I guess I better publish a new entry since my fellow bloggers are getting ahead I'm being left in the dust.
Some of you know - and others may have guessed - from my username of Irishgunner - that I am in fact a gunner. I'm coming to the end of a 30 year career as a Field Artilleryman in the US Army and that has started to color my collecting interests more and more. When I started collecting militaria, I really had no theme other than WWI. I was drawn to that period simply because I believe - as I am sure do others - that this was the pinnacle of ODM. Medals had to be earned and they carried considerable prestige. I think the appearance of the unofficial veterans medals in the inter-war period foreshadowed a gradual dilution of the meaning of military medals. That's not to say that later medals - even more modern awards - have no meaning. Certainly there is both value and honor to many medals today; especially wound and valor awards. But the Imperial period was the golden age for ODM in many ways. So, this is what has drawn me to primarily focus on ODM of the WWI combatants.
Initially, I was out to collect examples of every WWI-era medal that I could afford. Not without subtle meaning, my time spent on GMIC has gradually edged me towards more of a specialization. Combining my personal career as a gunner with the awards earned by my predecessors in WWI seemed like a natural progression. I will specifically credit Chris Boonzaier with planting these seeds with his Kaiserscross website. I started to think about an area in which to specialize and possibly create my own website, chronicaling the stories of the men who earned these awards. As I started doing research on some of my acquisitions, I realized there isn't really a consolidated source of information related to the German Imperial Artillery. And thus the idea to focus on that area germinated. There are many web and published sources - excellent sources - which I've mentioned in an earlier blog. But my idea was to consolidate some basic - and unique - information for the casual researcher. I decided to base that initial research upon items representing each regiment of the Imperial German Artillery.
And the base piece in this collection was actually acquired in 2006 - long before I decided to concentrate on Imperial German Artillery. A base piece in artillery terminology is the gun that is initially sighted (or laid) and whose fire is adjusted as necessary and then all other guns in the battery base their bearings upon this base piece. And I think my base piece is truly unique and appropriate for this endeavor.
My first acquired - and base - piece is a commemorative medal produced in 1914 for the 50 year anniversary of the Fußartillerie Regiment von Linger Nr. 1 (Ostpreußische). The regiment was organized on 16 June 1864 in Königsberg, East Prussia. It saw service in the Franco-Prussian War 1870/71 and of course, in WWI. Pure coincidence that this piece dates from before the war as far as my collection goes, but I think it's an excellent place to start as Europe edged toward war in that summer of 1914. And an excellent connection to the legacy of the Imperial German Artillery.
It foreshadows the coming storm of war and is a link to the proud lineage of the Prussian Army. I've researched some already of the 1. FuAR in WWI, but that will have to wait until I publish the website.
One interesting aspect of this endeavor is an attempt to piece together some history of the Imperial German Artillery during the First World War. Of course, many of the regiments, particularly those with lineages existing before August 1914, published a written history of the regiment's wartime service. These are also highly collectible and I have three regimental histories already in my collection; 4. FAR, 49. FAR, 7. Bayr. FAR. There are many more out there and I'm always on the watch to add new volumes. There are also Das Ehrenbuch der Deutschen Feldartillerie and Das Ehrenbuch der Deutschen Schweren Artillerie, which include references to many regiments. Unfortunately, I still don't have these volumes. Like all collectors, my wish list seems longer than my holdings list!
It's often said, buy the book first and I wholeheartedly agree. Other references are useful for gaining an understanding of the basic organization of the Artillery within the German Army and of the guns with which the batteries were armed. My basic library includes the following books and I recommend this as a basic starting bibliography for the Imperial German Artillery enthusiast:
Imperial German Army 1914-18; Hermann Cron Handbook of the German Army, 1918; British General Staff Handbook of Imperial Germany; Robinson and Robinson 251 Divisions of the German Army; US Army G2 Artillerie im 20. Jahrhundert; Franz Kosar German Artillery of World War One; Herbert Jager
Certainly, this list is not exhaustive; simply a good starting point. Any suggestions of references specifically related to German Artillery are greatly welcomed in the comments.
Garrison: Landau (In der Pfalz) Established: 1 October 1901 Brigade: 3. Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Brigade Division: 3. Königlich Bayerische Division
Kaserne 12. bFAR Landau
One of twelve active field artillery regiments of the Bavarian Army, 12. bFAR was formed in October 1901 from the III. Abteilung and the 6. Fahrenden Batterie of the Königlich Bayerisches 2. Feldartillerie-Regiment „Horn“ as well as two newly organized Fahrenden Batterien at Würzburg, Bayern. Prior to mobilization in August 1914, 12. bFAR, was garrisoned at Landau in der Pfalz, in southwestern Germany. The Regiment was subordinate to the 3. Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Brigade / 3. Königlich Bayerische Division.
