Above: Eager for war, one year volunteers of the I.R. 88 in 1913. August Weber is 2nd from the right
August Weber had finished his military service less than a year before the outbreak of the war. His eagerness to get back into uniform is stereotypical for the young
men of the era. His Diaries show his impatience and frustration when the mobilisation did not take place fast enough.
To Return to the August Weber page, along with links to his tunics, go HERE
August Weber mobilised in the R.I. 69, which was part of the 16th I.D. The 16th Division saw its first action on the 22nd
to 23rd of August 1914 in the battle at Neufchateau. From the 24th-29th
of August it fought on the Maas/Meuse. From the 30th of August until
the 5th of September it was involved in the pursuit from the Maas to
the Marne including the fighting at Montgon
(31st-1st) and Somme Py (2nd-3rd). From
the 6th to 12th of September it took part in the battle
on the Marne (At Vitry le Francois from 7th -8th and at
Aulnay L’Aitre from 9th to 10th).
August Weber was wounded on the 8th of September at Vitry le
Francois and left the Regiment at this time. Weber's first war diary starts just before the offical mobilisation and covers the period until he crosses the border back into German after his wound.
August Weber serving with the Infanterie Regiment 88 in 1913.
August Weber: Diary 1
It was towards the end of July 1914. Dark clouds, brought on by the
terrible crime that had been carried out in Sarajevo, hung over European politics.
as a result made demands on Serbia
in order to assure her national security. At first it looked as if Serbia would
agree but at the last moment things changed. With Russia
backing her Serbia refused
the demands and Austria
was forced to mobilise her troops.
For the rest of Europe the question
was… would Russian stay neutral? For anyone following the politics of the past
few years the outcome was sure. The long expected, long dreaded world crisis
was unavoidable. Only the naïve and the spineless souls still hoped for peace.
As in the rest of the German Fatherland the spirit in the noble town of Trier was indescribable.
The newspaper printers were under siege as the population waited eagerly for
the message “Krieg!”.
I had already sent a message home requesting that they forward my
Feldgrau jacket, boots and binoculars from my service days. On the 31st of July
I was on my way to work with my colleague Lenz. As we passed the Paulinus
Printing press we saw preparations in motion. I gave a loud “Hurra!”.
Mobilisation would surely follow in 2 or 3 hours.
A quick handshake and I left my friend as I hurried home. I changed into
my Feldgrau and packed up my civilian clothes in a parcel to be sent home... I
waited for the mobilization call… it did not come. At midnight I lay down. All
through the night I thought I heard the call “Alarm”, but it was only my
The next morning, to my big disappointment, I had to put on my civilian
clothes again. My landlady was waiting for me with coffee. The teasing and
jokes made over my eagerness are best not mentioned.
The day passed slowly. I could barely work and thought only of the
coming war. From time to time I took out my Militärpass and reread the
mobilisation instructions. “Report as soon as the mobilisation order is given”.
Indeed… but the order had still not been given. This day, too, passed by….
At 6:00 pm it happened. I hurried to the printer's with my colleague
Hoffmann. There was still no news. In the marketplace in front of the main post
office there was a throng of people. Here there was no news either. Suddenly,
at 6:15 a ripple went through the crowd… “Mobilisation!”
A sudden silence, then cries of “Hurra!”
I said goodbye to Hoffmann and my colleagues and hurried to my lodgings.
As I entered I called “See! Mobilisation! I was right!”. They still did
not believe me.
In the blink of an eye I was a warrior again and my civilian affairs
were packed away. A quick goodbye and by 7:00pm I was at the barracks. I was
posted to the 10./69 (10th Kompagnie / Infanterie Regiment 69) and I reported
to the Feldwebel. The active regiment had already left to secure the border to Luxembourg on
the 31st of July. Vizefeldwebel Adawitz and the Feldwebel were the only NCOs of
the 10th Kompagnie that were still there.
I was ordered to see to the uniforms and equipment of the newly arriving
reservists. Not something I was keen on, but this was war and everyone had to
do his job.
Reservists flooded in the whole night long. They came from Trier and the surrounding
areas. Tunics and trousers were tried on. Each man got a pair of underpants, 2
shirts, an overcoat and a hat. They got one pair of lace up boots, a helmet
with its Feldgrau (fieldgrey) cover, a backpack with its contents, a Zeltbahn
with tent pegs, a canteen, a Kochgeschirr (mess tin), a Brotbeutel (Breadbag),
belt, fat and coffee tins, a saltbag, a white armband and other smaller items.
