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Remembered Today:

Info on German Soldier


stevebrocklesby

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Hi Everyone.

A tricky one I know.

My Great Grandfather, Oskar Leube, was KIA South of St. Souplet on 11 December 1915, but I don't know anything about his unit. We do have the location of his grave, but the German war graves web site does not give anything other than the above information ad the fact that he was a private soldier. He came from Leipzig and so was probably recruited there.

Would anyone have any idea how to go about obtaining further information. Obviously, his actual unit is what I am looking for, but could we find out what was happening South of St. Souplet at the time and which were the active units, for instance (on both sides), to try and narrow things down?

Kind regards

Steve

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Here is a contribution to get you started. I feel fairly certain that he was a member of a Saxon regiment and probably one of the Reserve Regiments from one of 45, 46 or 48 Res Brigades. The fact that he is described as a 'Soldat' also points in the direction of a Saxon unit. The probable list includes RIR 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 107 or 133. The problem is that the regimental histories of these formations are of very variable quality. Some are not more than chronologies derived from the war diaries and, where they are more extensive, there are not many rolls of honour to check. Why not contact the Volksbund in Kassel and ask them? They often have more information than they publish on the website or in the cemetery rolls. I have not screwed down exactly where all these regiments mobilised: RIR 107 definitely formed up in Leipzig and others may have done so as well.

If I get a chance I shall do a bit more on it, but there may be others, more specialised in the Champagne battles than me who could throw more light on the proceedings.

Jack

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Jack

I am sorry that I have not been on line recently to thank you for your very helpful reply.

My German is non-existent, but my parents now live there and I might try and persuade my dad to write in for me. It is likely to be a long time before we get a response. In the meantime, I will try and follow up one or two other clues and perhaps report back in due course.

Obviously if you, or other members, can turn up anything else, I would be very grateful.

Kind regards

Steve

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The fact that he is described as a 'Soldat' also points in the direction of a Saxon unit.
Jack, an interesting comment. What descriptions are used in the other regions? Robert
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The fact that he is described as a 'Soldat' also points in the direction of a Saxon unit.

This could add a whole new interest in walking around German cemeteries. Before promotion to corporal I believe Hitler was an Infanterist - would that generally describe a Private soldier of a Bavarian unit? (Or does it just highlight that he was an infantryman before becoming a "runner").

Regards,

Jon S

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Steve, While the online site for the German War Graves does not provide the details you want they do have the exact information as to regiment, company, etc. in their records.

Write to them and ask for the information and you wil receive a response with all that you are looking for. I have done this on several men and they are quite helpful.

Ralph

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Another (often used) description for Soldat is Gefreiter.

Roel

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Another (often used) description for Soldat is Gefreiter.

Roel

With all due respect, I think that that is in error. There are, even in only one of the four German armies of WW I (Prussian, Bavarian, Wuerttemburg, and Saxon; the military forces of smaller German states had their units attached to the Prussian Army in some fashion), a number of terms that might be used to describe a private; some describing the branch of service, e.g. Pionier. I think that Jack is pointing out that the Saxons tended to call a EM/OR a "Soldat". Question; any EM/OR, or only privates? My WW II German-English / English/German military dictionary suggests that it was a term for EM/OR in the wider sense, but the usage might have changed between WW I and WW II.

However, Gefreiter is a specific rank. German EM/OR ranks are not directly comparable to the Yank or Brit ranks, but Gefreiter is close to Brit or US Marine "lance corporal", or US Army PFC. As such, it is really short of being a NCO, but rather a senior private. My knowledge base is centered on the Prussian Army, but I believe the term extended over the four German armies of the era.

Steve, you can help here a bit by giving us an exact or approximate age for your great grand-father? If his 20th birthday occurred in 1912, 1913, and perhaps in 1914, he most likely would have been in s regular line regiment. If he was 23 to about 27 in 1914 he most likely was in a reserve regiment, like the ones Jack listed. As the war went on these distinctions began to blur a lot.

Also, if you have a city, town, or village address for 1914 or an earlier date it might be helpful.

Do you have any photos? The reverse, especially if thge photo is actually a post card, may have a wealth of information. Any letters or documents, especially little booklets from the period, perhaps with tan or blue covers? (if you have one of these little booklets, you will know more than you want; shoe size, eye color, dates of injections, etc.) If you can't read such items, people tend to forget about this, or perhaps the reverse of a postcard put into a photo album may not have seen the light of day for 80 years. Even a totally unwritten PC may be quite useful as it may have the name and address of a photo studio, usually in the soldier's home town, which in turn is a strong clue as to his unit.

Bob Lembke

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Sorry one and all. I am on a borrowed computer up on the Somme I shall be back at home mid week and will try to put together a reply to Robert's question. By the way, the variations on the rank 'private soldier' are bewilderingly wide!

Jack

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I hope to get to the scanner shortly and will see what I can find in the Verlustlisten for the period of 3-6 weeks after his reported death. Fortunately at this stage of the war the regiments and companies are still identified.

