On the morning of the 5th of September 1918, the order arrived to send reconnaissance troops to the Inchy area, in the area occupied by the 167th I.R. in order to examine possible marching routes and quartering positions. The channel had become the front line some days earlier. Here our troops had retreated to in the early September days after the battles to the north of the Somme and the breakthrough of the English tanks at Quéant – Cagnicourt had not worked in our favor. One expected new English moves towards the Cambrai area.
Sketch of the battle area
In the evening the definite order to take over the 167th I.R. area with 2 battalions in the frontline area and one battalion in the backup positions in the Fafner switch line reached us. The Ist and IInd battalions as front battalions relieved the 22nd division as backup battalions in the Fafner switch line and at evening the frontline positions at the canal positions. The IIIrd battalion followed as planned, so that at 8th of September in the evening the entire area was taken over. As the English, except of heavy artillery fire, was quite, the fortifications of the positions began. The battle positions were anew divided and this freed the 2nd battalion for it’s role as reserve battalion. They dug in themselves forwards Sailly, but returned to Sailly for quarters. The battalions appeared to be quite comfortable at their positions, so the regiment dropped their usual relieve scheme and all battalions stayed at their current positions. It wasn’t until the 20th of September that the enemy got more lively and constantly, both daily and nightly, sent out forward patrols especially towards the floodgates occupied by the 3rd and 4th company and a small woodland area that stretched from the canal to Inchy that was well defended by the 1st company. It’s stretched out defenses, occupied by us, were very displeasing to the enemy. Things became unpleasant when the enemy identified our new left side neighbors, a Cavalry-Rifleman-Division, as freshmen in the trench war and threw them out of Moeuvres very quickly. They then tried to get rid of the frontline battalion from the left. After a heavy, but short firefight they moved south and directly towards Inchy towards our lines at the canal. The enemy artillery fire had been targeted behind our lines. The enemy storm troops encountered our unharmed troops and were bloodily struck back. Groups that had entered the woodlands to our right and left were worked out again quite quickly. But we would not get any rest before Moeuvres was back into our hands again. The Cavalry-Rifleman-Division, supported by the 1st reserve division guard took the village again, but were thrown out again almost immediately. As a result, we lost the woodlands at the canal. New attack, counterattack. Fighting was going on every morning and evening. The woodlands changed hands continuously. During one fight, Vizefeldwebel Klabunde, 1st Comp. 187th captured about a dozen Englishmen. The continuous fighting, the eternal artillery fire that only lessened during the noontime and turned the marching routes into hazard zones, making nightly transports very difficult, cut large holes between the already badly lined up companies. The energy with which the enemy forced itself towards the canal made it obvious that they had something big on their minds. Therefore we constantly had to prevent, cost what it may, their taking of Moeuvres and the woodlands, while preparing a counter strike. On the 28th of September we would strike back. The exhausted Ist battalion was relieved by the backup battalion (the IIIrd) and marched in the night of the 22nd and the 23rd of September to Bantigny via Sailly for delousing and repair of the strongly exhausted machine guns. Some parts of the IInd battalion and many heavy machine guns were moved towards the canal positions, all light mortar groups were positioned behind the canal. Our main focus point was in the 1st battle zone. The backup and reserve positions, especially the battle positions – including the regiments staff position – almost laid bare. This was audacious, but necessary, however, in order to at least have a chance with our weakened numbers. If the enemy would attack us and overrun the 1st position, they would hardly have no enemy before them after that. And they attacked us. The night of the 27th of September was too quiet. It was still dark, when suddenly at 5:15 in the morning a heavy barrage of fire rained down on the regiment’s positions. The fire was correct on the canal. Already after 15 minutes the English attacked the canal out of the woodlands in large masses. They were struck back. Two tanks that tried to enter the canal area at a place where a small rail road cut through the thick canal bank were destroyed by combined charge. That small group at the canal, consisting of parts of the 3rd battalion, led by Leutnant Schlubeck was very proud of their action and never lost courage even while they were under heavy artillery fire. Nobody could see the big picture anymore. The canal was covered with gas and smoke. Suddenly heavy rifle