4th Ersatz Division (German Empire)
The 4th Ersatz Division was a unit of the 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. The division was disbanded in 1919 during the demobilization of the German Army after World War I.

Formation and recruitment

The 4th Ersatz Division was formed on mobilization around 13 brigade replacement battalions (Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillone). Each brigade replacement battalion was numbered after its parent infantry brigade, and was formed with two companies each taken from the replacement battalions of the brigade's two infantry regiments. Thus, collectively, the 13 brigade replacement battalions represented troop contributions from 26 different infantry regiments. The four battalions of the 9th Mixed Ersatz Brigade were from the Prussian Province of Brandenburg
Province of Brandenburg
The Province of Brandenburg was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1815 to 1946.-History:The first people who are known to have inhabited Brandenburg were the Suevi. They were succeeded by the Slavonians, whom Henry II conquered and converted to Christianity in...

, as were the brigade's artillery, cavalry and pioneer formations. Two battalions of the 13th Mixed Ersatz Brigade were from the Prussian Province of Saxony
Province of Saxony
The Province of Saxony was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and later the Free State of Prussia from 1816 until 1945. Its capital was Magdeburg.-History:The province was created in 1816 out of the following territories:...

, one was a mixed battalion from Prussian Saxony and the Duchy of Anhalt, and one was a mixed battalion from Prussian Saxony and the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg
Saxe-Altenburg was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the Wettin dynasty in present-day Thuringia.-History:The duchy originated from the medieval Burgraviate of Altenburg in the Imperial Pleissnerland , a possession of the Wettin Margraves of Meissen since 1243...

. The brigade's artillery, cavalry and pioneer formations were primarily from Prussian Saxony. The five battalions of the 33rd Mixed Ersatz Brigade, from the IX Army Corps area in northern Germany, were even more mixed: the 33rd Brigade Replacement Battalion was from the Hanseatic Cities of Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 and Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

; the 34th from the Grand Duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Mecklenburg-Schwerin was a duchy in northern Germany created in 1348, when Albert II of Mecklenburg and his younger brother John were raised to Dukes of Mecklenburg by King Charles IV...

 and Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Mecklenburg-Strelitz was a duchy and later grand duchy in northern Germany, consisting of the eastern fifth of the historic Mecklenburg region, roughly corresponding with the present-day Mecklenburg-Strelitz district , and the western exclave of the former Bishopric of Ratzeburg in modern...

; the 35th and 36th from Schleswig-Holstein; and the 81st from Schleswig-Holstein and the Hanseatic City of Lübeck
The Hanseatic City of Lübeck is the second-largest city in Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany, and one of the major ports of Germany. It was for several centuries the "capital" of the Hanseatic League and, because of its Brick Gothic architectural heritage, is listed by UNESCO as a World...

. The brigade's artillery, cavalry and pioneer formations were mainly from Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Hamburg.

Combat chronicle

The 4th Ersatz Division initially fought 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...

 in World War I. It fought in the Battle of the Frontiers
Battle of the Frontiers
The Battle of the Frontiers was a series of battles fought along the eastern frontier of France and in southern Belgium shortly after the outbreak of World War I. The battles represented a collision between the military strategies of the French Plan XVII and the German Schlieffen Plan...

, seeing action in Lorraine and against the French defensive line from Nancy to Epinal. At the end of September 1914, the division was transferred from Lorraine to Belgium, where it participated in the Siege of Antwerp
Siege of Antwerp
The Siege of Antwerp was an engagement between the German and the Belgian armies during World War I. A small number of British and Austrian troops took part as well.-Strategic Context:...

. After Antwerp fell, the division occupied the city and participated in follow-on fighting in Belgian Flanders. It fought in the Battle of the Yser
Battle of the Yser
The Battle of the Yser secured part of the coastline of Belgium for the allies in the "Race to the Sea" after the first three months of World War I.-Strategic Context:As part of the execution of the Schlieffen Plan, Belgium had been invaded by Germany...

 and then went into the line on the Yser until November 1916. During this period, the division fought in the Second Battle of Ypres
Second Battle of Ypres
The Second Battle of Ypres was the first time Germany used poison gas on a large scale on the Western Front in the First World War and the first time a former colonial force pushed back a major European power on European soil, which occurred in the battle of St...

 in April/May 1915 and in the Battle of the Somme in October 1916. It was in the trenchlines in the Somme region from December 1916 to February 1917. After fighting before the German Siegfried position, the division participated in the Battle of Arras
Battle of Arras (1917)
The Battle of Arras was a British offensive during the First World War. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British, Canadian, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and Australian troops attacked German trenches near the French city of Arras on the Western Front....

