The Fuhrpark Kolonnen were supply columns that were
used mainly, but not exclusively, for material other than munitions and food. The job was often dangerous but unglamorous and the medals earned were for bravery without the opportunity of striking back at the enemy.
Schmitt of the bayerische 2. Train-Abteilung reports on an
exciting days work by his supply soldiers:
“Our Etappen-Fuhrpark-Kolonne was under the command of
the Pionier commander of a Prussian division. We were divided into two half
columns in Boyeles (South of Arras, on the Arras-Bapaume road). My column was
responsible for bringing up pionier supplies and ammunition to the
Regiments-Pionier depot at night as well as lending a hand to improve the roads
at the front. Our work usually started as night fell, until dawn, eight to ten
hours later. It was exhausting for both man and horse.
But one day - it was in May - I was summoned by the Pionier
commander. What was happening? That night the enemy had succeeded in breaking
into the positions of an infantry regiment. The Kolonne had to evacuate the
Regiments-Pionier Depot 76. It lay in a sunken road between Ayette and Douchy,
about 200 metres from the enemy.
Fahrer Willi Engelke served in a number of units but
spent the bulk of the war with Führpark Kolonne 660. In August 1917 they were
on the Eastern Front with Heeresgruppe Linsingen. In January of 1918 the Column
had moved to the Western front and was transporting supplies in the mud of Flanders. In March of 1918 they were struggling to supply
the German troops breaking through at Monchy-Cambrai and on the Somme.
"I went forward with twenty
wagons, ordering them to leave as much space between each wagon as possible. It
was 08.00 as we moved forward. Our approach was out of view of the enemy. At
first I let three or four wagons through at the same time, they trotted along
the sunken road, turned around and were loaded on the way back. At first we
loaded the most important (and dangerous) items - infantry ammunition, grenades
and explosives. As soon as the wagons were full they would trot and gallop back
and the next one started its journey. All went smoothly and without incident in
spite of random shooting by the English artillery. Suddenly an enemy aircraft
appeared. He flew backwards and forwards as if looking for something. A shiver
ran down my spine, if he saw us things would change rapidly. I ordered my men
to work faster in order to get this over with as soon as possible, but he had
seen us and soon rounds were landing close to the road.
The paybook that accompanied Engelke throughout the
war, along with his Military
"Shrapnel burst overhead but I remained calm and
encouraged my men to work on. So far everything in the sunken road was
proceeding well. But fate caught up with the last three wagons galloping back
to the rear. Shells fell around us, shrapnel, splinters and mud shooting
through the air. I was sitting on the first wagon. We made it through, with just
one of the horses getting a shell splinter in the thigh. The driver of the
second wagon was wounded - as were both horses. The third wagon received a
direct hit and disappeared in smoke, the driver - shaken but not seriously
wounded - was thrown metres away into a field. We had come through relatively
unscathed. We returned to the Division's depot and unloaded our wagons, then
returned into the sunken road to retrieve the remains of the last wagon. We had
carried our mission out successfully and in spite of our loss, could be proud. The
next day the Kolonne was praised in the Divisional orders and five Iron Crosses
as well as a number of Bavarian awards were approved.
Gefreiter August Kruse served in the Fuhrpark Kolonne
19 attached to the 5th Army. The 5. Armee spent the war fighting in the Argonne
and in front of Verdun.
Responsible for the supply troops was the "Kommandeur de Munitions
Kolonnen und Trains Nr.5 beim Armee oberkommando 5"