The following historical photograph on Wikimedia Commons has some obvious mistakes regarding the Transcription (at least i assume) , but i'm not able to decipher it completely and correctly. Since I suppose it contains names of places, a correct transcription would be very helpful to locate the depicted place.

On Commons, the description is given as follows:

Der 'geliebte' Laubengang
von Egglau-Dilf nach Dingerahtan,
wo ich so manche Nacht lag.
Gurkie-Bug, Dez. 1917.

I suppose all the place names are wrong. For "Egglau-...", my first idea was Eylau (Preußisch Eylau or Deutsch Eylau). But i think there was no need for military infrastructure in Eastern Prussia in 1917 (assuming that "Laubengang" was some sort of covered "Heeresfeldbahn" rails???). Instead of "Bug", this may read as "Reg."

Verso (description of depicted place) 20240326045139_verso Quelle: Wikimedia Commons

Recto (Photograph of some trench) enter image description here Quelle: Wikimedia Commons

  • 1
    "Laubengang" is nothing military. It's a "pergola" or "arcades under trees". Might have been used in military as a tounge-in-cheek nick for fortifications like in your picture, however.
    – tofro
    Apr 1 at 13:40
  • 2
    You should be aware that military tends to name their emplacements relatively arbitrarily. It might well be a fortification name has absolutely nothing to do with its real geographical location, but was rather named that way because the commander or his staff decided to name it after their hometown.
    – tofro
    Apr 1 at 15:16
  • As an example take famous Camp David
    – tofro
    Apr 1 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


Here is the important hint:

Puski - Stllg. 9/12.17.

The first letter starts with an upper length and a long downward stroke like the German ſ. The only uppercase letter written that way in Kurrent is the P. If you consider the loop on the lower length to be rushed, and the third loop to the left to be too large, it fits this model:

enter image description here

Stllg. is an abbreviation for "Stellung", position.

The Estonian village of Puski on the island of Hiiumaa) became the site of Russian fortifications in 1917. German invaders took Hiiuma between the 12th and 19th October. A book about Estonian General Nikolai Reek and German Operation Albion has a map on p. 355. Puski is on the narrow leading to the western peninsula:

enter image description here

General Reek describes the way trenches were built by the Estonian/Russian defenders (p. 241):

The stony surface of the peninsula made the construction of trenches more difficult; therefore, all the trenches on the coast were built upon the surface. In the middle part of the peninsula, there is situated a ridge extending from the east to the west; at two places it widens, forming groups of higher hills. The first group of hills is situated at Kõpu, Surepi, and Mägipe, and the second group on the isthmus near Kopa and Puski villages.

On the peninsula, trenches were planned:

  • ...
  • on the isthmus in the area of Villamaa, Kopa and Puski villages, 10 trenches which had to block the advance of the enemy from the peninsula inland; a part of the trenches were situated on the top of the sand hills; part of the trench weapons were also decided to place on the same position.

The strange thing is that the withdrawal of the Russian/Estonian troups was relatively swift, so why would German soldiers patrol trenches that far from the front, which, when the card was written in December, was the strait between the islands and the mainland?

In general, the handwriting on the card is relatively precise and readable. There is only one letter where I have doubts:

von Eggelen-D?lf nach Dringrachten

Interpretation of the second letter in the next word as an i is not very probable, as in all other cases the dot of the i is written clearly separated, while here the pencil moves in an uninterrupted upswing.

A dictionary of Estonian placenames has "Egelen" as a swedish word for "island" and especially the Swedish-inhabited part of the Estonian islands in the 17th century (Translated with DeepL.com):

Aiboland [aibo‿`land], kohalikus pruugis Aibu ~ Äibo – eestirootsi asustusala Harju, Hiiu, Lääne ja Saare maakonnas.

  • Rahvusromantiline nimi, mida on kasutatud XIX saj-st alates kogu eestirootsi ala kohta, tuleneb eestirootsi sõnadest aibo ’saareelanik’ ja land ’maa’. E. Lagmani järgi on see tuletatud ürikutes esinevast nimest (1391 Eyland, 1449 Elandt, 1565 Eyelandt, 1685 Egeland), mis haaras rannikut Sutlepast kuni Spithamini. 1449 on nime Elandt mainitud saarenimena (insula), arvatavasti seetõttu, et ülejäänud nimed loetelus tähistasid saari. Nime algusosa ey- ~ ege- on sama mis eestirootsi ai ~ äi ja rootsi ö ’saar’, seega tähendab nimi saaremaad.

Aiboland [aibo‿`land], locally Aibu ~ Äibo - Estonian-Swedish settlement area in Harju, Hiiu, Lääne and Saare counties.

  • A vernacular name, used from the 19th century onwards for the whole of the Estonian-Swedish area, derived from the Estonian-Swedish words aibo 'islander' and land 'country'. According to E. Lagman, it is derived from the name in the records (1391 Eyland, 1449 Elandt, 1565 Eyelandt, 1685 Egeland), which covered the coast from Sutlepa to Spitham. In 1449, the name Elandt is mentioned as an island name (insula), presumably because the other names in the list referred to islands. The initial part of the name, ey- ~ ege-, is the same as the Estonian Swedish ai ~ äi and the Swedish ö 'island', so the name means island land.

The same dictionary says the village of Rahu on the neighboring island of Saaremaa had the German name "Rachte", but no hint of the leading "Dring". Also, it is in an area (the southeastern coast) that according to Reek (p.198) had no fortifications.

  • Thanks for your great effort! I still hesitate to locate the trench on Dagö / Hiiumaa island, mostly because Puski is the only name that fits that place, and Puski isn't "unique" (geonames.org has at least two more place with this or a very similar name, one in Hungary and one in Belarus). So, identifying the other place names would be crucial, but i think this would be off-topic here.
    – tohuwawohu
    Apr 3 at 5:39
  • 1
    I agree with your hesitation.My only other argument is that I think I can identify the material used for the trench as coniferous, and the ground seems to be dry and hard. Both fit with a baltic island, while Hungarian Püski is on a Danube island, where I would expect to see deciduous trees. The Belarus place I know nothing about.
    – ccprog
    Apr 3 at 14:00

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