JOSEF “SEPP” DIETRICH – SERVICE IN WORLD WAR ONE

This blog  entry has been inspired by a tweet by Roger Moorhouse (@Roger_Moorhouse). Today is the birthday of the infamous Josef Dietrich.

“Dietrich was no army commander and should never have been made one” – Hermann Göring to Leon Goldensohn, May 24, 1946

“Ordinarily he would make a fair sergeant-major, a better sergeant and a first-class corporal” – Paul Hausser

A lot has been written on the infamous SS-General, so I will not bother to write something about him here. For everyone interested in the person of Dietrich I recommend reading “HITLER’S GLADIATOR” by Charles Messenger and “SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer und Generaloberst der Waffen-SS Joseph (Sepp) Dietrich.” by William T. Allbritton und Samuel W. Mitcham Jr in Hitlers militärische Elite. Vom Kriegsbeginn bis zum Weltkriegsende. Band 2, Primus Verlag, Darmstadt 1998.

Sepp in WW2 - displaying a good view on his WW1 tank assault badge

Sepp in WW2 – displaying a good view of his WW1 tank assault badge

WW1 Panzer Assault Badge. WW1 Panzer Assault Badge.

Down below you will find high-resolution images showing Sepp Dietrichs WW1 military files as stored by the state archive in Munich. The files are quite interesting as they show that Dietrich never served in the 1st Regiment of Uhlans (which we would often claim after WW1) and they hold nothing on  the Iron Cross 1st Class which he wore after WW1. That does not mean he did not get the award, he might have received it as late as the 1920s, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. Messenger claims that Dietrich was wounded at the Somme (by shrapnel), but there are no details in the files concerning that wound. He spent three months in Hospital in 1915 and another two in 1915. These spells of hospitalization probably relate to the shrapnel wounds Dietrich received at the front (right upper leg and face). There is no mention to the wound to the face, of which Dietrich claimed that it was inflicted by the lance of a british Lancer, so I suppose he made this story up when he told people about the wound in his face.  The only other hospitalization I can find is for “inflammation of the middle ear” in 1914. In his book “Hitlers Gladiator” Messenger also states that he could find no proof that Dietrich had fought on the Italian front and to have been awarded the Austrian Medal of Bravery. His service records clearly note that Dietrich served in Italy from the end of November 1917 to February 1918, although they indeed make no mention of the Austrian medal of bravery.

Captured

1911 October-November: conscripted into the Bavarian 4th Field Artillery Regiment. Invalided out after only 1 month of service (after a fall from a horse)

1911-14: worked as bakers errand boy

1914: enlisted in Bavarian 7th Field Artillery Regiment.Transfered to 6th Bavarian Reserve Artillery Regiment,Bavarian 6th Reserve Division (same Division as Hitler) in October. Fought at 1st Ypres.

1915:attended Bavarian artillery School at Sonthofen,NCO training.Returned to Bavarian 7th Artillery Regiment,Bavarian 1st Division fighting at the Somme.

November 1916: transferred to Infantrie-Geschütz-Batterie 10 ,2.Sturmbataillion.Part of 3rd Army.Served in Champagne 1917. Awarded EKII November 1917 while in Italy.

February 1918: joined 13. Bayerische Sturmpanzer-Kampfwagen-Abteilung as a gunner (using captured British Mk IV tanks). Training near Berlin from April 1918 (the gunners arrived in Berlin in April, the rest of the crews in January).

May 1918: his tank detachment deployed to 7th Army,Chemin des Dames sector.

June 1918: saw action in tank attack near Rheims. July 1918:offensive near Soissons: Oct 1918:in tank battle near Cambrai.

In November 1918 he seems to be back with the 7th Bavarian Artillery regiment again.

SeppDietrich1 SeppDietrich2 SeppDietrich3 SeppDietrich4 SeppDietrich5 SeppDietrich6 SeppDietrich9

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Died 120 years ago, General Hellmuth von Gordon 1811-1892, a Scot in the Prussian Army

von Gordon

vongordonsigThis impressive old gentleman is General Hellmuth von Gordon, General of the Prussian and later Imperial German Army and it is because of his family name I chose him to feature in this post. Hellmuth von Gordon was a direct descendant of the Scot John Gordon (the Gordons of Coldwells) who went to Poland as a merchant in 1716 as proved in a birth brieve dated to the 27th of June 1718 (a copy of which is found in the Aberdeen City Archives). One of his sons Joseph Gordon (later von Gordon), served as an officer in the army of Frederick the Great, rising to the rank of Oberstleutnant before getting raised into the Prussian nobility in Stargard in Oktober 1760.

Hellmuth von Gordon was born in Kolberg on the 30th of July 1811 and joined the army after finishing his military education as a cadet in 1828. During the German Revolution in 1849 he fought in Breslau holding the rank of Lieutenant in the 6th Prussian Jäger Bataillon (Jäger Batallion Nr. 6). In 1866, in the Austro-Prussian War, we find him in command of the advance guard of the Prussian 7th Division fighting in the Battles of Blumenau, Münchengrätz and Königgrätz (in which he participated in a cavalry charge at the head of the Mecklenburg Cavalry Brigade) for which he received the Pour-le-Merite on the 30th of October 1866.

During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, now a Lieutenant-General in command of 11th Division, he took part in the Bombardment of Pfalzburg and Thoul, the siege of    the Fortress of Ivry and Moulin-Saquet, finally entering Paris on the 3rd of March 1871. For his services in this war he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class and Star of the Order of the Red Eagle with Oakleaves and Swords aswell as getting promoted to the rank of General der Infanterie

Hellmuth von Gordon died on this day, 120 years ago, the 24th of December 1892.

Gordons feature prominently in the military history of Prussia and Germany – further information can be found in the pdf “The Scots in Prussia” which you will find below

Scotsprussia