1st Army (German Empire)

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1. Armee
1st Army
Stab eines Armeeoberkommandos.svg
Flag of the Staff of an Armee Oberkommando (1871–1918)
Active 2 August 1914 – 17 September 1915
19 July 1916 – 24 January 1919
Country  German Empire
Type Army
Engagements

World War I

Battle of the Frontiers
Siege of Antwerp (part)
Battle of Mons
Battle of Le Cateau
First Battle of the Marne
First Battle of the Aisne
Battle of Arras (1914)
Battle of the Somme
Second Battle of the Aisne

The 1st Army (German: 1. Armee / Armeeoberkommando 1 / A.O.K. 1) was an army level command of the German Army in World War I. It was formed on mobilization in August 1914 from the VIII Army Inspection.[1] The army was dissolved on 17 September 1915, but reformed on 19 July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.[2] It was finally disbanded in 1919 during demobilization after the war.

History[edit]

First formation[edit]

The 1st Army during World War I, fought on the Western Front and took part in the Schlieffen Plan offensive against France and Belgium in August 1914. Commanded by General Alexander von Kluck, the 1st Army's job was to command the extreme right of the German forces in attacking the left flank of the French Army and encircling Paris, bringing a rapid conclusion to the war. His army had the greatest striking power of the offensive, a density of about 18,000 men per mile of front (about 10 per meter). The First Army captured Brussels on 20 August and was almost successful in defeating France but was halted just 13 miles outside the French capital in the First Battle of the Marne that took place in early September. Von Kluck was replaced in 1915 after being seriously wounded in the leg.

With 10 army level commands (1st to 7th Armies plus three Armee-Abteilungen), the German Supreme Command felt able to dispense with 1st Army. Its units were distributed amongst neighbouring armies and the army was dissolved on 17 September 1915.[3]

Second formation[edit]

2nd Army bore the brunt of the Allied attack in the Battle of the Somme. It had grown to such an extent that a decision was made to divide it. The 1st Army was reformed on 19 July 1916 from the right (northern) wing of the 2nd Army. The former commander of 2nd Army, General der Infanterie Fritz von Below, took command of 1st Army and 2nd Army got a new commander General der Artillerie Max von Gallwitz. Von Gallwitz was also installed as commander of Heeresgruppe Gallwitz – Somme to co-ordinate the actions of both armies on the Somme.[4]

At the end of the war it was serving as part of Heeresgruppe Deutscher Kronprinz.[5]

Order of Battle, 30 October 1918[edit]

By the end of the war, the 1st Army was organised as:

Organization of 1st Army on 30 October 1918[6]
Army Corps Division
1st Army VII Reserve Corps 1st Division
50th Reserve Division
8th Bavarian Reserve Division
17th Division
parts of Guards Cavalry Schützen Division
VI Reserve Corps 80th Reserve Division
Guards Cavalry Schützen Division (less elements)
XXIV Reserve Corps 51st Reserve Division
7th Division

Commanders[edit]

The original 1st Army had the following commanders until it was dissolved 17 September 1915:[7]

1st Army
From Commander Previously Subsequently
2 August 1914 Generaloberst Alexander von Kluck VIII Army Inspectorate (VIII. Armee-Inspektion) Wounded, 27 March 1915
28 March 1915 General der Infanterie Max von Fabeck 11th Army 12th Army

A "new" 1st Army was formed from the right (northern) wing of the 2nd Army during the Battle of the Somme.[8]

"New" 1st Army
From Commander Previously Subsequently
19 July 1916 General der Infanterie Fritz von Below 2nd Army 9th Army
9 June 1918 General der Infanterie Bruno von Mudra Armee-Abteilung A 17th Army
12 October 1918 General der Infanterie Otto von Below 17th Army Homeland Defence West
8 November 1918 General der Infanterie Magnus von Eberhardt 7th Army

Glossary[edit]

  • Armee-Abteilung or Army Detachment in the sense of "something detached from an Army". It is not under the command of an Army so is in itself a small Army.[9]
  • Armee-Gruppe or Army Group in the sense of a group within an Army and under its command, generally formed as a temporary measure for a specific task.
  • Heeresgruppe or Army Group in the sense of a number of armies under a single commander.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cron 2002, p. 392
  2. ^ Cron 2002, p. 79
  3. ^ Cron 2002, p. 49
  4. ^ Cron 2002, p. 49
  5. ^ Ellis & Cox 1993, p. 187
  6. ^ Ellis & Cox 1993, p. 187
  7. ^ Cron 2002, p. 392
  8. ^ Cron 2002, p. 392
  9. ^ Cron 2002, p. 84

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cron, Hermann (2002). Imperial German Army 1914–18: Organisation, Structure, Orders-of-Battle [first published: 1937]. Helion & Co. ISBN 1-874622-70-1. 
  • Ellis, John; Cox, Michael (1993). The World War I Databook. Aurum Press Ltd. ISBN 1-85410-766-6. 
  • Tuchman, Barbara W. (1962). The Guns of August. Ballantine Books, New York. ISBN 0-345-38623-X.