Frederic R. Kilner
As we shall the more devote ourselves, in peace and in war, to the cause of our Country’s honor because they gave up their lives for its sake, so do we dedicate this record to them, the memory and the loss of whom its pages recall:
|CAPTAIN FREDERICK W. WATERS|
Coblenz, Germany, January 13, 1919
|LIEUTENANT JOHN E. COWAN|
Jonchery-sur-Suippes, France, July 17, 1918
|CORPORAL STANLEY S. STEVENS|
Camp Coetquidan, France, November 21, 1917
|PRIVATE GUY O. FOSTER|
Fere-en-Tardenois, France, August 10, 1918
|PRIVATE GEORGE HAMA|
Bulson, France, November 9, 1918
|PRIVATE AARON F. PARKHURST|
Chery-Chartreuse, France, August 8, 1918
|I.||On Board the “President Lincoln”||11|
|II.||Training at Camp Coetquidan||17|
|III.||Trench Warfare in Lorraine||27|
|IV.||Under Gouraud in Champagne||41|
|V.||Clearing the Chateau Thierry Salient||49|
|VI.||In the St. Mihiel Offensive||60|
|VII.||Through the Argonne to Sedan||69|
|VIII.||Hiking into Germany||76|
Since a battery comprises nearly two hundred men, and includes activities of diverse kinds at different places, it is obviously impossible for a brief narrative such as this, compiled by a single person, to furnish complete details on all of them. To suggest the life of the men in their various sorts of work, to trace as accurately as possible the accomplishments of the battery on the front in France, and to recount the outstanding incidents and events of its history, is as much as can be claimed for these chapters. Primarily intended for the members of the battery, these pages will, I hope, furnish an outline on which each one can reconstruct the days of his own experiences in France from the voluminous resources of his memory. To that end, dates and places are indicated fully, and pains have been taken to have these accurate and exact.
To Lloyd Holton, Stuart Lawrence, Waldo Magnusen, Harry E. Loomis, Jr., and Harland Beatty thanks are due for the photographs supplying the interesting illustrations, which tell better than many words how the men of the battery lived. The meagreness of the illustrations is due to the army order forbidding cameras being taken to the front. We regret that this order was in rare instances violated, but are glad to be able to publish the photographs which resulted from such violations.
This book itself is a lasting indication of the gratitude of the men of the battery to the relatives and friends included in the Battery E chapter of the 149th F. A. War Relief, from whom came the funds for the publication of this volume. The acknowledgement of this generosity is made with the recollection of many previous kindnesses, so numerous, indeed, that an adequate appreciation of the services and sacrifices of those at home is impossible to express.
Battery E of the First Field Artillery of the Illinois National Guard was organized at Chicago, October 23, 1915, Captain Henry J. Reilly in command. On June 27, 1916, it was mustered into federal service for duty on the Mexican border, and mustered out October 28, 1916, after training at Leon Springs, Arkansas, and taking part in the famous “Austin Hike.” The battery met for drill at the Dexter Pavilion, Union Stock Yards, Chicago, on Monday nights.
After the United States declared war, April 6, 1917, the battery began recruiting to bring its strength up to war basis, and drilled Monday and Friday evenings. Sergeants Herman Leprohon and Thomas Atkinson, of the Regular Army, who directed the drill at this time, were commissioned first lieutenants in the regiment before it left Chicago. May 22 Paul E. Landrus was appointed First Sergeant, John J. O’Meara, Supply Sergeant, and F. O. Johnson, Stable Sergeant.
Governor Lowden ordered the battery into service June 30, 1917, when drill became daily. July 9, the battery entrained for Fort Sheridan with its 30 horses, guns, caissons and supplies. First Lieutenant Irving Odell was in command, Captain Reilly having become colonel of the regiment, now the 149th U. S. Field Artillery. The regiment was mustered into federal service July 20, as part of the 67th F. A. Brigade and of the 42d Division, already named the Rainbow Division by Secretary of War Baker because of its national composition, comprising units of twenty-six states.
