Bavarian Infantry Regiment 9: Gas Casualties and Deaths

  • Bavarian Infantry Regiment 9 suffered 419 casualties, 286 of which were from gas attacks.
  • A French intelligence summary recorded 1,100 casualties in the 4th Bavarian Division from 27–29 April.
  • A captured soldier's diary mentioned 1,600 gas casualties in the 4th Bavarian Division.
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Bavarian Infantry Regiment 9 had 419 casualties, 286 from gas, of whom 163 died and there were 34 more gas casualties in the 3rd Bavarian Division, of whom four men died. A contemporary French intelligence summary recorded 1,100 casualties in the 4th Bavarian Division from 27–29 April and in October 1918, an officer of the British 15th Division found the graves of 400 German gas casualties at the cemetery at Pont-à-Vendin, from the gas discharges. In 1934, Foulkes wrote that a diary taken from a captured soldier of the 4th Bavarian Division, recorded 1,600 gas casualties in the division and in 2002, Hook and Jones recorded 1,500 casualties from the German gas which blew back on 29 April.

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>Bavarian Infantry Regiment 9 had 419 casualties, 286 from gas, of whom 163 died and there were 34 more gas casualties in the 3rd Bavarian Division, of whom four men died. A contemporary French intelligence summary recorded 1,100 casualties in the 4th Bavarian Division from 27–29 April and in October 1918, an officer of the British 15th Division found the graves of 400 German gas casualties at the cemetery at Pont-à-Vendin, from the gas discharges. ⇒バヴァリア歩兵連隊9には419人の犠牲者があったが、そのうち286人ガスからの犠牲者で、163人が死亡した。そして、さらに34人のガス犠牲者が第3バヴァリア師団にあって、うち4人の兵士は死亡した。現代フランス軍の諜報概要によれば、4月27–29日に第4バヴァリア師団に1,100人の犠牲者があったことが記録されているし、1918年10月には英国軍第15師団の将校が、ポンタ‐ヴァンダン墓地でドイツ軍のガス放射による犠牲者400人の墓を発見した。 >In 1934, Foulkes wrote that a diary taken from a captured soldier of the 4th Bavarian Division, recorded 1,600 gas casualties in the division and in 2002, Hook and Jones recorded 1,500 casualties from the German gas which blew back on 29 April. ⇒1934年にフークスは第4バヴァリア師団の捕囚兵士の日記からとって、当該師団では1,600人のガス犠牲者があったことが記録されていると書いた。そして2002年にフックとジョーンズが、4月29日後ろ向きに吹いたドイツ軍のガスから1,500人の犠牲者があったことを記録した。





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    At Rossignol German casualties were c. 1,318 and French casualties were c. 11,277 men. The French 4th Division had c. 1,195 casualties at Bellefontaine against c. 1,920 German casualties. At Neufchâteau the 5th Colonial Brigade had c. 3,600 casualties against units of the German XVIII Reserve Corps, which lost c. 1,800 men. At Bertrix the artillery of the 33rd Division was destroyed and c. 3,181 casualties incurred, against c. 1/3 the number of German casualties, which were noted as greater than all of the casualties in the Franco-Prussian War. At Massin-Anloy, the French 22nd Division and 34th Division lost 2,240 men killed and the 34th Division was routed. German casualties in the 25th Division were c. 3,224, of whom 1,100 men were killed. At Virton the French 8th Division was "destroyed" and the 3rd Division had c. 556 casualties; German losses were c. 1,281 men. In the fighting around Éthe and Bleid, the French 7th Division lost 5,324 men and the German 10th Division had c. 1,872 casualties. At Longwy the French V Corps with the 9th and 10th divisions had c. 2,884 casualties and German units of the 26th Division lost c. 1,242 men. South of Longwy, German casualties in the 9th and 12th Reserve and 33rd divisions were c. 4,458 men against the French 12th 40th and 42nd divisions, of which the 40th Division was routed. In 2009 Herwig recorded 19,218 casualties from 21–31 August in the 4th Army and 19,017 casualties in the 5th Army. Herwig also recorded 5,500 casualties in the French 8th Division at Virton and wrote that at Ethe, the 7th Division had been "stomped". At Ochamps the 20th Infantry Regiment lost 1,300 men (50%) and the 11th InfantRy Regiment lost 2,700 of 3,300 men. The 5th Colonial Brigade lost 3,200 of 6,600 men.

