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The 9th (Bavarian) Infantry Regiment.




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The 9th (Bavarian) Infantry Regiment was part of the 4th Bavarian Division, consisting of troops drawn from the districts surrounding Bamberg, Würzburg, Schweinfurt, Metz and Pirmasens. The division consisted of four regiments of infantry in 1914: 5th, 9th, 5th Reserve and 8th Reserve Bavarian regiments. These regiments took part in the opening moves of the war in August 1914 and among other locations fought on the Somme and Flanders in 1914, the Artois, Loos and Hulluch in 1915 including heavy fighting near the Hohenzollern Redoubt in October of that year. During their time in the Artois the regiments took part in extensive mine warfare against the opposing lines so the men for the most part were no strangers to the devastation of the mine warfare they were to experience in 1917. In 1915 the 8th Bavarian RIR was detached from the division and became part of the 10th Bavarian Division.

The 4th Division was sent to the Somme in 1916 and was heavily involved in the fighting near Flers-Courcelette. The 9th Bavarian Regiment, in particular the III Battalion (9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Coy) suffered heavily while on the Somme. This battalion faced the first tank attack of the war, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 15 September 1916.

After the division was relieved it was sent to a relatively quiet area opposite Ploegsteert Wood where it would remain until mid June 1917. While in the new position the regiments were able to reorganize the companies and fill up the empty ranks with new recruits. Many of the new men joining the 9th Bavarian Regiment were from the Class of 1917 (born in 1897) and some from the Class of 1918 (born in 1898). While the regiment was back to full strength the numbers of veteran soldiers was considerably less than had been present in 1916 during the heaviest fighting on the Somme.

On 3 June 1917 the 9th Bavarian IR relieved the 5th Bavarian Reserve Regiment due to high losses suffered by this regiment in heavy enemy shellfire. The position officially faced Ploegsteert Wood. However it was not really a wood according to the Bavarians, it was described as 'toothpicks' and not trees due to the splintering effect from the constant shellfire.

Once the relief had been accomplished the 9th Bavarian IR formed the right wing of the Division with the 40th Division to the right and the 5th Bavarian IR to the left. The III Battalion occupied Sector 1A with the 10th, 12th and 11th Coy in the front line, supported by the 9th Coy scattered in small outposts slightly to the rear. The line was considered to be strong, it had been in place since 1914 and many improvements had been made including a large number of concrete blockhouses and pillboxes.

The men in the 9th Bavarian IR also suffered under the heavy artillery fire. Hot food became almost impossible to bring up to the front lines. All food and water required carrying parties that took up to 1½ hours of walking over rough terrain just to reach the men. Many of the carriers were killed or wounded in the heavy fire and as a result food and water became scarce at the front.

The night of 6/7th June 1917 was particularly quiet according to the regimental records when suddenly at about 4 a.m. a series of mine explosions took place that shook the ground like an earthquake and sent huge pillars of fire into the dark sky. The ground appeared to burst apart, trenches and dugouts flew into the air and the greater part of the III Battalion sector was buried under the debris.

At the same moment the terrain became covered in fire. Smoke and dust filled the air along with shrapnel and shell splinters as the enemy artillery saturated the terrain in heavy fire. This was accompanied by rifle and machine gun fire. The terrain to the rear of the III Battalion position where two mines had detonated, Ultimo and Factory Farm, was cut off from the front by a curtain of impenetrable fire.

Almost immediately the Australian troops attacked using the wall of shell splinters, smoke and dust to mask their advance. The first attacks came in light skirmish waves followed by columns of troops to the rear.

The few dazed survivors of the 12th Coy, the right wing of the 11th Coy and left wing of the 10th Coy were quickly overwhelmed in the attack that quickly occupied the German positions and outflanked the neighboring units. The supporting 9th Coy was suddenly faced with a massive attack and those not killed were for the most part wounded or captured. The two companies assigned to the division boundary attempted to counterattack but were quickly surrounded by Australian troops and for the most part ended up as PoW's.

