91st Division American Expeditionary Force, World War I
The Story of the 91st Division
Published by the 91st Division Publication Committee, San Mateo, California, 1919
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ORGANIZATION – DEPARTURE PROM CAMP LEWIS – ARRIVAL OVERSEAS – TRAINING AT MONTIGNY-LE-ROI – RESERVE DIVISION IN REDUCTION OF ST. MIHIEL SALIENT
IN EIGHT great Western States, the young men of military age, chosen to represent their respective communities in the first five per cent of the selective draft entrained on September 5,1917, for Camp Lewis, Washington. They constituted the nucleus of the 91st Division of the National Army.
Before noon of that memorable September day, contingents of embryo soldiers had reported at Camp Lewis from points in Oregon and Washington. Awaiting their Coming were officers of the Regular Army and Reserve Corps, the latter fresh from the training camps.
To Major General H. A. Greene was delegated the task of forming the 91st Division. He had at his disposal the best of the young manhood of the West. Officers and men set themselves to the task ahead of them with unbounded enthusiasm. Almost from the outset, the 91st was popularly and affectionately referred to as the “Wild West Division.”
As Chief of Staff, General Greene had Lieut. Colonel, now Colonel H. J. Brees. Major F. W. Manley was Division Adjutant Major F. W. Clark held the position of Assistant Chief of Staff. With these officers comprising his immediate official family, General Greene took up the work of organizing an infantry division.
Regimental, battalion and company commanders were selected, a division headquarters staff, officers and enlisted personnel organized, skeleton companies were formed, and, with the selective draft men drilling in the civilian clothes in which they had come garbed from office and field, farm and city streets, the 9lst entered into its formative period.
Four infantry regiments were to be made; three regiments of field artillery whipped into shape; trains for a division organized; two companies of military police trained; three machine gun battalions formed; an engineer regiment and a signal corps battalion made into efficient bodies; medical department and ambulance units established, and a hundred and one other preparatory steps taken, with the end in view of making from the material provided by the selective service laws a division destined to engage in battle with honor to itself and the States from which it drew its men.
The two infantry brigades of the Division were designated the l8lst and the 182nd. Brigadier General Henry B. Styer commanded the 181st, comprising the 361st and 362nd Infantry Regiments and 347th Machine Gun Battalion; Brigadier General Frederick S. Foltz commanded the 182nd Brigade, comprising the 363rd and 364th Infantry Regiments and 348th Machine Gun Battalion. Colonel Henry C. Jewett organized an engineer regiment to be known as the 316th Engineers. Colonel M. E. Saville was given command of the 316th Trains and Military Police. As Division Surgeon, Colonel Peter C. Field directed the formation of the Division sanitary units.
The three artillery regiments were the 346th, 347th and 348th, and, with the 316th Trench Mortar Battery, constituted the 166th Field Artillery Brigade, under Brigadier General Edward Burr. The machine gun battalions were numbered the 346th, 347th and 348th, and were commanded respectively by Major, now Colonel, Francis C. Endicott, 1st Infantry; Major, now Lieut. Colonel, Arthur W. Hanson; and Major, now Lieut. Colonel, T. N. Gimperling. Major Endicott was Division Machine Gun Officer. The 316th Field Signal Battalion was organized by Major, now Lieut. Colonel, C. L. Wyman, as Division Signal Officer.
At first, the flow of men was turned directly into the various skeleton organizations; later the increasing flood was directed into the 166th Depot Brigade, from which, as demands required, men were drawn to fill up the various units.
In December, 1917, the first heavy levy was made upon the 9lst by the War Department. Several thousand men were drawn from the Division and sent East as replacement troops. Several times thereafter the Division was called upon to furnish trained soldiers. However, the original foundation of the 91st remained, and when the Division entered its first battle in France it included the officers and men who made up the skeleton Organization of the 91st during those days back in September, October and November, 1917.
The States which gave up their best to the 91st are California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and the Territory of Alaska. The 361st Regiment was composed largely of Oregon and Washington men. The spirit of Montana dominated in the 362nd. The 363rd and 364th were claimed by California because of the large number of sons of the Golden State in those two organizations.
On November 24, 1917, General Greene and the Chief of Staff left Camp Lewis for France to study the actual conditions with which the Division would be called upon to cope. Brigadier General J. A. Irons became Commanding General of the 91st in the absence of General Greene. He served as such for a short time only, being relieved from duty with the Division and transferred to Camp Greene, N. C. Brigadier General Frederick S. Foltz succeeded him, having command of the Division until the return of General Greene in March, 1918.
Meanwhile, General Greene had been organizing his staff with a view of its permanency. Lieut. Colonel, now Colonel, Frederick W. Coleman, then Division Quartermaster, was placed in charge of administration, later to be made Assistant Chief of Staff (G-1) of the Division. Lieut. Colonel, now Colonel, L. C. Bennett succeeded Colonel Coleman as Quartermaster. Captain, now Lieut. Colonel, Thomas A. Driscoll was appointed in charge of Divisional Intelligence, later to become Assistant Chief of Staff (G-2). As constituted when it left Camp Lewis for overseas, the Staff was composed of: Chief of Staff, Colonel H. J. Brees; Administration, Colonel Frederick W. Coleman; Operations, Major, now Lieut. Colonel, Clark Lynn, G. S.; Intelligence Officer, Captain, now Lieut. Colonel,. Thomas A. Driscoll; Adjutant, Major F. W. Manley; Division Quartermaster, Lieut. Colonel L. C. Bennett; Ordnance Officer, Lieut. Colonel George Herring; Division Signal Officer, Major C. L. Wyman; Division Surgeon, Lieut. Colonel Peter C. Field; Division Inspector, Major A. D. Cummings.
Brigadier General J. B. McDonald succeeded Brigadier General Styer as commander of the 181st Brigade on May 6, 1918. On the eve of the departure of the Division, General Greene was relieved and ordered to the Philippine Islands, and the 91st went overseas with Brigadier General Foltz as Commanding General.
The expiration of ten months of intensive training found the 91st preparing for the long-anticipated journey overseas. Orders were being issued almost daily, dealing with the countless details involved in the transportation of the Division and the vast quantities of material across the continent and thence across the Atlantic to the shores of France.
Late in June the troops began entraining. On June 19 the advance part left Camp Lewis. General Foltz and staff and the Headquarters Troop and Detachment entrained on June 21, and the remainder of the Division followed as rapidly as possible.
On their trip across the continent, the soldiers from the Far West had an excellent opportunity to acquaint themselves with the patriotic unity which ultimately was to bring about the defeat of Germany. After witnessing demonstrations from coast to coast, the men of the 91st felt that they were backed by an undivided nation. The motherly gray-haired old Woman standing in front of her little cottage on the broad prairie of Montana, alternately waving a flag and brushing away the tears she could not restrain, contributed as much to this feeling as did the impromptu receptions tendered the men in the great cities through which they passed.
The journey also gave many citizens, especially in the East, a better conception of the high quality of manhood the West was contributing to the United States Army.
The 3rd Battalion of the 363rd Infantry Regiment, commanded by Major, now Colonel, J. B. Woolnough, traveled through Canada en route to Camp Merritt, N.J. Everywhere it was greeted with wild enthusiasm.
Approximately six days were required for the troop trains to reach their destination. Practically all of the Division arrived in Camp Merritt between June 24 and June 30. The train carrying the staff and Headquarters Troop and Detachment arrived at midnight on the 26th. The morning of the 27th, the Commanding General embarked on a transport for France.
The Division remained at Camp Merritt until July 5. The men were given complete new outfits, from steel helmets to two new pairs of hobnailed trench shoes. Most of the time in Camp Merritt was devoted to outfitting the men and giving them their final physical inspections. Officers and men alike submitted to these examinations and any man found unfit was compelled to remain behind.
On the morning of the 6th of July the men were aroused earlier than usual. An early start was desired for the ferry which was to carry them to the docks where the ships were awaiting their complement of fighting men. One or two giant liners slid out from their docks during the day and started on the perilous voyage. These were vessels which depended on their speed instead of destroyers to protect them from submarines lying in wait.
When the convoy put to sea the following morning it was accompanied by a formidable escort. Airplanes and dirigibles preceded the troopships, scanning the sea for miles for the enemy under-water craft then Operating along the American coast. A number of cruisers and torpedo-boat destroyers added further to the security of the convoy. And mounted on each troopship were naval pieces of medium caliber, manned by American and British naval gunners.
Due to the emergency, it was necessary to crowd soldiers into every available foot of, space on the transports. This did not contribute in the least to the comfort of the men, but everyone understood the reasons for such conditions and made the best of it.
It required twelve days for the convoy to cross the Atlantic, owing to the circuitous and zigzag course taken to baffle the submarines. After leaving the American coast the transports were convoyed by the cruiser San Diego formerly flagship of Pacific Fleet. The San Diego turned back on July 15. She did not, however, reach the United States, as she sank off Fire Island Light, near New York, following an explosion, attributed at the time to a mine or a torpedo.
Twelve British destroyers met the transports on July 16 and undertook the task of convoying them into Liverpool and Glasgow. As the convoy entered the Irish Sea, the destroyers were augmented by British dirigibles and hydroplanes and submarine chasers. The dangerous passage through these waters was safely made.
Anchor was dropped at 6 o’clock in the evening of July 17 off the Liverpool docks. Thousands of civilians cheered as each ship made its way to its berth, while several of the Division’s military bands played popular airs. Not all the transports in the original convoy docked at Liverpool, some putting in at Glasgow, Scotland, one going to Southampton and others proceeding direct to La Havre, France.
The men who landed at British ports went to English rest camps. In both Scotland and England the Americans were warmly received. The so-called rest camps were not what the men of the 91st anticipated after their long sea voyage. Here the soldiers discovered the true significance of the relentless submarine warfare the Germans had been waging in so far as it pertained to foodstuffs.
The trip across Scotland and England by rail to points of embarkation was one which the men of the Division will long remember.
At Southampton the men were embarked on channel boats for La Havre, France. It required ten hours to make the passage across the English Channel, which was infested with enemy submarines and mines. The trip was uneventful. This American contingent set foot on French soil for the first time on the morning of July 23. Several transports carrying men of the 91st had preceded the majority of the Division, however, by some days, landing the men at other French ports.
Pleasant weather and plenty of good food made the stop at La Havre rest camp appreciated. Several days were spent here while the men recuperated from their month’s journey. The last few days of July saw them entraining for the interior of France. This leg of the journey was made in the small “side-door Pullmans” known to every Allied soldier who has been in France as 8 : 40 trains. The box cars were stenciled “40 Hommes — 8 Chevaux.” It was never anticipated the military authorities would have to crowd forty huskies of the 91st into them. By reducing the number assigned to each car to about thirty-five it was possible to pack them in. Two nights and a day gave the men all the “chevauxing” they desired for a long time to come.
By the first day of August the Division was settled in its training area in the Department of Haute Marne. Divisional Headquarters was established at Montigny-le-Roi. The units were billeted in the surrounding villages. The nature of the terrain could not be surpassed for training troops in the open warfare in which they were to participate later. Excellent weather was also a big factor in whipping the men into the best possible physical condition.
The entire month of August was passed in this area while the Division received its final training. Incessant drilling, long marches and frequent exercises were the schedule for the entire Division. These were continued until the critical umpires from the Sixth Corps pronounced the Division competent for the big task for which it had been preparing during the past year.
On August 29 Major General William H. Johnston came to the Division as its commanding general. Brigadier General Foltz returned to command of the 182nd Infantry Brigade. On September 7 the Division left the training area for “the front.”
From Montiguy-le-Roi and vicinity the Division moved to the vicinity of Gondrecourt; Post of Command, known in the Army as P. C., being established at the latter place. The Division was assigned as part of the reserve of the First American Army in the contemplated reduction of the St.-Mihiel salient, which opened five days later. The 91st proceeded by marching from Gondrecourt to the vicinity of Void, Pagny-sur-Meuse and Sorcy-sur-Meuse, and P. C. was established in Sorcy on September 11. Three days, September 11-13, were spent here, the Division being ready to support the Fourth American Corps or the Second French Colonial Corps. When the success of the drive from the south was determined, the Division was moved by truck train during the night to the Vavincourt area, west of St. Mihiel, passing to command of Major General Hirschauer, Second French Army. At the end of three days the St.-Mihiel salient had been obliterated from the war maps and there was no further need for holding the Division in reserve. The Division Headquarters moved from Vavincourt to Autrecourt on September 17, under orders from the Second French Army, placing it under Major General Garvier Duplessix, Ninth French Corps.
While in Autrecourt the staff was acquainted with the big task ahead-the smash through the Meuse- Argonn–and learned definitely that the 91st would go over the top in the coming drive. On the 19th, P.C. was moved from Autrecourt to Vraincourt, having been assigned to the Fifth Army Corps, Major General George H. Cameron, U. S. A., then six miles from the front line held by the French. The troops were moved by night marches with great secrecy until all were safely bivouacked in the wooded section of the Foret de Hesse surrounding C“te 290, Bertrame Farm. P. C. was advanced to Cote 290 on September 20, the administrative staff remaining at Vraincourt.
In order to foster the surprise element it was necessary to maintain the movement of troops as guardedly as possible. Whenever aircraft appeared overhead bugles sounded the alarm and cover was taken. The staff was located in dugouts on the southern slope of the hill.
During this period, under orders of General Cameron, the French continued to hold the front-line trenches, it being considered inadvisable for the Americans to take them over until the night before the attack was to be launched. Whenever it became necessary to send officers and men of the 91st into the line to acquaint them with the terrain over which they were shortly to battle, the Americans were garbed in the helmets and overcoats of the French. All brigade and regimental commanders were directed by General Johnston to make such reconnaissance.
Hostile artillery action was limited to the usual harassing fire, with the exception of two occasions when the sectors of the 35th Division and 79th Division were raided by strong German patrols. A barrage was thrown over to cover the raid, and several men of the 91st were wounded during the raid against the 35th Division. Despite the great efforts to veil the movement of the Americans into the sector, the unusually heavy traffic involved in moving up artillery, munitions and supplies caused the Germans to become nervous. Sensing danger, they made the raids mentioned, to obtain information. On September 24 orders were issued and the last preparations made for going into the line. Occasional showers to which the men had been exposed while held in the woods had not dampened, their ardor. On the 25th the last orders were issued, designating September 26 as “D” day and 5:30 as “H” hour. Troops moved after dark from bivouacs in the woods to positions from which to “jump off” at “H” hour next morning. Few slept that night.
That afternoon General John J. Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces and personally commanding the First American Army, visited the P. C. at Cote 290. He asked Major General Johnston to express his confidence that officers and men of the 91st would do their duty. This fact was made known to the Division late that day in the memorandum issued by the Division Commander and read to all troops before they marched to their attack positions. It pleased officers and men to know that the C.-in-C. was with them at the front and not merely dictating orders from some headquarters far in rear.
MOVING TOWARDS SATTLE AREA – PORMEE ACTIONS IN MEUSE-ARGONNE OFFENSIVE – THE TERRAIN – HOSTILR UNITS FACING THE 91ST DIVISION – PREPARATION FOR ATTACK.
THE events which led up to the Meuse-Argonne offensive must be briefly recounted, in order that the reader may appreciate the importance of the action itself, the difficulties of the terrain, and the role that the district played in the earlier part of the war.
The St. Mihiel sailent had been reduced September 12-13, and the staff at Chaumont was taking up the task of launching the attack in the Meuse-Argonne, which had been planned long before by General Pershing as the proper strategic move to terminate the war.
It is necessary, first of all, to call attention to the vital relationship of this operation to the later retirement of the German Army. The withdrawal, when required, of the German forces was to be a vast pivoting movement based on Metz, having as its object a very considerable shortening of the front. It depended above all else for its success upon the holding of the pivot, and of the line in the vicinity of the pivot. Further, the railroad line skirting the Argonne to the north, through Moutmedy and Sedan, represented nearly one-half of the supply and troop-moving power of the German line of communications. Never during the war had an essential German line been so seriously threatened; and its threatened severance was the controlling cause of the retirement and request for an armistice.
The front assigned for the American advance extended from the Argonne on the west to the Meuse on the east, a stretch of some eighteen miles. The country lying between these limits is hilly and broken, and a large part of it is heavily wooded. It may roughly be divided into three parts: On the west the great Argonne Forest; then the open valley of the Aire a tributary of the Aisne, which, at this point, runs nearly parallel to it; lastly the strip of country between the Aire and the Meuse, approximately equal in width to the other two. This section contains many large and thick woods, interspersed with small open valleys and rolling uplands. The Hill of Montfaucon, topped by the town of the same name, is the highest point in the region and commands views over the entire district.
Since the very beginning of the war this stretch of country been the scene of hard fighting. During the original German drive in August, 1914, the French were obliged to fall back down the Meuse and the Aire, Montf aucon was bombarded and taken, the enemy passed by Verdun and struck south. After their defeat on the Marne the Germans succeeded in checking their pursuers on a line from the Aisne to a little north of Verdun, and the long period of trench warfare opened with the two armies facing each other along it. During these early days the Argonne Forest itself had seen little or no fighting, but when the “dig-in” commenced, the French, seeking every opportunity to pry their opponents loose from their new positions, attempted to advance through the forest and turn the trek of the Germans before Verdun. This move precipitated a series of battles in the Argonne Forest, which lasted during the whole of the autumn of 1914 and most of the winter of 1915; they flared up again in June and July, 1915. Although the net result in ground lost and won was small, these hand-to-hand battles in the ravines, underbrush and tangled trenches of the Argonne were not surpassed during the whole war for intensity of fighting.
Another much-disputed bit of ground was the Hill of Vauquois, lying between the Argonne Forest and the Bois de Cheppy. This hill, commanding as it did the valleys of the Aire and the Buanthe, was the scene of bitter struggles during the period of trench warfare. The little village on its summit early became a mere heap of bricks, captured, lost and recaptured by one side, then by the other; finally, a series of mining operations blew it away and left the top of the hill a waste of craters and shell holes, an utterly barren No-man’s-land with the opposing trenches and wire straggling across its sides.
Ferocious and deadly as had been the fighting in the Argonne and about the summit of Vauquois, it is rendered almost insignificant in comparison with the battles which took place in 1916 a little farther to the east during the great German attack on Verdun. Checked at the end of February in his attempts to break the French line east of the Meuse, the Crown Prince turned his attention to the west bank, and on March 14 opened his series of historic assaults against the “Mort Homme” and Hill 304. These attacks quickly spread to the west, the Bois de Avocourt was taken by means of a tremendous concentration of flame-throwers and the towns of Esnes and Avocourt were pounded to ruins by continuous shelling. Pressed back at first by sheer weight of men and metal, the French doggedly held fast in the F6ret de Hesse and across the slopes of 304 and the “Mort Homme.” The German troops, watched by the Crown Prince from his observatory on Montfaucon, made less and less progress as the days went by. Finally, utterly worn out, and with no fresh divisions available to follow them into the slaughter, they came to a halt, dug in, and a new line was established. In the autumn of 1916, Nivelle and Mangin, by their famous surprise attack, overwhelmed the new army positions, captured thousands of prisoners, and drove the Boche back to and beyond the line that he had occupied before the great offensive. From this time on, the Argonne and Verdun sectors were the scene of routine trench warfare, with continual local attacks and counter-attacks, raids, sapping, mining, shelling and gassing.
