Rudolf Ritter Metz von Spondalunga

Ritter Metz von Spondalunga pictured as a Royal Hungarian Army Lieutenant General.Rudolf Wendelin Adolf Edler von Metz was born on the 11th of May 1861 at Budweis as one of seven children of Major Alexander von Metz and Wilhelmine Frederike Grünwald. Alexander von Metz who as an half brigade commander had especially distinguished himself during the defence of the South Tyrol in 1866, rose to the rank of Generalmajor and died on the 16th of March 1889 in Vienna.¹ Rudolf von Metz entered the Military Academy at Wiener-Neustadt in 1876 from which he graduated as a Lieutenant in 1879 and was then assigned to Infantry Regiment Number 32. He was promoted to Oberlieutenant on the 1st of November 1884 and to Hauptmann 2. Classe on the 1st of May 1891. After serving some 24 years with Infantry Regiment Number 32, he was promoted to Major on the 1st November 1903 and assumed command of the 1st Battalion of Infantry Regiment Number 68 at Budapest. On the 1st of June 1905 he was appointed commanding officer of Feldjägerbataillon Nr. 23 followed by his promotion to Oberstleutnant (seniority number 35) on the 1st of May 1908. He remained in command of FJB 23 until assuming command of Infanterieregiment Erherzog Franz Ferdinand Nr.19 at Tolmein in November 1911 having  been promoted to Oberst on the 1st of May (seniority of the 29th of May that year). On the 15th of November 1913 (promulgated by Decree of the 26th of February 1914) he was raised within the nobility to the rank of Ritter taking the predicate "Metz Ritter von Spondalunga" after the location of his father's victory at Spondalunga on the 11th of July 1866.² Having already been awarded the Military Merit Medal (Signum Laudis) in 1901 he was awarded the Military Merit Cross on the 24th of September 1909 and the Commander's Cross 2nd Class of the Saxon Order of Albrecht on the 9th of May 1914.

His first marriage to Adele Auguste Maria Miller, the daughter of a naval captain had produced one son - Rudolf August Viktor (1890-1923) an Hauptmann in the Hungarian Landwehr - and a granddaughter Marta Elisabeth born 22nd of August 1922.

In August 1914 the four battalion strong Infantry Regiment 19 was subordinated to Generalmajor Konrad von Essler’s 65th Infantry Brigade in the 33rd Infantry Division of Feldmarschalleutnant Karl Edler von Rebracha which in turn was part of Feldzeugmeister Paul Puhallo von Brlog’s V Corps in General der Kavallerie Viktor Dankl’s 1st Army. In the opening weeks of the war von Metz commanded his regiment during the struggle on the northern flank of Austria-Hungary’s effort against the forces of Imperial Russia including the early success at Krasnik and the fighting around the River Vistula in Southern Poland. He was awarded the Order of the Iron Crown 3rd Class with War Decoration on the 15th of November 1914. In February 1915 he was appointed as the commander of the 23rd Infantry Brigade in 12th Infantry Division and it was in this appointment that he would earn his eventual award of the Knight’s Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresia.

Metz pictured as a Leutnant in Infanterieregiment 32 at Budapest.As part of the VI Corps, Generalmajor von Metz’s Brigade was given the mission at the commencement of the major Austro-German offensive – the Gorlice-Tarnów offensive on the 2nd of May 1915 of taking the strongly defended height of Pustki just east of the village of Luzna. For the assault von Metz was given command of the both the corps and division reserves and finally the entire infantry component of the 12th Infantry Division. With these forces he not only carried out his own mission but did not hesitate to come to the assistance of the neighbouring formations on both his northern and southern flanks. He sent two battalions of infantry to the hard pressed 31st Hungarian Landwehr Division to the north which enabled that unit to take the tenaciously held heights at Wiatrówki before nightfall. He additionally sent relief to the Prussian 81st Reserve Division to the south who were struggling to contain Russian counter-attacks from the area of the Kamieniec Wood. By nightfall troops of his own brigade plus a further two battalions of the divisional reserve cleared the enemy from the woods. At the close of the first day of the offensive the Russians on this part of the front were in full retreat and had evacuated the village of Moszenica under pressure from the pursuing forces of Generalmajor von Metz.

Generalmajor von Metz continued to distinguish himself throughout the following days and weeks of the offensive with further successes along the axis of the Neu Sandez-Sanok railway line at Biecz on the 4th of May and Jedlicze on the 7th of May. By the 14th of May his brigade was at Jaroslau and by the 24th/25th of May at Wietlin and Lazy east of Jaroslau. On the 27th he took Hruszowice and on the 28th was at Kalników north east of Przemysl. Throughout the offensive he had through his leadership and determination contributed in no small measure to the success of the operation and had played a prominent role in the taking of Jaroslau. Remaining on the Russian front, in September 1916 he was given command of the 11th Infantry Division with a promotion to Feldmarschalleutnant on the 26th of February 1918. Following the end of the war in November 1918 he chose Budapest as his new home and briefly served in the army of the newly independent state of Hungary. He received the Hungarian title Vitez on the 16th of June 1929.  After the death of his first wife on the 5th of April 1932, he married again to Margarethe Berta Anna Szalay von Almasi (born on the 26th of February 1902) on the 20th of December 1932 at Budapest with whom he again produced a son, Rudolf Ladislaus Nikolaus Otto (born Budapest 3rd April 1933) and a daughter Judith Anna Ida Maria (born Budapest 12th August 1934) He died at Klotildliget on the 21st of October 1943 and is buried at Piliscsaba.

Rudolf Ritter Metz von Spondalunga received the coveted Knight’s Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresia at the post-war 186th Promotion on the 10th of March 1921. He was further awarded the Golden Bravery Medal for Officers by the Chapter of the Military Maria Theresia Order on the 31st of December 1929.  During the war he had also received the following awards: The Commander's Cross of the Order of Leopold with War Decoration and Swords, the Military Merit Cross 2nd Class with War Decoration and Swords, the Order of the Iron Crown 2nd Class with War Decoration and Swords, the Knight's Cross of the Order of Leopold with War Decoration and Swords and the Military Merit Cross 3rd Class with War Decoration and Swords. As can be seen from his portrait above he was also the recipient of both the 1st and 2nd Class of the Prussian Iron Cross.

¹. Die Theresianische Militär-Akademie zu Wiener-Neustadt und Ihre Zöglinge by Johann Svoboda.

². Österreichs Kämpfe im Jahre 1866, Verlag des k.k. Generalstabes, Vienna 1869.

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