Austro-Hungarian army WW1 – other professions

The army did not only exist of Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery but these pictures are the most common ones. This blog is dedicated to some of the other professions in the KuK army. All needed in the war effort but less standard to find pictures of. Here some orignals from my collection.

Dogs played a part in different capacities in WW1, here an example fo dogs used to pull carts for transport purposes like the mail, the so called “KuK Hundekolonne” in German.
KuK Military laundry group, see top right board with Militär Wäscherei!
Field kitchen or “Gulash Kanone” in use.
A more common profession, the farrier or hoof smith

Communications (signals/telegraph) was an important part of the modernisation of warfare in WW1. Left the armlet with T for Telegraph which was in use before the more generic collar badge was introduced that can be seen on the man right.

And communications in use!

The Medical Corps plays an important role during war. Here some examples starting with the field medics, “sanitäter” in German:

Rare variation of the medical armband of the German Knights (see the Emperors coat for a reference to this version)

And the hospitals, both in the field and regular military hospitals.

Medical Doctor in front of Field Hospital 1/1 so the first hospital of Corps 1
Room pictures

And some rare “action” pictures from the hospital

The Field Gendarmes were the military police that had an important role but often not very popular. They had standard KuK uniforms with only an armband as distinction from the regular army. They were the law behind the front lines and in the occupied territories.

KuK Field police (gendarme), Streif Korps. Front and back of the photo postcard.

Below some variations of the armband in wear from the photo’s above. It seems hard to find two examples that are the same. See also the book “The Emperors coat” (Rest/Ortner/Ilming) for multiple examples.

KuK Serbian campaign of 1915 – Bravery of a finance official – in the face of the enemy….?!

Worldwar 1 started with the declaration of war against Serbia by the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1914 and was the start of the Serbian campaign. This campaign was largely unseccesfull until the attempt that started on October 7th, 1915. This last campaign ended on November 24th of the same year.

In this last campaign against Serbia were the following forces: the Bulgarian First Army commanded by Kliment Boyadzhiev, the German Eleventh Army commanded by Max von Gallwitz and the Austro-Hungarian Third Army commanded by Hermann Kövess von Kövessháza, all three under the control of the German Field Marshal August von Mackensen.

WW1 period map from internet

Until the end of WW1 the Banat region was part of Hungary which was again part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The small city of Fehertemplom, or in German Weisskirchen, was in that region and bordered with Serbia. After the war as a result of the Trianon treaty the region would be split and Fehertemplom would become part of Serbia.

Josef Pártos was a finance official in the rank of Respizient in the Royal Hungarian Finance Commission of the city of Fehertemplom.

He received two separate document for a “Belobende Anerkennung” roughly a “mention in despatches”. This is more or less one step below the merit medal (often known as Signum Laudis based on the text on the reverse of the medal) and in this case also in the face of the enemy. So with wartime ribbon and swords if the medal indeed was given (swords were added only later in the war to the ribbon).

What he exactly did to earn this commendation is a mystery and probaby will remain so (no military records). But it must be quite unique for a finance person to qualify! Based on location and date it most probably was linked to the final Serbian campaign that started on October 7th 1915 especially as the first document is awarded by the 3rd Army command (one of the 3 armies involved in that action as discussed above) and hand signed by its Commander Kövess von Kövessháza!

Photo with signature of Kövess – from internet

The second document is from the regional command of Banat.

Vitéz stories V – Sergeant Deli/Doszpod, KuK IR 44

For this man, sergeant Deli Jószef, I still have to research the background of his medals but below his full entitlement.

From the 1939 Vitéz yearbook

Before the war he completed his compulsory service in the 44th KuK Infantry Regiment reaching the rank of sergeant in the reserve and also qualifying as a sharpshooter. His name originally was Doszpod!

Deli and his wife in the first years of the war based on his uniform. He already has the two Silver Bravery Medals.

In 1924 he became a viéz and in that process changed his name to Deli! If the applicant had a non Hungarian name one of the requirements was to change the name to a typical Hungarian one. This was the reason some did not apply as they did not want to change their names! This often leads to difficulties in researching vitéz backgrounds, if the name was changed, as the original name is not recorded!

The original diploma in poor condition unfortunately.

In the 1920s he became not only a vitéz but he also applied for the grant of land which he indeed received as one of about 5500 of the more than 24.000 vitéz.

Grand diploma for the grant of land in prestine condition!

Indian Tulwar, 19th century or earlier

Some time ago I had to buy an entire collection to get hold of two very nice rentjong for my own collection. Most items came from different regions and quickly went to other collections. This piece and the Ottoman yataghan discussed earlier still remain in my own collection.

This is a reasonable standard Tulwar of good quality from the 19th century and based on the hilt possibly even 18th century or earlier!

