local dressing stations, others may have been located nearby the cemetery possibly. I have seen other threads on this subject and there are quite a few experts who can supply more details.

All I can say is that this is not uncommon. These burials receive the same case as all others in each cemetery as you pointed out.

The following comes from the German War Graves site.

achname: Wolter

Vorname: Otto

Dienstgrad: Soldat

Geburtsdatum:

Geburtsort:

Todes-/Vermisstendatum: 10.09.1918

Todesort: nicht verzeichnet

Otto Wolter ruht auf der Kriegsgräberstätte in Wavans (1. WK) (Frankreich) .

Endgrablage: Reihe E Grab 4

Falls der Obengenannte mit Ihnen verwandt ist, und Sie von uns über Sachstandsänderungen informiert werden möchten, füllen Sie bitte das folgende Formular aus. Wir legen dann einen Vorgang an, um Sie somit über Neuigkeiten unterrichten zu können. Bitte prüfen Sie vorher an Hand Ihrer Unterlagen sorgfältig, ob es sich wirklich um Ihren Angehörigen handelt. Falls Sie nicht sicher sind, vermerken Sie dies im Textfeld des Formulares.

Hinweis für Friedhofsbesucher: Auf einigen Soldatenfriedhöfen, die der Volksbund derzeit in Osteuropa errichtet, ist die Namen-bzw. Grabkennzeichnung noch nicht erfolgt. Es empfiehlt sich deshalb vor einer geplanten Reise eine Rückfrage bei der Bundesgeschäftsstelle in Kassel.

Der Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge sorgt für die Ruhestätten der im Ersten und Zweiten Weltkrieg ums Leben gekommenen deutschen Soldaten. Der Volksbund errichtete bisher über 842 Kriegsgräberstätten in 44 Staaten, auf denen etwa zwei Millionen Kriegstote ruhen. Bau und Pflege dieser Friedhöfe wurden nur möglich durch Spenden der Förderer dieser humanitären Arbeit sowie durch Beiträge der über 235 000 Mitglieder des Volksbundes.

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Once again a helpful input from Ralph.

A note to our non-Tuto-specialists. The letter "I" (the capital letter), in both German script and printing, usually was clearly written or printed as "J" during the WW I period. As the letter "J" is not a very commonly used letter, when encountering it in a situation like this remember to substitute "I" and see what it seems to say. German tends to create very long words, but then exhibits a genus for radical abbreviations. One common to the English-speaking is "flak", for "Flugzeugabwehrkanone" or Flugzeugabwehrkanonen. There also is "pak",for "Panzerabwehrkanone" ("anti tank gun"); the former used in WW I, the latter, I think not.

So Infanterie=Regiment Nr. 83. is often written IR 83. , or sometimes "I. R. 83." (as it was on this tombstone, but with the "."s raised to mid-letter), and Reserve=Infanterie=Regiment Nr. 83. as RIR 83. . But in appearance, the capital "I"s would be formed as "J"s.

Bob Lembke

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Steve/Ralph

I am interested in your post as I have also wondered about this German gravestone in Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery Extension which commemorates an unknown (?) soldier killed 7th July 1916. Captain G. S Lewis 11th Middlesex Regiment shot a German soldier and then was shot himself and killed on 7th July 1916. Is it possible that the two men killed in that incident lie alongside each other?

Myrtle

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Myrtle,

While it is possible the odds are against it. The only way to know accurately is to look through the burial records for this location and the two graves to see where they were located, the dates buried, etc.

If it was the same German he killed and they were found close by there is that odd chance it could be the man. Anyone want to research this?

Ralph

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Thanks Ralph,

A translation of the German of Otto's particulars is merely a generic reply to those who might be searching through the records to find Otto. Babel fish site gives this (very rough) translation:

"Petrol Wolter rests on the war grave place in Wavans (1st WK) (France). Final grave situation: E lines up grave 4 If the above-mentioned one is related to you, and you by us about changes of review of the position to be informed would like, fill out you please the following form. We put on then a procedure, in order to be able to inform you thus about pieces of news. Please you examine before on the basis your documents carefully whether it really concerns your member. If you are not safe, note this in the text field of the form. Note for cemetery visitors: On some soldier cemeteries, which the national union establishes at present in Eastern Europe, is Namen-bzw. Grave marking yet does not take place. A further inquiry is therefore recommended with the federal office in Kassel before a planned journey. The national union German military grave registration service provides for the ruhestaetten of the German soldiers come in the First and second World War around the life. The national union established so far over 842 war grave places in 44 states, on which about two million war-dead rest. Building and care of these cemeteries became only possible by donations of the promoters of this humanitarian work as well as by contributions over 235,000 members of the national union."

