Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Skaarup, Sergeant (Unteroffizier) Frederick C. Westfälische Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 22 and Reserve Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 45

Unteroffizier (Sergeant) Frederick Christensen Skaarup,

Westfälische Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 22 and Reserve Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 45 in the Great War

Unteroffizier (Sergeant) Frederick Christensen Skaarup, born in Denmark on 9 Feb 1889, served with the 2nd Battery of the Westfalian Field Artillery Regiment Number 22, Brigade Number 6. 

War Memorial honouring the 22nd Westfalian Field Artillery Regiment (Frederick Skaarup’s Regiment), Münster, Westfalica, Germany.  Wounded on a number of occasions during the war, Frederick was lucky to have survived his wounds.  More than 5,000 Danes from the occupied territories fell in the Great War, including 190 from his home town of Broager. 

The memorial is inscribed to "our fallen comrades": Münster (Ehrenmal /Inschriften: Unseren gefallenen Kameraden zum ehrenden Gedächtnis Königlich preußisches 2. westfälisches Feldartillerieregiment No. 22, II. Abt. Res Feldartillerieregiment No.14, Landwehrfeldartillerieregiment 251 Ob auch alles um uns sank, Lasst uns nicht entarten. Haltet Schwert und Ehre blank, Unsere Toten - warten.)

After being wounded late in 1914 or early in 1915 when a shell exploded near the horse he was riding, Frederick was sent to a hospital in Heidelberg.  After his recuperation he was then sent to the 8th Battery, Reserve Field Artillery Regiment No. 45, sometime before 28 February 1915.   In addition to his duties as a gunner, he served as a mounted musician and dispatch rider.  He was wounded on at least two more occasions, and following one of these wounds, he recuperated in the Comines (North) Field Hospital on 18 April 1916.  He earned the Iron Cross 2nd Class (EKII) for action he took part in on 6 Sep 1917.   This award was presented to him in the field on 11 Jan 1918.  

German First World War 7.7-cm Feldkanone 96 neuer Art (7.7-cm FK 96 n.A.), (Serial No. 8283), captured by the 25thBattalion near Cherisy, France, 27 August 1918.  This gun is on display in a City Park on the main street of Grand Falls, New Brunswick.  Others are on display in Campbellton, Hopewell Cape, Perth-Andover and Woodstock, New Brunswick.  Frederick said he trained on and served with these types of guns, which fired a fast moving shell that was nick-named a "Whiz-Bang" by Canadian soldiers who experienced its deadly effects first hand.  The 22nd Field Artillery Regiment was part of the 13th Artillery Brigade.  Both the 22nd and the 45th Regiments had three batteries with four 7.7-cm FK 96 n.A guns in each.battery.

Frederick served with the 8th Battery of the Reserve Field Artillery Regiment Number 45, (18th Artillery Brigade - TBC), part of the 45th Reserve Division, XXIII Reserve Corps, until 25 April 1918 when he was again wounded (initially reported missing and presumed dead).  On his recovery he returned to the 45th, serving with them when the war ended

The 45th Reserve Division (45. Reserve-Division) was a unit of the Imperial German Army that had been formed in August 1914.  It was part of the first wave of new divisions formed at the outset of the war, which were numbered the 43rd through 54th Reserve Divisions.  The division was disbanded in 1919 during the demobilization of the German Army after the war.  The division, part of XXIII Reserve Corps, was recruited primarily in the Prussian provinces of Pomerania and West Prussia.

The 45th Reserve Division fought on the Western Front, entering the line in October along the Yser River and remaining there until April 1915, when it went into the fight for Ypres.  The division remained in the Yser region until September 1916, when the division fought in the Battle of the Somme.  Thereafter, it remained in the Aisne region until April 1917.  In April and May 1917, it fought in the Second Battle of the Aisne, also known as the Third Battle of Champagne (and to the Germans as the Double Battle on the Aisne and in the Champagne).  

After these battles the division went into the trench line around Verdun, remaining there until the end of September 1917, when it joined the Battle of Passchendaele.  The division then returned to Verdun.  In 1918, it fought in the German Spring Offensive, including the breakthrough at St. Quentin and the follow-on battles in the Montdidier-Noyon region.  It later saw action in the Second Battle of the Marne and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Over the course of the war the 45th Reserve Division was reorganized with a number of changes taking place, including the formation of artillery and signals commands and a pioneer battalion.

