Unteroffizier (Kriegsfreiwilliger) Ferdinand Heine (Feldartillerie-Regiment 65) His Iron Cross award was made on the 18th of June 1916 At the time of the award the Regt. was part of the 26. I.D.
The Regimental history describes their time on the Somme....
"The road forward was jam packed, the din was cut by sirens and shouted orders. We debarked at Gouzeaucourt and found ourselves in the middle of the battle. Endless lorry columns rattled by crushing the earth and paving with their steel wheels. From the frontline ambulance after ambulance passed us carrying the wounded to the rear, they were clearing the advanced dressing stations to make way for the next wave of wounded. In front of the houses was a scrap heap of artillery pieces which had been destroyed by enemy fire, and all the while there was a rumbling in the air like an distant storm. The Regiment rushed forward to Rocquigny to inherit the bitter lot of the batteries we were relieving. A jumble of guns and units were there, positioned were there was place in the line, or need for extra support. The first step was to bring some organisation into the mess and then on the 6th -8th August to take up position at Morwal/Morval. Other than some rubble and wrecked shelters there was little to show the churned up area was a position.
If that blood soaked ground could have told its tale ! Day and night the battle raged. In front of us in Delvelle wood the companies were bleeding, desperately shooting up red flares to call in supporting fire. The covering fire from our guns roared towards the enemy but is was drowned out by the roar of the enemy guns. Our fire was a whimper to their scream. A storm of all calibres fell on the pathetic holes scratched by our troops in the ground, obliterating them and cloaking Morval in a sea of smoke and shrapnel.
The zinc name plate for Walter Heine's cross
There was no need to try and camouflage our positions, the enemy was able to see every movement from his balloons and aircraft. The pilots would arrive, strafe and disappear again. Following them the enemy artillery fire would creep forward in little bounds until it engulfed us bending and destroying our gun carriages and barrels as if they were nothing more than bits of straw. Piles of ammunition exploded and huge clumps of earth were hurled through the air crushing men and dugouts under them. Through this inferno the orders of the Hauptmann came through, crisp and clear, his voice calm and the men stayed at their guns looking death in the face with the occasional trusting glance towards their commander.....
....and so the regiment came through the seemingly un-survivable period. At Guillemont, Ginchy and Combles the men stood firm, breaking the English attacks and when we Wuertembergers were relieved we were able to give over our sector having lost no ground. Grenadiers and infantryman left the Somme on the 26th of August 1916, the 65. F.A.R. followed a few days later, the division was leaving for Flanders....."
A letter home from Walter Heine, written two days before his death but mailed on the day he died.
Unteroffizier Walter Heine was not to leave the Somme with the Regiment. The 23 year old artilleryman after 22 months of service, like tens of thousands of other soldiers, lay in a grave on the Somme. He was killed on the 25th of August as the Regiment was preparing to be relieved.
Pictured above is the Cross awarded to Heine's mother.