At Camp Geismar, as Colonel Reilly named the regiment’s encampment alongside Fort Sheridan, there was daily drill with the American 3-inch pieces. On July 30 the regiment was reviewed by General Berry, who was inspecting units of the 42d Division. Some of the “border veterans” of the battery had gone to the first Reserve Officers’[Pg 10] Training Camp, and about twenty-five former members of Battery E received commissions.
On September 3, 1917, the regiment left Chicago for Camp Mills, First Lieutenant Howard R. Stone in command, Captain Odell having been transferred to Second Battalion headquarters as captain-adjutant. Sergeant John Cowan and Corporal Russel Royer had shortly before been commissioned second lieutenants, the former remaining in the battery and the latter going to Headquarters Company.
September 7, 1917, First Lieutenant Lawrence B. Robbins was transferred from Battery C to the command of Battery E, and shortly afterwards commissioned captain.
Having no horses or guns, the regiment received plenty of foot drill, relieved by short periods of setting-up exercises, trigger-squeeze pistol practice and instruction in first aid to the wounded. The foot drill became hikes through Garden City and vicinity, then regimental reviews, and finally exhibited the accomplishment of the men in reviews by Secretary of War Baker and Major-General Mann.
Evenings, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, and Sundays gave generous opportunity for sampling the varied diversions of New York City, and the hospitality of the residents of the neighboring towns of Long Island. And these pleasures were well sampled! The batteries of the 149th entertained the corresponding organizations of the 150th and 151st regiments on the evening of September 28, when Colonel Reilly’s description of warfare in France furnished interesting instruction, and abundant refreshments caused general content and satisfaction. The following week, the 151st returned the compliment, with equal enjoyment.
October 2, an additional detail of men left for Newport News, where they joined the men who had left Fort Sheridan with the horses, at the remount station. About this time Lieutenant Packard, from the Plattsburg camp, was attached to Battery E.
Constant instruction in making packs and rolls hinted at leaving. Then the making of allotments and the taking out of war risk insurance, the packing of duffle bags, and the boxing of all Q. M. supplies made us ready for departure by the middle of the month, and waiting for orders to France.
The mounting flames of a bonfire cast a flickering red light down the battery street. Burning the whole night through, to consume boxes, refuse and abandoned material of various kinds, these ruddy illuminations in the quarters of the 149th Field Artillery, at Camp Mills, Long Island, were omens of unusual, and unpublished, happenings. The men of the regiment felt the nearness of these events, though they had been given no warning of them, and slept, fully clothed, with their packs still rolled as they had been at inspection the afternoon before. Covered only by their overcoats, the boys tossed uneasily on their canvas cots in the chilliness of the night. When one, awakened by the cold, ventured to approach the bonfire to warm himself, the voice of a sentry warned him away: “No one is allowed around the fire. Orders are for no unusual appearance or noise.” And the chilly one would return to his tent, if not to slumber, muttering, “Tonight’s the night, all right!”
At 3:30 a. m., a whispered summons roused each man. A few, who had scoffed at the omens the previous evening, rolled their packs by feeble candles. All the cots were folded and piled in the shed at the end of the street that had housed the battery kitchen. The cooks performed their last rites there, by serving coffee and sandwiches. The last scraps of paper and other litter in the battery street were “policed up,” and added to the now dying bonfire. Then the batteries were formed, and the regiment, at 5 o’clock, October 18, 1917, marched silently out of Camp Mills.
The hike to the railroad station was a short one. There the regiment quickly boarded a waiting train, which pulled out at 6, to make the brief journey to the ferry docks in Brooklyn. Quickly and quietly, the men boarded the ferry. They had been instructed to make no noise, attract no attention, and so shield the troop movement as much as possible[Pg 12] from public (and enemy) notice. But a ferry-boat load of khaki-clad youths, when such ferry-boat loads were not so numerous as they later became, could not fail to draw the eyes of the throngs on their way to business. The journey around the Battery and up the Hudson River was punctuated by cheers and shouts of good-bye from witnesses of our departure. At the docks of the Hamburg-American Line, where the “Vaterland” and other ocean liners had lain since the autumn of 1914, the boys filed onto the wharf and immediately over the side of the “President Lincoln.”
