In 1933 the Prince had married the Countess (Grafin) Dorothea von Salviati. Because of the morganatic nature of the marriage, the Kaiser had demanded that Prince Wilhelm renounce all claims and rights to the Crown of Prussia. The Prince had agreed to this, but appears later to have reasoned that his renunciation was void or voidable, in view of the political situation within Germany.
If the Prince had survived his wounds, his marriage might ultimately have embroiled him in a much more significant and dangerous situation. The Countess was the sister of Count (Graf) Hans-Viktor von Salviati, a famous horseman who subsequently joined the conspiracy against the Nazi regime. Count von Salviati was shot in the aftermath of the failed attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life of July 20, 1944.
Although Prince Wilhelm appears not to have been active, as far as we know, in any anti-Hitler coalition within Germany, he nevertheless figured prominently in various plans for a post-putsch German government. During the so-called “Oster Conspiracy” of 1938, ultimately foiled by the subsequent Munich Agreement in settlement of the Sudeten crisis, the conspirators were in accord that the German government following the overthrow of the Nazis should include a restoration of the monarchy. In this regard, their primary choice to take the throne was Prince Wilhelm, since they respected him as “a very upright, sincere and courageous soldier”.
The Prince was particularly well liked by members of the resistance movement for numerous reasons. He was, in fact, a brave soldier with long-standing ties to the Army, his politics were liberal, he was favorably disposed toward democracy, and perhaps most importantly, he had no personal ambition. It was also believed that Prince Wilhelm lacked certain undesirable character traits of his grandfather.
Prince Wilhelm earlier had been in the eye of a political storm, though not one of his own making. In 1926 Generaloberst (Colonel General) Hans von Seeckt, then Commander in Chief of the Reichswehr, invited Prince Wilhelm to take part in the Army’s autumn maneuvers. Seeckt did so on his own initiative, without first consulting with German President Paul von Hindenburg. Such a breach of etiquette and, as von Hindenburg viewed it, the proper chain of command, would in itself probably have been likely to cause von Seeckt a good deal of embarrassing political trouble. The fact, however, that von Seeckt’s gaff involved a prominent member of the former ruling house, thereby perhaps promoting the idea that the Army was anti-democratic, proved fatal to the General’s career.
In the end, the conspirators were slow to act, and when war broke out in September 1939 the Prince seems to have became convinced either that the putsch would never take place, or that if it did, it would not include the restoration of the monarchy. It may be more likely that he simply considered it his patriotic duty to fulfill his military obligation. In any event, the Prince fulfilled his duty to the utmost. His body was returned to Germany, and in early June the public funeral was held at Potsdam. To the dismay of Hitler, an estimated 50,000 people were reported to have been in attendance. This display of continued attachment to the monarchy by the German people moved the Fuehrer to forbid any member of the former German ruling houses to serve in the armed forces of the Reich.
The balance of this brief article is divided into four distinct parts. Part I is a short history of the order of battle of 1.Infanterie-Division. Part II is a narrative of the circumstances surrounding Prince Wilhelm’s death, based upon the original divisional Gefechtsbericht (combat report) for the period May 22-29, 1940, a document that is nine single-spaced typed pages long in its original form (NARA T-315, Roll 1, Frames 167-175). Part III is a report setting forth the identities of the officers holding essential staff positions in 1.Infanterie-Division, as well as for each of its subordinate units bearing the number “1”, for the duration of the war. Part IV is a Brief Selected Glossary of some of the German terms used in the Gefechtsbericht.
I. 1. Infanterie-Division.
On October 1, 1934, 1.Infanterie-Division was created in Koenigsberg, Prussia. To camouflage the existence of the division, in order to avoid the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles, it was initially identified as Artilleriefuehrer I. On October 15, 1935, the division was officially designated under its proper title.
