• home leave Easter 1916

    It was Easter 1916 and Herbert Sulzbach had some home leave from where his Battery was positioned at Evricourt in France. He was very excited as he said goodbye to his men and drove to Noyon station past the woods, with turtle doves cooing and cuckoos calling. Just thinking about his family at Frankfurt suddenly made him feel very homesick.

    It was a long night-time journey by train via St Quentin, Aachen and Cologne, before travelling past all his beloved little villages and towns along the Rhine. He surprised his family at home in Frankfurt, who gave him a marvellous welcome.

    For the next few days he enjoyed his family, called on friends, sat about in cafés, and went dancing in the evenings. He had a wonderful time, despite being aware that in France battles were raging and his fellow-soldiers were being called into action. There was a certain desperation in this time at home, as he 'ran a bit wild' – not knowing whether after this leave he would ever return.

    He found that there were fewer of his friends to visit since his previous home leave. Only two years before, on 16 March 1914, Sulzbach had been to a school reunion -

    'a small celebration in the “Kaiserkelb” with Bauner and all the friends from school.'

    Now the names of many of these young men had already appeared in the 'Roll of Honour', including Sulzbach's school-mate, Prince Max of Hesse, who had joined the Darmstadt Dragoons and been killed in Flanders early in the war.

    Saying goodbye at the end of his leave was not easy for Sulzbach. But he also had an increasingly uneasy feeling that he should be back with his Battery and was looking forward to returning. Like so many soldiers from both sides during the First World War, he struggled to reconcile his longing for home and its creature comforts and his desire to get back to the fighting, do his duty, and get the war finished.

    (photo: a mealtime at Sulzbach's Battery at Evricourt, 22 February 1916)


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On my blog I write about biography, Anglo-German reconciliation, and the life of Herbert Sulzbach.


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