Austro-Hungarian Infantry 1914-1918
IntroductionThe aim of this article is to describe the composition and organisation of the infantry regiments of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy including the two Landwehrs at the time of mobilisation and then the growth of the arm throughout the next four years of the Great War. Generally speaking, Austria-Hungary did not field a massively expanded number of infantry regiments and formations during the war although from 1917 onwards there was a fairly modest increase in the number of regiments through the handing over of personnel in formed battalions from existing regiments. Notwithstanding the horrendous casualties of the first Summer and Winter campaigns in Galicia in 1914/1915, the strength of the Infantry was maintained throughout the course of the war. Much of this article is derived from the excellent piece in the December 1962 edition of Zeitschrift für Heereskunde by Hans Rudolf von Stein and additional information from Österreich-Ungarns Letzter Krieg.
When Austria-Hungary mobilised in August 1914, the strength of the common army infantry was 102 infantry regiments (Nr.1-102) and 4 Bosnian-Hercegovinian infantry regiments (Nr.1-4). Each of these regiments had 4 field battalions each of 4 companies and a replacement cadre staff (Ersatzkader) which was expanded into a replacement battalion. Additionally each battalion had a machine-gun detachment with two machine guns. A certain number of regiments had detached battalions deployed independently of the parent regimental grouping, most of them with mountain brigades in Bosnia-Herzegovina. All infantry regiments apart from the 4 Bosnian-Hercegovinian were in addition to their number known by the name of the current regimental colonel known in Austrian parlance as the "Inhaber". A certain number of regiments however were known by the name of an historical personality in perpetuity, for example infantry regiment Nr.4 was always known as the "Hoch und Deutschmeister."
Following the mobilisation every regiment put into the field a so-called march battalion "Marschbataillon" to replace the first losses. These march battalions were combined in consecutively numbered march regiments with two march regiments being subordinated to march brigades with the number of the corps so that for example march regiments Nr.5 and 6 belonged to the 3rd march brigade of 3rd corps. Due to the conditions at the front, however, these formations were not initially employed as a pool of replacements but had to employed as actual combat formations in the line and consequently suffered considerable casualties and therefore were unable to actually fulfill their planned purpose of providing reinforcements for field units. Following the rather disappointing experience of these formations, if at all possible in the future the march formations were not to be employed in this fashion. This of course was only possible on relatively quiet fronts where emergencies did not necessitate the employment of formed march battalions in combat. In some cases during the war march battalions numbered V.-VIII would remain in existence as field battalions. By wars end, some regiments had forwarded to the front up to 43 march battalions, which however were usually just 2 to 3 companies strong. Not all march battalions were sent to their parent regiment but ended up being divided among other regiments. Generally as a rule the infantry regiments were composed at the wars beginning of personnel of the same ethnicity but due to the exigencies of the war this became increasingly difficult to sustain and the regiments became mixed in this respect to a greater degree. Of the original 102 line regiments of the common army, two of predominantly Czechoslovakian nationality were disbanded and struck of the army rolls on account of the charge of cowardice and going over to the enemy. These were IR.28 and IR.36 which were dissolved in April and July 1915 respectively. IR.36 was never to be reconstituted but in the case of IR.28, the XI.Marschbatallion remained. "Stiffened" with German speaking officers and German NCOs and private soldiers, the regiment performed creditably on the Isonzo front under command of 5th Army and was renamed as the the 1.Feldbataillon when the regiment was reconstituted in March 1916..
