The men of the supply units transported all that was necessary to fight a
war to the immediate front line. On many occasions they braved enemy barrages
to bring much needed supplies to the frontline troops who were sheltered in
This chapter is meant to give an overview to the collector as the units
of the “Train” can be rather confusing due to the frequent changes in the
structure of these units.
Above: A member of Res.-Inf.-Mun.-Kol. 32, with the 21st Reserve Division in the Champagne Sector, march 1915.
At the end of this page you will find the "dry" description of the organizational changes made within the supply branch during the war. It goes a long way in helping to inter prate period documents and understanding entries in military passes.
Landsturmmann Martin Kreutz served in a Bespannte Abteilung and later in a Fußartillerie ammunition column. He fought on the Maas and mosel, at Verdun and near Rheims. His Iron Cross document and a description of the conditions he fought under can be found HERE.
Vizewachtmeister d.Ldw.I Friedrich Karl Utz was a Württemberger who served for the full duration of the war earning the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class. His award documents and a tribute to the ammunition supply soldiers can be found HERE
Willi Engelke and August Kruse served in supply columns and were decorated for supplying the front lines on the Somme and at Verdun (amongst other sectors), there documents and a description of supply columns in action can be found HERE
Along with the soldiers millions of horses suffered and died during WW1. Sgt Alwin Büttner and Korpsstabsveterinar Kutzner served in the Horse hospitals that were essential for treating the sick and wounded. Iron Cross documents and text can be found HERE
(To avoid any confusion, "Train" has nothing to do with the railways!)
Munitions-Kolonnen (Munitions Columns) and Train (Support Services) Units
peace time the Train was an independent branch of service. When mobilised in time
of war, the Train’s units were amalgamated with the Infanterie-Munitions-Kolonnen
(Infantry Ammunition Columns), Artillerie-Munitions-Kolonnen (Artillery
Ammunition Columns) and separate Füßartillerie-Munitions-Kolonnen (Foot
Artillery Ammunition Columns), into a combined Munitions-Kolonnen und Trains
formation. These were assigned at Armeekorps (Army Corp), Reservekorps (Reserve
Corp), or Etappe (Staff) command level and consisted of:
(Mixed Infantry and Artillery munitions columns);
(Foot artillery munitions columns), and;
(c) Train (which included the
Feldlazarette (Field hospitals), Proviant-Kolonnen and Fuhrpark-Kolonnen
(Supply Columns – Provision and Vehicle columns respectively), Pferdedepots
(Horse Depots) and Feldbäckerei-Kolonnen (Field bakeries)).
an active Armeekorps would have two Munitions-Kolonnen-Abteilung (of four Infanterie
and nine Artillerie-Munitions-Kolonnen), one Füßartillerie-Munitions-Kolonnen-Abteilung
(of eight Kolonnen), two Train-Abteilungen (of twelve Feldlazarette, six
Proviant-Kolonnen, seven Fuhrpark-Kolonnen, two Pferdedepots and two
Feldbäckerei-Kolonnen). A Reservekorps would have two Reserve-Munition-Kolonnen-Abteilungen
and two Reserve-Train-Abteilungen, with less equipment than an active
The Munitions Supply Columns
the men of the Infanterie- and Artillerie-Munitions-Kolonnen were trained and
supplied by the Feldartillerie, while the Füßartillerie formed its own
Munitions-Kolonnen, the latter being under the command of the various
Armeekorps. In addition to this, the Feldartillerie-Abteilungen and Füßartillerie-Bataillons
at the front had their own Leichten-Munitions-Kolonnen.
autumn 1916 the complicated system of Infantry and Artillery munitions columns
for Active, Reserve and Landwehr units was discontinued and all columns were
regrouped as "Munitions-Kolonnen neuer Art (new style)". Once the
restructuring of the Army under Hindenburg and Ludendorff had taken place the
"neuer Art" was discontinued
and replaced by a central numbering system and 507 Munitions-Kolonnen were created
to supply both the Infanterie and Feldartillerie .
the beginning of 1917 the Leichte-Munitions-Kolonnen (Light munitions columns)
were taken from their respective Feldartillerie units and renumbered centrally under Armee level command forming 785 columns for the Artillery. (Note: “Armee level”:Under
the direct command of the Army they were attached to.)
