Bavarian Ersatz Division (German Empire)
The Bavarian Ersatz Division (Bayerische Ersatz Division) was a division of the Imperial German Army
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...

. It was formed in August 1914 and dissolved in 1919 in the demobilization following the Armistice which ended the war. It was initially an all-Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

n formation, but soon received several non-Bavarian units which served with the division until 1917.

Combat narrative

The division first saw action in 1914 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...

, including the battles before Nancy and Epinal
Épinal is a commune in northeastern France and the capital of the Vosges department. Inhabitants are known as Spinaliens.-Geography:The commune has a land area of 59.24 km²...

. The division 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...

, and then settled into trenchline duty. The commander of the division, General der Infanterie Eugen Ritter von Benzino, was killed in action on November 28, 1915. In 1916, the division entered into 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...

. The division also was engaged in 1917 in the Second Battle of the Aisne
Second Battle of the Aisne
The Second Battle of the Aisne , was the massive main assault of the French military's Nivelle Offensive or Chemin des Dames Offensive in 1917 during World War I....

, also called the Third Battle of Champagne and referred to in German sources as the Dual Battle of Aisne-Champagne (Doppelschlacht Aisne-Champagne). After a short spell in the trenches near Verdun, in the latter part of 1917, the division was sent to Flanders in response to the Allied offensive there. In October 1917, the division went to the Romanian Front
Romanian Campaign (World War I)
The Romanian Campaign was part of the Balkan theatre of World War I, with Romania and Russia allied against the armies of the Central Powers. Fighting took place from August 1916 to December 1917, across most of present-day Romania, including Transylvania, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian...

 and then to Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 after the armistice in Romania. It returned to the Western Front in April 1918, occupying the line near Verdun and then Reims
Reims , a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, lies east-northeast of Paris. Founded by the Gauls, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire....

, and then engaged in mobile defense. It ended the war facing Allied forces in the Hundred Days Offensive
Hundred Days Offensive
The Hundred Days Offensive was the final period of the First World War, during which the Allies launched a series of offensives against the Central Powers on the Western Front from 8 August to 11 November 1918, beginning with the Battle of Amiens. The offensive forced the German armies to retreat...

. The division was rated as a third class division by Allied intelligence.

Formation and organization on mobilization

On mobilization, the Brigade Replacement Battalions (Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillone) of the Bavarian Army were formed. A brigade replacement battalion was formed by grouping companies taken from the replacement, or Ersatz, battalion of each infantry regiment. The companies were combined to form a brigade replacement battalion. The Bavarian Army created twelve brigade replacement battalions and formed them into three brigades of four battalions each. The brigades were mixed formations, with their own cavalry, artillery and engineers, also Ersatz units similarly formed from the replacement detachments and companies of the cavalry and artillery regiments and engineer battalions.

The order of battle of the Bavarian Ersatz Division on mobilization was as follows:
  • Stab/1. Königlich Bayerische gemischte Ersatz-Brigade
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 1
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 2
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 3
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 4
    • Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung München/I. Königlich Bayerisches Armeekorps (⅓ squadron)
    • Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 1 (2 batteries)
    • Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 4 (2 batteries)
    • 2. Ersatz-Kompanie/Königlich Bayerisches 1. Pionier-Bataillon
  • Stab/5. Königlich Bayerische gemischte Ersatz-Brigade
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 5
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 6
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 7
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 8
    • Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Landau/II. Königlich Bayerisches Armeekorps (⅓ squadron)
    • Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 2 (2 batteries)
    • Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 12 (2 batteries)
  • Stab/9. Königlich Bayerische gemischte Ersatz-Brigade
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 9
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 10
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 11
    • Königlich Bayerisches Brigade-Ersatz-Bataillon Nr. 12
    • Kavallerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nürnberg/III. Königlich Bayerisches Armeekorps (⅓ squadron)
    • Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 8 (2 batteries)
    • Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung Nr. 10 (2 batteries)
    • 1. Ersatz-Kompanie/Königlich Bayerisches 3. Pionier-Bataillon

Organizational changes and late-war organization

The 5th Mixed Replacement Brigade (5. gemischte Ersatz-Brigade) was transferred to the 30th Reserve Division on August 17, 1914. On October 3, 1914, the other two brigades, the 1st and 9th Mixed Replacement Brigades, were redesignated as the 1st and 9th Replacement Brigades and their cavalry, artillery and engineer units were moved to division level. Three battalions from each brigade were reorganized into Kgl. Bayer. Ersatz-Infanterie-Regiment Nr.1 (1st Replacement Brigade) and Kgl. Bayer. Ersatz-Infanterie-Regiment Nr.3 (9th Replacement Brigade). The two regiments were transferred to "Division von Rekowski" (which later became the 39th Reserve Division). Kgl. Bayer. Ersatz-Infanterie-Regiment Nr.2 was formed from two taken battalions of the 5th Mixed Replacement Brigade as well as troops drawn from elsewhere in the Bavarian Army, and was attached to the Bavarian Ersatz Division.

On November 22, 1914, the 59th Replacement Infantry Brigade (Ersatz-Infanterie-Brigade), a non-Bavarian unit, was renamed the 59th Landwehr Infantry Brigade (59. Landwehr-Infanterie-Brigade) and attached to the Bavarian Ersatz Division (this brigade was reassigned to the 199th Infantry Division on January 15, 1917). The 3rd Royal Bavarian Reserve Infantry Brigade (3. Kgl. Bayer. Reserve-Infanterie-Brigade), with three reserve infantry regiments, also joined the division in late 1914, effectively making the division a reinforced reserve and Landwehr division, and an Ersatz division in name only.

The organization of the division on April 7, 1918 was as follows:
  • 3.Kgl. Bayer. Reserve-Infanterie-Brigade:
    • Kgl. Bayer. 4. Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment
    • Kgl. Bayer. 15. Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment
    • Kgl. Bayer. 18. Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment
  • 1. Eskadron/Kgl. Bayer. 6. Reserve-Kavallerie-Regiment
  • Kgl. Bayer. Artillerie-Kommandeur 19:
    • Kgl. Bayer. Ersatz-Feldartillerie-Regiment
    • Fußartillerie-Bataillon Nr. 89
  • Stab Kgl. Bayer. 13. Pionier-Bataillon:
    • Kgl. Bayer. 4. Landwehr-Pionier-Kompanie
    • Kgl. Bayer. 6. Landwehr-Pionier-Kompanie
    • Kgl. Bayer. 100. Minenwerfer-Kompanie
  • Kgl. Bayer. Divisions-Nachrichten-Kommandeur 551
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