Richard Wahl was a printer by trade. Called up to serve in the Landwehr in 1915 he was transferred in 1916 to the 120. Landwehr Infanterie Regiment of the 2. Landwehr Division just after the division had suffered rather heavy losses in the Malancourt sector in Verdun. Wahl's experience at the front was short, starting on the 17th of April 1916 in the Forest of Avocourt and Malancourt. On the 25th of May 1916 he was gassed and was in a number of hospitals before becoming a guard in an officers prisoner of war camp in Ellwangen.
Wahl kept a diary of his experiences at the front, on the whole not very exciting but it does describe the action in which he was wounded.
22.05.16: Company service from 10am-1pm, constant artilleryfire on our positions. It was terrible, but god was with us.
At 10pm David Haustei was killed by French artillery just 2m's from me, without me noticing it. It was an strange occurrence and unfortunately it must be said he was largely responsible for his own death. In spite of numerous warnings he had spent the day outside the bunker, under direct observation of the French artillery balloons. He spent the afternoon of the 22nd in his under shirt, sitting in the trench, delousing himself. he had taken his jacket off. A salvo of artillery brought him into the bunker where I berated him. after the barrage he went to recuperate his jacket which it turned out, had disappeared, either buried or destroyed by the artillery. At 10pm he went out to dig for it when a salvo landed. I jumped into the bunker, but Haustei was killed by a large splinter in the chest. We did not notice as we thought he had entered the dugout from the other side and we all lay down to sleep. Only when I called for the work detail did we find him, 1.5m from the entrance. The work details could not work in the barrage and the collapsed walls gave the enemy a great view of our positions.
23.05.16: My unlucky day!
At 6 am we were getting our mail. I had just received a package from Emilie when a shell exploded, then another, coming to about 30m-50m from the dugout entrance. At the cry of "Gas!!" the men poured down the stairs to get their masks. I had mine with me and put it on. In the dugout I took a cloth and waved it to create an upward draught as i saw the gas sink down the stairs. The dugout filled up and in the crash my mask was knocked off.. there I stood... what to do? I took a deep breath and holding my mouth and nose pushed my way out and made my way 60-100m down the trench, through the gas, collapsing when I arrived in our Sappe. After I came about I made my way to the doctor who send me back to the battalion aid station with 2 medics. Here I was immediately given oxygen which was a huge relief to my system. The relief was only temporary and by evening I was having coughing fits. I was not evacuated that night and had to suffer till the next morning when two medics took me to the rear, my last sip of cognac doing wonders for me.
The oxygen given to me the night before had helped, but the injections I received that morning caused vomiting and pain. At the field hospital at Lac Feur I was used as a test case and they injected me with 3 double doses of Glycerine (?) which caused immense pain. There was no medication to counter the effects of the French gas so the doctors tried all possible injections, which made the stay at Lac Feur very unpleasant... that and the stray shells that landed there.
Wahl's Iron Cross 2nd class award document, the document is a special print for the 120th Landwehr Infantry Regiment.
The page in Wahl's military pass in which his period of service in the 120. L.I.R. is entered. It includes the times period in which he served, his awards (Iron Cross 2nd class, Württemberg Wilhelmkreuz with swords)
As pointed out by C.M. an American collector...
"Had our friend not been gassed, he could have been near the shooting (just some four months later) by our corporal Alvin York. It was Oberlt. Paul Vollmer of Landwehr Inf.Rgt. Nr.120 (1st Battalion commander) who talked 132 German soldiers into surrendering (with York's pistol in his ribs)."
The signature in the Military pass book is that of Paul Vollmer.
The cover of Wahl's paybook that he had in his pocket throughout his service, including the day he was gassed. On the cover it is possible to see his promotions. Starting out as a Landsturm Rekrut, Gefreiter, Unteroffizier then Vize-Feldwebel.
Wahl's certificate for the award of his black wound badge, also a special print for the 120. L.I.R.
Both the Iron Cross and Wound Badge certificates were issued by the 120. L.I.R. although he had left the unit two years earlier.