The division’s order of battle on 30 March 1918 was:

90. Reserve-Infanterie-Brigade

Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 210

Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 211

Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 212

Reserve-Kavallerie-Abteilung Nr. 45

Artillerie-Kommandeur 45

Reserve-Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 45

I. Bataillon/Fußartillerie-Regiment Nr. 20

Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 345

Divisions-Nachrichten-Kommandeur 445.

The Great War 1914-1918

Wars and battles are very strange things.  Trying to understand how they start, who did what and how one suddenly finds young men and women from North America fighting and dying on the historic grounds of other nations, notably in Europe in the last century, is difficult indeed.  Both of the author's grandfathers, Frederik Christensen Skaarup and Walter Ray Estabrooks fought as artillery gunners on the Western front in the Great War of 1914-1918.  When you try to unravel how the “Great War” started, it is actually somewhat of a mystery.  On Sunday, 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, a teenage Serbian named Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne.  In 1996, while on duty with the NATO-led Peace Stabilization Force (SFOR), the author was stationed in Sarajevo for six months and had the opportunity to stand in Princip’s footsteps.  The entire city had suffered terrible destruction during the war that ran there from 1992 to 1995.

What had changed from 1914?  In the summer of that year, few Canadians would or could have been aware that the spark set off by Prinzip would be one of a number of events that would lead to massive losses of life over the next four years.  It unfolded somewhat like this:

The European continent had basically divided itself into two armed camps with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy on one side and France and Russia on the other.  Both had concerns over power and control and intended to go to war if necessary, to keep as much of it in their hands as possible.  Unfortunately for Canadians, who were essentially still a British Colony at the time, Britain was tied to some very serious agreements with other nations, particularly France.  Although “Britain had no formal alliance with either side, no one in Canada knew that she did have these informal military understandings with France, and they were to prove almost equally binding."

On 23 July 1914, “Austria, supported by Germany, served a harsh ultimatum on Serbia, and on the 28th declared war.  Two days later, Russia, the self-proclaimed protector of the Slav nations, mobilized.  On 01 August, Germany declared war on Russia and two days later on France.  Italy, claiming that she was committed to support Germany and Austria only in a defensive war, remained neutral until May 1915, then entered the war on the Allied side.”  Basically, a couple of disparate groups began to play the very ancient and unfortunate game of “you fight me, you fight my gang.”

As Europe rushed to arms, Britain mobilized its fleet.  Germany invaded Belgium, whose neutrality had been guaranteed by Britain as well as Germany, and on 04 August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany.  In 1914, when Britain was at war, Canada was also at war; and there was no distinction, although Canadians believed at the time that Britain's cause (in defence of Belgium) was just.  Most however, genuinely believed that the war would be over before they could take part in it.

It did not turn out that way.  Taking a number of notes from Canadian historical archives, one can see that “in the First World War the Canadian Corps achieved a reputation unsurpassed in the allied armies.”  A total of  “619,636 men and women served in the Canadian Army in the First World War, and of these 59,544 gave their lives and another 172,950 were wounded.”

There are always two sides to a story, but because my grandfather Frederick Skaarup died before I knew him, I did not hear the stories from “the other side.”  My grandfather Walter Estabrooks had very clear memories of his experiences in the trenches at Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge during the First World War and I was able to talk with him about what it would have been like for Frederick, as I was soon to learn they had fought in a few of the same places. 

Frederick and his family were living in the German occupied area of southern Denmark when the war came.  Earlier he had been conscripted into the German army in 1910, where he served two years of compulsory military service and then went into the reserve mobilization force.  He was recalled on mobilization, and therefore fought in the war in France and Belgium from day one in 1914.  I was curious as to whether or not my two grandparents had fought in the same area, or perhaps been in the position where they might have been firing on each other.  Because of our family tradition in the field of music, Walter was able to tell me this incredible story about how he knew they had been in the same place at the same time during the Great War.

“I met your grandfather Frederick Skaarup about 1937 or 1938.  They were living in River de Chute, and bought the Hubbard's farm next to ours.  He and his son Harold came down with an old model Ford Tractor and ploughed out nearly half the farm.[1]  They came back that winter and lumbered all winter.  Fred came down with them.[2]  They hauled logs to Lakeville with a big gray team of horses.  I hardly saw any of them, they worked so hard.  Harold would come down evenings and talk to Kathryn.” [3]

“The next winter Mrs. Anne Skaarup came down and we used to see each other quite often.  I changed words with them quite often while we were threshing etc.  There were no combines then.  We often listened to Frederick playing the trumpet on the verandah in the evenings.  We discussed the war many times.  One time in particular on 5 February 1918, I had charge of a team getting some lumber salvaged in an old blown up school.  We heard a German Band playing the boys going out on relief in Lens just across no man’s land from Liévin, France, where we were.  We checked the dates and your grandfather said that he may have been playing in that band”.    

