Original photograph of six German soldiers at rest in a rear area

click to enlarge

I found this original photograph in a used bookstore in Morgantown, West Virginia, some years ago.  The photo was on its own, not found in a book.  There was no writing, or any other markings, on the back. 

The soldiers have a sign on the ground, which looks completely blank in the original photo, but which reveals some vague lettering when enlarged and enhanced on the computer.  The top line appears to read: “M. Korpor”, while the bottom line reads “R.F.R.? ? K”  (4th & 5th letters completely illegible).  The second letter could be a “T” rather than an “F”.  All the lettering is so vague that I cannot be certain of any part of it.  ~~~ (See comment below from Stephen Parker, who has deciphered part of the sign and identified the soldiers’ unit as 2 Kompanie of Reserve Infanterie Regiment 32).

I would very much appreciate any comments regarding the uniforms and equipment of the soldiers.  If you click on the photo, you will be shown an enlargement.  Then, if you click on the enlarged photo, it will enlarge it even more.

I am grateful to the commentators below for their information regarding equipment and uniforms of the soldiers, probable unit and date, and related observations.  I welcome more such observations, and will post them here. 

BJ Omanson


Geoffrey Miller observes: “I note that the standing second soldier from the left has a gasmask around his neck.  They all have moustaches and the right hand soldier even has a beard – not allowed in the British army!  He also seems to have his bayonet on his rifle.  What is contained in the cylinder on his belt?  Is it a gasmask case? Muddy boots suggest that they have just come out of the trenches.”


Peter Farrell-Vinay responds: “Geoffrey, I believe Pioneer Corps Sergeants were allowed beards.


Steven Parker comments: “Nice find! I took the photo and enhanced it in Photoshop. It looks to me that the second line is “RIR 32/2K” so this would be a photo of members of the 2 Kompanie of Reserve Infanterie Regiment 32. This regiment was part of the 22 Reserve Division until April, 1915, when it transferred to the 113 ID (where it fought at Verdun).   Unfortunately I could not make out the top line.”


Daniel Ross comments:  “Must respectfully disagree with the bayonet being fixed Geoffrey.  The length of ‘brightwork’ between forward sling swivel and muzzle is similar on both weapons.  The cylindrical case is for his gas mask.  The Stahlhelms are probably the original 1916 models as there does not appear to be much cutaway for the ears (a drawback of that model) — later models increased the cut outs.  Other than that it looks a fairly typical group at rest to the rear of the lines (no entrenchments,
grenades or other trench stores in evidence) of the mid to later war (the Stahlhelms mean of course that it is after January 1916 when they went into production and even later as they were held as trench stores and passed from unit to unit as they were relieved for some time after that). ”


Click on the photo to view an enlargement.  When enlargement appears, try clicking on it again for an even larger version.