As the formal name indicates, the division was raised and recruited in the Grand Duchy of Hesse.
Evolution of the Grand Ducal Hessian DivisionThe Grand Ducal Hessian (25th) Division was officially formed on December 20, 1842 as the Infantry Division Command (Infanterie-Divisions-Kommando), but the division-strength Hessian Army had been around before that date. During the Napoleonic Wars, Hesse fielded a division-strength troop corps (Truppenkorps). In 1820, as part of the Hessian troop contribution to the German Confederation's Federal Army (Bundesheer), Hesse reorganized its army into two brigades of infantry, 1/2 company of horse artillery, two companies of foot artillery, one light horse regiment, one trains company and one sapper (later pioneer) company. This force was placed under the Infantry Division Command in 1842. On February 5, 1849, this force was redesignated the Grand Ducal Army Division (Großherzogliche Armee-Division). The organization of the Grand Ducal Army Division in 1858 was as follows:
- Army Division Staff
- Guard NCO Company
- General Quartermaster Staff with Pioneer Company
- Guard Light Horse Regiment
- Grand Ducal Artillery Corps
- Two infantry brigades of two regiments of two battalions each (8 total battalions, each with 5 companies).
The organization of the division at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 was as follows:
- 49. Infanterie-Brigade
- Hessisches Leib-Garde-Regiment Nr. 1
- Hessisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 2
- Hessisches Gardejäger-Bataillon Nr. 1
- 50. Infanterie-Brigade
- Hessisches Leib-Regiment Nr. 3
- Hessisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 4
- Hessisches Leibjäger-Bataillon Nr. 2
- Hessische 25. Kavallerie-Brigade
- Hessisches 1. Reiter-Regiment
- Hessisches 2. Reiter-Regiment
Combat chronicleDuring the Franco-Prussian War, the Grand Ducal Hesse (25th) Division was subordinated to the Prussian IX Army Corps, along with the 18th Infantry Division. The Hessians fought in the battles of Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte, and then participated in the Metz. It then fought in the Noiseville and the Second Battle of Orléans.
During World War I, the Grand Ducal Hesse (25th) Infantry Division served on the Western Front. It fought in the opening campaigns, including the Allied Great Retreat which culminated in the First Battle of the Marne, and the subsequent Race to the Sea. After a period in the trenches, the division was heavily engaged in 1916 in the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme. In 1917, it fought in the battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres. In 1918 it participated in the German Spring Offensive and ended the war resisting the subsequent Allied counteroffensives. Allied intelligence rated the division as first class.