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    Brown in 1996 and Simpson in 2001 concluded that extending British supply routes over the ridge, which had been devastated by the mines and millions of shells, to consolidate the Oosttaverne line and completion of the infrastructure further north in the Fifth Army area, was necessary before the "Northern Operation" (the Third Battle of Ypres) could begin and was the main reason for the operational pause in June and July. In 1941 the Australian Official Historian recorded II Anzac Corps losses from 1–14 June as 4,978 casualties in the New Zealand Division, 3,379 casualties in the 3rd Australian Division and 2,677 casualties in the 4th Australian Division. Using figures from the Reichsarchiv, Bean recorded German casualties for 21–31 May, 1,963; 1–10 June, 19,923 (including 7,548 missing); 11–20 June, 5,501 and 21–30 June, 1,773. In volume XII of Der Weltkrieg the German Official Historians recorded 25,000 casualties for the period 21 May – 10 June including 10,000 missing of whom 7,200 were reported as taken prisoner by the British. Losses of the British were recorded as 25,000 casualties and a further 3,000 missing from 18 May – 14 June. The initial explosion of the mines, in particular the mine that created the Lone Tree Crater, accounts for the high number of casualties and missing from 1–10 June. In 1948, the British Official Historian gave casualties of II Anzac Corps, 12,391; IX Corps, 5,263; X Corps, 6,597; II Corps, 108 and VIII Corps, 203 a total of 24,562 casualties from 1–12 June. The 25th Division history gave 3,052 casualties and the 47th Division history notes 2,303 casualties. The British Official Historian recorded 21,886 German casualties, including 7,548 missing, from 21 May – 10 June, using strength returns from groups Ypern, Wijtschate and Lille in the German Official History, then wrote that 30 percent should be added for wounded likely to return to duty within a reasonable time, since they were "omitted" in the German Official History, reasoning which has been severely criticised ever since.

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    The troops were deceived, by being told that the helmets issued to the 16th Division, had not been properly impregnated with chemical neutralisers and that 16th Division gas discipline had been unsatisfactory. New "box respirators", worn by Lewis gunners, were found to have worked well and production was expedited. On 27 April the 16th Division had lost 442 men and the 15th Division reported 107 losses. Total British casualties 27–29 April were 1,980, of whom 1,260 were gas casualties, 338 being killed. German casualties in Bavarian Infantry Regiment 5, Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 5, Pioneer Regiment 36 who operated the gas cylinders and other non-infantry troops were not known in 1932, when the British Official History was published.

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    On 30 March the Germans attacked around Le Hamel and although this was turned back, they succeeded in making gains around Hangard Wood. Five days later, the Germans renewed their drive towards Villers-Bretonneux. Part of the German attack fell on the centre and left of the French First Army. The French line fell back, but a counter-attack regained much of the ground. From north to south the line was held by British and Australian troops of the 14th (Light) Division, the 35th Australian Battalion and the 18th (Eastern) Division. By 4 April the 14th (Light) Division, around Le Hamel, had fallen back under attack from the German 228th Division. The Australians held off the 9th Bavarian Reserve Division and the 18th Division repulsed the German Guards Ersatz Division and 19th Division. The British were forced to retire by the retreat of the 14th (Light) Division, where the 41st Brigade had been pushed back for 500 yards (460 m) "in some disorder" and then retired to a ridge another 3,000 yards (2,700 m) back, which left the right flank of the 42nd Brigade uncovered. The line west of Le Hamel was reinforced by the arrival of the 15th Australian Brigade. In the afternoon, the Germans resumed their efforts and pushed the 18th Division in the south, at which point Villers-Bretonneux appeared ready to fall. The Germans came within 440 yards (400 m) of the town but Colonel Goddard of the 35th Australian Battalion, in command of the sector, ordered a surprise late afternoon counter-attack on 4 April, by the 36th Australian Battalion with c. 1000 men, supported by a company from the 35th Australian Battalion and his reserve, the 6th Battalion London Regiment. Advancing by section rushes, they pushed the Germans back towards Monument Wood and then north of Lancer Wood and forced two German divisions to retreat from Villers-Bretonneux. Flanking movements by British cavalry and Australian infantry from the 33rd and 34th Battalions helped consolidate the British gains. Further fighting around the village took place later in the month during the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. The attack on Villers-Bretonneux was the last significant German attack of Operation Michael (known to the British as the First Battle of the Somme, 1918). After the failure of the German forces to achieve their objectives, Ludendorff ended the offensive to avoid a battle of attrition. The 9th Australian Brigade had 665 casualties from c. 2,250 men engaged. German casualties were not known but there were 498 losses in two of the regiments engaged. The 9th Australian Brigade recorded 4,000 dead German soldiers on their front and the 18th Division had "severe" losses and took 259 prisoners from the 9th Bavarian Reserve, Guards Ersatz and 19th divisions.

