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The Königliche Bayerisches Infanterie-Leib-Regiment was the most prestigious Regiment of the Bavarian Army. Traditionally the men were carefully selected and served not only as soldiers but also provided the guard details for the Bavarian Royal Palaces. Commanded by Franz Ritter von Epp the regiment would fight on all fronts during the war as part of the newly formed Alpenkorps. The officers of the regiment would win 2 Pour le Mérite and 12 Militär-Max-Joseph-Orden.

Certain men would be awarded a ring that was unique to the regiment.

Above: Graf von Bothmer was clear on what men wearing the ring symbolized to him: “The Person in front of you is not a spinner of yarns, someone who has never smelled gunpowder, but who profits from the fact that the confusion of war often means we often cannot determine the real service of an individual.  A real man and soldier stands before you” (Du hast es hier nicht mit einem Sprüchmacher zu tun, der vielleicht nie Pulver gerochen hat und nun auf die Unmöglichkeit sündigt, in diesem Weltkrieg rasch genau die Stelle jedes einzelnen festzustellen; Ein ganzer Mann und Soldat steht vor dir”)

Approximately 17 500 men served in the field with the Leib-Regiment during the war. Many of them served in the ranks for a relatively short period before being transferred to other units, being wounded, getting sick or dying. The official strength of the Regiment when it marched to war in 1914 was 65 Officers and 2962 NCOs and other Ranks. By the end of 1918 the Regiment had buried 95 officers and 3304 NCOs and other Ranks, 450 men were missing (presumed dead) and 533 prisoners of war. Many fought with bravery and were awarded the Bavarian Militärverdienstkreuz, the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class or even the Bavarian Silver or Gold Bravery medal.

Left: The dates on the obverse “1914-1918” are a bit confusing as the first rings were awarded in 1917. Examination of an April 1918 awarded ring shows the dates “1914-191 ” implying that the last digit was to be added by the Regiment to reflect the award year.

There was a “core” of survivors who, no matter how badly shot up the regiment was, trained and mentored the replacements and turned them into “Leiber”. This core of indestructibles took part in some of the worst fighting of the war and in spite of their exceptional service to the regiment they received the same medals as a Landwehrman in a reserve regiment who spent the war in a quiet sector on the Western front.

As a visible distinction, a sign of appreciation for their service, Major Graf von Bothmer suggested a ring, a simple design with a Bavarian shield, crown and an oak leaf wreath. The Ring would give the regimental commander the possibility to reward the men of his unit for their service outside of official channels and according to criteria established by the regiment. A ring could be worn during service and for many years after.

The design is relatively innocuous and to date, even in Bavaria, many collectors do not recognize the ring for what it is. Over the last 20 years I have held two in my hands and seen photos of two others. The second ring I held had been laying in a display with regular “Patriotic Rings” which is probably the fate for many of these.

The officers had a different ring designed by Professor Schwegerle, it had a lion’s head and carried a “I.L.R.” monogram on the inside.

The ring, awarded for the first time on the 24th of July 1917, was given to men of the Field Regiment who had served in the frontline for 24 months. The commanders felt that their men deserved something special, something to reward service that included bloody fighting, extreme weather conditions, long marches, deprivation and sacrifice. The men of the regiment would wear it with pride, treating it as their most cherished award. For every “Leiber” who survived at the front long enough to qualify for the ring, three of his comrades had been killed in action.

The award criteria were as follows:

The Leiberring could be awarded to Officers, Medical officers, Veterinarians, NCO’s and Other Ranks who had  24 months front service in the Field Regiment and who were still part of the regiment on the 7th of August 1917.

Front service was defined as:

Service with a weapon or as a stretcher bearer. Time spent sick or detached from the unit was subtracted. Vacation and time away from the frontline in quiet areas did not count. For the wounded only the first 4 months in hospital counted. Service as a clerk, cook or soldiers attached to the supply columns did not count.


Exceptions (Days which counted towards the 24 Months for men in functions which did not directly qualifying for “Combat Days”):



a) For Feldwebel –

22.09.1916 - 08.01.1917, 06.08.1917 - 12.09.1917, 24.10.1917 – 17.12.1917, 12.04.1918 – 09.05.1918, 09.08.1918 – 25.09.1918, 06.10.1918 – 31.10.1918

b) For telephonists in the Battalion, Regiment and Brigade staffs and runners of the Battalion and regimental staffs –

07.08.1914 – 30.09.1914, 1.11.1915 – 20.03.1916, 14.06.1916 – 10.08.1916, 22.09.1916 – 08.01.1917, 06.08.1917 – 12.09.1917, 24.10.1917 – 17.12.1917, 12.04.1918 – 07.05.1918, 09.08.1918 – 25.09.1918, 06.10.1918 – 21.11.1918

c) For Mule and Horse team members, same as b) but without the period 14.06.1916 – 10.08.1916

The same regulations for Sickness, Attachments, Vacation and rest apply to those above in categories a), b) and c).

