Dear Mr. History,

During my genealogy research I have come upon a relative who died, or went missing, during WW1. Belonging to the Danish minority in Northern Germany, he fought on the side of the Germans. Online, I find his place of death listed as Pessans, France, and the date that he went missing as August 5, 1916. He was with the 162nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Company. As far as I can tell, that makes it likely that he died during the Battle of the Somme. However, when I look on a map, Pessans seem to be far away from the battle field. Do you have any clue to what could make “Pessans” the location of his death?

Thank you in advance,


? ? ?

Dear Ms. C,

I suspect that there may be a typographic error or a reference to a town that no longer exists regarding your relative. Neither the Pessan region at the base of the French Alps nor the town of “Bessans” fall within the entrenched combat zones of the Western Front. As far as the Somme campaign goes, on July 22 the 1st Australian Division of the Reserve Army took Pozières, northeast of Albert—the first real success of the offensive thus far—and then held it against a succession of German counterattacks from July 23 through August 7. At that time Infanterie Regiment Nr 162 (Lübeck) was part of the 81. Infanterie-Brigade of the 17th Reserve Division, which did take part in the Somme fighting, so it is possible that he was killed in that vicinity at that time.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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