“I have seen troops coming out of the line tired and dirty after a big push, make their first halt for a little rest.  Sometimes a band would be waiting for them.  Marching when not weary and with a good band will give some folks a tremendous thrill.  But can you imagine a depleted unit coming out of the line from a hard position, tired, dirty, muddy and lousy, stumbling along just after dark, a few minutes halt just out of maximum gun range.  “Fall in, quick march.”  Imagine that a band has been waiting for them, and what it would feel like as it begins playing “The British Grenadiers”.  The men would hunch their equipment up higher on their backs and their shoulders would straighten up.  They would all have fallen in line four abreast without an order.  No need for left-right.  The muddy boots would seem to lighten up, and darned if the feet don't seem to get the beat of the music.  They are old hands, and would soon disappear in the night.  Your grandfather Frederick told me about playing the men out on the other side of the line in the same way”.

Frederick and Anne Skaarup, Broager, Denmark.

Frederick Christensen Skaarup, who fought as a gunner on the Western Front during the Great War, was born on the 9th of February 1889 at Egen-paa-Guderup, on the Island of Als in a country with a very long and interesting history.  Frederick married Anne Christine Kaad on the 8th of May 1914, also in Egen.  Anne was born on the 30th of December 1889 at Nordborg, on the Island of Als, Denmark.  After the end of the Great War they lived for a time in the town of Broager, West of Sonderborg, where Frederick set up a carriage-making business before emigrating to Canada in 1926.  Anne and Frederick had four sons, Frederick, Harold, and Aage (all born in Broager in Denmark), and Carl, who was born in New Denmark in Canada.  They lived in New Denmark in the province of New Brunswick before moving to Carleton County, where Anne died on the 3rd of July 1952.  Not long afterwards, Frederick died on the 21st of June 1953, and they are both buried in the Lutheran church cemetery in New Denmark.

The following history is a short extract of Frederick’s military service that has been compiled from the stories passed on by Frederick’s children and from records of the units he served in before and during the Great based on research in military archives.

Frederick and Anne, ca 1911.

Frederick sitting at the far right in the front row, with a Meerschaum pipe and holding his graduation mug on his basic military training course, 2/22 Reserve Christmas 1912, Munster.

Frederick Christensen Skaarup served in the German Army during the conflict now known as “The Great War.”  Following a war between Prussia and Denmark in 1864, the Danish territory in the south of the country, including the Island of Als, had been occupied by the German government.  All Danes living in the occupied territory were therefore subject to compulsory military service.  Frederick was therefore conscripted into the German Army Reserve in 1910, serving until 1912 in Germany at Itzehoe, Eutin and Lippe in the cavalry and where he later became a dispatch rider.  He turned down a commission to become an officer in the German Army, an act which his commander considered outrageous (he became apoplectic according to  Frederick).  This was because Frederick had stated that to accept a commission into the army of the occupying German Army was to accept their subjugation of Denmark, and this he could not go along with.  The consequences could have been severe, but his unit was able to transfer him to the 22nd Westfalian Field Artillery Regiment, where he was serving as a musician and gunnery sergeant when called up for service on the outbreak of war in 1914.[4] 

Frederick Skaarup mounted on horseback, in costume mounted on the left rear horse playing the trumpet in a festival parade in Sonderborg, Denmark, before 1913.  In the second photo he is mounted on the right front horse

Frederick Skaarup on horseback, 2nd from the right during the Great War.

Frederick Skaarup 5th from the left, from a postcard dated 13 May 1918, stamped 2. Batt. Res. F.A.R. 45.

Frederick Skaarup top right in a group photo with swords, 1912.

Frederick Skaarup with walking stick 2nd from the right, on a postcard photo possibly dated 3 Oct 1916.

Frederick Skaarup sitting 3rd from the right during the Great War.

Frederick Skaarup standing 2nd from the right in the front row from a postcard dated 3 Feb 1916, stamped S.B. 8. Battr. Res. F.A.R. 45.

Frederick sitting upper left with the 8. Battr. Res. F.A.R. 45. during the war.

Frederick Skaarup standing 4th from the left in the rear row with a group of military musicians during the Great War.

Frederick Skaarup sitting front row centre (x) at a Field Hospital after being wounded during the Great War.  The patients wore white uniforms.

Group photo with Frederick sitting with a trumpet 4th from the left with a military band in service from a postcard dated 9 April 1916, stamped B. Batir. Res. F.A.R. 45, XXIII. Res. Korps.