In constituting 1.Infanterie-Division, an effort was made to conform it to the then-applicable standards for an infantry division in the German Army. Accordingly, at the core of the division were three infantry regiments (1, 22, and 43) and an artillery regiment (1). Infanterie-Regiment 1 was the senior regiment in the division, having originated on January 1, 1921 as 1.(Pruessen) Infanterie-Regiment. On October 1, 1934, it was redesignated as Infanterie-Regiment Koenigsberg, and a year later, on October 15, 1935, as Infanterie-Regiment 1.
Infanterie-Regiment 22 came into being on October 1, 1934 under the title Infanterie-Regiment Gumbinnen, eventually acquiring the formal title Infanterie-Regiment 22 on October 15, 1935. Only slightly younger was the third regiment, Infanterie-Regiment 43, having formed on October 15, 1935 as Friedensstandort Insterburg, III. Tilsit. Each of these regiments lost its third battalion in May 1942, as the result of a general consolidation of force in the Army following the losses sustained in Operation Barbarossa. In October 1942, the regiments were redesignated as Grenadier-Regiment 1, 22 and 43 respectively. Grenadier-Regiment 22 was again redesignated in November 1942, this time as Fuesilier-Regiment 22. This change was occasioned by the fact that the regiment had been designated as the “Traditions-Regiment” for the former Fuesilier-Regiment Graf Roon (Ostpruessen) Nr. 33 of the so-called “Old Army”, namely the Army as it existed before Germany became subject to the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. 
Artillerie-Regiment 1 formed on January 1, 1921 as 1.(Preussen) Artillerie-Regiment. On October 1, 1934, it became Artillerie-Regiment Koenigsberg, and on October 15, 1935, Artillerie-Regiment 1. Artillerie-Regiment 1 was somewhat unique in that its order of battle formally included an additional heavy battalion, so that it had 12 batteries, rather than the traditional 9 batteries.
The remaining combat elements of 1.Infanterie-Division were Aufklaerungs Abteilung 1 (Reconnaissance Battalion 1), Panzerjaeger Abteilung 1 (Anti-tank Battalion 1), and Pionier Abteilung 1 (Engineer Battalion 1).
1.Infanterie-Division was mobilized on August 17, 1939 as part of the first wave (1.Welle) of German divisions activated for the campaign in Poland. In January 1940, the division relocated to the Wuppertal, where its units were quartered at various villages and towns in the district. It participated in the invasion of France in 1940, and in the summer of 1941 invaded the Soviet Union as part of Army Group North. It spent the rest of the war fighting in Russia, and was defending Prussian soil at war’s end.
II. Prince Wilhelm’s death, based upon the original divisional Gefechtsbericht (combat report) for the period May 22-29, 1940.
At 1500 hours on May 22, 1940, 1.Infanterie-Division (1.I.D.) was placed under the control of VIII.Armeekorps and received an order to prepare to cross the river Mons to advance on the city of Valenciennes. The divisional commander, Generalmajor Kleffel, immediately went to the VIII.AK headquarters to obtain a clearer picture of the local situation. In the meantime, Oberstleutnant Freiherr von Strachwitz, the Ia for VIII.AK, came to 1.I.D. and delivered an order that it should move into the gap between 4.Armee and 6.Armee because the enemy was seeking to break through that gap and create an encirclement.
The regiments were alarmed with the order to prepare to move toward Mons. But just before the first elements got going, an officer from VIII.AK delivered a verbal order that the division should advance generally toward Bavay and get on the left of 269.I.D. (under XXVII.Armeekorps) to force a crossing over the “Kanal de l’Lessaut”. Objective: create an obstacle to the enemy’s effort to break through to create a bridgehead, and if possible create bridgeheads to attack in a westerly direction.
