Diary of Fritz Heimbach From the First Six Months of WW I, 18 August to 18 December 1914


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Translated Diary of Fritz Heimbach From the First Six Months of WW I, 18 August to 18 December 1914

Translated by Gisela Mendel (nee Heimbach), his daughter, in 1989. Contact: dirkmen@telus.net

The first page of the original diary
The first page of the original diary
The second page
The second page

Laurenz Friedrich ‘Fritz’ Hubert Heimbach was born on February 13, 1989 in Eschweiler bei Aachen, West Germany. He died on May 3, 1956 in Bonn, West Germany.

Fritz spent the rest of World War I (four years), beginning on January 7, 1915 in the trenches and mine tunnels of Vauquois near Verdun, in eastern France. One of the trenches was called “Fritz tunnel”.

Newspaper clipping of the report of the awarding of the Iron Cross to the members of the 1st Company of the Engineer Regiment No. 30 either at the end of 1914 or early 1915. Lieutenant of the Reserve Maier, leaning against the rock; Second Lieutenant Neesen, sitting; Second Lieutenant Spahn, standing at right; Second Lieutenant Heimbach.

Fritz in 1912


Military Ranks

Gefreiter = Lance Corporal

Unteroffizier = Corporal

Feldwebel = Sergeant

Einjaehriger is young man who has completed the first years of high school in order to be accepted by an officer's school.

Faehnrich, Fahnenjunker, an ensign, the same young man following officer’s school.

Leutnant = Second Lieutenant, commander of a platoon (Zug).

Oberleutnant = Lieutenant

Hauptmann - Chef der Kompanie = Captain, commander of a company.

Major - Chef des Batallions = Mayor, commander of a battalion.

Oberst - Chef des Regiments = Colonel, commander of a regiment.

During translation, if I could guess the time, I have stated am or pm, if not, “o’clock” has been used.

My father came from a very stout Roman Catholic family, normal for people living in the Rhineland. His French enemies were all Roman Catholic, too.

My father wrote the diary in a German script, often under great stress. Mostly he left out the subjects in his sentences, as well, he often omitted the predicate (verbs). It was not easy to always find the right meaning of his writings. My siblings did not learn the German script in school, as I did. When Hitler wanted to conquer Europe it was dropped from the school curriculum. My siblings had trouble to read my father's handwriting. Unreadable words or words with difficult meanings are represented by.

The diary was discontinued Christmas 1914. Somewhere I seem to have read that the German army disliked diaries for fear of revelations useful for espionage.

The word “zu Hause” (home) has two meanings; when his parental home in Germany was meant, I wrote : “home (Germany)”, when his temporary abode for the night was meant, I wrote: “home.”

French words used: ferme = farm house sappe = trench briquetterie = factory for making briquettes, compressed brown coal for fuel, common in France and West Germany where there are rich lignite deposits dug in open pit mines. [] my Father's parenthesis, () my parenthesis for explanations. POW = prisoner of war.

Feldkueche = field kitchen, I put “chuckwagon.” Liebesgaben = gift parcels, the German population sent small gifts to the army, often anonymously (this was unnecessary during the 2nd World War).

Twice I seem to have read “Eselskanone”, neither my husband nor I had ever heard this expression. We do not know the proper meaning of the word though it seems to be self explanatory.

Spahn, Maier, Neesen and Schwetzky were my Father's companions of first slightly higher and later, equal rank.

In 1914 French roads were likely not equipped with signs of the names of the communities. My Father often spelled them from hear say. If possible I have spelled the settlements as best I could.

Heimbach, Sub-sergeant in reserve, 1st Company, Engineer Regiment No. 30, Bonn, Blumenstrasse 5.

Heimbach, Substitute Officer, 1st Company, Engineer Regiment No. 30, Bonn, Blumenstrasse 5, Poppelsdorf (Blumenstrasse was in Poppelsdorf a suburb of Bonn).

Heimbach, Second Lieutenant in Reserve, 1st Company, Engineer Regiment No. 30, Argonnerwald 16 A.K.

Throughout most of this diary my father was stationed in the low mountain country of the Argonnes.

These different entries show his promotions in rank. This was important to him as a young man of 25.

The Diary

(I tried to find each location on google maps but some names are misspelled and/or I couldn't them. Each is numbered in the text to identify in Google Maps)

The first German miners, were the 30th Pioneer Battalion, arrived on 7th January 1915. This was Fritz Heimbach's Battalion

Trier (#1) (West German city at the Moselle River) 18.7. (= July, a mistake, likely 18.8. = August 1914) Tuesday. Start toward Luxemburg. In Luxemburg (a small European state, not part of Germany any more) at the beginning not many friendly faces. Evening at Mertert, (#2) one is spoiled. The billet is reasonable but not much to eat.

19. Wednesday. Mertert (#2) (?) Stopped a lot due to the terrain of siege at Muellertal (#3). Evening at Ermsdorf.(#4) We have marched 45 Km. We are as yet unused to things (one does not know yet were to look). At the billet I shared one bed with Spahn. Not to forget: in the evening we had prayers.

Thursday 20. At 8:00 am start for Useldingen. (#5) Very hot weather. Marched 25 Km to Colmar Berg (? #6)where we bivouacked. First mail. Airplane station (airfield). Put up sentinels.

Friday 21.8.14. 1/2 6 (Km away ?) thunder of cannons. (Geologically) the country shows a lot of slate formations. At Wavelingen (#6.5 cann’t find) the general atmosphere is quite happy. Rain. The band of the regiment plays. Got a bed as officer on duty.

Saturday, 22.8.’14. Rail road station of Martelange (#7 doesn’t have a RR??). At the border (Luxembourg Belgium) 50 Frenchmen taken prisoners of war. At 9:00 am 15 Km to Vinville (Winville? #8). For 1/2 hr. I had a wonderful bath. Milked a cow. Saw patrol of enemy on the opposite slope. My billet is suspect. Suddenly we were ordered to fall in. It is supposed to be quite bad around Neufchateau (#9 ‘Wikipedia’: August 22/23 1914 was a battle at Neufchateau.). I changed my billet. The billet owner had 3 loaded handguns. Just after we had received mail we were ordered to march toward Longlier(#10) in the middle of the night.

Sunday 23.8. Villages are burning. The injured man was shot. Marched 25 Km all through the night. It was very exhausting. Close to Longlier we saw 500 French POWs. The first French fell (died). Two Germans are dead. Longlier is burning. Saturday heavy battle. Neufchateau burns, all shot to bits. Awful. The first dead. Up into the line. Greatest losses with the 88th . In the evening at Marmifontaine (#11sp) .

Monday 24.8. We had a Luxemburger priest, a Frenchman. Marched back 25 Km. 10.00 am start, battlefield, awful. One POW One village completely turned to dust and ashes. 2nd company is busy. Three corpses. Bertrix (#12) put to the torch, water is poisoned. (?). Took a POW Report of a big victory. Between Paliseul(#13) and Karlsburg (#14)(German for Carlsberg).