I wonder whether anyone can locate any more about this particular chap, as I'm curious as to why he is buried there. Of course, as mentioned, he may have been captured, or died at an aid station during the heat of battle. Were not most German remains returned there post war? I know there were very few remains indeed of Australians returned to their homeland after the war, largely I believe to the cost involved. (I know of General Bridges, the Unknown Soldier, and the remains of a NSW waler mount from the Light Horse Brigade who came back...anyone else know of any more?)

Why is Otto in France instead of home?

Steve

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Steve,

From what I have seen most German burials remained where they were found and few were actually sent home. Of these the ones I have read about were usually officers. Even the recently identified remains of two German soldiers were buried at Labry near Metz in a German military cemetery and not sent home.

On the other hand the U.S. had an option, be buried in a local U.S. cemetery in France or have the remains shipped home for burial. I did hear that one reason this was offered was economic. Apparently the U.S. offered a free trip to the relatives of the deceased to visit the grave and the officials felt it would be cheaper to ship the bodies home instead of paying for the familiy to travel to Europe.

My wife's great uncle Otto Ernst who was killed in July 1918 near the Ourq was one who was sent home and buried in the local national cmetery in Queens County.

Ralph

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I am very impressed with CWGC. I have received an email today which confirms that Captain G. S. Lewis's was an original burial at Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery Extension as was Sergeant Vendis's, in the next plot. Interesting to find out that the latter was a sergeant as his rank is not inscribed on his stone. Is there any way in which I can find out with which regiment Sergeant Vendis fought and thus if he was opposite "A" Coy. 11th Bn. Middlesex Reg. on 7th July 1916?

Myrtle

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I am very impressed with CWGC. I have received an email today which confirms that Captain G. S. Lewis's was an original burial at Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery Extension as was Sergeant Vendis's, in the next plot. Interesting to find out that the latter was a sergeant as his rank is not inscribed on his stone. Is there any way in which I can find out with which regiment Sergeant Vendis fought and thus if he was opposite "A" Coy. 11th Bn. Middlesex Reg. on 7th July 1916?

The VDK register simply says that VENDIS, Sergeant, died 7 July 1916, is buried in Plot 2, Row G, Grave 1, in Bouzincourt WW1 Cemetery. No forename or initial, and no unit.

There are no personal listings of the surname VENDIS in the German online 'Telefonbuch' (2 corporate entries), but I found a 'Vendis, M.' in a German table of ice hockey statistics.

Mick

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While I am not the best when researching the location of British battalions in the war I believe the 11th Middlesex was in front of Ovillers on 7 July 1916 when this incident occurred. If that is correct (anyone having different information please let me know, thanks) then your German soldier was probably a member of the 8th Coy Guard Fusilier Regiment, possibly the 7th Company.

I will see if I can look through the Verlustlisten shortly and find out if his name appears on any of the casualty lists for this regiment.

I am in the process of completing a long term project so it might be a short time before I can accomplish this.

Ralph

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Ralph

Thank you for your reply especially as you are particularly busy at this time.

As you say the 11th Middlesex were in front of Ovillers on 7th July 1916. They were following the 8th,9th Royal Fusiliers and the 7th Royal Sussex.

At approximately 4 pm on the 7th July Captain Lewis was killed while with "A" coy. which was bombing their way south of the Sunken Road.

Regards

Myrtle

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Based on the information supplied so far and looking at a German map of this date I would say we should be looking for the 8th Coy Guard Fusilier Regiment. Let me see what I can find.

Ralph

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Ralph

Just to let you know that the only other German soldier buried at Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery Extension is Max Kappler who died 9th August 1916.