Following its receipt of this verbal order, 1.I.D. was split into two columns: on the right, reinforced I.R.22, and on the left the main column, consisting of reinforced I.R.1 in front, and reinforced I.R.43 behind. Meanwhile, the vorausabteilung, in two parts, had reached Givry (the Aufklaerungs Abteilung) and Mons/Sars le Bruyere (Pz.Jaeg.Abt.1). As Pz.Jaeg.Abt.1 continued onward it received strong MG fire from the southwest; however, it reached Bavay at 2300 hours on May 22. Meanwhile, around 2030 hours on May 22, the main column received strong bracketing artillery fire on the Givry/Bavay road, southwest of Givry. As a result, the March Group of reinforced I.R.1 temporarily halted in order to swing to the west. The March Group of I.R.43 halted according to orders.
Shortly before 2300 hours on May 22 the vorausabteilung of I.R.22 (III./22) was engaged in a hard fight south of Blaregnies. Observation, as well as reports from prisoners, revealed that a strong section of the French 43 Division and the “Festungsbrigade Maubeuge” had joined together and concealed themselves in the area around Queve le Petit and le Grand to attempt a nighttime breakthrough to the west/northwest. I.R.1 and I.R.43 were holding their ground near Givry. The objective of the division now became to attack toward Quevy le Grand, Quevy le Petit, and westwards to encircle the enemy from the north with I.R.1, I.R.43, and the mass of the divisional artillery. I.R.22 would set up a defensive front east and north of Blaregnies.
I.R.1 opened its attack at 0600 hours on May 23. At the same time VIII.AK advised the division of a possible French counterattack from northwest of Valenciennes in a southwesterly direction. 1.I.D. then quickly reached the canal south of Valenciennes with its advance guard. A reconnaissance unit of the 3.Panzer-Division from le Quesney reached the canal shortly thereafter. The attack of I.R.1 destroyed the enemy by 1200 hours. Over a thousand prisoners were taken and about the same numbers of enemy soldiers were killed in this battle.
In the early afternoon of May 23 the division, less the reinforced I.R.1, arrived in the area of Bavay. The divisional vorausabteilung secured the area and reconnoitered in the canal area southwest of Valenciennes. The reconnaissance showed that all of the bridges were blown, on the canal banks were strong enemy positions, outposts on the south banks, and on the side occupied by the Germans, part of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, making an excellent impression. The division commander then ordered an attack in the area of the canal south of Valenciennes with reinforced I.R.22 (including II./I.R.1, but less II./22).
As the date of Prince Wilhelm’s wounding was May 23, 1940, and since he was an officer in I.R.1, it would seem that he most likely received the wounds from which he later died during his regiment’s attacks of the morning or afternoon of the date in question.
At 2200 hours on May 23, or after the wounding of Prince Wilhelm occurred, an order from VIII.AK arrived. The order directed 1.I.D. to form on the right of 8.Infanterie-Division (8.I.D). and deliver an attack in a northwesterly direction early on May 24 to create a bridgehead over the canal. 8.I.D. was to begin its attack at 0600 hours. VIII.AK provided the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and M.G. Bataillon 1 to support the attack along the line Wargnies/Crugies and north of Estreux. 1.I.D.’s position was on the canal on both sides of Trith and in front of the main French defensive line, which had in its rear a strong force in an advanced bunker line. The most forward enemy force was connected by telephone cable to the main French defensive line and could observe all movement of the 1.I.D.
The attack of 8.I.D. was supposed to begin at 0600 on May 24; however, 1.I.D. instead received a signal that 8.I.D.’s assault would be delayed 90 minutes, and that 1.I.D. should begin its attack at 0830, or one hour later than that of 8.I.D. Thus, after a concentration of artillery fire between 0830 and 0845 hours, infantry and sections of the 1.I.D.’s Pi.Batl.1 made a crossing, held up however by such heavy machine gun, mortar and rifle fire from barricaded houses on the opposite shore and on the right flank, that the first attack wave was shot down in the middle of the canal. Only two platoons on the right flank made it, clinging to the north shore after stopping a counterattack.
At about 1100 hours on May 24, the commander of I.R.22 (reinforced) reported that the successful continuation of the attack could only be promised after reconnaissance and the subduing of each resistance nest according to a well-prepared plan; adequate preparation for the assault would require about four hours.