The men occupying the rear positions in the second line could not advance through the wall of fire and held on to their positions despite the heavy fire directed against them. The second positions held against the enemy pressure and soon became the new front line.

The neighboring 1st Company 5th Bavarian IR holding the line near the Factory Farm crater reacted quickly to the attack. While the company was forced to curve their line back to the rear in order to prevent it from becoming outflanked. Fresh reserves were quickly assembled and moved forward to prevent any chance of an enemy breakthrough in their direction and Leutnant der Reserve Eck, commanding 2nd Coy, quickly brought up three machine guns into position in and around the newly formed Factory Farm crater and effectively flanked the enemy advance.

Later in the evening the new lines were consolidated and reinforced in order to maintain the stability of the front.

The 9th Bavarian IR suffered heavy losses in the Australian attack on 7 June: 7 officers and 75 men killed, 9 officers and 442 men wounded, 10 officers and 353 men missing (majority killed in the mine explosions or captured) from the 26 officers and 870 men who made up the regiment.

Once again the 12th Coy suffered the most losses including 2 officers, 53 men killed, the majority from the Ultimo Mine explosion. Overall the III battalion lost 5 officers, 173 men killed in the attack. Of these only 45 have known burials, all in the mass grave located at the German Cemetery in Langemark.

Of the men who have no known resting place one in particular has a unique meaning to the author of this article, (Ralph Whitehead, No Man's Land Historian)

Infanterist Heinrich Schmitt, 12th Coy, 9th Bavarian I.R. was born on the 27th of August 1892 in New York, Nord Amerika. In researching possible matches Ralph believes he was born in Queens County, New York as Henry Schmitt. Heinrich (or Henry) was one of six men in the 9th Bavarian I.R. that were born in Pennsylvania or New York to die in the ranks of this regiment during the war. Undoubtedly there were more men born in the U.S. who served and survived the war. Their presence opens up an entirely new area of research into the history of this period.



Those who served with The 9th (Bavarian) Infantry Regiment

at the Battle of Messines.

  • Albrecht  
  • Heinrich Lt. Flieger Abteilung 295 b d.12th Oct 1918
  • Ascher
  • Johann Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 12th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Auth
  • Johan Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 11th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Baer
  • Hermann Landsturmmann. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Barthelmes
  • Alfred Vizefeldwebel. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Betz
  • Georg Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Blaurock
  • Michael Landsturmmann. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Bleier
  • Pankraz Landsturmmann. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Böhm
  • Wilhelm Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Dauer  
  • Georg Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Dipplod
  • Christian Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Dorsch
  • Johann Gefreiter. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Eckhaus
  • Jakob Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Emmert
  • Martin Unteroffizier. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Ernst
  • Georg Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Fuchs
  • Josef Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Full
  • Alois Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Goldstein
  • Georg Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Greinwald
  • Jakob Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Günther
  • Karl Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Hahn
  • Karl Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Heid
  • Max Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Hesele
  • Wolfgang Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Heuring
  • Anslem Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Hirsch
  • Otto Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Johannes
  • Michael Gefreiter. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Jung
  • Peter Unteroffizier. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Kirchner
  • Alfons Gefreiter. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Kleinheinz
  • Josef Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Klüpfel
  • Klemens Vizefeldwebel 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Kuhn
  • Englebert Gefreiter. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Laudemann
  • Hermann Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Maurer
  • Benno Leutnant der Reserve. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Nöll  
  • Franz Josef Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Offenbächer
  • Heinrich Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Pfirrmann
  • Karl Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Pickel
  • Johann Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Reulbach
  • Theodor Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Roeder
  • Georg Gefreiter. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Saalmüller
  • Karl Gefreiter. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Sauer
  • Georg Gefreiter. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Scheuring
  • Christian Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Schultheiss
  • Alois Unteroffizier. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Schöller
  • Georg Gefreiter. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Seitz
  • Bernhard Gefreiter. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Wehr
  • Friedrich Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Wilm
  • Blasius Gefreiter. 3rd Battalion, 10th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917
  • Zirkelbach
  • Karl Infanterist. 3rd Battalion, 9th Coy. d.7th Jun 1917




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