The Sächsischen Jäger-Regiment Nr. 7 was created in
August 1916 by combining the 2. Königlich Sächsische Jäger-Bataillon Nr. 13
with the Saxon Reserve Jäger Battalions 25 and 26 under the command of Oberst
Pudor. The Regiment joined the newly formed Infanterie Division to undergo its
baptism of fire as a regiment on the upper Sereth.
In August 1916 the Russians had crossed the Sereth at
Zolosze. The 7th Saxon Jäger regiment was part of the German force (Attached to
the Austrien 2nd Army) that was tasked with pushing them back and
retaking the heights to the west of the Sereth. Before the Germans could make a
move the Russians made a second thrust and took more ground to the South-West
Leutnant der Reserve Franke describes the action
The night we shared the quarters in “M” with the local
fleas and lice distinguished itself from the other nights due to the lively
artillery fire. At dawn orders arrived for the regiment to assemble.
The Battalions were ordered forward and advanced in
long columns making the most of the cover offered by the undulating terrain.
Shrapnel began to burst overhead on the bigger roads and crossings, then medium
artillery began to treat the paths of advance and suspected battery positions.
That the Russians were firing so much, and behind our lines made us suspect
that something major was in the offing.
Right: Richard Wolf served throughout the war in the Machine Gun Company of the 13th (Saxon) Jäger Battalion
Wounded were passing us on their way to the rear, some
able to walk, the seriously wounded transported in Panje Wagons. They informed
us that the Russians had attacked that night and had achieved a breakthrough in
one sector. As the attack had had such momentum our front line had been pushed
In the villages behind the front line the inhabitants
were packing their affairs and getting ready to depart before the Russians
arrived. They watched in astonishment as more and more German troops arrived.
Behind the village pond the second Battalion rested
against an embankment. Ahead of us lay some heights that had to be held at all
costs. Two Companies accompanied by two Machine Gun Sections were ordered
forward. They towards the heights and right away came under lively artillery
fire. The shells are mainly shrapnel, fired from in front of us and from a
flank. We right away have our first wounded. In spite of the increasing
intensity of the fire the men advance calmly as they learned on the training
ground and on the western front. The peak is reached with the men in orderly
formation and we are able to look down into the valley. The enemy can still not
be seen. The only contact is the shrapnel grenades that burst above us causing
one wound after another.
In the trenches on the Western front we used to laugh
at shrapnel, it could mostly not reach us. Here in the open the shrapnel got
its own back and took a bloody toll.
Ahead of us is a freshly dug Trench line, “Take cover!
Heads down!”, but the next lot is already here. I hear the cry “My Arm! My
Arm!” next to me. The last salvo had been a success for the gunners. To our
right some heavy shells land in the trench. The Gunners have the range and
follow us step for step.
We must advance as rapidly as possible. Hoarse orders
and commands drive the skirmish lines forward through gaps in the wire, or over
the wire. We descend into the valley. For a moment the artillery cannot reach
us as we head for a Copse but the reserves coming over the hill are taking a
Above: The "Godet" Iron Cross 1st Class awarded to Richard Wolf, award date unknown.
We are safe until we poke our heads out of the tree
line. Right away shrapnel burst overhead followed by high explosive shells. The
shrapnel balls and shell splinters send twigs and branches flying before they
tear into us or the ground around us. The only shelter is behind a thick tree
trunk but there are not many of those. Soon the lightly wounded are making
their way to the rear. Some of the badly wounded would die where they lay.
From the left, where our 1st battalion is
comes the call “Cossacks approaching from the Krzaki Forest!”
We all rush to the embankment that borders on the
Copse. From there we have a better view and field of fire. There is still
nothing in view. The Machine Guns arrive just in time. The gunners had man
handled their heavy weapons across the heights keeping up with their comrades
in the skirmish lines.
Suddenly there are many white dots in the cornfield.
At first they are very small but they get closer and closer, as they approach they
get bigger and begin to take on form. Countless riders on their nimble horses
sweep towards us. The Jägers open fire, calm and precise shooting joined by the
roar of the machine guns which mercilessly tear into the swarms of riders.
Some, initially spared by the bullets, make it close to our positions but our
fire remains calm and precise. They too sink to the ground. A terrible harvest of
death lay in the Cornfield.
Only three riderless horses make it through unscathed.
They cross through our lines with full saddlebags. The rest lay dead or flee
back where they came from. The attack has been convincingly beaten back.
The artillery had stopped firing during the attack,
now they started up again, furious, wanting revenge, their bloody claws grab at
our ranks. The order comes to dig in; we are to hold the position.
Soon a few patrols, and even an advancing section with
two Machine Guns are able to report back that in the whole area ahead of us has
no enemy infantry is to be seen.
Above: Karl Richard Theodor Wolf was born on the 4th
of March 1893 and lived in Leipzig-Möckern. He served in the Machine Gun
Company of the Sächsische Jäger-Bataillon Nr. 13 and was wounded in 1915 while
a Reservist and in 1916 as a Gefreiter. By the end of the war he was a Leutnant
der Reserve and was wounded for a final time in the Bezonvaux-Ornes sector at Verdun. After the war he was a maths and science Teacher.
That does not last long and soon Russians are
advancing across the fields in dense, closed ranks. Our Machine Gunners begin
to empty their belts into the ranks; we are able to follow the action as the
bullets kick up dust in the dry fields. The Russians dive for cover, those that
can, flee, and those that cannot remain lying in the field, a grim and terrible
warning to any that may follow. Now, on the heights to our right, they swarm
down towards the valley. They run directly into our Machine Gun fire which hits
them from the flank. An Austrian Machine Gun section joins in and the attack is
The first Prisoners make their way out of the
cornfield. Then some more, even a Colonel is amongst them.
Once again the regiment advances on a broad front. Our
artillery finally joins in, supporting us and keeping the enemy’s heads down. We
still cannot see him, but we know they are there as their infantry keeps up a
heavy fire. We have to get through it to get to them.
The Russians make excellent use of the terrain, but
when we finally sight them we are able to engage them with very effective fire.
The units on the flanks cannot keep up the momentum and the advance bogs down.
We cannot continue and expose our flanks, but the days goals have not been
reached. The whole hot afternoon we dig in, looking for shelter from the enemy
Above: A MG08 team from an unknown unit
Thank God we did! That evening the Russians attack in
waves trying to break into our left flank or to surround us. Once again the
Machine Guns go to work, keeping up the fire till night falls.
Night! There has been nothing to eat since this
morning, for some even the night before. Now the food finally arrives. The
rations include food for those who are now dead or wounded. The poor wounded,
calling for water and help. It took ages to take care of them all but
eventually the night became quiet. The stars shone down on the warriors who lay
stretched out on the cold ground; get ready for the next action.
It had been a hot day and the men had given their all
to stop the waved attacks. The suffering and bleeding had been worth the cost;
the Russians had run out of steam and needed to wait for reinforcements. We had
also taken the pressure off the neighbouring sectors as later POW
interrogations would show.
In the Heeresbericht of the 10.08.1916 were the words
which filled us with pride… “ The Russian offensive between Bialogowg and
Horodnszcze, which had initially had momentum, has been brought to a halt by a
German counter attack”..
That was us, the Saxon Jäger Regiment in the Regiments
first day of battle.