fire from the back set in. Schlubeck thought that the fire came from our reserve battalion who believed that by now the canal would be in enemy hands. He walked up to the top of bordering the canal to tell the comrades that they were firing on their own troops. But, shock and horror, there stood khaki brown men with razor’s dishes on their heads. How did those guys get here? A group was sent off to deal with those guys. They enemy spread out and no-one took interest in that situation again. In the mean time, Tommy attacked again at the front. They were struck back. The daylight became brighter, From the back some groups came, couriers, medics, etc.. and they were identified as English, who were looking for Englishmen and did not expect to find ‚Boches’ (English/French slang for ‚Germans’) anymore. The small heroic group near the canal slowly realized their situation. They discovered that the English already had overrun their rearward area. They believed however that behind the floodgates at the left wing of the regiment Germans were still present. They had seen German flares in the sky there and decided to fight towards that position. They moved from tree to tree along the canal, unnoticed by the Tommies at the front. But close to the floodgates the small group found themselves in the middle of strong enemy reserve troops and had to surrender. This happened several hours after the first attack, at a moment when the English had already reached our regimental staff positions well behind our fighting positions. In the mean time they had taken over the other parts of the front.
Long before the English started shelling our frontlines, they had ambushed the cavalry troops, creating a large gap in the German front and taking in division after division. Our battle troop commander (K.T.K.), positioned not far from the cavalry positions were very surprised to find Englishmen at the door while they could still hear the rattling of machine guns from our first line. A short skirmish followed at the headquarters. Leutnant von Bülow, the leader of the 3rd machinegun company, personally fired into the approaching Englishmen with a machine gun until he was overrun, severely wounded. The enemy proceeded towards the Fafner switch line. Here were some 40 men of the IInd battalion. One can imagine that these few men could halt that English steamroller, especially since they were surrounded by the Enemy from Bourlon. Strong enemy groups that broke through at Sains-les-Marquion at the right of the regiment, moved forwards from the north towards the regiment positions. Here they had quickly assessed the situation. At 3’o clock, a lone lancer arrived and explained that the Tommy had broken through. The man was not exactly a hero, but nobody doubted his words. Quickly informing the high command was impossible. All means of communication were shot to pieces. The headquarters were under heavy artillery attacks. Couriers were dispatched backwards with the request to send all reserves to the cavalry division positions, since that was where the trouble came from. At 9 o’clock in the morning the first enemy troops and some tanks appeared in front of our headquarters. They were quickly taken out by our artillery. A fire fight developed. Parts of the Ist battalion had arrived at the headquarters in the mean time and helped to defend the embankment. There were only a few, without machine guns, they were still in Bantigny for repair. They had marched back during the night, were informed in the morning of the 27th and were rushed back to the front through heavy artillery fire, shook up but still possessing an iron will to fight back the enemy. The railroad embankment was a good defense line. The situation was not very bad, although the English lines were continuously reinforced, especially with machine guns that started heavy cover fire. They didn’t appear to be very sure of victory since immediately some Tommies surrendered themselves. Then we saw strong enemy columns moving through the southeast of Bourlon forest area with the intention to attack us in the back. We quickly were fighting with them as well. Since no reserves made it to our positions, we had to abandon them. Our artillery was mostly destroyed, apart from some surviving guns that defended themselves vigorously. Our positions fell apart. Those who didn’t fall ended up being captured with the wounded or sneaked back towards Sailly, where in the evening the last remaining battle troops and the regiment’s infantry engineers company took up positions. A final counter attack was launched, that led nowhere because of the limited number of elderly men of the infantry engineers company against the English, rating at 1:100.
During the night of the 27th and the 28th of September the remains of the regiment at Sailly were relieved by the 3rd division. A small group of the infantry engineers company was forgotten, while the enemy had surrounded Sailly in the mean time and was building up it’s artillery at the eastern exit. The last of the regiment gathered in Bouchain to the northeast of Cambrai on the 30th of September.