After these events, the attack across the canal was called off, and both 1.I.D. and 8.I.D. received new orders that took them elsewhere. In any case, insofar as Prince Wilhelm is concerned, the further actions of 1.I.D. are irrelevant.
Here are the details of the loss report of 1.I.D. for the period May 23 to May 27, 1940: In this table officers are denoted in parentheses.
Datum Gefallen Verwundet Vermisst Kranke
23.5.40 22 (6) 106 (3) 3 3
24.5.40 70 (2) 163 (4) 13 1
25.5.40 65 (2) 263 (10) 51 3
26.5.40 73 287 (12) 20 1
27.5.40 4 11 (1)
Totals 234 (10) 830 (30) 87 12
Lt. Graf zu Dohna Stab 1.Div.
Lt. Schmidt I.R.22
Lt. Oellmann I.R.22
Lt. Karusseit I.R.43
Lt. Warkentin I.R.43
Lt. Imhoff I.R.43
Lt. Bouchee Pi.Batl.1
Lt. Reining Pz.Jaeg.Abt.1
Lt. Sydow Pz.Jaeg.Abt.1
Ob.Arzt Dr. Kuehn San.Kp. 2/1
Major Schulte-Heuthaus I.R.1
Major Wisetzki “
Hptm. Kemsat “
Hptm. Jordan “
Oblt. Prinz Wilhelm v.Pr.(+)” (in hand): gestorben im —– lazarett Nivelles
Oblt. Goldenbaum “
Oblt. Pallat “
Lt. Heinemann “
Lt. Beel “
Lt. Zerwer “
Lt. Reschke “
Lt. Weiss “
Lt. Kerbstat “
Lt. Geilenberg “
Lt. Lenz “
Hptm. de la Motte “
Oblt. Alm “
Oblt. v.Ruthendorf “
Oblt. Kinder “
Ob.Mus.Mstr. Michalowski “
Lt. Domnick “
Lt. Schroeder “
Lt. Weller “
Lt. Schmidtke “
Lt. Canders “
Lt. Kunterwald “
Oblt. Hurtig “
III Stellenbesetzung for 1.Infanterie-Division, 1933-1945
GMaj Kuechler, Georg v. 01.10.34 (KC ‘39, OL ’43)
GLt Schroth, Walther 01.04.35 (KC ’41, died in accident ’44)
GMaj Kortzfleisch, Joachim v. 01.01.38 (KC ’40, KIA [?] ’45)
GMaj Kleffel, Philipp 15.04.40 (KC ’42)
GMaj Altrichter, Dr.phil. Friedrich 11.07.41 mFb
GLt Kleffel, Philipp 04.09.41
GMaj Grase, Martin 17.01.42 (KC ’41, OL ’43)
GMaj Krosigk, Ernst-Anton v. 01.07.43 (bis 1.9.43 mFb) (KC ’44, OL ’45)
Ob. Baurmeister, Hans-Joachim 10.05.44 mstFb
GMaj Krosigk, Ernst-Anton v. 08.06.44
GLt Schittnig, Hans 06.10.44
GLt Thadden, Henning v. 03.03.45 KIA
Obstlt. Steffler, Johannes 26.08.39
Maj. Pantenius, Peter 01.08.40
Maj. Richter, Werner 10.12.42
Maj. Frank, Hilmar 10.12.43
Maj. Schreiber, Hellmuth 1.45-?
Hptm. Mueller, Christian 25.08.39
Maj. Kluge, Guenther v. 04.12.40
Maj. Bussmann, Heinrich 11.01.41
Maj. Klie 3.42 ?
Hptm. Frank 05.09.42
Maj. Reeder, v. 01.07.43
Hptm. Baur, Sven-Hugo 10.05.44
Maj. Kuschel, Hans 25.12.44
Maj. Lomoth 1.45 ?