Such, very briefly, is the history of the Meuse-Argonne, where, during the middle of September, the American troops began to gather for their supreme effort. The 91st Division, as yet untested, but primed by the long months of training and eager to go forward, came in with the others and was placed in bivouac in the Foret de Hesse. A few days later, September 21, came orders from the Fifth Corps, and the Division learned that on “D” day at “H” hour it was to attack almost due north between Avocourt and Vauquois, through the tangled Bois de Cheppy and on across the broken country beyond.
The Foret de Hesse, in which the 91st took up its position for the attack, and the Bois de Cheppy, through which it passed on the first day, are easterly extensions of the Foret d’Argonne and like it, are thick, heavily underbrushed and cut by numerous ravines. The district is wild, sparsely populated and poorly provided with roads. The French and German lines were separated by the narrow valley of the Buanthe. To the south of Buanthe the French held the heig’hts of Mont des Allieux and Cigalerie Butte, which gave excellent observation across and along No-man’s-land. The Germans, on the other hand, were in position on the north half of Vauquois Hill and commanded from there to clear view down the whole front of our sector. Both sides were, however, protected by the heavy woods in which their front lines were located and correspondingly handicapped in their observation of one another’s trenches.
In spite of this, airplane photographs and the statements of prisoners showed the main German defenses in this sector to be composed of four lines. The first position consisted of a double line of trenches and wire, running along the south edge of the Bois de Cheppy on the high ground just north of the Buanthe creek. Between two and three kilometers farther north were the trenches, wire and dugouts of the “Hagen Stellung,” considered by the Germans as an intermediate or first withdrawal position. In the 9lst’s zone this line followed the north edge of a narrow, flat-bottomed gully, called the Ravin de Lai Fuon, which could be thoroughly swept from the machine gun emplacements of the “Hagen” trenches. A little farther to the west, and on high ground, the formidable “Trenchee de la Salamandre,” a continuation of the “Hagen Stellung,” dominated the entire ravine of the Chambronne from the Bois de Chehemin to the valley of the Aire. This group of trenches and the small, strongly organized woods in its vicinity constituted a position of the greatest strength.
The second main position, known as the “Volker Stellung,” lay along a high ridge nearly four kilometers to the north. To the east of the 91st sector it encircled the fortress of Montfaucon and town of Ivoiry; within our zone of action it protected the towns of Epinonville and Eclisfontaine. Its trenches, and machine gun emplacements alone gave it great strength, but its principal value lay in the fact that it dominated broad stretches of rolling, open country and offered clear fields of fire down long, bare ravines. A further element of power was the presence, close behind the line, of a group of small woods–Les Epinettes Bois, Les Bouleaux Bois, Bois de Baulny and Bois de Cierges. These gave admirable cover for artillery, for the massing of counter-attack troops and for centers of resistance in case of a break-through in the trench line itself.
The fourth and last organized position, the “Kriemhilde Stellung,” was five to seven kilometers to the north. This line was begun in October, 1917, and, while it was not entirely finished at the time of our attack, it had been thoroughly wired; and like all German rear positions, possessed very great natural advantages. Aside from the above four main lines the entire country had been most completely equipped with subsidiary defenses in the form of minor lines and switch trenches, Organized woods and fortified farms, as well as isolated machine gun positions and nests so sited as to rake and cross-rake all available approaches to the major positions. To accompany these physical barriers the enemy had developed a remarkably efficient system of ground observation posts, connected by wire with all his battery and most of his machine gun emplacements; he was furthermore provided with balloon and aviation services, which, from the point of view of observation and liaison, left very little to be desired. Add to these things the broken nature of the country, the thickness of woods, the lack of roads, and it can be appreciated how great a task confronted the attacker.
The sector assigned to the 91st Division ran almost exactly up the dividing line between the army group of the German Crown Prince to the west and the army group of General von Gallwitz to the east. On either side of this boundary lay a German divisional sector; the eastern one extending from about the south tip of Cheppy Wood east to Malancourt, and the western taking in the west half of Cheppy Wood, the valley of the Aire and the eastern border of the Forest of Argonne. These two sectors, which lay opposite the 91st Division front, had originally been held by the 53rd and 37th German Divisions. The 37th was relieved by the 117th Division during the night of September 12-13; on the 16th the 53rd sector was taken over by the 1st Guard Division. These facts were not discovered until the early morning of September 22, during a raid on the 79th Division, Fifth American Corps, a member of the attacking party blundered into the French trenches east of Avacourt. This man proved to belong 157th Regiment of the 117th Division. From him it was also learned that on the right of his regiment lay the 1st Guards, a unit whose presence had been suspected ever since the finding, in No-man’s-land, on September 20 of the dead body of a second lieutenant of that division. This information indicated strongly that we should meet these two divisions on “D” day, for it seemed very unlikely that units which had come into line so recently would be themselves relieved prior to our attack. Our interest in them, their past history and their fighting qualities became, therefore, a very lively one.
The 117th was rated as the best of the second-class divisions in the German Army. It had been raised in the second year of the war. had fought with credit in the successful Carpathian campaign on the eastern front and had particularly distinguished itself it in Italy in October, 1917. During the spring offensives of 1918, the 117th was repeatedly used as a shock unit and each time acquitted itself well. In the British attack of August on the Somme the division had heavy losses, and was withdrawn to Sedan, where it rested and received replacements. Its morale, according to all available information, was excellent.
The 1st Prussian Guard Division, as its name implies, belonged to the elite of the German Army. It had come from Russia late in 1917 and had spent the whole winter in a long course of training in open warfare. During the great spring attack it was engaged a number of times, always very successfully. One of its best efforts was its crossing of the Marne in the face of stubborn resistance by the French. All authorities ranked it as one of the best of the first-class shock divisions.
While the American staff was carefully checking up the roster of enemy divisions in line and in reserve and was perfecting the details of its own attack, the Germans were likewise preparing for defense and attempting to gain some inkling as to the direction and force of the blow which they felt was coming. After the St.-Mihiel attack the Boche, expecting a further drive on the stronghold of Metz, gathered near that place a number of divisions to assure its defense. Nothing happened there, but enemy planes flying by night far behind our lines reported an entirely abnormal traffic in the vicinity of Verdun. An attack directly east of the Meuse was foreseen and planned for, but no efforts were spared by the commanders between the Meuse and the Aisne to feel dut the Allied line and attempt to gain information as to what was going on along their particular front. As proof of this we have the statement of the man of the 117th, who said that ever since coming into line his regiment had been sending out nightly patrols for the purpose of capturing prisoners in No-man’s-land; that these patrols had failed; and that the unsuccessful raid of September 22, in which he was captured, had been launched to discover who lay behind the Allied wire.
So, on September 23, the enemy was still drawing their deductions from what they could see and hear from their own trenches. The summary of information of the 1st Guard Division of September 23 says that brown uniforms had been seen opposite their front and that the presence of Americans was to be suspected. The same document, speaking of the 22nd and the night of 22nd-23rd, says: “During the daytime only circulation far in the rear could be observed, but at night great activity reigned along our front. The noise of narrow-gauge railways, motor trucks, the unloading of heavy material, loud cries, sirens and claxons could be heard through the whole night.” As a result of this information the resting battalions of the 3d Guard Regiment were brought up to points south of the Very-Montf aucon line.
On September 24 the idea that our blow would be farther to the east still held. This is proved by the following order of the 1st Guard Regiment of that date:
A strong enemy attack in the direction of Metz is expected tomorrow, September 25. The attack may extend to our front; consequently, patrols should be send out in the covering zone. Wherever possible these patrols should be equipped with sirens with which to alarm the troops in support; we must look for a surprise attack.
On September 25, however, the attack did not come. Some definite information as to the extent, the direction and force of the impending blow must have reached the headquarters of the various German divisions in the Argonne during the early morning of the 25th, for from that time until the actual launching of our attack twenty-four hours later there was issued a flood of orders, messages and directions, all evidently designed to prepare the sector for a much greater and more deadly shock than had been previously foreseen. Some of these fell into our hands; others we can guess from the conditions we found when we entered the German lines; of still others we were told by prisoners.
The gist of them was that the front line should be abandoned, that the “Hagen Stellung,” or intermediate position, should become the first line of resistance, and that the artillery should be disposed in greater depth and so placed as to form the backbone of the defense of the “Volker Stellung.” These dispositions, however, were ordered so late that our attack struck the enemy in process of carrying them out; the “Hagen Stelung” was not thoroughly manned, the roads to the rear were crowded with traffic; and, worst of all, the artillery was not soon enough in place to lend any effective support to the infantry before the afternoon of the 27th. One further point must be noted, namely, that the Germans did not expect the attack to pass trough the dense Bois de Cheppy and had therefore concentrated their attention on the defense of the open country of the Aire Valley and the northeastwardly running Ruisseau de Chambronne. These things will help the reader to understand of the events which happened during the next few days.
The 91st, as it has been said above, came into the Foret de Hesse on the night of September 19-20. The P. C. was established in some French dugouts on the south slope of distance behind and the troops were bivouacked in the woods a short distance behind the front trenches. These so-called trenches were not continuous, had been abandoned as trenches, and many of them were full of coils of wire, rendering them an obstacle rather than a line of protection from fire. The 91st Division, from September 20 to 25, occupied not only the sector from which it was to attack, but also half of the sector from which the 37th Division, after arrival, was to attack on the right of the 91st. A regiment of French infantry occupied the line of surveillance, which consisted of a broken line of dugouts hundreds of yards apart, with small combat groups between the dugouts. It also included observation posts occupied each by one company of French infantry, one at La Cigalerie Butte, on the western edge of the 91st Division zone, and the other on the Cote le Hermont, which was within the sector later occupied by the 37th Division. From each of these observation posts, which were on elevations above the timber line, could be seen the area from which the Fifth Corps and a part of the First Corps were to attack. Uniformed as French, the Division Commander and Brigade and Regimental Commanders studied the ground over which they were to attack from these observation posts for two or three days before the attack was made. In order to conceal the fact that many American divisions were forming up in the woods north of the Verdun-Clermont highway, American troops were required to remain on the line of resistance about 800 meters south of the line of surveillance occupied by the French. Strict orders were issued to keep everyone under cover during the daytime, in order not to reveal their presence to the occasional hostile airplanes that slipped over the lines.
Under the command of the 91st Division were French artillery units prepared to lay down barrages in case of raids by the Germans. These French artillery units were relieved gradually during the nights of September 20-25, and other heavy French. artillery units were moved up to positions in the woods to participate in the bombardment.
Considerable equipment, including machine gun carts and additional draft animals, was issued to the Division in Foret de Hesse. One hundred company officers who had been attending a corps school at Gondrecourt joined the Division on September 24 in time to participate in the attack. Orders from the First Army and Fifth Army Corps forbade more than one vehicle. being seen on any road at any time by daylight, and not more than a squad of men was permitted to move along the road or out of the woods at any time during the day. As the Division railhead was at Froidos, south of the Verdun- Clermont highway, all supplies, including rations and forage were forwarded at night by truck and wagon, and noise as possible avoided.
During our march forward we had passed column after column of troops of other divisions and interminable truck trains had rumbled all night through every billeting town that occupied. And now, hidden in the Foret de Hesse, we began to be surrounded by an ever-thickening concentration artillery, long-range rifles, stumpy howitzers, battery after battery of smaller guns. They came in night after night, and by daybreak each new increment had melted out of sight in the woods and ,high roadside hedges, or had disappeared under camouflage in the open. It seemed as if all the guns in France were gathered together in the crowded forest.
On September 23 arrived the order from Fifth Corps Headquarters, dated September 21. It said in part: “The First American Army attacks from the Meuse to La Hazaree; Fifth Army Corps attacks at ‘H’ hour on ‘D’ day on the front Malancourt (Incl.)-Vauquois (ExcI). The advance will be pushed by all divisions with the greatest vigor.” The same order announced that the Fourth French Army covered the left of the American Army and that the Second French Army held the Verdun sector, covering the right flank of the American Army. It also announced that the Third Army Corps (U.S.) on the right “attacks from the Meuse (exclusive) to Malancourt (exclusive), protecting the right of the American Army and assisting the advance of the Fifth Army Corps, later advancing in conjunction with the Fifth Army Corps.” It announced also that “The First Army Corps on the left assists the advance of the Fifth Army Corps, by cutting off hostile artillery fire, and observation from the eastern edge of the Foret d’Argonne. It clears up the Forest of Argonne, and advances to the American Army objective in conjunction with the Fifth Army Corps.” In other words, the Third Army Corps was to swing as a gate, pivoting with its right flank on the Meuse toward the east. First Army Corps was to swing as a gate, pivoting in the Foret d’Argonne toward the west, thus assisting the Fifth Army Corps in its assault through the center. The plan was excellent, as it provided that after the Fifth Army Corps reached the corps objective, all three corps were to advance to the American Army objective.
The Fifth Corps formed with the 91st, 37th and 79th Divisions in the front line, from left to right, and the 32nd Division, part of which had just returned from the Paris group of armies, as corps reserve. The 166th Field Artillery Brigade was then in training area in France and did not join the 91st Division.
Attached to the 91st Division were the following units: 58th Field Artillery Brigade; one regiment of the 158th Field Artillery Brigade; one battalion of the 65th Regiment Coast Artillery Corps; one battery of French artillery; Company “B,” First Gas Regiment, less one platoon; 104th Squadron, Air Service Corps, less one flight. Acting on the corps order the Commanding General made the following dispositions: The 181st Brigade was to attack with its two regiments side by side; the 182nd Brigade with one regiment infantry in advance and the other 500 meters in rear of first. The companies of the 347th and 348th Machine Gun Battalions were attached to the different infantry battalions, thereafter being integral parts of the regiments. The machine gun company of each’ regiment was attached to and fought with the 1st Battalion of that regiment; the 347th and 348th Machine Gun Battalions sent two companies each to the regiments of their brigade and these were attached to the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the regiments. Thus each of the six infantry battalions had with it throughout the action a machine gun company, excepting where orders required less than a company to be detached with liaison groups sent out on the flanks. Batteries of light field artillery were detailed to accompany the advance. The Commanding General of the 58th Field Artillery Brigade was ordered to designate two regiments of 75’s as accompanying batteries and supports for infantry regiments, one battalion being designated to support each regiment. It was not until the fourth day that batteries were actually pushed to the front so as to have accompanying, guns with front line battalions. During the first day, no artillery was able to reach the positions north of Bois de Cheppy in time to assist the infantry advance. During the second and third from positions near Very crossroads and Epinonville, the artillery materially assisted the infantry without being able to push accompanying guns to the front line.
The 316th Engineers was ordered to furnish one-half company for pioneer duty with each infantry brigade, one company the 58th Field Artillery Brigade, one company with the 158th Field Artillery Brigade, consisting of only one light regiment, and one battalion for road repairs, attached to the trains. The 316th Field Signal Battalion was to assure communication. The trains were to be ready to advance along the Avocourt-Very road as soon as it should be captured and made possible.
Division reserve (under command of Lieut. Colonel F. C. Endicott) consisted of the 346th Machine Gun Battalion (motorized) and one battalion of infantry with attached machine gun company from each of the infantry brigades. Each brigade commander detailed one battalion, of infantry with machine gun company attached as his brigade reserve. One company of infantry and one machine gun company were detailed from the 182nd Brigade as a combat liaison force between the 91st Division and the 35th Division. This liaison force was to neutralize the German machine gun positions on the north slope of Vauquois Hill, covering the left flank of the 182nd Brigade, subsequently advancing in the direction of that brigade. Similarly one company of infantry with one machine gun company detached from the 181st Brigade was to cover the right flank of the 91st Division and maintain combat liaison with the 37th Division. Thus, each colonel had in his command his regiment less one battalion, plus one machine gun company from his brigade machine gun battalion.
An Advance Center of Information was established on Hill 274 (La Cigalerie Butte), 700 meters east of La Cigalerie Farm. The Signal Corps established wire communication from Division P. C. to this A. C. I. two days before the attack, and carried forward the wire from this position on the day of attack, and to Very crossroads, following the 182nd Brigade. The only thing withheld was the exact assignment of “D” day and “H” hour; but everyone felt that this could not now be long delayed.
That final word came on September 24. On the evening of September 25 the troops moved forward into the very front line, relieved by midnight the protecting screen of French, and took up their positions for the “jump-off.”
Orders having been given and reports received that troops were marching to their positions, the Division Commander with two aides, accompanied by four staff officers from General Headquarters, left the Division staff at Cote 290 near Bertrame Farm, the place designated by the Corps Commander as Division P. C., about 10 P. M., September 25, and walked to the advance center of information (La Cigalerie Butte), 4,000 yards north of the Division P. C., before midnight. There was complete telephone communication throughout the night between this A. C. I. and Division P. C. and the reserve. Through the Division P. C. there was wire communication with the 18lst Infantry Brigade. By runner there was communication with the Headquarters of the 182nd Infantry Brigade, which, with the 364th Infantry, was at Mont des Aillieux, the 363rd Infantry being in position on the southern slope of La Cigalerie Butte.
DETAILED ACCOUNT OF EACH DAY’S FIGHTING, SEPTEMBER 26 TO OCTOBER 4, 1918–IN THE FIFTH CORPS RESERVE.
AT ELEVEN-THIRTY that night (23/12 o’clock) the heavy long range guns of the army artillery opened fire on selected targets in the enemy country. This bombardment grew in power and in intensity throughout the night. At 2:30 o’clock, all the guns of the corps and divisional artillery, silent up to that moment, went into action together. It is useless to try to describe that bombardment; those who lay under it during the hours before the “jump-off” will never forget it. It was so vast, so stunning, and the noise was so overwhelming that no one could grasp the whole. The German trenches were marked in the darkness by a line of leaping fire, punctuated now and then by the higher bursts of some particularly heavy shell. The retaliatory fire by German batteries passed over the heads of our leading regiments. Although the 363rd Infantry found no trenches sufficient for protection, and as, the night was warm them men preferred lying on the ground on the hill, no casualty occurred during the bombardment, as projectiles from the our own artillery passed well over the heads of the men.
When the leading waves of the 363rd Infantry passed over La Cigalerie Butte, they entered the valley of the Buanthe into a cloud and mist which completely concealed them on Vauquois Hill less than a half-mile to the west. Similarly, the 181st Brigade, advancing with the 362nd on the right and the 361st on the left, was able to cross No-man’s-land (the valley of the Buanthe) through this cloud of smoke and mist without suffering casualties. All of the 363rd waves and the liaison group between the 35th and 91st Divisions crossed No-man’s-land thus concealed, the last elements leaving La Cigalerie Butte at 6 o’clock.
