Story Of The Week: Foot Artilleryman Eduard Anton Ochs

Our story this week comes from Dietmar Günter of Ettlingen's district of Spessart, which lies in the hills above Ettlingen.

Dietmar's uncle Eduard Anton Ochs fought and died in the Great War in 1917, when he was just 19 years old.

Uncle Eduard was born in Spessart on April 12, 1898 as the first child of his parents, the master weaver Konrad Ochs and his wife Emma, born Schoch, who came from Ettlingen's district of Schluttenbach. In addition to his father's job, Eduard's parents ran a small farm. However, the working day in the factory was much longer than it is today, and his father also had to travel the whole distance from Spessart to the spinning mill down in Ettlingen and back by foot, in all weathers, a journey of several miles.

It thus went without saying that the young Eduard and his younger brothers and sisters had to work on the farm after their school lessons, even as children.

Eduard left elementary school at the age of 14, and like his father, started work in the spinning mill in the Ettlingen Alb valley. He was 16 years old when the catastrophic Great War began, and when he was 18 he was called up for a medical examination. Shortly before his 19th birthday, he received his call up papers. Almost with a dark foreboding, his father had a family photograph taken at the studio Photo-Drücke in Ettlingen. Eduard was allowed to stay at home until his birthday, after which he had to report for duty.

Eduard is standing second from the right in this photo, taken during his military training in Karlsruhe.
Upon leaving home, Eduard told his family that if he returned home safely from the war, it was his ambition to become a pastor.

After a brief period of military training in Karlsruhe, Eduard received his drafting orders, which sent him to the front at Laon in France, around 50 km north-west of Reims. It was in this town that he was to suffer his fate.

On October 27, 1917, there was a long period of cease-fire at Chemin des Dames, where Eduard was based, and the soldiers gathered in a tent for lunch. When, suddenly and unexpectedly, a single shell exploded near the tent, all the soldiers ran to their positions, but Uncle Eduard was unable to. A small splinter had hit his jugular artery. After another short period of cease-fire, the other soldiers returned to the tent. But it was too late. Their comrade Eduard had bled to death, at the young age of 19.

Eduard's grave is in the military cemetry at Chambry, near Laon.

Eduard's memorial card

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