Arndt family losses WWI                   

Franz b. April 16, 1881 and Ernst b. April 14, 1891 lost their lives serving Kaiser William II of the Prussia Empire in World War One.  Family tradition tells us that Franz, the oldest of the family, died when the German Army led enemy forces into a swamp.  We were also told that many Russian soldiers were lost in the engagement.  Ernst was a soldier as well and the fourth child in the family.


We contacted "Lest We Forget" a German group compiling information on German war dead to remind their countrymen of the tremendous loss of lives from the two world wars. Our request was forwarded to the Central Office for War Injured and War Graves located in Berlin.    


A search was done of the records of sickbeds in military hospitals and of military casualties of war. The search was difficult because of the extensive damage done to Germany during World War Two. They did, however, find the following information for each of the Arndt brothers lost:


Franz Arndt, born April 16th 1881

*  Place of birth or the last known address: Scharsow, Kreis Stolp.


*  Served as a soldier in Troop Unit 6, Infantry Regiment 5 from Graudenz, Thorn.


*  Fought in the battles at Bakalarczewo and Klonowo in Poland on October 6, 1914.


Ernst Arndt, born April 14th 1891

*  Place of birth or the last know address: Gaffert, Kreis Stolp, Pommern.


*  From the main patient register in the Reserve Hospital in Ratibor,


*  Ernst "took up duty" October 11, 1911.


*  His military grade was a Reservist in Troop Unit 8, Infantry- Regiment 141.


*  His parents were August Arndt and Wilhelmine (nee. Sill) who were living in Granzin at the time of his enlistment.


*  Ernst was registered upon arrival at the military hospital on October 23, 1914.


*  His injury was not stated.


*  He died on November 16, 1914 in the Reserve Hospital in Ratibor, Poland.


*  He was buried in communal grave #11 near the Lutheran church in Friedhof on November 18, 1914 after memorial services at the church.


This information suggests that Ernst, like Emil, was in the Prussian Army as a reservist prior to the beginning of World War One in 1914. We know from history as well as family tradition, that Prussia had universal military conscription for all its young men between certain ages and thus had a very large number of men under arms.


It is likely that Franz was recalled into active duty as a reservist when the war broke out as he was only a foot soldier when he died at the age of thirty-three and a father of three small children.


 Ratibor is a city on the Oder River, almost at the border of Czecho-Slovacia. In 1914 it was in Silesia and part of the Austrian Empire.  In 1920 Ratibor is listed as having about 48,000 population.


Armed with only this much data, We tried to piece together what might have happened to the two brothers during the war.  It's notable that their deaths occurred so near the beginning of the war.


 With help from various websites and other resources we developed this time-line for military ground activity on the Eastern Front. Much of this was pieced together from information we found on the web at  To skip the time-line of the eastern front in ww I, scroll past the Prussian Blue.



August 03, 1914 Germany declares  war  on  Russia.


August 14, 1914 The first action on the Eastern Front of the Great War began at Stalluponen (in present day Luthuania) when Russian General Pavel Rennenkampt's 1st Army was fought by Gen. Hermann v. Francois' 1st Infantry Corp attached to Gen. v. Prittwitz's and  Gaffron's  German  8th Army.


Francois drove the Russians back to the frontier until Prittwitz called back the unauthorized frontal attach. Under order, Francois   withdraws   to Gumbinnen.


August 17,1914 German 8th Army under Gen. Prittwitz faces Russian 1st under Gen. Rennenkampt and 2nd under Gen. Samsonov, the two invading Armies enter East Prussia in a full-scale  offensive. 


August 20, 1914 German 8th Army lays a counteroffensive with Russian 1st at battle of Gumbennin (Gusev).  Prittwitz with 150,000 men advances across a 55 km front.  Three German Corps (v. Francois' 1st Inf., v. Mackensen's 9th Army 17th Calvary  and v. Below's 8th Inf. ) guard the line south of Gumninnen around 40 km inside the East Prussian boarder.  Prittwitz' German 8th Army retreats to the Vistula River - effectively conceding the    entire    Russian    invasion    of    East   Prussia.


Gen Helmuth v. Moltke, the German Chief of Staff in Berlin was furious with Prittwitz's capitulation, recalls Prittwitz and his deputy v. Waldersee to Berlin. Paul v. Hindenburg is called out of retirement at age 66 to command the 8th Army and Erich v. Ludendorff is assigned  to  be  Paul v. Hindenburg's  Chief-of-Staff.


