8th Ersatz Division (German Empire)

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8th Ersatz Division (8. Ersatz-Division)
Active 1914-1917
Country Prussia/Württemberg/Germany
Branch Army
Type Infantry
Size Approx. 15,000
Engagements World War I: Battle of the Frontiers, Somme (1916)

The 8th Ersatz Division (8. Ersatz-Division) was a unit of the German Army in World War I.[1] The division was formed on mobilization of the German Army in August 1914.[2] The division was a composite division, formed from 14 brigade replacement battalions (Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillone) from the Kingdom of Württemberg, the Grand Duchy of Hesse, the Rhine Province, the Province of Hesse-Nassau and the Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine. It became more Württemberg as the war progressed; and, in February 1917, it was officially designated a Royal Württemberg division. It was redesignated the 243rd Infantry Division in April 1917.[2]

Formation[edit]

The division was formed on mobilization with 14 brigade replacement battalions. Each brigade replacement battalion was numbered after its parent infantry brigade, and was formed with two companies taken from the replacement battalion of each of the brigade's two infantry regiments. In two cases, a brigade replacement battalion drew from three regiments. Thus, collectively, the 12 brigade replacement battalions represented troop contributions from 30 different infantry regiments. Four brigade replacement battalions were from the Kingdom of Württemberg; two were from the Grand Duchy of Hesse; four were from the Prussian Rhine Province; two were from the Prussian Province of Hesse-Nassau (one with troops from the former Duchy of Nassau, the other from the former Electorate of Hesse); and two from the Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine. The infantry units were augmented with cavalry, artillery and combat engineers, also drawn from Ersatz formations.[3]

Combat chronicle[edit]

The division initially fought in the Battle of the Frontiers in 1914, including the battle before Nancy-Epinal. From September 1914 to October 1916, it was in the trenchlines and fought in the region between the Meuse and Moselle Rivers, especially in an area known as the Priest's Forest (German: Priesterwald, French: Bois Le Prêtre). In October 1916, it entered the Battle of the Somme. Afterwards, it returned to the Priesterwald, where it was converted into the 243rd Infantry Division. Allied intelligence rated the division's elements as good.[2][4]

Order of battle on mobilization[edit]

The order of battle of the 8th Ersatz Division on mobilization was as follows:[5]

  • 29. gemischte Ersatz-Brigade
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 29
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 30
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 31
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 32
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 80
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 86
    • Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 29
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 23
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 44
  • 51. (kgl. württemb.) gemischte Ersatz-Brigade
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 51
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 52
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 53
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 54
    • Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 51
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 29
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 65
  • 41. gemischte Ersatz-Brigade
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 41
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 42
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 49
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 50
    • Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 41
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 25
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 27
    • 1. Ersatz-Kompanie/Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 21

Order of battle on February 2, 1917[edit]

Divisions underwent many changes during the war, with regiments moving from division to division, and some being destroyed and rebuilt. The 8th Ersatz Division was reorganized and triangularized in July 1915, losing its two non-Württemberg Ersatz brigades. The brigade replacement battalions were consolidated and converted into infantry regiments. Over the course of the war, units were exchanged with other divisions, cavalry was reduced, engineers increased, and an artillery command and a divisional signals command were created. The 8th Ersatz Division's order of battle on February 2, 1917, when it was officially named a Royal Württemberg division and shortly before being renamed the 243rd Infantry Division, was as follows:[5]

  • 51. Ersatz-Infanterie-Brigade
    • Kgl. Württembergisches Ersatz-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 51
    • Kgl. Württembergisches Ersatz-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 52
    • Füsilier-Regiment Kaiser Franz Josef von Österreich, König von Ungarn (4. Württembergisches) Nr. 122
  • 3. Eskadron/Ulanen-Regiment König Karl (1. Württembergisches) Nr. 19
  • Artillerie-Kommandeur 135
    • Kgl. Württembergisches Ersatz-Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 65
    • Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 92
  • Stab Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 508
    • Pionier-Kompanie Nr. 253
    • Pionier-Kompanie Nr. 306
    • Minenwerfer-Kompanie Nr. 162

References[edit]

  • 8. Ersatz-Division (Chronik 1914/1917) - Der erste Weltkrieg
  • Hermann Cron et al., Ruhmeshalle unserer alten Armee (Berlin, 1935)
  • Hermann Cron, Geschichte des deutschen Heeres im Weltkriege 1914-1918 (Berlin, 1937)
  • Günter Wegner, Stellenbesetzung der deutschen Heere 1815-1939. (Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück, 1993), Bd. 1
  • Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army which Participated in the War (1914-1918), compiled from records of Intelligence section of the General Staff, American Expeditionary Forces, at General Headquarters, Chaumont, France 1919 (1920)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ From the late 1800s, the Prussian Army was effectively the German Army as, during the period of German unification (1866-1871), the states of the German Empire entered into conventions with Prussia regarding their armies. Only the Bavarian Army remained fully autonomous and came under Prussian control only during wartime. Württemberg forces were only semi-autonomous.
  2. ^ a b c 8. Ersatz-Division (Chronik 1914/1917)
  3. ^ Hermann Cron et al., Ruhmeshalle unserer alten Armee (Berlin, 1935); Hartwig Busche, Formationsgeschichte der deutschen Infanterie im Weltkrieg 1914/1918 (1998).
  4. ^ Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army which Participated in the War (1914-1918), compiled from records of Intelligence section of the General Staff, American Expeditionary Forces, at General Headquarters, Chaumont, France 1919 (1920), pp. 741-743.
  5. ^ a b Cron et al., Ruhmeshalle.