After mobilization, 12. bFAR remained with the redesignated 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division throughout the war; thus earning the same campaign credits as the Division. First World War Campaigns 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division:
The I. Abteilung 12. bFAR was armed with the 7.7cm Feldkanone (FK 96 n/A); II. Abteilung was armed with the 10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze 98/09. In February 1916, two guns from each of the 1., 2., and 3. Batterie, were given up to form the 21. Feldartillerie-Regiment. In January 1917, 12. bFAR was enlarged with a III. Abteilung. The Stab, 7., 8., and 9. Batterie of the III. Abteilung initially fell under the command of the III. Armeekorps for training. Training was completed at the Truppenübungsplatz Thimougies in Belgium in February 1917 and the new battalion joined the Regiment in the field.
At mobilization, the 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division was part of Kronprinz Rupprecht von Bayern’s 6. Armee. The 6. Armee was central to the bitter fighting in Alsace-Lorraine during the Battle of the Frontiers at the beginning of the war. Official German reports for August 1914 set casualty figures in the 6. Armee at 34,598, with the number of dead at 11,476. (Herwig) One of those dead was Kanonier Alois Plinganser of 5. Batt. 12. bFAR, who was killed on 24 August 1914. After holding off the French offensive in the south, 6. Armee counter-attacked on 20 August with the objective of capturing terrain south of Nancy, known as the Gap of Charmes. After initial success, the 6. Armee’s attack stalled on 24 August just east of Bayon; the French 1st and 2nd Armies counter-attacked, pushing the line back to its 14 August positions. On 24 August 1914, 12. bFAR and Kanonier Plinganser’s 5. Batterie were located at Remenoville, right in the center the brutal back and forth fighting. Early on 24 August, 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division was given the task to open the route from Mont to Blainville; 12. bFAR was attached to the 5. b. Infantrie Brigade on the right side of the avenue of attack for this task. By early afternoon, 12. bFAR had taken up a position on Hill 251, north of Blainville, but without the 5. Batterie. The 5. Batt 12. bFAR had been fixed in its previous position by enemy artillery fire and was not able to move until the next morning (the morning of 24 August) when it took up a position south of Lamath. Infantry regiments of the 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division continued a slow advance from Blainville toward Remenoville, supported by its own artillery, but under heavy counter-fire from French artillery. Progress was made kilometer by kilometer and by 6pm on 24 August, elements of the Division were outside Remenoville. However, during this advance, II. Abteilung 12. bFAR came under heavy French artillery fire near Franconville, a few kilometers north of Remenoville. The heaviest casualties were suffered by 5. Batt 12. bFAR. II. Abteilung 12. bFAR finally arrived at Remenoville by 7pm in the evening. Almost immediately, the German troops at Remenoville came under heavy French artillery fire and infantry attacks. By dawn on 25 August, Remenoville was in flames and the front line between German and French forces was just outside the village. Kanonier Plinganser, however, had not lived to see that dawn.
The Battle of the Charmes Gap, August 1914
Line of German Attack on 24 August
12. bFAR positions Remenoville, 24 August
Line of French Counterattack on 25 August
With the end of the war in November 1918, the III. Abteilung was dissolved, with the 7. Batterie being completely disbanded, the 8. Batterie moving to I. Abteilung, and 9. Batterie moving to II. Abteilung. The Regiment was demobilized at Ebermannstadt on 18 December 1918 and dissolved in January 1919. Elements of the Regiment became part of Frei- or Volkswehr-Batterie Zacherl, later Heyl; later these elements became 3. Batterie Reichswehr-Artillerie-Regiment 23. In August 1921, this unit became 3. Batterie des 7. (Bayerisches) Artillerie-Regiments garrisoned in Würzburg. The tradition of 12. bFAR was taken up in the Wehrmacht by the II. Abteilung des Artillerieregiments 33 in Landau und later by Artillerieregiment 69 in Mannheim.
Kraus, Jürgen. Handbuch der Verbände und Truppen des deutschen Heeres 1914-1918. Teil IX: Feldartillerie. Band 1. Vienna: Verlag Militaria, 2007. Web (Wikipedia Deutschland). 24 August 2014
Herwig, Holger H. The Marne, 1914. New York: Random House. 2009. Print.