third group, the Füßartillerie-Munitions-Kolonnen-Abteilungen and the Leichten-Füßartillerie-Munitions-Kolonnen
were amalgamated as Armee level Füßartillerie-Munitions-Kolonnen, which for
practical reasons (with the exception of eleven which stayed at Armee level) were later reassigned as Battery level columns
when the Füßartillerie units became horse drawn and needed a more flexible
the end there were 507 mixed Infantrie- and Feldartillerie-Munitions-Kolonnen,
785 Leichten-Kolonnen exclusively for the Feldartillerie and 11 Armee-Füßartillerie-Munitions-Kolonnen all at Armee
level. As an exception to the Armee level units, each Füßartillerie-Batterie had its own integrated
addition to these columns organised at command level, combat units had single
munitions wagons as part of their table of organisation equipment. One
munitions wagon per infantry company, two per Jäger company, one per machine
gun zug (platoon) and one per gun for Feldartillerie and Füßartillerie.
were drawn from both the artillery and train initially but by October 1918, with
the manpower shortage becoming serious, the Munitions-Kolonne began to lose
their complement of artillerymen. Only the Leichten-Munitions-Kolonne supporting
the Feldartillerie, the Batterie-Kolonne supporting the Füßartillerie and the eleven
Armee-Füßartillerie-Munitions-Kolonnen continued to receive their complement of
artillerymen from the artillery branch, the rest of their personnel came from
Supply Trains were divided into Proviant and Fuhrpark-Kolonnen, the former
consisting of twenty-seven 4-span wagons, the latter of forty-eight 2-span
wagons. Originally numbered according to their Armeekorps, they were
restructured in January 1917 to become Armee level units, numbered 1st
to 180th for the Proviant-Kolonnen and 1st to 444th
for the Fuhrpark-Kolonnen. Tragetier-Kolonnen (Mule Columns) were formed for service
in Mountainous areas in 1915 by the Armee-Abteilung-Gaede, and soon twelve
divisions had their own Tragetier-Kolonnen. In May 1918 these were numbered 1st
to 19th and assigned at at Armee level.
Horse Doctors and Horse
the dangers with the driver were his horses, millions of which were killed during
Pferdedepots (Horse Depots) moved from Armeekorps to Armee command in January
1917 at which stage five Heeres-Pferdedepots (Army Horse Depots), ten kavallerie-Pferdedepots
(Cavalry Horse Depots) and forty-eight Pferdedepots existed.
(Horse Hospitals) and Pferde-Sammelstellen (Horse Collection Points) were
formed in the spring of 1915 at Armeekorps and Divisional level, although the
Sammelstelle were soon integrated into the Hospitals. In February 1917 the Pferde-Lazarette
were renumbered 1st to 288th and attached to Divisions,
also formed were six independent Räudellazarette (Infectious skin diseases) and
twenty-eight Gruppen-Pferde-Lazarette which were at Armee level.
The Field Hospital
Feldlazarette was part of the Train and was initially assigned at Armeekorps
level (numbered 1st to 12th per Armeekorps). The
Reserve-Feldlazarette attached to the Reserve-Korps or Reserve-Division
however, were numbered at Armee level and not within the Reserve-Korps they
were serving under. In December 1916 this system was found to be more practical
for the active Feldlazarette as well and the individual Armeekorps lost their
Feldlazarette, each division getting two Feldlazaretten, the balance coming
directly under Armee command. By the end of the war there were 592 hospitals,
including 113 Reservekorp-Feldlazarette and 26 Landwehr-Feldlazarette.
Feldlazarette usually consisted of six Doktors (doctors), one Oberapotheker
(Chemist), nine Sanitäts-Unteroffizier (Medical N.C.O.s), fourteen
Militärkrankenwärter (Male Nurses), one Krankenwagen (Ambulance), two
Sanitätswagen (Ambulances/Medical wagons) and four Gerätewagen (Equipment
The Field bakery
Feldbäckerei-kolonnen had twelve 4-span, horse drawn, ovens and twelve
equipment wagons. They were initially attached at Armeekorps level as Nr.1 (Number
1) and Nr.2 Feldbäckerei, but in the Spring of 1917 they were renumbered and transferred
to Armee command. At the end of the war they were numbered 1st to 184th.