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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

German 4th Field Artillery Regt.


Trenchrat

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The short answer is that they did a very great deal. Can you narrow down the scope of your question a bit? Although they were part of 7th Inf Division (Infantry tours of duty on the Somme 12 - 25 Jul [Pozieres - High Wood area] and 18 Sep - 2 Oct [Miraumont, Pys, Courcelette, Grandcourt area]), like all the artillery units in the battle FAR 4 spent far longer in action, being variously attached to other divisions from time to time (18th Res Div from 25 Jul - 12 Aug and Marine Infantry Brigade - so called - it was as big as a division, from 3 - 12 Oct for example). It continued to operate until the end of October, being gradually withdrawn from the battle. Two weeks later, while most of the regiment was in Army Reserve near Lens, its 1st Bn was deployed down near Peronne right through until the end of 1916.

Jack

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Jack has far more details on the deployment of this regiment. If it followed the normal makeup of a German field artilery regiment it would consist of three Abteilung. The first two would have been equipped with the 7.7cm field guns, the whizz bang as they were called while the third Abteilung would have been equipped with the 10.5cm light field howitzer.

I will see if I can locate the model information when I return from work later tonight.

Ralph

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Hi Jack,Ralph,

Thanks for the informative answers. I have the opportunity to acquire a small grouping belonging to a soldier in this unit. Included in the grouping is a photo of the soldier,his Militarpass, and some medals. It appears he was a rear echelon type. From what I can see he was with the 2nd Eskadron of the 1st Train Abteilung at some point. Would this have been a part of the 4th FAR? I don't have the Militarpass in front of me, so I can't tell you at the moment if he was with any other units. The soldiers name was Wilhelm Schmidt and his list of medals include the Iron Cross 2nd Class,Wound Badge in Black,Hindenburg Cross 1914-1918,Kyffhauser Medal 1914-1918 with ribbon,Kaiser Wilhelm Centenary Medal,Prinz Luitpold Bavarian Medal. According to the seller some of the cities mentioned in the Militarpass include:Badonviller,Vezsouse,

Nancy,Somme and I believe the German cities of Saarburg and Lothringen. Does any of this offer any help about this soldiers service?

Jack I'm just starting to read your Somme book, it's great. I love one of the photos in it. The photo showed a man in the 12th Bavarian RIR,holding a captured English sign that had boasted of capturing the German lines. I'm sure the Germans thought it amusing too when they recaptured their lines and took that sign down. I have a small grouping of a Vizefeldwebel in the 12th regiment that includes a short diary. I wish I could get it translated as I believe it mentions about him getting wounded. This diary covers from Nov 28,1917-August 8, 1918.

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I am afraid that I am not an expert on medals, so may not be able to help a lot. The Train is an awkward subject too; one about which there is not a great deal of information. I am not even sure how you know he was associated with FAR 4. Does it say so in his Pass? One clue that he may well have been is the Prinz Luitpold medal. FAR 4 was actually from Magdeburg, but its full title was Feldartillerie-Regiment Prinzregent Luitpold von Bayern (Magdeburgisches) Nr. 4, so that might be the link there. I think that it would help if you could post a bit more of the information on this man, including extracts from his service record in his Pass if possible.

According to Hermann Cron (Imperial German Army 1914-18 Organisation, Structure, Orders-of-Battle) the Train was service in itself before the war. On mobilisation it split up to carry out support functions throughout the army. Apparently each active army corps was allocated two ammunition column sections (whatever they were), which comprised four infantry and nine artillery ammunition columns (however large they may have been), as well as various others. It sounds as though your man must have been with a column attached, possibly exclusively, to FAR 4 or to 7 Field Artillery Brigade. I do not know and if I added more I should just be guessing. Perhaps someone else could throw more light on it.

As far as your diary is concerned, again there are experts who could help. I suggest that you post a couple of pages so that we can see what the handwriting looks like.

Jack

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"Trenchrat";

I collect Militaer=Paesse, although not actively for a couple of years; they are fascinating documents, but hard to read; they not only are mostly written in Suetterlin, but also use a lot of odd conventions and abbreviations that you have to know to to make sense of them. For example, k.v. = "fit for combat". I fortunately have my father's.

I can't promise full-throttle effort immediately, as tax season is about, and I owe about ten federal, state, and local returns, including things no one else has ever heard of, but If you get a quality copy to me I could take a run at it, and typically produce say a 800 word summary of the high points; units (my father had at least 11 unit transfers), decorations, engagements, weapons trained on, wounds, hospital stays, conditions of discharge, as well as mundane stuff like shoe size and mother's maiden name.

I have studied about 40 of these in detail, and every one tells me new things on how the Imperial Army worked, as well as the info about the individual.

My grand-father had a lot to do with trains as the "Id" of the III. Reservekorps; when in Russia logistics were so critical that he left the HQ itself and personally joined the "trains" to ensure that the ammo got through. This was detailed in his letters to my father from Russia.

Bob Lembke

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Hi,

If I'm able to acquire it,then yes I could try to email you copies of the pages in the militarpass. The grouping of the soldier who was in the 12th RIR, also came with his militarpass. The diary is in pencil, so I'm not sure how well it'll copy. Is there another section of the forum where I could ask someone to translate the diary?

