The Garde-Ersatz-Division was one of a series of replacement divisions established when Germany mobilised on 2 August 1914. Apart from a brief spell on the Eastern Front during the third quarter of 1917, the division spent the war on the Western Front.
The Garde-Ersatz-Division was involved in the fighting known as the Battle for the Frontiers until the end of September 1914 as part of the 6th Army. It was then transferred to the area south of Verdun and formed part of the Ersatzkorps, holding various sectors in this part of the front until late August 1916.
In March 1916, the 6th and 7th Guards Regiments were deployed to the north of Verdun, where they took part in a number of attacks and rested until July. The division was deployed as a complete formation in very hot weather at the beginning of August. The division attacked in the Chapitre Wood sector and had lost some 70 officers and 2400 men killed, wounded and missing by 8 August. It was withdrawn from the front in late August after suffering very heavy losses.
After a period of rest, the division returned to the Flirey sector in September. The division was reorganised and involved in local fighting until it was withdrawn in early November. After a further period of rest, the division was used to strengthen the line following the French attack at Verdun in mid December.
In mid January, the division was withdrawn from the Verdun front and sent to the St. Hilaire sector in Champagne. The division was relieved at the end of March and withdrawn to be held in reserve in the Château-Porcien area.
On 12 April, the division was deployed to resist the French attack known as the Nivelle Offensive (Second Battle of the Aisne). Starting on 16 April, elements of the division counter-attacked towards Berméricourt and relieved the remnants of 21. Infanterie-Division on 18 April. The division spent the second week of May at rest in the Champagne area and then returned to its old sector north of and the area of Flirey.
In the third week of July, the division was withdrawn from the line and transported to eastern front. It was kept in reserve as part of Heeresgruppe Eichhorn and trained in open warfare in the Vilna area until mid August.
At the end of August, the division entered the line in the Üxküll area and took part in the battle for Riga, entering the city on 3 September.
The division returned to the western front by mid September and entered the line north of Bezonvaux on the Verdun front in mid October. At the end of October it participated in the recapture of Vaux Cross height on the west bank of the Meuse River and, a week later, the southern sector of Chaume Wood.
On 19 February, the division was withdrawn from the Verdun sector to start a month of preparation for the spring offensive. During the offensive, the division took part in the crossing of the Somme and fought in the Somme area. After apparently suffering heavy casualties, it was withdrawn in the first week of April to reinforce the front near Hangard.
Following fighting near Villers-Bretonneux and a period of rest near Mons, the division was involved in attacks in the Champagne region in mid July and positional fighting near Reims. At the end of July and the beginning of August, the division took part in defensive fighting between the Marne and Vesle until it was withdrawn from the line on 9 August.
After a further period of rest and recuperation, the division was committed in Flanders in early October and then fought in withdrawals between the Yser and the Lys, on the Lys and in rearguard actions on both banks of the Schelde, and then during the last fighting as the remaining German forces pulled back towards the Antwerp-Maas position.
After the armistice, the division evacuated the occupied territory and returned to Germany by the beginning of January 1919.
In 1917, allied intelligence sources rated the division as good.
The division was rated as an "attack division" by the Germans and was held under the direct control of the Supreme Command. At the end of the war, allied intelligence had always considered the Garde-Ersatz-Division as being in the second of four classes.
The division was formed with brigades raised from guards replacement battalions from all over Germany, and from replacement battalions in the 2nd, 5th and 6th Corps Districts of Pomerania, Posen and Silesia, respectively.
Guards brigade replacement battalions 1–6 were formed from the 2nd companies of the replacement battalions of Garde-Regimenter zu Fuß (foot guards regiments) 1–5, Garde-Grenadier-Regimenter (grenadier guards regiments) 1–5, Garde-Füsilier-Regiment (guards fusilier regiment) and Lehr-Infanterie-Regiment in Potsdam, Berlin and Spandau.
Brigade replacement battalions 5–8 were formed from the 2nd companies of the replacement battalions of Grenadier-Regimenter (grenadier regiments) 2 and 9, Füsilier-Regiment Nr. 34 and infantry regiments 14, 42, 49, 54 and 149 in Stettin, Bromberg and Gnesen.
Brigade replacement battalions 17–20 were formed from the 2nd companies of the replacement battalions of Grenadier-Regimenter (grenadier regiments) 6 and 7, and infantry regiments 19, 46, 47, 50, 58 and 154 in Glogau, Liegnitz and Posen.
Guards field artillery replacement detachments 1 and 2 were raised in Berlin and Potsdam, respectively. They each comprised a staff, 2 field artillery batteries and a light ammunition column.
