Walter Flindt

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Nusse, Lübeck, Free City of Lübeck, German Empire

Army information

Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Imperial German Army
 —  2. Kompagnie, I. Bataillon, Garde-Grenadier-Regiment Nr. 5  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Zonnebeke, Belgium

Cemetery or memorial

There is no known cemetery or memorial for this soldier.

Points of interest 2

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

My story

Walter Flindt was born on 31 January 1895 in Nusse, near Lübeck. On 11 June 1917, Walter sent a postcard to Mariecken Flindt. She was presumably his sister. The postcard shows 11 soldiers of the 5th Garde-Grenadier-Regiment. Notable is the boy in the front who is the only one holding a flower. On the back he wrote a short message.

Prior to the operation, Walter Flindt, non-commissioned officer of the Garde-Grenadier-Regiment 5 (5. Garde-Infanterie-Brigade, 4. Garde-Division) was among the reserve troops in the hinterland. On 27 September this changed and the 4th Guards Division received orders to relieve the 3rd Reserve Division between Molenaarelsthoek and Zonnebeke. In doing so, two regiments of the 5. Garde-Infanterie-Brigade, took over the front position: the Garde-Grenadier-Regiment 5 (GGR5) in the north and the Garde-Regiment zu Fuß 5 (GRzF5) in the south. Relief followed on 28 September, at 4am. In the evening, the GRzF5 also took up its positions. Their impression of the front at Zonnebeke noted in the regimental history:

"In the shell crater position, numerous corpses and all kinds of rubbish lie among house debris. Tree stumps indicate that there was once forest here too. Zonnebeke is one big stone heap".

In the change of troops, the 3rd battalion, III./GGR5 was placed in the front line, while II./GGR5 took over the second line and I./GGR5 was in reserve. The northern wing of their front was only 200 metres from Zonnebeke church in a north-westerly direction. On the other side of the front, which ran right through the destroyed village centre of Zonnebeke, was the 7th Brigade of the 2nd Australian Division.

The Allies were convinced that the capture of the ridge at Broodseinde would be decisive for their Flemish offensive. The capture was initially planned for 6 October. But with autumn approaching and a greater chance of bad weather, the attack was brought forward by two days.

On the German side, on the ridge of Broodseinde, above Zonnebeke, the Flandern I-Stellung was in full view of the Allies. This made supplying troops and equipment extremely difficult. The German army command was forced to take drastic measures: a major counterattack also planned on 4 October near Zonnebeke was christened Unternehmung Höhensturm. ('Höhensturm' means 'thunderstorm at high altitude'.) The operation ended in disaster. Hundreds of Germans were killed and a large number were made prisoners of war or taken away wounded.

A few moments before the Germans attacked, their barrage waltzed over the 2nd Australian division, which in turn was ready to take Zonnebeke and the Broodseinde ridge east of Zonnebeke. At 6am, Allied artillery opened their own barrage, which hit the German troops while they were still gathering. The effect of the barrage on the German troops, who were about to attack, was devastating. The Germans were totally disoriented by the heavy shelling. There was no time to regroup. When the guns silenced, the Germans were rushed by the Australians. The German attack was completely broken. Most German troops were overrun or retreated as a result of the Allied barrage, after which the Australians captured the bunkers one by one. Yet the attack was no triumph; the German defences in Flanders had not collapsed as thought, in fact German resistance intensified once the Allies reached the crest of the hill, the German barrage and fortified positions had taken their toll. The Australian divisions suffered a devastating 6,500 casualties. On the German side, too, the consequences were disastrous. General Erich Ludendorff wrote on 4 October 1917 that "we had come through it only with enormous losses". German troops had to retreat and the front line shifted about 1,000 metres.

According to the Deutsche Verlustlisten 1914 bis 1919, Walter Flindt, 22, was reported missing on 4 October 1917. He was last seen near Zonnebeke. Presumably he was killed during the Battle of Broodseinde. Nothing is known about his burial place or how he died.

Files 2

Sources 3

Deutsche Verlustlisten 1914 bis 1919. Berlin, Deutschland: Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt) (Bundesarchiv, Berlin (BArch)).
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
von Stosch A. Das Garde-Grenadier-Regiment Nr. 5 1897-1918 : Nach amtlichen Kriegstagebüchern und Mitteilungen von Mitkämpfern bearbeitet (Oldenburg-Berlin, Gerhard Stalling, 1925).
Sources used