I have been holding onto this document group for more than three years. I kept it partly because it is extremely interesting. Another reason: it took a long time to familiarize myself adequately with its contents so I could describe it. It concerns a Prussian officer with the unexpected name “Arthur Hay.” Hay went from an Unteroffizier in 1886, to at least the rank of Oberstleutnant in 1917. He started in the cavalry and served in both Ulanen, Husaren and Dragoon regiments prior to the war’s outbreak. He achieved the coveted rank of Rittmeister well before the war began in 1914. As best as I can make out, he went from the cavalry to the infantry [as the war developed, most cavalry fought as dismounted troops. WW I showed once and for all that mounted troops were outmoded]. He served as an infantryman until the end of the war. I do not know his final rank, but he may have gone on to be an oberst, or possibly a general. I will leave this as part of the fun for the eventual buyer researching this man. Hay served at least THIRTY years in uniform. He survived the war and even received the Hindenburg Cross in 1935. No less than SIX Promotion Patents are present, covering him from the ranks of Unteroffizier up to major. Each patent is very ornate and hand printed by a skilled calligrapher, with special seals. Also in this group are many award documents. Of his three wartime decorations, we see the documents for his 1914 Iron Cross 2nd Class and his Knight’s Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern House Order (HHO). The latter document is signed by the Graf Zeppelin, prior to his death in 1917. I have never seen his signature on an award document; having it on an HHO document is a real plus! There are a couple of other documents that I have not described which enhance the group. Below is a listing of this amazing group’s contents:
Promotion Patent: from Unteroffizier to Portopee Fähnrich, dated 13 November 1886.
Promotion Patent: from Portopee Fähnrich to Second-Lieutenant, dated 17 September 1887. [I find this interesting, note the old-fashioned use of the French rank: “second-lieutenant”].
Promotion Patent: from Second-Lieutenant to Premier-Lieutenant, dated 14 November 1895. I again find it interesting, the old-fashioned use of the French ranks second-lieutenant and premier-lieutenant.
Promotion Patent: from Oberleutnant to Rittmeister, dated 10 September 1908, personally signed by Kaiser Wilhelm II. Why he has a second document for this same rank, I do not fully understand.
Promotion Patent: from Rittmeister to Major, dated 17 September 1909, again with the personal signature of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Award document for the Knight’s Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern House Order, dated 20 May 1917 while Hay was an oberstleutnant. It is signed by Graf Zeppelin!
Award document for the Prussian Crown Order 4th Class, dated 12 May 1901.
Award document for the Red Eagle Order 4th Class, dated 11 May 1908.
Award document for the Kaiser Wilhelm I Centennial Medal.
1914 Iron Cross 2nd Class. The document is double-dated. The date 3 November 1914 appears, which is the document’s original award date. The document was prepared on 5 June 1916. This either is the document’s reissue date, or they were correcting an oversight.
Award document to the Hamburg Hanseatic Cross, dated 12 March 1917.
Award document for the Hindenburg Cross for Combatants, dated 1935.
[A helpful reader has done some additional research on Arthur Hay. As you can see from the list below, published research shows that our man eventually achieved the rank of Generalmajor at his retirement in 1919. He was born in 1866 and died in 1940. (I only wish that the additional three patents were available). It remains an amazing group with even more opportunities for research. Also, in the book Hussars and Mounted Rifles. . . by D. H. Hagger, page 30 displays a photograph of Oberleutnant Hay when he was a member of Husaren Regiment Nr 9! It is wonderful to put a face with the name. MANY thanks to Chris F. for his research and diligence!
[Sekondelieutenant: 17 Sep 1887
Premierlieutenant: 14 Nov 1895
Rittmeister: 21 Sep 1898
Major: 17 Sep 1909
Oberstleutnant: 24 Dec 1914
Oberst: 6 Nov 1917
Generalmajor aD: 1919]
This wonderful group follows the very successful military career of a young man who came up from the ranks. It includes two signatures from Kaiser Wilhelm II, and a signature from the legendary Graf Zeppelin.