The barrage lifted and rolled off through Cheppy Wood at the specified rate of 100 yards in every five minutes. The three leading regiments passed through the prepared lanes in the old French wire, deployed in No-man’s-land and went forward without opposition. There was no delay in their movement.
The 364th, with Headquarters 182nd Brigade, having encountered some difficulty in finding lanes through the wires between Mont des Auheux and La Cigalerie Butte, reached the jumping-off line at 6:30 o’clock, moving forward at 7 o’clock, thus more than 500 meters behind the 363rd. The leading battalion, the 1st, alth6ugh late, was able to cross No-man’s-land without serious resistance; but when the 2nd Battalion, headquarters and machine gun companies with Brigade Headquarters reached the valley of the Buanthe, the mist and smoke had risen and they were subjected to machine gun fire from the northern slope of Vauquois Hill and later to artillery fire. This checked the rear elements of the 364th near La Fonderie Farm and many casualties were suffered, the wounded being evacuated to a dressing station south of La Cigalerie Butte. The temporary confusion was quickly corrected and the regiment went forward, reaching shelter from view in Bois de Cheppy.
Throughout the morning the 364th pushed forward, the 1st and 2nd Battalions on the left, of the 363rd Infantry, some of its elements overtaking the 363rd near Very. Companies “C” and “F” were in brigade sector, others in the zone of the 35th Division. Colonel H. C. Jewett, 316th Engineers, was sent forward about 9 o’clock to relieve Brigadier General F. S. Foltz, and overtook and assumed command of the brigade near Very crossroads. The 182nd Brigade was assembled during the night
Meanwhile, the Division reserve, under Lieut. Colonel Endicott, had been ordered to move forward and cross No-man’s-land near Pont des 4 Enfants, where engineers had built a small bridge over which machine gun carts could pass. Lieutenant Colonel Endicott took the motorized 346th Machine Gun Battalion to Avocourt, to follow the Avocourt-Very road on the trucks, while the Division Commander and aides led the remainder of the Division reserve to Pont des 4 Enfants, over shell-torn Cheppy Wood, overtaking the 181st Brigade south of the Ravin de Lai Fuon. The two infantry battalions, with machine gun companies attached, were stationed between the two infantry brigades, ready to support either. Many prisoners and machine guns were captured by the two brigades in passing through Bois de Cheppy.
The battered enemy front-line trenches were found with few defenders, scattered with the debris of a hasty evacuation, probably carried out during the evening before. These trenches were left behind, and our first waves penetrated into the Bois de Cheppy. The smoke and fog were so thick that the deployed troops had great trouble in keeping their alignment and intervals. In spite of these things, our leading elements crossed the woods and arrived at the German positions at La Neuve Grange Farm and along the Ravin de Lai Fuon.
As the machine gun nest was the backbone of the Boche defense, and as it was one of the principal obstacles that our troops had to continuously battle against for the rest of that day and during the three days following, it may not be amiss to describe it here. The nest may consist of one or several guns, sometimes set in prepared emplacements, sometimes merely tucked away in bushes or in the ruins of a house. In every case the guns themselves were carefully concealed, and there was usually some form of protection for the crew. The pieces seldom fired to their own front, but were so placed as to rake the front of other nests or of obstacles such as wire belts and woods. When the attackers are held up by machine gun fire, the shooting seldom comes from directly in the foreground, but from some position on the flank which they cannot easily locate. They are, therefore, unable to advance until the nest has been taken by maneuvering around it. This movement, on the other hand, is often also held up by fire from an entirely different nest, and so the whole line is stopped. As machine guns come into action suddenly and their killing power is terrific they cannot be reduced by frontal attacks of waves of infantry, but must be either shelled out or held under our own infantry and machine gun fire until they can be stalked by little groups of determined men. These dash from cover to cover, or work around the emplacements by stealth, getting close enough to put the gunners or the piece itself out of action. To ward off these attacks, the Germans placed snipers and bomb throwers in concealment close by the guns. Such were the nests that confronted our men as they reached the ravine of Lai Fuon and the open country to the north of Cheppy Wood.
The machine guns along this line were overcome and the 181st Brigade, having straightened its front along the ravine, pushed forward through the Bois de Very and the Bois Chehemin. Before the 182nd Brigade lay somewhat more open country, but great trouble was encountered in the small woods along the Montfaucon-Cheppy road, where there were numerous strong points that had to be taken one by one. In this work the infantry and the guns of the 348th Machine Gun Battalion cooperated, and by noon the leading elements came over the hill and entered the wrecked village of Very, putting down the resistance of the Boche who remained and driving many more out of the houses and across the ridge to the northwest.
About 4:30 P. M. (16:30 o’clock) the 122nd Field Artillery reported to the Division Commander at le Ravin de Lai Fuon, having passed the shell-torn village of Avocourt, and the road thence toward Very after repair by the engineers. He was directed to assign one battalion to support the attack of the 181st Infantry Brigade over the Bois Chehemin, and to send the other battalion along the Avocourt-Very road to report to the 182nd Brigade near Very crossroads. Through some mistake by the Artillery Commander, the battalion which had unlimbered and prepared to support the attack of the 181st Brigade was also detailed later to proceed to Very crossroads. As the 181st Brigade had fought its way to open ground and could see the German positions near Epinonville, about 2,000 yards north, the Brigade Commander attacked, although the battalion of artillery which was ready to support him was diverted and thus did not fire. Their lines could be seen from the Division Commander’s position near“ the Very crossroads, bravely advancing over open ground under heavy fire until checked at the ridge on which is Epinonville. Some troops penetrated Epinonville, but the brigade was obliged to fall back to, the ravine south thereof for the night.
The 363rd Infantry, after making numerous captures in Cheppy, encountered strong resistance on emerging from the Bois de Cheppy from La Neuve Grange Farm. After assaulting this position it advanced through Very to high ground north of the city, where it dug in for the night. The 364th Infantry, on the left of and following the 363rd, advanced beyond Very, digging in for the night southwest of, but near, the 363rd. The line occupied by the Division for the night extended from just south of Epinonville, which was the eastern limit of the Division zone, around the head of the Ravin des Balonvaux (Plank Road Hollow), thence along the western slope of the ravine north of the city of Very, into the zone of the 35th Division. The Division P. C. was established at Very crossroads, 800 meters east of Very, at 18 o’clock (6 p. M.), the Division staff moving from C6te 290 later that evening; the 122nd and 124th Field Artillery taking position during the night near the Division P.C.
The Division reserve was placed in the south of Very. The combat liaison detachment, Company “L,” 364th Infantry, and one machine gun company had inclined to the west, endeavoring ‘to gain touch with the 35th Division, and fought their way north actually in the area of the 35th Division, and in front of that division throughout the day. As heavy firing was heard at night to the west of the Very crossroads, orders were sent this combat liaison group to move toward Very and cover the left of the Division. This detachment rejoined the Division zone about daylight September 27.
Although no tanks had been assigned to the 91st Division, a detachment thereof under Captain Ferrer, 348th Machine Gun Battalion, co-operated with some tanks in the attack near Cheppy, which resulted in the capture of a large number of Germans. They then moved on the Cheppy-Very road to Very. The first day’s fighting had broken two German lines, penetrated of the third, and had realized an advance of eight kilometers.
During the 26th the auxiliary services had also been working fast and furiously. With the first wave went engineers to throw bridges over the Buanthe creek. Other engineers fell to work on the road from Avocourt across No-man’s-land, which had, of course, been pounded out of existence during the past three years. Others pushed forward and cut detours around two great tank pits that the Germans had dug in the road farther north. By noon the traffic was flowing, or rather bumping, over the old No-man’s4and and into Cheppy Wood–first the combat wagons with their ammunition, then the artillery and finally the trucks of the Division supply trains. The vigor with which this work was accomplished and the speed with which the trains followed up over the extemporized road, full of shell craters and mud holes, played an extremely important part in allowing the Division to continue its successful drive of the first day. The’ signal troops, then as later, were always with the advancing infantry and machine guns, and telephone communication, without which no modern battle can be waged, was quickly established. The lines, however, were continually cut by shells and had to be patrolled and repaired under heavy fire day and night.
In addition to the lines established by the 316th Field Signal Battalion, the 181st Brigade found insulated German wire in the Bois de Cheppy and used that wire in its advance, as did the Division Commander for communication with the Division P. C. at C“te 290.
SECOND DAY, SEPTEMBER 27
The night of the 26th-27th was spent in ascertaining location of units of the Division and issuing orders to renew the attack. The passage through the Bois de Cheppy and the hard fighting of the preceding afternoon had naturally resulted in the mixing of men from unit to unit and the displacement of companies and battalions from their proper sectors. The dispositions taken up at this time for the morn’s advance were as follows: Both brigades were to attack towards the Eclisfontaine-Epinonville line. The two infantry battalions with machine gun companies attached which had served as Division reserve were returned to their brigades, so that each regiment might attack in column of three battalions. The 181st Brigade attacked the strong ridge on which Epinonville was located with the 362nd Infantry on the right of the 361st. Three separate assaults on Epinonville were made, but each was repulsed and by night the brigade was at the foot of the ridge of Epionville, which town had been entered on the 26th and three times on the 27th.
When the attack moved forward it met an enemy reinforced and strongly located in a multitude of machine gun nests, supported also by a, well-directed and cruel artillery fire that grew in intensity throughout the day. The 361st passed through Epinonville, clearing out groups of the enemy as it went, but when an attempt was made to debouch from the town and the road leading west from it the troops were met by such a hail of machine gun bullets from the, woods and orchards beyond that no progress could be made. The fighting on this wing kept up all day, our troops endeavoring to get beyond the town, but being driven back again and again. Hostile shelling became very severe, both upon the assaulting troops and also upon the town, but being driven back again and again. Hostile shelling became very severe, both upon the assaulting troops and also upon the supports who had dug themselves in on the slopes south of the town. This fire was accurate and persistent and was almost constantly regulated by low-flying enemy planes. About noon the advance of the division on our right was checked and their men fell back under severe shelling between Epinonville and Ivoiry to positions behind our right flank.
On the left somewhat greater advance was possible. The 182nd Brigade attacked with the 364th Infantry on the right of the 363rd Infantry. Colonel G. McD. Weeks was relieved by Lieutenant Colonel J. J. Mudgett, 364th Infantry, before the attack. The advance was delayed by hostile artillery, guided apparently by hostile planes which hovered over the brigade all morning. The 364th maintained contact with the 361st, but the 363rd inclined so far toward the west in an endeavor to gain touch with the 35th Division that some units thereof crossed the Varennes- -Eslisfontaine road, moving toward Serieux Farm, and came under artillery fire, probably that of the 35th Division, as the 363rd had moved into the zone of that division.
The 364th was held up in front of the town of Eclisfontaine before broad belts of wire swept by machine guns. With the help of our artillery, however, they managed about four-thirty in the afternoon to break through, capture Eclisfontaine and and Les Bouleaux Bois and organize those positions for the night. The 363rd reached the ravine running southwest from Eclisfontaine about noon. The Eclisfontaine-Varennes road on the other side of the ravine was strongly held by the enemy, and it was some time before it was finally taken and the regiment was enabled to push on into Les Bouleaux Bois.
The total day’s advance had reached a line running through Epinonville, Eclisfontaine and Les Bouleaux Bois. This position was being organized when notice came from Corps Headquarters that a barrage of army artillery might be laid down on the Eclisfontaine-Varennes road during the night. It was accordingly necessary to withdraw the troops of the 182nd Brigade south of that road and out of the town of Eclisfontaine. As shells from distant heavy artillery were falling south of the road and on Epinonyille, the main line for the night was established a little farther to the south, outposts holding practically all the territory gained during the day. Many casualties had resulted in taking Cote 231 and Eclisfontaine, and it was disappointing to give up this place because another division had failed to keep abreast of the 91st.
THIRD DAY, SEPTEMBER 28
On the morning of the 28th the advance was renewed; the 181st Brigade attacking with the 361st in front of the 362nd through Epinonville, two battalions of the former in the front line with the remainder of the regiment in support. The 362nd formed the brigade reserve. This brigade passed through Epinonville, seized Les Epinettes Bois and the Bois de Cierges. During this advance Major Oscar F. Miller, leading the advance battalion, 361st Infantry, was wounded three times before he gave up. He died the next day. A Medal of Honor was awarded him and delivered to his widow, for his heroic conduct above and beyond duty.
The 182nd Brigade, on the left, the 364th leading with two battalions in front line and remainder in support, pushed the attack, and again the troops were obliged to work well out of their sector and into the zone of the 35th Division on their left, in order to overcome machine gun nests that were taking them in flank Starting from their line south of and roughly parallel to the Eclisfontaine — Varennes road, they reached the road and Eclisfontaine without great opposition, but were there held by fire from, Serieux Farm on their left and from Les Bouleaux Bois. Into which the enemy had returned during the night. It was before the farm was captured and the woods were again thoroughly cleared. Then came the task of taking Exmorieux Farm, a strong center of resistance that was causing great trouble. This accomplished, the attack of the 364th and 363rd pressed on, took the Bois de Baulny, Tronsol Farm and the slope north of the latter.
During the day, while the 364th had been pushing to the north, the 363rd had been drawn more and more into a northwesterly course, into the zone of the 35th Division. The necessity of taking Seneux Farm had inaugurated this movement, and the loss of touch with the 35th Division on the left had made it imperative to hold the ever-lengthening flank exposed by the advance of the 364th. Thus at nightfall the 363rd, in contact in the neighborhood of Tronsol Farm with the 364th, was facing almost due west and was reaching out, so to speak, to the southwest for contact with the 35th Division. Contact was reported with the 35th Division that afternoon, but the troops proved to be a combat liaison group, the main body of the 35th Division being farther south.
The 91st Division, as far back as Seneux Farm, was exposed to attack from the west, and as far back as the southern edge of Bois Emont, to attack from the east. Much machine fire came from Bois Emont and artillery fire from Cierges and Grange aux Bois Farm.
On the right of the 91st sector somewhat the same condition pertained. The 361st, having taken the Bois de Cierges, gained contact on its left with the 364th; but its right was in the air, the left regiment of the 37th Division being still south of the Bois Emont, although it had been reported that the 37th had taken Cierges at noon that day. The 362nd, however, lay behind the 361st and was so placed as to repel any attempt to encircle our advanced units. Headquarters had moved to Epionville in the early afternoon and the Division reserve dug itself in at the orchard southwest of Epinonville.
The artillery fire had become much more severe from morning on it continued throughout the night. A heavy rain had also come on and increased as darkness closed in. The men had been fighting steadily for three days, had had no blankets to protect them from the cold September nights, and because of their rapid advance it had been impossible to serve them any hot food since before the jump-dff. The first ambulances reached the Division P. C. on the 29th at Epinonville. To that time, trucks and wagons at night were the only transportation for the wounded. They had been caught in the jammed Avocourt-Very road behind artillery, trucks, etc. There were not sufficient ambulances to evacuate wounded until September 30. During the first four days men who could walk found their way back to our or other field hospitals, but others were sheltered in German dugouts subject to shell fire and fed as well as circumstances permitted. Some merely sat against trees, waiting for transportation. The Division on the 29th, however, showed how little the soldiers of the 91st were affected by the conditions.
FOURTH DAY, SEPTEMBER 29
At 23 o’clock (11 P. M.), September 28, the Corps Commander directed renewal of the attack at 7 A. M. the next day, adding: “2. Divisions will advance independently of each other, pushing the attack with utmost vigor and regardless of cost.” The 91st Division obeyed this order on that memorable Sunday with renewed energy and inspiration, believing each division would be prompted by the same impulse to “do or die” for the Fifth Corps which inspired the 91st when assigned the important task of “carrying the ball through the center of the First American Army.” Division orders at 23:30 o’clock directed heavy artillery fire on Gesnes, support of each brigade by a light regiment (75’s), and advance by each brigade in its proper zone toward the American Army objective (line of hills north of the Gesnes-Exermont road).
On request of the Commander of the 182nd Brigade, the 1st Battalion, 316th Engineers, was ordered to join that brigade by 4 o’clock, September 29.
At 17:36 o’clock, September 28, the Corps Chief of Staff had informed the 91st Division that the 35th Division was in Exermont.
The 362nd Infantry passed through the 361st, moving at 7 o’clock north through Bois de Cierges toward Gesnes. Reaching a line abreast of Grange aux Bois Farm, the 362nd received artillery and machine gun fire from that place (in zone of the 37th Division) and from hills northeast and northwest of Gesnes. It was forced to retire to positions held all night by the 361st. At 10 o’clock advance was renewed with similar check and retreat. The 181st Brigade was then ordered by Division Commander to take Grange aux Bois Farm to cover the right flank of the Division. With the help of accompanying guns, 122nd Field Artillery, machine guns, etc., a battalion of the 361st Infantry occupied this farm. Another covered the right flank, facing Bois Emont.
Major George W. Farwell, 361st Infantry, was fatally wounded in this operation. A Distinguished Service Cross was awarded later and delivered to his widow.
The 363rd Infantry, with two companies of the 316th Engineers was directed to pass through the 364th and to cross the open ground north of Bois de Baulny. It was checked at the road Tronsol Farm-Grange aux Bois Farm by fire from the latter place. This resulted in orders from the Division Commander to the 181st Brigade to take Grange aux Bois Farm, as mentioned above.
Some of the 364th remained unrelieved at the north edge of Bois de Baulny. Lieutenant Colonel Mudgett, commanding the 364th was severely wounded about noon, Major Gregory succeeding to command. Major A. B. Richardson, commanding 1st Battalion of the 364th, was wounded during the afternoon.
Holding Tronsol Farm, just in zone of the 35th Division, and Grange aux Bois Farm, just in zone of 37th Division, the 91st at 14:30 o’clock was ready to advance farther. Both farms were to be held. The 181st Brigade was directed to advance toward Gesnes, and the 182nd Brigade, as soon as its right was covered by the 181st Brigade, to advance across the the Exermont-Gesnes road toward the American Army objective.
The Commanding General of the 181st Brigade at 15:30 o’clock reported that the 74th Brigade (37th Division) had retired at 14:10 o’clock south and east of Bois Emont. Nevertheless, he directed his brigade, less two battalions of the 361st protecting his right, to take Gesnes. The 362nd Infantry, in three lines, with two companies of the 34 7th Machine Gun Battalion, advanced, Colonel J. H. Parker leading the advance battalion. The 2nd Battalion, 361st, followed the 362nd. Artillery preparation preceded the attack, and a rolling barrage preceded the leading battalion.
It was met from the jump-off by a terrific artillery counter-barrage, accompanied by the hardest sort of machine gun fire from the front and right flank. It went forward grimly, nevertheless, passed across the open field, and in spite of large casualties reached Gesnes and drove out the enemy, one battalion of the 362nd reaching Hill 255. The 2nd Battalion, 361st Infantry passed beyond the town and up the slopes to the northwest, reaching the army objective behind the battalion of the 362nd. At nightfall this position was being consolidated, and the 361st, less one battalion, was covering the exposed right flank where it was severely pounded by artillery from the northeast.