Frederick served in France and Belgium and was badly wounded several times.  Early in the war in France, a shell landed on his battery as they were hauling a gun with six horses.  The shell killed everyone except Frederick.  In spite of being covered with the horses’ guts, he was able to get out and report for duty.  One year later in 1916, while he was working as a dispatch rider, his unit was cut off by the French for two days and two nights.  Trapped in a salient (a long finger of a defensive line that extends into the enemy’s position), Frederick was the sole means of communication back to his own lines.  He found a safe route out and thus helped his entire unit withdraw to safety.  Although all the men of his group got out, a French 75-mm artillery shell hit the horse he was riding.  The horses’ head was nearly blown off and he was almost pulled in two.  He was sent to a Feld Lazerette (Field Hospital) in Heidelberg, Germany to recuperate for many months about 1917.  On his return, he was called up before his entire regiment and presented the Iron Cross Second Class.  His citation read in part: “Here is a soldier who lives by the book.” 

Frederick was reported killed twice in telegrams sent to his wife Anne.  During his service at the front, he was tasked to act as an artillery spotter after the previous two spotters had been killed.  Crawling up to the observation point, he noted that the periscope on the site was probably giving away the position, and he therefore immediately kicked it over.  He continued to spot using his eyesight only, until the French machine-gunners began walking machine-gun fire across his position.  He was hit in the left thigh, with one bullet going through his flesh, bone and all.  Possibly some time after this injury,  Fredercik may have been sent to another artillery unit.

During another action in France, Frederick’s unit captured an American Supply train.  They had a good feed of pork and captured a considerable quantity of cigarettes and tobacco, which he was able to use for barter.  Years after the war, he met another Dane who had served with the Canadian Army on the same front.[5]  Recalling the same incident, the Canadian (Carl Jensen) said that they had lamented about that particular loss of the food and cigarettes.  Carl and Frederick became and remained best friends in New Denmark.

In 1918 Spanish influenza broke out and killed a lot of the troops.  Frederick became so sick and feverish that he was laid out in a room along with other soldiers who had already died.  Five artillery shells blew the roof off the hospital about September or October 1918.  Rain coming in revived him and chilled the fever.  Looking around at the dead in the same room, he thought it might be a good idea to get out of there.  Everything he had was gone, including his wedding ring.

On one occasion his battery was down to one round of ammunition a day per gun.[6]  Three allied tanks (possibly Renault light tanks) came in on their position.  They knocked out two and the other one withdrew.  They had to take them out successfully in order to survive, and did.  During their basic training, the men had to drill with swords.  They were required to hold them straight out in drill practice, until the sword felt like an extension of one’s arm.  Stable duties were also constant, with care of their horses being essential throughout the war.

On one occasion they had an officer who was quite a `pain in the ass`.  They took his sword and peed in the scabbard, then put the sword back in so it rusted in place.  In another incident, they were sitting around the fire when one of the men suddenly jumped up screaming.  A stray round of shrapnel had hit him in the heel, and no one had heard it coming in.

When the war ended in November 1918, there was a revolution in Germany, and many of the men were forced to serve in the revolutionary army for a period.  German Marines lined the men up against a wall and asked if they were for or against the revolution.  They decided they were for it.  Eventually Frederick was able to go home to Anne and Fred junior, and when he did, Fred junior ran and hid from him, as he didn’t recognize his father.  For the first three or four months he found that he couldn’t sleep in a bed, and so he had to sleep on the floor.

The Danes were very bitter about the German occupation and the terrible loss of life by large numbers of their citizens in the war.  In 1919, a referendum was held to return the occupied areas back to Danish control.  The northern two-thirds of the territory voted to return to Denmark’s sovereignty, including Broager and the Island of Als, but the southern third had enough German settlers to carry the vote, and chose to remain with Germany.  The Danneverke (Old Danish Wall) which had marked the original boundary between the Danish Jutes and the Aleman Germans for a thousand years still stands but today this former Danish territory stands inside Germany, and the Danes are not happy about that.

Frederick with a group of musicians in Denmark after the war.

Frederick with one of the cars he built a carriage for in the early 1920s.  Inset is a brass makers tag which would have been fixed to each carriage he built.