Tuesday 25. Since a long time no bread. Started 6 Km to Bullamont (Bounimont?? #15), 6 hrs., ate something, saw an officer POW Stopped again at Oisy (Oise? By Paris…I don’t think so) .

Wednesday 26.8. 2:00 am in the night started over ? to Sygny (#16 cannot find) Sygny is pretty nice. Ate well with the sisters (either a religious order or nurses).

Thursday 27.8. Sygny. Got mail just when we started to march. 7 artillery on foot. (?)

Friday 28.8. 4 o'clock started to march. At 5 o'clock crossed border (Belgium France) at St. Menges (#17) to Viviesousecorut (Vivier au Court? #18). Position of line for artillery on foot. Report of a company of the enemy. In the evening we sang, went to the factory (for shelter). Shots during the night. Such a nonsense.

Saturday 29.8 To Lestivelles (#18 cannot find). Spent all day at the open field. Went to the factory in the evening.

Sunday 30.8. Day of rest. Went for a walk and to church.

Monday 31.8. 12 o'clock started for Donchery (#19). Very hot weather. to Elan (#20). Big farm.

Tuesday, 1. September. 1/2 to 4 started to march. to Ville Omont (#21). Position of our artillery near Lametz (#22). Malo (#23 not sure). Fugitives back to Lametz. Dead people. to omy(?). Arrived at 19 hrs. Spahn was left.

Wednesday 2. Sept. Had a bath, ate well, 1:00 pm started to march. Very hot weather, stayed on open field without tent. Little to eat.

Thursday, 3 Sept. 6 o'clock burns terribly. Big battle. Marched during night. Some weary Frenchmen left behind. Sonain (#24). Ate Some. Injured Frenchman. ?? Bed.

Friday, 4. Saturday, 5, Sunday, 6. Went for a walk.

Monday 7. Sept. Started to march over training field for Chalons (#25). During the night at 2:00 am start for Chalons (#25).

Tuesday, 8 Sept. Over Pogny (#26) 17 Km road to Vitry (#27) rain, billet. Terrible shootings.

Wednesday, 9 Sept. Railroad bridge to Blasy (#27.5 cannot find).

Thursday, 10. In Blasy. Evening patrol.

(Inserted by Fritz - more details on dates)

Sat. 29. August. On the field I met Sergeant Brandky, the lout. 2nd company reports results. I conquered a very nice blanket. And all our worries about the attack were again in vain.

Sunday, 30. August. Got up at 8:00 am. Discovered a swimming hole and put on fresh socks for once. Ate pretty good, chicken! Had a bath under a waterfall, accompanied by music from a gramophone. Pretty good. Our doctor makes dubious jokes. In the afternoon went for a walk. 8 men are in the doctor's buggy (waggon). The fort is in ruins . 3rd company was hit. Had lots of wine. I have a bit of a cold. Went back to the company in the evening. The 21 cm mortar (German) was very effective. In the morning I had gone to church. Vomge(?) Arrived at 12 o'clock at a billet in a white farm house. Slept till 8:00 am and had a bath afterwards. The doctor discovered a house. A French engineer. He is not blessed with good taste but he seems to be rich. Doctor shows off . Nowhere a toilet or a bath insight, disgusting. But otherwise good. Started to march at 12:00 noon. A ridiculously hot day. The colonel is peeved off because of my sabre.

Luippes (Suippes? #27.5). 4., 5., 6., Sept. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. These were the nicest days so far. A comfortable and good bed, very good food and drink and many reports of victories.

7. Sept. To Chalons (#25) training field. We hunted for chickens. Officers of the cavalry were shooting. First beer from Chalons (#25), very good. A very good atmosphere generally speaking, that changed during the night as soon as all the reports came in.

Blasy 10. Thursday, September. Evening patrol. Reported to Mr. (my father was kidding) Maier. During the night a little disturbance by shootings from the infantry. 5:00 am started toward Nettancourt (#28) over Vitry (#27). Pretty nice view at the crossing of the Meuse River. We marched parallel with our company to Wentere (#29 cannot find). I was assigned to the 18 RK (Reserve Company). I did not like it that much. On the way a dead Turk (?) (During the First World War the Turks were German allies). Artillery drives into position. No shot, but it is very windy. Ahead of us are still 30 km of marching. Ate (and rested) 1 1/2 hrs in a village. Washed my feet but no water to drink. billet. Rain. Had arrived at 6:00 pm. Got mail. Looked for a billet and found a reasonable one.

11. Friday, September. At 5 o'clock back to Nettancourt (#28) Impressive these bare hills A few dead bodies. Otherwise I am by myself. At noon we had 1 1/2 hrs rest. Suddenly a heavy rain shower. Got completely soaked. Neesen went ahead on horseback to look for billets. Got mail and the chuckwagon is with us again. Good bread and muscatel wine. Walked 45 km. Now we are assigned to the 21 RS (reserve) division and as cover for the Corps (military subdivision). At Brauve (#30 cannot find) to the 42 infantry brigade, in Bayon (#31)? to the 41 infantry brigade. They forgot us here. If we had left 1/2 hr earlier the French would have caught us.

12. Saturday, Sept. Retreated at 4 o'clock. In the woods we met the poor soldiers of the infantry. One has to pity those guys. They look terrible. Many will not make it and will have to stay behind. Reinforcement has arrived. Stopped at the rim of the woods. 2 automobile drivers 25 ? mortars have arrived. Nice billet. Captain of the infantry. Good mood everywhere. Rainy weather. Mail from home. Very good food, a nice warm fire in the fireplace, wonderful. Very sorry to say that we will have to leave at 1/2 to 12 midnight.

13 Sunday, Sept. Retreated 12 midnight. Hurricane wind, very impressive. I am completely soaked with nothing dry on my body. Who will (or wants to?) stay behind Complete wagons (or carts) are lying broken on the road. Finally dawn comes. How we look! 25 km to St. Menehould (#32). Slowly we are walking ourselves warm again. Had a rest at Braux (#33). Position . The general mood is not good, little to eat, since the chuckwagon was shot at by airplanes (?) and the usual position of the infantry. Our far sighted captain of the infantry discovered unexpected billets. Got butter! Spahn and the chuckwagon are gone.

14. Monday, Sept. Retreat over Malmy (#34). Hurrah: report of victory. Went to Bayon (#31) (?). Meanwhile up to noon we build deep trenches for the 88 R, then back to the ferme. Spahn and chuckwagon are with us again. Slept pretty well. Our position is supposed to be good. One is getting dry again. Thank God, since our mood during the retreat was the worst we went through so far.

15. Tuesday. Felled two trees. Lively battles.

Fire from the infantry. The first dead . I wanted to draw. Retreat into the trench. Buried 3 dead. Return in the evening (to shelter). The Captain does pretty good. spent night in horse stable. Panic during the night!

16. Wednesday, Sept. At the ferme many are injured. Little to eat. Out into the trenches since shells are exploding everywhere. deep trench. Chuckwagon and wine. The battle is quiet, funny as it seems. One thinks of home (Germany). To night 4 Germans and one French airplane. Spent evening at the ferme .

