French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

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Carl Schwamberger
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French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 06 Aug 2017 03:39

I'd long assumed there was no regular or systematic replacement of losses in the infantry regiments in the opening months of 1914. Can anyone point to sources on this subject, or describe what either side did about filling the ranks back out during August - October, & beyond to December?

Thanks

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jluetjen
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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby jluetjen » 11 Aug 2017 12:36

As far as I know the German system worked as planned prior to the war. Solders were moved up from the Reserve and Ersatz units to fill the gaps caused by casualties, in addition complete reserve regiments were brought up when ready. Ersatz units were maintained in each district which continued to train and move soldiers up as each year's class was trained. Soldiers recuperating from injuries might also be assigned to these ersatz units if they were not able return to the front, or until they were ready.

This is documented in a number of books included "The Kaiser's Army" by David Stone, "The Imperial German Army" by Cron, and Imperial Germany by Robinson and Robinson.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 15 Aug 2017 03:50

Thanks. I'll have to look in the Library for Stones book. The fragment I've seen cited seemed different. One item was the autm of 1914 class was used to form "Nue Reserve" corps that were used as operational units in a late October offensive. The battle or massacre of the innocents as I've seen it called.

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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby Ken S. » 23 Jan 2018 10:09

Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but we could look at individual regiments based on their regimental histories. For example, the Bavarian 17. Res.-Inf.-Regt. According to the history, its combat strength had been reduced to 600 men and the II. Batl. had been disbanded by Nov. 13. First reference to replacements arriving is Nov. 15, with about 50 men being assigned to each company (ie. c. 400 men). A second contingent of about 500 men arrived on Nov. 18, raising the manpower of each company to about 180 men. The arrival of additional replacements allowed for the re-establishment of II. Btl. with just two companies on Dec. 6, but one each was attached to the I and III. Batls until mid-Feb. 1915 when the other two companies + Batl. HQ were finally re-established.

https://portal.dnb.de/bookviewer/view/1 ... 8/mode/2up

Not sure this regiment is the best example of how replacements were allocated, so i'll look into other regiments if it's of interest.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 23 Jan 2018 15:32

Thanks, thats what I'm looking for. If anyone can point me to more examples/sources it would be great.

The question derives from analysis of how the formations lost combat power during the August-November battles. & how the combat power was restored, or failed to be restored. Artillery ammunition seems to be a critical item. Over the long haul the loss of trained leaders is another.

Thanks much

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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby Ken S. » 24 Jan 2018 04:29

Perhaps some of the sources to this article?

https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.n ... es_germany

esp.

See: Overmans, “Kriegsverluste” 2004, especially the Kriegsverluste chart, p. 665. Also, McRandle James/Quirk, James: “The Blood Test Revisited: A New Look at German Casualty Counts in World War I,“ The Journal of Military History 70 (July 2006), pp. 667-702; Prost, Antoine: “The Dead,“ in Winter, Jay (ed.): The Cambridge History of the First World War, Volume III, Cambridge 2014, Chapter XX.

Another example:

The history for the Lehr-Infanterie-Regiment is fairly comprehensive and there is even a list of the drafts sent to replenish it. It departed with a strength of 58 officers and 3389 OR. The drafts for 1914 were (page 640):

Sept 22: 1 off., 254 OR
Oct. 5: 1 off., 72 OR
Nov. 7: 2 off., 389 OR
same day: 261 OR from Fus-Regt 90
Nov. 29: 1 off.
Dec. 1: 2 off.
Dec. 2: 233 OR
Dec. 5, 10, 22: 1 off. each
Dec. 25: 2 off., 470.

Casualties for 1914 (page 634)
Officers: 19 dead, 50 wounded.
OR: 672 dead, 1533 wounded, 92 sick, 747 missing.


The history for Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 116 is less detailed, but on about Sept. 11 it appears to have received it's first draft of reinforcements: 500 men, which brought the regiment's combat strength up to 1300.

https://portal.dnb.de/bookviewer/view/1 ... 0/mode/2up

There are also a few charts at the end of the book that may be of interest:

https://portal.dnb.de/bookviewer/view/1 ... 8/mode/2up

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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 24 Jan 2018 14:06

Thats a hefty loss rate for the Lehr Regiment. Difficult to see it retaining full cohesion, tactical capability, & combat power. Was skimming thru Rommels 'Infantry Attacks' & there are some fragmentary examples of the battalion or regiment losses. Less about replacements. He remarked on encountering a regiment that had lost all its officers, 100%. A senior NCO had rounded up & reformed the survivors.
Last edited by Carl Schwamberger on 25 Jan 2018 11:56, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby Ken S. » 24 Jan 2018 19:58

Is there a date for this, or a general period? It could be possible to identify that unit.