During the afternoon of this day conditions on the left of the Division were becoming alarming. A great concentration of Germans was reported at Exermont. The 70th Brigade, 35th Division, on the left had fallen back toward Baulny and almost reached that place at 15:50 o’clock. Furthermore, bodies of German troops were actually beginning to emerge from a wood on our left flank. The guns of the 348th Machine Gun Battalion, posted south of Transol Farm, instantly caught and broke up this gathering and a counter-attack by our engineers temporarily assured the safety of the flank. At the same time, some troops of the 182nd Brigade pushed forward to the north and patrols crossed the Gesnes creek and reached the south edge of the Bois de la Morine, close to the extreme left of the 362nd.
Just before news of this success (by runner from Major Bradbury near Gesnes) reached the Division Commander he received report from the 91st Division liaison officer at Headquarters, 35th Division (Cheppy), of the retirement of the 70th Brigade to Baulny, and that the Commanding General of the 35th Division was returning to Cheppy. The 74th Brigade, 37th Division, had been seen retiring about noon toward Ivoiry. Thus, if the remainder of the infantry, 91st Division moved forward to join the advance elements at the American Army objective, there would remain insufficient support for the reamainder fo the 58th Field Artillery Brigade, still in the ravine south of Epionville, and the line of communication through Epionville and Very might be cut by German forces on our left, driving the 70th Brigade to Baulny, and the German forces in Bois Emont and Cierges on our right, which had repulsed and driven back the 74th Brigade, 37th Division. The advance elements of the 91st Division were four kilometers ahead of the 74th Brigade on their right and about six kilometers ahead of the 70th Brigade on their left. Message was sent to the Commanding, General, 35th Division, asking him to cover the 58th Field Artillery Brigade and the Epionville-Very road. Liasion officer of the 91st Division reported the Commanding General, 35th Division, could not, as he was asking help from divisions on his right and left. Message was sent by an aide to Commanding General, 37th Division, asking him to order the 74th Brigade forward to occupy Bois Emont, or at least to resume its morning positions so as to permit all the 91st Division infantry to occupy the army objective then held by only two battalions. The Commanding General, 74th Brigade at Ivoiry, to whom the message was shown, said his Brigade had suffered fifty percent loss, and he could not make it go forward. Later, the Commanding General, 37th Division sent message that his division could not move up to support the 91st Division or cover its right flank.
Orders were then sent to prevent the 361st and 364th advances, and to elements farther ahead to hold their positions. The situation was reported to Headquarters, Fifth Corps, and permission received to hold any positions deemed suitable which could be held. As the entire infantry of the 91st Division could not be advanced to the hills north of Gesnes, it was necessary to order withdrawal of the advanced elements of each brigade to the line along the northern border of the Bois de Baulny and Bois de Cierges, holding the two farms named above as centers of resistance.
A glance at the map will show the actual extent of our front at dark on the 29th. Instead of a scant two kilometers (the width of the division sector just north of Gesnes) which the 91st would have been responsible for if its neighbors had been abreast of it, the line ran from the middle of the east edge of the Bois de Cierges through Grange aux Bois Farm, up to and around Gesnes, across the south tip of the Bois de la Morine, south around Tronsol Farm, across the Ravine de la Mayche and again south south as far as Serieux Farm, a total distance of eight kilometers. This was, of course, an impossible situation. Our attenuated line was open to attack from either flank and we risked having our forward troops, or, indeed, the whole Division, cut off and surrounded. Orders were accordingly sent to the 362nd and 363rd to withdraw during the night. The Division reserve, consisting of only the 346th Machine Gun Battalion, was placed on the road toward Seneux Farm to cover the artillery and road to Very, thus assuring the safety of the left flank. Before morning a new and shorter line of resistance, ordered by Headquarters, Fifth Corps, was organized. It ran from the middle of the Bois de Cierges southwest through Les Bouleaux Bois. The dearly won terrain to the north of this line was not, however, entirely given up, as troops still held Grange aux Bois Farm, Bois de Cierges, Bois de Baulny, Tronsol Farm and the country from there south to Seneux Farm. Our patrols guarded the country up to Gesnes and the enemy never again re-entered that town in force. All through the night of September 29-30 wounded were carried back to Bois de Cierges.
This attack was very costly to the 362nd Infantry. Colonel Parker and Major Bradbury of the 362nd were wounded, a number of valuable officers were killed, the total loss of the regiment in killed and wounded being at least five hundred. On the night of September 29 a few rolling kitchens per regiment were drawn up into the woods. The men were able, in turn, to go back to the kitchens and get the first warm food they had had since the evening of September 25. It was impossible to use these kitchens in the daytime without exposing the vicinity to heavy shell fire. Some of the men serving the kitchens were killed and wounded, and some men going to the kitchens for hot coffee were wounded, but the kitchens remained in the woods until the withdrawal on the morning of October 4.
In four days the Division had lost 8 field and 125 company officers and 3,000 men.
FIFTH DAY, SEPTEMBER 30
The line of resistance described above was ordered by the Headquarters, Fifth Corps, for possible defense against a strong force of enemy reported arriving at Exermont. The Division Commander directed that the 361st cover the line of surveillance in front of its brigade, and the 363rd the line of surveillance in front of its brigade. The 362nd was assembled in a stone quarry north of Exmorieux Farm between the Bois de Cierges and the Bois de Baulny. At 3 o’clock that morning, while wounded were being evacuated from Gesnes, the Division received orders that the attack of the Fifth Corps would not be continued on September 30, but efforts would be made for resumption of the offensive on October 1. The Division reserve was placed near Eclisfontaine, and the battalion of engineers which had been with the 182nd Brigade rejoined the reserve, which then consisted of the 346th Machine Gun Battalion and the 316th Engineers (less one company, still engaged in repairing the road between Epinonville and Very).
At 9 A. M., the Division Commander found only five hundred men of the 362nd present. Others rejoined from the Bois de Cierges during the day, and more wounded were carried that night from Gesnes, having concealed themselves in dugouts and cellars throughout the 30th.
Colonel L. C. Bennett, Division Quartermaster, was assigned to the 364th Infantry when Lient. Colonel Mudgett was wounded on September 29, and joined the regiment in the afternoon of September 30 while it was establishing the defensive line prescribed by the Corps Commander.
W. D. Davis, 361st Infantry, who had been wounded on September 28, still insisted on retaining command of his regiment and was coolly stationing his units on the line of surveillance with his arm in a sling. One battalion of the 363rd Infantry, finding the Bois de Cierges, full of gas, moved forward to the ridge north of the Bois de Cierges, and occupied shell holes made by the German counter barrage on the 29th, but had no overhead shelter. Hostile artillery shelled the entire Division area from 10 o’clock this day until 8 o’clock the next day. The 58th Field Artillery Brigade shelles Gesnes and the Gesnes-Exermont road, to prevent traffic, at intervals during the day.
SIXTH DAY, OCTOBER 1
The 91st, having evacuated its wounded and rested and fed its men, was ready to advance again and orders therefore issued, but corps orders required that we wait till the 37th Division had been relieved by the 32nd and the 35th by the 1st Division. During the day the lines of the 32nd could be seen advancing in brilliant form north of Ivoiry, having relieved the 37th Division units, and moving up into Bois Emont and east there of. On the west, elements of the 1st Division advanced with equal brilliancy beyond the positions to which the 35th had retired, and combat liaison was established with the 1st Division near Seneux Farm. A combat liaison group from the 182nd Brigade moving with a battalion of the 1st Division suffered heavy losses as it advanced.
Many men were suffering from diarrhea due to exposure for five days without warm food or overcoats and blankets. Most officers and men had raincoats, and some had found German blankets in dugouts. The men built shelter from small-arms fire by excavating the northern edges of shell holes. But they were observed by hostile planes and subjected to heavy fire (shrapnel and shell) from German artillery in the Argonne and northeast of Gesnes. Although many casualties resulted the morale was undisturbed.
SEVENTH DAY, OCTOBER 2
Troops were still under orders to hold positions awaiting corps orders for attack. A hostile airplane was brought down by an Allied plane in front of the 364th Infantry. A machine gun company of this regiment in position west of Tronsol Farm fired on the enemy in front of the 1st Division as it was marching up on the left of the position held by the 91st. Troops were warned at 20 o’clock (8 p. M.) to be ready for advance on the morning of October 3. Other divisions not being ready the anticipated attack order was not issued. The Germans attempted to move two companies up the ravine west of Bois de Bajilny, but machine gun fire turned down the ravine stopped the movement. The woods north of Tronsol Farm were cleaned up and occupied until thee Division was relieved. On the right the advance of the 32nd Division through the Bois Emont protected the 91st from machine gun and snipers’ fire, but all parts of the areas were subjected nearly all day to heavy artillery fire.
After the armistice two chaplains with divisional burial parties were sent back to this zone from Belgium by truck to search for graves of 6fficers and men still carried as missing. One of these chaplains found on Hill 255 a German observation post from which every road in the Division zone as far as Very could be plainly seen and every house in Epinonville (Division Headquarters). At this time 2 colonels, 2 lieutenant colonels, 8 majors and 123 company officers of infantry were required to replace officers killed and wounded during the six days of advance. The total casualties at that time amounted to nearly 150 officers and 4,000 men.
About 18 o’clock (6 P. M.) twenty-eight German bombing planes made a raid on the Division Headquarters, 58th Artillery Brigade and some engineers in the ravine between Epinonville and Very. The first bomb dropped in front of the little brick cottage on the hill occupied by the Division Commander. It killed one orderly and wounded First Lieutenant A. S. MacDonnel, aide, and one enlisted man. Almost immediately thereafter, hostile artillery shelled Division Headquarters and the ravine occupied by the artillery and engineers. Our losses were 35 killed and 115 wounded, in one hour. Although anti-aircraft guns and machine guns from reserve fired upon these bombing planes, none of them fell in our zone. This happened about half an hour after a squadron of Allied planes had passed over Division Headquarters moving toward the Argonne Forest. It is no reflection upon our air service that such a raid was possible. It was realized by Division Headquarters that it was impracticable to have Allied airplanes over the Division constantly. They frequently passed over the zone of the Division and almost invariably German planes returned half an hour after the Allied planes had left.
The Division P. C. had been located in a splinter-proof on the north slope of a depression where it was protected from artillery fire on the south, but not from the north. It was ultilizied mainly for protection from rain and was one of the few shelters in Epinonville available. Almost all houses had been destroyed. This splinter-proof was struck at 21 o’clock (9 P.M.) by high explosive entering the room occupied as “message center,” killing two men, liaison runners, and wounding two officers and one man. This man later died. One of the officers wounded was liaison officer from the 1st Division. The other officer was in charge of the message center for the night. About this time another high-explosive shell hit the stone ruins in which members of the Headquarters Troop and horses were sheltered, killing seven horses. Division P. C. with telephone switchboard was then moved to a cellar under a ruined building in Epinonville, which had since the 29th been used as Headquarters, 58th Artillery Brigade. The German dugouts along the Epinonville-Eclisfontaine road which had been functioning since the night of the 29th of September as First Aid station operated by the 363rd Ambulance Company, were not struck, although plainly exposed to fire from the north.
EIGHTH DAY, OCTOBER 3
There was little hostile activity until 10:40 o’clock. From that time until 20 o’clock hostile artillery was more violent than at any time during the previous engagement. This was doubtless due to observation by the enemy that divisions on the right and left of the 91st had been relieved, and the enemy was undoubtedly shelling the entire front of the Fifth Corps as well as the First Corps to cover the withdrawal or break-up formation of the relieving divisions. Throughout the past few days the plank road between Very and Epinonville received high-explosive shells frequently, and two companies of engineers were kept busy repairing holes in order that rations and ammunition might go forward at night and the wounded be evacuated to the rear, either by ambulance, truck or wagon. Three ambulance companies were at established stations along the ravine from Epinonville to the south. Field hospitals were in the neighborhood of Very and east thereof. Machine guns of the 346th Machine Gun Battalion from the orchard near Epinonville frequently fired upon hostile planes. The 32nd Division relieved a battalion of the 361st Infantry which had held Grange aux Bois Farm since September 29. By this time the 361st Infantry had lost 36 officers and 793 men.
The 362nd Infantry after retiring from Gesnes had held the stone quarry between the 181st and 182nd Brigades and on the line of resistance the Division was ordered to hold. Lieut. Colonel J. B. Woolnough had succeeded to command of that regiment after Colonel Parker was wounded. The regiment was unable to advance under the corps order, but suffered heavy losses because of lack of overhead shelter.
Later in the afternoon instructions were received from Headquarters, Fifth Corps, stating that the 91st Division, less the 58th Artillery Brigade, would be relieved by midnight, by an extension of front of the 32nd Division toward the west. The 91st Division was ordered to assemble as corps reserve at Bois de Very and Bois de Cheppy, south of the Cheppy-Montfaucon road. The 91st Division units were moved straight to the rear after being relieved, leaving the roads and trails at the disposal of the 32nd Division. The Commanding General of the 64th Brigade reached the headquarters of the 91st Division about 6 p.m. and guides from all units of the 91st Division were assembled there by dark, to conduct units of the 64th Brigade to positions held by the 91st Division. This movement seemed to be suspected by the enemy, as all roads and especially road crossings were subjected to heavy artillery fire throughout the night.
At 4 o’clock the 64th Brigade reported that all units of the 91st Division had been relieved. Division Headquarters then moved back to Very crossroads. A general attack had been ordered for about 5 o’clock. The complete relief of the 181st, however, was not effected until 9 :30 o’clock. During the morning of the 4th the 3rd Battalion of the 363rd was relieved, and by noon of the 4th the elements of the 363rd Infantry and 348th Machine Gun Battalion still holding the lines of surveillance in front of the Boix de Baulny and at Tronsol Farm were relieved. During the morning the elements which had not been relieved remained at their posts until relieved, notwithstanding they knew they should have been relieved at midnight. The German artillery fire directed against the general advance of the First and Fifth Corps caused fifty casualties in the 91st Division on October 4. By afternoon of that date the units had been assembled in the woods designated above. It was possible to supply all with warm food, mail from the States was distributed and the men rested, although under long-range fire.
October 5 and 6 the Division rested as corps reserve, and arms and other equipment lost in action were largely replaced.
On the afternoon of Sunday, October 6, order were received for the Division to march to Dombasle and Jouy en Argonne, which places were south of the Fifth Corps Headquarters. The march was necessarily to be conducted at night, leaving Ravin de la Fuon by 19 o’clock. After the 182nd Brigade had formed for the night march, orders were received from Headquarters, Fifth Corps, to detach one infantry brigade, leaving it in its present position and reporting it to the Chief of Staff, First Army Corps, for further orders. From that time until the 181st Brigade rejoined the Division on October 16, at Revigny, that brigade, as will be later described, served with the 1st Division, First Corps, and the 32nd Division, Fifth Corps, and later with the 1st Division, Fifth Corps. The remainder of the Division on October 9, 10 and 11 marched south to the Nettancourt area headquarters at Contrisson.
SECOND PARTICIPATION OF 181ST BRIGADE – ASSIGN MENT TO FIRST DIVISION, HEAVY CASUALTIES SUFFERED – COMMENDATION SY COMMANDING GENERAL, FIFTH ARMY – COMMENDATION BY COMMANDING GENERAL, FIRST DIVISION – HOSTILE UNITS – MATERIEL CAPTURED
THE 181st Brigade, having been left at the Bois de Cheppy the Commanding general, First Army Corps, was later on the night of October 6-7 under orders to report to placed, October 7, under the Fifth Army Corps. A letter from the Commanding General, Fifth Corps, attached one regiment of infantry and the brigade machine gun battalion to the 32nd Division and the remaining regiment of infantry to the 1st Division. The units attached to the 32nd Division were ordered to take up positions on the left of the line occupied by that division to relieve elements of the 32nd Division northwest of Gesnes in the Bois de Chene-sec. The 362nd Infantry was ordered to take position in Le Bouleaux Bois as Division reserve. These movements were accomplished during the night of October 7-8. The Brigade Commander reported to the Commanding General, Fifth Corps, for further orders, as result of which he reported to the Commanding General, 1st Division. At 18 o’clock, October 8, the 362nd Infantry (and the 1st Division as well) passed to the control and direction of the Fifth Army Corps, and the entire Brigade was assigned by the Fifth Corps to the 1st Division. Brigade Headquarters were established at Eclisfontaine. Thus, this brigade of the 91st Division, after two days’ rest, found itself back in the line between the 1st Division and the 32nd Division, in front of the position formerly held by the 182nd Brigade.
The brigade was not to advance unless specially ordered to do so. It developed that, while the portion of the line turned over to the 181st Brigade by relieved elements of the 32nd Division was supposed to be the line from Hill 269 to Hill 255 (on American Army objective formerly reached by the 91st Division, September 29), the elements of the 32nd Division relieved were actually on a line one and one-half kilometers south of the’ line joining those two crests, both of which were highly organized and defended by machine gun nests. Some machine gun positions were at the mouths of tunnels opening out of the southern slopes of the hills. A strong concrete blockhouse was discovered just to the north of Hill 255. The defenses of both hills flanked the approaches to each other and were protected by well-directed artillery barrage from the north. General McDonald personally reconnoitered the situation, and after ascertaining that the line he was supposed to hold could only be taken by advancing while the 1st Division attacked on his left and the 32nd on his right, he was then ordered by the Commanding General, 1st Division, to advance, seize and hold the line indicated, at “H” hour, October 9. The 361st Infantry and the 347th Machine Gun Battalion advanced at 9:40 o’clock, October 9, the right assault battalion reaching the base of Hill 255 under heavy artillery and machine gun fire from the two crests north of them. Many casualties were suffered. At 11 o’clock wounded men from the right flank combat liaison detachment reported that the 125th Infantry (32nd Division), on the right of the 181st Brigade, had not advanced abreast of them. Further advance being impossible the new line was held, the men digging in and waiting until the resistance from Hills 269 and 255 could be reduced by artillery. Meanwhile Hill 269 was reconnoitered by patrols and was attacked by the 1st Battalion, 361st Infantry. The crest was seized and held at 16 o’clock. Under artillery-fire protection the 3rd Battalion, 361st Infantry, seized Hill 255, after fighting all afternoon, about 18 o’clock and dug in. During the night bf October 9-10 the concrete blockhouse on the northern slope of Hill 255 continued to harass the troops. The attack orders from the 1st Division assigned to the 181st Brigade the thorough mopping up of the triangular sector with the line Hills 255-269 as a base and La Tuilerie.Farm as apex, at which latter point the boundaries of the 1st and 32nd Divisions joined, converging on it from the south and southwest respectively.
