Bosnian Herzegovian Infantry
Bosnia Herzegovina became part of the Austro-Hungarian empire only in 1878. Nevertheless its capital Sarajevo would be the scene of the start of World War 1 in 1914 by the assination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand.
The AH regimental system was regional so each regiment would get men from a specific region. This way four Bosnian Herzegovian Infantry Regiment were formed. Officers (on purpose) would come from a different region. These regiments were numbered BH1 to BH4.
Golden Bravery Medals
Despite the fact that they had been linked to the Austro Hungarian empire for a very short time or maybe even because of this the 4 Bosnian Herzegovian Infantry Regiments that were formed in WW1 would get the highest number of gallantry (Golden Bravery) medals in the entire AH army.
The average of these Golden Bravery medals was around 10 per regiment but the BH2 Infantry Regiment would get the highest amount of all, 42! The runner up regiment would get 36 Golden Bravery medals. There was even a saying in the AH army – “The Bosnians are coming” which would bring fear to the enemies as they were seen as fierce fighters.
More about the bravery medals can be found in my earlier blog.
Officers in BH2
As a large part of the Bosnians were Islamic the Fez was worn as the standard hat in these units for all men, independ of belief! Officers not being from the same region could choose if they would wear “normal” officers hats or also the Fez like in the picture below.
An album in my collection has photo’s from several related (two brothers with family name Almasi) and befriended officers coming from the same “German” city of Trautenau in the current Czech Republic.
It seems they al went as volunteer (1 year) officers to the war. Several of them becoming officers in BH2. Below Leopold Erben from Trautenau who also, as an officer in training, would earn a Golden Bravery medal for BH2 in 1918!
Offensive Group Edelsbrunner
One photo has the caption of “Offensivgruppe Edelsbrunner” named after its leading officer, Edmund Edelsbrunner, also from Trautenau! He was also one of the 42 people in BH2 who was awarded the Golden Bravery medal.
He would receive it during his training period for officers (so still NCO for the awarding of medals) in 1915. During the rest of the war he would remain very active even getting an Iron Crown order 3rd class as a lieutenant which is very rare for such a low ranking officer, almost only flight aces would get that honour.
A specific event is mentioned in the book “Die Bosniaken kommen” by Werner Schachinger. In the book his group is mentioned as a “Nachrichten” or reconaissance group. This part is about his role in the 12th and decisive Isonzo battle. Probably this is the action for which he received the Iron Crown order!
“After the arrival of the main group of BH2 1st Lt Edelsbrunner and his men detached themselves again and went north. While two companies of BH2 were involved in heavy streetfights in the city of Forgaria. In the meantime Edelsbrunner circled around the city and went straight for Anduin capturing an Italian Artillery unit in the proces. He captured 7 pieces of artillery, 12 machineguns and other materials but also 600 Italian soldiers. The struggle for the bridge of Cornino was over after this. He earned the title of “Ramssurimann of Anduin” for this from the men of BH2″
All of these pictures come from the same album in my collection. I will publish some more in another blog soon.