At Douai and the retreat behind the Schelde river. (Escaut)
Since the English continued their frequent attacks on the 1st of October, the regiment was ordered to serve as flank shield near Fressain. Shortly after the arrival at the ordered gathering point a motorbike courier brought us the division orders to cancel the alarm and return to Bouchain. Just after arriving there, a division order came to transport the regiment to the Douai area immediately, using truck transports in order to relieve the 69th reserve infantry regiment at it’s positions at Fresmoy and Oppy to the west of Douai. Since those positions were known to be quiet we hoped to get some rest and relaxation during the peaceful reinforcement duties after the Cambrai-massacre. Instead of rest we got a difficult task. We were ordered, with our weakened bodies, to take over the wide stretched positions that were previously occupied by a large and strong regiment and to guard them against suddenly active enemy actions and to recapture some lost trenches in the mean time. Our brave men were expected to pull off some new stunts regardless of the previous days. But every time when regiment orders came to move forwards together with the neighboring 189th regiment, the position battalion would report that the enemy had broken through our weak frontline defenses and had nested themselves between our lines. The regiment orders to recapture lost ground could not be followed because we had not enough men to pull it off. So we had to surrender our front line piece by piece to the enemy during heavy fighting until on the 7th of October finally the order came for the entire group to pull back to the Wotan positions. The enemy didn’t follow to eagerly. But a further backwards repositioning of the front line was necessary anyway. The canal to the north of Douai was to be the first line. The IIIrd battalion took that front line, the IInd battalion served as backup. Here the Ist battalion ceased to exist for some time. It’s companies were distributed amongst the IInd and IIIrd battalions, some companies put together, so that both battalions had 4 companies. Fighting strength was still very weak. The companies never reached the strength again we had in Rumania.
During these days the Macedonian front collapsed. We heard about a new peace proposal from the Kaiser to the army and navy. Everyone knew, although we were not conquered, that the end was near. Everyone thought during these days how important it was not to get himself killed just before the end. But still, the brave 187th had done their duty.
The stay at the canal took only a few days. Then we got the order to retreat behind the Schelde river. From each regiment sector a rear guard battalion was appointed. The rest of the regiments pulled back behind the Schelde in order to build up new positions.
The IInd battalion stayed with the Enemy. Guarded by this rear guard all tactically needed blastings and destructions were carried out. Behind the last detachments the engineers blew up the street crossings. Unforgettable to the rear guard soldiers is the view of the burning corn and haystacks, that were set alight shortly before breaking up camp in order to prevent the supplies from falling into enemy hands.
By this way the IInd battalion took up rear guard positions at the Bouvignies forest and at Rosult (to the west of St. Amand). Patrols continuously stayed near the enemy. From Rosult the battalion moved behind the Schelde river to Mortagne to rest, but had to help building up positions the next day. The entire front followed the north bank of the Schelde. Before the divisions front there was the Maulde fortress on a strategic hill, directly at the French/Belgian border. Because of this, the new positions formed a forward bridge head at the connection of the Schelde and the Scarpe river. Forward patrols of the IIIrd battalion secured the workers. These patrols succeeded in pushing back the nearing enemy at Lecesses, so that it did not advance further. On the 22nd of October the IIIrd battalion left the bridge head to the IInd battalion and moved to their ‚rest’ positions near Legis.
Musketier Wickboldt and Hauptmann Dose in Brasmenil (Belgium)
But the troops didn’t get much rest. With all hands and in pouring rain reinforcements were made, causing bad moods in spite of the relatively good quarters. The wild rumors did the rest, worsening the morale of the troops. Wilson was said to have offered peace when we would overthrow our emperor and lay down our weapons. These rumors brought great depressions but also great anger. Further we heard the Kaiser had been put aside, as well as Ludendorff. The resistance of our men was tested surely. Even while winning the war was no longer an option, everybody hoped that standing tall would bring an honest peace. Did the home country had the will and hope to reach this goal left? Not after the newspaper articles were read. The words ‚standing tall’ were completely forgotten, instead there was writing about peace at all cost and about internal political matters, which were forced to the background by the last battle news. Was it possible for the army to achieve it’s goals with such feelings? Only the unquestioned believe in Hindenburg and the army leaders helped to tip the balance in their favor. Amongst the army leaders were men who had successfully led all parts of the army, surely they would gain control over this situation, brought to us by the home country with their peace talks and political disagreements. That was the rock solid believe at the front. This believe strengthened the troops in their retreat battles, their loyal duty to the home country.