The Jäger or rifle troops of the common army consisted at mobilisation of the four regiments of Tyrolean Kaiserjäger (numbered 1. - 4.) recruited as one would expect from the predominantly German speaking area of the Austrian Tyrol although a significant minority of the personnel were Italian speaking South Tyroleans or Welschtiroler from the Trentino. A further 29 independent Feld-Jäger battalions recruited throughout the empire plus one Bosnian-Herzegovinian battalion were on the establishment. These were numbered as follows: Feldjäger-Bataillon Nr.1, 2, 4-14, 16-25, 27-32 plus the un-numbered Bosnian battalion. The Tyrolean Kaiserjäger regiments each consisted of three field battalions apart from the 2nd regiment which had four and a replacement cadre which like the common army infantry regiments were formed into march battalions. The march battalions of the Kaiserjäger regiments belonged to march regiments Nr.27 and 28 of the 14th march brigade. The Feld-Jäger battalions also possessed a replacement cadre which were subsequently increased to company strength and then formed march companies for each battalion. These were also attached to march regiments with two exceptions, where the march company remained with the parent battalion. Four battalions - Nr. 11, 20, 24 and 29 each possessed additionally a bicycle company which were assembled together in a bicycle battalion. By 1915 the three vacant numbered battalions were formed as were additionally by 1917 a further seven Bosnian-Herzegovina battalions (Nr.2-8). The original battalion received the designation Nr.1.
A further six companies of border or Grenzjäger were in existence at the time of mobilisation and these were numbered 1-6. Not properly a part of the normal Jäger establishment, these company sized formations initially saw service in the Albanian theatre and also in Macedonia. They were increased to battalion size in the second half of 1916 and were designated by Roman numerals (I-VI) but after a subsequent reorganisation in June 1918 became battalions 1-6.
As the war continued so did the need for specialised assault troops. Like their colleagues in the German army on the Western front, the Austro-Hungarians improvised assault or Sturmbataillone which at their inception were constituted with varying strengths and organisation. Initially subordinated to armies and corps, by the wars end, every division possessed an assault battalion.
A further eight so-called South-West battalions consisting of politically unreliable Italian speaking natives of the Trentino were formed but for obvious reasons were only employed on the Eastern front. The mountainous conditions of the Tyrolean front and parts of the Isonzo created the need for specialised mountain capable bodies of troops. Therefore from 1915 onwards alpine detachments were improvised in approximately company strength formations from personnel of the common army infantry and Jäger and also the Landwehr, Landesschützen and Standschützen formations already in place on that front. They were later regularised as high-mountain or Hochgebirgs and mountain guide (Bergführer) companies.
The infantry and Jäger formations therefore presented until the new reorganisation of the Spring of 1918 a relatively unclear picture. In addition to regiments with two and three battalions some had with a favourable replacement situation up to eight field battalions, of which the greater part were separated from the parent regiment and were employed with other regiments often in other parts of the front or separate theatres altogether. It was from a number of these battalions that at the end of 1917 the common army infantry regiments Nr. 103-109 were formed. Of these the regiment Nr.104 with five battalions consisted of personnel with eye infections or Trachomkranken! The employment of units of this quality was limited. Notwithstanding the above , this regiment along with IR.103 were renumbered as IR.203 and 204 in the Spring of 1918 and continued as Trachomformationen.
Meanwhile the Austro-Hungarians followed the German example by reducing the number of infantry battalions within the division and in addition the independent battalions of a regiment were to disappear. From June 1918 onwards, the infantry division was standardised with a complement of two infantry brigades each of two infantry regiments or a corresponding number of Feldjäger battalions. Each infantry regiment had from then on just three field battalions. Additionally each division raised an assault battalion or "Sturmbataillon" if one did not already exist from a company of each of the four regiments within the division or from the assault platoons of the Feldjäger battalions. In this manner, the k.u.k. infantry henceforth consisted of:
138 k.u.k. infantry regiments (Nr.1-35, 37-139)
8 Bosnian-Hercegovinian infantry regiments (Nr.1-8)
4 Kaiserjäger regiments (Nr.1-4)
32 k.u.k. Feldjäger battalions (Nr.1-32)
8 Bosnian-Hercegovinian Feldjäger battalions (Nr.1-8)
65 Assault "Sturmbataillone" (Nr.1-22, 24-60, 62, 64, 70, 74, 106, 155)
The newly raised infantry regiments Nr. 103-139 each consisted of three battalions of which the existing regiments Nr.1-102 had each each handed over one or two battalions (with the exception of Nr.36). The newly raised Bosnian-Hercegovinian formations were raised in the same manner through the handing over of troops from existing units including Feldjäger.
