Der Tod kann Rappen und Schimmel reiten, Der Tod kann lächelnd im Tanze schreiten. Er trommelt laut, er trommelt fein: Gestorben, gestorben, gestorben muß sein. Flandern in Not! In Flandern reitet der Tod!
Death can ride a black or white mount, Death can dance with a smile on his face. He drums loud, he drums low: He must always deliver a deadly blow. Flanders in peril! Death gallops in Flanders!
The Volpert brothers were born in the village of Seifriedsburg near Gemünden, in Unterfranken, Bavaria. Kaspar was born on the 22nd September 1886, Valentin on the 7th September 1893. Their Parents, Kasper and Barbara, were farmers.
The Iron Cross award documents (special prints for the regt.) will be pictured in the upcoming book about the Imperial Iron Cross
Valentin served in the 3. Komp. of the Kgl.bayer. 9. Infanterie Regiment and seems to have been with the regiment from the outbreak of the war. In 1916 the Division served on the Somme before returning to Flanders where it had spent much of the war. The regiment was in the front line at Messines/Wytschaet Bogen when the mines buried by the British exploded, signalling the start of the battle for Messines ridge. Valentin's company was in reserve when the mines went up and was rushed forward to counter attack as the allied troops advanced. The 9. bayer.Inf.Regt was in the southern tip of the sector where the mines exploded in the battle for Messines Ridge. Valentines company was rushed forward to counter attack and was beaten back by heavy artillery and machinegun fire.
Volume IV - The Australian Imperial Force in France: 1917
At 7 o'clock the evidence of an impending counter attack was detected along the 9th Brigades front. The men of the 34th digging beyond Grey farm saw, as already mentioned, troops moving northwards up the third German line ("Uncertain Trench") at potterie Farm. Later, about 8:30, these were observed dribbling forward into the slight dip, 400 yards east of the 34th's new trench, where they were lost to view. The 33rd on the extreme right observed men flooding similarly into the area 300 yards south-east of the right flank. At Grey Farm Captain Stewart obtained the help of some of the 9th Brigade's Stokes mortars under Lieutenant Chapman. On their bombs exploding in the dip, the Germans were seen to run back to the third Line, the 34th shooting at their backs. The German movement had also been reported to the artillery by a forward observing officer, who at 8.38, judging this advance to be a definate counter-attack, asked for an S.O.S. barrage. Airmen also reported that between 7 and 8 o'clock German troops were massing on the roads near Warneton, a mile and a quarter to the east. The artillery and machine-guns opened on the artillery observers call, and all signs of counter attack quickly ceased.
According to the Regimental history..
At 5:40 am the regimental reserve (3. and 4. Komp.) recieved the order to counter attack and retake position A(d). Inspite of heavy enemy artillery fire the companies made it to the II. Stellung. They were joined here by the 6. and 7. Komp. but the further advance fell to pieces under heavy enemy fire
In the field 9.11.17 Dear Mr Wolpert
It is my painful duty to write to you today. An official letter from the Bavarian war ministry arrived at the company today confirming the death of your son Valentin. An English official report announced his death caused by bullet wounds in the chest and spine. He died in the B.E.F. 10th General Hospital on the 15.6.17 and was buried at the church at St. Etienne, grave no 50. This confrms that your son died a heroes death in enemy territory. In the name of the company I send out condolances to you and your family. May God give you strength to overcome this heavy loss. The hero, who was one of the best, bravest and most popular soldiers in the company, will remain in our memories. His death came to soon. The official death certificate will be sent to you in the following days as will the formula to entitle you to the compensation. If you have any further questions I am at your service. I close off with my sincere condolences and remain yours Martin Wohlleben, Feldwebel
Kaspar had been rated as "unfit for military service at this time" and exempted from military service in the prewar army. He was part of the Ersatz Reserve but in May 1915 he started his training with the Kgl. bayer. 9 Infanterie Regiment "Wrede" before being posted to the bayr. Ersatz Regiment Nr.2 (30. Reserve Division) in July 1915. Here he took part in the divisions only noteworthy action of the year, the fight at Ban de Sapt-Launois. In October 1916 he transfered to the 8th Company 9. bayr.Inf.Regt (4. bay.I.D.) in Flanders. The division was a first class combat unit and fought with great distinction throughout the war. It was in the line to the South of Messines when the allied mines were exploded and it was during the Sommerschlacht in Flandern 1917 (3rd battle of Ypres) that he was awarded his Iron Cross. Kaspar served as a stretcher bearer in an infantry section and was killed on the 20th April 1918 when a heavy artillery shell landed in their bivouac near Armentiers where the regiment was resting on its way to Kemmel where it would once again loose many men.
The regimental history
"With great jubilation the Regiment crossed the positions at Wez Macquart, which it had defended from July to Septemmber 1917, before crossing the English positions. The march direction then turned towards Armentiers-Nieppe fort. By 1 p.m. they had reached the street crossing 1km South East of Bailleul. The regimental staff, I. and II. Batl. took up quaters in Nieppe, the III. Batl. was at the disposition of the 117. Inf. Div. The two battalions arrived in Nieppe on the 18th April at 3.30 a.m., the III. Batl. left its positions at 5.30 a.m. and arrived at Armentiers at 8.30 p.m. Due to heavy artillery fire on Nieppe the Regts. Stab and the I. and II. Batl. left the town at 10.00 p.m. on the 20th April to head for Armentiers, here however they still suffered losses due to enemy aeroplanes dropping bombs on the town."
9. bayr. Inf. Regt Im Felde 24.4.18 8. Komp.
Dear Mr Wolpert!
It is with my duty, with my sincerest condolences, to inform you that your son, Infanterist (Krankenträger) Kaspar Wolpert was killed on the 20.4.1918. An enemy bombardment hit his quarters, instantly killing him and a number of comrades. He was buried in the Nieppe cemetry. His affairs will be forwarded to you by registered mail. The company has lost a brave soldier and good comrade. May it be a consolation to you in these difficult times, that your son, like so many others, sacrificed his life for his fatherland.
With great respect, I remain
Leutnant u. Komp. Führer
To Mr Kaspar Wolpert (sic) Seifriedsburg
In answer to your letter from the 5.5.18 I must tell you that your son Kaspar Wolpert (sic) was killed with numerous comrades by enemy artillery. As soon as the bombardement was over the area was inspected and only the items mentioned in the accompanying letter were found and returned to you. It is very unfortunate in these trying times that we cannot send the complete estate of the deceased to the parents. In this particular case it was made impossible due to the fact that the shell that landed in the middle of the group was of a heavy calibre and destroyed most of the possesions.
Leutnant u. Komp. Führer
Kaspar's Military pass with the entry that he was killed at Nieppe by artillery.
The Honour cross document for the next of kin.
The letter to the parents informing them of Kaspar's death.