5th Army (German Empire)

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For the equivalent formation in World War II, see 5th Army (Wehrmacht).
5. Armee
5th Army
Stab eines Armeeoberkommandos.svg
Flag of the Staff of an Armee Oberkommando (1871–1918)
Active 2 August 1914 - 30 January 1919
Country  German Empire
Type Army
Engagements

World War I

The 5th Army (German: 5. Armee / Armeeoberkommando 5 / A.O.K. 5) was an army level command of the German Army in World War I. It was formed on mobilization in August 1914 seemingly from the VII Army Inspection. The army was disbanded in 1919 during demobilization after the war.[1]

History[edit]

In August 1914 the command of 5th Army was assigned to Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany, heir to the Hohenzollern throne, with General Schmidt von Knobelsdorf serving as his Chief of Staff, and would remain thus until late 1916. The opening hostilities on the Western Front saw the Crown Prince's 5th Army, along with the neighboring 4th Army (commanded by Albrecht, Duke of Württemberg), acting at the center of the Schlieffen plan attack into Belgium and France. On 21 August 1914, in what became known as the Battle of the Ardennes, 4th and 5th Armies advanced into the Ardennes to counter a thrust by the French 3rd and 4th Armies. Over the next two days 5th Army played a major part in halting the opposing French forces. By 23 August, after taking heavy losses and being outmaneuvered strategically, the two French armies were driven into retreat. Following the German 5th Army's victory in the Battle of the Ardennes it moved to Verdun, where it would remain until 1918. In February 1916 the Crown Prince’s 5th Army would launch Operation Gericht, the German offensive that began the Battle of Verdun, one of the bloodiest and longest battles in history. Late in 1916, after suffering terrible losses in its efforts at Verdun, General Max von Gallwitz assumed control of 5th Army. Before the close of the war 5th Army fought in several noteworthy actions, including the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, in September 1918, when it was defeated by the American Expeditionary Force under John J. Pershing. The Fifth Army continued to oppose the AEF's Meuse-Argonne Offensive until the Armistice of 11 November 1918. At the end of the war it was serving as part of Heeresgruppe Gallwitz.[2]

Order of Battle, 30 October 1918[edit]

By the end of the war, the 5th Army was organised as:

Organization of 5th Army on 30 October 1918[3]
Army Corps Division
5th Army 58th Corps (z.b.V.) 240th Division
15th Bavarian Division
52nd Division
31st Division
XXI Corps 13th Division
28th Division
107th Division
5th Bavarian Reserve Division
88th Division
115th Division
V Reserve Corps 123rd Division
1st Division (Austria-Hungary)
part of 106th Division (Austria-Hungary)
228th Division
192nd Division
41st Division
27th Division
117th Division
IX Reserve Corps 1st Landwehr Division
15th Division
XVIII Corps (Austria-Hungary) 33rd Division
32nd Division
106th Division (Austria-Hungary) (less elements)
37th Division
236th Division
20th Division
Moving to Armee-Abteilung C 45th Reserve Division

Commanders[edit]

The 5th Army had the following commanders during its existence:[4]

5th Army
From Commander Previously Subsequently
2 August 1914 Generalmajor Wilhelm, Crown Prince of Germany Heeresgruppe Deutscher Kronprinz
27 January 1915 Generalleutnant Wilhelm, Crown Prince of Germany
30 November 1916 General der Infanterie Ewald von Lochow Maas Group East Placed on active reserve status[5]
17 December 1916 General der Artillerie Max von Gallwitz 2nd Army Heeresgruppe Gallwitz
concurrently from 1 February 1918
27 September 1918 General der Kavallerie Georg von der Marwitz 2nd Army Retired

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.[6]
  • 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. 394
  2. ^ Ellis & Cox 1993, p. 187
  3. ^ Ellis & Cox 1993, p. 187
  4. ^ Cron 2002, p. 394
  5. ^ The Prussian Machine Accessed: 5 February 2012
  6. ^ 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.