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Discussion Starter #1
I am hoping to get some information about my 1911 DWM Luger just purchased. Serial number is 1751e, and all numbers match (including grips), but no matching magazine. I don't think it has ever been refinished, and the straw parts are a little tarnished. Bore is a little dark, but strong rifling, and it shoots great. No hold open, unfinished inside, and marked like I think 1911 DWM Lugers are supposed to be (i.e., not visible military style numbering, but hidden like a commercial Luger). No unit marks, but at some point, someone engraved the name "N. F. Doerr" on the side of the frame. Anyone have any thoughts of who Mr. Doerr could be? I have tried to find German and American soldiers with that name, but nothing definitive. Probably too much to ask to find Mr. Doerr, but wouldn't that be great? Thanks in advance for any help you may give.
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Looks like it was competently engraved, probably with a pantograph. The name would make me suspect the anglicized version of the German name Dörr; eliminating the umlaut was common in the transition. Your search for a former soldier likely goes in the right direction, although I would be looking for a US, not a German veteran. The white fill of the letters indicates the name did have some presentation function, not just identification of the owner; I would not think it was active-service related.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the comments thus far. Please keep them coming! Here are some thoughts that I had:

1) The pistol is in great shape for its age, it was never unit marked, retrofitted with a hold open, arsenal rebuilt after WWI or destroyed by the Treaty of Versailles. I understand that many (most?) German officers purchased their own sidearms at the start of WWI. Could “N.F. Doerr” have been a German officer that purchased 1751e as his personal sidearm and had his name engraved on it since it was his? That might explain why it was not rebuilt or destroyed (since it was his private property). That would not explain how it got through WWII unscathed and got to the U.S., unless it was a GI bring-back from one of the World Wars.

2) Maybe it was a GI bring-back in WWII? That would explain how it got to the U.S. If it was a GI bring-back from WWII, however, then why did it remain in its original configuration? Maybe it was a Royal Bavarian Army Luger (which did not get refit)? It could still have been rebuilt for the Police or destroyed after WWI, however. I think that sounds less likely that #1 or #3.

3) Maybe it was a GI bring-back from WWI? Combined with #1 (or if it was Royal Bavarian Army), that would explain why not retrofit, refurbished or destroyed, and how it got to the U.S. Would it have been more difficult for GIs to bring them back from WWI because the AEF was so much smaller than the U.S. presence in Europe in WWII? Would it have been more difficult because the Armistice was signed as the Allies reached the German frontier (as opposed to WWII, where we overran Germany before the end)?

I like the romance of #1, but #3 sounds like the most plausible. It could be various combinations of the three or even other possibilities. These are just three so far. If I could just find something to support any of these theories…or something else. Regardless, this is why I love historic firearms!

Thanks again!
 

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I understand that many (most?) German officers purchased their own sidearms at the start of WWI. Could “N.F. Doerr” have been a German officer that purchased 1751e as his personal sidearm and had his name engraved on it since it was his?
Your 1911 was part of a military contract and would not have been available for purchase by an officer. It would have been issued to an NCO in all probability. OTOH, it's possible that during the war it ended up in the hands of an officer if the NCO was wounded or killed and the gun was available.

Anything at this point would be speculation unless the name of the individual inscribed on the pistol is discovered. Keep in mind that many American soldiers also had German surnames.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Doubs, very interesting. Now I understand. He never would have had the chance to buy this one himself, as it was already supplied to the German Army (beit Royal Prussian, Royal Bavarian or whatever) pursuant to their military contract. That makes me think even more that a WWI GI bring-back is the most likely possibility. There are several men named "Doerr" with names that could match the initials "N.F." just from a quick review of U.S. draft registrations from 1917-1918. There are probably others that did not get drafted but either enlisted or were already in the Army/Marine Corp. My guess is that it was one of those folks. I doubt I'll ever know which one, but who knows? Thanks again.
 

