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The EK1

The Fuhrpark Kolonnen were supply columns that were used mainly, but not exclusively, for material other than munitions and food.  The job was often dangerous but unglamorous and the medals earned were for bravery without the opportunity of striking back at the enemy.

Oberleutnant Schmitt of the bayerische 2. Train-Abteilung reports on an exciting days work by his supply soldiers:  

“Our Etappen-Fuhrpark-Kolonne was under the command of the Pionier commander of a Prussian division. We were divided into two half columns in Boyeles (South of Arras, on the Arras-Bapaume road). My column was responsible for bringing up pionier supplies and ammunition to the Regiments-Pionier depot at night as well as lending a hand to improve the roads at the front. Our work usually started as night fell, until dawn, eight to ten hours later. It was exhausting for both man and horse.

But one day - it was in May - I was summoned by the Pionier commander. What was happening? That night the enemy had succeeded in breaking into the positions of an infantry regiment. The Kolonne had to evacuate the Regiments-Pionier Depot 76. It lay in a sunken road between Ayette and Douchy, about 200 metres from the enemy.

Fahrer Willi Engelke served in a number of units but spent the bulk of the war with Führpark Kolonne 660. In August 1917 they were on the Eastern Front with Heeresgruppe Linsingen. In January of 1918 the Column had moved to the Western front and was transporting supplies in the mud of Flanders. In March of 1918 they were struggling to supply the German troops breaking through at Monchy-Cambrai and on the Somme.

"I went forward with twenty wagons, ordering them to leave as much space between each wagon as possible. It was 08.00 as we moved forward. Our approach was out of view of the enemy. At first I let three or four wagons through at the same time, they trotted along the sunken road, turned around and were loaded on the way back. At first we loaded the most important (and dangerous) items - infantry ammunition, grenades and explosives. As soon as the wagons were full they would trot and gallop back and the next one started its journey. All went smoothly and without incident in spite of random shooting by the English artillery. Suddenly an enemy aircraft appeared. He flew backwards and forwards as if looking for something. A shiver ran down my spine, if he saw us things would change rapidly. I ordered my men to work faster in order to get this over with as soon as possible, but he had seen us and soon rounds were landing close to the road.

The paybook that accompanied Engelke throughout the war, along with his Military Pass.

"Shrapnel burst overhead but I remained calm and encouraged my men to work on. So far everything in the sunken road was proceeding well. But fate caught up with the last three wagons galloping back to the rear. Shells fell around us, shrapnel, splinters and mud shooting through the air. I was sitting on the first wagon. We made it through, with just one of the horses getting a shell splinter in the thigh. The driver of the second wagon was wounded - as were both horses. The third wagon received a direct hit and disappeared in smoke, the driver - shaken but not seriously wounded - was thrown metres away into a field. We had come through relatively unscathed. We returned to the Division's depot and unloaded our wagons, then returned into the sunken road to retrieve the remains of the last wagon. We had carried our mission out successfully and in spite of our loss, could be proud. The next day the Kolonne was praised in the Divisional orders and five Iron Crosses as well as a number of Bavarian awards were approved.

Gefreiter August Kruse served in the Fuhrpark Kolonne 19 attached to the 5th Army. The 5. Armee spent the war fighting in the Argonne and in front of Verdun. Responsible for the supply troops was the "Kommandeur de Munitions Kolonnen und Trains Nr.5 beim Armee oberkommando 5"