Johann Brunner was born on June 1, 1896 at Leonberg in the Oberpfalz.  In peacetime he was a pupil at the Unteroffizierschule (Non-Commission Officer School) at Fürstenfeldbruck.

 

Figure 1-Hans Brunner as a young soldier (date unknown). Image from author’s archive.

 

In early 1915 Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 13 was transferred from the 5th Bavarian Reserve Division on the Western Front to the 11th Bavarian Division on the Eastern Front.  In July of 1915, Brunner was a Vizefeldwebel (Staff Sergeant) in the 3rd Company of Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 13.  On July 15, 1915 he was involved in combat at Maslomecz/Maslomencze (Poland):

 

Figure 2-Citation information regarding Brunner’s actions on July 15, 1915. Bayerns Goldenes Ehrenbuch.

 

According to the citation regarding Brunner’s actions:

After the unsuccessful assault of the 3rd Company of the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 13 on Maslomecz (Maslomencze) on July 15, 1915, Staff Sergeant Brunner stopped when he saw that a Russian attack was threatening the retreating company, despite the retreat order they had received, he went out with a group in the position they had reached.  When ordered to surrender, he answered with increased fire until the last man in his group fell wounded.  He was the last to return to the Company alone, having repelled the enemy attack and covered the Company’s retreat with his bravery.

For his actions, Staff Sergeant Brunner was awarded the Bavarian Military Merit Medal (Militär-Verdienst-Medaille) in Silver.  Later, in 1918 this award became known as the Bavarian Bravery Medal (Tapferkeitsmedaille).

 

Figure 3-Obverse of an example of a Bavarian Bravery Medal in Silver of the type awarded to Hans Brunner. Image from author’s archive.

 

Figure 4-Reverse of an example of a Bavarian Bravery Medal in Silver of the type awarded to Hans Brunner. Image from author’s archive.

 

At some point during the War, Staff Sergeant Brunner was also awarded the Bavarian Military Merit Order, Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords, and the Prussian Iron Cross 2nd Class.

 

Figure 5-Obverse of an example of a Bavarian Military Merit Order, Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords. Image from author’s archive.

 

Figure 6-Reverse of an example of a Bavarian Military Merit Order, Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords. Image from author’s archive.

 

Figure 7–An example of a Prussian Iron Cross 2nd Class (obverse). Image from author’s archive.

 

Figure 8–An example of a Prussian Iron Cross 2nd Class (reverse). Image from author’s archive.

 

After 1915, Staff Sergeant Brunner trained as a pilot and was transferred to the Air Service.

 

Figure 9-Hans Brunner wearing an aviator’s cap and heavy overcoat (January, 1918). Image from author’s archive.

 

According to his obituary: “nach 4 jähriger treuester Pfichterfüllung, an seinen am 11. April durch Absturz im Felde erlittenen Verletzungen, im Alter von 22 Jahren.”   [“after 4 years of faithfully fulfilling his duty, on April 11 (1918), at the age of 22, he suffered injuries from a crash in the field.”]  He died from his injuries over five (5) months later on September 14, 1918.

 

Figure 10-Hans Brunner in a medical facility being visited by a colleague (date unknown). Image from author’s archive.

 

Figure 11-Newspaper announcement of the death of Hans Brunner. Image from author’s archive.

 

Figure 12-Prayer card in memorium of Hans Brunner. Image from author’s archive.

 

According to research by Neal O’Connor, there were a total of five (5) recipients who were awarded the Bavarian Bravery Medal in Gold for action related to aerial combat, and seventeen (17) recipients who were awarded the Bavarian Bravery Medal in Silver for action related to aerial combat.  O’Connor identified three (3) recipients who were awarded the Bavarian Bravery Medal in Gold for action not related to aerial combat who later transferred to the Air Service, and three (3) recipients who were awarded the Bavarian Bravery Medal in Silver for action not related to aerial combat who later transferred to the Air Service.  Johann Brunner is not included in the research listing by O’Connor.  Perhaps other Bavarian Bravery Medal recipients who were later transferred to the Air Service will come to light in the future.

