Inside the trenches, © Museum Hameln
Place of origin and year unknown
An artillery round hit Otto von Finckh only five days before the ending of the war, in rearguard action at the French-Belgian border. He was the last officer of the 164th Regiment to die in battle.
Stations of the 164th Regiment in the First World War
After only one month, the German attack ground to a halt. The Regiment was positioned in trenches at various places on the Western Front. Even large battles – for example at the Somme and in Flanders – brought no resolution despite horrific casualties. In the late summer of 1918, the German army was near to collapse. The regiment was forced to withdraw further and further.
Battles fought by the 164th Regiment
1 first battle at Namur, August 1914
2 at St. Quentin, August 1914, March/April 1917, May/June 1917
3 furthest advance, September 1914
4 beginning of trench warfare, September 1914 to March 1915
5 Woevre level, April 1915, September/October 1916, August to October 1917
6 at Arras and Bapaume, May 1915 to August 1916, November 1917 to September 1918
7 a number of battles at the Somme from August 1916 to March 1917
8 at Lens, April/May 1917, September/October 1918
9 third battle of Flanders, July/August 1917, October/November 1917
10 rearguard actions near Valenciennes October/November 1918
temporary resting quarters
Raw soldiers’ humour
Grieving soldier at the grave of a fallen comrade
N.N., winter 1917/18
Destroyed accommodation, funeral and grave of F. W. Meyer-Hermann in northern France
N.N., October/November 1916
Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer-Hermann was positioned with his regiment in the small northern French village of Villers-au-Flos. He and all of his officer comrades were killed when a stray shell hit their accommodation on 19.10.1916. He was buried in the neighbouring district of Ruyaulcourt. The family learnt from the photos in sad certainty: One of the two brothers who joined the war in 1914 was dead!
The younger Karl died only a year later on 26.10.1917.
Destroyed church in Bapaume/France
Federal Archive, Koblenz
Illustration of a trench, © Museum Hameln
Illustration of a trench
Otto Zang, northern France, 1915 and 1916 (replica)
Since there was often no movement at the front for months, the soldiers extended the dugouts and trenches with increasing skill. The drawing by the Hamelin city architect Zang shows a comrade in a trench where the walls have been reinforced. The extensive aisles have their own names and direction signs.
Inside the trenches, © Museum Hameln
Both sons of the Meyer-Hermann family, who fought at the front, brought home shrapnel and bullet cases as souvenirs to Hamelin. Some of these objects were made useful as a letter opener, schnapps glass or pen tray. Others remained as macabre reminders of the war, during which the brothers were killed.
Item on loan: Günther Meyer-Hermann family
Uniform, 164th Regiment
There were no standardised infantry uniforms during the German Empire. The 164th Regiment could be recognised by its red cuffs with white sleeve panels showing a blue seam, and white shoulder panels. The “field grey” uniforms worn in the war were more strictly standardised, but a single uniform for all infantry soldiers was not introduced due to lack of materials.
Officers usually had such chests for their belongings made individually. This one comes from the time when Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer-Hermann was transferred to the Infantry Regiment No. 92.
In contrast to the photographs evidencing the death of their son, the chest was not in the possession of the family. It was noticed in the 1980s by a collector from Hamelin at a militaria dealer.
Item on loan: Christian Block
Helmet, overcoat and 98 rifle
before 1916 | Suhl, around 1917
The soldiers of the 164th Regiment wore the officially named “spiked helmet” in battle and manoeuvres with a beige-coloured overcoat, sometimes with sewn-on regimental number. However, the headgear offered hardly any protection from shell fragments and was replaced in 1916 by the new steel helmet, type M1916. For weaponry, the soldiers carried the “98 Rifle”, introduced in 1898 which, slightly modified, remained part of the equipment of the German infantry until 1945.
undated (2x) | 1915
The 164th Regiment possessed a machine gun company from 1913. “Machine Gun 08” – the variation “08/15” stands proverbially for “standard” – could “rain down” over 500 rounds per minute in indirect fire on the opponent. Crow’s feet placed in the terrain could merely hinder an enemy thrust. The stick grenade was among the equipment of the infantry from 1915. It was ignited by a string fuse on the handle end and exploded after two seconds, according to the grip label.