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The EK1

"We suffered very heavy losses amongst the young officers in this period. Nowadays, when I hear derogatory remarks about Leutnants with a wartime commission I think of these men, men who embodied the Prussian spirit of Duty and Honor, the spirit of Kolin, in mud and in blood, steadfast until the bitter end."

Above: The Cufftitle belonging to Leutnant der Reserve Fritz Haverkamp. Haverkamp was born on the 29th of March 1893 in Elsfeth, Großherzogtum Oldenburg. He lived in Bremen with his parents, his father worked for the Bremen shipping company “Norddeutscher Lloyd”.

Fritz Haverkamp is listed in the 10th of March Prussian Verlustliste Nr. 780 as being lightly wounded; he was probably serving in the Reserve Infanterie Regiment Nr. 78 at the time. It seems that after his recovery he was posted to the Füsilier Regiment Nr. 73. In the Prussian Verlustliste Nr. 1014 published on the 14th of December 1917 he was listed as seriously wounded.

After a bloody stint at Langemarck in July-August 1917 the Füsilier Regiment Generalfeldmarschall Prinz Albrecht von Preusen (hann.) Nr. 73 was sent to rest at Regnieville from the 5th of August until the 16th of October 1917. Officer losses for the F.R. 73 had been immense and it seems that Haverkamp joined the regiment as a replacement, serving in the same Battalion as Ernst Jünger.

In “Storm of Steel” (In Stahlgewittern) Ernst Jünger describes an incident near Regnieville…

"The next evening Kloppmann recced the same position but this time he was greeted with rifle shots and French Citron grenades, which we called "Enteneiern" (Duckseggs). As he lay pressed to the ground one of the grenades landed next to his head, but did not detonate. He was forced to beat a hasty retreat. The evening after that the two of us went out. The forward position was once again occupied and we were able to establish that there were 4 sentries. One whistled a very nice tune. Eventually we came under fire and had to make our way back.

(Upon our return) I found myself alone in the trench. Suddenly Voigt and Haverkamp appeared. They had obviously been celebrating and had the sudden urge to leave the comfortable "Stumplager", make a pilgrimage through the pitch-dark forest into the forward lines to "go on patrol" as they called it."

I have always been a firm believer that every man has a free will and is responsible for his actions so I made no effort to interfere with their plans. Although the enemy was still very lively I watched them exit the trench.

Their "patrol" however was limited to hunting for the Silk Parachutes attached to the French Rockets. Waving these white rags they chased each other backwards and forwards in front of the French barbed wire. Naturally the French fired on them but some time later they returned unharmed, Bacchus had them in his care."

In Jünger’s original diary he refers to “Haberkamp” during the Regnieville period, probably because Haverkamp was still a new arrival, later in the diary he refers to Haverkamp by his correct name.

  On the 17th of October the Regiment entrained, direction Flanders… The Regiment was in the line a few hundred meters to the North of Passchendaele. In the Mosselmarkt – Goudberg Copse area the II. Battalion of the Füsilier Regiment 73 were to counter attack to close a gap in the German front line.

Jünger wrote...

"On the 28th of October (1917) we were relieved by the Bavarian 10th Reserve Regiment again and moved to villages behind the front line ready to intervene where needed. The Staff moved to Most. In the evening we sat comfortably in an abandoned bar and drank wine, celebrating the promotion and recent engagement of Leutnant Zürn who had just returned from leave. We paid for our sins the next morning when we awoke to a huge bombardment; it was distant, but strong enough to break my window panes. The alarm was sounded. The rumor was that the enemy had broken through the gap on the regiment’s left flank. I spent the day waiting for orders at an observation post which was under sporadic fire. A light shell flew through the window of a small building; three dusty artillerymen staggered out, three others lay dead in the building.

Above: A map showing the II. Batl. attack from the east.

In the morning I received orders from the Bavarian commander: “An enemy advance has pushed through the defensive positions of the regiment to our left increasing the gap between the regiments. There was a danger that the enemy could encircle the regiment from our left flank so the I. Batl. of Füsilier Regiment 73 was ordered to counter attack. It was apparently annihilated by the enemy barrage and never made it to the front. This morning the II. Batl. was sent forward to plug the gap. No news about their attack has filtered back. A reconnaissance must be made to establish their positions”.

