Special units

29th reserve IR II. battalion

This badge was placed in the special units category due to several oddities. The 29th Infantry Regiment was organized in Torontal County and had its headquarters in Nagybecskerek. One third of its crew were Serbian, one third German, and the remaining one third were of Hungarian and Slovak nationality. At first glance, there was nothing special but many other mixed nationality regiments.

The first oddity right away is the badge itself. It was given to crew members after 36 months of front service. Such an insignia is unusual, there is no other similar example in the army of the Monarchy. The attached certificate proves that there is no mistake or misinterpretation. This medal could have been awarded to the soldiers of this single battalion if they had served on the front for the terribly long three years. The tag itself proves that there were actual donations. By the way, there was another pendant that was a little smaller in size, which could be earned by spending two full years on the field.

To underline how difficult it may have been to obtain this award, I would only mention the fact that in April 1915, the regiment lost more than 1,000 people on one particularly unfortunate battle day (mostly captured). So because of the losses, it took tremendous luck, in addition to competence and skill, for someone to stay in the battle line for 36 months.

But let’s look at the next weirdness. It is not common for a battalion to establish such an honorable recognition. Why was it the II. battalion? The first thought, of course, was that it was a separate unit like many others from which the mountain brigades were organized. But no, according to sources, this regiment did not have a separated battalion. Nevertheless, according to one source, the regiment was often deployed in disassembly, subordinating the battalions to different higher units. This may have been an important reason that could have formed the identity of the battalion as an independent unit.

The third oddity has to do with the name. The 29th Infantry Regiment is also listed on the medal and the accompanying card as a reserve regiment. I also found two field postcards, on which the 29th line regiment is called reserve regiment everywhere. I have not yet found an explanation for this distinction.

The photo attached to the post is an ordinary mail item sent home in 1917 by a member of the 5th company of the II. Battalion. The soldiers in the picture are therefore from the II. battalion. Although we see this and that hanged on each tunic, none of them wear this decoration, unfortunately. Considering the conditions of the award, it is conceivable that in 1917 this award did not even exist. The certificate, which is also attached, also dates from 1918. Finally, on the other post card we can see a nice stamp of battalion command. The regiment is called “reserve regiment” also there.

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