The hilt is of the Hakim Shahi style described here. There are remains of silverwork in the handle and it might have looked somewhat like this masterpiece from the small state of Ratlam.

The quality of the steel is nice and might be even wootz.

Overall it is a nice and honest example of the famous Indian Tulwar type sword just like the Yataghan is a good example of the Ottoman sword. Two very different but somewhat “exotic” items in my small collections.

With thanks to Peter of www.mandarinmansion.com for his input!

Some Indonesian Kris handles (ukiran)

My blogs generally are about my main collecting interests, the Aceh war and related medals and etnographic items but also military medals, phto’s and paperwork from the Netherlands and Hungary in general. A few blogs go beyond that and are about other items I love but do not specifically collect (anymore at least…).

The Kris is an Indonesian dagger that is on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity! The handles, in Indonesian Ukiran, are often works of art in many different materials including ivory. I used to have a nice collection of Kris handles and also Krisses. Here some pictures of some handles I still have.

The first types come from the Island of Java and more specifically from the Cirebon region and have their background in Hindu mythology.

Bima or Bhima was one of the Pandava brother in the Mahabharata. The ancient epic tale from India that also has a strong impact on Indonesian culture and art.

The handles below are believed to depict Bima and come from the Cirebon region and are estimated to be 18th century pieces. The first two are made of wood and the last is in ivory.

Also the Raksasa comes from Hindu mythology and is a demon in human shape with fangs. This is a 18th century piece in elephant ivory of very high quality.

On the island of Sumatra the Jawa Demam or feverish Javanese is a type of handle that is very common. Her some examples from the 19th century or possibly earlier.

Another type from Sumatra is this Tapak Kupak (horseshoe) handle in carved horn with traces of gold paint. The top of the handle shows beautiful openwork.

And the last one is from the island of Madura in the donoriko style in excellently carved ivory, estimated 19th century or earlier.

With thanks to Philip Hartmann and Michael Marlow for their knowledge!

Vitéz stories IV – Lieutenant Simó, KuK IR 51

This group consists of the documents of Antal/Anton Simó, lieutenant in the reserve of KuK Infantry Regiment 51. As he lived in the Transylvania region he became a Rumanian citizen after WW1 as a consequence of the Trianon treaty.

In 1941 as a result of the last Hungarian re-annexation action Transylvania became part of Hungary and he became a Hungarian citizen again. All the Austro-Hungarian medals could be worn and used in Hungary but obviously not in Rumania.

So in 1941 he could apply for all his relevant WW1 medals and also apply for the vitéz order as a Hungarian citizen. He also moved to Budapest and worked for the Hungarian railways. (MÁV).

His ID card from 1918 showing him with the 2nd class Bravery medal and with the rank and photo of fähnrich, later crossed out and changed in Leutnant. As all officers in training he first went through the nco ranks in which period he was eligible for the Bravery Medals to the ranks below officer!

His Bravery medal 2nd class would be awarded for actions in 1916 as described below in the request form. The request forms come from the Hugarian Military Archives!

From the Hungarian Military Archive.

Text of the request: In Annerkennung tapferen Verhalten vor dem Feinde. Im Gefechte vom 7. und 8. Juli 1916 Sudlich Podgaino Ubernahm er nach Verwunding des Zugskommandanten das Kommando in dem Zeitpunkt als der Feind bereits an der innersten Hinderniszone war und drangte denselben durch seine Entschlossenes tapferes Aufträten wobei er an der spitze sienes Zuges Kämpfte zuruck. Bracht ihm durch geschickte Feuerleitung grosse Verluste Bei.

Translation: In recognition of brave conduct in the face of the enemy. In fight from 7th and 8th of July 1916, south of Podgaino. He took over command, after the commander became injured, at the moment that the enemy already was at the innermost defense line and forced them back, by his convincing brave action, in which he fought at the front. Inflicted great losses to the enemy by his adequate fire direction.

From the history book of the Worldwar, book II, 1920: 7. Juli griffen zwei neue russische Korps im Räume Karczewo-Wygoda das Kolozsvärer Infanterieregiment Nr. 51 an, ‘das bei Tuganowiczi und Podgaino stand, heldenmütig die Stellung hielt und alle Angriffe erfolgreich abwies. Am 8. Juli 2 Uhr vormittags erfolgte ein erneuter heftiger Angriff, welcher den ganzen Tag andauerte. Vor der Front der 51er lagen über 2000 Tote, ohne daß das tapfere Regiment auch nur einen Schritt zurückgewichen wäre.