On the 23rd of October the IIIrd battalion relieved the bridge head parts of the 119th I.R. on the east bank of the Schelde and furthermore the 11th and 12th company were deployed at the front near the l’Abbaye castle and the 9th and 4th company in the main defense lines at the Flines Fortress near Rodignies. The Schelde and Scarpe river had been blocked off and had formed a wide lake.
L’Abbaye castle with it’s streets to the north and south rose from the water like a small peninsula. Because our neighboring regiment at the left had lowered it’s guard, the English had managed to get a foothold on this narrow stretch of land. With many patrol attacks they gave the 11th and 12th companies a hard time. When the IInd battalion cleared the bridgehead like ordered and than moved to Wiers for rest and the English had moved forwards to the west bank of the Scarpe the position of both companies at the l’Abbaye castle were very dangerous. To the west and east there was only water, to the south and west there were Englishmen and the road to Mortagne to the north was the only connection to the main defense lines. This road was completely controlled by English machine gun fire. Even though the 11th company had been ordered back to the main defense lines on the evening of the 26th of October, the 12th company had the difficult assignment to hold the front area. During all patrol skirmishes the companies could hold their ground well, they even followed the English they had pushed back. At this time though, the 12th company alone was to weak. When English patrols attacked again on 4 am in the morning of the 27th of October they managed to get a foothold on the eastern exit of the l’Abbaye castle, cutting off the 12th company from the main defense lines. The only escape route that remained was to try and reach Mortangne, wading through the water under the cover of darkness. Because of excellent discipline they succeeded. Without losses and in complete order the company leader, Leutnant Söhl, just barely managed to save the company from capture and return to the main defense lines. The next days were relatively calm, apart from some artillery fire. The wide Schelde river made any infantry action impossible for now.
In the mean time the fighting strength of the individual companies had improved, so that the change into two battalions after the Cambrai slaughter could be reversed and three battalions with three companies each could be formed again.
On the 30th of October the Ist and IInd battalion, on the 31st of October the IIIrd battalion were relieved by the 185th I.R. In pouring rain the battalions moved to Blaton for a short rest period. Already on the 1st of November the Ist and IInd battalion, on the 2nd of November the IIIrd battalion were transported with trucks via Harchies – Pommeroeul, Thulin – Elouges _ Audregniers – Angre towards Marchipont. By foot march Rombies was reached and in this overcrowded village mass quarters were made.
More retreat fights and armistice
At Valenciennes there was a large battle. With all might and means the English tried to break through our front lines and while they did not succeed even after sacrificing fresh troops, they did succeed in pushing us back a few kilometers every day. Much too quickly the English with their far superior means used large attacks to break the resistance of the weakened German troops. Already on the 2nd of November in the afternoon, the IInd battalion, as backup battalion, entered the battle in order to halt the enemy approach. The Ist battalion managed to keep it’s positions despite heavy attacks but it was clear they could not hold them long. Therefore during the night the IIrd battalion set up new positions on the hill to the west of the Rombies – Quarouble road. Unspotted by the enemy, the Ist battalion pulled back to the new positions in the morning of the 3rd of November, while the IInd battalion took up the lines 500 meters to the west of Marchipont – Maison Rouge – Fosse 2 as backup battalion and the IIIrd battalion moved to Quiévrechain as reserve battalion. Things remained calm during the day. Already large groups of enemy tanks were sighted at Onnaing at noon, after which the IIIrd battalion was alarmed and moved forwards to Marchipont. The enemy remained calm so the IIIrd battalion returned to their quarters in the evening. In the night of the 5th of November the IInd battalion was moved to Baisieux as reserve. The IInd battalion served as new front line 500 meters to the west of Marchipont – Maison Rouge – Fosse 2. The IIIrd battalion became backup at it’s positions to the southern exit of Quévrechain, only the 9th company was moved forwards as support for the IInd battalion at Marchipont. The regrouping had barely been completed when at 6:30 am a grueling artillery barrage set in. Luckily the main target was the former line left by the Ist battalion, but the IInd battalion and 9th company suffered dearly under this heavy artillery fire. After a short preparation fire the English attacked with strong forces. The IInd battalion could not defend itself against this onslaught in the open field. Step by step it had to move back to the positions of the 9th company. Here the enemy advance was halted and all further enemy attacks were held back at high enemy losses.