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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby monk2002uk » 25 Jan 2018 17:02

Carl Schwamberger wrote:The question derives from analysis of how the formations lost combat power during the August-November battles. & how the combat power was restored, or failed to be restored.

Carl, are you referring to combat strength or combat power in respect of infantry replacements? The two are not necessarily synonymous.

For a French example, the 1st Battalion 87th Infantry Regiment was involved in the Battle of Longlier-Hamipré on August 20th 1914. It was providing flank protection for a French cavalry division. During the battle, the battalion was assaulted on three sides. It lost at least 500 effectives wounded, killed, or captured. The war diary notes, however, that the 1st Battalion was still attached to the cavalry on 26th August. The battalion was then re-united with its parent infantry regiment on 1st September. At no point was the battalion disbanded and reformed. Approximately 2/5 of the original battalion were present when it returned to the regiment. The battalion resumed active operations with the regiment on 1st September. 87 RI then received 800 reinforcements on 7th September, most of whom were assigned to the 1st Battalion as you would expect.

Robert

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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 25 Jan 2018 20:02

Combat power.

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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby Ken S. » 25 Jan 2018 20:34

This may be it:

September 2, 1914

rommel.png


Ken S. wrote:Is there a date for this, or a general period? It could be possible to identify that unit.
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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby monk2002uk » 26 Jan 2018 03:28

Carl Schwamberger wrote:Combat power.

Thanks Carl. Combat power is much harder to assess, presuming that we are referring to the ability of a combat unit to inflict damage on an enemy unit and to resist effectively under fire from an enemy unit. Combat power is not just a function of losses. Some units lost heavily but still operated effectively, whereas others lost fewer casualties but were not as reliable or capable. It is relatively easy to track replacement numbers and timing in many British and French units, given the ready access to individual unit war diaries (though not all record such figures). The Prussian records were lost in WW2, though many regimental histories record such figures as noted already. There are detailed records available for the Bavarian contingent in the German army, as well as some of the other German states.

Robert

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 26 Jan 2018 17:00

Information on artillery ammunition has been turning up elsewhere, in small but useful amounts. it looks like there was a systematic & rapid mechanism for pushing ammunition to the batteries on a as needed basis. There were division trains with at least a days supply and army depots along the railways. The railways were carrying away the ammunition from the garrison depots & factories so efficiently the reserve was drawn down to zero as fast as the field armies could shoot it. Replacement of infantrymen seems to be a different matter, but its not clear to me in the details.

The other critical detail is the functioning of the tactical command and staff at the battalion-regiment, hence my interest in the anecdote about the loss of the entire regiment cadre of officers.

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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby monk2002uk » 26 Jan 2018 18:23

Battalion and regimental commands were very different in the Continental armies, whereas they were the same in the British army. In any single engagement, only a few of the units would be involved. With a few exceptions (such as the French Colonial Division at Rossignol), regiments and divisions were not rendered incapable by losses in a battle. Indeed, there were significant improvements in tactical command - in all sides and right across the board, command-wise.

There is a very important paper by von Kuhl, who was von Kluck's Chief of Staff in the German First Army. It covers the whole logistics process for First Army, which was arguably the most stretched of all the German armies involved in the first weeks of the war. I will try and dig out the reference for you.

Robert

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Re: French & German Infantry Replacement. 1914

Postby monk2002uk » 26 Jan 2018 18:49

Carl Schwamberger wrote:Replacement of infantrymen seems to be a different matter, but its not clear to me in the details.
The most critical issue, with respect to infantry manpower, was to get as many divisions into the field as possible. So long as there were open flanks, the possibility existed of getting around these and forcing an early end to the war (seemingly). Even relatively badly mauled existing units could still perform useful functions on the battlefield so it was not a top priority to restore these to full strength compared with fielding whole new divisions.

Robert


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