August 1914. Lt. Erwin Rommel goes to war. Part 1 - Background Information.

Discussion in 'World War I' started by davebender, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Wuerttemberg Map JPEG.jpg


    Württemberg History.
    Kingdom of Württemberg history dates back to the 12th century centered on the city of Stuttgart. Württemberg was one of 25 states which made up Deutsches-Reich during 1871 to 1918. Like most German states, Württemberg government continued to function at the state and local level. Württemberg military units were reorganized to Prussian standards but maintained historical names and linage during peacetime.

    Württemberg Army Garrisons.
    Stuttgart. XIII Army Corps HQ.
    Stuttgart. 1st Württemberg.
    Ulm. 2nd Württemberg.
    Ludwigsburg. 3rd Württemberg.
    Heilbronn. 4th Württemberg.
    Ulm. 5th Württemberg.
    Weingarten. 6th Württemberg. Rommel’s unit. Linage dates to 1673.
    Stuttgart. 7th Württemberg.
    Straßburg. 8th Württemberg.
    Ulm. 9th Württemberg.

    Münsingen Major Training Area. Established 1895.
    Each German army corps had a Major Training Area large enough to conduct division level combined arms and live fire training. The Württemberg based XIII Army Corps MTA was located just north of Münsingen. Every German infantry regiment spent a 3 week period at the MTA each year during which they conducted tactical exercises which were evaluated. Most units squeezed in additional training at the MTA in addition to the graded exercise period. Otto von Moser commanded the 53rd Infantry Brigade (Bde HQ for Rommel’s infantry regiment). He stated that XIII Army Corps was a crack unit and one of the reasons was outstanding training at Münsingen MTA.

    Erwin Rommel Background.
    15 Nov 1891. Born in Heidenheim (near Ulm) in the German state of Württemberg.
    19 July 1910. Enlisted in 6th Württemberg Regiment as Fähnrich (officer cadet).
    March 1911. Enters officer cadet school in Danzig.
    15 Nov 1911. Graduates from cadet training.
    27 Jan 1912. Commissioned Leutnant and returned to 6th Württemberg Regiment.
    …..While in Danzig Rommel met Lucie Mollin who he would marry during 1916.
    1912 to Jul 1914. Served as regimental officer in charge of recruiting.
    18 Sep 1915. Promoted to Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant).


    If people are interested I will add additional installments. The next one would cover mobilization of Württemberg units which began August 2nd, 1914.
     
  2. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    Go for it dave
    John
     
  3. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. I'd like to see more, please. I used to live just outside of Stuttgart in Leonberg and near Heidelburg in a little place called Eberbach on the Neckar, so I've been around the area a bit. Will be intersting to hear more about the region at that time.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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  5. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Very cool thread! I used to live in Stuttgart.
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    #6 davebender, Nov 27, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011
    28 June 1914.
    Franz Ferdinand and his wife killed by a Serbian sponsored terrorist group in Sarajevo.

    25 July 1914.
    Serbia orders a general mobilization of her army.
    Austria-Hungary orders a partial mobilization of her army (vs Serbia).

    26 July 1914
    Russia orders a partial mobilization of her army.

    27 July 1914.
    France begins making preparations for mobilization.

    29 July 1914
    Russia orders a full mobilization of her army.
    (The Russian order is canceled, then reissued on 30 July 1914)

    29 July 1914.
    Belgium orders a partial mobilization.

    29 July 1914.
    British Government orders the army to make preparations for mobilization.

    30 July 1914.
    French army partial mobilization. 5 army corps.

    31 July 1914
    Austria-Hungary orders a full mobilization.

    31 July 1914.
    Ottomans order a full mobilization, to begin 3 August 1914.

    31 July 1914.
    German Government orders the army to make preparations for mobilization.
    …..Rommel mentions the 49th Field Artillery Regiment purchasing horses on the afternoon of 31 Jul 1914.

    Ulm, Germany. 31 July 1914,
    Lt. Rommel was temporarily assigned to Ulm during March 1914.
    ….. 27th Infantry Division HQ and 49th Field Artillery were located at Ulm in addition to 2nd, 5th and 9th infantry regiments. It must have been one of the larger Württemberg army garrison locations.
    The order to prepare for mobilization ended Rommel’s temporary duty assignment. Rommel was ordered back to the 6th Württemberg Regiment at Weingarten, arriving late in the evening.

    1900 31 July 1914.
    Belgium orders a full mobilization, to begin the next day (1 Aug 1914).

    1 August 1914.
    German army mobilizes 16th Army Corps at Metz.

    1 Aug 1914.
    France orders a full mobilization, to take effect the next day (2 Aug 1914).

    1 Aug 1914.
    Germany orders a full mobilization, to take effect the next day (2 Aug 1914).

    20:30 2 August 1914.
    PM Asquith signs the order for Britain to mobilize.

    ….. By 2100 2 Aug 1914 the major European combatants were committed to a general European war.


    1 Aug 1914. Weingarten.
    Lt. Rommel is assigned to 7th Company, 6th Württemberg Infantry Regiment. This was his original unit before assignment to recruiting duty.

    1800 1 Aug 1914. Weingarten.
    Regiment inspection by Colonel Haas. The German mobilization order is received immediately after the order to fall out.
    …..Inspection of an infantry regiment takes awhile. I assume the mobilization order was received around 2000 (8 p.m. for you civilians).

    Dusk. 2 Aug 1914.
    6th Württemberg entrains for Ravensburg.
    .....Ravensburg is only a short distance from Weingarten. I assume it was simply the first rail junction on the way to the Diedenhofen mobilization site.
    …..Lt. Rommel remained at Weingarten until 5 Aug 1914. He accompanied a group of reservists to the mobilization site.

