Emil Colerus von Geldern

Emil Colerus von Geldern was born at Laibach on the 31st of December 1856. His father Thaddeus was a civilian official with the postal services who originally carried the French predicate "de"  which was subsequently changed into an Austrian title of nobility as "von" on the 25th of November 1878. Similar to his brothers Egmont, Oskar and Wendelin he entered on a career with the military. After attending the military college at St. P÷lten he successfully graduated from the military academy at Wiener Neustadt and was commissioned as a Leutnant in infantry regiment number 44 at Mostar on the 1st of September 1877. This regiment was deployed during the occupation of Bosnia and the Herzegovina but as a reinforcement unit not arriving  in theatre before August 1878 saw little action.. Other than during the 1869 rebellion the regiment did not receive any decorations and had sustained causalities of only 7 wounded men. After passing successfully through the Kriegsschule at Vienna Emil Colerus von Geldern, meanwhile promoted to Oberleutnant on the 1st of May 1882, was permanently attached to the general staff corps on the 1st of November 1884. On the 1st of November 1887 he was promoted to Hauptmann 1st class in this corps and continually assigned to several general staff bureaus at the war ministry in Vienna. On the 1st of May 1892 he was transferred for troop duty with infantry regiment number 76 at Oedenburg (Sopron). On the 16th of October 1893 he was transferred back to the general staff corps shortly followed by his appointment to the Kriegsschule where he became an instructor in administrational staff duties. On the 1st of November 1894 he received his promotion to Major and on the 1st of November 1896 to Oberstleutnant in normal peacetime fashion. For his outstanding performance as an instructor at the Kriegsschule he was honored with the award of the Military Merit Cross on the 2nd of September 1897 and was transferred for duty with the troops to his old infantry regiment number 44. On the 9th of April 1900 Emil Colerus von Geldern was appointed as chief of the general staff at the headquarter of the 7th corps at Temesvßr where he received his promotion to Oberst on the 1st of May with seniority from the 3rd of June 1900.

As the post of a chief of the general staff of a corps was equivalent to that of a regimental commander it was a normal occurence when Oberst Emil Colerus von Geldern received the 3rd class of the Order of the Iron Crown on the 24th of March 1904. On the 3rd of March 1906 he took over command of the 53rd infantry brigade at Kaschau (Kassa) shortly followed by his promotion to Generalmajor on the 1st of May 1906 with seniority from the 4th of May. On the 27th of October 1906 he switched to the command of the 49th infantry brigade at Vienna - a command with much more prestige than in the outer provinces. A command at the "Reichs-, Haupt- und Residenzstadt" Vienna implied always the possibility to receive foreign awards during the visits of foreign royals at the court, so it is no wonder that Generalmajor Colerus von Geldern received during the year of the 60th anniversary of the Kaiser's accession to the throne, the commander's cross with breast star of the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle (22nd July 1908). On the 21st of October 1909 he assumed command of the 6th infantry division at Graz where he received his promotion to Feldmarschall-Leutnant on the 1st of May 1910 with seniority from the 13th of May. His 35 years of faithful service during war and peacetime was honored with the award of the knight's cross of the Order of Leopold on the 8th of March 1912. For his next step up the ladder he was not required to move as he took over command of the 3rd corps on the 22nd of January 1914 whose headquarter were also located at Graz. This was followed by his promotion to General der Infanterie on the 1st of May 1914 with seniority from the 26th of April 1914.

When the war started in the summer of 1914 the 3rd corps (6th, 22nd and 28th infantry divisions) deployed initially as part of General der Infanterie Hermann von K÷vess's "Army Group" of two corps to eastern Galicia and immediately was involved in the heavy fighting to the east of Lemberg at the battle of Zloczˇw from the 23rd to the 28th of March in conjunction with 3rd Army. Armeegruppe K÷vess was reintegrated into General der Kavallerie B÷hm-Ermolli's 2nd Army on 25th August and then participated in the battle of Lemberg on the of 30th August/1st September. Following the defeat at Lemberg the 2nd Army and 3rd armies were compelled to withdraw behind the rivers Wereszyca and south of the upper Dniester and thence behind the San. Transferred to the 3rd Army of General Boroević in early October III Corps participated in the advance to Przemyśl , the battles of Chyrˇw and Błożew Grn followed by yet another withdrawal to the Carpathian mountains. For his period in command of III Corps during the first summer and autumn of the war GdI Emil Colerus von Geldern was awarded the grand cross of the Order of the Iron Crown with war decoration on the 11th of November 1914. The 3rd corps saw further fighting south of the Dukla pass and at Limanowa-Lapanˇw in the first two weeks of December and the pursuit of the retreating Russians after that successful battle. Colerus remained in command of III Corps during the very difficult winter fighting in the Carpathians and the two Austro-Hungarian offensives conducted in the new year. Following the wind down of the inconclusive 2nd Carpathian offensive GdI Colerus von Geldern was relieved of his command after the Russians broke into the positions of his 28th infantry division at the boundary of 2nd and 3rd Armies and sent on an extended leave at the end of March 1915. On the 11th of August 1917 he was honored by the new Kaiser Karl with the title of Geheimer Rat (Privy Councillor) but no further suitable field command was found for him. General der Infanterie Emil Colerus von Geldern died in Vienna on the 30th of January 1919.

Back to Miscellaneous Biographies