Monday, 27 April 2015

V is for Vizefeldwebel

My great grandfather Fritz Hermann Boltz was born on 17 July 1879 at Trechwitz near Götz fifty-five kilometers east of Berlin and about seventeen kilometers west of Brandenburg an der Havel.

Fritz was the younger of two children of August Bolz (1840 - 1916), a foreman in a Trechwitz brickworks, and Wilhelmine Bolz née Bamberg (1844 - 1926).

Friz became a soldierthe rank of Vizefeldwebel [Senior Sergeant] in the 35th Fusilier Regiment [Prinz Heinrich von Preussen; Prince Henry of Prussia's Own]. He left the colours at the end of 1912, at the age of 33.

On 26 April 1909 at Brandenburg an der Havel he married Hedwig Anna Bertha (known as Anna) Bertz (1885 - 1961).




During the 1914-18 war he was a Feldwebel-Leutnant in infantry Ersatz battalions [reserve, depot and training] at Berlin and Küstrin/Cüstrin near Frankfurt on the Oder in East Prussia. With senior experience, and too old for front-line action, Fritz served as a training officer.

Peacetime regulations had allowed for certain senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) to be promoted to the rank of Feldwebel-Leutnant to fill positions as platoon commanders for which commissioned officers were in short supply. This system was extended during the war, but only  those who had retired as senior NCOs before the war and were of good character could be given this appointment. Some retired officers were also called up to serve as a Feldwebel-Leutnant. In practice a Feldwebel-Leutnant was given administrative duties, and generally did not serve on the front line.

The 35th Fusiliers formed part of the 56th Infantry Division. During the First World War the regiment initially served on the Western Front notably at Liège and the Battle of Mons. In 1915 it was transferred to the Serbian Front, then back to the Western Front in 1916 for the Battle of Verdun, then to the Eastern Front in 1917 and back to France for the German Spring Offensive of 1918. (Dale, C. "Prussian Line Fusiliers 33rd-40th Regiments." Imperial German Army Uniforms 1900-14. C. Dale, 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <http://s400910952.websitehome.co.uk/imperialgermanuniforms/inf%20prussian%20fus.htm>. )

In 1916 Fritz spent some time in hospital. My mother recalls being told that her grandmother Anna went to nurse her husband. Their son would have been only about eight years old at the time but perhaps he stayed with relatives.

I recall it being mentioned that Fritz was wounded at Verdun. I cannot find any record of this. While casualty lists for the German army for World War 1 have been digitised I have not yet been able to find his name.

After leaving the army in 1912, Fritz lived in an apartment in Florastrasse, Berlin Steglitz, attached to a public school, where he worked as a caretaker. This was his address when he was called up in 1914. He returned after the war and was still living there in the 1940s [memory of his grand-daughter, my mother]. He retired about 1949, age 70.

Fritz died 6 April 1954 at Berlin Zehlendorf.