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Georg Eichermüller was a miller from Pressath who had done his national service in the 11th Company of the Bavarian Infanterie Leibregiment in 1909-10.

Above: A group of Leiber in April 1915

At mobilization on the 3rd of August 1914 he rejoined the regiment and was posted to the 5th Company where he was promoted to Unteroffizier in the 1st of October 1914.

The Promotion was possibly due to an action on the 26th of September in the Vermandovillers area. Advancing along an alley of Poplar trees the 5th Company was suddenly confronted with an advancing column of French Light Infantry. A wild exchange of fire broke out at close range and the men of the 5th company realized the sun was going down behind them leaving them silhouetted in front of the barrels of the French rifles. As the men took cover another problem arose… they could no longer see the enemy. A frustrated Leutnant Basson ignored the warnings of his men and tried to get a visual on the enemy stating “I have to see where they are hiding”. At that moment he was killed with a bullet to the head. During a lull in the firing the company tried to establish where its men were and establish contact with companies on their flanks. This was done by simply calling “Leib Regiment” and expecting the same answer. It was realized that the enemy could just as easily answer with “Leib Regiment” so as darkness fell the firing died down completely to avoid hitting men of their own Regiment. The company history reports that “Gefreiter Eichermüller, one of our bravest” and “Leiber Weiss, who would be the last casualty of this skirmish” volunteered to advance into the darkness to establish if there were any men of the Leib Regiment in front of the company lines. Returning from their patrol they reported that ahead of the company were only Frenchmen. The order was given that the men could resume firing. There was no response from the enemy so another pause was ordered. Orders in French were heard in the distance and another Patrol was sent out who discovered that the French had pulled back.

The act of courage which would lead to Eichermüller’s Bavarian Golden Bravery Medal took place near Maricourt in December 1914. The right Flank of the company was firing on French troops who had broken into the trenches of the neighboring unit. The French were trying to “roll up” the trench but the men of the 5th Company were holding them back. Efforts to advance and push the French out of the positions failed as any man who tried pass the traverse in the trench would be shot down by the French the moment they turned the corner. Eichermüller rallied a group of men, exited the trench, bypassed the first line of Frenchmen then jumped back into the trench attacking them with bayonets and terrifying screams. The Enemy was caught by surprise and threw their hands up, dropping their weapons. As the “Stoßtrupp” was clearing the resistance the rest of the company was able to push forward and advance around the traverse. An officer wrote “We advanced around the traverse and pushed forward and were suddenly confronted with advancing Frenchmen. Caught up in the moment I moved to impale the first one on my bayonet when the cursing of Gefreiter Heim stopped me “Rindviech, Saudumms, Laß’n doch steh’, der is ja sho g’fanga!” (“Idiots! Dummies! Leave them be, they are already captured!”) called Heim as he herded his prisoners back.


His citation for the medal reads as follows

During the French attack on the positions of the 5th Company of the Infanterie Leib Regiment near Montauban on the 17th of December 1914 a French unit was able to take part of the company’s line near the forest of Favier. The group carrying out the counter attack were not able to pass the traverse due to heavy French fire. In that moment Eichermüller acted instinctively with a group of volunteers. Exiting the trench, they moved past the French occupiers then entered the Trench again attacking them from behind. In a short but intense hand to hand combat carried out with Leiber elan they took 20 prisoners and assured the liaison between the front line and second line of defense.

Eichermüller’s exploits as a Patrol leader were by then legendary in the company and he was further praised for his very active participation as patrol leader in actions at Montauban and at Curlu in March of 1915.

From the 18th of April the Regiment was in the Hardecourt-Combles sector on the Somme. After five days rest the backpacks were prepared and the company went forward into the line again. This time in the “Neutrale Wäldchen” (Neutral Copse).

The name apparently originated from the time before the front lines had become static. The Copse changed hands so often, sometimes French, sometimes Bavarian.


A member of the company wrote …

“Outside of the treeline (the Copse was in our hands) ran our trench, ending in a sap (named “Michel”). If a soldier was very careful he could observe the French lines of communication from there. In the area of the village of Suzanne the French played football, swam, lay in the sun. In the distance we could even see an aerodrome behind Suzanne. One had to be very careful indeed as the French listening posts could observe our lines and the fire was very accurate when they spotted something to shoot at. In the copse itself we had made ourselves comfortable. Each section had a little garden in front of their dugouts which the men tended. Inviting benches were made out of tree trunks and the leaves on the forest floor reminded of home. On the northern edge of the Copse stood a small Leib Regiment monument which could be reached by descending 70 steps. To the South East was a bomb proof bunker occupied by the field kitchen and a large dugout named “Leiberheim” gave the men a place to relax. All this had been created in the front line area with the Leiber’s sense of order and taste. It seems the French were jealous. In our previous positions we had never had the pleasure of receiving trench mortar fire but in the Copse they sent over numerous bombs each day as they could not reach us with grenades. Both sides in this sector actively patrolled no man’s land, each side trying to show who was boss of no man’s land. During the day rifle grenades were fired to keep the enemy on his toes.”

Leiber Ott, who had accompanied Eichemüller as part of the Stoßtrupp at Maricourt wrote in the 3rd person…

Right: The award document for the Bavarian Militär Verdienst Kreuz 3rd class with Crown and swords awarded on the 17th of March 1916.

 “In April 1915 orders were given to take out one of the enemy listening posts. Leiber Ott, along with Unteroffizier Eichemüller and Leiber Kramer crept up to the enemy barbed wire. As no listening post was found the Patrol removed the metal posts from a 5m wide segment of the enemy’s barbed wire defenses and brought them back to their own lines. Upon our return Leutnant Prinz ordered a 2nd attempt. Reinforcing the original patrol, he tasked them to return, and this time to go behind the enemy barbed wire in search of positions. Eichemüller announced to those around him that he had lived charmed life as Patrol leader, but he sensed he would be wounded on this one. He told the (Medic) Sanitätsunteroffizier Hadersdorfer to prepare himself for the return of the patrol. The men left the German lines and began to edge towards the French lines. By now the French had gotten wind of the activity and as soon as the men left the trench they had come under fire. One of the first to be wounded was Unteroffizier Eichemüller.

The foray on the edge of Neutral Copse was the last time Eichermüller would come under fire. A bullet in the shoulder meant a hospital stay from the 27th of April until 13th of June 1915, then a posting in München to the 7th Company of the 1st Ersatz Bataillon of the Leib Regiment. After his recovery he was released from service in January 1917. In February 1918 he was called up again and served in a machine gun training unit.

Georg Eichermüller was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on the 12th of October 1914, the Bavarian Gold Bravery on the 16th of February 1915 and the Bavarian Militär Verdienst Kreuz 3rd class with Crown and swords on the 17th of March 1916.

The last award was very likely made for Eichemüller’s last raid.

 
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