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The EK1

A continuation of the August Weber Diary.

To return to the August Weber mainpage with links to his tunics go HERE
To go back to the start of his Eastern Front diary go HERE
To continue to the next section and his final battle go HERE


1/3 Nothing new. Rheinhardt wounded.  

2/3 Nothing new.  The night is spent on alert. There have been signs that the Russians may be planning to cross the river. The night passed relatively calmly.  

3/3 Nothing  

4/3 At 3:30am ordered to take half a section to Krshiwantze to protect the cavalry. Apparently a cavalry guard post had been wiped out in Mizery. It turned out that this was wrong, it had only been shot at.  

I arrived in Krshiwantze at 5am with my 30 men. I reported to Rittmeister von Heimburg of the 1st Eskadron of the Kurassiere Regiment 3. The cavalry had already posted guards and my men were not needed. I grouped them together in a hut. They were happy to finally be in a warm room again. The Rittmeister shared his quarters with me which was comfortable. As it was early we lay down to rest. We awoke at about 7:30 and I washed in the yard. When I returned coffee was ready. There was good coffee and cold chicken and we both ate hungrily.  

We spoke about all possible subjects. During the course of the day reports were coming in from his guard posts. Based on his reports I was able to make my own to the company. As I preferred it here to in the trench I wrote, in agreement with the Rittmeister, a report that implied our presence as infantry protection was needed by the cavalry. That afternoon I received orders from the battalion to stay at Krshiwantze until further notice.  

Our position here was in fact precarious and could rapidly become very dangerous. I asked the Rittmeister if my men could take over the security of the village while the cavalry did patrols in the direction of Mizery. He agreed with this proposal. I set up guard posts at both exits to the village. My men were getting good food from Eskadron’s field kitchen.  

The Rittmeister and I enjoyed the field kitchen food as well. It was a brew with lots of meat, potatoes and white cabbage. After our plates were empty the Rittmeister brought out anchovies, then we had a second plate of brew. To end it off we had cold chicken. For desert we had prunes, then a bottle of red wine. We chatted away until coffee time when our “Burschen” surprised us with potato pancakes with sugar coating. They were superb and we finished the whole tray.  

After the coffee we wrote letters and read newspapers. At nightfall I checked the guard posts.  

At 7pm it was dinner time. Roast potatoes, minced meat, cold chicken and red wine. We then chatted a bit then went to sleep.  

5/3 At 4am I received orders from the battalion to report immediately to the Company. I calmly drank a coffee and ate some more cold chicken. I took my leave from my roommate who gave me more chicken as a goodbye gift. At 5:55 we arrived back at the company. I returned to my old place in the trench. It was very cold.  

At 5pm we pulled back from the position and at 7pm we marched back to Motzewitsche and from there on to Kopciowo. Our 12. Komp. was the rearguard and blew up all the bridges after we had crossed them. At 12:30am we arrived in Kopciowo. We had marched 16km.  

6/3 From 12:30 to 7am we stood in the icy cold on the road to the North West of Kopciowo. We were frozen and were cursing constantly. It was terrible! Warm food was not to be expected. The field kitchen had left the day before for Berzuiki.  

We were relieved when the order came (at 7am) for the column to continue its march. At 12:30pm we arrived at Berzuiki. Were we received a hot lunch from the field kitchen. It gave us new life. We rested until 3:30pm then marched through Sejuy to Berzyuie.  

We arrived at 8:30pm and the company got quartered in warm rooms. Cremer, Futterlieb and I found wonderful quarters. We had marched 35 km that day.  

7/3 Sunday. Large foot washing in the morning, it was about time. At 10:30am we receive orders to prepare to leave. At 12 noon we march to Widugiery where the column came to a halt in front of the town. We use the time to eat. My section was just getting its rations issued when a column of artillery pushes past. I am off to the side and catch a glimpse of a familiar face. I call “Where are you from?” and then we recognized each other. It was cousin Karl from L..bad. I walked a while with him. He had no news from home. I gave him some newspapers then he had to continue on.  

We continued our march to Radziszki and arrived at 9pm. Very bad roads and paths, especially for the baggage columns. We had covered 22kms.  

8/3 Rest day. At noon we formed 2 sections, the company had lost too many men (to sickness?) to field 3 companies. At 6pm we continue to Luiklaszewo which lay 7km away. We had to force Landsturm men from our quarters and they cursed us soundly.  