From this point onwards, all k.u.k. infantry regiments had only three battalions including the Bosnian and Kaiserjäger regiments. The newly raised regiments were formed from existing battalions as follows:
IR.103 from I./63, VII./63, III./85
IR.104 from IV./4, V./4, IV./84
IR.105 from I./44, II./52, III./69
IR.106 from III./83, IV./83, III./76
IR.107 from III./59, X./59, IV./7
IR.108 from III./8, IV./81, I./99
IR.109 from IV./9, II./45, IV./77
IR.110 from III./40, IV./40, I./10
IR.111 from IV./11, III./88, III./35
IR.112 from V./71, II./72, III./71
IR.113 from III./13, IV./13, IV./20
IR.114 from IV./14, X./14, III./49
IR.115 from III./95, IV./95, I./15
IR.116 from III./78, Iv./78, IV./16
IR.117 from IV./17, IV./97, III./87
IR.118 from I./121, I./98, III./18
IR.119 from IV./54, IV./3, I./93
IR.120 from I./100, II./100, I./1
IR.121 from III./94, IV./94, III./74
IR.122 from V./97, II./22, III./22
IR.123 from III./23, IV./23, III./86
IR.124 from IV./24, IV./41, IV./58
IR.125 from IV./25, II./60, IV./67
IR.126 from IV./12, IV./19, IV./26
IR.127 from IV./47, V./47, IV./27
IR.128 from IV./52, V./62, I./51
IR.129 from I./61, IV./61, IV./29
IR.130 from IV./30, IV./80, IV./89
IR.131 from III./82, IV./82, III./31
IR.132 from III./68, IV./68, I./32
IR.133 from IV./33, III./46, II./101
IR.134 from III./65, IV./65, II./34
IR.135 from III./96, IV./96, IV./54
IR.136 from I./102, II./75, IV./75
IR.137 from II./92, IV./92, IV./42
IR.138 from III./64, IV./64, IV./50
IR.139 from III./39, IV./39 IV./37
bh.IR.5 from V./bh.1, bh.FJB.5, III./bh.1
bh.IR.6 from IV./bh.2, V./bh.2, bh.FJB.6
bh.IR.7 from III./bh.3, V./bh.3, bh.FJB.7
bh.IR.8 from III./bh.4, V./bh.4, bh.FJB.8
During this reorganisation period some existing old regiments also received in exchange battalions from other old regiments as follows:
I.R.13 received the former IV./57 as III.Btl.
I.R.23 received the former I./6 as III.Btl.
I.R.39 received the former II./5 as III.Btl.
I.R.40 received the former I./90 as III.Btl.
I.R.61 received the former IV./43 as I.Btl.
I.R.65 received the former II./66 as III.Btl.
I.R.68 received the former III./38 as III.Btl.
I.R.75 received the former IV./91 as II.Btl.
I.R.78 received the former II./70 as III.Btl.
I.R.82 received the former IV./2 as III.Btl.
I.R.83 received the former I./48 as III.Btl.
I.R.92 received the former III./73 as II.Btl.
I.R.94 received the former I./28 as III.Btl.
I.R.95 received the former III./55 as III.Btl.
I.R.100 received the former I./56 as II.Btl.
Of the assault battalions which had been formed from one company each of the four regiments within the division, the following belonged to the k.k. Schützen (Landwehr): Nr.13, 21, 22, 26, 43, 44, 45, 46, 54 and 56. To the k.u. Honvéd belonged Nr.20, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 51, 64, 70, 74 and 155. Finally assault battalions Nr.62 and 106 were landsturm formations. The number 23 did not exist because the 23.Honvéd-Infanterie-Division had gone into Russian captivity on the surrender of the fortress of Przemyśl in 1915 and this division was never reformed.