17. Thursday, Sept. From the ferme already at 8:00 am into the trench. During the morning new orders. Rain. Went with Beneke to Cernay to reserve wood. At 5:00 pm to the ferme. . Nice church. During the evening the first platoon worked in the trenches. In the evening arrival of reinforcement. Quite a night alone with the captain. Everything is wet.

18. Friday, Sept. Early in the morning out into the trench where I and Elsen (my Father's orderly) installed ourselves comfortably. At 10:00 am to Cernay. Found nice billets but they are damn dirty. Constantly they shoot into our place. In the evening went with my platoon to the 87 Regiment to enlarge the trench. An awful night with unbelievable amounts of rain. Suddenly we are confused (?). What is the enemy doing close by? I have found wire. Thank God we go home again. Dry clothes. Fireplace. Next morning the prospect of getting a horse. Now comes horseback riding! Saturday, 19. Lived it up during the day, lots of meat. In the evening into the trench. No. 80 Regiment and No. 116. Wire awful conditions, many dead. Finished building (in the trench most likely). The French advanced 300 meters. We took an injured Frenchman home. Thank God I am still dry.

Sunday, 20. Sept. The guys (French) are constantly shooting into our nest. But almost no losses. So far I got a lot of mail from home (German). How will it look at the front? Today I got three little parcels. The captain received the Iron Cross. Hopefully I will get one too, soon. Goose liver pate. Put on clean socks for a change. All night it was quiet. 2 nights of work, one night of rest. Antwerp has fallen. Secret reports. Wrote home (Germany) yesterday evening. Again this night lots of shooting.

Monday 21. 6:00 am shell fire. One is used to it by now. Ate goose liver pate, wrote letters home (Germany). Our shack is unbelievably dirty. All day one lies around with nothing to do. Evening got 7 things (pieces of mail) from home (Germany) dated the 12th of this month. This was surely nice. I went into position (trenches) at 10:00 pm. I was very careful. The gangsters (French) are shooting at us. Later it got better. At 2:00 am I returned home.

Tuesday, 22. One column (military subdivision) was moved. Ha! At last something different. Thank God I am not used as a gravedigger. I was mistaken. Terrible rumours: we have to retreat! I surprised a French batoule (?) (Platoon) at roll call. Stupid folk. In the evening built deep trenches. Met Mueller and installed him well. At 1:00 am back to bed. 23. Wednesday. Fantastic weather. French airplane. I think I have again some trouble with my heart. I hope it is nothing serious. Stayed home all day. In the evening I joined Neesen. 300 meters of connecting road. At the 18th Reserve Company they do a lot of nonsense. They lit two straw fires but the French did not fall for it. We have nothing left to eat. 1 officer and 150 men (?) . We have had luck again. 2 o'clock home. French dogs in the lines (uncertain if real dogs of French soldiers are meant).

24. Thursday, Sept. Ate goose. Around noon the weather became nice. Many have trouble with their stomachs. Suddenly order to march to Binarville (#0.4). 11km, first time on a horse. Evening at Binarville. Everything is shot flat. Attack with hand grenades. Stupidity. The railroad goes to Cernay (#0.3). Pretty good billet.

25. Binarville, Friday, Sept. Ordered to put the woods on fire. A stupidity. Wind turns. But all goes well. Went 3km from our nest (there are 2 meanings for nest. e.g. a birds nest: 1. the house where one lives or 2. a small village) since the guys (French) shoot into it. News! From the 27th of Sept. Today new troops marched past. How good those boys look, only 5 days away from home (Germany). General Hindemann pays us a visit. Hindemann comes (?). Order for attack with hand grenades is recalled. for.

26. Saturday. one cannot do anything with engineers. Therefore reserve troops. During the night had to get out (into the trenches) despite previous other arrangements. Must have had luck, since I did get into bed. 2:00 am suddenly we had to march to the 11th division, the 6th army corps (men from Silesia). Was a very confused travel. Behind us the artillery. Things are getting dangerous. Infantry fire, just over a hill. Lost 3 men. The trumpeter beside me falls (dies). The mad rush continues up to a valley. We can use it only in an emergency. We get installed in this gorge. Since 2 o'clock last night nothing to eat that is worth mentioning. Do we have the chance to get something at all! Suddenly orders from Maier to retreat to the 18th army. Ate in Binarville (#0.04). 12 pieces of mail from home (Germany). Again that was a nice moment! With my heart everything is O.K. For once I have something to do. Mounted my steed. Went to Autry with Maier to the billet. Midnight 11 1/2 pm to bed.

Sunday, 27. Sept. 8:00 am mounted my steed for Cernay. Got a letter from Father. Left at 2:00 pm for the staff of the brigade 41, His Excellency von May. Platoon distributed to the 87 and 80 Regiments. Pic solo so I sit here in the kettle valley of Bayon that is devastated by us. Bayon? Trees are gone. At 4:00 pm I heard that Lieutenant Eckstein has typhus fever and Busse, too, is sick. Almost all the company has diarrhoea. Most likely the water is bad. At noon I distributed gift parcels from a high school student. I am lying above in the field and look into the lovely nature. At 7:00 pm new orders just when I had myself installed in a deep trench. We are to move to the 6th corps of the army. At 10:00 pm orders were recalled. We stay.

Monday, 28. Sept. A good warm bed in our old abode. Got up at 4:00 am. Later reported sick because of my heart trouble. Thank God it does not seem to be serious. I had to take 20 drops of tincture of valerian. Company was called back for a job to build an instant (quick) bridge. Our brigade went down from 6,000 men to 1,000. Thus we lost all power for an offensive. Tonight an attack is planned. . Captain Kindermann comes but he behaves really stupid, so bad that one looses all confidence in this gent. They say the emperor is coming past or the crown prince. None of them did. Suddenly we got the report of three injured men of the 2nd platoon. Among them lance corporal Rank, one of the greatest guys in the company. Because of that our mood is somewhat depressed. In the evening got a postcard from the building superintendent of the government (named Baurat my Father later worked under him as an architect).

Tuesday, 29. Sept. Slept to 7:00 am without any bother, wonderful. In the morning a very nice funeral for lance corporal Rank. Poor guy. Now we all sit here and carve a name plate for him. I am writing a thank you letter to the high school student. The colonel is in sight, he "promised" us a long siege. It is said not to be a hurrah assault but a long exercise in siegeing! By the 10th of October we should have again ammunition for the artillery thus we can expect to stay here long. For lunch today we had veal chops with potatoes. Pretty good. Here we are bothered so much by airplanes. Tonight under the leadership of Spahn, 2 platoons went into the gun tower. The French guys shell the village but not the part we are in. Peaceful evening at the hearth.

Wednesday, 30. Sept. 7:00 am up for his Excellency von May. Built a bomb safe shelter for the 41 infantry brigade. Returned at 2:00 pm. By the way, yesterday Benneke was out among the 2-make shift armies (?) with good results. Colonel appeared yesterday. Benneke has returned. A comfortable evening. Suddenly at 9:00 pm a howitzer shell fell close to us, 5 shells in all. Explosions close to us and opposite. Quickly did we leave this locality. It was time. Thank God no losses. This was quite something. At 10:00 pm we dared to return. I slept pretty well afterwards.