Field artillery replacement detachments 38 and 53 were raised in Stettin and Bromberg, respectively. They each comprised a staff, 2 field artillery batteries and a light ammunition column.
Field artillery replacement detachments 20 and 41 were raised in Posen and Glogau, respectively. They each comprised a staff, 2 field artillery batteries and a light ammunition column.
Kriegsgliederung/order of battle on mobilisation
1. gemischte Garde-Ersatz-Brigade
|Garde-Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 1||Garde-Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 2|
|Garde-Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 3||Garde-Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 4|
|Garde-Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 5||Garde-Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 6|
|Garde-Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Berlin (later Garde-Kavallerie-Eskadron 1)|
|Garde-Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 1||Garde-Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 2|
|1. Ersatz-Kompagnie Garde-Pionier-Bataillon|
5. gemischte Ersatz-Brigade
|Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 5||Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 6|
|Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 7||Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 8|
|Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Pasewalk (II. A.K.)|
|Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 38||Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 53|
|1. Ersatz-Kompagnie Pommersches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 2|
17. gemischte Ersatz-Brigade
|Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 17||Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 18|
|Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 19||Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon 20|
|Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Posen (V. A.K.)|
|Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 20||Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 41|
Brigade replacement battalions 17 to 20 were dissolved by the end of 1914 and used to form Landwehr infantry regiments. Also by the end of 1914, guards brigade replacement battalions 1, 2 and 6 were used to form 1. Garde-Ersatz-Regiment. Guards brigade replacement battalions 3, 4 and 5 were used to form 2. Garde-Ersatz-Regiment. On 1 August 1915, the regiments were renamed 6. Garde-Infanterie-Regiment and 7. Garde-Infanterie-Regiment, respectively.
In the winter of 1914/1915, brigade replacement battalions 6, 7 and 8 were used to form Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 357. Brigade replacement battalions 5 and 50 were used to form Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 358. Both regiments received their numbers in the course of 1915 and initially remained with the division.
Field artillery replacement detachment 53 was transferred to 1st Bavarian Landwehr division in early October 1914. Field artillery replacement detachments 20 and 41 were assigned to 3rd Landwehr division. At the beginning of July 1915, guards field artillery replacement detachments 1 and 2 were used to form the 1st and 3rd battalions of 7. Garde-Feldartillerie-Regiment. Field artillery replacement detachment 38 was used to form the 2nd battalion.
Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 399 was formed on 12.09.1916 with men taken from 6th and 7th guards infantry regiments and infantry regiment 357. Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 357 was transferred to 199. Infanterie-Division. Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 358 was used to form 214. Infanterie-Division. At the same time, the division received men from other formations to fill the gaps.
Kriegsgliederung/order of battle on 1 August 1916
Together with 21. Reserve-Division, Garde-Ersatz-Division was fighting in the Chapitre Wood sector at Verdun as part of XVIII. Reserve-Korps in August 1916. This overview also shows the smaller support elements that are not included in the overviews for the early and late war periods.
|6. Garde-Infanterie-Regiment||7. Garde-Infanterie-Regiment|
|Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 357||Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 358|
