For many years, precise knowledge of the 2 Chevauleger’s movements and actions during the First World War have largely been a matter of conjecture. Besides a rough sketch of the movement’s of the 2 Chevauleger’s parent division, the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division, in the book Histories of the 251 Divisions of the German Army That Participated in the War, there is virtually nothing in the English language.
As for the German language, much of the 2 Chevauleger’s history is in the Bavarian State Archives (which, unlike the German Army archives, was fortunately untouched by Allied bombing raids during WWII). But fortunately for us today, there was a regimental history that was published in 1926, authored by a one Josef Obpacher. Needless to say, this is a rare book and usually doesn’t sell for less than $300 on the used book market. However, I was lucky enough to secure one for $150 (although I was charged double what the shipping cost).
After nearly four weeks of my book wandered up and down the East Coast of the United States, moving from mail facility to another, it finally made its way to me here in California. The next challenge was now translating it, or at least the parts that would be useful for the group. The first obstacle was that my German is poor at best and the second obstacle is that the book is printed in the old style fraktur font (which was no doubt invented by Germans then to frustrate us today).
But on the positive side, the history does break down the movements and actions of each squadron so that I was able to zero in immediately on the 3 Eskadron. After trial and error, I developed a basic procedure in which I first typed sections of the history into Microsoft Word and attempted to render it into somewhat passable modern German. The next step is to then copy and paste into Google Translate and see what comes out.
While Google Translate is not the best, I was able to get the gist of what was being written and combined with my knowledge of the German Army and various reference sources, I was able to piece most of it together. In many instances, the sentences were a grammatical nightmare in English and I was forced to take some liberties in an effort to make it halfway understandable. It’s been a frustrating but rewarding process.
One of the most striking things is that where specific names are listed as casualties, I was able to locate the individual soldier’s records in the Bavarian State Archives by way of Ancestry.com. Using that information, I was then able to actually locate a few of the grave sites where the soldiers are buried. That was a moving moment to be sure. The thing that really hit me is that I am probably the first person in at least 50 or 60 years to actually track down the fallen and this is probably the first time ever that any of this has been translated into English. I only regret that I couldn’t do a better job to give justice to these now-forgotten Chevaulegers.
I have broken the history of the 3 Eskadron into a series of files as listed below covering the period from February 1916 through April 6, 1918 and they are downloadable in PDF format. I will be uploading more files as I complete the translating. I hope that you find these as interesting as I did.