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    They Named it Passchendaele - Fw. Ludwig Seitz, SMKFVM - Baden

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    As the commemoration (100 Year start) of the beginning of the battle named after the town of "Passchendaele" starts in my homecountry Belgium i tought it would be nice to show some pieces out of the legacy from a former German Soldier, Ludwig Seitz who fought bravely in the named battle (wich was actual several battles), he was severely wounded and awarded the Baden Silver Militär Karl Friedrich Verdienstmedal (Only 1.282 awarded during WWI).

    Fw. Ludwig Seitz stands with his Unit (III./I.R. 185) near Poelcapelle.

    20 September 1917: The battlearea is nothing more then rubble and trenches are no more in existence due to intensive shelling and Artillery. The troops are without cover hiding in this muddy battlefield. There is no rest and the English are firing with all types of Artillery and Gasgrenades. 

    The troops of the IR 185 are subject of a very strong attack of the 51 (Highland) Division in the morning of 20 September 1917, starting from 5 H Clock. In the right wing of the area the enemy assault is beaten back by the 1 and 2nd Kp./IR 185. The first assault is as such beaten back near the place called "Jungburg" of in English Literature = "Pheasant Farm"  During a second try this fortifyed place and its occupants are overrun and the remnants has to fold back. The English troops can as such pierce the German frontline and and reach as such the SOuth of the former village of Poelkapelle.

    The German units of the III./IR 185 counterattack (composed out of 10/12 and one Zug MGK). Their counterattack is beaten back as they receive strong flanking fire, the objective to recapture the lost stronghold named "Jungburg" is not met.  They can't do anything as such as to dig in. The  9 and 11 Kp (Ludwig Seitz Unit) are now in turn and brought forward to form a defensive line in order to prevent a English breacktrough.

    21 September: The fighting continues and the German's try again to reconquer lost strongholds or trench position. These counterattacks fail once again. During the rest of the early day the battle becomes quiet.  The German's can see that the English bring in more troops and fortify the gained ground and positions.  During the evening the Artillery fire intensify's and this is followed by a strong attack. The troops of the IR 185 can beat it back shortly before their own defensive line.

    22 September: Heavy artillery fire that flaws down a bit during the late afternoon. It is on this day that Fw. Seitz Ludwig is heavely wounded in his forward position by Shrapnell Fragments in his legs. He is lucky and can be evacuated to the the rear positions and into the hospital.

    His superiors have seen his efforts and bravery and they recommend him for the Baden Silver Carl Friedrich Bravery Medal. He is awarded it as one the soldiers of the German units that stood in this battle with the following words "

    "Seitz gehört seit 01.03.1916 dem Regiment an. Er hat während dieser Zeit sämtliche Gefechte des Regiments ausnahmelos in vordere Linie mitgemacht. Ganz besonders in der letzten Flandernschlacht im September 1917 hat Seitz als stellvertretender Zugführer durch Umsicht und Kaltblütigkeit hervorragend gewirkt und Angriffe der Engländer wiederholt abgewiesen. Am 22.09.1917 wurde Seitz vor Langemark schwer Verwundet.  Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 185/11 Kompanie“"

    Transliterated this means "Seitz belongs to the Regiment since 01.03.1916. He has during this time taken part to all battles from the regiment, each time in the forward frontline. Quite exceptional during the last Flandersbattle in September 1917. There he was active as a replacing Zugführer and he had a major part in beating back several times the Englisch attacks due to his actions. He was wounded severely near Langemark.

    Togheter with Seitz, 2 other Non commisioned officers received the SMKFVM for the same battle.

    The losses on the English side for this particular succesfull battle, they described it as following "This battle affords an admirable illustration of the economic use of troops". They lost 45 officers and 1110 Soldiers. The gains where several 100 meters of terrain. The Allied artillery shot 87.553 Grenades at the German positions. The Divisional History of the 51 (Highlander) Division describes the German efforts as :

    Their left company was engaged by three machine-guns firing from Pheasant Trench and from a pill-box west of it. These where all knocked out, but not before thirty Germans had been killed who fought most gallantly round the pill-box” und “When one remembers the amount of Shells  wich had been deluged on the Germans in the Pheasant Trench position,  one cannot but admire the resolute manner in which they resisted our attack

    The losses for the IR185 between 23.08 and 04.10.1917 are counted as following: KIA 4 officers and 160 soldiers, WIA: 9 Officers and 469 Soldiers, MIA: 4 Officers and 196 Soldiers. As such a total loss for the Regiment during their part of the larger Passchendaele battle of 842 losses.

    L. Seitz never returned to his unit due to his wounds sustained on 22 September. He counts as one of the highest decorated soldiers from his unit and in the Baden Military for his actions in WWI.

    Thanks for reading and lets not forget the sacrifice of all soldiers - whatever side they where on.

    Cordial greetings






    eintrag im Buch verleihungsgrund SMKFVM.jpg

    Edited by Stijn David
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    What a fine story. The gallantry of individual soldiers and the sacrifices that they made magnify, in retrospect, the horrible folly of war. All soldiers deserve our tribute. Thanks for sharing the story and photo. Mike. 

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