Liaison with both divisions was established before “H” hour, and during the morning of October 10 the line between Hills 269 and 255 was taken by the 361st Infantry, reinforced by six companies of the 362nd Infantry, both crests being entirely cleared of the enemy. At 11 o’clock General McDonald received a report from Headquarters, 1st Division, that troops of that division were in liaison with the 32nd Division at La Tuilerie Farm, said to be actually occupied by the 32nd Division. This left for the 181st Brigade the apparently simple problem of mopping up the triangle to the apex. The occupation of La Tuilerie Farm was apparently incorrect. At any rate, a formidable center of resistance was encountered on Hill 288, running over the crest of this hill in a general east and west line, a horseshoe-shaped defensive position chiefly organized from a sunken road with sheer walls between twenty and thirty feet high; perfectly concealed machine gun positions, tunneled from the south slope to the road to the south slope of the crest, enabled hostile machine gun fire not only to sweep the line of the 181st Brigade, but to enfilade the lines of the 1st and 32nd Divisions on its flanks. During the night of October 10-11 the 181st Brigade remained about 400 meters south of the crest of Hill 288.
At 21 o’clock, October 10, the 181st Brigade was transferred from the 1st Division to the command of the 32nd Division; and orders from the latter division directed a renewal of the attack on October 11, the 181st Brigade to attack on the left of the 32nd Division. Although the attack was initiated, little advance was made; the defenses of Hill 288 proved too great an obstacle for the combined efforts of the 181st Brigade and the divisions on the right and left of it. A concentration of heavy artillery was put down for fifty minutes, 13 o’clock to 13:50 o’clock. Major Hanson, 347th Machine Gun Battalion, went forward with patrols after the artillery concentration and reported that no material effect had been gained against the defenses of Hill 288, only a few shells of small caliber falling on positions. During the night of October 11-12 units of the 181st Brigade were relieved by units of the 32nd Division, relief being completed at 9 o’clock, October 12.
During this second participation by the 181st Brigade in the Meuse-Argonne its officers and men were operating under adverse conditions. They had had but two nights’ sleep between the two participations, and many of the men were weakened by diarrhea. Most of the men had not yet received blankets or winter underwear, or any change of clothing. Nevertheless, there was no indication of faltering or weakening on the part of officers or men.
After relief, the brigade marched to rejoin the remainder of the Division via Dombasle (morning of October 13), Ippecourt (October 14), Lamermont Farm (October 15), Revigny (October 16).
During the participation of the 91st Division in the Meuse-Argonne, the following casualties were suffered:
Killed Wounded Total Officers 39 168 208 Men 980 3,748 4,728 Total 1019 3,916 4,936
Note – This does not include casualties in the 58th and 158th Field Artillery Brigade, nor in the auxiliary arms attached. When the 91st Division attacked, September 26, its total strength, including noncombatant arms, was a little less than 20,000. Hence the number killed and wounded represented about one-fourth of the Division, during seventeen days’ engagement.
According to the records of the Division, only eleven men were captured by the Germans during the Meuse-Argonne, and one man later in Belgium. The Central Records Office, A. E. F., on June 3, made a report showing that the 91st Division had lost twenty-eight men captured. Although application was made to the Adjutant General of the Army for the names of men in excess of twelve reported alleged to have been captured, the Division Commander was informed that no general compilation had been made at the War Department, and the records of the American Expeditionary Forces, then en route to the United States, had not been recalled. The only explanation for this discrepancy is that men formerly with the 91st Division who had been evacuated to the rear, or had lost their way, might, after being relieved from hospitals; have rejoined other divisions after the 91st Division was transferred to Belgium. These sixteen men whose names have not been procured may possibly, after recovering from wounds and rejoining other divisions, have been captured. According to the records of the Division, however, twelve men known to have been captured were returned after the armistice.
The following letter of recognition from the Commanding General of the Fifth Army Corps was received by the Division Commander during the night of October 34, while relief by the 32nd Division was being effected:
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS
American Expeditionary Forces
From: Commanding General, V Army Corps.
To: Commanding General, 91st Division.
Subject: Relief of 91st Division.
Under orders from the First Army, the 91st Division will be relieved from the front line tonight and placed in Corps Reserve.
The Corps Commander wishes you to understand that this relief results solely from a realization by higher command that your Division has done its full share in the recent success, and is entitled to a rest for reorganization. This especially as, during the past three days, it has incurred heavy casualties when circumstances would not permit either advance or withdrawal.
At a time when the divisions on its flanks were faltering and even falling back, the 91st pushed ahead and steadfastly clung to every yard gained.
In its initial performance, your Division has established itself firmly in the list of the Commander-in-Chief’s reliable fighting units. Please extend to your officers and men my appreciation of their splendid behavior and my hearty congratulations on the brilliant record they have made.
GEORGE H. CAMERON,
Major General, Commanding.
From the Commanding General, 1st Division, was received the following letter in appreciation of the services of the 181st Infantry Brigade:
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION
American Expeditionary Forces
France, October 12, 1918.
From: Chief of Staff, 1st Division.
To: Commanding General, 181st Infantry Brigade.
Subject: Appreciation of Services.
1. The Commanding General, 1st Division, wishes me to express to you and to the officers and men of your command his appreciation and the appreciation of this division for the services rendered by the 181st Infantry Brigade while attached to the 1st Division during the operations between the Argonne and the Meuse, October, 1918.
2. This division as a whole fully appreciated the difficulties of the position of your brigade. Fatigued by a week’s combat and forced by the necessities of the situation to re-enter the battle under the staff and with the artillery support of another division, the willingness and energy with which you executed the missions assigned to you are worthy of the best traditions of the service.
J. N. GREELY,
Chief of Staff.
The following notes on enemy order of battle are drawn from incomplete sources, the German orders captured, while the 91st was in line, not yet being available. They are based on prisoner identifications, made during the fighting, the rapid questioning possible at the time, and upon certain inferences which may safely be drawn from the current of events.
Opposite our front on the morning of September 26 lay (west to east) the 2nd Guard Regiment, 1st Guard Regiment, both of the 1st Guard Division, and the 157th Regiment of the 117th Division. Farther to the east was the 450th Regiment of the 117th Division (prisoners from th*t unit were brought to our cage by soldiers of the 37th American Division). Judging from the sequence in which prisoners arrived, from their statements and from a few captured documents, it is clear that the three battalions of each regiment were echeloned in depth with the support battalions drawn in fairly close, possibly as far as the subsidiary defenses which lay between the Hagen Stellung (middle of Cheppy Woods) and the Volker Stellung (Epiononville-Eclisfontaine line). Our actual front, then, was held by one battalion of the 1st Guard Regiment and one of the 157th Regiment, with our extreme left opposing the extreme left of one battalion of the 2nd Guard Regiment. In reserve, behind the 1st Guard Division, was the 5th Guard Division, and behind the 117th Division seem to have been attached Landstrum battalions-Reutlingen and Gottingen.
From the number of prisoners captured and from the fact that it was soonest reinforced, it would appear that our blow fell most heavily upon the 1st Guard Regiment, for by the late afternoon of the 26th our left, south of Eclisfontaine, was encountering elements of two new regiments (20th Infantry and 3rd Grenadier) of the 5th Guard Division.
During the fighting of the 26th and 28th, while we were forcing our way up to and through the woods defending the rear of the Volker Stellung, the battle order of the enemy was much confused. We took prisoners from the original front-line regiments, the reinforcing 5th Guard Division, and also men from a new unit, the 212th Reserve Regiment, 45th Reserve Division (September 27, Eclisfontaine). It is obvious that the enemy was not sure of the line-up of his own troops, reserves having been thrown in here and there and having become mixed with groups of the original defenders. It. is equally certain, however, that during these two days he took advantage of our partial check to reorganize, to draw together again the scattered parts of his various regiments, and to present again on September 29 a more orderly line. This was done by withdrawing the entirely exhausted 1st Guard and 117th Divisions, and by moving to the west the 5th Guard and 45th Reserve Divisions. A new line, along our front at least, was based on the Kriemhilde Stellung and its forward zone was taken over by fresh troops, the 243rd Regiment of the 53rd Reserve Division and the 173rd Regiment of the 115th Division.
Our attack of September 29 netted us prisoners from these two units; we found that they had both been brought in hastily during the two preceding days, the former from Buzancy (where it had been in process of dissolution). and the latter from Etain, east of the Meuse, via Dun. Renewed American pressure on September 29 and the shrinkage of effectives forced a still further strengthening of the line, and another new division, the 52nd, appeared during the night of the 29th-30th. It appears from statements of prisoners of this division that some of its elements entered a gap and did not relieve other troops.
During the period of inaction which the 91st was forced to undergo from September 30 to October 3, the enemy was enabled to organize his badly strained front beyond Gesnes and in the Bois de la Morine. Each night our patrols heard sounds of digging along the hostile outposts and each day air reports indicated new emplacements and deepened trenches. When the 91st was finally relieved, there were in line opposite its general front the 173rd and 171st Regiments of the 115th Division and the 170th Regiment of the 52nd Division.
In addition to the above major units, prisoners were taken from the following attached and subsidiary groups:
233rd Pioneer Company-attached to 117th Division.
Landstrum Battalion, “Reutlingen”-attached to 117th Division.
Landstrum Battalion, “Gottingen” – attached to 117th Division.
1st Guard F. A. Regiment – attached to 1st Guard Division.
Foot Artillery Battery No. 88 – attached to 1st Guard Division.
Foot Artillery Battery No. 964- attached to 1st Guard Division.
Landwehr Foot Artillery Battalion No. 54–corps artillery.
Schallmess Truppe No. 57-sound and flash ranging.
Sachrichten Abteilung No. 9–signal-liaison detachments.
Starkstrohm Co. No. 128 — electric power company.
Wirtschaft Co. No. 163–commissary troops.
Armierung Battalion No. 185-ordnance troops.
Feldbahnbetrief Abteilung-narrow-gauge railway troops.
The total of prisoners passed through the 91st Division cage was 11 officers and 2,360 men. This summary does not include captures made by the 181st Infantry Brigade during its second participation, as those prisoners passed through the cages of the 1st and 32nd Divisions.
The following are the approximate quantities of hostile material taken by the 91st Division during the Meuse-Argonne:
REPLACEMENTS RECEIVED – IN FLANDERS – WELCOMED BY KING ALBERT – DISPOSITIONS FOR ATTACK – TERRAIN EAST OF LYS
ON arrival at the Nettancourt area (Division Headquarters at Contrisson) 7 officers and about 4,000 men from the 85th Division joined as replacements. These men had been exposed to influenza and many were suffering from the disease. The medical officers advised that they be cared for in separate towns in the billeting area in order to prevent spread of the disease throughout the Division. It was necessary to detail Lieut. Colonel A. D. Cummings, and a number of second lieutenants recently appointed from the corps schools, besides other officers of the Division, to care for these 4,000 new men. Although they were assigned on paper to various units, they were not permitted to join, excepting those for the 182nd Infantry Brigade. Orders were received permitting certain men to go to leave areas. Winter underwear was issued to the 182nd Brigade and the replacements. One detachment of 250 men for leave area had left by train on the morning of October 15, and some officers and men, hearing that the division was in the neighborhood, escaped from hospitals and rejoined, believing themselves sufficiently recovered from wounds and anxious to avoid being evacuated farther to the rear. Some additional equipment was received, but the wants of the 181st Infantry Brigade could not be ascertained as they were still three days’ march from Contrisson. At noon, October 15, orders by telephone were received from Headquarters, First Army, directing the Division to move by rail to Belgium, entraining at three points, including Revigny, the following day. The same orders indicated that the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade which had been fighting in the Meuse-Argonise with the 28th Division, was to move independently by rail, joining the Division in Belgium. The Ammunition Train of the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade was to remain with the First Army Corps and a portion of the Motor Transportation of the 91st Division was to be sent to join the First Corps. One company of the 316th Ammunition Train was left with this motor transportation on under orders to join the First American Army.
On the evening of October 16 the 182nd Brigade began to entrain. The movement was in charge of the French Army, and trains were furnished so promptly that the 181st Infantry Brigade was obliged to entrain before issuing clothing. Motor transportation of the Division moved under its own power. No one in the Division was informed of the route to be followed, or as to the point of destination, except that Dunkerque was to be the regulating station for the Division after arrival in Belgium. The Division Commander and Division Staff left for Belgium October 17. Each Brigade and Regimental Commander, with staff, followed by motor transportation as soon the elements of his command had been entrained. As it was necessary for officers proceeding by motor transportation to follow the trains through various regulating stations, it required two days for any automobile to reach Dunkerque in order to ascertain where the Division was to be detrained.
Of the four thousand replacements received from the 85th Division it was necessary to leave five hundred in hospital at Revigny. Several officers and men, in addition, had become so sick from exposure that they were left in hospital. The replacements who had not yet joined the 181st Brigade followed on additional trains to overtake the Division in Belgium.
The Division left the area of the First Army with less than 15,000 of its own men and about 3,500 replacements. Its Field Artillery Brigade and five companies Ammunition Train had not yet joined. Two companies, “A” and “C,” of the Ammunition Train had been with the Division in the Meuse-Argonne, but only Company “C” accompanied the Division to Belgium. The Division detrained at four detraining points and was bivouacked the 18th and 19th of October in the devastated district about Ypres. On arrival, the 91st had been placed at the disposition of H. M. the King of the Belgians, commanding the Group of Armies in Flanders. This army was made up of Belgian, French and British troops, the French Army of Belgium being now reinforced by two American divisions, the 37th and the 91st.
The advance echelon from Division Headquarters readied Dunkerque on October 18 and 19. As the latest information of the destination of various trains had been obtained at the mouth of the Somme River on the 18th at the vicinity of Ypres, and as it was learned at Dunkerque that Headquarters of the Group of Armies in Flanders was at a small village on the Belgian coast east of Dunkerque, the Division Commander reported at that headquarters on the morning of October 19 to Major General J. M. J. de Goutte, then acting as Chief of Staff of the Group of Armies under the command of the King of the Belgians, from whom it was learned that, in a day or two, the 91st Division with 53rd Field Artillery Brigade attached would be attached to the French Army of Belgium, under Major General de Boissoudy. It was also learned that the Belgian Army, consisting of about 100,000 men, was on the left of the group, the French Army of Belgium in the center and the Second British Army on the right.
The French Army of Belgium consisted of three corps, in line from north to south as follows: Thirty-fourth Corps; Thirtieth Corps, Seventh Corps. Each French corps consisted of three French divisions. The 37th Division was later to be assigned to the Thirtieth French Corps. and the 91st Division to the Seventh French Corps.
In the afternoon the Division Commander and staff found that twenty-four trainloads of the 91st Division had already been detrained, regardless of regiment and brigade, at four points in the neighborhood of Ypres. Neither of these detraining points was in the vicinity of any houses. The only shelter from the weather was afforded by dugouts and elephant houses formerly occupied by the British during their long defense of the Ypres sector. As brigade and regimental commanders had not yet reached the vicinity of Ypres, as they were moving by automobiles, the only method of assembling the Division was to direct every battalion and company to march to the vicinity of Roulers, as General de Goutte had given the Division Commander permission to occupy all available billets in the area just west of Roulers, within a very few miles of where the French were fighting. Accordingly orders were issued October 19 for every unit to move over certain roads one of which passed over the noted Paschendaele Ridge captured early in the war by Canadian troops. Throughout the march of ten to twenty miles for the various units there were no buildings standing; locations of former towns were marked by sign-boards placed by the British, the English signs being very welcome to our troops.
By evening of October 20 all units of the 91st Division, excepting the motor truck trains, had reached places where they could bivouac just west of Roulers. Very few houses could be occupied and most of the officers and men slept on the ground under shelter tents. The ground on which these camps could be established had not yet been relieved of the dead French and Germans. One of the first duties of the 91st was to bury the dead.
October 20 the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade, which had entrained near Clermont, south of the Meuse-Argonne, arrived at the detraining point on the battlefield of Ypres. Elements of that brigade moved to the vicinity of Sleyhaege and Vergelderhock on October 21.
Division Headquarters had been established October 20 in one of the very few buildings in Oostnieuwkerke. The railhead was still St.-Jean d’Ypres. The remainder of the casuals, under Lieut. Colonel A. D. Cummings, joined October 20 and 21, 1918, and were then for the first time assigned to organizations of the 181st Brigade and other Division units.
October 21, Brigadier General V. A. Caldwell joined the Division under orders assigning him to the 182nd Brigade. On October 22 Colonel H. J. Brees was relieved as Chief of Staff of the Division and succeeded by Colonel H. C. Jewett. Colonel Brees was shortly afterward detailed as Chief of Staff, Seventh Army Corps. On October 23, Colonel F. W. Coleman, Assistant Chief of Staff (G-1), was relieved by orders from Headquarters, A. E. F., to proceed to the United States.
October 22 the Division Commander sent forward officers of the 316th Engineers to teconnoiter the roads east of Roulers over which the 91st Division would soon march to relieve certain French units. One lieutenant on a motorcycle riding along a plain Beiglin highway, failing to observe the French line of surveillance, drove with the motorcade into No-man’s-land, where he halted to examine his map. He was fired on from short range by the Germans, wounded, and his motorcyclist killed.
Service in Belgium was different from that in France Advanang in France, American troops encountered few French citizens, most of the population having been driven back before the Germans retreated. In Flanders, however, large numbers of Belgians remained in their homes, even in the zone of operations. They fled to their cellars when firing occurred, but they were apparently so used to warfare that they did not care to move when the Germans evacuated their villages or farms.
On October 25 the Division was moved to an area south of Roulers with Headquarters at Chateau-Rumbeke. Here King Albert of the Belgians called on October 26 to express his welcome to the Americans. Major General de Goutte called the same day, and on the following night the Division Commander and Chief of Staff were invited to call at a chateau near Bruges occupied by the King of the Belgians as his headquarters.
Meanwhile, each organization was training replacements, issuing clothing and renewing ammunition supplies. A field hospital had been established in Roulers in a convent which the German officers had used as an officers’ club. All the wood on the third, fourth and fifth stories had been removed, apparently for fuel. On the first and second floors, however, 500 men of 91st Division were cared for by a field hospital company, of them afterward being able to join the Division in time for “jump-off.
“On October 27, the Division having been attached to the French Army of Belgium (Headquarters, Roulers) and there-after attached to the Seventh French Corps (Headquarters, Roulers), and there after attached to the Seventh French Corps (Headquarters, Iseghem), orders were issued at Division Headquarters moving the infantry brigades to cities west of Iseghem, and the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade behind the infantry. Division Headquarters was established at Chateau-Iseghem.
On October 29 orders were received from Major General Massenet, commanding the Seventh French Corps, to relieve the 164th Division (French), then near the Lys River, by sending one battalion of infantry that night to relieve the leading units of the French, and by sending field artillery forward to the Lys River with orders for their officers to reconnoiter the ground west of the front of the French Army in order to, locate positions for the artillery. On, October 30 the remaining units of the 91st Division moved to a position assigned by the French Corps Commander at Desselghem just east of the Lys River.