When heavy rain set in at 9 o’clock, the English stopped their attack. Around 10 o’clock ranks were closed again at the new line of Marchipont – Maison Rouge – Fesse 2. The 9th company was pulled back and marched towards their destination at the Quievrechain castle following roads not visible to the enemy. After nightfall the English tried again and again to take the group of houses at Maison Rouge. During bitter fighting the IInd battalion succeeded in warding off the attacks. Suddenly, at 3 o’clock in the morning of the 6th of November the occupation group of the houses was attacked from the rear and overthrown as a result. We suspect that enemy patrols were aided by locals who led them through holes in our defenses through houses and gardens from Marchipont. This way they could ambush us and take the important house groups by surprise. Several attempts of the IInd battalion to recapture the houses failed because of the strong enemy defense. Already the day before the front leaders had marked these positions as insecure. The division was informed about this condition and was asked to order to reposition it’s front along the southern edge of Quievrechain. With their backs protected by the neighbors, they were ordered to hold this position at all costs. But with the loss of this important group of houses the position of the IInd battalion became uncontrollable, so that the division had to order the retreat of the IInd battalion from the southern edge of Ouievrechain after several urgent requests from the front. Sadly, this order arrived much too late at 6:30 am. Already at 6:15 a murderous barrage of artillery fire had set in, targeting the front line and Quievrechain, shortly afterwards followed by a strong enemy attack. The IInd battalion was hit so hard by the artillery fire that they could not withstand this attack. When the 9th company tried to make a stand by taking positions with heavy machine guns at certain strongholds they were destroyed by enemy artillery hits. Communication lines with the 11th and 12th company were severed. With remarkable strength the English had pushed forwards to Queverechain from the north, engaged the neighboring 189th regiment with fierce, short fights and occupied their positions, severing the communication with both companies. Both companies were regarded as being captured. The rest of the IInd and IIIrd battalions moved backwards to Elouges. When the Ist battalion heard about the tragic conditions of both other battailions, they occupied the hill at the mine to the west of Elouge and waited for the enemy. Greatly surprised and gladness, at around 10 o’clock, they saw the 11th and 12th company, in stead of the enemy, approaching towards our new positions coming from Baisieux. Both companies had succeeded to cross the Honelle stream to the east and reach the castle parks under cover of the dense bushes growing beside the stream. There they had some resistance from the English but managed to pull back using an English made smoke screen. Sadly we lost the company leader of the 12th company, Leutnant Söhl (as last officer of the regiment) along with some brave men when they tried to capture some Englishmen. The English did not pursue them further towards Baissieux and Queverechain.