I owe a friend some scans that are overdue. Blame home improvements of removing wallpaper, painting ceilings and removing some 400 square feet of tile and cement board that was glued and screwed to the subfloor. I am getting too old for this kind of work.

I hope to get there either this weekend or one night early next week. I will let you know what I find.

Ralph

P.S. Unfortunately the age might give a clue to the regiment, active, reserve, etc. but then that old issue of nothing is what it should be. Many Landwehr regiments had younger men, Ersatz Reservists, etc. while active regiments had Landwehr men and Reserve Regiments had everyone as well. The more I study the less I know it seems.

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I owe a friend some scans that are overdue. Blame home improvements of removing wallpaper, painting ceilings and removing some 400 square feet of tile and cement board that was glued and screwed to the subfloor. I am getting too old for this kind of work.

Ralph

P.S. Unfortunately the age might give a clue to the regiment, active, reserve, etc. but then that old issue of nothing is what it should be. Many Landwehr regiments had younger men, Ersatz Reservists, etc. while active regiments had Landwehr men and Reserve Regiments had everyone as well. The more I study the less I know it seems.

Ralph is quite right, about how the original tidy if complex system really got muddled as the war wore on. But the date of death in this case was fairly early on in the war and the old relationships to some extent still stood. As the war progressed men who had not been inducted at all in their 20th year, due to minor imparements or simply being in the surplus (just before the war there were enough young men that only about 50% of the men in their 20th year were inducted for the supposedly universal two or three years' service) began to be trained and sifted into units, the traditional structures began to be modified (e.g., the shift from the square division to the triangular division), men were wounded and when recuperating were temporarily or permamently transferred to lower-grade units better matching their disminished physical abilities, and so on.

In December 1915 I think that Landwehr and certainly Landsturm units were not yet committed to combat, except in the East, and most privates in active duty line units were between 18-19 to 23 years old, and most privates and junior NCOs in reserve units (in the narrow sense, not including Landwehr and Landsturm) would have been from 24 to about 30 years old. A year or two later all bets would be off, and the age classes quite muddled.

I will try to find out where St. Souplet is, and then poke thru the Schlachten des Weltkrieges histories, which cover 1915 fairly well, and see if it describes the action at that location. This series' descriptions are generally down to a fine level of detail.

I also have been doing flooring repairs this week, on one day working from the morning to 2:25 AM the next day, working on my aching knees. As my father fought at Gallipoli, you can imagine that I am "no spring chicken", and the work was an oucher and really beat me up. More history, I say, and less construction work!

Bob Lembke

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I took a look at the most likely places to start and I believe we should look at the 23 Reserve Division. This division consisted of the 100th Reserve Grenadier Regiment, the 101st Reserve, 102nd Reserve and 103rd Reserve.

This division was in the Auberive-St. Souplet sector at the time you are looking at and remained there apparently until July 1916. I have the 102nd RIR history and it has an Ehrentafel. Artur Oskar Leube is not among them so it narrows the search to the other three. If these also do not contain his name or the Verlsutlisten does not show him in these regiments I will expand to the artillery, etc. from this division before going anywhere further.

Ralph

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I have gone through all available lists through early March 1916 without seeing his name. I may have missed it, he may be in another unit, etc. I believe the best bet at present is to write to the VDK and see what they have on record.

Ralph

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post-6447-1178866811.jpg

I would not disagree with anything that Ralph has said, but I am posting this map to show why I think that units and formations of 24th Reserve Division should be considered as well. Really your man could have belonged to anyone in XII Reserve Corps in my view.

I have not forgotten about the nomenclature concerning private soldiers, but am composing my thoughts on that a bit more.

Jack

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Thanks for the map Jack, It helps a great deal. I only had some basic details on the possible units. Now I will double check the units for the 24th RD as well. We may still find him.

Ralph

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This information is very interesting and extremely helpful. Thank you.

I know that you have already discussed above that it is not a totally reliable indicator but, for the record, Oskar Leube was born in 1881 and so was 34 years old when he died. He was born and lived in the Lindenau district of Leipzig.

Kind regards

Steve

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have just learned of the existance of this photo. It's a really nice one showing Oskar Leube posing with his daughter, my Great Aunt Lotte. We know that Lotte was born in 1907 and I think she looks about 5 years old here. If my estimate of her age is correct, and you might disagree, this would give a date of 1912 or 1913 for the photo and he would be 31 or 32.

Even though the photo seems to be pre war, he is wearing a dress uniform. Does this indicate anything about his activities at that time? Was he a reservist or perhaps he had served in the forces earlier in life?

post-20105-1179724381.jpg

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Steve, the uniform looks "wrong" on several grounds. Let me make a couple of cavats. First of all, I am no expert on uniforms; only mildly knowledgable. Secondly, this is in Saxonia, which literally had a seperate army than Prussia and the minor states whose military forces fell under Prussia's wing.

The cap has only one roundelle. Up to through 1918, military caps had two roundelles (sp?), one for the German Empire, and the other for the state, such as Saxony. (My ignorance is such that I don't know which was which; was the Imperial insignia over the state roundelle?) I can't ever recall seeing a pre-war or wartime cap with only one roundelle, and I have looked at many thousands of photos of same.