As he was assigned his place in the hold, each man was given two things: a printed sheet of instructions, which was to guide his actions on board, and a life-preserver, which, hanging like two sofa pillows, one on his breast, the other on his back, was to impede all his movements on board. For these must be worn night and day, whether one was eating or drinking, working or playing; and must be within reach when one slept. That last was easy, for they usually served as pillows.
That was one of the precautions against danger from a submarine’s torpedo. Another was the fire-drill, which occurred at unexpected times, either at night, in the midst of sleep, or during the day. Since there were between 5,500 and 6,000 troops on board, exclusive of the crew of 400, it was important that they should know the quickest and easiest way to escape from the ship in case of accident. The “President Lincoln,” before the war the largest freight vessel afloat, was built for the carrying trade and not at all for passengers. In each hatch were four, and in some five, decks below, and it was a feat to empty all these by the narrow iron stairways in the short space of two minutes. At the entrance to each hatch were stacked rafts, ready to be unlashed and heaved over the side, and every man had a place.
Below, each man had a bunk, a canvas stretcher hung on a frame, three tiers high, that ran the length of the hatch, narrow aisles separating each double row. Electric lights made these good places to lounge and read. But when night fell, every light in the ship was extinguished, save only the dim blue lights at the stairways. Not even a lighted cigarette was allowed on deck or at a porthole, lest it betray the fleet to some hostile submarine, lurking near under cover of[Pg 13] darkness. And all day long and the night through, lookouts—an officer and one enlisted man—watched the waves from the mast heads and from sentry boxes along the side, fore and aft, for the ripple of a periscope.
Excessive precaution was not without good cause. This fleet was such as to spur enemy submarines to extraordinary activity for several reasons: The vessels were former Hamburg-American Line ships, making their first voyage under American colors; it was a double blow that these German boats should not only be employed in the service of the United States, but even be used to carry troops and supplies to defeat Germany herself. Again, these seven vessels transported an entire division at once, the first to be sent across the Atlantic as a unit, a division which had received much attention because of its composition, an amalgamation of National Guard organizations from twenty-six states.
Battery E mounted guard on the “President Lincoln” on the evening of the day the regiment embarked, October 18, and so a good many of the boys were on deck to see the lights of the Statue of Liberty fade behind as the fleet stood out to sea during the dark. About midnight the gongs sounded an alarm, and everyone was awakened for the first fire-drill. But the blue lights at the stairways that were the sole illumination, refused to work, and since no one could tell in the pitch blackness where to turn or whom to follow, the men were sent back to their bunks.
The next day Battery E went on “K. P.” Since more than 2.500 men were served in the forward mess hall in approximately two hours, the force of “kitchen police” required was large. The cooking was done by the regular ship’s cooks in their kitchen with huge caldrons and immense kettles. Only the serving was done by the troops. It was a particularly hard job that day, for the roughness of the open sea had begun to unsteady the boys, and the sight of food, let alone serving it for two hours, was enough to incapacitate them as kitchen hands.
After they had gained their sea-legs, however, mess time was the important hour of the day, and the chief occupation of everybody was waiting for the next meal. The occasional fire-drills were brief. Calisthenics were necessarily light and not long in duration, on account of the lack of space on deck. Reading matter was greatly in demand, and[Pg 14] much time was spent on deck merely in contemplation of the sad sea waves, the flying fish, and now and then a school of porpoise. On the fifth day out, target practice by the ship’s gun crews furnished great excitement, and gave us greater sense of security when we had seen how accurate marksmen the gun-pointers were.