The next morning the weapons were handed out. At 8:00 am came the news
that the regiment was having problems in Luxembourg and all the reservists
must get ready to move out. Each man received an Erkennungsmarke (dogtag) and
bullets. We were ready to go. At noon we were still in the barracks. We waited
impatiently for the orders to march.
At 5:00pm Leutnant d.Res Pley came to give new orders. The
Unteroffiziere were given posts and men to guard them. Mine was at the tobacco
dealer “Pfeiffer”. Anyone entering or leaving Trier by that road had to be able to identify
himself. Anyone causing problems would be arrested.
With six men of the 11th Kompagnie I took over the post and installed
myself in the guardroom (the laundry!). Soon the number of our post grew. One
of the reservists lived within 500 meters and his wife soon found her way to
us. Whenever Reservist Soldirer stood guard his wife stood with him. On
occasion she would take his rifle with its bayonet and stop people she knew. It
was war. Certain things had to be allowed.
There was no shortage of food. Frau Pfeiffer looked after us. There was
little traffic on the road and it soon became boring. On the evening of the 4th
of August I went to check my sentries and saw our relief arriving.
Smiling and singing the “Wacht am Rhein” we marched back into Trier.
This is life! There are soldiers all over;
Reservists, Landwehr, and Landsturm. Horses in every corner. I have never seen such a mixed collection of units.
Upon arrival in the barracks I go to the canteen to eat, then to bed. In the following days more equipment arrives. Out of the depots come more weapons. These are given to the newly arrived groups of Reservists.
Cleaning cloths and rifle fat are issued. We are once again ready to march out. In the morning there is still feverish action. Bread, tinned meat and vegetables are given out. At last we are ready.
This afternoon we leave the barracks for the “Train Station West”. We sing “Wacht am Rhein”, “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” and other patriotic songs. There is great jubilation as we march through the
streets. The Reservists from Trier
wave and say goodbye to their families who watch us leave. How many of them will see Trier
The West Station is packed with soldiers waiting to be loaded onto trains, among them a troop of Hussars from Silesia.
At last…our turn! I get a place in a cattlewagon. Our reservists are singing song after song. All along the way the civilians watch the buildup with open jawed astonishment. It is already dark when we reach Luxemburg. We get out at the station Luxemburg-Kollerich and from there march in the direction of Kollerich where the III./I.R.69 (3rd battalion, Infanterie Regiment 69) is to be found. Tonight I sleep with thirty reservists in a barn. There is a cold wind but that is simply a foretaste of things to come.
Above: Men of the I.R.69 at mobilization.
This morning after our Hauptmann has inspected us, we march into town. The active troops are dug in here. We reservists are put through drill. It is boring but necessary; the old routines have to take root again. At 11am there is a church service. Never has a service made such a deep impression on me as this one. It touches my heart. This afternoon there is more drill then to quarters. I am sent to the Kompagnie, housed in a big hall with straw on the floor.
The Hauptmann calls for me, tells me to sit down and says “You have come to me in the wrong uniform! You are now “Offizierstellvertreter”. Congratulations. See that you get the necessary items.”
I leave beaming with pleasure and go into the town of Luxemburg. I try to find a sword and automatic pistol, but no luck. The next morning the Hauptmann asks if I have found the items in Luxemburg. I tell him it was not possible. An “Ordonnanz” is going to Trier
today and can get me the items I need.
That evening I sit with the officers in a Gasthaus. Hauptmann von Olberg calls me into the hall and gives me my sword. He tells me it is actually a sword for the “Jaeger zu Pferde” as there are no more infantry swords in Trier.
It is no problem. The sword is fine. Even Major Pralle admires it.
Sunday. It is service as normal but with light duties. We practice pitching tents. In this period we eat at the field kitchen during the day and in the Gasthaus evenings.
We leave at 6:30am. It is hot. At 1pm we have reached Goudringen and eat at the field kitchen. Rest until 3pm then onward to Reuland which we reach at 7pm. I lodge in a very clean house and receive a superb meal.
At 9:15am we leave for Christnach and arrive at 11am. With my comrade Kuerfeld I look for lodgings. We find a place with the farmer Tunch (sp). It is rather dirty but still better than the barn, especially as we will be here for a few days.
Drill and instruction until the 14/8
Brigade manoeuvre. March from Christnach- Muellertal- Grundhof- Beaufort- Hallerwaldbillig- Christnach.