    1:850,000 Elsaß-Lothringen Map. The JPEG file of the map was about one MB in size so I have posted only a link.
    Alsace-Lorraine/Elsass-Lothringen - Country of the German Empire
    .....Diedenhofen and Königsmachern are in the upper left hand corner of the Elsaß-Lothringen map.

    Evening. 6 Aug 1914.
    Lt. Rommel and his group of reservists arrive at Königsmachern (near Diedenhofen).
    ..... The Metz – Diedenhofen fortress complex was among the strongest in the world. Germany had built rail sidings and supply centers to enable its use as a major mobilization site. France did the same thing at Verdun.

    After leaving the train Lt. Rommel and his group of reservists conducted a 6 hour march in the rain, arriving at Ruxweiler around midnight. 1Lt Bammert (his company commander) showed them to their quarters.
    ….. 6 hours is a long march in the rain for newly mobilized reservists!
    ….. France has changed many of the original German town names. Ruxweiler is now called Rochonvillers. One of the largest Maginot line fortifications was built at that location during the 1930s. I suspect the original German town was razed during construction.

    If you draw a line between Diedenhofen (modern day Thionville) and Esch, Luxembourg the town of Ruxweiler would be slightly west of the half way point.

    27th Infantry Division (2nd Royal Württemberg) upon mobilization. August 1914.
    53. Kgl. Württembergische Infanterie-Brigade
    …..Grenadier-Regiment König Karl (5. Württembergisches) Nr. 123
    …..Infanterie-Regiment König Wilhelm I (6. Württembergisches) Nr. 124 (Rommel’s unit).

    54. Kgl. Württembergische Infanterie-Brigade
    …..Infanterie-Regiment Kaiser Wilhelm, König von Preußen (2. Württembergisches) Nr. 120
    …..9. Württembergisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 127

    Ulanen-Regiment König Karl (1. Württembergisches) Nr. 19
    27. Kgl. Württembergische Feldartillerie-Brigade
    …..Feldartillerie-Regiment König Karl (1. Württembergisches) Nr. 13
    …..3. Württembergisches Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 49
    2.Kompanie/Württembergisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 13
    3.Kompanie/Württembergisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 13

    From this point onward I will refer to “27th Infantry Division”, “124th Infantry Regiment” etc. The official German titles are too much of a mouthful for me.

    7 to 17 Aug 1914. Training area vicinity of Ruxweiler.
    Like almost all German infantry regiments the 124th was composed partly of active duty personnel and partly reservists. They spent 10 days at Ruxweiler organizing the unit and conducting refresher training.

    Rommel was only a Lieutenant and platoon leader during August 1914. Therefore I think it worthwhile to consider what a 1914 German infantry company looked like.
    …..Wartime strength of 5 officers and 260 enlisted men.
    …..Commander was supposed to be a captain. However many were 1LT.
    …..About 18 career NCOs during peacetime. This was diluted upon mobilization. Some NCOs became cadre for new units. Reserve NCOs made up the difference. Over three times as many career NCOs as a typical French company. Career NCOs plus major training areas such as Münsingen were the main reasons for German Army qualitative superiority during WWI.
    …..4 medics per battalion. Each company would normally have 1.
    …..3 infantry platoons with 72 men each. 8 squads per platoon, each led by a Sgt or Cpl.
    …..Ammunition wagon, mobile field kitchen, supply wagon and rations wagon.
    …..Additional assets for medical support, engineering tools and machineguns were under regimental control. They would be attached as necessary.

    Training at the German infantry company level emphasized rifle marksmanship. Every platoon had two range estimators to assist with directing rifle fire onto the target. They were taught to recognize human targets at ranges up to 2,000 meters. The objective was to place a garbe (i.e. beaten zone) onto the enemy unit. Today we do essentially the same thing with light machineguns. Individual soldier, squad and platoon combat techniques were mastered as battle drills. A training method employed by most modern day armies. Combat movement was accomplished by bounds (called “bounding overwatch” in the modern day U.S. Army). Combat gunnery qualification was conducted twice a year, normally at the MTA.

    The German soldier’s combat load (weapon, ammunition, pack, coat, poncho, mess kit, bayonet, bread canister, canteen, entrenching tool, helmet, two wound dressings) weighed 24 to 30kg. When on the move he was expected to march 22 to 25km per day. Jaeger marched up to 40km per day but they were the cream of the crop. Packs were almost always carried into combat rather then risk losing them.

    Amazingly enough, German VIII and V Reserve Corps marched over 40km on 22 Aug 1914 and were pitched immediately into combat. I can scarcely imagine my old Michigan Army National Guard company doing that.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    18 Aug 1914.
    German 5th Army crosses the border into Luxembourg.
    124th Infantry Regiment was part of 5th Army. Lt. Rommel’s battalion spent the night in Budersberg.

    19 Aug 1914.
    124th Infantry march past the French fortress at Longwy.

    20 Aug 1914.
    124th Infantry reach Meix-la-Tige, Belgium. Enemy aircraft were observed and fired upon without result.

    21 Aug 1914.
    Lt. Rommel leads a 5 man recon detachment to Cosnes, which was located west of the French fort at Longwy.

    Upon returning to Meix-la-Tige Lt. Rommel moves with 124th Infantry to a bivouac site 2 miles south of Saint Leger. This movement is only a few km.

    However Rommel doesn’t get much sleep. He is tasked with delivering a message to 1st Battalion which was located at Villancourt. Rommel makes the trip accompanied by 3 enlisted men.

    Lt. Rommel arrives back at Saint Leger after midnight. He is dispatched to carry a second message to 1st Battalion. At dawn he arrives back at Saint Leger dead tired just as his unit is about to participate in the Battle of Bleid.


    Battle of Bleid Map II.jpg
     
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