Thursday, First of October. Heavy battles and I observed the results of French mortars. We are building for the night. In case we stay here. A good shelter in the basement. Around noon I felt better. Distributed some gift parcels. Wonderful weather, quiet at the front. Barely a shot. Neesen is now quartermaster officer. I have sent home 60 Marks (from pay). In the afternoon we drank cocoa and I had trouble with the stomach again but that is nothing new. In the evening at 8:00 pm the company left. Maier and I remain. On the dot at 9:00 pm it starts. We rushed into the basement. 7 shells, then it is over. At 10:00 pm the company returns. Went to bed.

Friday, 2. Oct. Wrote quite a few letters home. Weather is foggy, rain during the night. Maier was here. Good news. Ate some and made myself comfortable. 2:00 pm and the gangsters are shooting again aiming at two houses below us. The artillery hit 4 horses and 3 men. Thank God not in our vicinity. After that we improved the basement shelter some more. Put straw in, cleaned up. Put new windows in, the old panes are shot to bits. Suddenly the captain went to brigade patrol. 2 hand grenades. Many men reported. Company left in the evening, after that at the dot of 9:00 pm shelling. Returned to our nest at 10:00 pm. The trick works. The French are attentive, at 1/2 12 o'clock and 5 o'clock lots of shooting. Our patrol used hand grenades. All is well.

Saturday, Oct. 3. Foggy, then sun breaks through. A cold night. No mail in last 4 days. Sunny weather. Kindermann is back; he does not get the genteel treatment. In vain. We did not expect that of our dear captain. It is 1:00 pm now. Mounted my horse and went to the village of Sechault (#35). All agree: this here will take a long time. Constantly rumours of big victories but who is to believe them. 63,000 POWs Verdun taken. Pretty quiet at the front. Now it is 4:00 pm. 9 weeks have past since the mobilization. In the evening two half platoons left for (?) patrol. Rode out again in the evening. The guys (Germans) are singing, truly wonderful. A truly nice atmosphere, besides it is pretty warm and some very good singers are among the men [Wolff]. No shells, so we went back to our nest. Slept.

Sunday, 4. October 1914. The patrols are back, not many results. Even engineers cannot do much at the front. Went to church, a wonderful moment. No injured men are lying around. The priest is preaching quite well. A work from the Bible (Moses). The Lord will be with you at your camp, keep it sacred. Everyone was stirred. The hymns do not go that well. Crowds step forth for Holy Communion. Really, those were very impressive moments. Captain is back and complains how ill used we are. They want to chase us out without reason since it is the nicest full moon. I just wonder what will become of it. We do not look so well at all. The food is not that great, everyday the same. Hopefully that the mail will bring some gift parcels soon that we will have some change. One loot was pretty nice: 800 lbs of sugar but no fat, otherwise we could fry something. My stomach is still in revolt; have to eat some rusks again. No mail since 5 days. Now I will write home (Germany) and to pastor Delving. Weather is foggy, about noon a wind came up and even better, sunshine. Lance corporal Wirtz is hit of the 08.8 battalion. Saw a battalion of volunteers. The fellows do not look that great with their packsacks. Very young lads. The longing for home (Germany) is sometimes a bit strong. But we will have to persevere. God will help. Tonight at 8:00 pm there are supposed to be prayers. Captain left with Mayor (military rank) Witte. We discussed the military situation. Does it really go well for us? Real fall weather. Prayers supposed to be at 6:00 pm. At 8:00 pm orders to march. Neesen and I got two wire cutters (?). Full moon during the night. No. (?) 11 company 87. Worked from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am in the morning. We did not advance but went to the briquetterie instead, a gruesome sight.

Monday, 5. Oct. Back at 6:00 am. . Later it was better. I am awfully tired. Got good news in the afternoon. In the evening at 6:00 pm prayers. After that we are to advance. Went to the briquetterie with second lieutenant Maier. Our mortars are shooting, 7 shots well placed. All 3 mortars are broken. Officer cadet (Einjaehriger) Bog is injured (?). 12 hand grenades.

Tuesday, 6. Oct. Yesterday sent a postcard home (Germany) at 3:00 in the morning with an automobile delivering gift parcels, so nice. Yesterday evening report that the 6th corp. is stationed before Antwerp and that the Gardekorps (could not find a proper translation) has broken through (French lines). I waited all alone for second lieutenant Maier and waved off (declined?) when Bach (or above mentioned Bog?) was transported past me. At 3 o'clock I was home. Slept well. Slept all day. In the evening we received reinforcement for the briquetterie. Suddenly orders were changed. The 25th and 26th divisions were ordered to the right wing. We remain here only for defence purposes. That means only hand grenades. Up to 11:00 pm make believe assault from the right wing. 3rd platoon is on the connecting road.

Suddenly fire; one shot was aimed at me. I went to get the infantry (?) . After that employed infantry. 11:30 pm shooting stopped and we started to work. We all sat together up to 12 1/2 past midnight. Received 5 volunteers.

Wednesday, 7th. Oct. 1914. Have a toothache. Again I put in an application for officer and Iron Cross. Wonderful weather, not a cloud in the sky. My orderly is washing my clothes. Wrote a letter to Paula. Medical doctor of the second company is here. Suddenly a shot into the 2nd house opposite of us. Wednesday evening Maier and Neesen went for a great patrol with hand grenades. The enemy is supposed to have left. Report of airplanes. 3rd platoon used as reserve for instant (schnell) bridge building. During the night a report that the situation is different. The guys (Germans?) went into the front lines (French?).

Thursday, 8th of October 1914. The 3rd platoon constructing a bridge over. Bridge supposed to be finished by 8:00 pm.

A wonderful fall day

(Maybe the river is La Dormoise.) Spahn visits me. We had a little quarrel. In the evening by 8:00 am the bridge is half finished. Went home. Today the venerable Frenchmen shot again into our nest. My horse, too, was at the location of the bridge. For a change I rode a donkey. Wonderful oak woods. I went home. Spahn works on relocation of trenches, Maier is on patrol. Got a parcel from home (Germany) with a letter from Father, newspapers and fresh bread. Wonderful! Got more gift parcels. Swiss cheese, chocolates, all we ever wanted. Suddenly Maier shows up with an Iron Cross for all of us. . Very impressive. Captain is indulging in memories of his youth.

Friday, 9. Oct. Slept well. Wrote 10 postcards home (Germany). Left 1/2 9 am. Little discussion with spahn because of curfew? (Zapfen). Wonderful weather, bridge will be finished soon. Around noon visit from second lieutenant Maier. Cernay is burning from French shellfire. Hopefully nothing will happen to our house. . Glorious evening, not a shot, Quiet and absolute peace. How beautiful. Ashamed that I have this longing. (Insert) Went on patrol with engineers. The division publicly mentioned us; we were commended on and honoured, e.g. rare courage, cream of the engineers. My men are singing, came home at 7:00 pm. Assigned fire watch but the fire is already getting smaller since a whole quarter (of Cernay) is already erased. In the evening at 10:00 pm got 10 pieces. with the mail, . I'm tired. Weather nice.