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    The German attacks stopped at 8:30 p.m. and after a quiet night, troops from X and I Anzac corps occupied Cameron House and the head of the Reutelbeek valley near Cameron Covert. The German Official History later recorded that the German counter-attacks found well-dug-in (eingenistete) infantry and in places more British attacks. Aftermath Analysis Each of the three German ground-holding divisions attacked on 26 September had an Eingreif division in support, which was twice the ratio of 20 September. No ground captured by the British had been regained and the counter-attacks had managed only to reach ground held by the remnants of the front-line divisions. Second Army Intelligence estimated that ten divisional artilleries had supported the German troops defending the Gheluvelt Plateau, doubling the Royal Artillery casualties compared to the previous week. Casualties The British had 15,375 casualties; 1,215 being killed. In Der Weltkrieg the German official historians recorded 13,500 casualties from 21–30 September, to which J. E. Edmonds, the British official historian controversially added 30 percent for lightly wounded. The 4th Australian Division suffered 1,717 casualties and the 5th Australian Division had 5,471 dead and wounded from 26–28 September. Commemoration Though smaller than in 1917, Polygon Wood is still large. The remains of three German pillboxes captured by the Australians lie deep among the trees but few trench lines remain. The Butte is still prominent and mounted on top of it is the AIF 5th Division memorial, the usual obelisk. It faces the Butte's military cemetery at the other end of which is a New Zealand memorial to the missing of the sector, the Buttes New British Cemetery (New Zealand) Memorial. Subsequent operations On 27 September in the X Corps area, the 39th Division stopped three German counter-attacks with artillery fire. In the 33rd Division area, after a report that Cameron House had been captured, a battalion attacked past it and reached the blue line.

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    The 15th Division relief of the 12th Division from 24–30 April, was allowed to proceed. Four reserve artillery batteries were moved into the 15th Division area and all units were required to rehearse gas alerts daily. The British were equipped with PH helmets, which protected against phosgene up to a concentration of 1,000 p.p.m. The German attack near Hulluch began on 27 April, with the release of smoke, followed by a mixture of chlorine and phosgene gas  1 1⁄2 hours later, from 3,800 cylinders, on the fronts of Bavarian Infantry Regiment 5 and Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 5. The discharge on the front of Bavarian Infantry Regiment 9 was cancelled, as the direction of the wind risked enveloping the 3rd Bavarian Division on the right flank, in the Hohenzollern Redoubt sector.

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    On 15 March French abandoned the offensive, as the supply of field-gun ammunition was inadequate. News of the ammunition shortage led to the Shell Crisis of 1915 which, along with the failed attack on the Dardanelles, brought down the Liberal British government under the premiership of H. H. Asquith. He formed a new coalition government and appointed David Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions. It was a recognition that the whole economy would have to be adapted for war, if the Allies were to prevail on the Western Front. The battle also affected British tactical thinking with the idea that infantry offensives accompanied by artillery barrages could break the stalemate of trench warfare. Of the 40,000 Allied troops in the battle, 7,000 British and 4,200 Indian casualties were suffered. The 7th Division had 2,791 casualties, the 8th Division 4,814 losses, the Meerut Division 2,353 casualties and the Lahore Division 1,694 losses. In 2010 Humphries and Maker recorded German casualties from 9–20 March as c. 10,000 men and in 2018, Jonathan Boff wrote that the British suffered 12,592 casualties and that the German official history estimate of "almost 10,000 men", was closer to 8,500 according to the records of the 6th Army and the diary kept by Crown Prince Rupprecht. The 6th Bavarian Reserve Division lost 6,017 men from 11–13 March, Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 21 losing 1,665 casualties, Infantry Regiment 14 of the VII Corps lost 666 troops from 7–12 March. Infantry Regiment 13 lost 1,322 casualties from 6–27 March. The Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial commemorates 4,700 Indian soldiers and labourers who died on the Western Front during the whole of the First World War and have no known graves; the location was chosen because it was at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle that the Indian Corps fought its first major action. War graves of the Indian Corps and the Indian Labour Corps are found at Ayette, Souchez and Neuve-Chapelle. The Battle of Más a Tierra was a World War I sea battle fought on 14 March 1915, near the Chilean island of Más a Tierra, between a British squadron and a German light cruiser. The battle saw the last remnant of the German East Asia Squadron destroyed, when SMS Dresden was cornered and sunk in Cumberland Bay. After escaping from the Battle of the Falkland Islands, SMS Dresden and several auxiliaries retreated into the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to resume commerce raiding operations against Allied shipping. These operations did little to stop shipping in the area, but still proved troublesome to the British, who had to expend resources to counter the cruiser. The Battle of Más a Tierra マスアティエラの戦い

