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.
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:
And the hospitals, both in the field and regular military hospitals.
And some rare “action” pictures from the hospital
More medical people below. Based on rank not medics but MDs.
The FieldGendarmes 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.
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.
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.
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!
The second document is from the regional command of Banat.
For this man, sergeant Deli Jószef, I still have to research the background of his medals but below his full entitlement.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
As stated his other medals would be added only after 1941:
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!
These are the documents and medals of sergeant in the reserve vitéz Jóföldi Gábor.
The following information comes from the history of the 38th KuK regiment by József Doromby :
“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!
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.
The regimental number seems to be a misstake and should read nr 46 (thanks to Tibor Szekér)
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!
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.
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.
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!
One of my main collecting themes used to be this Vitéz order. At that time I even ran a quite extensive website with information on the order, variations etc. This is a short, condensed, version of that information.
Hungary was a defeated country after the Great War. The war was lost, neighboring countries invaded, a communist revolution took place and a for Hungary very unfortunate Trianon treaty was signed. Admiral Horthy became the Regent (a historic Hungarian title) of this troubled nation in 1920.
This was the moment for a new order to celebrate the heroes of a lost war and re-establish a feeling of national pride. The Order of the Valiant* (in Hungarian, Vitézi Rend) or Knighthood of the Heroes was the first and probably the most important Hungarian order established after the Great War and had a substantial social impact.
*(The word vitéz has several meanings in the dictionary. As noun: warrior, soldier, champion, hero, knight and as adjective: valiant, gallant, brave, fearless of danger. Therefore giving the name of the order an exact translation is difficult. The two translations used here I have seen used in several documents therefore I use them as well.)
Some awardees, first one an nco in the interwar Hungarian uniform and the last in the veterans organization uniform (and based on the medals he became an officer during WW1).
The order was established in 1920 (Prime Ministerial Edict Nr 6650/1920) by the Government under Prime Minister Count Teleki and Admiral Horthy, the Regent of Hungary from 1920 till 1945. The latter also became the Captain of the order from its institution untill its formal ending in 1945 (According to the rule 529/1945 but it was 1948 before it was practically disbanded).
One of the main differences with most other awards that it is based on the requirement of previous award. The awardees needed to have received a certain level of medal before they could apply. At the beginning this would be for WW1 but later in WW2 the same requirements would have to be fulfilled.
This way of working made if possible to acknowledge exceptional deeds of Bravery from a previous period as part of an empire that no longer existed. These deeds would otherwise have passed unknown and unrewarded in a country that fought on the losing side of the war.Now these same deeds could be used to establish a new “established warrior class” in the post WW1 Hungary.
The medal requirements were more or less the same for both world wars. The small silver medal for bravery (96.000 awarded in WW1 to Hungarians) in the case of enlisted men, and the large silver medal for bravery (26.000 awarded in WW1 to Hungarians) for the rank of NCO. The Merit Medal / Signum Laudis was the minimal requirement for the rank of Lieutenant and this goes up based on rank, for higher ranks higher grades of medals were expected. The small silver medal for bravery only very seldom led to actual awards of the vitéz order. It was too common to bestow the title on all owners of these. It was just that, a minimal requirement.
Below a WW2 period officer and a nco, both meeting the criteria based on their own medalsso no way of telling if they were inherited vitéz awards or their own.
The men had to apply for the order through a quite extensive procedure at the end of which they would be granted the order when all requirements had been met. One of these requirements that is interesting is the use of Hungarian name. For those applicants having a German or Slavic name (both not uncommon) this would also mean they had to change their name. During research this can be troublesome if the original name is not known!
Part of the award of the order was the granting of the title of vitéz. This title was used as a prefix to the (family) name as can be seen in the namecards below.
This title could only be inherited by the oldest son. If this oldest son was of sound physical and mental condition he would inherit the title at the age of 17. In this way the order can be compared to a nobility especially as the title was accompanied by a grant of land of approximately 10 hectares.
