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BATTLE HISTORY OF THE RESERVE INFANTRY REGIMENT 72


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Figure 1. 1908 DWM, serial number 6747, 2.E.M.G.K.112. signifies: 2 Ersatz Maschinengewehr-Kompagnie, Waffe Nr. 112. This unit mark was knurled out and replaced with: R.I.R.72.1.M.G.34. which, signifies: Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment 72, 1st Maschinengewehr-Kompagnie, Waffe Nr. 34.

The R.I.R.72.M.G.34. stamp was applied prior to the addition of the second and third Machine Gun Company in 1916. The “1.” was applied to the unit mark after the second and third Machine Gun Company were added to the Regiment. This differentiated the first Machine Gun Company from the second and third Machine Gun Company


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Figure 2. 1908 Commercial Army, serial number 70149, R.I.R.72.M.G.K.11. Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment 72, 1 Maschinengewehr-Kompagnie, Waffe Nr. 11.


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Figure 3. Two Reserve Infanterie Regiment 72, Machine Gun Company Lugers. The book they surround is the official history of the Reserve Infantry Regiment 72 during World War I. It covers the details and battle history of this Machine Gun Company. During World War I the R.I.R. 72 was part of the 7th Reserve Division. Notes: from the history of this Division are summarized below. It fought in most of the major battles on the Western Front during World War I: Marne, Champagne, Verdun, Somme, Picardy, Aisne, Soissons and on Sept. 26, 1918, the Meuse- Argone, where it was swamped by an American attack.

7TH RES. DIV., 4TH RES CORPS, FIRST ARMY
1914 ,BRUSSELS VIA TONGRES AUGUST 19, ADVANCED TOWARD PARIS SEPT 4
1914 BATTLE OF THE MARNE, SEPT.6&7, HEAVY LOSSES, NOUVRON
1914 AISNE, ATTACK OF THE PLATEAU OF NOUVRON ,CONSIDERABLE LOSSES
1915 FIGHTS AROUND SOISSONS, JAN.
1915 CHAMPAGNE, HEAVY LOSSES AT TAHURE OCT.30
1916 VERDUN ATTACK OF JUNE 1 ON THIAUMONT-DAMPLOUP; ATTACK ON BOIS DE VAUX CHAPITRE JUNE 2 & 3 & 21 HEAVY LOSSES
1916 SOMME SEPT 23- OCT 11
1917 MEUSE
1917 CHAMPAGNE
1918 RETHEL, JAN-MARCH
1918 BATTLE OF PICARDY MARCH HEAVY LOSSES
1918 AISNE MAY 27 OFFENSIVE
1918 CHAMPAGNE JULY
1918 SOISSONS AUGUST, HEAVY FIGHTING
1918 MEUSE- ARGONE, SEPT 26, SWAMPED BY AMERICAN ATTACK, LOSSES 3500. LUGERS FROM R.I.R.72. ARE MORE COMMON THAN OTHERS BECAUSE AMERICANS SOLDIERS COLLECTED THESE LUGERS FROM CAPTURED & DEAD GERMANS ON THE BATTLEFIELD AND RETURNED HOME TO THE UNITED STATES WITH THEM IN THEIR DUFFLE BAGS.

There are more (16) Reserve Infantry Regiment 72 marked Lugers reported in U.S. collections today than any other unit. This is because the Reserve Infantry Regiment 72 was overrun and “swamped” by U.S. soldiers during World War I. American dough boys captured these Lugers on the battlefield and returned home with them in their duffle bags.


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Figure 4. A 1917 dated photograph of the First Machine Gun Company, Reserve Infantry Regiment 72. There are 80 men in this photograph. A machine gunner in this photograph likely carried one of the Lugers shown above. From the History of the Reserve Infantry Regiment 72.


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Figure 5. The two Lugers marked to the First Machine Gun Company of Reserve Infantry Regiment 72 resting on the R.I.R. 72's History; turned to the page that contains the story of the first Machine Gun Company during mobilization and the first two weeks of the War (August 2 to 18, 1918).



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Figure 6. Details of the page above.


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Figure 7. A P08 armed German Machine Gun crew in action during the first months of World War I.





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Figure 8. The Western Front Battles took an appalling heavy toll. The Reserve Infantry Regiment 72 started the World War I with approximately 3500 men (12 companies and a MGK, 1 MGK = 100men, 1 Company = 270 men)
The Honor Plaque from its History indicates:
For the Fatherland died in the Royal Prussian Reserve Infantry Regiment Nr.72
90 officers, 2461 NCO's and men.

By the Wars end almost 3/4 of the Reserve Infantry Regiment 72's 3500 men were killed.

For information and photographs of other Lugers in the Reserve Infantry Regiment 72: in this section see “1908 DWM, COMMERCIAL ARMY R.I.R.72. M.G.” in the section 1900-1918: LONG P08 ARTILLERY LUGERS see “1917 LP08 MINENWERFER” and in the section 1908-1918: LUGER UNIT MARKINGS see “FOUR, R.J.R.72 LUGERS”.
 
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