Saturday, 10. Built some shelter for brigade 42 at the church. After that rode with captain and Neesen to my bridge and to investigate some roads. A typical fall day. Went back by myself. For the noon meal (main meal) we ate well. Soup with ham. The enemy shoots into the village (Cernay). Second lieutenant Maier said: Antwerp fell . Captain Frankenberg from the 87th comes. We quickly stuffed his mouth. Went to bridge with D . A nice evening. I sit here at the bridge and write at 5:30 pm and the sun is setting all in pink. How long will it all still take? Then I went back home. Nothing worth mentioning in the evening. We all stayed at home.

Sunday, 11. We all stayed at home. Windy. Warm weather. Neesen is busy building at the village. No change. Sent money home 600 Marks. Spent noon hour at home same as the evening.

Monday, Oct. 12. With second lieutenant Maier to the bridge. A wonderful fall day. Last night it froze quite a bit. Our horses run well. At 10:00 am already home again. Now we go to the cannon mountain. We pass 8 engineers who had themselves installed right there in that little mountain city. On top at the position of the artillery we had a view of the front lines of the enemy. Very interesting to see. Later we returned. Captain brought BUTTER, the second time during this campaign. Spent afternoon with second lieutenant Maier. Again nothing new. Went home and stayed there. In the evening no mail, nothing for a long time.

Tuesday, 13. Oct. Neesen is farther ahead with the 80's. He must be in our lines with the 87's in the vicinity of the briquetterie. He talks about at the fireplace. Rode horseback in the morning. Grand! I really like to ride with second lieutenant Maier. Went to the bridge along my road then to Bouconville (Bouzonville #36) where the brigade general caught us and gave us heck. Wrote postcard home (Germany) and returned in gallop. Captain went to Bouconville (or Bouzonville #36) as well. report of victories. America? (e.g. joined the war) They say we will be here another 4 6 weeks that means Christmas. In the evening saw 13 volunteers fresh from home (Germany) with an acting officer. A nice guy. He wants to join the second company. Otherwise some shell fire again but this time close to Mayor Witte. The captain left in the evening he was invited by the brigade. We are all quite happy. The usual men leave for patrol. Captain returns with reports of victories from Antwerpen, Paris and Reims. No mail. Wednesday, 14. Oct. 5 Einjaehrigen (Officer cadets) and 1 cadet added to the platoon. The guys look smart. Young blood, enthusiasm from home (Germany). With captain and Maier to the bridge. A grand morning. We rode horseback. Sit here at 11:00 am and write. Fall weather, it had rained a bit. Wrote a letter home (Germany), went home afterwards. The gangsters (French) are shooting into our village (Cernay (#.03)). Quick, quick into the basement. It burns, Neesen with men went out. In the evening Benneke (made?) connections with the 80 and 87 reserve (company). We, Maier and I with the Einjaehrigen (Officer Cadets) into our lines (trenches). Rain. Suddenly shell fire into our front lines. Back and front hefty fire (shelling) from infantry and artillery. One cannot do anything but hit bottom in these wet trenches. The novices get their introduction into war (baptismal of fire). It lasted 1 1/2 hrs. At 1/2 1 o'clock back. We are very dirty. No mail, 1 man is injured. Nice get together.

Thursday, 15. Oct. In the morning with the cadet and the Einjaehrigen a leisurely ride to the bridge. Good weather. Rain has stopped. 12:00 noon back in the artillery fire. The guys (French) shot 20 shells into the village with heavy artillery. They are happily shooting along. We are sitting in the basement shelter since 1:00 pm, that is 4 hrs. The captain talks about moving now that we have ourselves so comfortably installed. Caught fish and ate it yesterday evening. I even conquered a few bed blankets. Will see how well I can sleep on them. Suddenly 2 shells. I stopped writing and we fled into the basement. Hear the groans of the injured. 2 shells into the company. The injured lie around on the road. We brought two injured into our basement. Among them is Kellner of the 3rd platoon. Neeson and I bandaged them up. Kellner will most likely die. At 1/2 7 o'clock we dared to go out. The company leaves. 10 men very badly injured. I waited until they were all taken to the church, then left in the direction of Sechault. Went to Bouconville for billets. Talked to the local commander (German). Found two nice rooms with grandpere et grandmere. No mail.

Friday, 15. Oct. Lost my coat and sabre (were stolen). Ate fish. Busy to clean up everything. Finally we have a rest from the artillery shells. Weather is good. At 5:00 pm I left for Cernay and the 87th company on a connecting road and connection? with the 9 and 10th platoon of the 87th company? Benneke and I and Elsen returned at 11:00 pm and made it home by 12 midnight. Lots of mail.

Saturday, 17. Oct. Conquered a new coat. Mail. Re arranged platoon, 57? men. Got gift parcels. Slept well last night. Count (?) Deitz of the 3rd platoon is injured. He was a good leader and he is a great guy. Elsen, my former orderly, got the Iron Cross. Neesen, Spahn and Maier left for the front lines. The Captain has left as well. Brigade at the telephone, new accommodations (deep trenches). New officer. Slept well. Fall weather.

Sunday, 18. Oct. 1/2 8 am to the bridge and back by 9:00 am. Went to church and holy communion, very impressive. Service conducted by our old priest. Ate some. Wrote letter home (Germany). At 2:00 pm went out again (likely to the trenches). Fall weather. It had rained yesterday evening but today it is nice and dry. Here at my bridge a wonderful sight (presumably the fall colours). Just met Heins who had good news. Not much mail. At dusk went home again with the company. 61 men and 4 corporals. Evening we all spent at home quite comfortable and happy. Spahn is presenting the topic for conversation. We talked about girls. Went to bed at 9 pm.

Monday, 19. Oct. 8 1/2 am had a wash. The head medical officer (Captain) wants to have a well and laundry constructed. This morning I met the priest of the division. Returned at noon with second lieutenant Maier. Ate something. Neesen is filling up Schnapps (booze) and it is 100 litre. Spahn is catching fish for the division, by now he caught already 200 lbs. In the afternoon, out again. Construction of a ramp road. Spahn sets off big explosions. He catches fish en masse. Fall weather without rain. Around here the woods are deeply coloured by now. Second lieutenant Maier ordered to Mayor von Schenk of the 87th regiment. Some leaves of the trees have already fallen. It is the same picture as last year at Munich (Munchen). I went home and so did everybody else, all stayed together, it is sort of stirring.

20. Tuesday, Oct. 1/2 to 8 am and out on Neesen's horse to the railroad station of Cernay (#.03) for loading. The automobile got stuck. Went home. The captain, too, waits for his fish dinner. 1/2 7 pm again to the station. I am relieved at 1/2 11 pm by . I am promoted to officer, this news brought by Boenke. We are worried since the automobile has not arrived yet. Neither can we use the horse. I went with Zisgen to Cernay (#.03). Dear Lord! That thing is standing there since 3 hrs. When the grenades arrive we will have 2000 kg of explosives for blasting. Thank God we got horses from the artillery. Went home.

