Bernhard von Gaza

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Usedom, Pommern, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire

Army information

German Empire
Imperial German Army
 —  Sturmabteilung Nr. 508  (Attached)
 —  I. Bataillon, Großherzoglich Badisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 185  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Dozinghem Casualty Clearing Station, Westvleteren, Belgium
Cause of death:
Died of wounds (D.O.W.)


Dozinghem Military Cemetery
Plot: XVI
Row: B
Grave: 6

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Place of wounding
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Bernhard von Gaza, a former Olympic rower, was born on 6 May 1881 in Usedom, Pommern, Kingdom of Prussia. He was the son of Bernhard and Wilhelmine Holz. In 1907 he who raced for Rudergesellschaft Wiking Berlin, won the single sculls German championship. In the same year he published the book ‘Der Rudersport: Riemenrudern und Skullen’. A year later Bernhard won a bronze medal in the single sculls at the 1908 London Olympics. He served as an Oberleutnant in the Großherzoglich Badisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr.185, part of the 185. Infanterie-Brigade, of the 208. Infanterie-Division.

The Infanterie-Regiment Nr.185 is in the front line between Langemark and Poelkapelle between the 6th of September and the 1st of October 1917. They were dug in at Winterstellung (Eagle Trench) and Jungburg (Pheasant Trench) between the northern Langemark-Poelkapelle road and the Pilckem-Poelkapelle road in the south. On 20 September 1917 the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge began, and the 20th and 51 Division captured portions of Winterstellung and the entirety of Jungburg.

On the night of 21/22 September 1917 Infanterie-Regiment Nr.185 held the line between the Landetbeek in the north and the Pilckem-Poelkapelle road in the south. North of the Landetbeek was Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 25. Grenadier-Regiment Nr. 5 held the front south of the Pilckem-Poelkapelle road. Infanterie-Regiment Nr.185 defended the line with the 2nd and part of the 3rd Battalion, specifically the 6th Company in the north, the 5th Company in the middle and the 7th and 8th Companies the south. These troops were supported by machine gun companies, but there were wide gaps between the infantry Companies.

The 22nd of September was quiet. Eight Sturmtrupps of Sturmabteilung Nr. 508 arrived in the night between 22/23rd September under the command of Oberleutnant von Gaza. They were placed between the 6th and 5th Companies in the early morning of September 23rd. Their task was to recapture the parts of the Winterstellung (Eagle Trench, Eagle House, Louis Farm) that were lost in the day’s prior. According to British sources, Sturmabteilung 508 attacked around 6:25 a.m. They successfully reached the Winterstellung, but the attack failed and many of the attacking troops are captured. The Sturmabteilung had walked into an attack by the 59th and 60th Brigade.

The parts of the 12th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps and 6th Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry attacked the portions of Eagle Trench that were still held by German forces. They attacked the 6th and 4th/185 from the north, west and south. While partially encircled, a sizable portion managed to battle their way out. However, Eagle Trench was now fully in British control, and numerous German troops were taken prisoner. British sources estimate that they took between 100 and 150 prisoners of war.

Bernhard von Gaza, aged 36, died of wounds on September 25, 1917. He had received a gunshot wound in the chest during the attempt to recapture the Winterstellung. Bernard was taken prisoner of war and was taken to the Dozinghem Casualty Clearing Station where he succumbed to his injuries. Oberleutnant von Gaza is buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, plot XVI, row B, grave 6.

Sources 5

12 Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps (The National Archives, Kew (TNA), WO 95/2120/1).
Sources used
60 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters (The National Archives, Kew (TNA), WO 95/2119/1).
Sources used
Göran R. Buckhorn, “Bernhard von Gaza: Olympian, Champion Sculler, Writer and Soldier,” Hear The Boat Sing, 25.03.2021.
Sources used
Kurt von Muecke. Das Großherzoglich Badische Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 185 (Oldenburg & Berlin: Gerh. Stalling, 1922), 56-62.
Sources used
Prisoners of the First World War, the ICRC archives (International Committee of the Red Cross archives, Geneva (ICRC), ACICR, C G1).
Sources used

More information 1