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This group is an "almost".. but still pretty nice.

This is a pre Verdun offensive doc. Our man was at battalion HQ until the 26 Feb 1916 when it seems he went back to his company, the 8th of F?silier regt 37.

The regt is one of my favourites as it is part of the elite 10th reserve division. I grab any docs I can to the division.

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His EK2 made out to him in the 8th Comapny of the regt.

It was awarded in April, but could have been for earlier service.

Unfortunately withought the Regt history I cannot see if he is mentioned as having fought in Feb, March, April.

Senior NCOs are mentioned in the 37th Reserve history, so I am hoping the 37th Fusilier regt history is as good.

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Hi Bob-check the GEF. there's a sturmbattalion conference coming up in the UK?

GWF. I just saw the mention of it, but did not look at the topic carefully; have to fly out the door with some work in hand. I don't know how I can participate. I have done a bit of research in the UK, but don't see myself getting there in the near future.

Just a couple of the things that set the German storm formations at a different level.

- All the men, with the exception of more senior types, were to be under 25 and unmarried. They wanted men who, in the words of one of the two greatest definers of storm troop technique; "had a death-defying joy of combat".

- I will argue that a storm Trupp leader (unit of 9-10 men), who was a lance corporal or junior sergeant (or in my father's case, an ordinary private; having shot his coy. CO, shot a sergeant, and kicked in the face of another sergeant with his hob-nails; he was not getting any promotions, or medals aside from his wound badge) had more freedom of action and private decision making than a Brit lt.-colonel commanding a battalion, at least until say late 1916. Perhaps Allied units on storm duty had different command concepts. But as I do not know of specific Allied storm units (aside from the Italians), only elite 'ordinary" units detailed to a given attack, I think the old top-down detailed management habits largely stuck.

Bob Lembke

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Quickly, another example. I think that I have detailed this before. A platoon sergeant or a second lieutenant, commanding a German flame platoon, might be sent with his men 100 miles to participate in an attack; he had the right to review the plan of attack, prepared by or under the authority of a Generalleutnant or a General der Infantrie (full general), and state that he was of the opinion that the plan of attack was deficient, did not properly employ the flame weapon, and that he and his platoon would not be participating in the attack unless the plan was revised. And the NCO or junior lt. had a written order from OHL (i.e., Hindenburg and Ludendorff, the latter the virtual dictator of Germany) laying out his right to approve the attack order.

I cannot think of any delegation of authority to storm leaders remotely like this on the Allied side. Anyone? And you may be sure that this right of review had a major role in flame units having an average of one KIA or DOW per flame attack, with no one killed in the majority of attacks. My father wrote a letter to his staff officer father describing an attack with three killed and 12 wounded as a "catastrophe".

Bob Lembke

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Quickly, another example. I think that I have detailed this before. A platoon sergeant or a second lieutenant, commanding a German flame platoon, might be sent with his men 100 miles to participate in an attack; he had the right to review the plan of attack, prepared by or under the authority of a Generalleutnant or a General der Infantrie (full general), and state that he was of the opinion that the plan of attack was deficient, did not properly employ the flame weapon, and that he and his platoon would not be participating in the attack unless the plan was revised.

Are there any concrete examples of this happening?

I think in the military there are often things that are possible in theory, and the way things really are.

best

Chris

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Are there any concrete examples of this happening?

I think in the military there are often things that are possible in theory, and the way things really are.

best

Chris

Yes, of course. I myself have wondered about a Vize=Feldwebel oder Feldwebel=Leutnant standing up to a Generalleutnant and telling him that his plan to attack Sector X is dog-poop. The same order had other features; for example, that FW were only to be rarely used in defensive efforts. But of course it idea fits into the larger picture of German command theory; how the leader at the point of contact, never mind his rank, was supposed to figure out to do his assigned task, which was put in terms of the desired objective, not detailed plans as to how to reach that objective. I just read another example of the British style of command; after the first german flame attack against the british, at Hooge, how the brigadier at the spot was ordered to counter-attack with his decimated battalion across 400 yards of open land into the face of MGs and a certain withering barrier barrage; he telegraphed asking that the attack not be carried out, as it had zero chance of any success, but eventually he had to order the charge at 2:35 PM, as ordered, and in 5-10 minutes there probably only was 20 men of the battalion left, still hundreds of yards from the new German line. This order, of course, was ordered by Red Tabs say 20 miles behind the lines, any drummer boy or teamster on the location could tell that the attack was suicidal. I read things like this often in the English language literature; it seems to be inconceivable in the German Army of the period. First of all, staffers removed from the lines would not tell the officer on the spot how to get their objective, and officers could decide to not carry out or deviate from direct orders, if their opinion was otherwise; in a case like that at a higher pay grade the officer ignoring his written orders would dictate a memo to files explaining why he ignored his orders.

But to directly answer your question; I have not seen a case of a sergeant telling a major general that his attack plan is fatally flawed. As a collector of documents, you can appreciate that that is not the sort of conversation likely to be recorded. But the flame platoon was sent to the army corps for the attack by the OHL, based on an application by the army corps to OHL for FW support, and that a written report on every single flame attack, even by say one or two Truppen, was presented to the OHL every month. This direct reporting of the attack, even by a platoon, in addition to the existence of the written order, put the platoon leader in a strong position; if they were sent into a stupid attack, and 5 or 10 men killed, in a week or two a written report, including the names and rank of every lost man, would be presented, probably to Colonel Bauer, at OHL, possibly in person by the regimental commander. A situation that the sensible army corps commander would appreciate. Another channel of communication; the Crown Prince frequently dropped into my father's flame company barracks, Pop told me, and his letters home also reported, him caging cigarettes from the Crown Prince himself; the men wore the Crown Prince's personal symbol, the Death's Head, on their sleeve; another top storm unit wore his monogram on their sleeves; the COs of the two storm units were personally very well connected to the Crown Prince.

I see so many examples of the blind obedience to flawed orders is in the English-language literature in the Allied armies; multiple cases of Special Brigade troops opening up the taps of 1000 cylinders of clorine gas at 7 AM, as ordered, despite the wind having shifted into the British trenches, in one case then fleeing themselves supposedly with the wrenches, so that 2 hrs 5 minutes later the gas was still poisoning Brit troops, especially the wounded brought into the trench and necessarily laid on the trench floor, in the gas; or the horse-happy Red Tabs sending the new weapon, the tank, into the worst spot of the line, perhaps a sea of mud.

Bob Lembke

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