As a rule, the meals on ship-board were worth anticipating. Sunday dinners included chicken, for the last times that delicacy appeared on our menu, unless one includes the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys of the first winter in France. Eggs, boiled for breakfast, also appeared on the menu for the last time, as did fresh fruit, such as apples, oranges and bananas. Sweet potatoes were more plentiful than the Irish variety, until one began to long for plain “spuds.” Stew and beans became more frequent as the voyage neared its close. But the men who ate in that forward mess hall will never forget the meal with which Battery E, again on “K. P.,” celebrated our arrival in port at St. Nazaire on the afternoon of October 31, 1917.
On the morning of the previous day we found that, instead of the cruiser and destroyer which had escorted us across the Atlantic, there were on all sides of us little, parti-colored craft that tore through the water and careered all about us, French coast patrol boats. They were camouflaged in that peculiar style, after the fashion of a cubist painting, which was to become so common to our eyes later on. Far on the horizon that morning we saw, too, a large fleet of merchant vessels returning to the United States, and the terrific rolls that struck the ship convinced us we were in the Bay of Biscay, nearing port.
“Land! Land!” was the cry next morning. Sure enough, there it was! We thought some ex-New Yorker had memories of the island prison in the East River when he said: “There’s Belle Isle!” But so it was: Belle-Ile-en-mer, a short distance from the harbor of St. Nazaire. We reached the port at about 3 o’clock that afternoon, and were fast to the dock an hour or two later.
Evening mess, which was usually begun at 3:30 or 4 o’clock, so that it might be over by dark, was delayed till 5 that day, while everybody hung over the rails to get their first sight of France. When they did descend, however, Battery E was waiting to serve a meal worthy of the day.[Pg 15] Roast beef, Irish potatoes, gravy, bread and butter, tea, tapioca pudding and fruit cake. Nor was the quantity stinted. “We’re celebrating tonight!” said Battery E, behind the serving tables, “Eat your fill, boys!” And an extra helping went into the mess kits. When the long line had all passed by, the kitchen had sent its last shred of meat, its last drop of pudding to the mess hall. The allowance of cake for the meal had been far exceeded, but the good-natured chief petty officer in charge of the mess stores sent again and again for more.
Five more days were spent on board the boat. The first two passed slowly enough. Much time was spent in efforts to buy chocolate and apples, hoisted aboard by campaign hats lowered on long strings from portholes, from the boats sculled alongside by clad fishermen, girls, small boys and old women. Or one might watch the German prisoners, marked by a huge “P. G.” stamped on the back of their uniforms, pushing about the puny French freight cars on the docks. Or one might catch a detail to unload freight, or stand guard on the dock.
Saturday afternoon, November 3, the regiment marched up through the city and along the Boulevard de l’Ocean, St. Nazaire’s Riverside Drive. Then we remarked what we later became used to seeing, that the women seemed almost all to wear black, and practically every man was in a uniform.
The following afternoon, leave was given to visit the town. Hotels, restaurants and pastry shops did a rushing business, as did also the old women who kept the stands in the market square, selling postcards, souvenirs and all manner of trinkets. But the time spent ashore was not long, for we were called back to unload the ship that night, and marched out next day, our packs upon our backs, to a camp a short distance from the city.
At that camp we felt first that economical parsimony which the Old World must practice, in contrast to the extravagant abundance of our own land. The scanty wood allowance made the cooks suddenly mindful of the last stray splinters. Wash water was available only at certain specified times, and a squad of men must be gathered for a bath, in order that the water from the showers should not be[Pg 16] wasted. No wonder, thought we, that the Frenchman drinks his eternal “vin rouge,” if water is so scarce.
