There were major structural changes to the German Army during the course of the war. The different branches evolved, unit designations fell away, new units were created. It is often difficult to follow the career of a soldier without understanding how his branch of service changed during the time he spent there. For collectors of WW1 German documents, an understanding of the changes is almost essential.
In this section we will cover the evolution of the different branches of service, relying heavily on Cron's original German publication.
Also to be found are pages containing award documents of men serving in these branches and eye witness accounts of the various arms of service in action.
The Higher Commands.
Due to changing situations at the front the structures of the high command were in a constant state of change.
How the Army groups and Armies adapted can be found HERE
The Machine Gunners.
The Spandau Ballet. The evolution of the German heavy and light Machine Gun units as well as an online machinegun photo album HERE
The Infantry Regiment
The Infantry Regiments went through a series of changes 1914-18. This section gives an overview of the changes made during the war.
"Medic!" "Sanitäter!" Many soldiers owed their lives to the sweat and blood of the Medical services. From the friend carrying a friend, to the stretcher bearer, to the nurses and doctors, the fate of a wounded man lay in the hands of others.
A description of the evolution of the branch and descriptions of the men in action can be found HERE
The Motor Vehicle Corps
Motor vehicles were used only in limited numbers in
the German Army due to great shortages of fuel. The artillery was to a large
extent still horse drawn, as were the supply columns.
A description of the evolution of the Motor Vehicle Corps and accounts of it in Action can be found HERE
Supply to the Front line.
The supply soldiers performed an essential service and were often out in enemy fire while the combat troops were able to seek shelter in bunkers and trenches.
The German "Train" included ammunition and regular supply units, horse hospitals, field hospitals (unusually NOT part of the regular medical services) and the field bakery units. (Click HERE)
Unlike the Zeppelin units the Feldluftschiffer used
balloons which were anchored to the ground ascending with the aid of a cable
and a winch. They job was to observe and photograph the enemy troops and
positions and correct the fire of the artillery.
A description ov the evolution of the Feldluftschiffer as well as an account by an American Journalist can be found HERE
The young and the old: The German Army had Active, Reserve, Ersatz, Landwehr and Landsturm troops (and more besides).
An understanding of the system goes a long way in helping to interpret military award documents.
An explanation kindly provided by Glenn Jewison can be found HERE
The men of the Felgendarmerie were responsible for keeping discipline in the occupied areas and behind the front lines.
For a brief description of their place in the army see HERE
The roots of the famous WW2 "Gebirgsjäger" can be found in the WW1 Schneeschuh Truppen
For an album of rare Mountain Troop photos, please see HERE