|5. Eskadron 2. Garde-Ulanen-Regiment|
Stab II./Pio. 20
|Garde-Pionier-Kompagnie 301||Pionier-Kompagnie 302|
|7. Garde-Minenwerfer-Kompagnie||Minenwerfer-Kompagnie 103|
|Divisions-Brücken-Train 301||Scheinwerfer-Zug 292|
|Feldsignal-Trupp 169||Feldsignal-Trupp 170|
Kriegsgliederung/order of battle on 8 March 1918
|6. Garde-Infanterie-Regiment||7. Garde-Infanterie-Regiment||Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 399|
|5. Eskadron 2. Garde-Ulanen-Regiment|
|7. Garde-Feldartillerie-Regiment||Fußartillerie-Bataillon 89|
Stab Pionier-Bataillon 501
|Garde-Pionier-Kompagnie 301||Pionier-Kompagnie 302||7. Garde-Minenwerfer-Kompagnie|
- Reinhold von Twardowski
- 01.05.1916–21.01.1918 Generalleutnant Alfred von Larisch
- From January 1918 Generalmajor Maximilian von Poseck
Calendar of battles and engagements
|22.08.–14.09.1914||Schlacht vor Nancy-Epinal|
|17.09.–27.09.1914||Gefechte bei Gerden (Lagarde)|
|28.09.1914–22.07.1916||Kämpfe zwischen Maas und Mosel|
|21.10.–23.10.1914||Gefechte am Mort-Mare|
|12.12.1914||Gefecht am Walde von Remières|
|16.12.1914–20.02.1916||Kämpfe bei Flirey|
|30.12.–31.12.1914||Kämpfe am Eisenbahneinschnitt bei Flirey|
|16.02.1915||Gefecht bei Flirey|
|05.04.–20.04.1915||Aprilkämpfe bei Flirey (am Mort-Mare)|
|28.04.1915–22.07.1916||Kämpfe am Montsec|
|06.10.1915–22.07.1916||Kämpfe am Bois-brûlé|
|23.07.–21.08.1916||Schlacht bei Verdun (Kämpfe im Chapitre-Wald)|
|01.09.–04.11.1916||Stellungskämpfe zwischen Maas und Mosel|
|01.09.–04.11.1916||Kämpfe bei Flirey|
|05.11.–15.12.1916||Reserve der O.H.-L.|
|16.12.1916–14.01.1917||Stellungskämpfe vor Verdun|
|14.01.–30.03.1917||Stellungskämpfe in der Champagne|
|31.03.–12.04.1917||Reserve der O.H.-L.|
|16.05.–20.07.1917||Stellungskämpfe vor Verdun: bei Richecourt, Seicheprey und Flirey|
|21.07.–26.07.1917||Reserve der O.H.-L. und Transport nach dem Osten|
|26.07.–15.08.1917||Reserve der Heeresgruppe Eichhorn|
|16.08.–31.08.1917||Reserve der 8. Armee|
|01.09.–05.09.1917||Schlacht um Riga|
|06.09.–13.09.1917||Reserve der O.H.-L. und Transport nach dem Westen|
|13.10.1917–19.02.1918||Stellungskämpfe vor Verdun|
|29.10.1917||Wiedernahme der Vauxkreuzhöhe|
|09.11.1917||Wiedernahme des südl. Chaume-Waldes|
|19.02.–20.03.1918||Vorbereitungszeit für die "Große Schlacht in Frankreich"|
|21.03.–06.04.1918||Große Schlacht in Frankreich|
|23.03.–26.03.1918||Verfolgungskämpfe im Sommegebiet|
|07.04.–16.05.1918||Kämpfe an der Ancre, Somme und Avre|
|24.04.–26.04.1918||Schlacht bei Villers-Bretonneux, an Luce und Avre|
|15.07.–17.07.1918||Angriffsschlacht in der Champagne|
|18.07.–19.07.1918||Stellungskämpfe bei Reims|
|20.07.–25.07.1918||Abwehrschlacht zwischen Soissons und Reims|
|26.07.–03.08.1918||Die bewegliche Abwehrschlacht zwischen Marne und Vesle|
|04.08.–08.08.1918||Stellungskämpfe an der Vesle|
|06.10.–17.10.1918||Abwehrschlacht in Flandern|
|18.10.–24.10.1918||Nachhutkämpfe zwischen Yser und Lys|
|25.10.–01.11.1918||Schlacht an der Lys|
|02.11.–04.11.1918||Nachhutkämpfe beiderseits der Schelde|
|05.11.–11.11.1918||Rückzugskämpfe vor der Antwerpen-Maas-Stellung|
|12.11.1918–03.01.1919||Räumung des besetzten Gebietes und Marsch in die Heimat|
- Ruhmeshalle unserer alten Armee, 5th edition, Berlin
- Die Schlachten und Gefechte des Grossen Krieges 1914–1918, compiled by the Grosser Generalstab, Berlin 1919
- Geschichte des deutschen Heeres im Weltkriege 1914–1918, Hermann Cron, Berlin, 1937
- Formationsgeschichte der deutschen Infanterie im Ersten Weltkrieg 1914–1918, Hartwig Busche, 1998
- Handuch der Verbände und Truppen des deutschen Heeres 1914–1918, Teil IX: Feldartillerie, Band 1 & 2, Jürgen Kraus/Hartwig Busche, Wien, 2007
- Reichsarchiv Band 14: Die Tragödie von Verdun 1916, 2. Teil – Das Ringen um Fort Vaux, Oberstleutnant a.D. Alexander Schwencke, Verlag Gerhard Stalling, Oldenburg/Berlin 1928
- Ehrenrangliste des ehemaligen Deutschen Heeres auf Grund der Ranglisten von 1914 mit den inzwischen eingetretenen Veränderungen, Berlin, 1926
- Histories of 251 Divisions of the German Army which participated in the War (1914–1918) – compiled from records of Intelligence Section of the General Staff, American Expeditionary Forces, at General Headquarters, Chaumont, France, 1919
Copyright © 2009 David Gregory