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Albert Mayer, (April 24, 1892 – August 2, 1914) was the first soldier and the first Imperial German soldier to die in World War I. He died one day before Germany formally declared war on France.[1]

Albert Otto Walter Mayer
Lt Mayer.jpg
Born(1892-04-24)April 24, 1892
Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, German Empire
DiedAugust 2, 1914(1914-08-02) (aged 22)
Joncherey, France
AllegianceGerman Empire
Service/branchImperial German Army
Years of service1912–14
UnitJäger Regt-zu-Pferd Nr 5, 29th Cavalry Brigade, 29th Cavalry Brigade, 29th Infantry Division
Battles/warsSkirmish at Joncherey


Early lifeEdit

Albert Otto Walter Mayer was born on 24 April 1892, at Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt. His family had moved to the area of Mulhouse, Alsace, when he was a boy. He enlisted into the Imperial German Army in 1912. By 1914, he was a Leutnant in his local cavalry unit - the Jäger Regt-zu-Pferd Nr 5 part of the 29th Cavalry Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division, and was garrisoned in Mulhouse.[2]


On mid morning on August 2, 1914, a German cavalry patrol led by Leutnant Mayer patrolled into France before war had been officially declared. Upon crossing into French territory Albert Mayer slashed a French sentry with his saber before going deeper into France.

Around 9:30 the German patrol entered the village of Joncherey. French soldiers billeted at the farm of M. Doucourt were notified and met the patrol. At 9:59, Corporal Jules-André Peugeot yelled at Mayer and his patrol to stop, as they were under arrest, but Mayer pulled out a pistol and shot Peugeot in the shoulder. Peugeot stumbled and shot his pistol, missing Mayer, but Peugeot's comrades returned fire, hitting Mayer in the stomach and head, killing him. After the skirmish Mayer and Peugeot's bodies were taken to a barn on the Doucourt farm. Mayer was buried with full military honors in Joncherey on 3 August. His body was later moved to the German military cemetery at Illfurth near Mulhouse where it remains in a specially-marked grave commemorating ‘1st German Casualty of the World War 1914-18' His helmet was retrieved from the spot where he fell and is on display in the Musée de l'Armée in Paris.[3]

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