This Week's Story: Vizefeldwebel Joseph Martus

This week our story comes from Brigitte Weber of Ettlingen-Spessart, and is an extraordinary tale of her two uncles.

Albert Fang, Brigitte's father's brother, was born in Spessart in 1897 and fell in Laffaux, France, on the western front, in 1917. Joseph Martus, Brigitte's mother's brother, was also born in Spessart in 1898 and likewise fell in Laffaux, France in 1918.

The two men, who had never met each other, thus fell in the same tiny village in France one year apart, and at the same age. Their siblings, who had not known each other during the Great War either, subsequently married.

In 2008, Laffaux had a population of 139.

We focus this week on Joseph Martus, Brigitte's uncle on her mother's side. Joseph was born on August 12, 1898 and joined up to fight in 1914 at the age of 16. He rose to the rank of Vizefeldwebel (Senior NCO) and was considered to be a candidate for officer. He served with the 1st MG Company of the Grenadierregiment No. 1 Kronprinz.

Vizefeldwebel Joseph Martus
Served at the western front and died on September 13, 1918 at the age of 20 at Laffaux, France

Joseph spent some time in the lazaret (small military hospital)
Here he is shown (marked by the X) with other recovering soldiers and sanitary staff

Joseph's "Sterbeurkunde" (death certificate), sent home to his parents


The little wooden box sent home to Joseph's parents after his death, and containing his medals and his identification tag. The box had a small relief of the Kaiser on the cover.

Joseph's identification tag. It gives his name, date and place of birth and his batallion:
Joseph Martus, Spessart, Baden, 12.8.98
8th reserve batallion, infantry regiment 43, 8th company, no. 3165


Josephs' medals - the brown one is a jubilee medal for the Grand Duke of Baden

Joseph's iron cross and service medal


Another service medal - "Für Verdienst"

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