A further section of the k.u.k. infantry was the so-called "Orientkorps". This formation had been assembled for the fighting in Palestine but in fact remained under command of the Heeresgruppe Boroević. It was comprised of the following infantry battalions: IV./103, VI./bh.2 and VIII./bh.3 as well as an assault company.
The following formations remained as independent battalions:
With the 145.IBrig.: VI./48, V./69, V./76 and V./103
With the 220.IBrig.: I.R. Nr.88 with 3 battalions
With the Brigade Lempruch: IV./25 With the Gruppe Hospodarz: VII./bh.2
In addition, the following formations each had half an assault battalion each after the new organisation:
145., 159., 187. and 220.IBrig.
201.LstIbrig., 216.Honvéd-Ibrig., Brigade Ellison and Lempruch, Abschnitt (Sector) Riva
Additionally the k.u.k. Infanterie further had on its establishment during the course of the war six machine-gun sharpshooter battalions (Maschinengewehr-Scharfschützen-Bataillon) numbered 1-6, 17 independent machine-gun companies and 79 various machine-gun platoons.
Just for a short period three "Reserve-Infanterie-Regimenter" had been formed out of surplus March battalions from regiments with a particularly good replacement situation and were numbered Nr.2, 31 and 64 as well as some Reserve battalions on the Tyrolean front.
In 1916 from Italian speaking citizens of the Tyrolean Kaiserjäger regiments, a number of Tyrolean Kaiserjäger companies were formed. These formed companies numbered 1/N - 7/N which were combined in the Kaiserjäger-Bataillon Südtirol in the Summer of 1917 and were employed only on the Eastern front.
Additionally surplus March companies of the Feldjäger battalions formed for a short period in 1916/17 a combined Feldjäger battalion and in the same way the march companies of Feldjäger-Bataillon Nr.20 formed the combined Feldjäger battalion Nr.20 or "Second Feldjäger battalion Nr.20". In 1915 a company from each of Feldjäger battalion Nr.31 and the Bosnian-Hercegovinian Feldjäger battalion plus the march formations from both formed a combined Feldjäger regiment in the strength of 3½ battalions.
Bicycle formations consisted at first of the bicycle battalion of Major later Obertsleutnant Edler von Schönner as well as two, later 4 Honvéd bicycle companies. Additionally a Landsturm bicycle battalion was formed. By 1918 three bicycle battalions were in existence: Nr.1 and Nr.2, the latter the former Landsturm bicycle battalion as well as an Honvéd bicycle battalion formed from the original Honvéd bicycle companies.
Lastly the following infantry formations were in existence at periods during the war in some cases only for just a short period:
Festungsinfanterie-Bataillone Nr.1-10 (Fortress infantry) 4 disbanded in 1916 and one converted to a bh.Feldjäger Battalion.
Besatzung-Bataillon Nr.I-IV (II-IV in the Trentino Fortress).
Besatzungs-Kompagnien Nr.1-11 (Trentino Fortress)
Gendarmerie-Bataillon Major Ziegler
Gendarmerie-Regiment Obstlt. Imreh
All of the above formations served only temporarily as field troops and were for the most part garrison or coastal protection forces, Gendarmerie or provided for the maintenance of order in Serbia and Albania as were the numerous customs, border and finance companies.