But our stay at St. Nazaire was not long. There were a few days of diverse details, such as shifting boxes and equipment on the docks, leveling the drill grounds, and excavating for the big reservoir that was later to furnish the water supply for the camp. Saturday night the Second Battalion marched out of camp shortly after midnight, and boarded a train for the short ride northward to the town of Guer, in the department of Morbihan. That we were not full-fledged soldiers was evidenced by the fact that we made the trip in third-class passenger coaches and not in the box-cars which were ever afterwards to be our mode of transportation in France. But the stops were as frequent as they were in our later train rides, and it was not until the middle of the afternoon, Sunday, November 11, that we arrived at Guer.
|Machine Gun Mounted for Air Craft||Three Sergeants in Romenoville’s Ruins|
|Three Corporals Ready to Hike||The Battery Clerk and the Courier|
The trip up the long hill on which lay Camp Coetquidan was made in trucks. The distance was not more than two miles, but the steady upward climb fatigued the boys many evenings, when they returned from a supper at the Hotel de France, or at Mme. Legrey’s chocolate shop, or at one of the places that sprang up to supply the demand of the soldiers for food.
The camp was situated on the top of the highest hill in a region of gentle slopes of varying heights. From it was a wonderful view of the red and brown fields and purple woods that composed Brittany’s winter scenery. But the minds of the boys were not on this, nor on the gloriously colored sunrises, as they marched out in mud and snow to the drill field early each morning.
In previous years the French had had a large camp here, particularly for manoeuvres in the summer. After the outbreak of the war, it came to be used as a prison camp. When the Second Battalion of the 149th arrived, the French troops were no longer there, save such as guarded the prison camp, and the German prisoners of war were being moved to other quarters a short distance away. To clean out the barracks vacated by them, and prepare them for habitation by the men of the 149th was the job of the Second Battalion.
Clad in dungarees and slickers, instead of their uniforms, so that by shedding all their working clothes they could avoid carrying cooties and lice into their own barracks, the men set to work. The job was done thoroughly. First the barracks were cleaned of all refuse, which was immediately burned. Then they were sprinkled carefully with creolin—walls, ceiling and floor. Next the dirt floor was spaded up, sprinkled with creolin once more, and then tramped down into a hard surface again. Finally the walls[Pg 18] and ceiling were given three coats of whitewash. So painstakingly was the work done, and so well were the sanitary conditions of the camp maintained, that cooties were unknown in the regiment while it was there, save in exceptional cases.
At the end of the week the First Battalion arrived, and the batteries moved into their permanent quarters. Drill on the guns commenced the following Monday. At that time the battery had no horses, and all its schedule was devoted to learning how to handle the French “75.” This gun was in so many ways different from the American 3-inch piece, which the regiment had used at home, that all the men, recruits and veterans of the Mexican border alike, were novices. From 7:30 to 11:30 each morning, and 1 to 4 in the afternoon, the battery drilled on the guns.
For a day or two the non-commissioned officers and two picked gun squads of privates received intensive instruction on the four guns assigned to the battery. A French sergeant conducted the drill at first. Later two corporals from the First Division of the United States Army replaced him. From the simple exercise of taking post, the drill advanced day by day to the simulated firing of the battery according to problems like those of artillery in action. The men not working on gun squads stood back by the limbers and “took data,” their attention to the proceedings being gauged by one of the drill corporals when he pounced on some one for the result of his figures. Interest was quite likely to wander when one was more concerned with shuffling his feet to warm them a bit, or with searching for a dry spot—comparatively speaking—so that his wet feet would not become wetter.
In November this routine was broken by two events, one a day of sorrow, when Corporal Stevens died, the other a day of rejoicing, Thanksgiving. Following a severe attack of pleural pneumonia. Corporal Stanley S. Stevens died in the hospital at Camp Coetquidan on the evening of November 21. Having been in the battery since September, 1915, he was very well known in the regiment and had many friends in the organization. Even those who had not been intimate with him, were saddened by the loss of so fine a comrade and so excellent a soldier—the first loss of the regiment on the soil of France. The funeral is as beautiful[Pg 19] a memory to the members of the battery as one could hope to have. At noon, November 23, the coffin was carried from the hospital, placed upon a caisson, and draped with a large American flag. The band led the procession, followed by an honorary firing squad of twenty-one French soldiers. Next came the fourteen members of Battery E who formed the firing squad. Behind the caisson were General Summeral, commanding the 67th Artillery Brigade, Colonel Reilly and officers of the 149th Field Artillery. Next marched Battery E, and behind it, the other batteries of the regiment. The long column moved slowly down the road, to the music of Chopin’s “Funeral March,” through the green pine woods, to a knoll that commanded a beautiful view of the valley below. The service, by Chaplain McCallum, was followed by as perfect a “Taps,” and three rifle volleys as perfectly fired, as the battery has ever heard. Some weeks later was erected a headstone on this spot, where several other members of the regiment found a resting-place before we quitted Camp Coetquidan.
