Back to Part 8
23 Mar 1915 - The Sattelköpfle and the Klängle
The enemy did not make any serious attempt to retake the lost ground, on the other hand their mountain artillery and rocket launchers targeted our positions daily. On 23 Mar 15 in particular the artillery attack on the Sattelköpfle and the Klängle were so heavy the 2nd Bn (19th RIR) then under the command of Maj Veith sent: “We are under attack and can hardly hold on, assistance essential”. The situation was all the more precarious because at Tiefenbach and in the local area there was only one company in reserve, in addition our artillery was resolutely silent. During the confusion and with mounting concern that the positions could again be lost the the Corps Commander of the 19th RIR gathered all the available manpower, from the General Staff, the Supply depot, and the Pioneers depot, approximately 35 men. Around midday these men set off in haste from Tiefenbach via Obereck up the slopes to save what could be saved. After about 35 minutes out of breath and close to the Augsburger hut they received a message which despite the irritation and disappointment was found amusing: “All in perfect order, no question of retirement, relatively few losses – 9 dead, 25 wounded”.
5 - 27 April 1915 - Muhlbach
On the 5 Apr 15 the Regiment was moved to the left into the sector previously held by 18th RIR (in the basin to the north of Stocka-Röspelwald up to and including the Braunkopf) and again found it necessary to consolidate, construct and in particular to simplify many of the long trench systems, for example opposite Klitzerstein and above the water reservoir in Muhlbach. Even thought the new positions were on the whole quiet they had the disadvantage of being overlooked by the Altmattkopf and were vulnerable to an attack in the rear from the mountains in south-west.
The Regiment, with its General Staff Headquarters at Tiefenbach and with 1st and 2nd Bn’s (19th RIR) alternating between the front and Muhlbach, stayed in this sector until the 27 Apr 15 and were able to take advantage of the relative peace in the spring sun to rest and recover from their trials on the Reichackerkopf.
April 1915 - The French attack in the higher Fecht
In the sector to the west of 18th RIR on height 830 between Steinabrück and Sillackerwasen and to the south of Anlasswasen, slowly unfolded an un-planned or provoked conflict the immediate consequence of which was the loss of the Schnepfenriedkopf, the Burgköpfle and the Herrenberg in the north and the south-west of Eselsbrücke in the high valley of large Fecht. After 15 calm days heavy and continuous artillery fire coming from Tännle and Altmattkopf aimed in the direction of Sillackerwasen started at 11.00hrs. Added to this at 13.00hrs heavy infantry fire was aimed at our positions from the Sattelkpof, Klitzerstein and Altmattkopf. At 15.00hrs the bombardment of the Schnepfenriedkopf transformed into a creeping barrage and the hearts of the onlookers in the valley tightened as the shells fell one after another blackening the white snow topped mountain slowly revealing what remained of the ‘Chasseurs’ (Colmar) picket post, that had been buried superficially in the snow, and as it descended towards Anlasswasen was being followed by a small number of French troops.
Could the two guns of the Grauvogel battery, whose towing units had been returned to Munster, be saved? Yes they could. With exceptional energy and audacity WO Heitmayer, 8th Coy (19th RIR), who having ensured with two groups that the guns were covered, gathered his men, several skiers from the Steinitzer Battalion plus several men from the 14th ‘Chasseurs’ and ran to meet the French attack and with their fire stopped the attack saving not only the guns but also Anlasswasen. This action was rewarded with a bravery medal. At 16.00hrs, after a heavy bombardment, an infantry attack also took place against hill 830. Reserve Lt Werr along with 7th Coy (19th RIR) resisted heroically and despite significant losses the brave men held their ground.
The appalling situation which reigned up there, particularly in the zone to the north-west of height 830 - baptized Winterberg – where over the following days was sent one after another detachments from 3, 4, and 5 Coy’s (19th RIR). Lt Küspert (3rd Coy), Reserve Lt Schneider, Second Lt Schmidleitner (4th Coy) and Chief Sgt’s Amodé and Jall (5th Coy) all gave evidence of their bravery. Things only calmed down on the 25 Apr 15 when in the afternoon a violent rumble of thunder coming from the south east announced the great German victory at the Vieil Armand (Hartmannswillerkopf).