6am March from Christnach over Colbert-Breitweiler-Christnach. Rain and narrow forest paths.
During this period we eat at the field kitchen in the day and in private houses at night. Beer is beginning to run out.
On the road. The III. Batln. is at the head of the division and the 10. Komp. marches out in front. We go from Christnach-Savelborn-Emsdorf-Gilsdorf (Diekirch)- Bastendorf.
8am. Cross the Belgian border with “Hurrah’s”. The border stone is in front of a pine forest. Longvilly-Bastogne-St Etienne-Treuet (sp?) arrival 2:30pm after
a hot march of 29km.
March 36km to Arville, we protect the left flank. Bivouac at Arville. Oberleutnant K. Fischer is wounded. News of the fall of Brussels.
March continues to Gedinne (sp?)
At 6am the French shoot at us. The company in a defensive line facing St Denis-Piere. Section of Lt. Noeldecken (sp?) advances on the village in open order. The other sections follow later. The Kompagnie is forced to pull back, the village is strongly occupied by the enemy and we have no artillery. Behind the village there are more enemy troop concentrations.
They do not pursue us. We halt on the heights in front of a forest. We are now
in range of enemy shrapnel fire. At 4pm the order to advance comes. Our company advances on the right flank of the I.R.28 towards the village of Houdremont. The enemy has in the meantime abandoned the positions in front of St. Denis. During the fighting I am seconded along with some members of our company to the 1. Kompagnie of the I.R.28. I am given the command of a section of the 1. I.R.28 that had been led by a Vizefeldwebel. After receiving heavy fire (the enemy has many machine guns) we storm the heavily defended heights.
As soon as the enemy see the glint of our bayonets and hear our blood curdling “Hurrah’s!” they flee. I am 50m ahead of my section when I nter the tree line on the heights. Suddenly I see a Frenchman aiming at me. I sidestep and his shot whizzes by my head. In two steps I am on him with my pistol ready to fire. He falls on his knees and begs for mercy. I cannot bring myself to shoot him; he was one of the few who had not fled.
He has done his duty. I make him a prisoner and take his pistol and bayonet as souvenirs. The battle moves on. We storm a farming hamlet that held by the enemy. Here I meet up with Kuhn-Baumholder who served with me as a one year volunteer in the 88. I.R.
Above: A pre war French Infantry sword found with Weber's uniforms. It is possibly the "Bayonet" captured by A.W.
The battle is soon over and we reassemble. At 8pm we march towards Oschimont (no food). That night we are shelled along the way. We storm the village.
8am. Set up a guard post on the street crossing from Oschimont(?) Bois de Dace Ceriveau. The previous guard post had been shot up by the enemy, the bodies still lying in place. At 11am we continue the march to Vress. Vress has been abandoned by the enemy, so at 6pm we march into the town unopposed. A
superb meal in the Gasthaus “Lenois” the enemy had set the table then been surprised by us. The food is still on the table, only the drinks having been touched. We spend the night in Vress in a state of high alert.
6am. Assembly, then a march towards Pissenwange. At 11am we cross the French-Belgian border (Hurrah), 1pm return. Rest until 5:30pm (apparently this was due to the destroyed Maas bridges at Rouzon). Our pioniers are attacked by Francktireurs. The village is set alight.
5:30pm. March in the direction of Sedan. Bivouac at Maraucourt. Set up guard post at train station.
At 7am the first shots are heard. III./69 passes through heavy artillery fire and takes the railway lines then sets up positions on the railway embankment.
Our attempts to cross the Maas fail. I.R. 29 succeeds and storms the heights. Our M.G.K. mows down enemy infantry columns. The enemy is beaten. At 1pm it is reported that the French Army has retreated.
6:30pm. March to Douchery. Bivouac on a field. Douchez is burning, the church included. A terrible and at the same time captivating sight.
4:30am. March to the castle Bellevue by Frenois. Here at the historical site where Napoleon and Bismark met in 1870 we camp. Close by we dig trenches. We barely finish before the enemy arrives. A fight starts that lasts from 1 to 6:30pm. The enemy is beaten back. That evening I am sent with my section to guard the road from Frenois to Cheveuges.
4am, Alarm. Approach of enemy columns has been reported. Positions are occupied and strengthened. Enemy is beaten back. That evening good food from the Feldkuche. The wine comes from Schloss Bellvue. Unfortunately we are not in the castle, we are in the park, dug in along a hawthorn hedge.