The racial composition of the original 102 infantry regiments and the Jäger battalions was as follows:
|Number of Regiments||Nationality||Regiments|
|41||Hungarian||Nr.2, 5, 6, 12, 19, 23, 25, 26, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 37, 38, 39, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 51, 52, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 71, 72, 76, 82, 83, 85, 86, 101|
|6||Moravian||Nr.3, 8, 54, 81, 93, 99|
|3||Lower Austrian (German)||Nr.4, 49, 84|
|17||Galician||Nr. 9, 10, 13, 15, 20, 30, 40, 45, 55, 56, 57, 58, 77, 80, 89, 90, 95|
|16||Bohemian (Czech)||Nr.11, 18, 21, 28, 35, 36, 42, 73, 74, 75, 88, 91, 92, 94, 98, 102|
|1||Upper Austrian (German)||Nr.14|
|4||Hungarian (Croatian)||Nr.16, 53, 79, 96|
|3||Steirmark (German)||Nr.27, 47, 87|
|2||Hungarian (Slavonian)||Nr.70, 78|
|8||Hungarian||Nr. 3, 11, 19, 23, 24, 28, 29, 32|
|2||Lower Austrian||Nr.10, 21|
|4||Galician||Nr. 4, 13, 14, 18|
|5||Bohemian||Nr. 1, 2, 6, 12, 22|
|1||Hungarian (Croatian)||Nr. 31|
|2||Carniolan Coastland||Nr.20, 26|
In contrast to the infantry of the common army, the organisation of the Landwehr infantry remained relatively unchanged throughout the war. No new regiments were formed with the exception of the reforming of two regiments ( 19 and 35) which had gone into Russian captivity following the fall of the fortress of Przemyśl in 1915.
At mobilisation the Austrian Landwehr infantry consisted of 37 regiments numbered 1 - 37 and three Landesschützen regiments numbered I-III. Apart from their regimental numbers the regiments were also known by the name of their respective garrison headquarters, for example K.K. Landwehr-Infanterieregiment Klagenfurt Nr.4. Unlike the common army, March formations were not generally formed within the Landwehr. The two newly reformed regiments Nr. 19 and 35 were however formed from Landwehr-Marschregimenter 19 and 35.
From January 1917 the Landesschützen regiments were renamed as Kaiserschützen and from April 1917 the Landwehr infantry regiments were renamed as Schützen regiments. Two of the Landwehr Infantry regiments (Nr.4 and 27) which had both been trained as mountain formations prior to the war were also renamed in April 1917 as Gebirgsschützen-Regiment Nr. 1 and 2 respectively. The numbers 4 and 27 thereafter remained unused. At wars end therefore the Austrian Landwehr comprised 35 Schützen regiments (Nr.1-3, 5-26, 28-37), 2 Gebirgsschützen regiments (Nr.1 and 2) and three Kaiserschützen regiments (Nr.I-III).
As noted on the main page in the introduction, the Landwehr were not second line or reserve formations in the German sense of the word. They alongside the Hungarian Landwehr (Honvéd) were active troops just as the members of the common army were.
Royal Hungarian Landwehr (Honvéd)
At mobilisation in 1914 the Royal Hungarian Landwehr infantry comprised 32 regiments (Nr.1-32) which like their counterparts in the Austrian Landwehr were also known by the garrison headquarters name. An example of this naming practice is the Miscolczer 10.Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment. In contrast to the Austrian Landwehr, the Hungarians formed additional March formations and at mobilisation 48 battalions were formed (Nr.1-48) which were combined into 16 March regiments (Nr.1-16) of three battalions each. The number of the regiment corresponded to the number of the Hungarian Landwehr division to which it was assigned. Also in contrast to the Austrian Landwehr there were some changes in organisation, particularly an increase in the number of regiments. Although the regiments of the 23rd Hungarian Landwehr Infantry Division which capitulated on the fall of Przemyśl (Nr.2, 5, 7 and 8) were not reformed there existed regiments numbered 33 and 34 (only for a short period) 300. 301, 302, 304 (which also had disappeared in 1918), 305-311-313-316: (Trachomformation - see above with just one battalion each), 312 (disbanded in the Summer of 1916) plus the Honvédinfanteriebataillon Russ. In line with the renaming of the Austrian Landwehr regiments in April 1917, the Hungarian regiments were designated at this time as Honvéd infantry regiments.
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