Wednesday, 21. Oct. Through telephone got orders to leave for captain and Maier. Everyone is moving. But we do not get away today. Rainy. We are handing over out activities to eleven engineers. Wrote letter home in the afternoon. In the evening .

Thursday, 22. Oct. 7:30 am marched for Challerange (#37). Got mail at 10:30 and distributed it. 12:00 noon ride (by train) to Sedan (#40) Monmedy (#42). Weather not too good. Yesterday got parcel from ?Clara? from Trier. Lots of chocolates. [4 dead, died of grenades.] The travel by rail was nice. Spahn is surprised by the many cows, we saw chickens and many other pictures(?). We ride past Vango (#38 cannot find), Les Tivelle (#39 cannot find), everything so well known, all the way to Sedan (#40). Spahn and I are fighting about a tea strainer?. In Sedan we ate pretty well even with wine. Suddenly we had to leave (?). The officers' corps had to return. Ridiculous. Medical rail coach with good looking nurses. Slept on garden grounds, not comfy but we survived. Captain Merge complains about snoring.

Friday, 23. Oct. In Monmedy. The company receives us laughing after we marched the last 3 km on foot. We look wild, even the working POWs are amazed. (Marching?) in the direction of Verdun(?)(#0.2) at 10:00 am. Had coffee with sisters then to Jametz (#41). At noon I had a nap in the sunshine. In the evening I found a good billet, really nice with electric light in the house with a Frenchman who looked German.

Saturday, 24. Oct. Got up at 8:00 am. Breakfast, walk. Spahn is fishing. Ate well, nothing new. 42 cm & 56 cm cannons (?). All is quiet, all peaceful, from far away some shots. In the evening captain comes back. We will start tomorrow morning. Very comfy evening. Maier has eaten carp (a fish species).

Sunday, 25. Oct. In Warville. I rode with Maier 12 km to find billets. Found very many pigsties (dirty houses) finally something acceptable at . We, too, found a reasonable billet.

Monday, 26. Oct. Walked among out lines (position, trenches). Conditions among the infantry are well regulated and orderly. Everybody is surprised how ragged we look; we, too, should clean up. At noon we ate pork chops In the afternoon Neesen's platoon erected barricades for practice shooting. Got mail unexpectedly but nothing new.

Tuesday, 27. Oct. Started to march at 7:00 am. (Took cover in?) deep trench of artillery and found an unexploded shell. The gangsters (French) are shooting at us. Returned at 12 noon. Ate pork chops and porridge and again letters with the mail but they are all old. Ate well, lots of chops., At 4:00 pm started to march again. Put a field guard on the connecting road. We can go there only in the dark. On the road fierce shelling. These gangsters have seen my platoon. Luckily I escaped with my skin still in tact . D assigned to field guard duty. The guys have to work 9 hrs. Checked the bridge, went home. At home everybody is quite happy as usual in the evenings. This was one of the happiest evenings in Jametz (#41). Cracking lots of jokes when we lie down to sleep.

Wednesday, 28. Oct. The whole day was restful. Neesen was working(?), I wrote letters. The gangsters are shooting with a flat track mortar (Flachbahngeschuetz) over our nest. In the evening I had a beer with his Excellency von Auler. Pretty good! Had not seen anything of that stuff for long. Went home at 10:00 pm, after some of the officer types were duly admired (showed off?). Thursday, 29. Oct. In the evening construction of a bunker. Yesterday afternoon I was still on the lookout tower. The French did then concentrate on my horse. But I escaped with my skin intact and in a gallop. In the afternoon change of orders. At 2:00 pm to Crepion(?)(#43) to dig cover trenches for a company under shell fire. Drank coffee with an officer of the reserve, really nice. Went home at 1/2 8 pm. Spahn, the deserter (my Father is kidding) has not returned yet. We are very happy, hurrah, 26 pcs of mail, mostly congratulations (to my Father's promotion to officer).

Friday, 30. Oct. Our heavy 3rd battery is shooting. Have not seen Spahn yet. Tonight we will build a bridge. To companies (billeted) into our nest. Ate well. Went to get bridge building material. In the evening a report of victory. Spahn appeared with many good things. In the evening to the bridge, 1/2 7 pm to 1/2 10 pm when it was finished. In the evening 2 more letters from P.P. To bed. All night awful shelling. Our artillery comes up with the biggest things. Saturday, 31. Oct. '14. Got up early in the morning. Wrote letters. Stayed home all day. Fall weather, a bit of rain all the time but not much. The moon is waxing again. Spahn unpacks his things, quite a load. We received a special war allowance of 20 Marks per man (at that time it must have been still gold marks). Italy has declared war on France. Spent a nice evening together with the cadet. Went to bed at 10:00 pm.

Sunday, 1st November. Very nice weather. The church bells are ringing, first time. The stupid good Germans. I would not be surprised if the French would refrain from shooting. This morning I went to see the constructions done for practice (shooting). The infantry battalion is practising there. Heavy artillery (?). It is 12:00 noon, now, at home (Germany) everybody goes to the cemetery. We are assigned to the 7th regiment. In the afternoon again working on the rifle range. A wonderful Sunday afternoon. In the evening when everybody was present we received orders that we have (the company) to dig ourselves in, right here at this location. 20 pcs of mail.

Monday, 2. Nov. Built shelter in Moirey (#44). Fortified the village. In the evening beer and cake. We live well. The French are hardly shooting. One seems to want a rest. All of our heavy artillery has left. For the night I can expect a new billet. Tuesday, 3. Nov. Busy with shelters (trenches). Sent home 800 Marks. Ate well, otherwise as always. Got a camera. I am employed as a photographer. Took a few pictures. In the evening Maier appears but he is in an ill mood.

Wednesday, 4. Nov. In the morning rode with Mister Maier to Damvilliers (#45) to get wood. Sent letter home. In all this peace a yodeller from the Alps sang from these nice hills here. Fall weather. I was assigned to the infantry as an instruction officer. Some nonsense: somebody gave 500,000 song books to the soldiers. What shall we use the paper for (indicating their use at the out house). The Turks are fighting (German Allies), good! Will Italy start, too? Went home at 12 noon. Suddenly new orders, it will go to Russia(?) etc. Captain is back. We say good bye to Warville (Wavrille? #46). Took two more photos of Maier. Then back, ate well. Now order to march at 7:00 pm ready. Over Ecurey (#47), Lissey (#48), Brandeville (#49) to Murvaux (#50). Got a nice billet with the local priest. Artillery is on foot.

Thursday, 5. Nov. Slept in a BED till 8:00 am. My nest is nice and there is a nice girl around. At noon I ate in the rectory. Order to return to Etrave (Etraye? #50.5). Spahn is gone. Neesen and Maier received 1st class Iron Cross. Order to go to Vilosnes (#51). I am the billeter. Left at 2:00 pm. Went over Dun (#52) (at the Meuse River). Just before I got a glimpse of a picture of peace. A woman with a boy were kneeling at the altar of the church. Dun is very much demolished by shelling. Nice ride to Liny (#53) and Vilosnes (#51). Tough to find billets since 4000 soldiers are already there but I found some. Martelange (#7) (border of Luxembourg & Belgium) company . In the evening with M. together and we slept well at the school with Maier. New orders: 16 km more to march to Gryonne (#54 cannot find)(?). In Murvanx (#50) I billeted all men of my company in the church, that was so impressive in the morning.