Maj. Brunn, Joachim v. 26.08.39
Hptm. Danckworth, Rudolf 15.08.40
Maj. Danckworth, Rudolf 30.11.40 nicht wirksam *
Hptm. Lenz, Gottfried 01.12.43
Oblt. Schelsky, Dr. 25.11.44
Maj. Ipsen 1.45 ?
Oblt. Grossmann v. 15.03.45 mWb
* I take the authors’ use of nicht wirksam to mean that the appointment was not effective
Obstlt. Schmidmann, Horst 22.09.39
Hptm. Koller 17.03.41
Maj. Le Tanneux v. Saint-Paul 05.05.43
Maj. Scholz, Werner 20.04.44
Hptm. d.R. Lenz 1.45 ?
ObstArzt. Forster, Dr. 01.07.37
ObstArzt. Rehber, Dr. Heinz 25.09.39
ObstArzt. Fremd, Dr. -13.09.43 *
ObstArzt. Schulz, Dr. Johannes 13.09.43
* It is unclear to me why the authors use this format.
Kommandeur Feld-Ersatz-Bataillon 1
Maj. Sichart v. Sichartshofen -01.03.44 (KC ’44, KIA ’45)
Hptm. d.R. Brauer 01.03.44
Hptm. Penkwitt 01.06.44
Oblt. Muenzer, Berthold 01.02.45
Kommandeur Infanterie/Grenadier-Regiment 1
Ob. Ott, Eugen 01.01.35 (KC ’42)
Ob. Weiss, Walter 01.01.38 (KC ’41, OL ’44)
Obstlt. Hippler, Bruno 01.08.39 mFb
Ob. Grase, Martin 01.03.40
Ob. Proek, Louis v. 27.12.41
Obstlt. Kutzbach 00.01.44 KIA
Maj. Trautmann, v. 10.11.43, -20.1.44 mFb
Ob. Keussler, v. 27.01.44
Ob. Baurmeister, Hans-Joachim 01.04.44 mFb
Maj. Feudenthaler, Anton 5.44
Maj. Joeres 01.01.45 mFb
Maj. Weissenberg 00.02.45 verwundet
Kommandeur Artillerie-Regiment 1
Ob. Hansen, Christian 01.10.33 (KC ’41)
Ob. Boettcher, Karl 06.10.36
Ob. Weikinn, Bruno 01.04.39
Ob. Muehlmann -02.11.39
Obstlt. Kossack, Walter 02.11.39
Ob. Richtmann 01.06.40
Ob. Weikinn, Bruno 01.10.40
Obstlt. Bockamp, Dipl.Ing. 04.01.43 mFb
Ob. Nagel 15.03.43
Maj. Neubecker, Heinz 1.44 ?
Ob. Drieshen 15.05.44
Obstlt. Pasternack 1.45, 3.45
IV. Brief Selected Glossary
Ia=Operations Officer (sometimes referred to as “Chief of Staff”).
III./22= abbreviation for “III.Bataillon/Infanterie-Regiment 22”, or “3rd Battalion, Infantry Regiment 22”.
AK=abbreviation for “Armeekorps”.
A.R.1=abbreviation for “Artillerie-Regiment 1”.
Armee=Army, a command organization generally responsible for 2-3 Armeekorps.
Armeekorps=Army Corps, a command organization generally responsible for 2-3 divisions.
Aufklaerungs Abteilung=reconnaissance detachment or battalion. Unlike the Vorausabteilung, the Aufklaerungs Abteilung was not an ad hoc unit, but was instead a fairly standard part of any division’s order of battle.
Divisions-Arzt=Division Chief Surgeon.
Feld-Ersatz-Bataillon 1=Field Replacement Battalion 1.
I.D.=abbreviation for “Infanterie-Division”.
I.R.=abbreviation for “Infanterie-Regiment”, one of the constituent parts of an “Infanterie-Division”.
KC=Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.
