Guido Freiherr Novak von Arienti

Guido Novak was born in Milan on the 21st of January 1859 as the son of an Austrian naval officer. Graduating from the Infantry Cadet School at Karthaus near Brünn he was assigned as a Kadettfeldwebel to infantry regiment number 45 from where he was transferred to the Lemberg based and Galician recruited Infantry Regiment Holstein Number 80 as a Kadett on the 1st of September 1878 shortly followed by his promotion to Leutnant on the 1st of November of the same year. In February 1880 the regiment moved to Bosnia to replace  infantry regiment number 24 for some years. The regiment played a distinguished part in the suppression of the mutiny in Southern Dalmatia in 1882 before it was transferred back to its old garrison of Lemberg and Zloczów respectively. On the 1st of January 1883 Guido Novak was promoted to Oberleutnant within the regiment. On the 20th of January 1886 he married Olga Langner von Grantal, the daughter of a Major of his regiment, at Zloczów. They had a son named Guido, born on the 6th of May 1887, who later became a regular officer and rose to the rank of Hauptmann in the 1st Regiment of Tyrolean Kaiserjäger in 1918. On the 1st of November 1890 Guido Novak received his promotion to Hauptmann 2nd class. Initially all was well but Olga Novak's health grew steadily worse. In May 1891 Hauptmann Novak was transferred to infantry regiment number 74 at Josephstadt, a normal occurrence in an officer's career, but his wife's poor health made it impossible for her to accompany him. In this troublesome situation he was able to find a friend (Hauptmann Franz Krulitsch) who knew the circumstances and agreed to exchange posts with him and consequently he was transferred back to Lemberg and his old regiment on the 5th of June 1891. On the 15th of August 1893 Olga Novak died at the early age of 31 at Lemberg leaving her husband with a 6 year old boy. On the 1st of November 1893 Guido Novak was promoted to Hauptmann 1st class but his career continued on an average path. Other than his career his private life improved; he fell in love with Martha, the 20 year old daughter of the late Generalmajor Maximilian Hirsch von Duinofels. They married at Brody (Galicia) on the 24th of January 1897, (very) shortly followed by the birth of their first son Maximilian on the 19th of August of the same year. Their second son and last child Philipp August was born on the 31st of December 1901 at Stanislau. Like their elder brother Guido both became officers in the 1st Regiment of the Tyrolean Kaiserjäger. Maximilian became an Oberleutnant and Philipp a Fähnrich der Reserve at the end of World War 1.

For his long years of distinguished service with the regiment Hauptmann Guido Novak was honored with the commendation of the Kaiser on the 22nd of October 1900 which allowed him to wear the bronze Military Merit Medal (Signum Laudis) on a red ribbon. After more than a decade as an Hauptmann he finally received his promotion to Major on the 1st of November 1901 additionally being transferred to the 2nd Regiment of the Tyrolean Kaiserjäger, leaving Lemberg after more than 20 years of service there. On the 27th of April 1903 he assumed command of Feldjäger Battalion Number 8 at Tarvis. In Autumn 1903 huge flood disasters devastated parts of Carinthia, Styria and Salzburg and the civil authorities called on the army for help. At the end of January 1904 several officer and men were honored for their outstanding performance during this support, Major Novak received the Military Merit Cross on this occasion. On the 1st of May 1907 he was promoted to Oberstleutnant remaining in command of the battalion. For his five years of distinguished service as a battalion commander he was honored with the award of the 3rd class of the Order of the Iron Crown on the 19th of March 1908. On the 1st of May 1910 he was promoted to Oberst with seniority of the 27th of May shortly followed by the appointment of commanding officer of the 1st Regiment of the Tyrolean Kaiserjäger on the 31st of May 1910. Oberst Guido Novak had now over 30 years of excellent service behind him and on account of his father's military career and that of his edest son he requested  his tax-free raising to nobility with the predicate "von Arienti" which was granted on the 28th of July 1910 (decree of the 21st of October). The excellent performance of his regiment during the internationally observed manouvres in Spring and summer of 1913 earned for him the award of the 2nd class of the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle and the commander's cross 2nd class of the Order of the Sword of Sweden in October 1913. Promoted to Major General on the 1st of August, Novak's Brigade was subordinated to Feldzeugmeister Wenzel Wurm's XVI Corps in Feldzeugmeister Oskar Potiorek's 6th Army and took part in the initial operations in Western Serbia where he received a severe head wound on the morning of the 9th of September at Cavcici. On his recovery he reassumed command of his Brigade on the 25th January 1915 which in the interim had been commanded by another future MMThO winner Oberst Géza Lukachich. The Brigade was sent to the Isonzo Front in May 1915 after Italy's declaration of war along with the rest of XVI Corps. His Brigade was now part of Generalmajor Eduard Böltz's 18th Infantry Division and was responsible for holding the vitally important Hill 383 on the East bank of the Isonzo opposite the small town of Plava.Hill 383 - Click to enlarge

Commencing on the 9th of June 1915, the Italian II Corps launched units of the 3rd Infantry Division across the river and for the next week mounted a series of attacks against Novak's positions on Hill 383. The hill was lost briefly on the 16th of June only to be retaken again on the 17th after which the commander of the 2nd Italian Army, General Pietro Frugoni suspended further attacks. For the successful defence of Hill 383 General von Novak was subsequently made a Knight of the Order of the Military Order of Maria Theresa being awarded his decoration at the 180th "Promotion" on the 17th August 1917 and at the same time raised to a Barony in the Austrian nobility. Novak was wounded a second time in August 1915 and in November of the same year assumed command of the 50th Infantry Division followed by command of the 62nd Infantry Division and periodical temporary command of the XVII Corps. Promoted to Feldmarschalleutnant on the 22nd of August 1917 he was appointed to command the Military Academy at Winer-Neustadt in which position he remained until the war's end. Amongst Baron Novak's decorations were the Military merit Cross 2nd Class with War Decoration and Swords, the Order of the Iron Crown 2nd Class with War Decoration and Swords, the Knights' Cross of the Order of Leopold with War Decoration and Swords and both the Silver and Bronze Military Merit Medals (Signum Laudis). Retiring at the war's end Freiherr Guido Novak von Arienti died in Vienna on the 15th of August 1928.

In the photograph above FML Baron von Novak wears three red wound stripes on his General and Staff Officers' pike grey Kappe. Clearly seen in the photograph are his three senior orders; his MMThO suspended from the fly front of his blouse, the Military Merit Cross 2nd Class at the throat and his Iron Crown 2nd Class just below the MMThO which otherwise would also have been worn at the neck.

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