Left: The awards of Leutnant der Reserve Fritz Haverkamp

I made my way forward and had just reached the Nordhof when I met Hauptmann von Brixen, commander of the II. Batl., he had a map of the new positions which I quickly copied, with that my mission was theoretically accomplished. I decided to advance to the concrete command post to see for myself. On the way there were many new bodies, their pale faces staring out of water filled shell holes, some were so covered in mud it was difficult to recognize them as human. Unfortunately most were wearing the blue “Gibraltar” cufftitel. The Kampftruppen-Kommandeur was the Bavarian Hauptmann Rademeyer. This extremely energetic officer explained in detail what Hauptmann von Brixen had told me in passing. Our II. Batl. had suffered terrible losses including the deaths of the Battalion Adjutant and the commander of the 7th company. The fate of the Battalion Adjutant, Leutnant Lemière, was a real tragedy as his brother had been killed in April at Fresnoy while leading the 8th Company. The brothers came from Lichtenstein but had volunteered to serve in the German army. It is not a good idea to send two brothers to war in the same regiment. We had four brother pairs in the regiment. Of these eight young men five were killed, two badly wounded, my own brother coming home with grievous bodily damage. I was the only one who came back more or less whole. This small selection from the regiment is a good example.

The Hauptmann pointed to a concrete position 200m from ours which had been gallantly defended the day before. Shortly after the attack the Feldwebel in the position had seen a British soldier with three captured Germans. He shot the “Englander” and used the three to help defend his position. When they ran out of ammunition they put a British Prisoner in front of the door to discourage enemy fire, when darkness came they abandoned the position.

In front of another bunker a British officer had called for the surrender of the occupants, instead of answering the German Leutnant jumped out, grabbed him, and pulled him into the bunker to the astonishment of his troops.

For the first and only time during the war I saw small groups of stretcher bearers waving Red Cross flags and moving around in the zone of fire without being shot at. Such occurrences could only happen in unbearable or extreme Situations.   Later I heard that hidden British sharpshooters had killed a number of our stretcher bearers.

My way back was made unpleasant by the rotten apple smell of the remaining British tear gas that had been absorbed by the earth and irritated our eyes, bringing tears. Soon I would have a more painful reason to shed a tear. After I had delivered my report at the Gefechtsstand I passed by the aid station at Kalve. Two officer friends were lying badly wounded on stretchers.

One was Leutnant Zürn with whom we had celebrated a couple of nights before. Now he lay half naked on an old door. His face had the waxy yellow sheen of death and he stared wide eyed as I approached to shake his hand.

Leutnant Haverkamp lay on a stretcher smoking a cigarette, his face showing stony fatalism. Shell splinters had smashed his arm and leg bones and amputation seemed very likely.

Left: The silver wound badge belonging to Fritz Haverkamp

We suffered very heavy losses amongst the young officers in this period. Nowadays, when I hear derogatory remarks about Leutnants with a wartime commission I think of these men, men who embodied the Prussian spirit of Duty and Honor, the spirit of Kolin, in mud and in blood, steadfast until the bitter end.

On the 3rd of November we boarded the train at Gits, a station known to us from our first sojourn in Flanders…

We stayed at Tourcoing for a few days. For the first and last time in the war every man in the 7th company could sleep in a feather bed….

In the few days of rest everyone was able to rejoice over the simple fact that that had come through the alive. It was hard to believe we had escaped death. Everyone felt the need to appreciate and enjoy life in all its facets. "

(During the fighting in Flanders in late 1917 the Regiment had 8 officers killed, 6 missing and 13 wounded.)

Leutnant der Reserve Fritz Haverkamp was born on the 29th of March 1893 in Elsfeth, Großherzogtum Oldenburg. He lived in Bremen with his parents, his father worked for the Bremen shipping company “Norddeutscher Lloyd”. This connection is the reason why Haverkamp received the Oldenburg Friedrich August Cross 1st and 2nd class and the Bremen Hanseatenkreuz.