First World War Service
of Adolf Hitler
20 April 1889 - 30 April 1945
Screened for Austrian Military Service; Found Unfit
Hitler petitions to serve in Bavarian forces despite Austrian Citizenship
16 Aug 14
Hitler volunteers for 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment, also known as the List Regiment after its commander
8 Oct 14
Hitler takes oath to King Ludwig III of Bavaria
29 Oct 14
Sees first action 5 miles east of Ypres
Unit near Messines; Assigned war-long role as headquarters messenger
Awarded Iron Cross 2nd Class; Refuses to participate in Christmas Truce
Hitler promoted to Lance Corporal; participates in several actions in Artois Sector
7 Oct 16
Wounded in leg at the Somme; Hitler then spends two months at military hospital in Beelitz near Berlin
On light duty after being wounded
1 Mar 17
Returns to Regiment at Front in Picardy
List Regiment returns to Ypres Salient
31 July 17
Battle of Passchendaele begins
Regiment rested in Alsace
Late 17/Early 18
Regiment sent to Oise/Aisne Sector
Operating near Montdidier
Awarded Iron Cross 1st Class for service since 1914 as messenger
28 Sep 18
Incident involving Henry Tandy, VC
Regiment back in Ypres Sector
13 Oct 18
Gassed and temporarily blinded near Wervicq
Recovering his sight at Pasewalk, Germany, Hitler witnesses naval mutineers
11 Nov 18
At news of armistice; Hitler reacts bitterly
- Hitler passed up promotion to full corporal because it would result in his being reassigned from the messenger group.
- Besides two Iron Crosses, Hitler was awarded the Bavarian Military Medal 3rd class with bar, and later received, as did all wounded soldiers, the Cross of Military Merit.
- He never faced American forces during the war.
- The List Regiment and the headquarters messenger group suffered tremendous casualties during the war, but Hitler avoided many close calls and regularly indicated he expected to survive the war.
Tandey was mentioned five times in dispatches and certainly earned his VC during the capture of the French village and crossing at Marcoing, his regiment held down by heavy machine gun fire Tandey crawled forward, located the machine gun nest and took it out. Arriving at the crossing he braved heavy fire to place wooden planks over a gaping hole enabling troops to roll across and take the battle to the Germans, the day still not over he successfully led a bayonet charge against outnumbering enemy troops which helped bring hostilities to an end.
As the ferocious battle wound down and enemy troops surrendered or retreated a wounded German soldier limped out of the maelstrom and into Private Tandey's line of fire, the battle weary man never raised his rifle and just stared at Tandey resigned to the inevitable. "I took aim but couldn't shoot a wounded man," said Tandey, "so I let him go."
The young German soldier nodded in thanks and the two men took diverging paths, that day and in history. Hitler retreated with the remnants of German troops and ended up in Germany, where he languished in the humiliation of defeat at wars end. Tandey put that encounter out of his mind and rejoined his regiment, discovering soon after he had won the Victoria Cross.
It was announced in the London Gazette on 14th December 1918 and he was personally decorated by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 17th December 1919, in newspaper reports a picture of him carrying a wounded soldier after the Battle of Ypres was published, a dramatic image which symbolized a war which was supposed to have put an end to all wars and immortalized on canvas by Italian artist Fortunino Matania.
Guest publication by Neil Rolph Dickinson
Copyright H.E.A.R.T 2007