The company slept in a large thick walled barn. Cremer, Futterlieb, Zerono and our “Burschen” had our own room. That night I had rather bad stomach problems.  

Above: A postcard kept by Weber showing the Kaiser visiting his troops

9/3 5:30am, orders to move out. Over Budwiecie to Wierstowiny. We got ready for battle. To the left was heavy infantry and machine-gun fire. In our sector it was limited to an overhead artillery duel. Every now and then a grenade landed near to us. Later infantry fire whizzed over our heads. Either they were “Lost bullets” or we were under direct fire. There was no enemy in our direct vicinity. The III. Batl, without our Komp. assembled with the I. Batl. And that night they moved towards Ogarymie. Here there was a very intense night battle with large amounts of Russian troops. There was much fighting with the bayonet. The fight went on into the morning. 3 Canons, 2 machine guns and 800 Russian prisoners went into the bag.

When the III. Batln. Marched off, our Komp. was assigned to the II. Batln. And we marched to the lake Jeziono Dus. Our company was the last in the column, ahead of us was the 7th Company. At 8pm we were marching along a forest path. We had been going for about 45 minutes when we were challenged in Russian. When we did not answer we received heavy fire from our left flank. My section still had to pass the Russians, the rest of the Battalion had already marched past them (with the exception of the tail of the 7. Komp.). I ordered the men to take cover which they did. I looked into the dark trying to see the Russian position. The fire had come from the woods into which the II. Batln had marched. I assumed the II. Batln. Would turn to the left and attack the enemy. I could not open fire from here incase we hit our own men (of the attacking II. Batln.). I left my section lying in cover and awaited further orders. 

I placed my section in cover facing the enemy. We waited… after a while I got impatient, we could no longer hear German voices. I sent Unteroffizier Backhaus to try and establish contact with the company and see if they were still there! When after a while he did not return I moved to the right flank of my section to see for myself. The company had moved on… it was not there anymore! I went back to my section and gave the order to follow. I followed the tracks through the woods. I was now behind a wooded hill to the right of the track. There I found Unteroffizier Backhaus who reported to me that the company was reassembling to the rear. I marched my section to the meeting point and met up with the company. Leutnant Cremer and Futterlieb were there. There was also an Offizierstellvertreter and about 15 men from the 7. Komp., R.I.R.258. The II. Batln. had continued on without thinking of us.

We held a small meeting. We had no idea which direction the II. Batln. had taken. We could not simply march off with our 50 men as there were strong Russian forces in the woods all around us. We decided to march to the west where the main line of advance was and quarter ourselves in a village. We reached the village Wierstowing and set up positions, all on high alert. Here we waited for the morning to come. We had marched 36km that day.

10/3 In the morning we got news that the regiment was assembling at Ogaryuie and at 8am we set off for the rendezvous. At 12 noon the division continued to Berzuiki to catch a Russian Armee Korps. I began to understand why we had pulled back on the Memel and what Hindenburgs plan was.

We had pulled back and the Russians, not seeing the trap, followed us. When enough Russians had crossed the Memel we turned around and cut off their path of retreat.

Unfortunately I could not participate in the March to Berzuiki. Since the 7th of March I had been having terrible stomach problems. Before that I had had a bad case of Diarrhea which left me feeling very weak. I could not continue and had to stay back in Mikizie. Leutnant Knorz and Dahlem were in the same condition. We shared a room where, in spite of a warn oven, I froze all night long.

11/3 At midday the baggage column arrived. We drove with them over Gudela to Berzuiki where we arrived in the early evening and spent the night with the battalion staff.

12/3 The next morning I went looking for my company which were at the exit of the village facing Sejny. It was a day of rest. Received my first letter from home (dated 15th of March). The Komp. received 50 replacements.

13/3 The company was restructured. A peaceful day with lots of eating. The Feldwebel arranged eggs, honey and cake. We had bought cheese and had ham as well. Unfortunately our lodgings were not good.

14/3 Sunday, rest day. A service in the church by divisional chaplain Beck. The theme was…”If God is on our side, who can be against us”.