. In late May 1917, the division was transferred 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 July, it resisted the Russian Kerensky Offensive
Kerensky Offensive
The Kerensky Offensive was the last Russian offensive in World War I. It took place in July 1917.- Background :...

, and then participated in follow-on fighting in eastern Galicia. In December 1917, the division returned to the Western Front. It was in the trenchlines in Flanders and the Artois until April 1918, when it fought in the Battle of Armentières, part of the Battle of the Lys, also known as the German Lys Offensive or the Fourth Battle of Ypres. The division later fought in the Second Battle of the Marne
Second Battle of the Marne
The Second Battle of the Marne , or Battle of Reims was the last major German Spring Offensive on the Western Front during the First World War. The German attack failed when an Allied counterattack led by France overwhelmed the Germans, inflicting severe casualties...

. Allied intelligence considered the division a fairly good division in 1917, but rated it third class in 1918, noting that it had not distinguished itself in the battles of 1918.

Order of battle on mobilization

The order of battle of the 4th Ersatz Division on mobilization was as follows:
  • 9. gemischte Ersatz-Brigade
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 9
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 10
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 11
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 12
    • Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung/III. Armeekorps
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 18 (Ersatz-Abteilung/Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 18)
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 39 (Ersatz-Abteilung/Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 39)
    • 2. Ersatz-Kompanie/Brandenburgisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 3
  • 13. gemischte Ersatz-Brigade
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 13
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 14
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 15
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 16
    • Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung/IV. Armeekorps
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 40 (Ersatz-Abteilung/Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 40)
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 75 (Ersatz-Abteilung/Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 75)
    • 1. Ersatz-Kompanie/Magdeburgisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 4
  • 33. gemischte Ersatz-Brigade
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 33
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 34
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 35
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 36
    • Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 81
    • Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Wandsbeck/IX. Armeekorps
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 45 (Ersatz-Abteilung/Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 45)
    • Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 60 (Ersatz-Abteilung/Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 60)
    • 1. Ersatz-Kompanie/Schleswig-Holsteinsiches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 9

Order of battle on July 15, 1915

The division was restructured in the summer of 1915. The 33rd Ersatz Brigade was dissolved in July 1915. The other mixed Ersatz brigades were converted to Ersatz infantry brigades as cavalry, artillery, and pioneer Ersatz units were grouped and reorganized. The brigade replacement battalions were grouped into infantry regiments. The order of battle on July 15, 1915 was as follows:
  • 9. Ersatz-Infanterie-Brigade
    • Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 359
    • Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 360
  • 13. Ersatz-Infanterie-Brigade
    • Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 361
    • Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 362
  • Kavallerie-Ersatz-Eskadron Nr. 4
  • 4. Ersatz-Feldartillerie-Brigade
    • Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 90
    • Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 91
  • Pionier-Kompanie Nr. 303
  • Pionier-Kompanie Nr. 304
  • Pionier-Kompanie Nr. 305

Order of battle on March 1, 1918

The division underwent more structural changes as the war progressed. The 4th Ersatz 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 September 1916. The 359th Infantry regiment was transferred to the newly-formed 206th Infantry Division in August 1916. Over the course of the war, cavalry was reduced, pioneers were increased to a full battalion, and an artillery command and a divisional signals command were created. The division's order of battle on March 1, 1918 was as follows:
  • 13. Ersatz-Infanterie-Brigade
    • Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 360
    • Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 361
    • Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 362
  • 3. Eskadron/Magdeburgisches Husaren-Regiment Nr. 10
  • Artillerie-Kommandeur 139
    • Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 90
    • Fußartillerie-Bataillon Nr. 119 (from August 17, 1918)
  • Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 504
    • Pionier-Kompanie Nr. 304
    • Pionier-Kompanie Nr. 305
    • Minenwerfer-Kompanie Nr. 161
  • Divisions-Nachrichten-Kommandeur 554
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