The white trousers are jarring to me, but there might have been some Saxon formation with such a pair of trousers.

Rifle marksmen of a certain grade wore a fouragette on the right shoulder/breast, not very different than the one pictured, but typically a thicker cord. However, I have never seen one on the left shoulder/breast. Could there be a whistle stuck in his blouse at the end of it?

One might think that the photo was reversed, in regards to the fouragette, but he seems to he wearing a "side-arm", i.e., a bayonet, which was a very important symbol. Although on the right side, (i.e., on the left side), it seems much too short, no bayonets were that short in that time, I think. (Could it be some sort of tool?) Less definatively, I don't like the hang of the uniform, its seemingly light weight, the slack belt.

If he is about 33 or 34, he would be in the Landwehr, typically. They would train or drill rarely, intervals of years, I think. I don't know if they had a uniform at home.

My father told me that if a man served with a good record as an EM/OR for 14 years, he had a guarantee of a civil service job, like postman. All sorts of employees had vaguely military uniforms. The uniform could be that of a rail conductor, or whatever. Or, possibly something like a civilian band. The typical EM/OR entered the active service in the fall of the year of his 20th birthday.

There are people who know 20-50 times as much about these things than I do.

Bob Lembke

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for your comments, Bob. I too think the uniform looks odd. The tunic seems very loose fitting and the trousers a bit short and lightweight. It does not look made to measure, certainly. My dad and I were speculating that it may be job related - like a postman, possibly.

Unfortunately we know very little about his earlier life, so any information would be a big help.

Kind regards

Steve

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We followed Ralph's suggestion and my Dad wrote to the VDK, asking for further details. They were very prompt and the came up trumps! The following information was received:-

Name : Oskar Leube

Service Rank : Private (Soldat)

Unit : 1st Bttn R.I.R. 104

Date of Death : 11.12.1915

First Buried : St. Martin l'Heureux

Re-interred : during the 1920's by the French Graves

Service in the German Soldiers Cemetery

1914/18 Aubérive, France, Block 2, Grave 175

This of course fits in quite nicely with the map provided by Jack above.

Jack, do you have a date for your map at all?

The next step now is to follow up on the activities of R.I.R. 104. Does anyone know of the existence of a history for this regiment? Also, do the German archives have unit diaries, similar to the British ones in the National Archives?

Thank you for everyone's help so far.

Kind regards.

Steve

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Steve

Here is the news and it is not very helpful, I am afraid. The history of RIR 104 is a contender for the bottom 20 of all such comprising, as it does, no more than brief chronological extracts from the war diary. The entry for 11 Dec 15 simply mentions that 2nd Bn relieved 3rd Bn RIR 107 and that Hauptmann Spohr repeated his lecture on anti-gas equipment. However, it transpires that 1st Bn was subordinated to RIR 102 on the date of your ancestor's death, not returning to RIR 104 until 16 Dec 15.

According to RIR 102, their trenches were very close to the French ones at this time (only 30 - 50 metres apart). On 10 Dec a German shell landing short killed two men and wounded two more. Apparently this was down to the beaten zone of the light field howitzer.

The only casualties listed on 11 Dec 15 were caused as a result of somebody from a digging party standing on a hand grenade, which exploded seriously wounding one man and slightly wounding five more. The history states that they were from '1st Bn', but I take that to mean 1st Bn RIR 102.

On 13 Dec there were some exchanges of hand grenades

So out of all this it would appear that we shall never know exactly how your ancestor met his death. He may have been a casualty of a shell that landed in the wrong place, or a stray grenade or bullet, but I am afraid I can be no more exact.

Jack

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Let me see what the Verlustlisten has with his name now that you have the regiment, etc. Sometimes the casualty reports provide hidden clues when reporting losses and they might match the information shown in the abbreviated regimental. I will report as soon as possible.

Ralph

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Steve

Here is the news and it is not very helpful, I am afraid. The history of RIR 104 is a contender for the bottom 20 of all such comprising, as it does, no more than brief chronological extracts from the war diary. The entry for 11 Dec 15 simply mentions that 2nd Bn relieved 3rd Bn RIR 107 and that Hauptmann Spohr repeated his lecture on anti-gas equipment. However, it transpires that 1st Bn was subordinated to RIR 102 on the date of your ancestor's death, not returning to RIR 104 until 16 Dec 15.......etc

Jack

Jack

Thanks for looking this up. I was going to ask you if you let me have the full reference of your history. However in the meantime, my dad has found this history for sale on the web:-

Das Königlich Sächsische Infanterie-Regiment Kronprinz 104 1701-1918. Which is a three volume set, author: Lugwig Wolff.

Would this be the same thing that you were looking at?

Regards

Steve

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Steve,

The history you found on the net was the active regiment, not the reserve regiment. They are two different units.

Ralph

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Steve,

The history RIR 104:

Braun, Kurt; Das Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr.104 im Weltkriege

142 p., Leipzig 1921

Friedhelm

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