Kradschtz. Btl=Abbreviation for “Kradschuetzen-Bataillon”, or “Motorcycle Battalion”.
March group=a “March group” is generally referred to as a “March Battalion”, the latter being a unit that ideally remains in the environs of the parent division’s “home town” in order to recruit and train replacements for soldiers who have become casualties. As the war continued, these units were in many cases in the field rather than at the division’s “home town”.
M.G. Bataillon 1= Abbreviation for “Machinengewehr Bataillon 1”, or “Machinegun Battalion 1”.
Lt.=Leutnant (Second Lieutenant).
NARA=National Archives and Records Administration, the place or organization in the U.S. which holds copies of all German military (and other) records captured near the end of the Second World War.
Oblt.=Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant).
OL=Oak Leaves to Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross
Pi.Batl.1=abbreviation for “Pionier Bataillon 1”, or “Combat Engineer Battalion 1”.
Pz.Jaeg.Abt.1=Panzerjaeger Abteilung 1. This was the tankhunter battalion or detachment of 1.Infanterie-Division. Like the Aufklaerungs Abteilung, the Panzerjaeger Abteilung was a standard formation within just about every German division.
Stellenbesetzung=might be translated as “occupational position”; generally refers to a list of staff positions and their occupants at various times.
Vorausabteilung=might be translated as “advance detachment”, usually an ad hoc unit, comprised of soldiers from a variety of specialties within a division or one of its parts, e.g., combat engineers, infantry, artillery, etc., the purpose of which was to maintain contact with the enemy and report on its dispositions and intentions, but which also had the capability of attacking the enemy to exploit an advantage, or defending itself, as the particular situation might dictate.
 See, John H. Wheeler-Bennett, The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics 1918-1945 (New York, NY, St. Martin’s Press, 1964), 503, n.6.
 Terry Parssinen, The Oster Conspiracy of 1938 (New York, NY, Harper Collins Publishers, 2003), 132.
 Peter Hoffman, The History of the German Resistance 1933-1945 (Cambridge, MA, The MIT Press, 1977), 91.
 John H. Wheeler-Bennett, The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics 1918-1945 (New York, NY, St. Martin’s Press, 1964), 152.
 Ibid, 505; Anton Gill, An Honorable Defeat: A History of German Resistance to Hitler, 1933-1945 Wheeler-Bennett suggests that in addition to forbidding further service by members of the former ruling houses, Hitler’s order required those actually serving to resign their commissions, or leave the ranks, and to spend the rest of the war serving in civilian capacities. In this connection, I would simply note that when Claus, Graf von Stauffenberg was wounded in Africa in the spring of 1943, he was shortly thereafter evacuated to hospital in Munich. There he shared a room with Leutnant Prince Johannes Loewenstein, also recovering from wounds recently received. See, Peter Hoffmann, Stauffenberg A Family History 1905-1944 (New York, NY, Cambridge University Press), 1995. (New York, NY, Henry Holt and Company, 1994), 157.
 Georg Tessin, Verbaende und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945 (Osnabrueck, Germany, Biblio Verlag, 1973), v.1, 20-21.
 Ibid. Nick Terry and Larry Cole, The German Army Order of Battle (Milton Keynes, U.K., The Military Press, 2001), v.VI, 16-19.
 During the Polish campaign, 1.Infanterie-Division fought an engagement at a place called Gora Kamienska. Frames 13-15 contain a didactic memorandum of that engagement written by Generalleutnant Joachim von Kortzfleisch, who commanded the division in Poland.
 Frames 17-19.
 KC 23.1.42 as Obstlt. Kdr. Kradschtz. Btl. 25
 Guenter Wegmann & Christian Zweng, Die Dienststellen, Kommandobehoerden und Truppenteile des Heeres 15.10.1935-8.5.1945, Band 1, Nr. 1-10 (Osnabrueck, Germany, Biblio Verlag, 1998), 17-19, 36