Friday, 6. November, 1914. Started to march at 8:00 am. Overcast with fog. Neesen is not here yet. Murvaux(?)(#50) was heavily shelled, now we just escaped. The Lord is with us. We are going in the direction of Varennes (#55) over Cervy (#56). Everything is heavily shelled but the German operations proceeded orderly. Roads were improved. Over Eclisfontaine (#57) to Servieux (#58 could find) and the ferme with the 2nd company. Avremont (Apemont? #59) Servieux ferme . Plagued by airplanes, weather pretty good.

Saturday, 7. Nov. '14. Started to march at 7:00 am to Avremont(Apemont? #59). I met Count Haeseler. Then we went into the woods. Company walked along the road made by . We are getting deeper into the woods. Infantry artillery . We are building deep trenches. Grenades are exploding right in them. Thank God no injured men. All in trench. It must look quite something at the very front, we are only 10 m apart (from the French trenches). It rained in the evening and we went back to the ferme.

Sunday, 8. Nov. I had forgotten that it is Sunday. At 6:00 am I went to the trench to relieve Neesen. An interesting view: we are digging 7 trenches and one is only 10 m away from the French. Shot down a tree. One Frenchman lies in the sappe (French for trench). Unpleasant work. Quarrel with infantry officers. I was relieved by Schwetzky. Rode home with Maier. Ate well in the evening. Relief is every 12 hrs within the platoons. I work from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm. A peaceful evening. The whole atmosphere is nice in Avremont (Apemont? #59).

Monday, 9. Nov. Had a good wash and left for our future camping place at 9:00 am. Fall weather. I waited till 1/2 9 am and left after. During nights the duty is difficult. I waited in a rail road shack.

Tuesday, 10. Nov. I have a day of rest and stay at home. In the evening Maier brought mail. Wednesday, (Nov. 11, '14) Stated at 5:00 am. Lots of shelling in the trenches. My horse got shot at last Saturday but it is better today. Sub lieutenant(?) Bechtal is dead. Many are sick. Slowly we are moving. 60 men have left already. What will become of this? Zwetzky relieves me. Went home (to the ferme).

Thursday, 12. Nov. An awful night. A terrible windstorm. No supplies can come in. I'm home waiting for mail. The French are throwing hand grenades like crazy. Got mail in the evening, then left for night duty.

Friday, 13. Nov. Returned, all is quiet, went back to the ferme. Spent day at the ferme. Maier with (got) Iron Cross. Complain by infantry officers. Spahn blasts beech (tree?). Saturday, Nov. '14. Started morning shift at 5:00 am. The company has made 81 POWs. We advanced 300 m. Dead and injured French. An awful sight one fellow of ours is injured called MuellerII. We were able to get the poor guy only in the evening. Zwetzky relieves me. We had shot with donkey(?) cannons. Came across a lot of French stories. All French are looking forward to become POWs. Rode back with the captain. Our last comfortable evening at the ferme. Servieux (#58 could find). . No more night duty for me.

Sunday, 15. Nov. '14. Packed everything for staying in the deep trenches. I remain. Hefty frost in the morning. In the evening and during the afternoon lots of rain. As things go, it is pretty comfy. Our stove stinks, 5 X 3 m to 6. Took a few photos of Neesen.

Monday, 16. Nov. '14. Rain, the deep trenches are not waterproof. Spahn is installing bunk beds since there is not much room. Improvements to the trenches in the front. We are all terribly dirty. Neesen is position. Corporal Augsten died of his injuries. In the evening we are sleeping already better, that means: I do not sleep that well. It rains into our shack (trench). Awful weather outside.

Tuesday, 17. Nov. '14. Duty from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. The muck in the trenches is awful. We are in the guck up to our knees. All companies are busy. I am relieved by Zwetzky at 1:00 pm. The 29th engineer regiment installed a trench mortar. Talked to the 7th company. I actually saw some French guys running about. Bikow blasts some of them into the air. Dried up and around noon I went to the ferme. Got my camera. At the ferme I slept in Maier's bed. Good. In the morning I got my dear little camera.

Wednesday, 18. Nov. '14. In Paula's cave (I think the men named the trenches of parts of them) took more photos. Got everything cleaned up. Got the 3rd parcel. In trench No. 5 five men of Maier's platoon are injured. French throw hand grenades. We did throw at least 300 of them. Nice evening. Since 2 days wonderful weather. It is frosty.

Thursday, 19. Nov. '14. Slept well. Heavy frost. Received gift parcels and a new sleeping gay. No new mail. Bold and foggy. 7th company, 145th detachment, 68th brigade, 34th division. Went to bed early in the evening.

Friday, 20. Nov. '14. Slept first time in the sleeping bag which is too small. At 1:26 am went for duty. Advanced with the 7th company. Tough hand grenade battles. One can see the French running about. At 10:00 am the French advance. Then we hear the German roar of hurrahs. I am assigned to the 5th company. Lots of excitement. Terrible shellings. Got 50 artillery shells into the trench. Very close. Corporal Luellsorf. Slowly it becomes more peaceful. The French did not make it. Great losses. It was meant for the 7th company. I took photos at the front. Zwetzky relieves me. Went home and it is quite comfy now in the deep trench.

Saturday, 21. Nov. '14. Spahn has early shift. After Spahn had left, I went to look for hay. Had fun in the morning. It was comfortable and we ate lots. Yesterday evening got a few letters and we stayed up with a barrel of beer till 10:00 pm. I drew Eckstein's visit in the Wild West (my Father drew well).

Sunday, 22. Nov. '14. Right now Neesen works shift. In the morning I had duty in the woods with music. Maier wanted to come(?). In the evening we are supposed to have night shift again. Was cancelled though since a few trenches were taken.

Monday, 23. Nov. '14. Morning shift. I have a hard time to find my way around in the newly conquered trenches. Engineers are everywhere obliging and helpful. In the afternoon Zwetzky took (conquered) a trench. Wrote letters home in the evening. Slept well.

Tuesday, 24. Nov. Forgot to mention that I had a good wash last Sunday. Wrote a letter home. For quite a while I had visitors from Koblenz here. Nothing new. Night shift. Had to get out. For the first time to the 81st company, the 7th company is 300 m farther on with many dead. Poor devils. Cold. Went home in pitch dark at 2:00 am.

Wednesday, 25. Nov. Snow flurries. Was inoculated against typhoid fever. We have 7 men sick with typhoid. 2 of them died. Everybody is optimistic and it is comfy. Maier is playing with an enemy may bug.

Thursday, 26. Nov. The French have trench mortars. I have the early shift. 8 company to 7 . At the rifle range of the 5th company lots of jokes are cracked. Comparably quiet. In the afternoon it was quite comfortable. The snow has thawed.