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    The captured ground was hard to move over and difficult to defend, as much of it was of the shell-torn wilderness left by the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Elsewhere the transport infrastructure had been demolished and wells poisoned during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line in March 1917. The initial German jubilation at the successful opening of the offensive soon turned to disappointment as it became clear that the attack had not been decisive. Marix Evans wrote in 2002, that the magnitude of the Allied defeat was not decisive, because reinforcements were arriving in large numbers, that by 6 April the BEF would have received 1,915 new guns, British machine-gun production was 10,000 per month and tank output 100 per month. The appointment of Foch as Generalissimo at the Doullens Conference had created formal unity of command in the Allied forces. In the British Official History (1935) Davies, Edmonds and Maxwell-Hyslop wrote that the Allies lost c. 255,000 men of which the British suffered 177,739 killed, wounded and missing, 90,882 of them in the Fifth Army and 78,860 in the Third Army, of whom c. 15,000 died, many with no known grave. The greatest losses were to 36th (Ulster) Division, with 7,310 casualties, the 16th (Irish) Division, with 7,149 casualties and 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division, 7,023 casualties. All three formations were destroyed and had to be taken out of the order of battle to be rebuilt. Six divisions lost more than 5,000 men. German losses were 250,000 men, many of them irreplaceable élite troops. German casualties, from 21 March – 30 April, which includes the Battle of the Lys, are given as 348,300. A comparable Allied figure over this longer period, is French: 92,004 and British: 236,300, a total of c. 328,000. In 1978 Middlebrook wrote that casualties in the 31 German divisions engaged on 21 March were c. 39,929 men and that British casualties were c. 38,512. Middlebrook also recorded c. 160,000 British casualties up to 5 April, 22,000 killed, 75,000 prisoners and 65,000 wounded; French casualties were c. 80,000 and German casualties were c. 250,000 men. In 2002, Marix Evans recorded 239,000 men, many of whom were irreplaceable Stoßtruppen; 177,739 British casualties of whom 77,000 had been taken prisoner, 77 American casualties and 77,000 French losses, 17,000 of whom were captured. The Allies also lost 1,300 guns, 2,000 machine-guns and 200 tanks. In 2004, Zabecki gave 239,800 German, 177,739 British and 77,000 French casualties. R. C. Sherriff's play Journey's End (first produced 1928) is set in an officers' dugout in the British trenches facing Saint-Quentin from 18 to 21 March, before Operation Michael. There are frequent references to the anticipated "big German attack" and the play concludes with the launch of the German bombardment, in which one of the central characters is killed.