Translated: On July 7th two Russian corps attacked in the area of Karczewo-Wygoda the 51st Infantryregiment from Kolosvar that bravely held the line near Tuganowiczi and Podgaino and rejected the attack succesfully. On the 8th of July at 14.00 hrs a new attack was launched that lasted the entire day. In front of the 51st there were more than 2000 death without the Regiment retreating even a step.

And the documents and texts relating to his first class Bravery Medal

Tapferes Verhalten vor dem Feinde: In der Durchbruchsschlacht am 24./X. 1917 bei (Punkt) 778 nördl Dol. Kal stürmte er mit der 1. Welle der 7. fkomp bis über die 2. fdl. Linie, wo er infolge schwerer Verwundung abbleiben musste. Er gab ein mustergültiges Beispiel seiner Mannschaft.

Request form and detail from the Hungarian Military Archives

Translation of text: Brave conduct in the face of the enemy. In the breaktrough fight on the 24th of October 1917 at point 778 north of Dol. Kal. he stormed with the first wave of the 7th field company beyond the 2nd enemy line, where he, as a result of a major injury, had to stay behind. He was an example to his men.

The villages Kal and Dol Kal can be found at the position (roughly) 46°5′ North and 31°24′ East

The date of this action is the start of the 12th Isonzo battle in Italy! In October 1917 the Kolozsvárer IR.51 took part in the Isonzo / Karfreit breakthrough. The villages are Dol (east of Selo) and Kal (im Cepovantale). The regiment (three battalions) was together with IR.64 a part of the 69th Infantry Brigade. The regiment held a sector in the Cepovan Valley (Capovantal) on the Bainsizza Plateau.

Official document/certificate confirming his both Bravery medals

As stated his other medals would be added only after 1941:

Karltroop cross certificate
Wounded medal with one stripe on the ribbon.
Hungarian WW1 commemorative medal
And finally his invitation to the vitézi rend award ceremony in 1943.

His entitlement in 1943 would have looked like this (these are not his medals as the group only existed of the papers).

With many thanks to the Hungarian Military Archives for helping with the relevant materials that made this blog possible!

And a last document from the military archives – his military pass post from the 1950s

Vitéz stories III – Sergeant Joföldi, KuK IR 38

These are the documents and medals of sergeant in the reserve vitéz Jóföldi Gábor.

Complete WW1 entitlement including vitéz order and certificate

The following information comes from the history of the 38th KuK regiment by József Doromby :

Photo from the regimental book.

“He was born in 1885 in Bogyiszló. In 1907-09 he fulfilled his military duties in Bilek. He was involved in the mobilization and trained as a reserve NCO until January 15, 1915. After that he went to the Serbian front, and from there on May 13, to the Italian front. He went to Doberdo, Italy and then he was taken back to the Serbian front and then again to the Italian battlefield, from where in April 1916 he was taken sick to the hospital. After his recovery, he was commanded to the Russian, Romanian and finally again to the Italian front. Wife: Judit Bencze; children: Judith, husband. Mrs. János Sánta, Gábor, Lidia, husband. Mrs. Józsefné Németh, Ferenc. “

The piece in the book also give his full medal list as shown above. He did not qualify for the Wounded Medal as his period in hospital was due to illness, not wounds received in battle.

His Silver Bravery Medal 1st class would be the basis for his later (1929) introduction into the vitéz order. Below the full size diploma which is quite rare as most units only handed out the small certificates for in the legitimation capsule.

Below some other papers, his 1919 release from service papers, the certificate for his Karltroop cross and his Hungarian WW1 remembrance medal.

He was mobilized again for WW2 (Igazolvány lap in the top middle) but probably did not see any action due to his age.

All papers and medals came from the family and are a real group. Below a “Kappenabzeichen” of the 38th KuK Infantry Regiment in which he served (my collection but not part of his estate!)

With thanks to Zoltán Sőregi for finding the regimental information!

Vitéz stories II – Sergeant Molnár, KuK IR 48, unique combination of Bravery Medals!

Due to my interest in the Hungarian vitéz order I bought this document. It is a diploma for participating in a course for land management that was given to members of the order – who also would receive a gift of land as part of the order.

With it came another document. The certifacte for participation in the (re)annexation of Transylvania in 1941. By that time he was a reserve sergeant and aged 51!

Researching him in the 1939 vitéz yearbook gives an overview of his medal entitlement. The second document is key for confirming it is as the name is extremely common in Hungary but it gives his year of birth, 1890, and his domicile, Gyoma.

A short translation of the info: Sergeant-Major in the 48th KuK Infantry Regiment with the following medal entitlement: Silver Bravery Medal 1st class (O1) with 3 bars, Silver Bravery Medal 2nd class (O2) with 2 bars and Bronze Bravery Medal, Karltroop Cross and Wound Medal with 3 stripes.