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John;

As for MPs, it usually is better working from a good xerox than the original. I used to copy them at 140% magnification, with contrast raised a bit, if necessary; the 140% will put two pages of the opened Pass nicely on an 8 1/2" by 11" (A4?) sheet.

I now have a scanner, but have not scanned a Pass, as I have not worked with them for a while.

The Germans had some sort of purple waterproof pencil that I guess was practical in the trenches, but surely made a poor text, at least now, 90 years on. My grand-father used to thunder at my father to write with proper pen and ink, but the writing materials available to a staff officer were different that what a private EM at the front had at hand.

Put a page or two of the diary up as a scan. How many pages are you talking about? There are people about here who are a lot better at that translation job than I. A diary can be a bore to do; depending on a lot of things, one might take me an hour a paragraph, or even more, mostly due to my weakness with the underlying German (despite my reading it often several hours a day) than with making out a giiven character. The two tasks are tightly tied together.

I have done few or no Bavarian MPs; their conventions must be somewhat different than the Prussian documents I usually work on.

If there was some process by which MPs could be listed and cataloged by their owners, and the number included met some critical mass, these would be an amazing source for serious research on WW I.

Bob Lembke

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Hi Bob,

The diary has 15 pages that are written with a regular pencil not the waterproof one. There are also two letters that were sent home. One is typed the other handwritten. I haven't counted the pages in the militarpass. Should I try to scan and place the diary pages in this thread or start another topic? Did the 12th Bavarian RIR see a lot of action on the Somme?

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Hi, John;

Post a couple of pages of the diary. If pixel limits limit the sharpness post a section of a page; we really have to see how well written it is; there are enormous variations, leading to enormous variations in difficulty. Or post a sample of the diary and the handwritten letter. I have never seen a typed letter from the period.

Why not put the scans here?

I personally have no idea where bav. Infanterie=Regiment Nr. 12 fought at, was, etc. But I bet that Jack does. Hehh, Hehh!

Re: trains, my grand-father sent my father, then a schoolboy, a letter saying: "I am very worried. The 5th Division is almost out of ammunition." Wouldn't the Belgians and Brits (the Naval Division) he was facing love to intercept that letter! G-p was the "Id" in charge of artillery and infantry ammunition supply for the III. Reservekorps. No censorship, but who censors the Generalkommando?

Bob Lembke

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I have already mentioned to John off-Forum that KB RIR 12 was involved in seriously heavy fighting in the Maurepas - Clery - Leforest area between 13 Aug and 7 Sep 16. They were not constantly all in the line but, with the exception of short reliefs or reinforcement by others, spent a solid three weeks on the Somme. They moved down to the Aisne to recuperate, then returned to the Sailly-Saissel area after the main battle, being there from 27 Nov 16 to 20 Jan 17.

Jack

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Hi Jack,

Thanks for the personal message response as well as the one to this thread. I'm going to try and put up a sample of the 12th Bav. RIR soldiers diary sometime today. Like I said this diary is more from the end of the war being from Nov 28,1917-Aug 5,1918. Jack I see that you belong to a group called the Old Sweats.

What is that about? How do you join a group around here?

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Hi Jack,

Thanks for the group info. Does "Old Sweats" mean something? Like was it an expression during the war? Any idea how many posts I have to make before I'm an Old Sweat?

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You really need to send a message to Chris to check all the reasoning, because these rules, customs etc were in place long before I began to suscribe to the site. I believe that 300 posts is the hurdle you need to pass. The expression 'Old Sweat' tended to be applied to the long service pre-war regulars of the British army who signed on for seven years with the colours (i.e. regular service) and five with the reserves. These were the men who soldiered hard and drank hard throughout the territories of the British Empire for generations. A tough lot who shot for their pay and could march great distances, endure hardships and still be effective.

If I am right and I am part of the group, I feel a bit of a fraud in comparison - on the other hand on the Forum it is meant to be light-hearted.

Jack

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Hi Bob.

I scanned the first two pages of the 12th Bavarian RIR diary. When I tried to upload them so as to attach them to my post, I was told the image is too big and to reduce it in size. I can't really do that. Would it be possible to email you the copies? The scans turned out to be pretty clear I think.

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John;

Sure. I have activated the ability for the forum to reach my e-mail. I would use a high level of resolution, the Suetterlin script is not only quite different, but fundamentally difficult; for example, the letters "f", "h', and the most common of the about four ways of writing "s" are very close to each other. I think that only 2-3% of Germans can now read this. It is not just Fraktur in script. There is a related script, Kurrent, that in practice blends into Suetterlin. I have done translations of Suetterlin in German, Czech, and Slovene for a leading German dealer in militaria. But I am not first-rank in this at all, and have done little in a long while. It is far better to have a good sample of the individual's writing, as there was a lot of variation, and you can identify how someone wrote certain letters if you have a big sample where you can find known words.

Some of the writing in Militaer=Paesse is amazing micro-writing, incredibly good; also, at the end of the war, in the final months, the quality often got very bad, along with everything else. I studied the Pass of a sergeant, and in 1905 he took a course in "military penmanship", and the training was listed in his Pass.

Get to me if the e-mail facility can't handle attachments.

Bob Lembke

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