25th Reserve Division (German Empire)
The 25th Reserve Division (25. Reserve-Division) was a unit of the Imperial German
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

German Army (German Empire)
The German Army was the name given the combined land forces of the German Empire, also known as the National Army , Imperial Army or Imperial German Army. The term "Deutsches Heer" is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the German Bundeswehr...

, in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The division was formed on mobilization of the German Army in August 1914 and was disbanded in October 1918, with its assets being distributed to other units. The division was raised in the Grand Duchy of Hesse
Grand Duchy of Hesse
The Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine , or, between 1806 and 1816, Grand Duchy of Hesse —as it was also known after 1816—was a member state of the German Confederation from 1806, when the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt was elevated to a Grand Duchy, until 1918, when all the German...

 and the Prussian Province of Hesse-Nassau
Province of Hesse-Nassau
Hesse-Nassau Province was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1868-1918, then a province of the Free State of Prussia until 1944.Hesse-Nassau was created as a consequence of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 by combining the previously independent Hesse-Kassel , the Duchy of Nassau, the Free...

, while its 83rd Reserve Infantry Regiment included troops from the Principality of Waldeck.

Combat chronicle

The 25th Reserve Division began World War I on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

, fighting through Belgium and France in what became known as the Allied Great Retreat
Great Retreat
The Great Retreat, also known as the Retreat from Mons, is the name given to the long, fighting retreat by Allied forces to the River Marne, on the Western Front early in World War I, after their holding action against the Imperial German Armies at the Battle of Mons on 23 August 1914...

, culminating in the First Battle of the Marne
First Battle of the Marne
The Battle of the Marne was a First World War battle fought between 5 and 12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army under Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. The battle effectively ended the month long German offensive that opened the war and had...

. It then participated in the Race to the Sea
Race to the Sea
The Race to the Sea is a name given to the period early in the First World War when the two sides were still engaged in mobile warfare on the Western Front. With the German advance stalled at the First Battle of the Marne, the opponents continually attempted to outflank each other through...

, fighting in Flanders and the Artois, including at Lille. In December 1914, it was sent to the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War I)
The Eastern Front was a theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theatres strongly influenced each other...

. In 1915, it participated in the Gorlice-Tarnów Offensive
Gorlice-Tarnów Offensive
The Gorlice–Tarnów Offensive during World War I started as a minor German offensive to relieve Russian pressure on the Austro-Hungarians to their south on the Eastern Front, but resulted in the total collapse of the Russian lines and their retreat far into Russia...

, including the battles at Lemberg (now Lviv) and Brest-Litovsk. It then fought in the Serbian campaign
Serbian Campaign (World War I)
The Serbian Campaign was fought from late July 1914, when Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia at the outset of the First World War, until late 1915, when the Macedonian Front was formed...

. After this campaign, the division was transferred from Macedonia back to the Western Front. After several months' fighting in the Argonne Forest, the division entered the Battle of Verdun
Battle of Verdun
The Battle of Verdun was one of the major battles during the First World War on the Western Front. It was fought between the German and French armies, from 21 February – 18 December 1916, on hilly terrain north of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France...

 in July 1916, where it suffered heavy losses. It also faced the French offensive in August 1917 at Verdun, where it again suffered heavy losses. In 1918, the division faced Allied offensives at the Battle of Cantigny
Battle of Cantigny
The Battle of Cantigny, fought on 28 May 1918 was the first American offensive of World War I. The U.S. 1st Division, the most experienced of the seven American divisions then in France and in reserve for the French Army near the village of Cantigny, was selected for the attack...

, Montdidier and Noyon, and in the Somme Offensive, again taking heavy losses. The division was dissolved on 20 October 1918. Until 1918, Allied intelligence rated the division as second class, but downgraded it based on its use by the German high command and performance in battle.

Order of battle on mobilization

The order of battle of the 25th Reserve Division on mobilization was as follows:
  • 49. Reserve-Infanterie-Brigade
    • Großherzoglich Hessisches Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 116
    • Großherzoglich Hessisches Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 118
  • 50. Reserve-Infanterie-Brigade
    • 5. Großherzoglich Hessisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 168
    • Kurhessisches Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 83
  • Schlesisches Reserve-Dragoner-Regiment Nr. 4
  • Großherzoglich Hessisches Reserve-Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 25
  • 1. Reserve-Kompanie/Kurhessisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 11
  • 2. Reserve-Kompanie/Kurhessisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 11

Order of battle on 13 February 1918

The 25th Reserve Division was triangularized
Triangular division
A triangular division is a designation given to the way divisions are organized. In a triangular organization, the division's main body is composed of three regimental maneuver elements. These regiments may be controlled by a brigade headquarters or directly subordinated to the division commander...

in May 1915. Over the course of the war, other changes took place, including the formation of artillery and signals commands and a pioneer battalion. The order of battle on 13 February 1918 was as follows:
  • 50. Reserve-Infanterie-Brigade
    • Kurhessisches Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 83
    • Großherzoglich Hessisches Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 118
    • 5. Großherzoglich Hessisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 168
  • 2.Eskadron/Schlesisches Reserve-Dragoner-Regiment Nr. 4
  • Artillerie-Kommandeur 127
    • Großherzoglich Hessisches Reserve-Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 25
    • II.Bataillon/Reserve-Fußartillerie-Regiment Nr. 15 (from 27 April 1918)
  • Stab Kurhessisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 11
    • 1. Reserve-Kompanie/Kurhessisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 11
    • 2. Reserve-Kompanie/Kurhessisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 11
    • Minenwerfer-Kompanie Nr. 225
  • Divisions-Nachrichten-Kommandeur 425
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