Friedrich Wilhelm Albert Lincke

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Hannover, Hannover, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire

General information

Last known residence:
Hannover, Hannover, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire

Army information

Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Imperial German Army
 —  II. Bataillon, Reserve-Infanterie Regiment Nr. 212  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Detmold, Lippe, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Cause of death:
Death post-war (unrelated)

Cemetery or memorial

There is no known cemetery or memorial for this soldier.

Points of interest 4

#1 Place of birth
#2 Last known residence
#3 Prisoner of War (POW)
#4 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Friedrich Wilhelm Albert Lincke, son of Friedrich and Constance Lincke, was born in Hanover on 12 February 1874. As commander of II. Bataillon, Reserve-Infanterie Regiment No. 212, he took part in Operation Höhensturm on 4 October 1917. This counterattack near Zonnebeke was to drive the Allies out of the ruins of the village and give the Flandern I-Stellung on the Broodseinde ridge east of Zonnebeke some breathing space. On the Broodseinde ridge, 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 planned on 4 October near Zonnebeke was christened Unternehmung Höhensturm ('Höhensturm' means 'thunderstorm at high altitude').

The Allies launched an attack at the same time. They 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 two days, also on 4 October. In the run-up to the attack, the men of RIR 212 made their way to their departure positions under cover of fog and mist. On 4 October 1917, German artillery launched a powerful barrage as planned at 5.35am. In places, the artillery fell short and hit their own lines. The German barrage remained unanswered and scouts reported large British troop movements. Major Lincke became alarmed and rightly feared that the continuation of the British offensive was approaching. He argued that it was better to take up a defensive position and break off RIR 212's attack. The regiment was to withdraw east of Zonnebeke behind the ridge, where it could await the Allied attack. As soon as the British attacked, the regiment could counterattack with full force. With some luck, some ground could be gained in the process. But Major Lincke could no longer repel the attack. He had insufficient telephone connections and could no longer consult with the other commanders. A few moments before the attack, it was impossible to send couriers anymore. For a moment he considered withdrawing his troops from the attack centre to the Flandern I-Stellung. But he had to abandon this idea, as the units on both his wings would then surely be easy prey for the opponent. Fully aware of what was about to happen, he had no choice but to join the other two battalions in the attack. RIR 212, was located along Foreststraat, between Zonnebeke and Molenaarelsthoek. I./RIR212 on the right flank, moved around Castle Pond, in the middle II./RIR212 went along Retaliation Farm, south of II./RIR212 part of III./RIR212, would advance towards Molenaarelsthoek. As RIR 212 flowed through the lines of the 4. Garde-Division, Major Lincke's fears were realised, and Allied drumfire hit RIR 212 in the field. Wilhelm was seriously wounded in his left forearm by a shell hit. Lieutenant Bansee and Lincke's orderly, Simon Weege, bandaged the arm and were able to stem the bleeding. Meanwhile, the Australians were approaching fast. Young Weege and Major Lincke were captured at the command post of II./RIR212, at Beselarestraat, just east of Romulus Wood. Leutnant Bansee was shot while trying to reach the lines of RIR 212. Orderly Weege was deployed as stretcher bearer and separated from Major Lincke, who was taken to Ypres and then to Poperinge, where he was nursed. He would spend the rest of the war in captivity in England. Major Lincke was quite impressed by the Allied war machine and began to doubt whether Germany could sustain this war for long against this preponderance of men and material:

"What I saw behind the English front raised serious doubts in my mind for the first time whether we would be able to bring the war to a successful conclusion against these enormous amounts of men, material and organisation."

The German counterattack had ended in disaster. Thousands of Germans were killed, made prisoners of war or carried off wounded. Yet 4 October did not mark the Allies' dream breakthrough; the German defences in Flanders had not collapsed, indeed German resistance intensified as soon as 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.

Files 2

Sources 2

Bergeder F. Das Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 202 auf den Schlachtfeldern des Weltkrieges 1914-1918 (Oldenburg-Berlin, Gerhard Stalling, 1927).
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