Regimental rest time periods which did not count towards the 24 months:

03.05.1916 – 15.06.1916, 10.04.1917 – 20.05.1917, 24.05.1917 – 08.06.1917, 19.09.1917 – 23.10.1917, 17.12.1917 – 09.04.1918, 07.05.1918 – 08.08.1918

Left:   Vizefeldwebel George Ertel of the 3rd Company was an example of the unfortunate Leiber who slipped through the cracks. Serving with the regiment from the outbreak of the war he was severely wounded between Douaumont and Fleury (at Verdun) in June 1916. In spite of taking part in some of the most famous Leib Regiment actions and serving 23 months in the field, he did not qualify for a ring.

In the original statutes awards at a later date were not excluded for Officers, NCOs and other ranks under the following conditions:

a) Men who had fulfilled the above requirements but were no longer part of the field regiment

b) Invalids who were no longer able to serve due to wounds received while part of the Feld Regiment.

Above: Verdun- The Leiber at Fleury, one of the most famous actions of the regiment.

(The text in the Leib Regiment History says that after much consideration no awards were made under the two statutes mentioned above. A bitter pill to swallow for men who had served the 24 months but who had been later transferred to a different regiment, or “Leibers” who had gone into the field in 1914 but were amongst the seriously wounded and never returned to qualify.)

Many of the men in the last award block (11-01-1919) had been released from service in December 1918 and received their rings in January 1919.

Officers who had been awarded the Max Joseph Orden and NCOs and other ranks decorated with the Bavarian Gold Bravery medal or Iron Cross 1st Class qualified for the ring after 12 Months of front service. Recipients of the Bavarian Silver Bravery Medal qualified after 16 months.

The awards of the ring were individually vetted by a commission and confirmed by the Regimental commander. All in all 61 officers and 1087 Leiber received the ring. Each ring was engraved with a number.

Award Blocks: Date – Ring Numbers (Ring Nr.1 was not issued)



24-07-1917 2-58

14-10-1917 59-251

19-10-1917 252 (single replacement ring issued)

06-02-1918 253-339

07-02-1918 340-373

11-04-1918 374-690

12.06-1918 691-759

27-7-1918 760-812

11-01-1919 813-1087


Right: The ring of Gefreiter Keck -  On the rear of the ring there is an „800“ silver stamp and the award number. The silver stamp is not always in the same position.

The rings were awarded in blocks, the final block of awards on the 11th of January 1919. Unfortunately the roll of recipients has numerous transcription errors. For example, in the last block of names for 6th company recipients there are 3 errors in a space of 10 names. Gefreiter Keck is listed as Leiber Heck. Gefreiter Wagensonner is listed as Leiber Wagensanner, Hohmann as Hihmann. Numerous men listed as “Leiber” had in fact been promoted to Gefreiter.

Above:  The Alpenkorps Iron Cross award document for Gefreiter Sebastian Wagensonner. He is listed on the roll as “Leiber Wagensanner”. “Leiber” was rank used in the Leib Regiment for a Private.

Ring number 898 is listed on the Ring Roll as belonging to “Leiber” Heck of the 6th Company. There was no soldier with the name Heck in the Company. It was only possible to establish that the ring wearer 898 was in fact “Keck” by a thorough examination of the Leib Regiment rolls and being able to exclude all other possible variations (Heck, Reck, Hack etc.). By process of elimination, the only possible recipient is Gefreiter Keck who had almost 50 months of service in the Field Regiment but is not listed on the Ring Roll.

Johann Keck served in the Infanterie-Regiment „Kaiser Wilhelm, König von Preußen“ (2. Württembergisches) Nr. 120 from 1901-03. He was mobilized as a Landwehrmann in August 1914. He joined the 6th Company of the Leib Regiment on the 3rd of September 1914 where he served until the end of the war. During this period he was awarded the Bavarian Militär Verdienstkreuz with swords 3rd class in January 1917, The Iron Cross 2nd Class in April 1917, and the Wuerttemberg Silberne Militaer Verdienst Medaille in September 1917. The Bavarian Dienstauszeichnung followed in March 1918. He was promoted to acting Gefreiter in September 1916 and full Gefreiter in January 1917. He was present in every action the regiment took part in and was lucky enough never to be wounded.

