Franz von Köhler

Franz von Köhler was born in 1847 at Domald in Siebenbürgen. In view of his poor performance at school and his vivacious character his family decided to send him for a military education. His low achievement at school prevented him from entering the Military Academy at Wiener Neustadt and so he was sent to the engineer school company in 1865. After completing this training he was attached as a cadet to Feldjäger battalion number 7 at Laibach. With this unit which was part of the 7th corps he took part in the war of 1866 in the Italian theatre. During the battle of Custozza on the 24th of June 1866 he was able to distinguish himself during the storm of the Belvedere. For this heroic action he was honored with the award of the Silver Bravery Medal 1st class and received accelerated promotion to Leutnant with seniority from the 1st of June 1866. The young and full of initiative young officer found  the following year of infantry duty boring in the extreme. He was perhaps not the shrewdest of officers but he was brave in the field and did look well on horseback. He was rich enough to pay for his own horse and all the necessary equipment and came from a noble family - therefore he was the perfect officer for the cavalry! On the 17th of February 1871 he was transferred to dragoon regiment "Fürst von Schwarzenberg" number 10 where he received his promotion to Oberleutnant on the 1st of November 1871. The group photo attached to this article shows young officers of this regiment surrounding him and all wearing black armlets because their Oberstinhaber Fürst Schwarzenberg had died on the 17th of November 1873. In 1873/1874 dragoon regiment number 10 was converted into hussar regiment number 15 while ulan regiment number 9 formed the new dragoon regiment number 10. Following this reorganization Franz von Köhler was now an Oberleutnant in hussar regiment "Graf Palffy" number 15 at Nyiregyhaza where he was promoted to Rittmeister on the 1st of November 1880.

The qualifications for senior officers at regimental duty was of course somewhat lower than that of the general staff but the required standard of knowledge was also different within the various arms. The greatest level of knowledge had to be possessed in the technical troops followed by the infantry and last and least in the cavalry. Franz von Köhler who was not known for his book learning talents began to realize that he would not reach the required level to became a senior officer even in the cavalry and so his eye was caught by the newly formed Traintruppe. In March 1880 the old Militär-Fuhrwerks-Corps was formed into 3 horse drawn supply regiments, an Austrian, a Hungarian and a Bohemian. Up to this time the units were not even militarily educated and there were no uniform standards for officers within this branch of service.

The reorganization into a modern combat arm took its time. In 1889 the men were partly equipped with rifles and in 1892 the first officer's schools similar to the cavalry brigade schools were introduced. In 1896 the first officers of the supply branch were allowed to attend the Kriegsschule with the resulting possibility to achieve more senior  rank. As a sign of  no longer being "2nd class officers" the Roßhaarbusch or plume on the shako similar to the artillery was introduced to this new and modernized branch. Still back in the early 1880's this branch seemed promising to Rittmeister von Köhler and so he had himself transferred in 1884 to supply regiment number 1. In 1890 he was transferred to supply regiment number 3 at Prague (later Lemberg) where he received his promotion to Major on the 1st of November 1891. Staying with this regiment he received his further promotions within the normal time frame to Oberstleutnant on the 1st of May 1895 and to Oberst on the 1st of November 1898 with seniority from the 28th of October 1898.

On the 8th of April 1899 Oberst Franz von Köhler was appointed to command supply regiment number 1 at Vienna. During his time as regimental commander the unit started to build the new Trainkaserne or barracks at Meidling on the so-called "Gatterhölzels" area which was finished on the 24th of June 1905. According to the normal run of things Oberst von Köhler received the 3rd class of the Order of the Iron Crown on the 19th of April 1903. On the 25th of October 1904 he was retired to Vienna after 40 years (time during a campaign counted twice) of service mainly on horseback. On the occasion of his retirement he was granted the honorary rank of Generalmajor mit Titel und Charakter. He later moved his home to St.Pölten (Lower Austria) where he died on the 15th of May 1914.

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