After darkness fell, the positions were retreated further and so the IIIrd battalion as rear guard occupied the western edge of Elouges – Thulin to the Valenciennes – Mons road, while the Ist and IInd battalion set up new positions to the west of the road Boussu – Dour. On the 7th of November the English carefully scouted the area with patrols. A strong enemy patrol was allowed to reach the edge of the village and was shot apart with flanking machine gun fire. After that, the Tommy left us alone, instead they tried to enter the positions of our left neighboring regiment, the 24th IR at the south of Elougues. Several times, the Tommies succeeded in occupying the first houses, but they were thrown out again. In the noon time they managed to hold these houses. Now, things got very unpleasant for the IIIrd battalion. Communication lines were lost all the time and it cost a lot of effort to establish them again in this mass of houses, where even the local civilians entered the fight, shooting at communication patrols. The English fought towards us house by house and they entered our left wing in the evening. The position of the IIIrd battalion was about to be overrun from the south. Therefore, the battalion was pulled back towards the road St. Homme – Dour. The enemy did not leave Elouges, which was lucky for us, since without natural cover the exhausted troops could not have resisted. The sense of duty of the troop was however strong enough for them to take the stand until the last breath. The only thing that undermined the will of the troops were the continuous wild rumors, like for example the armistice that would follow within 48 hours. After that came the news that Austria had capitulated and that there had been a revolution in Hungaria. Our home leaders and the press were more concerned with pompous speeches about the internal politics and peace, instead of supporting the army during these difficult days of despair for our home country. All this undermined our position, fueled the victory feelings of the enemy and took away our chance of an honest peace settlement. How demoralizing this was for our troops! Where were we fighting for? For our country? Our country was letting us down! Army and country, who were supposed to be as one, followed separate paths! The army tried to protect the country against enemy invasion in order to secure an honest settlement. The country just ignored the army and was calling out for peace at any price behind our backs, disgracing everything the army had fought for. We, at the front, abandoned by our home country! What a terrible insult! And yet, the front army remained true to it’s cause.
At a better position near Nivelles, the so-called A.M. position (Antwerp – Meuse), we should again withstand the enemy. The regiment was supposed to retreat to that position in steps. The Ist and IInd battalion were relieved at the western edge of Boussu on the 8th of November and occupied the railroad embankment to the northeast of Ghlin as next step. The IIIrd battalion pulled back from the enemy in the evening and marched in the morning of the 9th of November to Numiy, north of Mons, after resting for the night in Hornu. Here at the 10th of November, the news about the emperor’s abdication hit the troops like a blow in the face! Reliable news never reached us, since the mail was not delivered anymore. The troops were very restless. Rumors that things were falling apart were fueled by the plundering of supply trains by gangs of soldiers. This also meant supply problems for the front troops. After all the problems we had to deal with, hunger was introduced as a new one. Chaos was inevitable, but the discipline of the front troops remained. On the 10th of November the regiment was pulled back to Ecaussinnes–Lalaing. Here on the same evening the message arrived that on the 11th of November at 12:00 at noon the armistice would begin. An indescribable cheering came from the troops. The war is over! Light flares were shot into the air, like a regular fireworks display. Shots were fired in the air. The knowledge that the war demon had died made all troubles fade to the background. But quite quickly the joy faded away and new questions came. Under which conditions was this ‚peace’ accepted and how were conditions in the home country? No news reached us, fueling the rumors.
The 11th of November was a day of rest, on the 12th of November the sad retreat began. The land, conquered by our army in 1914 during the first victories, had to be left to the enemy without a fight. The Belgian population, with they joy over the ‚victory’, did everything they could to demoralize the retreating German army. Many houses were adorned with allied flags and in the windows they had hung copper works, that were supposed to be turned in, but had been hidden. And we could not defend us against these insults.
The regiment staff during the march home, acquiring provisions
On the 12th of November the regiment marched towards Ittre, on the 13th of November to Hoeilaart, where the luggage of the regiment was waiting for us. During the march the next day, in Overijsse, the largest part of the heavy and light machine guns had to be surrendered to the enemy. Without major problems the march home through Hamme – Mille – Orp – Limont – Luttich to Grivegnee near Luttich was continued. Here was a day of rest. In Luttich we had found some home news by reading Belgian newspapers. After Russian model, a revolution took place. Workers and Soldiers councils had replaced the government. These mobs were doing very much as they pleased. Grim sketches about the home country conditions were painted in these Belgian newspapers. While we were giving our lives fighting the enemy outside, another enemy inside had appeared to which we fell without protection.