So 4 times (1 award and 3 bars) of the Silver Bravery Medal 1st class. The highest amount of these in the entire Honvéd part of the Austro-Hungarian army was 3 times and that only once!

Example of a Silver Bravery Medal 1st class (Emperor Karl version) with a device for 3 repeated awards! A repeat of 3 in silver is extremely rare if original!

And 3 times (1 award and 2 bars) of the Silver Bravery Medal 2nd class. In the entire Honvéd part of the Austro-Hungarian army there were only 189 such men!

The numbers of such entitlements for the entire Austro-Hungarian army are not known. The info above comes from this excellent website! But it can be guessed that this combination of 8 Bravery Medals is probably extremely rare and might be unique and certainly much rarer than a Golden Bravery Medal!

It is an honour to have these nice documents to a NCO with an absolutely unique entitlement!

Ottoman yataghan sword

Some time ago I had to buy an entire collection to get hold of two very nice rentjong for my own collection. Most items came from different regions and quickly went to other collections but there was one piece I kep out of fascination with it.

It is a nice yataghan, a typical short sword of the Ottoman empire used for a very long period. This one is probably 19th century.

One side it has an inscription in old Turkish that is quite common on Ottoman yataghans.

Darbından bu bıçağın cümle düşman tar ü mar
İntikam alır aduvvdan sanki misli zülfikar

Which can be roughly translated as:

All the enemies are decimated from the blow of this knife
It takes revenge from enemies as if it was Ali’s (RA) sword Zulfikar

In the middle of the text is a stamp that is probably the makers mark. The other side only has a simple decoration engraved.

The steel is laminated, and might be wootz.

The handle has long “ears” as they are called and it is made of walrus ivory. The fittings of the handle seem to be made of gilded brass with red coral stones in them.

The sheath has a ribbed wooden base covered with very fine leather that is kept together with brass wire. All parts of the yataghan show a high level of craftmanship.

Despite the fact that it does not fit any of my collecting themes it has received a home in my current collection. As this is out of my area of knowledge please let me know if I have made a misstake in the description!

Vitéz stories I – Sergeant Horváth, KuK IR 44, Golden Medal for Bravery

Sergeant in the 44th Infantry Regiment (Erzherzog Albrecht Nr. 44). Awarded with the Austro Hungarian Golden Medal for Bravery. The highest possible award in the Austro-Hungarian Army for ranks below officer.

For his actions he was awarded the Hungarian title vitéz and the order in the interwar period you can read more about the Vitézi Rend in the earlier blog.

Grand diploma of the order, handsigned by Regent Horthy.

Below the excerpt from the 1939 Vitéz Albuma:

Awards as stated in the list in the yearbook:

  • Golden Bravery medal
  • Silver Bravery medal 1st Class, 2 times
  • Bronze Bravery medal
  • Karl Troop cross

The short version of his citation as recorded in the Golden Medal award records in the Austrian Military Records

Im Gefechte vom 12/3 auf den 13/3 (1915) am Brdo Bewies er beispeillose Unerschrockenheit u. heldenhafte Tapferkeit.
Kam bis auf 40x vor der fdl Stellung. Trat den Ruckzug trozt des Befehls erst nach 2 Stunden als letzte abt der Angr. Gruppe an.

Which translates as follows:

In the fights of 12/3 and 13/3 in Brdo he showed unprecedented fearlessness and heroic Bravery.
Came up to 40x before the enemies position. Retreated, despite the order, only after 2 hours as the last of the attacking group.

His feats where also published in a Hungarian book (A MAGYAR NEMZETARANYKONYVE 1914-1918.” Budapest, 1921. – Golden book of the Hungarian nation 1914-1918 ) which describes the action as follows:

“He ran forward in the killing adverse drum-fire of the enemy as the head of his platoon and during the assault he exhorted his comrades. The regiment met irreplaceable and heavy losses, so sergeant Janos Horvath got the order to withdraw his fellows from the first line. Horvath was forty paces off the enemy and he sent back a message that they will not leave the line as long as the wounded comrades of the neighboring unit (3rd Bosnians) have not been recovered. Finally he withdrew his men two hours later and he was the last soldier who left the front line.”

His Vitézi Rend Award which is numbered and has the initials of Horvath.

And the certificate that belongs to the award

Replacement Golden Bravery Medal (gilded bronze in the Karl version, interwar period). This came directly from the family but is a replacement. The original will have been a real gold FJ type that probably was sold for mentary reasons as happened very often. Next to this his large Silver Bravery Medal with bar for the 2nd award. The Bronze Bravery Medal and the Karl Troop cross were no longer part of the group so I have not included them either.

Free public transport travel cards to the winners of the Golden Bravery Medal including his photo ID with signature.

The original award request forms as they remained in the Hungarian military archives!

Group as I had it framed some years ago.