Cloaking his sorrow in an effort to create joy for the members of the regiment, Corporal Steven’s brother, who was the Y. M. C. A. representative with the regiment, promoted a day of games for Thanksgiving, which fell on November 29. There were races and contests of various kinds, which Battery E won with 26 points. In the football game between the First and Second Battalions, the Second won, 7 to 0, and on the team were seven players from Battery E, Weisman, Vinnedge, Pond, George, Monroe, Vavrinek and O’Meara. The dinner, at 3 o’clock, was, in the matter of food, all one could have asked at home, and no one fell in for “seconds.” The menu comprised turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberries, apple cobbler, cocoa and nuts.
Several days later, December 4, the battery had its first experience in actual firing. Four guns had been hauled out to the range, one from each of two batteries of the battalion and two from the other battery. These the batteries took turns in firing, drilling on the pieces left in the gun-park on the other days of the week. Battery E had its turn Tuesday. That afternoon the first gun squads of all eight sections—everyone was a cannoneer then, in gun and caisson sections alike, before the horses came—left camp about[Pg 20] noon, to hike about two miles to the range. The firing was across a valley at targets on the hillside opposite. The ground was soft and the guns jumped badly; so there was little riding of the pieces. The firing ceased at dusk, and the pieces were cleaned and greased in the dark. Thereafter the battery fired two days a week, practicing standing gun-drill on the other days.
On the following Sunday the horses which a detail had brought up from the remount station at St. Nazaire were assigned to the batteries. During the morning the rain fell in torrents, and the road to St. Malo, along which the horses were taken to water to the troughs near the “Chateau,” was almost a running stream. Fortunately the afternoon was clear. The horses were lined up on the drill field, paired off in teams, and assigned to the batteries. Drivers were named to care for teams, and “Slim” O’Meara became Regimental Stable Sergeant.
About this time came various changes in the battery. November 30, First Sergeant Vinnedge, Sergeant Weisman and Corporal Richardson left for officers’ school at Saumur. Sergeant Suter filled the position of “top-cutter” for a short time, being succeeded by Sergeant McElhone December 16, who was appointed First Sergeant December 27. Lieutenant Stone had gone to Battery F, taking command when Captain Benedict left. Lieutenant Smith had been assigned to Battery E on November 20. Later he followed Lieutenant Stone to F. Lieutenants Ennis, Adams, Apperson, Cronin, Stapleton and Bowman came to the battery from Saumur early in January. Lieutenant Ennis had been with the battery as a private on the border. Mechanic Youngs went to mechanics’ school at Grandicourt on January 4. Lieutenant Waters went to the British front for first-hand knowledge of trench warfare the same day.
An engineers’ squad was formed, consisting of Corporal Pond, Privates Bowra, Dolan, Dunn, George, Overstreet, Potter, Foster and Vavrinek, who were mastering the intricate mysteries of trench digging and camouflage, in order to do skillfully the construction of the battery’s gun positions in the field. In conformance, too, with the new mode of warfare to be met, a machine gun crew was picked, including Corporal Buckley and Privates Berney and McCarthy.
Upon returning from a day at the range December 19,[Pg 21] the battery was greeted with the news that the regiment was under quarantine and confined to camp on account of a few cases of spinal meningitis discovered that day. That ended the passes to Rennes, and the evening and Sunday visits to Guer, St. Malo and other neighboring villages. The weekend passes to Rennes had been much sought for. One left camp Saturday afternoon and returned Sunday night, making the 40-kilometre trip in two to four hours, depending on the success with which the diminutive engine that pulled the train made the ascent of the hills en route. On one occasion it could not make the grade on either the first or second attempt, sliding back down hill each time. Finally the boys all jumped off, and without the burden of their weight and aided by their pushing, the engine, puffing hard, made the top, bringing forth hearty American cheers, to the bewildered amusement of the handful of French passengers.