 

Thank you for your interest. Comments are welcome.

-Lorin

References:

1. Bearbeitet vom Bayerischen Kriegsarchiv. Bayerns Goldenes Ehrenbuch. Verlag Joseph Hyronimus, München, 1928.

2. O’Connor, Neal W., Aviation Awards of Imperial Germany in World War I, Volume I – The Aviation Awards of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Foundation for Aviation World War I, Princeton, New Jersey, USA, 1988.

3. 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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11 Comments
  1. Servus Lorin,

    A very interesting article about a Bavarian pilot who unfortunately lost his life at the end of the war. A difficult time for his family.

    Many thanks and greetings from Bavaria,

    Walter

    • Servus Walter,

      Many thanks for your thoughtful comments regarding this article. Hopefully, more information will come to light regarding Johann Brunner and his assignments while in the Air Service.

      With friendly greetings from the USA to Bavaria,

      Lorin

  2. Hi Lorin,

    What a great aviation estate. I then filtered my MVM database and was able to find 28 holders of the gold MVM related to the Luftwaffe. Furthermore 100 holders with the silver MVM. Among them are Max von Müller and Johannes Fuchs, two bearers who were awarded with both levels. I have to evaluate the file first to be able to tell exactly who received their MVM as an airman and who was later transferred to aviation. I have not recorded that separately.

  3. Hello,

    I have searched the 28 Golden Medals.

    Here the 5 “real” aviators “Fritz Danker”, “Ludwig Maier”, “Heinrich Metz”, “Max von Müller” and “Peter Weber” got their golden medal for service with the airplane. 23 other bearers changed to the air force after serving in the infantry, artillery or cavalry. 8 carriers crashed fatally. I have yet to process the 100 silver medal carriers.

    • Hello Andreas,

      Thank you very much for your comments and the detailed information regarding the MVM recipients of the Air Service.

      With friendly greetings,

      Lorin

  4. Many thanks to Andreas and Walter for providing additional information regarding Johann Brunner.

    This following information was found in the Royal Bavarian Army Personnel Roster from the Bavarian State Archives, War Archives Division:

    From May 15, 1916 to June 13, 1916 Brunner was on leave in Leonberg.
    From June 9, 1916 Brunner was ill at the Garrison Reserve Hospital in Regensburg.
    From June 13, 1916 to July 10, 1016 Brunner was at the Garrison Hospital in Regensburg.
    On February 22, 1918 Brunner was stationed at Armeeflugplatz 4?
    On March 20, 1918 Brunner was stationed at Armeeflugplatz 17.
    From April 11, 1918 to September 14, 1918 Brunner was listed as being in the Reserve at Regensburg. He died at Regensburg of a hip fracture.

    It is interesting to note that no Bavarian Pilot’s Qualification Badge is shown in his award listing.

    Lorin

  5. An additional image of the Royal Bavarian Army Personnel Roster from the Bavarian State Archives, War Archives Division.

  6. Additional image of the Royal Bavarian Army Personnel Roster from the Bavarian State Archives, War Archives Division.

  7. Further image of the Royal Bavarian Army Personnel Roster from the Bavarian State Archives, War Archives Division.

  8. Per the book Abzeichen und Ehrenpreise der Fliegertruppe von 1913 bis 1920 by Carsten Baldes, Baldes Verlag, Neu-Ulm, 2012, Johann Brunner is listed as being awarded Bavarian Pilot’s Qualification Badge No. “7XX” on September 18, 1918. Note that this was four (4) days after he had died.

  9. Here is an additional photo of a crashed airplane and a deceased crew member that was received along with some of the other Johann Brunner items. Unfortunately, nothing more is known regarding the circumstances of this crash and the deceased crew member.

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