From October 27, German planes raided the area occupied the Division, and hostile artillery as well as Allied artillery could be heard day and night a few miles to our east. No casualties were suffered from either. The proximity of the enemy, indicated by these raids, had a tonic effect upon the Division, and its morale was of the highest when its units moved up into the attack positions October 30. It was very short of company officers, most companies of infantry having not more than two officers per company, although sixty second lieutenants recently commissioned after graduation from corps schools had joined the Division after it left the Meuse-Argonne. Between October 19 and 20 a large number of men and some officers who had been wounded in the Meuse-Argonne were either forwarded by orders to Dunkerque by rail or escaped from hospitals in rear of the Argonne and reached Dunkerque. These were re-equipped, forwarded by rail to Roulers, and thence by motor truck or on foot rejoined their regiments. Before the armistice, at least one thousand members of the Division formerly sick or wounded in hospitals had reached organizations.
The “French Army of Belgium,” read the field orders of the 30th of October, “will attack the enemy and drive him east of the Scheldt River.”
It was to participate in this offensive that the 91st Division had been brought from the Argonne. The Division was in line by midnight of the 30th of October, relieving the 164th French Division.
Belgian forces held the sector to the north of the French Army of Belgium and British to the south thereof. The order of battle of the French Army of Belgium, October 30, 1918, from north to south, was as follows: Thirty-fourth Corps, Thirtieth Corps, Seventh Corps. After the 164th French Division had been relieved by the 91st, the Seventh Corps front was held by the 128th Division (French), 91st Division (American), with Escadrille 72 and Ballon 73 attached, and 41st Division (French), in the order named, from left to right, the 91st Division holding a front of about four kilometers, extending from Waereghem (inclusive) to Steenbrugge (exclusive). The 164th Division (French) after relief by the 91st Division was placed in second line at the disposition of the King. Brigadier General Gaucher of that division remained with the 91st Division.
The Seventh Corps was directed to attack on the front between Warande and Heirweg, both inclusive. The 91st was directed to attack at “H” hour, October 31, on the front Waereghem (inclusive) to Steenbrugge (exclusive). The direction of the attack carried the 91st Division north of, through and south of a series of low hills on which there were nurseries and farms but which, according to most of the maps, consisted of a wood called Spitaals Bosschen, thence inclining slightly to the south toward the Scheldt River and the direction of Kleihoek-Audenarde. The zone of action of the 128th French Division on the north and the 41st Division on the south was so shaped that before arrival at the Scheldt (Escaut) River their zones disappeared, the 91st Division reaching the Scheldt River next to the 37th Division (American).
The plan of encounter involved encircling Spitaals Bosschen from the north and continuing the attack in the direction of Audendarde, the final objective.
First Objective: High ground north and south through Stuivenberghe.
Second Objective: Heights of Waalem and Kleihoek.
Final Objective: Scheldt River, north and south of Audenarde.
The Division Commander assigned to the 182nd Brigade zone of action from the southern limit of the 128th French Brigade to include the southern edge of Spitaals Bosschen, Stuivenberghe and Audenarde (exclusive). The 181 Brigade was assigned zone of action from the southern edge of Spitaals Booschen and thence to the Scheldt River south of Audenarde. A separate detachment, consisting of one battalion, 364th Infantry, and two machine gun companies, 182nd Brigade, was detailed to mop up Spitaals Bosschen under command of Major William A. Aird, 348th Machine Gun Battalion.
The 363rd Infantry, having been designated by the Brigade Commander, was to attack north of Spitaals Bosschen in column of battalions. The 364th Infantry less one battalion, the 346th Machine Gun Battalion and the 316th Engineers less two companies, under command of Colonel L. C. Bennett, 364th Infantry were designated as Division reserve. On the south of Spitaals Bosschen the Brigade Commander designated the 362nd Infantry, two battalions in front line followed by the remainder in support for the attack. The 361st Infantry following as reserve.
To the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade, under Brigadier General W. G. Price, were attached the 59th and 264th French Field Artillery Regiments. One platoon of field artillery was placed on each front-line battalion of infantry. After passing the first objective (east of Spitaals Bosschen), one regiment of field artillery was placed at the disposal of each Brigade Commander.
Each Infantry Brigade Commander detailed one company of infantry and one machine gun platoon on the second-line battalion of his organization to maintain combat liaison with the 128th and 48th French Divisions on the right and left, respectively.
While taking these positions on the night of October 30-31, the area occupied by the Division was subjected to heavy bombardment by hostile artillery. Casualties suffered were mainly in the Division reserve (364th Infantry).
Spitaals Bosschen, a wood of thin and scanty growth of approximately 1,500 meters in diameter, extends across the central part of the Division zone of action, the western edge of which was within 500 meters of the “jumping-off” line of the the Division. The terrain to the west of the second objective is rolling and sparsely wooded. To the east of this point the terrain is comparatively open, in general slopes toward the Scheldt River, and is in most part visible from the heights southeast of Audenarde. Intensively cultivated fields, numerous farmhouses and small hamlets, together with several villages of considerable size, all offered favorable positions for the enemy to place machine guns in concealment. Many civilians remained in the sector during the action and took refuge in cellars and dugouts. As these included men, it was difficult to distinguish them from Germans.
The first objective passed north and south through the heights of Stuivenherghe, immediately east of the Spitaa1s Bosschen. The heights of Waalen and Kleihoek, about five kilometers east of the “jumping-off” line, formed the second objective, while the final objective was the Scheldt River. The dividing line between the brigade zones of action followed the southern edge of Spitaals Bosschen and thence in a generally southeastern direction to the northern outskirts of Audenarde.
ACCOUNT OF THE FOUR DAYS’ FIGHTING, OCTOBER 31 TO NOVEMBER 3, 1918 — SECOND PARTICIPATION YPRES-LYS NOVEMBER 9-11 — CASULATIES — PRISONERS AND MATERIEL CAPTURED — HOSTILE UNITS — COMMENDATIONS.
The 53rd Field Artillery Brigade, to which had been attached the 59th and 264th French Artillery Regiments, supported the division in its attack at 5:30 a.m. this day. It was arranged in four groups; One under Lieut. Colonel Dellaleau, French artillery, composed of five batteries of 75’s, at disposition of 182nd Infantry Brigade on the north; one of four batteries of 75’s supporting the 181st Infantry Bridge on the south; Lieut. Colonel Marty commanded Group “C,” six batteries of 75’s under the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade, stationed near Desselghen, Division Headquaters; the fourth group, “D,” under Colonel E. St. J. Greble, consisting of the 108th Field Artillery (heavy), was also at Desselghen, under the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade. One platoon of 75’s was attached to each infantry first-line battalion as “accompanying guns.” All the artillery prepared the attack by firing on all sensitive points at 5:25 a.m. After “H” hour, which was 5:30 a.m., Groups “A” and “B” were to protect the advance of their respective infantry brigades by a rolling barrage, beginning 300 meters in front of the leading infantry elements. Rate of advance, 100 meters each four minutes. One battalion of the 108th Field Artillery and one battalion of the 59th (French) were used in connection with aerial observers for firing at long range on temporary targets. A smoke screen was laid along the north and south sides of Spitaals Bosschen, and it was contemplated by the Corps Commander that the two infantry brigades, advancing one north and one south of this strong position would isolate the Germans then defending it, and by the time they had reached the eastern extremity of Spitaals Bosschen, which was estimated to be one hour and forty minutes, the mopping-up detail under Major Aird would have little trouble in making prisoners of all left on those hills.
As the leading battalions (two of the 362nd on the south and one of the 363rd on the north of Spittals Boschen) jumped off from their positions west of the Waereghem-Steenbrugge road at 5:30 a.m., they were met by heavy machine gun fire, both from their fronts and from concealed positions in Spitalls Bosschen. The leading battalion of the 363rd Infancy was able to make more and more rapid progress than the leading line of the 362nd. This was due to fire from a strong German position near Chateau-Anseghem in the zone of the 41st French Division. Artillery and machine guns from the hill Anseghem were fired accurately from the right along the flank of the front line of the 362nd, while machine guns from Spitaals Bosschen were fired along the front line from the left. As a result, by 9:30 o’clock the leading battalion of the 363rd had advanced 3,000 yards, while the leading battalion of the 362nd had advanced 3,000 yards while the leading battalion of the 362nd had advanced only 1,000. The mopping up detachment moved forward at the appointed time, 6:50 o’clock. Instead of finding German troops and material available for capture, it met very strong resistance as soon as it reached the Waereghem-Steenbrugge road and by 9:30 had progressed only 500 yards. This detachment was then reinforced by one battalion of the 364th Infantry from the Division reserve and by the 37 mm guns of the 364th Infantry and by two batteries of 75’s. The leading battalion of the 363rd Infantry had almost reached the first objective, while the 362nd was still suffering heavy losses from Germans in front of the 41st Division. Later in the afternoon the 362nd forced an advance with considerable losses until it reahced the eastern extremity of Spitaals Bosschen. It was necessary to order the Brigade Commander to withdrawn his right flank and entrench for the night with his left near the southeast corner of Spitaals Bosschen and his right flank near Steenbrugge. At that time, the 41st Division held its left flank near Steenbrugge and its right flank west of the hill Anseghem, which was still held by the Germans. The mopping-up detachment, after severe fighting, forced its way through Spitaals Bosschen was able to occupy the eastern edge thereof by 18 o’clock. At that hour the 182nd Brigade had pushed forward in advance of the first objective and occupied a line from the vicinity of Nokere, which was occupied by the 128th French Division to the northeast corner of Spitaals. Bosschen, including thus the hill on which was the Chateau-Stuivenberghe. It was learned during the day that a portion of the British 2nd Army south of the 41st French Division bad forced its way southeast and east of the hill Anseghem, advancing along the road Courtrai-Audenarde. Although casualties had been heavy, especially in, company officers, the troops maneuvered with better liaison and under greater control by their leaders than during the Meuse-Argonne, showing the benefit of the experience they had gained in France. The evacuation of wounded was reported by all unit commanders as perfect. Before the Division advanced to participate with the French Army of Belgium, forty-one American ambulances bad been driven by a part of our Sanitary Train from Marseilles, thus replacing the small Ford ambulances which had been assigned to the Division during the Meuse-Argonne. In addition to evacuation of our own wounded, our Sanitary Train evacuated to our field hospitals many French wounded and several Belgian citizens wounded because they remained on their farms as we drove the Germans toward the Scheldt.
The 72nd Aero Squadron (French) rendered excellent service in furnishing the Division Commander information of the location of units and location of targets for our artillery. The French officer at Division Headquarters frequently called up the commander of this squadron ordering a reconnaissance to the front, and usually within forty minutes a message was dropped at Division Headquarters showing the advance units or giving information of hostile targets.
There were attached also to the Division twenty-five men of the French cavalry. They were utilized as mounted couriers stationed with Brigade and Division Headquarters. It was necessary also to order some of them to watch the Flemish windmills, as the Corps Commander reported some of these were used by Flemish citizens to communicate with the Germans.
Detachments of military police were on duty with each Brigade Headquarters to be used for conducting prisoners to the rear.
Signal corps lines were well maintained in spite of heavy bombardment, and communication between Division and Corps Headquarters, and between the Division and Brigade Headquarters, was never better.
When the Division joined the French Army of Belgium, permission was given to march during the day and graze animals also during the day. The French Commanders stated that German planes would think we were British as the color of the uniform was similar. This plan saved the animals of the Division from unnecessary fatigue, and they soon improved in condition. As an evidence that the movement of our units and trains did not give information to the enemy of the presence of a large American force, Lieutenant John H. Smith, 107th Field Artillery, while endeavoring to establish a forward observation post near Spitaals Bosschen, October 30, was shot by a sniper and reported killed, by the sergeant who had been with him. On October 31, a German prisoner reported that no knowledge had reached them of the presence of Americans until an American artillery officer had been brought to a dressing station wounded the day before. Lieutenant Smith was later found in a hospital in Antwerp.
Second Day, November 1
In compliance with orders received from the Seventh Corps, Division orders were issued about midnight that the 128th French Division on our north, instead of falling back into the reserve as originally planned, would continue its attack, on our left, in the direction of Eyne. The 91st Division would resume its attack at 6:30 o’clock. The northern boundary of the 91st Division zone was somewhat changed. We moved south toward the railroad fork one kilometer north of Audenarde. Since the 41st French Division had failed to reduce the strong German position on the hill Anseghem, it was impracticable to cause the 362nd to move any farther. It was therefore ordered that the 361st Infantry moved through the Spitaals Bosschen behind the mopping-up detachment of October 31, passing around the left flank fo the 362nd lines to the eastern edge of Spitaals Bosschen, where it would deploy with two battalions in the front line in time to move from the woods at 6:30. The 363rd Infantry, being already at the first objective, was to incline to the south so as to cover the entire front of Spitaals Bosschen and gain contact with the 181st Brigade. The remainder of the 364th Infantry was ordered to join the two battalions which had cleaned up Spitaals Bosschen and become the Division reserve. The 37-mm. guns of each front-line regiment and one platoon of field artillery were ordered to accompany each leading battalion. A rolling barrage from the 59th and 264th French Artillery was ordered placed in front of the leading lines 300 yards at the rate of 100 yards in four minutes.
The 361st Infantry was delayed somewhat by its long march around the left flank of the leading regiment and did not emerge from Spitaals Bosschen until 8 o’clock at which time it was one kilometer behind the right flank of the 363rd which was advancing in column of battalions.
Flemish citizens reported that hostile artillery near Chateau-Stuivenberghe had been withdrawn at noon the day before and machine guns at 4 o’clock that morning Division Headquarters ordered the 182nd Brigade P C to Oycke at 10:50 o’clock, the brigade to occupy line of resistance running from Oycke to Wortegem, with a line of surveillance farther east, and that only patrols should advance as far as the Scheldt River. These instructions were due to orders from the Corps Commander that the 91st Division would not advance all of its forces into the valley of the Scheldt that day. As soon as the 361st emerged from the Spitaals Bosschen it inclined. to the right, covered the southern half of the Division sector and advanced rapidly, endeavoring to get touch with the 363rd Infantry of the other brigade. This touch was gained by 10 o’clock. Very little resistance from machine guns was encountered, but both brigade lines were shelled heavily by hostile artillery from the hills west of the Scheldt opposite Audenarde. The 181st Brigade Headquarters moved to Wortegem at noon. As with the other brigade, instructions were sent not to move the entire brigade down to the river, but to occupy a line of resistance on the high ground overlooking Audenarde, sending battalions forward to reconnoiter the situation. It was learned that the Germans had destroyed bridges over the three canals which the Scheldt River forms around and through Audenarde. The falling of these bridges into the canals of the Scheldt had caused a flood of the western bank of the Scheldt, so that it seemed to be impracticable to move to the Scheldt, and throw pontoon bridges until a point near Eyne, considerably down the stream northeast of Audenarde, was reached. This was outside the area of the 91st Division. The 181st Brigade occupied Bevere by 4 o’clock, November 1, sending scouts across the first canal and reconnoitering the city of Audenarde, in which were many machine guns firing from the houses. During this advance Colonel W. D. Davis, 361st Infantry, and Captain Hughes, commanding the leading battalion of the 361st, were killed by shrapnel near the village of Mooreghem on the line of ‘observation which had been ordered occupied by the Corps ‘Commander. Colonel A. D. Cummings, who had been promoted just after the Meuse-Argonne and attached to the 361st, assumed command of the regiment. Some troops, having reached the vicinity of the Scheldt on the flooded area, occupied the outskirts of the city of Audenarde. One company of the 361st had crossed the first canal, where a platoon of engineers was constructing a bridge. The country was open and German artillery from the hill of Fort Kezel, southeast of Audenarde and across the Scheldt, shelled the entire area throughout the afternoon.
During the night Captain Leavell, 316th Engineers, attached to the 181st Brigade Headquarters, with a small detachment, penetrated farther into Audenarde, making reconnaissance of all the bridges which had been destroyed, returning to Brigade Headquarters by daylight. Division P. C. was moved to Chateau-Stuivenberghe at 4 o’clock.
THIRD DAY, NOVEMBER 2.
During the night of November 1-2 the 41st Division (French), which had been able to advance over Anseghem hill as soon as the 91st Division appeared east of that hill had pushed forward to the river south of the area of the 91st and attempted a crossing on rafts. They were driven back. In a similar manner, the 128th French Division, north of the 91st, attempted to push a detachment across the river near Eyne. They too were unsuccessful. One battalion, 361st Infantry, with machine gun company attached, moved from street to street searching the houses and captured many German prisoners and some snipers and machine guns in the second stories of houses. Machine guns were placed covering the destroyed bridges, but it was not until night that the entire city of Audenarde had been patrolled. During this morning Captain Leavell, with a detachment of the 316th Engineers, made another reconnaissance before daylight to ascertain the most feasible point for construction of a bridge. He encountered a large detachment of Germans emerging from a cellar near the Cathedral. Firing on them and killing five, he captured a Belgian citizen who was attempting to guide these Germans out of the city without being captured. He was awarded the D. S. C. [Distinguished Service Cross] for this feat.
Information having been received that in the area of the 37th Division, where the ground was higher and the branches of the Scheldt united into one canal, troops of that division had been able to cross on fallen trees and light footbridges to the east bank of the Scheldt, message was sent to the Commanding General, 37th Division,. asking permission to push a detachment across the Scheldt in his area. The 364th Infantry, with one company of engineers, then at the eastern edge of Spitaals Bosschen as reserve, was designated for this flank movement and ordered to move at once to the west bank of the Scheldt between Eyne and Heurne. The 348th Machine Gun Battalion, less two companies, was stationed along the railroad northeast of Bevere to cover the advance of the 364th Infantry along the east bank toward Mount Kezel after effecting its crossing. The 181st Brigade was directed to occupy Audenarde with a strong detachment, making demonstration of purpose to cross machine gun fire at all the broken bridges, and be ready to cross to support the attack of the 364th from the northeast. Artillery was prepared to lay a barrage south of the 364th Infantry after its crossing and as it proceeded toward Mount Kezel.
FOURTH DAY, NOVEMBER 3
So much time was required to receive permission from the 37th Division to make this movement through that area that orders did not reach the 364th until midnight. The march was then taken up by the regiment. Instead of effecting its crossing before daylight, it merely reached the banks of the Scheldt between Eyne and Heurne about daylight November 3. The Regimental Commander, believing that the secrecy of the movement would be betrayed by throwing bridges after daylight, and being already attacked by German airplanes on the bank of the Scheldt, concealed his regiment as far as practicable and sent report back to Division Headquarters that he believed he could effect the movement better by remaining there throughout the day and crossing after dark that evening. Before this message reached Division Headquarters at Chateau-Stuivenberghe orders were received from the Seventh Corps Headquarters that, because other corps to the north were not yet ready to cross the line of the Scheldt, further advance would be suspended, the 9lst Division withdrawn to billets west of the Spitaals Bosschen, and the 41st Division, by extending its front toward its left, would cover the front then occupied by the 91st Division, namely, the city of Audenarde and the line of the river as far as Eyne. The relief by the 41st Division was to take effect during the night of November 3 – 4.