Rennes, the ancient capital of Brittany and haunt of the famous Du Guesclin, held much of historic interest. Being also a wealthy city, manufacturing and commercial, and containing at that time big hospitals, from which convalescent Russian, Serbian, Greek and Italian, as well as French soldiers walked about the streets, it held a great deal more of present interest to these Americans.
Guer, with its “epiceries,” which extended their stock of merchandise according to American tastes; its cafes, and its restaurants, attracted many visitors from camp Saturday and Sunday afternoons. St. Malo, over the hill in the opposite direction, the “Chateau” on the way thither, and the collection of places about the “Bellevue,” at the entrance to camp, furnished sustenance nearer at hand. Cider—2 sous a glass and 6 sous a bottle—was popular and cheap; “vin rouge” and more select and expensive drinks were also plentiful. The meals were chiefly omelets and French fried potatoes. One could never be sure about the meat, what it was or whether one could eat it, although there was not the dire scarcity or absolute lack of it that met us later near the battle front. The bread to be had was exceedingly good, as was also the jam, which was, however, extremely high-priced—4 or 5 francs for a large can—and the hungry appetites that an army meal did not nearly satisfy after a hard, cold day’s work were appeased with this simple fare on many evenings.
[Pg 22]But the visits to these places of refreshment which the quarantine ended were not greatly missed. For the Christmas packages had begun to arrive. There were not so many soldiers in France then that restrictions need be placed upon soldiers’ mail. Consequently the packages from home were many, and contained all manner of good things. They commenced to flow in a week or two before the holiday, and continued to arrive long afterwards. Best of all, however, on Christmas day, were the letters from home telling that our first letters from France had been received and read.
Christmas morning we heard, instead of the usual reveille march, a special Christmas selection of the band, “Adeste, Fideles.” After breakfast—bacon, beans, doughnuts, bread and coffee—the battery gathered about the Christmas tree in the mess shack. Holly and mistletoe, from the neighboring woods, decorated the walls. At one side was a brilliant imitation of a hearth. Santa Claus (alias Corporal Pond) handed out the packages which the men of the battery had contributed to his pack the evening before and also a package of cigarettes to each man, the gift of Captain Robbins. Later in the day were distributed boxes of candy, a pound box for each man, which were the gift of Major and Mrs. Judah. During the morning Major Redden passed through the barracks, and his greetings for the day were returned heartily and vociferously.
At 3:30 was served dinner, an array of turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, apple pie and cocoa that more than extinguished a man’s appetite. In the evening the band played. The infectious rhythm of “Allah’s Holiday” and similar pieces drew the men from their letters, card-games, magazines, etc., and soon the street was filled with a singing, dancing throng of soldiers. Soon all, soldiers and band, paraded to the officers’ quarters. Nothing would satisfy them but Major Redden’s appearance and a speech from him. This he gave, to the delight of all the men. Then he passed out cigars till they were gone, and ended with regrets that there were not more and a hope that another Christmas would see all of them home in the midst of all comfort.
The New Year was introduced in true military fashion. The band played the old year out. At one minute before midnight, “Taps” was blown. Then, immediately, “First[Pg 23] Call” announced the new year, and “Reveille” ushered in 1918.
With the new year began our preparations for service at the front. At 8:30 New Year’s day, the regiment was inspected by Colonel Reilly in its field equipment of steel helmets, woolen helmets, packs, side-arms and rubber boots. Our “tin derbies” had been issued the evening before, and were just beginning to furnish the unfailing fascination of revealing their long list of varied uses: candle-stick, camp-stool, market-basket, cymbals, wash basin, etc.
