The type of Bavarian Bravery Medal citation shown below detailed the actions of a soldier who was awarded the Gold Bavarian Bravery Medal. This type of document was issued as a companion document to the official award document (Verleihungs-Urkunde). The document was a pre-printed single page and the particulars of the soldier on this document were hand-written and the citation details were type-written.
The header of this particular document states:
“Seine Majestät der König haben Sich am 3. November 1917 Allergnädigst bewogen gefunden, dem Gefreiter der Reserve der 1. M.G.K. 19. Infanterie=Regiment ——- Ludwig Schefthaller —— die goldene Tapferkeits-Medaille zu verleihen. —Zur Bestätigung wird diese Verleihungs=Urkunde ausgestellt.”
A rough translation into English:
“His Majesty the King has Himself on November 3rd, 1917 graciously found cause, to award Lance-Corporal of the Reserve of the 1st Machine Gun Company 19th Infantry Regiment Ludwig Schefthaller the Golden Bravery Medal. In confirmation this Award Document is issued.”
The body of the citation states:
“Gefreiter Schefthaller war mit seinem Maschinengewehr in Raume der 1./19. Infanterie-Regiments bei Ostermorgengat eingesetzt. Bei dem Angriff der Engländer am 16.8.1917 fiel gleich zu Beginn die ganze Gewehrbedienung durch Tod und Verwundung aus.
Gefreiter Schefthaller, obwohl selbst an einem Oberarm zweimal verwundet, hielt, den Ernst der Lage erkennend, standhaft an seinem Gewehr aus und bediente es allein weiter. Auch durch eine dritte Verwundung am Halse ließ er sich am Schießen nicht hindern und trug dadurch wesentlich zur Abwehr des Angriffes bei. Er verließ sein Gewehr, mit dem er allein an 3000 Schuß abgegeben hatte, erst nach einer vierten Verwundung durch Granatsplitter am rechten Auge, die den Verlust des Auges zur Folge hatte.
Auch jetzt begab er sich nicht sogleich zum Verbandplatz, sondern erstattete zuerst dem Kampftruppen-Kommandeur Bericht über die Lage vorne und sorgte für Munitions-Nachschub.”
A rough translation into English:
“Lance-Corporal Schefthaller was emplaced with his machine-gun in the position of the 1st Company, 19th Infantry-Regiment at Ostermorgengat. Right at the outset of the attack by the Englishmen on August 16, 1917 all of the guns went out of service through death or wounding.
Lance-Corporal Schefthaller, although himself wounded twice in the upper arm, held, recognizing the seriousness of the situation, steadfastly at his gun and further served it alone. Even by a third wound on his neck, he could not be prevented from shooting, and thereby contributed essentially to the defense of the attack. He left his gun, with which he had alone fired 3000 shots, only after the fourth wound by shrapnel in the right eye, which entailed the loss of the eye.
Even now he proceeded not straight away to the field-hospital, but returned first to the Combat-Troops-Commander to report on the position in front and provided for ammunition-supplies.”
The document is dated “München, 2. November 1918”. At the bottom of the document is the pre-printed seal of the Royal Bavarian War Ministry (Königlich Bayerisches Kriegsministerium). At the bottom of the document is the signature “von Hellingrath”. Lieutenant-General (Generalleutnant) Philipp von Hellingrath1 was the Royal Bavarian War Minister (Kriegsminister) after December 11, 1916. He was also the representative of Bavaria at the Federal Council of the German Empire (Bevollmächtigter zum Bundesrat des Deutschen Reichs). He retired on November 25, 1918.
In peacetime Ludwig Schefthaller was a farm day laborer in Neuenhinzenhausen. He was born on June 26, 1891 at Neuenhinzenhausen in the Oberpfalz.
On August 16, 1917, the Royal Bavarian 19th Infantry Regiment, which was part of the 5th Bavarian Division, was heavily involved in the defensive fighting in the area south of St. Julien, east of Ypres, during the Battle of Langemarck. I can find no modern reference to “Ostermorgengat”. It was most likely a German name for a defensive position.
Thus we have an old, soiled and worn piece of paper which tells an interesting story of extraordinary bravery.
Thank you for your interest regarding this article. Comments are welcome.
Bearbeitet vom Bayerischen Kriegsarchiv. Bayerns Goldenes Ehrenbuch. Verlag Joseph Hyronimus, München, 1928.
United States. War Department. General Staff. Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army Which Participated in the War (1914-1918). Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1920.
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