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Vizefeldwebel Richard Wahl was a member of the 120th Landwehr Infanterie Regiment. He was gassed in mid 1916 in the Argonne and after his recovery served as a guard at an officers POW camp. He was obviously not with his unit when Sgt York won his medal of honor, but his Militärpass has an array of interesting signatures including the signature of Oberleutnant Vollmer (!!!!!) Wahl's company commander. Vollmer was of course the officer captured by Sgt York
 
"German First Lieutenant Paul Jürgen Vollmer, commander of the First Battalion, 120th Landwehr Infantry, emptied his pistol trying to kill York while he was contending with the machine guns. Failing to injure York, and seeing his mounting losses, he offered in English to surrender the unit to York, who accepted."
 
Other accounts have him calling for his men to surrender while Sgt York poked his .45 in Vollmer's ribs.
 
The Group has Wahl's Iron Cross 2nd Class award document, his Wound Badge award document, His Soldbuch, His Militärpass, His Ehrenkreuz Certificate, his Arbeitsbuch and a fantastic field diary with very detailed and rather emotional descriptions of his "reluctant" service. Included are his scathing views of the brutality of the instructors on a machine gun course, his frustration at being posted to the front, general disillusion about army life and his disgust at the officers of the regiment while they were serving in the Argonne. He accuses them of avoiding the front lines. The diary would be a valuable insight to anyone doing work on the Sgt York Theme. wahl4.jpg.256fcb5fd5dddf789871fe521c2b1ba8.jpgwahl3.thumb.jpg.529935cf5c73a0b61104e460a12958a1.jpgwahl2.thumb.jpg.e35875c7427e24705a587c68bff4e8aa.jpgwahl1.thumb.jpg.caefd051c1034bc28525efb42722f1fc.jpgwahl5.thumb.jpg.91a30681621081c210cf570230fe6470.jpg
 
P.S. most of the diary is transcribed and translated.... example....
 
"Upon my return Hauptmann Schmid informed me he had proposed me for the Machinegun Abteilung. I hinted that I was not of the right physical stature for this and that I was not in the mood for another back breaking course. He agreed and cancelled the posting.
On the 23rd of October I was posted with 5 other Gefreiter to a combat company and was to leave with Hauptmann Dillerz for Muensingen. A counter order from the Generalkommando came ordering me to the Machine Gunners in Ulm. The Hauptmann and Feldwebel tried to stop this but the Generalkommando overruled. Here we Unteroffizier qualified Gefreiters had an easy time. We took part in the instruction but had our rest while the 19 year olds were put through their paces. How they were hazed! I could barely watch! An example, a physically weak man named Frank was drilled so hard with the machine gun that collapsed and got heart cramps. These lasted 2 hours until I and two other Gefreiter loaded him in a wagon and pushed him back to quarters. I could not stand watching this, let alone participate in it. Dr Deufel found a nervous heart flutter and an eye problem and soon I was on my way back to Ravenburg, inapt for Machine Gun service. On the 5th of November I was back in the 2. Komp. 14 days later came a question from the battalion if the 2. Komp thought I was apt and ready to be promoted to Unteroffizier. The company affirmed this but on the 20th of November came the message that Gefreiter who had front experience would be promoted first and there were only 4 positions. I would have to wait another 3 weeks. From the 20th of November discipline was strengthened in the company. The men had been misbehaving and the Hauptmann had to show his strict disciplinarian side. Extra exercising, arrest and punishment duties (Verschaerfter Dienst). I did not have to suffer any of this although the training personnel were closely observed."

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Hi Chris, thanks for sharing this, very interesting indeed.   I am in occasional contact with Sgt York's Grandson, Gerry York (Col, US Army, Ret), whom I served with in my Army days and who was kind enough to write an endorsement of my book, Imperial Germany's 'Iron Regiment' of the First World War:  History of IR 169.  Gerry had done a lot to promote his grandfather's legacy, and I think he will be interested in this.    Life in a German MG Company was rough indeed.  Otto Lais, a key source in the newly published 2nd edition of my book (www.ironregiment169.com) details his experiences as a MG Company commander in the last year of the war.   A fascinating topic.  Best Regards,   John Rieth  

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Interesting grouping.  And I think york did Volmer a favor by poking him with his 45.

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Very fascinating Chris. You impress me with your ability to find great documents.

I just visited the Iron Regiment site and decided to buy the kindle version. It's always amazed me that German veterans of WW1 and WW2 moved to the USA to start a new life. I hope to enjoy this book over the holiday weekend. - Charles

 

Edited by ccj

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Hi Guys,

 

thanks for the comments :-)

Yup, as I slowly reach 50 and realise that I have so many documents and groups bought over the years that I had planned to research in detail... then I see how fast the years shoot by and I realise I will never be able to do them justice.

at the risk of bending forum rules, if anyone has an intrest in this bit of German/American history, see the classified section ;-)

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Charles, thanks for your post and interest in the book.  In particular, when you start reading the book, I will be interested in your comments on the map page of the website that pinpoints key locations in IR 169's wartime journey.  This is a new feature for the 2nd Edition, and I am curious on how it is received, and suggestions for improvements.     All the best for the holiday season.   John Rieth

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Absolutely craptastic! You sure stepped into something great. There is a Sgt. York park and museum in Tennessee, USA, which includes men doing 82d Infantry Div and Ldw IR 120 reenactment. 

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