Friday, 27. Nov. Evening shift. In the telephone shack I talked with the German from Russia. Got acquainted with a painter. All is pretty quiet. The artillery is shooting far over us.

Saturday, 28. Nov. Wrote letters home and had a wash. Bogler left on Friday and we had an impressive party for him.

Sunday, Nov. 29. Early shift. Preparing attack for 1st and 3rd company. We have approached the enemy lines up to 1 m. Again did I throw a note asking them to surrender. No results. I was relieved. The 3rd company attacks. All goes well. Suddenly the French counterattack. We all retreat 6 dead. 12 men are injured with the infantry. I, too, have two injured men in my platoon Likely all was only panic. In the evening we had lots of trouble to fill the sappe again (with earth).

Monday, 30. Nov. Great throw abouts with hand grenades. I have evening shift. Quiet weather. I talked again with the German from Russia. The connecting trench to the 6th company is finished.

Tuesday, 1. December. Sent money home (Germany). A disgusting rain. It rains into our shack. Not nice. Wednesday, 2. Dec. Early shift. We make preparations to storm which is to happen with both batallions on Friday. It is not very comfy where the 3rd company lives. Hand grenades. The cadet with the name of Schaefer is injured. I visited the 6th company. Nice view into the valley. The 3rd battalion storms. They are taking 30 POWs. Those guys look awful. I returned with the captain. Got a new barrel of beer. Lots of mail. A happy evening.

Thursday, 3. Dec. Maier is assigned to the 2nd battalion, Neesen to the 1st. The battle starts. Grenades explode in the first (French) trenches with (German) hurrah. The infantry storm then. We took three trenches up to the mountain. In the company there are 18 injured men. I am ordered to get out with my platoon. Not much work. Our engineers must have fought like berserks. Many are dead. Terrible sights. 15 Iron Crosses are awarded to the company. This all happened on Friday. On Thursday were the preparations. During the night I was still outside. The French do a lot of nonsense. Well, we will get those gangsters.

Friday, 4. Dec. Attack! The mine layers caught 300 POWs just beside us.

Saturday, 5. Dec. Rest for me. All went well. New quarters for us (in the trench). Bad weather. Nothing from home (Germany).

Sunday, 6. Dec. Early shift. I have a look at the deserted trenches. Indescribable! Poor, poor guys. Only half of them are still lying there. Weather nice till evening. Inoculation against typhus fever. 16 men of the company are sick. Corporal Augusten is dead as reported by General Hinse. From home (Germany) I received new gaiters (the bandage type, we still used them in the beginning in Kitimat 1953) and photos of us. In the evening it is very comfy.

Tuesday, 8. Dec. Continued to build and improve our premises (in the trench). French trench mortars. Something I still have to tell: Thursday during the night before the attack 3 brave engineers dug out engineer Teil. He was buried by a French grenade. Thanks God all went well. The poor devil was under the dirt for 12 hrs. At midnight we had him out and we took him with us. The attack was conducted this way:

from the start everywhere first land mines, followed by hand grenades, then infantry, then artillery: this way it works really well.

Wednesday, 9. Dec. Early shift. Nothing much happened. Bon Mutra (presumably a higher ranking officer) is supposed to come but it is not true. I returned at 1:00 pm. Lots of letters. The enemy is blasting into our camp vicinity but it was not dangerous.

Tuesday, 10. Dec. We are digging a well and I got a Christmas parcel. In all 10 parcels arrived. We do not know where to put the stuff since it rains into our shack. It dribbles through. A nice happy evening. We were looking at photographs and Maier's cupboard fell down, a wooden corn starch box. Assigned to us was a new battle sector. Regiment(?) 67 and . My platoon remains with I and II, battalion 145. Hand grenades and trench mortars. Today I had a good wash.

Friday, Dec. 11. No news from our part of lines. 7th company is farthest in front very close to the Frenchmen. Now already from the positions of the 1 4th companies one has a view of the French lines (?). It is peaceful but later machine gun fire bothered us. I returned at 1:00 pm through the valley.

Saturday, 12. Dec. In a different section of our lines we threw a lot of hand grenades. In our part it is pretty peaceful and quiet in our shack. The weather is bad. A comfy evening.

Sunday, 13. Dec. Early shift. Donkey cannons(?). Six infantry soldiers belonging to the 8th company are injured. We are with the 7th company only 4 meters away from the enemy trench that is by now only a grenade crater. Went home.

Monday, 14. Dec. Yesterday evening we swapped school stories. Very relaxing. Slept long. Inoculation against typhus fever. .

Tuesday, 15. Dec. Early shift. The commanding general was here. L. Riedel(?). A nice man. Funny, it was peaceful in the trenches and no shelling from the trench mortar. Otherwise everyone had returned safely. Got some parcels from home. Got a black pair of riding pants. The parcels were dated October 15. Wow! The butter (was rancid).

Wednesday, 16. Dec. A rest day for us and construction of shacks. The mood is good in our abode.

Thursday, 17. Dec. Went with the captain to Maier's T(?). A new attack is planned but in a week because only then will the new trench be finished with the 8th company.

Evening. Report that the attack is already planned for tomorrow by these idiots. In the morning while I was with the 3rd company I was almost unexpectedly caught by the enemy but all went well.

Friday, 18. Dec. Order for me: I am supposed to attack. H (captain) & M (Maier) there (to investigate). My land mine (grenade?) is ready and I do shoot well with trench mortars. The French shoot 20 shells, of those are 10 15 dummies which all went into the valley (L'Aire River valley not into German lines). Our storm is postponed till tomorrow. With corporal Birnhoff I have shot 10 shells. Returned in the afternoon. In the morning and in the neighbouring section 1000 POWs were caught. I took photos of some of them. Finished.
Fritz Heimbach in 1917 with the Iron Cross, one of his paintings on the right wall
Fritz Heimbach in 1917 with the Iron Cross, one of his paintings on the right wall

Friendly greetings, your son. Sent home: 25. December 1914

What I have sent home

6. August 200 M (Marks) Koblenz sm
18. August 40 M Trier
2. September 200 M Abend (evening) E(?)
29. September 50 M Cernay
1. October 60 M Cernay 550
10. October 60 M Cernay 610
3. November 800 M Wavrille 1400
2. December 300 M Argonnen 1700
 ? 250
February, 10. 300



Fritz in the trenches at Verdum, France in 1917
Fritz in the trenches at Verdum, France in 1917





1) Korporalschaft 2 9
2 Birhoff 1 9
3 Hotop 1 7
4 Eisenhut 1 7
5 Adrian 1 7
6 Liebig 1 7 58
7 Rudenie(?) 1 4 66
8 50
Verdum, France, 1917
Verdum, France, 1917
Kitchen 1 4
Driver 3
Orderly 2
10 men

with the 8th Korporalschaft 8 men

Verdum, France in 1917
Verdum, France in 1917

Diary of Gisela Mendel (nee Heimbach) growing up in Germany, she was born in 1922

Map of the places he traveled in France

To contact me: dirkmen@telus.net

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