Groessl was captured by German soldiers after that barrage and barely escaped with his life. As he fought off his captors, he was severely wounded by a German bayonet. "The bayonet entered just above my shoulder hitting my spine a glancing blow, cutting nerves and muscles, and cutting me open from shoulder to shoulder … A kick in the ribs by the German rolled me on my back. Bending down over me with his bayonet poised for another quick thrust, he gave a peculiar grunt and fell over backward, dead at my side." Apparently, the German died due to a barrage of gunshots firing down upon him and Groessl during their struggle.
The corporal goes on to describe his harrowing experience finding his way back to his trenches, all the while racked with pain throughout his entire body and unable to move his arms. Groessl spent the remainder of the war recovering in various hospitals in France and the United States.
His story is just one of nearly two dozen featured in the "The Great War," an online presentation in the "Experiencing War" series featuring some of the most compelling collections in the Veterans History Project archives. "In the Trenches" leads off the series of narratives and takes visitors to the front lines of the first mass war fought with modern weaponry. The second series, "Above and Beyond the Battlefield," offers an insider's examination of the experiences of aviators and others who served in support of the infantry.