The commanding officer, 364th Infantry, was directed to remain concealed near the river until dark and then to withdraw to the billeting area assigned. Some elements in the rear were ordered to withdraw by daylight, the Division P. C. being established at Oostroosboke by 12 o’clock, November 4. The detachment of the 37th Division which had crossed the Scheldt River and established a bridgehead was also withdrawn and that division sent back to billets.
It was never quite understood by the American divisions why the crossing of the Scheldt having been accomplished by a small detachment of the 37th Division, and the crossing by the 364th Infantry and 361st Infantry being probable before daylight November 4, the advance of the Army should be held any longer. The 91st Division believed that the fighting up to that point had been only preliminary and that the real fight would come on forcing the Scheldt River. There was probably some good reason why the French Army of Belgium or the Group of Armies in Flanders did not wish to press the advance at that date. The Division fell back to the billets assigned, remaining in those billets from the afternoon of the 4th until the 8th, renewing ammunition and rations, giving the men baths in certain delousing establishments formerly used by the Germans and preparing for further attack.
Meanwhile, on the 6th, orders were received from the French Army of Belgium detaching the 91st Division from the Seventh Army Corps and placing it at the disposal of the Commanding General, Thirtieth Army Corps (French), under Major General Penet. On November 7 Major General Massent to the Division Commander a special order commending the service of the Division, which was published to the command, expressed as follows:
SEVENTH FRENCH CORPS STAFF
Transported from the Argonne to Flanders, the 91st American Division has again been thrown into the battle, a few hours after its arrival.
Under the energetic influence of its Commander, Major General Johnston, the 91st American Division reached all its objectives on the 31st October and 1st November, with remarkable dash and energy.
In spite of the determined resistance of the enemy, in spite of the artillery and machine gun fire which opposed them, the troops of the 91st American Division captured Spitaals Bosschen by a clever flanking movement, reached the Scheldt, and penetrated into the town of Audenarde, from now onwards delivered from the yoke of the invader.
The General Officer commanding the Seventh French Corps heartily congratulates General Johnston, and the officers and men of his division, on the excellent results obtained.
When, in a few days’ time, the battle for the passage of the Scheldt takes place, the 91st American Division will be called upon to furnish a further effort.
The brilliant way in which this division has just fought is a sure guarantee that it will gather fresh laurels during the next operations.
Hdqrs., 4th November, 1918
Commanding General, Seventh Corps.
After the Division Commander had conferred with Brigadier General Bablon, commanding the 41st Division (French), instructions were issued for the gradual approach of the 91st Division to relieve the 41st Division in the new front assigned the Thirtieth French Corps. The 91st Division front was to include Audenarde to the railroad junction about one kilometer northeast of Bevere. The 361st Infantry was sent forward to relieve the 128th French Infantry. The command of the sector passed to the 91st Division November 10 at 20 o’clock. We had later field orders from the Thirtieth French Corps, dated November 9, directing the 91st Division to relieve also the 12th French Division from railroad junction one kilometer northeast of Bevere of Eyne. The commanding officers, 364th Infantry, went to Chateau-Cruyshautem, to confer with the Commanding General, 12th Division.
Orders for the new movement announced that the French Army of Belgium would effect a crossing of the Scheldt and push energetically forward to occupy the plateau between the Scheldt and the Dendre. The Thirtieth Corps was to attack on the front between Heurne was to be on the left and the 41st French on our right.
Orders for the new movement announced that the French Army of Belgium would effect a crossing of the Scheldt and push energetically forward to occupy the plateau between the Scheldt and the Dendre. The Thirtieth Corps was to attack on the front betweeen Heurne and Audendarde, both inclusive.
The 132nd French Division was to be on the left and the 41st French on our right.
The 182nd Brigade, occupying the left half of the 91st Division sector, was to attack in line of regiments, the 364th on the left two battalions in front; one battalion of the 363rd was designated as Division reserve.
The 181st Brigade was to attack in column of regiments, the 362nd following the 361st. Division engineers were to throw two footbridges over the Scheldt for each front-line battalion. One platoon of light artillery was placed at the disposal of each front-line battalion. The Division reserve, consisting of the 346th Machine Gun Battalion and one battalion of 363rd Infantry, were to stand in readiness near Oycke. Division Headquarters was to open at Chateau-Nokere at noon, at November 10.
After these dispositions had been effected, and while troops were marching thereto late in the afternoon of November 9, information was received that the enemy had commenced to retire from the east of the Scheldt, and that detachments with small groups of the 41st and the 12th French Division had gained possession of the eastern bank of the river. Operations Orders No. 62 Thirtieth Army Corps Headquarters, directed the 12th and 41st Divisions to continue the pursuit; that only one brigade of the 91st Division would pass through the French elements east of the river as soon as they met opposition, and thereafter pursue and maintain contact with the enemy. The remainder of the Division was to remain in position west of the river. To carry out this order the 182nd Brigade was ordered to cross the river at 6:30 o’clock, November 10, supported by one regiment of light field artillery. Thus the crossing of the river was effected about twelve hours earlier than the original plan. Foot troops of the 182nd Brigade crossed the Scheldt at Audenarde over improvised bridges constructed by the 316th Engineers. The animals of the machine gun battalion accompanying crossed the river by swimming. The 109th Field Artillery crossed near Eyne and took up a to support the advance of the 182nd Brigade. The French elements, 41st Division, continued in front of the 182nd Brigade, although they were to be relieved at Audenarde. It was later learned that the instructions were that the French would continue until resistance was met, at which time the American troops would pass through the French and take up the advance. It was not until the evening of the l0th that the Commanding General, 41st French Division, having about that time met some resistance, was willing to permit the 182nd Brigade to pass through his lines and occupy the sector. Very few casualties were suffered this day. In the afternoon Division Headquarters advanced to Audenarde. One battalion 107th Field Artillery crossed the Scheldt at Audenarde over bridges constructed by the engineers. By night the leading elements of the 91st had relieved the 41st French and occupied a line in touch with the Germans running through Noorebeck-Ste. Marie. Orders were issued, and the Division prepared to attack at daylight November 11. However, during the night the following message was received from the Commanding General, Thirtieth French Corps: The G. A. F. telephone thus. On account of delay in delivery of ammunition, operations foreseen for this morning, November 11, will be postponed until further notice. No action will take place the morning of the 11th.
Later, about 8:30 o’clock, message by telephone to the French liaison officer directed that the 91st Division make no offensive this morning. Troops were informed that by orders from Marshal Foch hostilities would cease along the front at 11; the line of outposts reached at that hour would be held.
All communication with the enemy was forbidden.
Later, orders were issued from the Thirtieth Army Corps permitting an advance until 11 o’clock “provided no opposition was encountered.” It was impracticable at that hour to reach the elements of the command which had been ordered to establish the outpost line, and occupy billets, in time for formations to be resuxtied for any attack by 11 o’clock. The line held at that hour (11 o’clock) extended from the heights north of Boucle St. Blaise to the heights east of Benteveld. It was about one kilometer west of the Roosebeke bridge, from which the last hostile fire had been received the night before.
During its engagements in the Ypres-Lys offensive the total casualties suffered by the 91st Division were:
– Officers Men Total Killed 14 201 215 Wounded 40 674 714 Killed and Wounded 54 875 929
These do not include casualties in the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade, nor the two French artillery regiments, Escadrille 72 and Observation Balloon 73, which were attached for duty with the Division during the Ypres-Lys.Only 41 prisoners were captured, of whom one was a commissioned officer.
Artillery 150-mm 1 Artillery 75-mm 1 Machine Guns 26 Rifles 23 Ammunition several thousand Motor Truck 1
On November 2 the French Army and Corps Commanders visited Division P. C. at Chateau — Stuivenberghe and asked if the Division Commander was not discouraged by his heavy losses. They were told that the losses thus far were far less in proportion that the Division had suffered in the Meuse-Argonne; that the morale of officers and men was excellent, and the Division had just struck its gait. The losses of the American divisions were heavier than the French. This may be ascribed to the greater strength of the American divisions, as well as to the fact that they fought boldly in the open and advanced much more rapidly than the French.
It was with much regret that the Division received orders November 3 to withdraw just after its preparations for crossing the Scheldt had been completed. There were evidently other reasons why the general advance was not desirable at that time.
HOSTILE UNITS IN FRONT OF THE 91ST DIVISION
October 31-November 11, 1918:
At the time of the attack of October 31 the following enemy units were in line opposite our front (north to south):
98th Regiment, 207th Division
209th Reserve Regiment
228th Reserve Regiment
49th Reserve Division
225th Reserve Regiment
49th Reserve Division.
During the fighting of October 31 and November 1, prisoners were taken from all these units, as well as from the following artillery regiments:
75th Foot Artillery
49th Foot Artillery
On November 1 (night) the 207th Division and the 49th Reserve Division were withdrawn, and the line of the Scheldt, opposite our front, was held (north to south) by the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division (20th Bavarian Regiment) and the 15th Reserve Division (25th Regiment). These divisions apparently remained in line until November 11, although regimental reliefs may have taken place.
From November 11 to 18 the Division remained in billets on both sides of the Scheldt River in the vicinity of Audenarde. A large factory had been converted by the Germans into a delousing and bathing establishment with 64 showers. Although the plumbing had been destroyed by the Germans before retreating, it was repaired by the 316th Engineers, and the troops of the 91st Division were marched in turn to Audenarde by battalion, each man getting a hot bath while his clothing was deloused under supervision of the 316th Sanitary Train.
On the 13th, Commanding General, Thirtieth French Corps, received a review of the 361st Infantry at Audenarde. He later published the following order concerning the service of the 91st Division while attached to the Thirtieth French Corps:
Thirtieth Army Corps H. Q. Nov.24, 1918
From: The General of Division PEN~T, commanding the Thirtieth Army Corps.
To: The Commanding General of the 91st Infantry Division, U.S.A.
The General Commanding the Thirtieth Army Corps does not want to part with the 91st Infantry Division without expressing to its Chief, its officers, its splendid units, all his appreciation of the fine military qualities they have shown during the length of their attachment to the Corps.
By abandoning the line of the Scheldt, the enemy did not allow the putting in execution of the plan of attack which was so cleverly promoted. The efforts made by the officers and the troops in order to have all necessary materials at their disposal when and where needed, the strict discipline which presided over all preliminary movements and which were a certain presage of success, are nevertheless deserving of the greatest praise.
The Commanding General of the Thirtieth Army Corps takes great pleasure in sending this letter as a proof of his appreciation to the General Commanding the 91st Division and thanks him for his intelligent and faithful co-operation.
(Signed) H. PENET
Still later, Major General de Goutte, who had resumed command of the Sixth French Army after the dissolution of the Group of Armies of Flanders, published the following General Order concerning the services of the 37th and 91st Divisions in Belgium:VI French Army H.Q., 11th December, 1918.
GENERAL ORDER NO. 31
In addressing the Divisions of the United States Army who covered themselves with glory in the Chateau-Thierry offensive, I said that orders given by the Commanding Officers were always accomplished irrespective of the difficulties arising thereby or the sacrifices to be made.
I have found the same spirit of duty and discipline freely given in the 37th and 91st Divisions, U.S.A, which brings about valiant soldiers and victorious armies.
On the heights between the Lys and the Escaut the enemy was to hold “to the death.” The American troops belonging to these divisions, acting with the French Divisions of the Flanders Army Group, smashed them in October 31, 1918, and after hard fighting threw them back upon the Escaut.
Then, in an operation of extraordinary daring, the American units crossed the Escaut under the enemy fire and maintained themselves on the opposite bank, notwithstanding counter-attacks.
Glory to such troops and to such commanders. They have bravely contributed to the liberation of a part of Belgian territory and to the final victory.
The great nation to which they belong can be proud of them.
THE COMMANDING GENERAL OF THE ARMY
(Signed) Dv: GOUTTE.
On November 17, Major General De Boisoudy, commanding the French Army of Belgium, and Major General Massenet, commanding the Seventh French Corps, to which corps the Division had just been returned for the march toward the Rhine, visited Division Headquarters in Audenarde, and expressed admiration of the method by which bridges had been constructed over the canals of the Scheldt for the further advance of the army.
Later, the same afternoon, His Majesty the King of the Belgians visited Division Headquarters without notice, and expressed his thanks and admiration for the action of the Division in the Group of Armies in Flanders. After meeting the Division Staff he drove to the city hall to call upon the Burgomaster and appeared to be very much pleased when the people assembled in the plaza in front, an American band playing the Belgian national air and later the Marseillaise, the people in the plaza singing the words. He visited also the hospital in which the 316th Sanitary Train had assembled all the sick of Belgium, moving them from cellars to which they had been moved during the bombardment, and restoring the convent, which had been occupied as a hospital during the German rule, to proper order for the care of the sick. His Majesty expressed appreciation of the method by which the Division had cleaned the streets and moved the debris of the bombardment and assisted in re-establishing civil government in Audenarde.
MARCH TOWARDS RHINE – RETURN TO DUN ERIQUE – IN FRANCE AGAIN – COMMENDATION BY COMMANDER – IN- CHIEF – DIVISION NAME AND EMBLEM – DEMOBILIZATIONON
November 16, the 91st Division was detached from the Thirtieth French Corps and attached to the Seventh French Corps for the proposed march to the Rhine. The Group of Armies in Flanders was dissolved. General de Goutte was placed in command of the Sixth French Army, consisting of the Seventh, Thirtieth and Thirty-fourth Corps. The French army was to march on two roads: The Seventh French Corps, to which the 91st Division was attached, was to move on the Audenarde-Bruxelles road, followed by the Thirtieth Corps. The Thirty-fourth Corps, to which the 37th American Division was attached, was to move toward Bruxelles on a road approximately parallel, but a few kilometers north of the Audenarde-Bruxelles road. The Second British Army was moving along roads south of the French. The difficulty of handling the transportation of three corps on these two roads proved great. After moving east about two days the two American divisions stopped and it seems probable that the Commander-in-Chief, American Expeditionary Forces, did not wish them to go farther toward the Rhine. in that sector. The French Commander decided to send only the Seventh French Corps to the Rhine, leaving one Frezich corps in Belgium and sending the other back to the vicinity of Dunkerque.
While the Division was billeted in the Audenhove-Ste. Marie area, with headquarters at Chateau- Michelbeke, a battery of the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade was sent to Bruxelles to represent the 91st Division. A battalion of infantry from the 37th Division, as well as a battalion of the 5th and 164th French Divisions, was sent to Bruxelles, all these troops to act as escort for His Majesty the King of the Belgians on November 22, the date of his re-entry into his capital. About twenty-five officers from each of the American divisions were invited to witness the entry of the King.
Meanwhile the 91st Division received orders attaching it to the Thirty-fourth French Corps while marching through the area of that corps in Belgium toward Dunkerque, France. After the armistice all colors were uncased and bands marched at the heads of their units and played while such units were passing through Belgian cities. On the march westward the Division was halted in the neighborhood of the Lys River, with headquarters at Denterghem, from November 25 to December 5. On December 5, 6 and 7 the Division, marching westward via Roulers, crossed the devastated Ypres area and occupied billets south of Dunkerque, with headquarters at Rousbrugge, to await rail transportation to Le Mans area, France. While the Division was retiring to Dunkerque, General de Goutte, then commanding the Sixth French Army, ordered the Commanding Generals of the 37th and 91st Divisions, about fifty officers, and all the regimental and national colors of the 37th and 91st Divisions to proceed to Aix-la-Chapelle (called by the Germans “Aachen”). This detachment spent one night at Louvain, entertained by a French division of the Seventh Corps. The next day they crossed the border from Belgium into Germany, spending the night at Eupen. On the morning of December 7, with the leading elements of the Seventh French Corps, the detachments of these two American divisions, with their colors, entered Aix-la-Chapelle. All of the colors with their escorts, their regimental and brigade commanders, with colors of Seventh French Corps, formed facing the cathedral at Aiz-la-Chapelle. For more than a thousand years this cathedral had formed the tomb of the Emperor Charlemagne. Arms and colors were presented to the remains of the old Emperor. The national anthems of America and France were played by a French band. General de Goutte dipped the colors of France had returned to redeem his remains from the possession of Germany in the following eloquent address:
“Soldiers of France:
“In the year 814 of our era, Charlemagne, Emperor of the Gauls; the greatest monarch in the history of France, died at AixAa-Chapelle. He rests in this cathedral.”
During his long life he fought in Spain, in Italy and in Switzerland, but the greatest enemy of this mighty emperor, as in Caesar’s time, so in all time, was the Germanic people.
“That is why he made Aix-la-Chapelle the capital of his Empire. That is why he created the ‘defensive marches’ of the Rhine, which were always ready to throw back the ever-menacing, barbarous invasion, always ready by the force of arms to subdue the turbulent and pillaging Germanic tribes living on the right bank of the Rhine.
“Ten centuries after Charlemagne, after the wars of the Revolution and of the Empire, Napoleon made Aix-la-Chapelle the capital of a French department for the same reason. At the beginning of these wars the German invasion was stopped there by the soldiers of France, as it has again been stopped in Champagne.
“A study of history will show that all the wars and invasions which for the last two thousand years have flooded Europe with blood can be traced to the thirst for conquest of the Teutonic people or of the Germans. Let us not forget this.
“During these struggles, lasting centuries, imposed by the Germans upon the French, they finally destroyed the Celtic, Gaelic and French population which inhabited the left bank of the Rhine. They took their place and established military bases in readiness for further invasions towards the west. I will not mention them, they are too numerous; I will only remind you of the German invasion of 1870, which, for forty-eight years, us from Alsace and Lorraine, now again conquered. Finally in 1914, exactly eleven centuries after the death of Charlemagne, William of Hohenzollern, Emperor of Germany, concentrated his formidable armies in the territory of the Rhine provinces, then Germanized, and violated, in spite of treaties, the neutrality of Belgium. Through this infamous deed, the waves of barbarians spread themselves throughout the rich provinces of northern and eastern France, to tear those provinces from us this time to exterminate their population.
“But the soldiers of France, of Charlemagne’s France, weakened by the loss of territory, but still strong, thanks to the valor of her children were ready.
“After the first surprise, the invading wave was checked at the Marne and thrown back upon the Aisne during four years of hard fighting, from the North Sea to Switzerland on the Yser, on the Somme, on the Aisne in Champagne and at Verdun, the enemy was checked. When last May and July, he gathered together his forces liberated from the East and threw them against us in a desperate effort, the soldiers of France again broke up their attacks in Champagne and on the doubly sacred river Marne. “Then came the great hundred-day epoch through which you have just lived; when the armies of France, striking the enemy everywhere, giving him no respite, threw him out of the Vosges, from the Marne, from the Oise and from the shores of the Yser to the Rhine.