Hindenburg left a small force in East Prussia and leads 166,000 men against Russia's 200,000 in Tannenberg,  the  most  famous  Battle   of   the   war.


August 26-30, 1914 Battle of Tannenberg - large German victory, destroys Russia's 2nd Army and virtually   ends   Russia's   invasion   of   East Prussia.


September 9, 1909 to September 14, 1914 the Germans defeat the Russians at the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes  Gen. v. Hindenburg's 8th Army with 21 Divisions, 18 of Infantry and 3 of Cavalry face Russia's  1st  Army    under   General    Rennenkampf. 


Rennenkampf's army was presently moving through the Interburg Gap between Konigsberg and the Masurian Lakes. A preliminary German attack  begun 7 Sept launched from either side of  the  south  lakes.


September 25-28, 1914 The Battle of Njemen forced a German retreat. The Russians retook much of the ground   lost    during    the    First    Masurian    battle.


The Eastern Front was marked with fluid movements of armies.  This was not the static trench warfare we are familiar with on the Western Front where our US forces were sent into the war in 1918.


None of the battles of the German engagements match the time and location of the Arndt brothers' demise, so we turn our attention to the assistance that the Germans were giving to their allies during World War I, the Austrians.


It appears that in the overall scheme of things, these were not considered significant battles of the war as we found little on the Web describing them. But then, significant is a relative term.  In our case our relatives perished so these engagements are significant to us.


Remember that on July 28, 1914 it was the Austria-Hungary Empire that declared war against Serbia that sent the whole world into a frenzy to take sides.


In the South of Poland, Austrian Chief-of-staff Conrad von Hoetzendorf launched his own attack northward toward Warsaw with 39 divisions of Austrian troops.


August 30, 1914 The Russians put four armies opposite Hoetzendorf. During the third week in September Hoetzendorf orders a general retreat and the province of Galicia was abandoned by the Austrians at a cost of over 130,000 casualties.


General  von Hoetzendorf appealed to the Germans to support an offensive which he hoped would force the Russians away from the crests of the Carpathian Mountains.


By Sept 13, 1914 the Austrians had lost 300,000 soldiers and the entire army had retreated into the mountains. This is to Ratibor.  We suspect Ernst received his mortal wounds participating in the Prussian Army's assistance to their ally Austria.


During October 1914 German forces launched an offensive and advanced all the way to Warsaw and Iangorad. By the end of October, a build up of Russian forces along the border caused the Germans to retreat from Poland all together. 


Later, after the Bolshevik Revolution toppled Imperial Russia, the Russian armies would completely surrender to Germany. This was too late for the Arndt brothers and many others who died or were injured.


As for our Arndt relatives, I think we can reasonably conclude that Ernst served at the time when the Russians defeated the Austrian Army and the German Army was sent to help.  The battles where Franz fought were probably small in comparison to the big picture of the whole world at war.


We were not able to find any reference to Bakalarcezewo or Klonowo on the Web.  However, on a large map of Poland we found two towns named Klonowo.  One is clearly inside of Pommern and therefore in the Prussian Empire. We probably can eliminate that one as a possibility of the site of the engagement.  The second is just south of Thorn (German border on the Vistula River) and north of Sarnowo. That area is very marshy.  This Klonowo is mid-way between two parks, (Lachminowitz and Wloclawski) that are essentially swamps. I think this is the battle site.


It's also possible that both brothers were in all or some of the larger Prussian vs. Russian battles up to this time as well. We find no reference of a large group of fresh troops being brought in just to help the Austrians in southern Poland.  For that reason we've included these battle summaries in Prussian blue as part of our background information.


Our Arndt relatives, more likely than not, had already been present for the Prussian Armies' role in the victories at East Prussia, Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes.  Their units may not have actually fought, but they probably were there.  We won't know that for a fact unless we find a more detailed breakdown of the infantry units.


With Prussian troops in retreat at the end of September 1914, leading the Russians into a swamp to tempt death somehow makes sense; at least in a military context. As dreadful as it seems to us sitting comfortably in our homes a continent way and a century removed, it might have been a contrived act of a defeated Army willing to make any sacrifice to lure the enemy into the next trap.  We know that indeed, such a snare was being planned under v. Hindenburg who was named Oberbefehlshaberost (Commander-in-Chief-East) on 11/01/1914.


This loss is important, lest we forget.