The snow is beginning to melt.   At 7pm we were put on alert. The Russians were advancing. We dug trenches 300m in front of the Southern entrance to the village, along the road to Kopciowo. We returned at 11pm and took up positions, still on alert.

15/3 We manned the trenches with a few men. We had been informed that strong Russian forces were approaching. Our positions were good. It was hoped that the Russians would attack and that we would strike them a heavy blow. They did not come…

At 12:45 we march towards Posejuy after giving our positions to the cavalry. It was a tiring march along muddy roads, with each step we had half a farm clinging to each boot.  After a 15km march we arrived in Posejuy at 6pm. We had to protect a number of roads (to Zarubi, Sioiack and Grudziecosz (sp?)). After posting the sentries and sending off the patrols we went to quarters. Our field kitchen was there as was our baggage. We had wonderful quarters, large rooms with a sofa and a padded chair made our life comfortable.

16/3 During the morning we were working on the defenses when we got orders to march. We would happily have stayed for a few days but were relieved by the R.I.R. 255. At 11am we started marching over Sejny to Krasnopol. We stopped on the market square and ate. A snowstorm forced us into the neighboring houses. We were supposed to wait for the other companies but suddenly got orders to continue to Suwalki. At 3pm we continued and arrived at Suwalki at 8pm. Along the way I once again had diarrhea and had to leave the march a number of times. I became so weak that I could not continue marching. I hitched a ride on the field kitchen. It was ice cold and I began to freeze. I was relieved when we arrived in Suwalki. The company was quartered in a half demolished building. Cremer, Futterlieb and I climbed to the top floor and discovered some rooms that were inhabited by a Jewish family. They were small but clean. We spent the night there. The family gave us warm tea and we pulled out our bread with cheese and ham. We then wrapped ourselves in our sheepskin coats and slept on the floor.

17/3 Day of rest. The company received new replacements. We also received an array of goodies. I received a few packets of cookies, chocolate, a tin of condensed milk and a fur lined coat. In the meantime my condition was so bad that I reported myself sick. The Oberarzt sent me to the Kriegslazarett in Suwalki with chronic stomach problems.

18/3 The division is embarked for service on another front. Which one, we do not know. I was taken into Kriegslazarett 131 in Suwalki early in the morning. I was in a room with other officers (Hauptmann Wettenstein, Hauptmann Stupenberst, Leutnant von Petersdorf, Leutnant Sodermann and Dr. Eich. We passed the time reading and chatting.

19/3 Ditto

20/3 Had a bath, it was wonderful to wash of the filth of Poland. After my bath I felt like a new man. The snow was still falling heavily.

21/3 The beginning of spring. Even here in Russia we could feel a small difference. The sun shone merrily in our hospital room.

22/3 10am and we board the infection train. All those with the stomach infection were being treated as potentially infectious. The train was nicely set up, hammocks, chairs, tables… everything was there. It was also nice and warm. The food was good. Breakfast was coffee and biscuit, Lunch was soup and biscuit, dinner was Tea and biscuit. All day long sick men were loaded into the train. At 6:30pm we left over Angerburg and Koenigsberg to Pillau.

We arrived here on the evening of the 23rd. We had to spend the night on the train. During the trip we spent our time sleeping, reading and watching the scenery.

In the border areas the destruction was to be seen but all over they were busy repairing the damage. May poor, battered East Prussia… may it rise like a Phoenix above the ashes.

24/3 At 7am we drive with a former Hannover city bus to the infection hospital 3km outside of Pillau. There was a nice view of the town. Luckily there was no officers quarters available and we were sent to Koenigsberg. We returned to the station at Pillau. Our train was still there but I had no desire to take another trip in it. I had no infectious disease! At 1pm a train was leaving for Koenigsberg. There was still much time. I ordered breakfast and received a sausage soup along with a small Liver sausage and blood sausage. I asked for bread and the waiter asked if I had a breadcard. “Breadcard?” I asked, “What is that?”. The waiter explained (Ration card). I did not have one. The waiter took pity on me and gave me two small slices of bread. I enjoyed a beer with my breakfast. At 12am I had lunch, Tomato soup, Fish with butter and potato. It tasted very good. Soon after the train left for Koenigsberg, the former royal town.  I arrived at 3pm and went to the Festungshauptlazarett which sent me to Hilfslazarett IV in the Deutsches Haus.   It is great here.