How comforting was the bell ringing and the welcome party with a gate of honor and black-white-red decorated streets in the first German village we reached on the 20th of November. The German spirit was still alive and not completely buried by that revolution.
Through Scheevenhütte – Buir – Düren – Frechen at Köln we continued further. A day of rest in Frechen on the 24th of November. On the 25th the march continued, at first through Köln. Here the people welcomed us in a special way. Disorderly, while plundering, several groups of retreating soldiers had passed here and the local population did not know what to expect. When the rear troops had passed through in a terrible state, how bad would the frontline troops behave? The cheers were indescribable when the regiment marched by, orderly and with black-white-red adorned vehicles. While singing „Deutschland, Deutschland über alles“ we crossed the Rhine and entered the Sauerland. The regiment was supposed to march until Hemmerde in Westfalen and would be transported by train to Altona from there. The promised transport was not possible since the allied had confiscated too many railroad equipment. Sadly some agitators managed to convince some men, especially the recruits of the field recruitment depot, that the officers intentionally hindered transport. The wish to spend Christmas at home with their loved ones and the worries about leaving the military caused these men to believe these stories. Some leaders of the soldiers councils that were appointed in the mean time used this opportunity to gain a foothold. These men of the workers and soldiers councils in the towns provided the men with their own discharge papers and travel papers. These papers attracted many men. In stead of a regular march home for many days, they could travel home privately with the aid of the documents of the Workers and Soldiers councils very quickly. They then could try to get civilian jobs long before the honest soldier had traveled home and only had the remaining jobs to pick from or alternatively stay unemployed.
When on the 6th of December the foot march to Altona was planned, we reluctantly had to assess that a number of men, including almost the entire regiment band had followed that scheme and had deserted. The rest of the regiment marched along Beckum – Gütersloh – Löhne – Petershagen – Stolzenau – Verden to Totenburg in the Lüneburger heath. The longest serving men had been released along the way, one after another, so that the regiment consisted mostly of luggage when on the 17th of December 1918 Rotenburg near Scheeßel was reached. Here the regiment would demobilize, on orders of General.–Kommandos. IX. A.K. We heard that the Workers and Soldiers Councils in Altona had taken the money they got for the sold horses and army property and slipped it into their own pockets or in the till of the councils instead of handing it over to the state. At the same time, so-called 'guard commands’ had looted army property as well. Therefore the regiment would not release their well-kept materials there and the order of General.-Kommandos was followed with pleasure. The Soldiers council of the reserve battalions heard about our delay and appeared in Rotenburg on the 19th of December to take control of the men, but especially to get their hands on our equipment. As teaser for the men they told about the great reception prepared for us by the town of Altona. They had successfully gained cooperation of a Kompaniefeldwebel, who appointed himself as head of the regiment soldiers council, and several young men who gave the regiment’s commander, Oberstleutnant Scheuermann, this ultimatum: Or the regiment was shipped to Altona before the 21st of December, or the officers were overthrown. In order to maintain order during demobilization the regiment’s commander agreed. The Workers and Soldiers council provided 3 transport trains that would bring the reminder of the regiment to Altona, where men, horses and carriages were stationed in the barracks of the 31st Infantry Regiment. On the evening of the 22nd of December there was a welcome reception with speeches and gift exchanges in the hall of the Kaiserhof hotel. As a final act the regiment held a parade on the 23rd of December 1919 in Altona, where they were met by the town’s mayor and the Workers and Soldiers council, followed by a formal farewell of the regiment’s commander at the barracks-square.
The men were relieved of their duties during the day and the army equipment, along with the horses were handed over to the men of the Workers and Soldiers council. After all it had been through and all the sacrifices it had made the 187th regiment had not deserved such a sad ending. But we knew that the regiment was not to blame for it’s inglorious ending and therefore we were and always will be proud of our beloved:
Infanterie–Regiment Nr. 187
Regiment commander of the