From 4am we start improving the trenches until we receive information that the enemy has pulled back. Lt. d. Res. Pauly and I bathe in a nearby stream, it is wonderful. At 4:40am we march, arriving in Chevery at 5am on the 30th.
30/8 8:45am. Leave Malmy to Vendrese. Rested from 13:30-5pm. Continue on.
Through Chagny, La Sabotterie to Lametz. Take up positions in a wood 1km south of Lametz, at the disposition of the Division. At 9pm the 10./69 marches to Margnigny to guard the Corps staff. From the signal section we hear about the battle of Tannenberg.
At midday we march back to yesterday's position. The battalion is no longer there. We continue on at 4pm and cross the Ardennes Canal. At midnight we reach Vouziers. Guard the bridge over the canal at the railway station.
9am. March to Somme-Py. The enemy shoot us while we set up our bivouac. Night battle in the forest between Somme- Py and Souain. Heavy losses for us. Hauptmann von Olberg, Lt. d. Res. Pauli, Lt. Hoeldecker(sp?) are wounded.
XXX whom I knew from Trier is killed.
The fight comes to an end at 10am. The enemy pulls back. The company has 140 men left. 12am. March through XXX to Suppes. Bivouac behind Suppes (near Bussly le Chateau)
8am. March through La Cheppe to Courtisolis. Spend the night in a barn. After seeing to my section I bathe in a trough. It does wonders to restore my energy.
9.45am. Depart from Courtesolis through L´Epice (East-south-east of Chalons sur Marne)-Masson-La Chausee to Vitry le Francois. Arrive at 2am and set up a guard post.
Sunday. March over Blaey to Huiron. From 9am fight at Glannes-Huiron. Push through the brush and reach the railway embankment. In spite of heavy shelling (30.5cm British naval guns) we hold out until 9pm then march back to Vitry. We spend the night preparing trenches.
In combat from dawn to dusk. Heavy enemy shelling. Relieved by I.R.68 at 8:30pm and bivouac at Blacy.
4am. Wake up then back into the fight. III./69 pushes through a copse. As we exit we are greeted by heavy shrapnel fire. We advance section by section heading for a railway embankment which lies 600m away. Here the battalion assembles. An artillery duel takes place. At midday we advance pushing the enemy out of the forests. The regiment reassembles behind a hill out of reach of the enemy artillery. Major Pralle calls for me and orders me to climb the hill and do a reconnaissance. I take 4 men and we go up the hill. We observe the enemy positions (infantry trenches) and note a large enemy unit advancing on our left flank. I report the enemy movements and
am ordered to dig in on the hill. No pulling back under any circumstances.
I return up the hill, all the while under shrapnel fire.
From our positions I order fire on the enemy trenches opposite us, then on a copse to the left of the positions. It seems to be to good effect. Next I fire on columns that appear at the exit to the village, off to the right of our positions. The enemy pulls back into the village but we too are suffering casualties, ours from artillery fire.
Shrapnel and explosive shells rain down. Our positions are crumbling. Suddenly I see that bayonets are being fixed in the trenches to the left of me. I stand up to see why. Black troops are advancing on the trenches to the left of us.
I want to swing my section to the left to hit the advancing enemy in the flank but suddenly the enemy fire increases dramatically. Any attempt would have ended in our annihilation.
We stay in the old positions and I remain standing to follow the events on the left. They let the enemy approach to within 30 meters of their positions then open fire. The enemy hesitates, then our men rush forward with their bayonets. The blacks take off with our men on their heels.
Suddenly we are fired upon from the opposite hill. I scan the hillside with my binoculars. I find the enemy positions in an old potato field.
I am just about to give the order to fire when I receive a blow to the arm which knocks me over.
I see blood running down my right sleeve. It is not a critical wound and I ignore it, instead directing fire on the positions in the potato field. I continue to command my section for another half an hour before collapsing from a loss of blood.
I awaken soon after and transfer the command of my section, then crawl to the rear. On the backward slope of the hill I have my shoulder bandaged. I continue to the rear passing many wounded soldiers scattered on the slope.
In the meantime the enemy has moved his fire further to the rear hoping to catch our advancing reinforcements. Unfortunately we have no reserves. All the men are already in the line.
The position is hopeless. We have to pull back. Once again I have to cross through a curtain of iron and steel as shell after shell falls on the hill and its slopes.
