The first step to treating a wounded man was getting
him out of the firing line, often not easy and wholly reliant on the bravery of
the stretcher bearers or the concern of friends. Werner Beumelburg describes
the deeds of two comrades in "Die Gruppe Bosemüller". No matter how
violent the fighting was, there are numerous accounts of the enemy halting
their fire to allow the evacuation of the wounded. Beumelburg served as a young officer at Verdun and won the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st class. The "Gruppe Bosemüller" is a novel based on his experiences at the front.
Above: A medic in the front line. When it came to saving comrades the men of the unit would all have lent a hand.
"The rain had stopped. The sun glows white behind
the thin cover of clouds. It hangs over the "Kalte Erde". Soon it
will shine through the clouds turning the grey earth brown.
High above the shells of the heavy guns curve through
the air. They appear from nowhere and disappear over the hill.
Here and there lay bodies in the shellholes. Here
there are Germans, there Frenchmen.
In one hole there are two Germans and two
Frenchmen. A German lays chest to chest with a Frenchman. The Frenchman has a
bayonet stuck in his chest, the Germans skull has been crushed with a rifle
butt. The second Frenchman has a bayonet wound to the throat and the second
German a rifle bullet in the forehead. They lay together legs entangled.
A “tac tac tac” sounds in front of them and the
bullets whistle over their heads.
Wammsch jumps into the next crater, Siewers
Above: Sanitätsgefreiter served at Verdun with the elite " Sturmbataillon Nr.5 (Rohr)". He received the Iron Cross 2nd Class, the Hessen Militär-Sanitäts-Kreuz for combattant and the wound badge in black.
"How much further."
"It can't be more than 50 meters." answers
"Do you have a white handkerchief ?"
Wammsch takes the cloth and ties it to the barrel of
"How do you say "we are looking for a
wounded man" in French?" asks Wammsch.
"Nous cherchons un blesse."
"repeat it again..."
Siewers repeats it.
"Lets go..." Wammsch stands on the rim of
the crater waving the rifle with the flag, Siewers follows.
Tac tac tac.....the firing stops... "There they are." says Siewers. 40 meters
ahead they see a group of Frenchmen.
Left: Helping the enemy wounded. German medics
helping a badly wounded British soldier (obviously NOT at Verdun)
"Sherschong blessee!" calls out Wammsch, still
"They are right on the spot," says Siewers,
"we can forget it..."
Suddenly a Frenchman stands up and holds up his arm
"Voila!" he calls.
The Frenchmen talk amongst themselves then slowly
leave the shellhole, climbing into another crater.
They find Esser. Siewers body is shaking. Essers eyes
are still open. They stare glassily into nothing.
The face seems smaller, like that of a dolls. Wammsch
has climbed down to Esser. He carefully lifts the blond head, then gently lays
it back again. He takes his wrist and holds his hand awhile before laying it
down. He kneels next to Esser and gently pulls his eyelids closed. For a moment
his fingers hesitate on Essers eyes.
He pushes his hands under Essers back and carefully
lifts him, taking him over his shoulder. Essers arms hang down behind Wammschs
back, his blond hair over his eyes...
"Come.." says Wammsch.
Siewers followed him. As they reached the rim of the
crater Wammsch turned.
"Merci..." he called. Then they went.
The Frenchmen climbed slowly back into the crater. Not
a shot sounded. Over the Kalte Erde the sun shone....
Above: The Wound badge award document to Unteroffizier Schott, a special print for the Sturmbataillon Rohr.
For an almost incredible act of Bravery while saving an enemy soldier at Verdun click HERE