John Rieth here. I am pleased to announce the release of the second edition of my book, Germany's Iron Regiment of the First World War: War Memories of Service with Infantry Regiment 169, 1914-1918. The new edition is essentially a rewrite of the original that adds over 100 pages of text, maps and pictures to the 2014 publication.
In the many years I have been researching this project, I have come to conclude that the Iron Regiment this is one of the very few books that provides an English language telling of a complete German WW I regimental history. IR 169 had a remarkable journey through the war where it found itself at the epicenter of many of its greatest battles, ranging from the Battle of the Frontiers in early 1914, Flanders (1914-15), the Somme (1915-1916), the Aisne (1917), the German Spring Offensives of 1918 and concluding with its annihilation by US Marines and Army tanks in the Argonne Forest in November 1918. The book was initially inspired by a wartime journal written by my grandfather, Albert Rieth, an IR 169 veteran who was wounded in the Battle of the Frontiers in August 1914 and at La Bassee, Flanders, in January 1915. Much of the book’s content is drawn from rare soldier accounts, many published here for the first time in English.
I was compelled to write the second edition after a number of readers vectored me to a large amount of new source material that was unavailable for the initial publication. The most significant of these came from two additional books authored by Otto Lais, an IR 169 veteran who in 1936 published a pamphlet of his experiences in the Somme. For the new edition, I was able to acquire and translate key excerpts from two additional, and quite rare books that Lais wrote about his 1917-1918 service in IR 169. Lais was an interesting fellow. Only 21 years old by the War’s end, he fought as a machine gunner in the Somme and eventually earned a battlefield commission in 1917. He went on to command IR 169 machine gun and rifle companies in the 1917 Aisne Campaign, the Spring 1918 Offensives, Bapaume and in the Meuse-Argonne. In a stroke of luck, Lais survived IR 169’s annihilation on November 1, 1918 when he was transferred to a staff position two days earlier (1,500 IR 169 troops entered the Argonne in late September, only a few dozen were left in ranks by Nov 1.) Lais’ experiences as a small unit leader are as gripping as any first person accounts that I have read of the German side of the war.
More information on the book, as well as a Google Map of the regiment’s service and a detailed description of all new content, can be found at www.ironregiment169.com. In my website, I am trying to display as many photographs of IR 169 soldiers as possible. I welcome forum member assistance for those having IR 169 related photographs they are willing to share.
I welcome further comments and questions for anyone that has an interest in this subject.
Best Regards, John Rieth