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Sächsischen Jäger-Regiment Nr. 7

The Sächsischen Jäger-Regiment Nr. 7 was created in August 1916 by combining the 2. Königlich Sächsische Jäger-Bataillon Nr. 13 with the Saxon Reserve Jäger Battalions 25 and 26 under the command of Oberst Pudor. The Regiment joined the newly formed Infanterie Division to undergo its baptism of fire as a regiment on the upper Sereth.  

In August 1916 the Russians had crossed the Sereth at Zolosze. The 7th Saxon Jäger regiment was part of the German force (Attached to the Austrien 2nd Army) that was tasked with pushing them back and retaking the heights to the west of the Sereth. Before the Germans could make a move the Russians made a second thrust and took more ground to the South-West of Zolosze.

Leutnant der Reserve Franke describes the action

The night we shared the quarters in “M” with the local fleas and lice distinguished itself from the other nights due to the lively artillery fire. At dawn orders arrived for the regiment to assemble.

The Battalions were ordered forward and advanced in long columns making the most of the cover offered by the undulating terrain. Shrapnel began to burst overhead on the bigger roads and crossings, then medium artillery began to treat the paths of advance and suspected battery positions. That the Russians were firing so much, and behind our lines made us suspect that something major was in the offing.

Right: Richard Wolf served throughout the war in the Machine Gun Company of the 13th (Saxon) Jäger Battalion

Wounded were passing us on their way to the rear, some able to walk, the seriously wounded transported in Panje Wagons. They informed us that the Russians had attacked that night and had achieved a breakthrough in one sector. As the attack had had such momentum our front line had been pushed back.

In the villages behind the front line the inhabitants were packing their affairs and getting ready to depart before the Russians arrived. They watched in astonishment as more and more German troops arrived.

Behind the village pond the second Battalion rested against an embankment. Ahead of us lay some heights that had to be held at all costs. Two Companies accompanied by two Machine Gun Sections were ordered forward. They towards the heights and right away came under lively artillery fire. The shells are mainly shrapnel, fired from in front of us and from a flank. We right away have our first wounded. In spite of the increasing intensity of the fire the men advance calmly as they learned on the training ground and on the western front. The peak is reached with the men in orderly formation and we are able to look down into the valley. The enemy can still not be seen. The only contact is the shrapnel grenades that burst above us causing one wound after another.

In the trenches on the Western front we used to laugh at shrapnel, it could mostly not reach us. Here in the open the shrapnel got its own back and took a bloody toll. 

Ahead of us is a freshly dug Trench line, “Take cover! Heads down!”, but the next lot is already here. I hear the cry “My Arm! My Arm!” next to me. The last salvo had been a success for the gunners. To our right some heavy shells land in the trench. The Gunners have the range and follow us step for step.

We must advance as rapidly as possible. Hoarse orders and commands drive the skirmish lines forward through gaps in the wire, or over the wire. We descend into the valley. For a moment the artillery cannot reach us as we head for a Copse but the reserves coming over the hill are taking a pasting.

Above: The "Godet" Iron Cross 1st Class awarded to Richard Wolf, award date unknown.

We are safe until we poke our heads out of the tree line. Right away shrapnel burst overhead followed by high explosive shells. The shrapnel balls and shell splinters send twigs and branches flying before they tear into us or the ground around us. The only shelter is behind a thick tree trunk but there are not many of those. Soon the lightly wounded are making their way to the rear. Some of the badly wounded would die where they lay.  

From the left, where our 1st battalion is comes the call “Cossacks approaching from the Krzaki Forest!”

We all rush to the embankment that borders on the Copse. From there we have a better view and field of fire. There is still nothing in view. The Machine Guns arrive just in time. The gunners had man handled their heavy weapons across the heights keeping up with their comrades in the skirmish lines.

Suddenly there are many white dots in the cornfield. At first they are very small but they get closer and closer, as they approach they get bigger and begin to take on form. Countless riders on their nimble horses sweep towards us. The Jägers open fire, calm and precise shooting joined by the roar of the machine guns which mercilessly tear into the swarms of riders. Some, initially spared by the bullets, make it close to our positions but our fire remains calm and precise. They too sink to the ground. A terrible harvest of death lay in the Cornfield.  

Only three riderless horses make it through unscathed. They cross through our lines with full saddlebags. The rest lay dead or flee back where they came from. The attack has been convincingly beaten back.

The artillery had stopped firing during the attack, now they started up again, furious, wanting revenge, their bloody claws grab at our ranks. The order comes to dig in; we are to hold the position.  

Soon a few patrols, and even an advancing section with two Machine Guns are able to report back that in the whole area ahead of us has no enemy infantry is to be seen.

Above: Karl Richard Theodor Wolf was born on the 4th of March 1893 and lived in Leipzig-Möckern. He served in the Machine Gun Company of the Sächsische Jäger-Bataillon Nr. 13 and was wounded in 1915 while a Reservist and in 1916 as a Gefreiter. By the end of the war he was a Leutnant der Reserve and was wounded for a final time in the Bezonvaux-Ornes sector at Verdun. After the war he was a maths and science Teacher.

That does not last long and soon Russians are advancing across the fields in dense, closed ranks. Our Machine Gunners begin to empty their belts into the ranks; we are able to follow the action as the bullets kick up dust in the dry fields. The Russians dive for cover, those that can, flee, and those that cannot remain lying in the field, a grim and terrible warning to any that may follow. Now, on the heights to our right, they swarm down towards the valley. They run directly into our Machine Gun fire which hits them from the flank. An Austrian Machine Gun section joins in and the attack is broken up.  

The first Prisoners make their way out of the cornfield. Then some more, even a Colonel is amongst them.  

Once again the regiment advances on a broad front. Our artillery finally joins in, supporting us and keeping the enemy’s heads down. We still cannot see him, but we know they are there as their infantry keeps up a heavy fire. We have to get through it to get to them.  

The Russians make excellent use of the terrain, but when we finally sight them we are able to engage them with very effective fire. The units on the flanks cannot keep up the momentum and the advance bogs down. We cannot continue and expose our flanks, but the days goals have not been reached. The whole hot afternoon we dig in, looking for shelter from the enemy fire.

Above: A MG08 team from an unknown unit

Thank God we did! That evening the Russians attack in waves trying to break into our left flank or to surround us. Once again the Machine Guns go to work, keeping up the fire till night falls.  

Night! There has been nothing to eat since this morning, for some even the night before. Now the food finally arrives. The rations include food for those who are now dead or wounded. The poor wounded, calling for water and help. It took ages to take care of them all but eventually the night became quiet. The stars shone down on the warriors who lay stretched out on the cold ground; get ready for the next action.

It had been a hot day and the men had given their all to stop the waved attacks. The suffering and bleeding had been worth the cost; the Russians had run out of steam and needed to wait for reinforcements. We had also taken the pressure off the neighbouring sectors as later POW interrogations would show.  

In the Heeresbericht of the 10.08.1916 were the words which filled us with pride… “ The Russian offensive between Bialogowg and Horodnszcze, which had initially had momentum, has been brought to a halt by a German counter attack”..  

That was us, the Saxon Jäger Regiment in the Regiments first day of battle.

Above: A patrol of the 13th Saxon Jäger Battalion