2. Bayerische Jäger Battalion marched into France at the beginning of the war
and ended up as one of the most travelled units in the German army. Latzer
joining the Deutsche AlpenKorps, a highly rated assault division, the Jägers would
fight on all fronts, from the mud of Flanders to some of the highest peaks in
the Alps, from Verdun to Transylvania
and a number of places in between.
Lorraine, the Jägers had fought at Lagarde
(where they lost more men in their baptism of fire than they had lost in the
whole 1870/71 war), Nancy-Epinal and at the time of the action mentioned below
were on the Somme. Later that year they would
be engaged in some early war trench warfare at Mametz, the battle at Ypres, the
Battle at Flanders and the Fight at La Bassee on the 24th to 27th of December
1914, a time where on some parts of the front the Germans and British were
fraternising between the lines.
Richard Wagner was awarded a very early Iron Cross 2nd class, especially so for
someone of such a relatively low rank.
awarded his Iron Cross 2nd class on the 4th of November 1914. The document
pictured was signed in 1917 when Wagner was a Vizefeldwebel in the M.G.K.
mentioned in passing once in the History of the Jägers, where he led a patrol
on the 26th of September. An officer of the Battalion writes....
"On the 26th of September 1914 we were
marching towards Sailly-Saillisel. On the road to Les Boeufs we received the
message that French territorial troops were approaching us from Bapaume in the
North. We swung northwards and took up position in the heights to the west of
Sailly-Saillisel.A patrol under the command of Oberjäger Wagner
was sent forward to Gueudecourt while the sounds of battle reached us from the
West. Wagner returned and reported approaching enemy columns.At first it was not clear if the troops were
indeed enemy as our 14. Res. A.K. was supposed to be in that area, but it soon
became clear that the isolated horsemen out ahead on the Le Transloy- Saillifel
road were French and the red trousers of the approaching infantry became
clearer in our binoculars."
of the German artillery scattered the territorials, who took cover in the woods
to the east of Le Transloy and in the village itself. The Jägers followed them into the village but were
repulsed with a number of losses. Then it was the turn of the French to attack,
streaming out of the forest across open fields the "Redpants"
suffered terrible losses as they approached the Jägers who were able to engage
in a "Rabbit shoot" with no losses of their own.
The 2. Bay. Feldartillerie Regt. was on hand
to help the Jägers and by the time Darkness fell the Aschaffenburgers were able
to march into Le Transloy...
"We marched in to the village, ghostly in
the light of the burning buildings. The
streets are filled with the dead, the houses with the wounded. The Frenchmen
are all older territorials, in their 40s, they had fought bravely and had had a