I have to make it through. There is no choice. Luck is on my side and after one hour of crossing forest and stream I manage to reach the aid station. On the way I meet Oberleutnant Fischer. I am soon bandaged and on an ambulance to the Feldlazarett at Vitry le Francois.
I am given a bunk and right away fall asleep. I awake the next day at 7am. I am ravenous. We get tea and Kommisbrot, it tastes wonderful.
At 10am my wound is dressed and I go into Vitry. The lightly wounded collection point is in the church. I arrive at just the right time. A column is marching to the rear. I ask the doctor if I can join them and am given the task of leading the column to La Chaussee. Once there I sleep alone in the ruins of the post office.
At 6am I open the window and look out. I see the men in the Feldlazarette are already moving around. I pack my stuff and report to the hospital. I had not eaten the night before and my stomach is protesting. There is no bread here. Everyone gets a cup of hot coffee. In a garden I find some carrots which go perfectly with my coffee.
I am once again given a column of 150 lightly wounded. At 2pm we arrive at Courtisols. We stay in an abandoned monastery. For lunch we have... Carrots from the monastery gardens.
This evening I go into the village. I come across Lt. d. Res Baldus. His whole head is bandaged and he can see nothing. I greet him. He is happy to meet someone he knows. He has been shot in the right eye. He arrived an hour earlier on a truck from Vitry to Courtisols. Here he had been simply dumped on the side of the road with no one to look after him. I find out a motor vehicle is on its way from Vitry to Sedan. The office of the Etappenstation confirms this. I inform Lt. Baldus of this and bring
him to the office.
I return to the monastery to grab my kit before joining Lt. Baldus. The commander of the Etappenstation, Rittmeister Freiherr von Tschammer looks in on Lt. Baldus. We are given a tasty soup, but there is no place on the lorry.
In the meantime the Etappenkommandeur Generalleutnant von ??? has arrived with two cars from Sedan. These return later and Rittmeister Frhr. v. Tchammer reports our situation. The Generalleutnant takes us with him to Sedan.
We spend the night in a hospital, I cannot sleep, I am no longer used to soft beds.
A good breakfast is served. Lt. Baldus and three other badly wounded are taken by car to Aslon-Luxemburg.
I spend the morning walking around Sedan looking for an automobile. I am lucky enough to find one that leaves at 1pm for Luxemburg. I have a bit of time and continue my walk through the city. I am back in time for the 1pm departure.
As we leave Sedan a heavy rain starts. I am soon wet through. It does not bother me, I am on my way home. At full speed we pass through the French and Belgian countryside.
All over we see the horror and destruction of war; whole villages burned down, fields of unharvested crops and fallen fruit.
I had not noticed this during the advance, we had only had eyes for the enemy. I am relieved that the war is taking place outside of the German borders and that our dear fatherland has been spared these horrors.
I am rudely awakened from my thoughts... I am sitting in a ditch and have no
idea how I got there.
The back wheel of the truck has fallen off about 15km from Arlon. We are lucky. We had been travelling at full speed and had just missed crashing into a tree on the side of the road by a hair's breadth.
We have no spare wheel.
A motorcar had been driving ahead of us. With the aid of our klaxon we alert him to our predicament, the driver stops. The car is too full to take us with but they promise to return.
I am soaked through. At the accident scene there is a cold wind. I cannot simply stand around; I have to take care of my wound. I start walking along the road to Aslon. I pass through a few Belgian villages and woods. I cover about 6km when I hear an automobile approaching from behind.
I wave it to a stop. A soldier jumps out and opens the door. A general sits in the car. I explain my woes and ask to be taken with him. The General agrees and as we drive off he asks me to describe my experiences. We soon arrive in Arlon. The General is stopping here and I thank him for the ride. I continue on to the Belgian Kaserne which is now in the hands of a Landsturm unit from Thüringen. I hang up my coat to dry in the laundry room and sit by the oven. The Landsturm men have brewed wonderful tea, I drink a few mugs and it works wonders for my moral.
As soon as my clothes have dried I proceed to the station. It is by now 7pm.
The stationmaster informs me that the next train from Luxemburg to Trier is at 2am. I enter the waiting room and lie down on a plush sofa. Suddenly I hear train wagons. I go onto the platform to see a train passing through. It is a goods train but has a wagon with wounded soldiers.
I ask where it is headed and am informed it is going to Trier. I grab my possessions and climb aboard.
Just after midnight I am in Luxemburg and on the 12th of September at 4am I arrive in Trier, on German territory, safe and sound.