The Battle calendar of the Leib Regiment shows a diversity of theaters which includes fighting in the Alps, Romania, Serbia, Italy, as well as sectors like Verdun, Kemmel and the Redtower Pass. Keck took part in every battle listed on the Calender.

10.-13.8.14 – Gefechte bei Badonviller
14.8.14 – Gefecht an der Vezouse
18.- 19.8.14 – Gefecht bei Saarburg
20. – 22.8.14 Schlacht in Lothringen
23.8. – 14.9.14. – Schlacht bei Nancy Epinal
23.9. – 6.10.14 – Schlacht an der Somme
7. – 10.10.14 – Stellungskämpfe westl. St. Quentin
11.10.14 – 19.5.15 Stellungskämpfe an der Somme
26.5. – 16.10.15 Kämpfe in Tirol
30.10. – 28.11.15 – Feldzug in Serbien
1.12.15 – 3.3.16 Aufmarsch an der griesch. Grenze

Right: An unknown "Leiber" with the Bavarian Military Service cross 3rd class and the Iron Cross 2nd Class

4. – 19.3.16 – kämpfe an der griesch. Grenze
1.4. – 2.5.16 – Stellungskämpfe in d. Champagne
5.6. – 17.8.16 – Schlacht bei Verdun
15.6. – 21.7.16 - kämpfe u. Fleury u. die M-Räume südl. Fleury
23.6.16 – Erstürmung von Fleury
11.7.16 – Wegnahme der M-Räume südl. Fleury
5. – 11.8.16 – kämpfe um Zwischenwerk Thiaumont
18.8. – 8.9.16 – Stellungskampf in den Argonnen
11.9.16 – 10.4.17 – Feldzug gegen Rumänien
26. – 29.9.16 – Schlacht bei Hermannstadt
30.9. – 24.11.16 – Grenzkämpfe am Roten Turmpaß
25. – 30.11.16 – Verfolg. Kämpfe bei Curtea de Arges-Pisesti
1. -3.12.16 – Schlacht a. Arges
4. – 8.12.16 – Verfolgung nach der Schlacht am Arges
9. – 20.12.16 – Verfolg. Kämpfe am Jalomitaprakova und Buzaul
21. – 27.12.16 – Schlacht bei Rimnicul-Sarat
28.12.16 – 3.1.17 – Verfolg. Kämpfe nach der Schlacht bei Rimnicul Sarat
4. – 8.1.17 – Schlacht an der Putna
9.1. - 10.4.17 – Stellungskrieg a Putna u Sereth
21.5. – 29.7.17 Stellungskampf im Oberelsaß
6.8. – 3.9.17 Durchbruchsschlacht an Putna und Susita
28.8.17 Einnahme von Munceuil
4. – 11.9.17 Stellungskrieg am Sereth und Susita
3. – 15.10.17 Aufmarsch hinter der Isonzo Front
16. – 23.10.17 Stellungskämpfe am Isonzo
24. – 27.10.17 Durchbruch durch die Jilischen Alpen
24.10.17 Erstürmung des Hevnik und der Höhe 1114
25.10.17 Erstürmung des Kuk und Eroberung des Luicopasses
27.10.17 Einnahme von Cividale
28.10. – 3.11.17 Schlacht bei Udine
1.11.17 Gefecht bei Bonzicco
4.- 11.11.17 Verfolgung vom Tagliamento bis zur Piave
12.11.17 – 22.1.18 Gebirgskämpfe in der Venezianischen Alpen
29.1. – 6.3.18 Stellungskämpfe in Löthringen und in den Vogesen
7.3.18 – 9.4.18 Stellungskämpfe in Löthringen
9. – 14.4.18 Schlacht bei Armentiers
23. – 29.4.18 Schlacht um den Kemmel
29.4. – 6.5.18 Stellungskrieg in Flandern
11.8. – 23.9.18 Kämpfe an der Somme
10.10. – 1.11.Rückzug in Serbien


Tirol to Fleury, The Leiber fought from on icy mountain passes in the Alps and in the hottest spots on the western front. A Leib Regiment Sharpshooter in the Alps and Leibers manning a trench at Fleury (Verdun).

The above Article has previously appeared in the March 2015 edition of "International Militaria Collector"

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Although the "Leiberring" was an award made during the war a prewar "Leibering" exists as well. This was made for members or ex-members of the regiment and could be bought from the firm Deschler & Sons. It was purely "private purchase" and was not an award.
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