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The lack of a hold-open could indicate either Bavarian or Wuerttemberg origin. I checked the 1914 Rangliste and came up with five officers named Doerr. They were a Colonel from I.R.40, a captain from Field Artillery Reg.11, a Landwehr cavalry captain from Worms, a Lieutenant with I.R.28 and a doctor from Worms. None of the units were from Wuerttemberg. The Rangliste does not include Bavarian officers.
 

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Wow. That is getting closer perhaps? Is there any way to search the Bavarian units? I would love to find a "N.F. Doerr" who was an officer in the Royal Bavarian. Probably still will have no idea if he is my N.F. Doerr, but it might still be good for fantasy and conversation. Thanks for taking the time to look that up.
 

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Keep in mind that relatively few pistols were captured in WW I compared to WW II, as the German army never surrendered, and just marched home after the armistice and was demobilized with very little practical Allied supervision.

Most pre-war and Imperial military contract Lugers found today which do not show a 1920 or any other markings or signs of re-work or service post-1918 simply disappeared into the civilian German population for good with the demobilized veterans. Since there was no occupation, this was pretty much risk-free.

In 1945 however, having a military pistol as a German could get you shot, so most reappeared from closets and underneath floorboards and were surrendered as required to the occupation authorities. And many souvenir bring-backs by GI’s, often purported to have been taken off the proverbial dead SS officers, actually came from those collection points.
 

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I checked my 1914-1918 Rangliste and found two more Doerrs; first a Landwehr colonel from Muhlhausen and second a lieutenant with the 1st Flieger Battalion. So if you want "sexy" choose the last one!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you so much for looking. Do any of these "Doerr"s have "N. F." as initials? Do they have first/middle names listed? I will try to search for these gentlemen and see if anything else appears. Thanks again!
 

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No initials are given, just ranks. On the down side, I believe that Germans seldom use a middle initial so the inscription on your pistol may well be an American.
 

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A German would not personalize a gun while in service, and be unlikely to put his name on a gun he was not supposed to have after 1918 (or rather 1920).
So I do think you are hunting for an American veteran of German heritage, either (less likely) post-1918 or (a lot more likely) post-1945.
 

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Sorry about #2, crappy pic. I have a few more that I would have to dig for or take pictures of. I believe the 2 Offizer Stelvitreter (sp?) Were presented when the promotion was received. Possibly done by the armorer and presented by his unit.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks to both of you. Very interesting. Mr. Nauchbauer's Luger is similar to Mr. Doerr's, but also different. The type of engraving looks identical. The capital "E" and capital "N" look almost identical. That is very encouraging for mine being a WWI German engraving like yours, John. However, the uppercase/lowercase, the use of the middle initial and just the simple lack of information makes it really impossible to know with any certainty. Regardless, this is a fun exercise for me. I hope it is for others. As of now, I have found a "Norman Frederick Doerr" from Slippery Rock, PA who was drafted into the US Army for service in the AEF in WWI. I have also found a "Norbert F. Doerr" from Maryland who enlisted in the US Army in 1943 and worked his entire career with Kinnecott in Baltimore before retiring to Florida (he unfortunately passed away in 2016). Again, no specific information. I have been chasing a Colonel Doerr who commanded the 40th Fusiliers in the Battle of Lorette in France in 1914 (under Prince Rupprecht, mostly Bavarians), but again, no specific information. Most trails are cold, unfortunately. Any continuing thoughts would be great. Thanks again.
 

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Here is a few I had pics handy of.
Thanks, very impressive, I stand corrected. These gentlemen must not have expected fast promotion if they inscribed their ranks ;)

I also think all the front strap ones are either hand-engraved (the Freiherr) or die-stamped in the manner of WWI unit markings. The Nachbauer name, like the Doerr, is a more professional pantograph engraving, in my opinion (and that's all it is) post-war or at least not applied under field conditions.

PS: Do you own the Bodenhausen gun? If so, do you have any history on it?
 
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