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    Although many French troops ran for their lives, others stood their ground and waited for the cloud to pass. Field Marshal Sir John French, Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, wrote, ... I wish particularly to repudiate any idea of attaching the least blame to the French Division for this unfortunate incident. After all the examples our gallant Allies have shown of dogged and tenacious courage in the many trying situations in which they have been placed throughout the course of this campaign it is quite superfluous for me to dwell on this aspect of the incident, and I would only express my firm conviction that, if any troops in the world had been able to hold their trenches in the face of such a treacherous and altogether unexpected onslaught, the French Division would have stood firm. — French The Canadian Division mounted an effective defence but had 5,975 casualties by its withdrawal on 3 May. The division was unprepared for the warfare prevailing on the Western Front, where linear tactics were ineffective against attackers armed with magazine rifles and machine guns. The Canadian field artillery had been effective but the deficiencies of the Ross rifle worsened tactical difficulties. The Canadian Division received several thousand replacements shortly after the battle. At Second Ypres, the smallest tactical unit in the infantry was a company; by 1917 it would be the section. The Canadians were employed offensively later in 1915 but not successfully. The battle was the beginning of a long period of analysis and experiment to improve the effectiveness of Canadian infantry weapons, artillery and liaison between infantry and artillery. After the war, German casualties from 21 April to 30 May were recorded as 34,933 by the official historians of the Reichsarchiv. In the British Official History, J. E. Edmonds and G. C. Wynne recorded British losses of 59,275 casualties, the French about 18,000 casualties on 22 April and another 3,973 from 26–29 April.[30] Canadian casualties from 22 April to 3 May were 5,975, of whom about 1,000 men were killed. The worst day was 24 April, when 3,058 casualties were suffered during infantry attacks, artillery bombardments and gas discharges. In 2002, Clayton wrote that thousands of men of the 45th and 87th divisions ran from the gas but that the number of casualties was low. The Germans overran both divisions' artillery but the survivors rallied and held a new line further back. In 2010, Humphries and Maker, in their translated edition of Der Weltkrieg recorded that by 9 May, there had been more than 35,000 German casualties, 59,275 British between 22 April and 31 May and very many French casualties, 18,000 on 22 April alone. In 2012, Sheldon gave similar figures and in 2014, Greenhalgh wrote that French casualties had been exaggerated by propaganda against German "frightfulness" and that in 1998, Olivier Lepick had estimated that 800–1,400 men were killed by gas in April out of 2,000–3,000 French casualties.

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    The Germans reported that they treated 200 gas casualties, 12 of whom died. The Allies reported 5000 killed and 15,000 wounded. Within days the British were advised by John Scott Haldane to counter the effects of the gas by urinating into a cloth and breathing through it. Both sides set about developing more effective gas masks. Battle of St. Julien (24 April – 5 May) The village of St. Julien (now Sint-Juliaan; 50.890°N 2.937°E) was in the rear of the 1st Canadian Division until the poison-gas attack of 22 April, when it became the front line. Some of the first fighting in the village involved the stand of lance corporal Frederick Fisher of the 13th Battalion CEF's machine-gun detachment; Fisher went out twice with a handful of men and a Colt machine gun, preventing advancing German troops from passing through St. Julien into the rear of the Canadian front line. He was killed the following day. On the morning of 24 April, the Germans released another gas cloud towards the re-formed Canadian line just west of St. Julien. Word was passed to the troops to urinate on their handkerchiefs and place them over their nose and mouth. The countermeasures were insufficient, and German troops took the village. The next day the York and Durham Brigade units of the Northumberland Division counter-attacked, failing to secure their objectives but establishing a new line closer to the village. On 26 April 4, 6 and 7 Battalions, the Northumberland Brigade, the first Territorial brigade to go into action, attacked and gained a foothold in the village but were forced back, having suffered 1,954 casualties. Despite hundreds of casualties, the 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers participated without respite in the battles at Frezenberg and Bellewaarde. On 24 April the battalion, subjected to a German gas attack near St. Julien, was nearly annihilated. The German Army first used chlorine-gas cylinders in April 1915 against the French Army at Ypres,[b] when yellow-green clouds drifted towards the Allied trenches. The gas had a distinctive odour, resembling pineapple and pepper. The French officers, assuming at first that the German infantry were advancing behind a smoke screen, alerted the troops. When the gas reached the front Allied trenches, soldiers began to complain of chest pains and a burning sensation in the throat. Capt. Francis Scrimger of the 2nd Canadian Field Ambulance may have passed the order to use urine to counteract the gas, on the advice of Lt.-Col. George Gallie Nasmith. Soldiers realised they were being gassed and many ran as fast as they could. An hour after the attack began, there was a 1,500 yards (1,400 m) gap in the Allied line. Fearing the chlorine, few German soldiers moved forward and the delay enabled Canadian and British troops to retake the position before the Germans could exploit the gap.