AWARDS Pour le Mérite with Oakleaves
FRITZ THEODOR CARL VON BELOW (23 September 1853 – 23 November 1918) was a Prussian general in the German Army during the First World War . He commanded troops during the Battle of the Somme , the Second Battle of the Aisne , and the Spring Offensive in 1918.
* 1 Biography * 2 Family * 3 Glossary * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 Bibliography * 7 External links
Born in Danzig ( Gdańsk ), in 1912 Below was appointed to the command of XXI Corps . In this capacity, he fought along with the 6th Army on the Western Front at the beginning of World War I. His corps was transferred in 1915 to the Eastern Front where it participated in the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes . Below was awarded the Pour le Mérite on 16 February 1915 for successful campaigns on the Western Front and in the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes.
He was then elevated to command of the 2nd Army at the beginning of the Somme offensive in 1916. 2nd Army bore the brunt of the Allied attack in the Battle of the Somme. It had grown to such an extent that a decision was made to split it into two still-powerful armies. Therefore, 1st Army was reformed on 19 July 1916 from the right (northern) wing of the 2nd Army. Below took command of 1st Army and 2nd Army got a new commander General der Artillerie Max von Gallwitz . Gallwitz was also installed as commander of Heeresgruppe Gallwitz-Somme to co-ordinate the actions of both armies on the Somme. Below was awarded the Oakleaves to the Pour le Mérite (signifying a second award) on 11 August 1916 for his success in operations during the Battle of the Somme.
Finally, he was appointed to command the 9th Army in June 1918, still on the Western Front. However, Below had contracted pneumonia so its former commander, General der Infanterie Johannes von Eben , remained in provisional command.
Below was the cousin of Otto von Below , another German commander during the war. The two generals are often confused.
* Armee-Abteilung or Army Detachment in the sense of "something detached from an Army". It is not under the command of an Army so is in itself a small Army. * Armee-Gruppe or Army Group in the sense of a group within an Army and under its command, generally formed as a temporary measure for a specific task. * Heeresgruppe or