Shortly after his return to Denmark Frederick and his family moved to the town of Broager, where he set up his carriage making business.  Times change and progress in the form of Henry Ford`s assembly line production soon made it difficult for Fred to compete in the carriage-making business.  He decided to emigrate to Canada.  The decision must have been a difficult one, but in May 1926 Frederick sailed to Canada on the SS Montcalm.  Not long afterwards, Anne and their sons Frederick, Harold and Aage came over in July/August 1926 on the SS United States.  Their first home was on a farm in New Denmark.  Their fourth son Carl was born in Canada.

Frederick and Anne Skaarup with newborn foal Beauty and Stella, 1944.

Frederick served as the Music Director for the Grand Falls Comet Band.  He is sitting 3rd from the right in this group photo taken in 1937.

Fred Jr, Fred Sr with Aage on his lap, Anne and Harold J. Skaarup, New Denmark, 1920s.

Fred Jr, Carl, Anne, Aage and Harold J. Skaarup, River de Chute, 1941.

The family later moved to Carleton County, where Frederick bought a farm located at Strong Corner not far from Mount Delight and the village of Centreville.  Fred Jr married Eva Givskud and set up home in River-de-Chute.  Harold joined the Canadian Army, serving with the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s), and served overseas with his armoured regiment until he was killed in Italy in September 1944.  Aage married Beatrice Estabrooks and then joined the RCAF, serving overseas and across Canada before settling back on the farm at Strong Corner in New Brunswick in 1973.  Carl married Phyllis Walton and then joined the Canadian Army, RCEME, also serving overseas and in many locations in Canada before settling down in New Brunswick.[7]

Frederick and Anne Skaarup, posing for their passport photos in the 1940s.

Fred, Aage and Carl’s families have had many children, and there are now lots of Skaarup’s located in many different areas of Canada.  Many have gone on to voluntarily serve in the Canadian Armed Forces including the author, thus preserving and continuing the military tradition in the Skaarup family.[8]


[1] Harold was one of the author`s father’s brothers (Frederick, Harold, Aage and Carl Skaarup).  Harold Jorgen Skaarup served with the 8th Princess Louise (New Brunswick) Hussars, as a member of a Sherman tank crew in Italy.  His tank was hit by a German anti-tank round and although badly wounded, he evacuated the tank.  He and the members of his unit were then shelled by German multiple rocket launchers and he was hit again on 31 August, 1944.  Harold subsequently died on 6 September 1944 from the wounds he received in that battle, and he is presently buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Monteccio, Italy.  The author, Harold Aage Skaarup, was given Harold`s first name as the first grandson in our family born after his death.

[2] Frederick is the author`s father’s oldest brother, and until he passed away in his late 80’s was still an avid skier.

[3] Kathryn was one of Walter and Myrtle Estabrooks six children (Kathryn, Gaynelle, Frederick, Beatrice, Bernard and Wilhelmine).

[4] The 22nd Westfalian Field Artillery Regiment had its headquarters in Munster.  This unit had been stationed in Munster from 1872-1918, and its veterans continue to have a traditional association with this historic German town.  Frederick later served in the 45th Reserve Field Artillery Regiment of the 45th Reserve Division.

[5] The supplies were American, but the unit was Canadian.  The soldier’s name was Carl Jensen of New Denmark in New Brunswick, and he later became a lifelong friend of Fred.

[6] In a German Great War artillery unit, a battery consisted of three guns

[7] These are oral history details taken from family conversations over many years.

[8] Corporal Harold Jorgen Skaarup,  8th  Canadian Hussars, gave his life in the Service of his country in the Mediterranean Theatre of War, on the 6th day of September, 1944; Warrant Officer Aage Christensen Skaarup, RCAF 1953-1973; Warrant Carl John Skaarup, RCEME 1955-1975; Major Harold Aage Skaarup CF Intelligence Branch, 1971-2011, Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel for 3 Intelligence Company (Halifax), 2015-2018; Lieutenant (N)/Captain Dale Ray Skaarup, Canadian Navy & Logistics Branch 1970-76; Officer Cadet Christopher Loren Skaarup, Royal Canadian Artillery 1984-87; Lieutenant Commander Heather Ann Skaarup, Canadian Navy;  Corporal Frederick Skaarup, Royal Canadian  Artillery, 1978-1991; 2nd Lieutenant Sean Jordan Skaarup, Royal Canadian Artillery, 2003-2010.

WO (Retired) Carl Skaarup, Major (Retired) HLCol Harold Skaarup, Lt (N) Heather Skaarup, Bdr (Retired) Chris, WO (Retired) Aage Skaarup and Bdr (Retired) Fred Skaarup, Centreville Legion, New Brunswick on Rememberance Day, 11 Nov 1996.  Capt (Retired) Dale Skaarup missing from photo.