The 1. Garde Regiment zu Fuß was part of the elite 1. Garde
Division. Grenadier Janssen joined the Regiment in September 1916 as one of the
replacements to make up for the divisions heavy losses on the Somme
(5000 men). After another spell on the Somme the Division was part of the Mobile reserve that counter attacked during the Nivelle
offensive where it once again suffered heavy losses. The division then served
in Russia before returning
in October 1917. It fought tenaciously in the Kaiserschlacht suffering heavy
losses but losing proportionally few prisoners. In October 1918 it was in the Champagne contesting the
On the 10th-11th of November
1918 the 1. Garde Regiment zu Fuß fought their last battle in the small
of Vrigne-Meuse. It was a
needless action and in it the French lost their last casualty of the war.
The 163rd French Infantry Division under
General Boichet attacked the German forces at Vrigne-Meuse on the 10th
of November. The 1. Garde Regiment zu Fuß was rushed in to throw them back. On
the 11th the French attacked again, the news of the Armistice not
having reached the command of the 163rd Division yet.
August Trébuchon, an Officer of the Division
was underway with messages concerning ration supplies for the troop when
he was killed by a bullet. Barely 10 minutes later Bugler Delaluque, the
divisions bugler sounded the ceasefire.
was buried at Vrigne-Meuse.
On the 13th of November 1918 Major Graf zu Eulenburg,
officer commanding the 1. G.R.z.F.wrote the following about the Regiments last
battle of the war.
10th of November 1918, 8.30 a.m. I had not had enough
sleep and already the alarm had sounded. The "Franzmann" had broken
into the sector we had just vacated, just as I had warned. I had made this
warning in writing with exact suggestions on how to avoid it, but in vain. Partly
because of careless leadership, partly because of the exhausted state of our
once good troops the French succeeded in breaking through across the Maas, probably to their own surprise. Now the 1st Garde
Regiment was ordered to retake the positions! For the men it was an extraordinarily
difficult order. After seven weeks of unspeakable suffering and murderous
fighting they were expecting a well deserved rest. They were to be disappointed.
After a few hours sleep in cold, uncomfortable quarters we were forced out into
the mess (Schweinerei) again, to fix the mistakes of others.
Above: An unknown Garde officer in the typical uniform worn by assault troops in the latter stages of the war.
I was proud and thankful, that the regiment would go
out on the last day of the war (as this was, we did not yet know it) and would
attack with its old spirit intact.
The first Battalion under the command of Arnim took
the lost positions effortlessly and continued on into the neighbouring sector. The
10th of November, the day of "Vrigne-Meuse" had become an action to
add to the regiments glory, just as the day of Kolin had added a glorious page
to the history many years before.
There the Leibgarde Bataillion had, as rearguard,
beaten off all of the attacks launched by the Austrians and assured the
pullback of the army of "Alte Fritz", and here (on the 10th November
1918) the Regiment beat the overconfident Frenchmen back to their starting
blocks on the last day of the war.
Above: The Iron Cross 2nd class document to Grenadier Janßen awarded for the defensive fighting in the Champagne in 1918
This proud action means much to me as it strengthens
the spirit of the regiment for the coming hard times. For the attack I had
taken command of the sector again and with that the remains of four different
Regiments. Afterwards a fifth, Landwehr, relieved us and a sixth took over from
the Leibkompagnie in the next sector. It was no small task to clear up the mess
and give over a defendable sector to the new Regiment. At last everything was
settled and we wanted to pull back at last. At that moment Hindenburgs
"Staatsumwälzenden Ereignissfe" at home message arrived. The talk of
forming soldiers committees had already started. It was clear it meant Republic
and more... Bolshevism ! The wildest talk of rebellion followed. I had already
seen the future pessimistically, but this turn of events I had not expected. Germany, Prussia without Hohenzollern! I
could not believe it. It was to me like the death of a dear friend. The thought
of what was lost, the terrible reality had trouble sinking in.
The next night we rode on the muddy roads past the
historical battlefields of Sedan, straight
through the Ardennes and into Belgium.
It was bitterly cold. The region must be beautiful during the day. For probably
the last time in my life I crossed the French border...