The awards were granted in a great yearly ceremony by the Regent, Admiral Horthy, himself. The ceremony originally took place in Budapest on the Margit Sziget, a small island in the Danube, located between Buda and Pest. Later this was changed to a more symbolic location. This was in Székesfehervar, a city renowned for the coronation of the early kings of Hungary and also as their burial location. The award ceremony was held at the exact same place, in the ruins of the original church of the coronations. The awardees were “knighted” with a large sword during this ceremony. The same sword that is depicted in the badge of the order. During the war the ceremonies were much smaller and held in different locations.
Below two invitations for award ceremonies in 1943. Left for the central one of february 1943 and right a local version held in Transylvania in october 1943. As you can see the war years 41/42/43 had only very small amounts of awards. For 1943 in total 300 awardees. Many of these were for people from the regained territories like Transylvania who could not have applied before 1941. This is the case in both invitations below. It also shows the awardee had to pay for the badge themselves!
The granting of land to the vitéz members was part of a land reform executed by István Nagyatádi Szabó. In the early ’20s much land was still in the hands of a few and it was part of a modernization of land ownership that was badly needed to become a more balanced and modern nation. The actual grants were quite limited though, around 20% would actually get the grant of land (roughly 5500 grants of land of the almost 24.000 total awards). The land reform was more difficult and time consuming than was anticipated.
The vitézi rend had a very formalised structure with national and regional chairs, communities and much more, even their own order uniform as can be seen in the photo below.
There were 5 makers in total but the two most common variations by Boczán Gyula and Jerouschek are shown below. The other, rarer, makers are Gál, Walther and Boczán Károly. The swords of both Boczán makers are silver coloured. There are some other distinguishing factors also next to the actual markings of the maker. In the case of Jerouschek there are several variations of the markings due to the long period of production of more than 20 years.
Two more Jerouschek variations of the award, first marked under the prongs and the second with a different naming than the version above on the prong.
And two version that seem to be unmarked. The first one also has a different way of attachment of the prongs which identifies it as a version made by Boczán Károly despite the missing prong with the actual markings. The other is most probably made by Gál and marked under the prongs which is not visible. I do not have a Walther variation in my collection unfortunately.
The badges were not numbered officially but many were privately named or numbered. The numbering of awards started with two sets of numbers, one for officers and one for other ranks. This numbering system changed in the 1930s when many awardees also would receive a new certificate with the new/different number. That way a badge with only a number often will leave several possibilities open. (officer/non officer/first group of numbers/second group of numbers). Only with the higher numbers it is clear it will be a rank below officer and the 2nd group of numbers!
Each award would exist out of the actual award (to be paid by the awardee) and a full size diploma shown below. There was no distinction between officers and lower ranks in this system, both in the award and the diploma.
Next to the diploma a smaller size certificate was used as proof of ownership of the award/title in daily use. Below 4 examples of the certificate or in Hungarian: igazolvány. The first one is to an officer which is not visible on the document itself, only the number in combination with the date makes this clear.
The grant of land received its own diploma as seen left. Next to it a replacement document for a lost original diploma.
There were even courses for new land owners as shown by the document below. Designed by the same person as the diploma of the order.
Some statistics about the number of orders, reproduced with kind permission of vitéz Dr. János Szentváry-Lukács.
Officers 4.358 awards, NCO’s 11.136 awards, Enlisted Men 7.326 awards.
The number of estates granted to award winners was only 5561 which amounted to a total of 88.000 hectares. This was mainly due to the low amount of land available for the new vitéz knights. Land was donated on a voluntary basis by landowners and local governments. Overview of the number of awards per year and the cumulative total per year.
After the Russians had “liberated” Hungary in 1945 the order no longer fitted the communist views and was disbanded. According to the rule 529/1945 but it was 1948 before it was practically and fully disbanded
A few examples that show the title did not immediately disappear after the war was over. The title is still used as a prefix on these communist party booklets….
The order has been re-instituted after the war (first in exile and later also in Hungary) but this is blog is only about the historic order.
If you have a name of a vitéz you can research some more on this page
For more info read the Vitéz Stories blogs with some more info on specific members of the order.
Recently a very good and extensive book was published by Szabolcs Árkosi, A Vitézi Rend Nagy Albuma 1920 -1948. The book is in Hungarian but also has great photo content.