Josef Bergmeister’s WWI Military Record
Who was Josef Bergmeister? How did he die?
In Part 1 of this series on Bavarian Military Rosters, I discovered an “unknown soldier” in the German Army that was likely related to my great-grandfather of the same name. In Part 2, I presented what the Bavarian Military Personnel Record Books, or Kriegsstammrolle, looked like during World War 1. Today we will explore the personnel record of the mysterious Josef Bergmeister – and finally learn the details of his short life and death.
Here is Josef’s personnel record (click on the image – when it appears on the page, click again for a close-up):
Before transcribing and translating the record, there are some sites will offer other researchers some assistance. First, one must be familiar with German handwriting. The best site I have seen on this topic is How to Read German Handwriting. In addition, it may be useful to become familiar with some German military terms. A good resource is the German-English Military Dictionary, which was compiled by the U.S. military in 1944.
First, the transcription of Josef’s record:
1. Iaufende Nummer: 462
2. Dienstgrad: Inf[antrist]
3. Vor- und Familienname: Josef Bergmeister
4. Religion: kath[olisch]
5. Ort (Verwaltungsbezirk, Bundesland der Geburt): Puch, Pfaffenhofen, Oberbayern, Bayern/ Datum der Geburt:19.04.1894
6. Lebensstellung (Stand, Gewerbe): Ökonom / Wohnort: Puch, Pfaffenhofen, Oberbayern, Bayern
7. Vor- und Familiennamen der Ehegattin; Zahl der Kinder; Vermerk, dass der Betreffende ledig ist: ledig
8. Vor- und Familiennamen, Stand oder Gewerbe und Wohnort der Eltern: Johann und Therese Bergmeister, Ökonom, Puch, Pfaffenhofen, Oberbayern, Bayern
9. Truppenteil (Kompagnie, Eskadron: 11. I[nfantrie)-R[egiment], 8. Kp [=Kompanie]
10. Dienstverhältnisse: a) frühere, b) nach Eintritt der Mobilmachung:
b) 1915 1.7. b. II./E. 13. Inf. Rgt. 1. Rekr Depot als Rekrut
1915 12. 7 z. Rekr. Depot III b. A. K Komo F versetzt
1915 30.9 z. 10. I. R. 11. Kp. in Feld
1915 5.11. z. 8./11. I. R. versetzt
11. Orden, Ehrenzeichen und sonstige Auszeichnungen: ./.
12. Mitgemachte Gefechte; Bemerkenswerte Leistungen: 20.09.15 – 15.7.16 Kämpfe auf den Maashöhen; 15.7. – 8.7.16 Kämpfe um Fleury und Zwischenwerk Thiaumont
[Written in the section underneath: ] Pocken- Typhus- und Cholera-Schutzimpfung vorgenommen
Am 18.07.1916 dh. A. G. [= durch Artilleriegranate] am r[echten] Fuß u[nd] l[inken] Arm schwer verwundet u[nd] ins Feldlaz[arett] No. 5 der H.gr. I. d. eingeliefert. Am 20.7.1916 ins Etappenlazarett Pierrepont (:Schule:) überführt und dortselbst am 1.8.1916 nachm[ittags] 6:15 verstorben. Todesursache: Bruch r[echter] Oberschenkel (: Amputation) u[nd]Gasphlegmon. Am 2.08.16 auf dem Militärfriedhof zu Pierrepont beerdigt. Grab No 493. Anerkannt 18.9.1916 Leutnant d[er] R[eserve] u[nd] Komp[anie]-Führer
Rather than translate the record word for word into English, I will sum up the pertinent details. Josef Bergmeister was born on 19 April 1894 in Puch, Pfaffenhofen, Bavaria to Johann and Therese Bergmeister. He was an “economist” in Puch and single. Josef entered the army as a recruit on 01 July 1915. He was originally assigned to the 10th Infantry Regiment as an infantryman, but in November 1915 the regiment was combined with another and became the 11th Infantry Regiment. On 15-18 July 1916 his unit took part in the battles at Fleury and Thiaumont in France. On 18 July, Josef was severely wounded by an artillery shell. He was taken to a field hospital and transferred to another hospital at Pierrepont on 20 July. At 6:15 on 01 August, Josef died. His cause of death is listed as amputation of crushed thigh and gangrene. The following day he was buried in Grave No. 493 at the military cemetery in Pierrepont. He was 22 years old.
With this record, I finally knew who Josef was. Before I could connect him to my own Bergmeister family, I wanted to find out more about the battle in which he died. My knowledge of World War I was poor, and now I was curious to learn more. Part 4 will provide more details about this horrific battle which was part of a series of battles between the German and French armies from February through December of 1916 – the Battle of Verdun. It will also give a glimpse into what life in America was like for German immigrants. Finally, Part 5 will sort out who’s who in the Bergmeister family – how are the “Josefs” related?
Many thanks to my cousin (and Josef’s cousin) Armin Bergmeister for the record transcription and help with the translation into English!