After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, a patriotic Adolf Spemann (pictured) reportedly decided to return to Germany to fight for his country. This is the story that has come down through his descendants. A less eyebrow-raising scenario is possible – he may have been in Germany at the time of war’s outbreak placing his oldest daughter, Liesel, in education. Family tradition has Adolf trying to enlist in the army but being rejected because he had flat feet. However, by mid-1915 Mr Spemann is fighting on the Western Front in the 7 Company, Das-Reserve-Infanterie Regiment 111,28th Reserve Division.
His commanding sergeant, August Brysch, spoke of Spemann as “a good friend and the bravest man in my group.” Brysch observed, “He was luckier than most others.” But on 1 July 1916, at the Battle of Fricourt, on the Somme, in France, Adolf’s luck ran out. As he was looking over the top of a trench a shell exploded in front of him and shrapnel pierced his throat. He fell back into Brysch’s arms and died. Spemann’s squad were soon afterwards threatened by the British and only had time to wrap his body in a tent and leave it at the mouth of a dugout before withdrawing. Adolf was awarded a posthumous Iron Cross (actual medal pictured).
Credit: Spemann Family collection.
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