“Now that the goal has been reached, the pious of France, which future generations will perhaps recognize as greater than the Grognards of Napoleon and the Knights of Charmagne, come to give homage to the emperor named Charles the Great by the historians of France because he conquered the Germans.
“And now, when the German Emperor, author of this war which has cost humanity twenty million men and France so many sacrifices, so much devastation and mourning, now, when this vanquished and dethroned Emperor awaits nearby a just punishment, the victorious flags and standards of the descendants of Charlemagne’s knights bow down before the tomb of their great ancestor.
“His ashes will thrill with joy at the touch of the French tricolor, the symbol of the warlike virtues which are his legacy.
“The traditions of tenacity, of energy, of the valor of our ancient race, have been preciously preserved for more than eleven centuries.
“The heroes of the great war are here to-day to prove it.
“The American flags wave near ours. They represent justice and righteousness.
“The great nation which holds us as a beloved sister came to help us throw back the German invasion. At the cost of much sacrifice she is victorious and has grown greater thereby. Her task is now accomplished. With France she pays homage to the great Emperor; she has followed his example in checking the barbarians of modern times from across the Rhine and in beating the Huns. The French thank her.”
Following this ceremony, a review was held of the Seventh French Corps, the American colors guards following the French cavalry regiment which led the corps. Most of the Germans on the Second was draped in mourning, but the few Germans on the streets uncovered as the colors passed. The Commanding Generals of the 37th and 91st Divisions rode with the Seventh Corps Commander, and the other American officers formed on the left of the French staff during the march toward the Rhine and the American detachments moved by motor transport, rejoining their divisions south of Dunkerque, after visiting such interesting points as Liege, Namur, Bruxelles, Bruges, and the battlefield of Waterloo.
Throughout almost all of the month of December the 91st Division was billeted in very uncomfortable quarters in Belgian and French villages south of Dunkerque. On December 9 the 91st Division was assigned to the Second American Corps, Major General G. W. Read, whose headquarters were then at Boonetable in Le Mans area. There was little ground near Rousbrugge on which to train troops. Rain fell daily. Most of the billets were without heat or light, and the nights were long. The troops were exercised along the roads and given leaves to visit Calais, Boulogne, Dunkerque, and the battlefield south of Ypres over which the British had struggled for four years.
Lieut. General Bernheim visited the 91st Division December 17 and decorated 150 members with the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
Some changes in the staff had occurred. Colonel P.C. Field, formerly Division Surgeon, was sent to a hospital in Paris soon after arrival in Belgium, and Major J. G. Strohm acted as Division Surgeon throughout the operations in Belgium. Major H. L. Mack succeeded Colonel Coleman as Assistant Chief of Staff (G-1) about October 22, and until November 4, when Colonel W. A. Burnside joined the Division under orders for assignment as Assistant Chief of Staff (G-1). Lieut. Colonel B. L. Bargar, I. G. D., formerly with the 37th Division, was assigned as Division Inspector. about November 25. At least one thousand officers and men formerly wounded rejoined the Division during its stay in Belgium.
On December 28 removal by rail from Rousbragge and Rexpoede was commenced. Three officers had been sent ahead to La Ferte Bernard area to select billets, establish signal corps communication and receive replacements of the Division, which began to arrive in the La Ferte Bernard area one month before the Division was able to obtain trains. Commencing December 28, the last element of the 91st Division, including the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade, left Belgium January 9.
On arrival in the Le Mans area the Division, including the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade, which was billeted seventy-five miles west of Division Headquarters, remained under the Commanding General of the Second Corps until January 31. On February 1, the Second Corps was dissolved, and General Read took command of the American Embarkation Center, head quarters at Le Mans. At the same time, the 53rd Field Artillery was detached and ordered to join its proper Division (28th).
During the stay in the La Ferte Bernard area, about January 1 to April 1, five hours daily were devoted to drill. Athletics and other games occupied each afternoon, and halls or tents were arranged for most of the forty villages at which billets were occupied, and entertainments. were given in the evening. Hot baths were established in every village. Much attention was paid to washing of clothing, training the men in ceremonies, and in. keeping them occupied to prevent home-sickness.
On January 27 the Commander-in-Chief inspected and reviewed the Division in a field near the village of Belleme. Snow had fallen all the day before. The roads were full of mud and the fields of mud covered by melting snow. Organizations which were billeted more than ten miles from the review grounds were moved by trucks. With great trouble it was possible to assemble the entire Division, less wagon trains, at the review grounds. General Pershing, after the inspection and before review, personally decorated a large number of officers and men with the Distinguished Service Cross and two enlisted men with the Medal of Honor. Some time after his return to his headquarters, he sent the following letter to the Division Commander:
AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES
Office of the Commander-in-Chief
France, February 20, 1919.
Major General William H. Johnston,
Commanding 91st Division, A.E.F
My dear General Johnston:
It gives me great pleasure to extend to you and the officers and men of the 91st Division my compliments upon their splendid record in France.
Arriving on July 12, the Division was thrown into the active fighting in the Meuse-Argonne offensive without previous training in the line. From September 26 to October 3 it was actively engaged in this offensive, making an advance of thirteen kilometers against strong opposition, capturing the towns of Very, Gesnes and Epinonville. When the Division was withdrawn on October 3, the 181st Brigade remained in the battle line until October 12, its units operating with the 32nd and 1st Divisions. In the middle of October, the Division was attached to the Seventh French Army Corps of the Sixth French Army in Flanders. Between October 31 and November 2, the Division made an advance of eleven kilometers, capturing the town of Audenarde. Crossing the Scheldt River, on November 10 and 11, the Division was in pursuit of the enemy when the armistice ended hostilities.
It was gratifying to see your troops in such good physical shape, but still more so to know that the moral tone of all ranks is so high, which it is hoped will continue even after their return to civil life.
(Signed) JOHN J. PERSHING
During the stay of the Division in the La Ferte Bernard area, the 160th Field Artillery Brigade (85th Division) was attached to the 91st Division and billeted south of La Ferte Bernard from February 14 to 20, when it was detached and returned to its proper division.
Several organizations of the Division organized theatrical troupes after touring the area of the Division, were sent outside of that area to play for other commands. Night schools were organized under the Senior chaplain, and 3,600 men of the Division were attending school most of the time from January 1 to March 31. About March 1, the Division was permitted to select 250 officers and men, most of whom were sent to the University of Beaune, Department of Cote d’Or. Some officers and men were sent to various universities in France and England to take special courses. All of these were to remain three months, pursuing educational courses and returning after the Division.
Under orders from the Commander-in-Chief, each division in the A. E. F. was directed to conduct a horse show. That of the 91st Division, managed by Lieut. Colonel T. A. Driscoll, Assistant Chief of Staff (G-2), was held at Nogent le Rotron in the afternoon of March 1. It consisted not only of riding and jumping, but of exhibition of various kinds of transportation with which the Division was equipped. Prizes worth about $500 were purchased in Paris from the Division athletic fund.
On March 8 Brigadier General J. B. McDonald decorated six officers and men with the Distinguished Service Cross and about 75 with the French Croix de Guerre. Some of the detached officers and men recommended for these decorations had been detached for service with the Army of Occupation, and several others were posthumous awards.
On March 16 a representative of each unit of the 91st Division met at La Ferte Bernard, and the “91st Division Association” was organized. All officers and men who had ever honorably served with the 91st Division were declared eligible to join.
Throughout the service of the 91st Division in France and Belgium, representatives of the Y.M.C.A., American Red Cross, Knights of Columbus, had been with the Division, contributing to the welfare of officers and men. This welfare work was very much increased after the armistice, and materially served to reduce homesickness and to render the officers and men contented while awaiting orders to return to the United States.
All units were inspected carefully by representatives of the American Embarkation Center before leaving the La Ferte Bernard area for the coast. After all the units had been prepared, and while some of them were being inspected, one thousand additional casuals joined the Division. These were billeted in separate towns, organized as a casual battalion, supplied with sufficient of the company funds to improve their messes, and officers of the Division were attached to them to prepare their records and prepare the men for embarkation. They included a few men who had formerly served with the Division and had been evacuated to the hospitals in the rear. The other men had been serving in hospitals in the rear and then on guard duty in the service of supplies. They were very glad to join any division and lose their casual status.
So diligently did the officers of the 91st Division take care of equipping and clothing these casuals that by the time other organizations had left by train for the coast this casual battalion was ready to leave on one of the last trains. The movement went forward on one or two trains daily, troops sailing from St. Nazaire as fast as vessels were available. As a result of the congestion in the camp at St. Nazaire, the movement by rail was interrupted from March 25 to 30. The Division sailed from St. Nazaire between March 19 and April 6.
Before leaving St. Nazaire, at which place Division Headquarters remained from April 1 to 6, the Division Commander received the following letter from Major General G. W. Read, commanding the American Embarkation Center:
American Embarkation Center,
A. P.O. No. 762, American E. F.,
April 1, 1919.
From: Commanding General
To: Commanding General, 91st Division
Subject: Service of the 91st Division
1. I desire to express to you upon the departure of your Division my appreciation of the character of the service of the Division with this command as well as with the Second Corps.
2. The efficient manner in which the casuals who were sent to the Division, upon the eve of its departure, were taken care of, is an example of the service of an organization for the good of others less fortunately situated.
3. The service of your Division with us will be remembered with pleasure and satisfaction.
(Signed) G. W. Read Major General, U.S.A.
While the Division was serving in Belgium orders were received to submit to the Commander-in- Chief a pattern and description of a divisional distinctive insignia to be worn on left shoulder of the blouse. The insignia recommended was a fir tree of green cloth, inscribed within a triangle with base of two inches and altitude two inches. This having been approved, orders were issued in December announcing the insignia and directing the Quartermaster to furnish the proper number for each officer and man.
While the Division served at La Ferte Bernard the following orders were issued to announce the name by which the Division was popularly known, the distinctive divisional insignia and motto:
HEADQUARTERS 91ST DIVISION, A. E. F.
January 29, 1919.
GENERAL ORDERS: No.7.I
1. The name “Wild West Division,” by which this Division has been known since the days of its organization at Camp Lewis, Washington, in 1917, is officially recognized as the distinctive divisional name.
2 The distinctive divisional design, a green fir tree, adopted as a personal badge, to be worn by each officer and man of the Division (G. O. 57, 91st Division, 1918), is emblematic not only of the foliage found in each State from which the personnel of this Division was selected, but the ever green and ever useful character of this foliage is emblematic also of the state of readiness and the degree of usefulness which has characterized, and should continue to be the aim of, each unit of the Division.
3. Since this Division was ready to participate in the St.-Mihiel Salient operation while standing in the reserve of the First American Army; since it was ready to attack in the front line of the Fifth Army Corps, from Foret de Hesse, when the Commander-in-Chief launched his attack against the enemy’s line of communications between the Meuse River and the Argonne Forest; since some of its units were already entraining for Belgium before others, marching from the firing line, had reached the railroad; since its units. never hesitated to attack the most formidable of the enemy’s defenses in Belgium; and since its members are now ready, either to return to the United States and resume the pursuits of peace, or to continue their service wherever ordered by the Commander-in-Chief, the phrase “Always Ready” is adopted as the divisional motto.
By command of Major General Johnston:
HENRY C. JEWETT
Colonel, General Staff, Chief of Staff.
(Signed) D. J. COMAN, Major, A. G., Adjutant.
Before the Division moved from American Embarkation Center to St. Nazaire, the following letter was received from the Chief Signal Officer, American Expeditionary Forces, concerning the service of the 316th Field Signal Battalion, and announced as shown below:
GENERAL ORDERS: No. 20II
1. The following letter, showing appreciation by the Chief Signal Officer, American Expeditionary Forces, of the services rendered by the 316th Field Signal Battalion is published for the information of all officers and men of the Division:
American Expeditionary Forces
Office of the Chief Signal Officer
March 5, 1919
From: Chief Signal Officer, A.E.F.
To: Commanding Officer, 316th Field Signal Battalion
Subject: Separation of organization from American E. F.
1. On the departure of your organization for the United States the Chief Signal Officer of the American E. F. desires me, in saying farewell to yourself, your officers and your men, for him, to express his deep gratification over the fact that they have conducted themselves at all times while on a foreign soil in a manner true to the traditions of an American organization.
2. The career of the 316th Field Signal Battalion with the 91st Division, and the splendid work performed by it, have been closely followed by the Chief Signal Officer. Division, Corps and Army Commanders have been most lavish in their praise of the accomplishments of the Signal Corps in this war, and our Commander-in-Chief has placed himself on record as saying that without the aid of this service the successes of our armies would not have been achived. The 316th Field Signal Battalion, on the record of its task well done, can look with pride on its share in the credit that has been reflected on this Corps.
3. In their return home and to their pursuits in civil life, the Chief Signal Officers wishes that all good fortune may attend yourself and the members of your command.
Signed, Roy H. Coles
Lieut. Colonel, Signal Corps,
2. During the three offensives, St. Mihiel Salient, September 12-13; Meuse-Argonne, September 26 – October 12; and Ypres-Lys, October 20 – November 11, officers and men of the 316th Field Signal Battalion contributed very materially to the splendid record made by this Division. Without the communication furnished by this Battalion within the Division and communication between the Division and other units, tactical control of unit of the Division would have been very much impaired, if not impracticable. Its’ officers and men displayed gallantry in action, in establishing and maintaining wire and wireless communication, equal to that displayed by units whose function was to deliver fire and shock action. It usually requires more bravery to serve under fire, without returning the fire, than to discharge firearms at a visible enemy. The members of this Battalion may contemplate with pride, not only their technical service, but their soldierly conduct under fire, and their excellent morale, maintained throughout hostilities and since actual hostilities have ceased.
By command of Major General Johnston:
HENRY C. JEWETT,
Colonel, General Staff, Chief of Staff
(Signed) D. J. COMAN,
Lieut. Colonel, A. G., Adjutant
Upon arrival in New York harbor the various units of the 91st Division were sent to either Camp Merritt, N. J., Camp Mills or Camp Upton, N. Y. The personnel at that time included officers and men from nearly every State of the Union. Orders from the Port of Debarkation, Hoboken, directed the transfer of officers and men to the camps nearest their homes at the time they entered the service. The headquarters of each unit, with men whose residences were in the neighborhood, were sent either Fort D. A. Russell, Wyoming; Camp Lewis, Washington; Camp Kearny, California; or Presidio of San Francisco. Officers and men belonging to such units whose homes were beyond the fixed limit were sent to other camps. Thus the records of the units of the 91st Division reached four different points of demobilization on the Pacific Coast. From those points, after demobilization was completed, regimental and national colors were sent to the States which had furnished the plurality of enlisted men for the various organizations at the time of the organization of the Division. Division Headquarters were at first sent to Presidio of San Francisco. In May the Division Adjutant, Lieut. Colonel D. J. Coman, one sergeant and the records were transferred to Camp Lewis, Washington, as that was the station of the Division Commander. From Camp Lewis considerable correspondence was conducted with former members of the Division and with the War Department.
The places and dates at which various units of the Division were demobilized, and the States to which their colors were sent, appear below:
Places and Dates of the Demobilization of the Different Units of the 91st Division
PRESIDIO OF SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
363rd Infantry May 2, 1919 348th Machine Gun Battalion May 3, 1919 Headquarters Troop and Detachment May 5, 1919 3l6th T.H.& M.P. May 5, 1919 316th Engineers May 6, 1919 316th Supply Trains May 13, 1919 316th Ammunition Trains May 14, 1919
CAMP KEARNY, CALIFORNIA
316th Field Signal Battalion May 2, 1919 364th Infantry April 23, 1919
FORT D. A. RUSSELL, WYOMING
362nd Infantry April 29, 1919 364th Machine Gun Battalion April 29, 1919
CAMP LEWIS, WASHINGTON
347th Machine Gun Battalion May 2, 1919 316th Sanitary Train May 4, 1919 361st Infantry April 30, 1919
STATES WHICH RECEIVED THE COLORS OF THE DIFFERENT UNITS OF THE 91ST DIVISION
91st Divisional Pennant California Headquarters Troop Guidon California 361st Infantry Washington 362nd Infantry Montana 363rd Infantry California 364th Infantry California 346th Machine Gun Battalion Montana 347th Machine Gun Battalion Idaho 348th Machine Gun Battalion California 316th Engineers California
COMPARISON WITH OTHER COMBAT DIVISIONS OFFICERS WHO HAVE SERVED WITH THE 91ST DIVISION – OFFICERS AND MEN WHO RECEIVED AMERICAN DECORATIONS — OFFICERS AND MEN WMO RECEIVED BELGIAN DECORATIONS – OFFICERS AND MEN WHO RECIEVED AND MEN WHO RECEIVED FRENCH DECORATIONS – THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN
Pieces of Artillery Captured
Division Number 2nd 343 89th 127 5th 98 33rd 93 80th 88 30th 81 3rd 51 4th 44 77th 44 90th 42 91st 33 79th 32 42nd 25 35th 24 29th 21 32nd 21 26th 16 28th 16 82nd 11 36th 9 78th 4 Total 1257
Number of Machine Guns Captured by Division
Division Number of Machine Guns Captured 3rd 1501 2nd 1350 5th 802 80th 641 42nd 495 91st 471 89th 455 30th 426 33rd 414 77th 323 82nd 311 36th 294 79th 275 37th 263 29th 250 90th 230 32nd 190 26th 132 35th 85 28th 63 78th 43 4th 31 7th 28 Total 9,073
Number of Replacements Sent to Each Division
Division Number of Replacements 2nd 35,343 1st 30,206 3rd 24,033 28th 21,717 32nd 20,140 4th 19,599 42nd 17,253 26th 14,411 77th 12,728 5th 12,611 91st 12,530 35th 10,605 82nd 8,402 89th 7,669 37th 6,282 79th 6,246 33rd 5,413 27th 5,355 29th 4,977 80th 4,495 7th 4,112 36th 3,397 78th 3,190 92nd 2,920 6th 2,784 30th 2,384 81st 1,084 88th 731 Total 352,517
Number of Enemy Prisoners Captured
Division Prisoners Captured 2nd 12,026 1st 6,469 89th 5,061 33rd 3,985 30th 3,848 26th 3,148 4th 2,756 91st 2,412 5th 2,405 27th 2,355 3rd 2,240 32nd 2,153 90th 1,876 37th 1,495 42nd 1,317 28th 921 82nd 845 35th 781 77th 750 36th 549 78th 398 79th 392 7th 68 Total 60,063
Kilometers Advanced in Action
Division Kilometers 77th 77.5 2nd 62 42nd 55 1st 51 3rd 41 26th 37 80th 37 32nd 36 33rd 36 89th 26 91st 34 37th 30.75 30th 29.5 5th 29 90th 28.5 4th 24.5 36th 21 78th 21 79th 19.5 82nd 17 84th 12.5 27th 11 28th 10 29th 7 81st 5.5 92nd 3 7th .75