Myrtle

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Myrtle,

I had a chance to go through the Verlustlisten from mid July through the end of September for a possible match to Sergeant Vendis. While the 8th Coy Guard Fusilier Regiment was opposite your man at the time of his death I was unable to match his name to any losses in this regiment. I did check every company and associated unit on the Verlustlisten to see if he was listed elsewhere.

The largest casualty list for the Guard Fusilier Regiment was on Prussian list No. 602, 9 August 1916 which is about right for the time delay in reporting losses to the point of publication.

It is possible he was in another unit associated with the Guard Fusiliers or his name was spelled incorrectly. I will need to look at the other possible units that might have mingled with the Guards and see if this is another avenue of research. Too bad they did not provide a first name or unit.

The biggest problem we face is the sheer quantity of men listed as casualties through this period due to the heavy fighting at a number of different locations. I will let you know what I find if anything.

Ralph

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I'm still puzzled as to why Vendis's rank is recorded in the VDK register as 'Sergeant' - presumably the English word. Could it be that their information comes from CWGC and that his name and rank were taken, by the British, who presumably buried him, from documents found on his body, which may have been mis-read or misinterpreted, leaving VDK, years later, with no way of matching him against the German casualty records?

Mick

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Ralph

I very much appreciate your taking the time to look through the Verlustlisten especially as there are so many casualties to check. I have been wondering about the name on the gravestone and am even starting to wonder if it reads YENDIS even though CWGC confirmed it as VENDIS.

Mick

An interesting point regarding the VDK having listed this soldier as "Sergeant". This could indicate that the British have also misread his surname.

Myrtle

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Sergeant was a rank in the German army but not as common as other non-commissioned officer ranks. There were a few sergeants listed as casualties in the list for the Guard Fusilier Regiment but none even came close to Vendis or anything like it.

It is possible he was in Grenadier Regiment Nr. 9 that was on the flank of the Guard Fusilier Regiment. There is also the possibility he was in a Machine Gun Marksman unit if one was attached, an artilleryman attached as an observer or something similar to this. The Verlsutlisten of this period are set in order of Guard units, active regiments, reserve regiments, etc. and then by region so there is a Prussian list, Bavarian list, Saxon, etc. There is no central index and the men are not in alphabetical order except that officers and NCO's are listed first followed by private soldiers.

The other units that were associated with the Guard Fusilier Regiment in the 3rd Guard Division included Grenadier Regiment 9, Lehr Infantry Regiment, 1st Coy Pioneer Bn 28, Pioneer Coy 274, 3rd Guard Minenwerfer Coy, Sanitäts Coy 1 as well as other units but these would be the best place to start for this soldier.

Now that I have a central starting date for casualties I can take a second look from the August list and look in the weeks before and after to see what else shows up. The good thing about this date of the lists is that they still identify units while later lists only seperate the men by regions and then all names are alphabetical without the benefit of unit identification. All in all a big puzzle at times.

Hopefully we will have something solid about his name and unit soon.

Ralph

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Myrtle,

The name, as recorded, is definitely VENDIS.

Ralph,

Thanks — I didn't know that the rank of 'Sergeant' (written as such, rather than translated as such) existed in the German Army. Presumably it comes from French?

Mick

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In fact it comes from the Latin 'serviens' one who does service, in particular paid military service ( so overtones of mercenaries there). It has come down into Italian as sergente, English and German as sergeant, French as sergent and Spanish as sargento. In middle French it also had the sense of 'foot soldier'. There have been attempts made over the years to suggest that the word was genuinely German, relating to a man who wore a chain mail shirt, 'sar', but did not bear knightly weapons. This is now discredited, but its usage is easily traceable back to the 17th C in Germany. At the beginning of that century it was applied to the most senior NCOs in the army of Brandenburg, who had special responsibilities. From 1846 Prussian sergeants wore an eagle emblem on their collars.

Jack

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Thanks, Jack — Latin again, as with the 'solidus' origin of 'Soldat' and 'Söldner' that was discussed in another thread a while ago.

Mick

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Excellent thread everyone. A fascinating read and another example of the forum at its investigative best.

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Ralph

Thank you for explaining your thoughts on the possibilities of Sergt. Vendis's position in the line. It makes very interesting reading.

Mick thank you for confirming his name as being VENDIS and Jack, thank you for the explanation regarding "Sergeant".

Andrew, I agree with you.

Myrtle

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