|Royal Bavarian Jäger Regiment Nr. 1
Mountain Infantry of the German Alpenkorps
A SHORT HISTORY
|CONTACT: Walther Ritter
|FORMATION OF THE DEUTSCHE ALPENKORPS: After experiencing heavy difficulties in fighting the French
Chasseurs Alpins in the Vosges Mountains during the Battle of the Frontiers, the German Army determined to create its own
specialized mountain units. The Royal Bavarian 1st and 2nd Snowshoe Battalions (Kgl. Bayerisches Schneeschuhbataillon I &
II) were formed in Munich, Bavaria on November 21, 1914. A third battalion was formed in April 1915 from the 4th, 5th and
6th companies of the second battalion. In May 1915, the three battalions were brought together with a fourth (formed from
troops of the other battalions and Bavarian Landwehr troops) to form the 3rd Jäger Regiment (Jäger Regiment Nr. 3). In
October 1915, the designation Schneeschuhbataillon was eliminated.
Also in May 1915, the previously separate Bavarian 1st, 2nd and 2nd Reserve Jäger Battalions were joined to form the Royal
Bavarian 1st Jäger Regiment (Kgl. Bayer. Jäger Regiment Nr. 1). The Prussian 10th, 10th Reserve and 14th Reserve Jäger
Battalions were also joined together, forming the 2nd Jäger Regiment (Jäger Regiment Nr. 2). These units, along with the elite
Royal Bavarian Infantry Lifeguards Regiment (Infanterie-Leib-Regiment), the Bavarian Army bodyguard regiment, became
the core of the Alpenkorps, and were complemented with additional artillery, machinegun and other support units. The
Alpenkorps was officially founded on May 18, 1915 with Bavarian Generalleutnant Konrad Krafft von Dellmensingen as its
commander, and Bavarian Generalmajor Ludwig Ritter von Tutschek and Prussian Generalmajor Ernst von Below as his
First campaigns in the Dolomites and France: Although Germany and Italy were not at war until 1916, the Alpenkorps was
immediately dispatched to reinforce the thinly occupied front line in the Dolomite mountains. It did not undertake offensive
actions, but defended the front against repeated attacks by the Italian Alpini until Austria was able to extract enough forces
from the eastern war theatre and relocate them to the new front. The unit had an air arm, which was FFA 9, flying Pfalz
Parasol aircraft. After four months, the Alpenkorps returned briefly to the Western Front, as now the Austrian defenders were
sufficient in numbers and entrenched enough to hold the front on their own. The Austrian Kaiserschützen honored the men of
the Alpenkorps by awarding them their unit insignia: the Edelweiss.
Serbia (1915): After only a week in France and the Dolomites, the Alpenkorps was sent to fight in the Serbian Campaign.
Verdun (1916): The Alpenkorps returned to France in March 1916. After a short respite, it entered into the Battle of Verdun
in June 1916. The regiments of the Alpenkorps lost over 70% of their strength in the fighting around Fort Vaux and Fleury.
After leaving the line, the regiments were reconstituted, and in mid-July 1916 the 3rd Jäger Regiment was transferred from the
division. The 2nd Brigade headquarters was eliminated and the Alpenkorps became a triangular division with 1st Brigade
controlling the other two Jäger regiments and the Infanterie-Leib-Regiment.
Romania: Romania entered the war on the side of the Entente on August 27, 1916. In September, the Alpenkorps was
dispatched to fight in the Romanian Campaign. The Infanterie-Leib-Regiment suffered a number of losses in the mountain
fighting in Romania, including one of its most prominent members, Prince Heinrich of Bavaria, a major and battalion
commander. The Alpenkorps remained in Romania until April 1917 and then again returned to the Western Front. In August
1917, the Alpenkorps returned to Romania and participated in the final battles there in the wake of the Kerensky Offensive.
Caporetto: In September 1917, the Alpenkorps was sent once more to the Italian Front to reinforce the Austrian Army for the
upcoming 12th Battle of the Isonzo. By this point, the Royal Württemberg mountain battalion ("Königlich Württembergisches
Gebirgsbataillon") had been attached to the division, and one of its members, the later-Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel,
would distinguish himself at Caporetto in November. Another company commander who distinguished himself at Caporetto,
the Infanterie-Leib-Regiment's Ferdinand Schörner, would also rise to Field Marshal in World War II.
France (1918): The Alpenkorps returned to the Western Front in 1918.
It participated in the Battle of the Lys in April and fought in the Battle of Picardy in the Hundred Days Offensive. In October,
it returned to the Balkans, where it was at the time of the Armistice.