“Les batailles de Lorraine.” n.p. n.d. chtimiste.com/batailles1418/lorraine.htm Web. 24 August 2014
“Pierre’s Photo Impressions of the Western Front.” n.p. n.d. pierreswesternfront.punt.nl/content/2012/10/als-lorraine-gap-of-charmes Web. 24 August 2014
The Prussian and spolei. “Kgl. Bayer. 12. Feldartillerie-Regiment info needed.” GMIC.co.uk Web. 24 August 2014
This is a tough question since a definitive list is elusive. The regiments existing prior to August 1914 are well known. On the Prussian side there were 89 Feld-Artillerie Regiments (FAR), 22 Fuss-Artillierie Regiments (FuAR), and several corresponding Reserve regiments. In Bavaria, there were an additional 12 FAR and 3 FuAR. (Of course, this is not even precise, as I've seen in Cron and Jager the numbers add up +/- one or two regiments.)
It is the war-raised units that make a complete list difficult; both regiments and separate battalions. Then there are the munitions columns, which add an exponential number to the problem. And let's not forget the Matrosen Artillerie units of the Navy. Pouring through 251 Divisions shows many high numbered regiments; however, without a unit index it's time-consuming to pull together a list. I've started this task, but like all things, other priorities push it far to the bottom of my to-do list.
I was going to mention my highest number regiment collected so far; however, when I tried to open the spreadsheet that lists all of my Artillery items (including where/when purchased and how much paid), the file was corrupted and unrecoverable! Of course, this is a huge catastrophe because I have no back-up file. Guess what is now on my to-do list.
In December 2009, I set for myself the goal of collecting at least one item (medals, postcards, death cards, photos, shoulder straps, militarpass, etc) from each Imperial German Artillery regiment and other Artillery units, both Feld-Artillerie and Fuss-Artillerie. This clearly is a daunting task considering the number of German Artillery regiments (Prussian, Bavarian, active, reserve) and the number of separate battalions, batteries, and munitions columns.
As of March 2011, I have collected 59 regiments and 15 other Artillery units, as well as several photos and postcards from unknown units representing the guns and uniforms of the Imperial German Artillery. I have also added several Austrian, British, French, and American units and artillery pieces to the mix.
There is still a long, long way to go and I am looking for any artillery-related items of Imperial Germany. This blog hopefully will document my search for these many regiments.
With the Centenary of the First World War approaching, I feel it's a good time to revive this blog and update the target list for my "plan" to acquire items from as many Imperial German Artillery regiments as feasible. As of January 2014, I've collected at least one item from 117 different Artillery Regiments and from 44 other artillery batteries/battalions/munitions columns; as well as dozens of photos of artillery pieces and soldiers from unknown units. I've added Austrian, Bulgarian, Turkish, French, British and Commonwealth, American, Italian, Belgian, Russian, and Serbian units and artillery pieces to the mix. Most of these items are post cards and I've posted many of them on GMIC.
The Imperial German Artillery consisted of two primary types: Field (or Light) Artillery (Feld-Artillerie) and Foot (or Heavy) Artillery (Fuss-Artillerie). Artillery regiments could be further identified as either Prussian or Bavarian; since Bavaria's Army remained nominally independent after German unification in 1871. Artillery regiments from Württemberg, Saxony, Baden, and the other German States became elements of the Prussian Army, but still maintained their unique State identity. Prussian and Bavarian artillery consisted of both active and reserve regiments; there were also Gebirgs-Artillerie (mountain artillery), Landwehr and Landsturm artillery units, as well as munitions columns for artillery ammunition transport. Specialized units also were associated with the artillery, such as Artillerie-Messtruppe (survey units) and Feld-Flieger Abteilungen Artillerie (aviation units for artillery observation). In addition to Fuss-Artillerie regiments, there were separate batteries and battalions of heavy artillery. The German Navy also fielded Marine Artillery units (Matrosen-Artillerie) and manned coastal defense guns.
Considering the extent of the Imperial German Artillery, I've still a very long way to go to assemble a very representative collection. I also still have the idea in the back of my mind to create a website to combine the items I've collected with some of the history of the regiments and gunners represented by these items. Maybe this will be the year to actually pull the trigger and set up the website. In the meantime, I hope to revive this blog and even write a few articles for the GMIC article section.