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The EK1

Vizewachtmeister Friedrich Utz served for the duration of the war in ammunition columns for field artillery regiments of two Württemberg divisions. His documents reflect the evolution of the ammunition columns from being integral parts of the Regiments to becoming Armee level units attached to the regiments.

An explanation of the evolution of the units can be found HERE

The Iron Cross 2nd class document to Sergeant Friedrich Utz of the Leichte Munitions Kolonne III. Abt Reserve Feldartillerie Regiment 26. The regiment was part of the 26. Reserve Division and in 1916, as part of the XIV Reservekorps, it would play a key part in stopping the British offensive on the Somme. Utz's EK2 was awarded for actions on the Somme in August/September 1915.

Major a.D. (a.D. – Retired) Anton Breitung, commander of the Armee-Fernkampfartillerie of Armee-Oberkommando 7 did not forget the service they performed at the front.

"It is a pleasure for me to honour these brave and solid men. They are largely unknown, mostly unmentioned and their achievements are often overlooked. What would life on the front line have been like without reliable and daily supply? Through the darkest nights they delivered food, ammunition and essential material. The huge amounts needed on all fronts was brought forward by these endless columns. The energy and nerves needed to bring the heavy loads from the railheads and depots to the frontline should not be underestimated. It is a difficult job moving forward at night along unknown paths, through shell holes and seemingly bottomless mud. Often the wagons would sink up to their axles, with the horses at the end of their strength, sweating and shivering. Here the supply soldiers would roll up their sleeves and set about manhandling the heavy wagons while they themselves sank into the mud. All of this under enemy fire that concentrated on the supply lines and reached a crescendo just behind the front line. It was a test of nerves for the drivers in these long columns. Sitting high on their horses, unprotected and unable to take the slightest evasive action, the night was pitch-black as they stumbled on, blinded by the flash of exploding shells, falling into shell holes, their horses on top of them, then while struggling out of the hole, the guns would flash again over behind the enemy lines, announcing the arrival of a fresh "greeting".

After the restructuring of the Supply branch Vizewachtmeister d.Ldw.I Utz found himself in the Munitions Kolonne 1378 attached to the Wurttemberg Feldartillerie Regiment 29 (26. Infanterie Division). His Iron Cross 1st class was awarded for actions on the Western front where the division served as an assault unit. The supply units for attack/counter attack divisions faced challenges that line holding division supply columns were not confronted with.

Suddenly a shell explodes in the middle of the column, a horse and driver are torn apart and a wagon of ammunition explodes. Shouts and commotion, the column is immobilised until the wagon and bodies are cleared out of the way, and all the while the firing continues. In spite of the hardships the men struggled forward every night bringing us new guns, new ammunition, and new supplies. Upon arrival they would load up the empty packaging and brass casings, hitch up the damaged guns and return the same way, arriving at the rear by dawn, soaking wet and frozen stiff, their horses and wagons covered with mud.

Their quarters were often rudimentary, tents and open field stalls, and when they arrived back they right away took care of the horses, drying and cleaning them and getting the wagons ready for the next night. And so it went on, year in year out, night after night the same difficult and dangerous task. We should not overlook these brave men, modest and calm, who throughout the war, on all fronts, fulfilled a hazardous task."

The award document for Utz's wound badge, unfortunately it does not have the date of the wound.