There was no turkey on this holiday, but the menu was pretty nearly as good as on preceding fete-days: Roast beef, mashed potatoes, creamed carrots, lettuce salad, apple cobbler and coffee. In the packages from home were ample additions to the battery mess in the form of candy, cake, cookies and occasionally cocoa. The three stoves, at each end and in the middle of the long shack, formed the centers of parties limited in size to the number who could squeeze into the warm circle. The others, engaged in reading letters from home or writing in reply, sat or lay on their cots, iron beds with steel springs, furnished with mattress, pillow and plenty of blankets. On the shelf between the windows and on the row of hooks below, were arranged each man’s belongings. Electric lights cast some glow from the beams above, but reading or writing demanded the aid of a candle at one’s side. Save when the rain, falling heavily, dripped through the roof, so that certain unlucky men had to stretch their shelter-halves as awnings over their cots, the quarters were comfortable enough, so comfortable that at a later date, in some muddy gun-pit, we looked back with longing upon the winter months at Coetquidan.
While the cannoneers had been firing at the range, the drivers had been busy with horse exercise and grooming. Four guns had been left in permanent position at the range. Now the time had come when we were to practice on other ranges, and our guns to be taken thither by our own drivers and horses each time. The first of these occasions is historic, for it was the day of Sergeant’s Newell’s famous report.
Rain had caused postponement on the first day set, Monday, January 7. Two days later snow made the attempt abortive, blowing in the windows all night and lying on the[Pg 24] ground several inches deep when we arose, at 4 a. m. At 6 the battalion was harnessed and hitched, ready to start. The ground was so slippery and the winter morning was still so dark that the drivers did not mount, but led their horses. Things went difficultly but regularly until the Third Section piece was leaving the gun park. There was a slight downhill slope; the brakes refused to work; the horses, new to artillery harness, became tangled up, and ended by running away, disappearing from the column into the darkness. Sergeant Newell was having some concern over starting the caisson. When he caught up with the column on the road, he learned his piece was missing. At the call, “Chiefs of sections, report,” he approached the captain, saluted and said:
“Sir, I understand my piece has run away.”
“Understand?” exclaimed the battery commander. “My God, man! Don’t you know?”
The piece had not gone far. The horses had entangled the harness with the pole of a wagon at the end of the gun park, and halted. No damage was done, and a fresh start was made. Out on the road another runaway started, but came to a quick end when a horse fell. To the perseverance of Lieutenant Apperson is due the fact that the piece at last reached the range,—a stretch of trackless snow, with no sign of another gun. The carriage had taken the wrong road, and missed the battalion, which had given up the journey and returned to camp.
Regimental firing succeeded battalion, and brigade succeeded regimental. Hikes, with blanket rolls on the carriages and packs on the men’s backs, were frequent. One of these, through Plantain les Forges and Plelan, took the road along the edge of the forest in which the heroes of the lays of Brittany, according to legend, once lived, and fought, and had high adventures. Other preparations for service at the front followed. With the departure of the 51st Artillery Brigade, of the 26th Division, for the front, we began to look forward to the day when we should entrain.
Late in January we were issued gas masks, both British and French. Sergeant Bolte and Corporal Holton were appointed Gas N. C. O.’s for the battery. On February 6 the men tested their masks in an abri filled with chlorine gas, some coming out just in time to give an exhibition [Pg 25]gas-mask drill before our new brigade and divisional commanders, Brigadier-General McKenstrie and Major-General Menoher. An officer from the British army gave us a more vivid acquaintance with the effects of gas in warfare in some lectures at the Y. M. C. A.
After the 51st Brigade had left the camp, the Q. M. details at the railroad station at Guer fell to the 67th Brigade. Until the day of our leaving, our time was thenceforth largely occupied with details which spent the day unloading rations, forage and fuel at Guer. Since these gave the men an opportunity to get meals in the town, and sometimes to spend the evenings there, these details were not unpopular.
Saturday, February 9, following a mounted inspection, in which the regiment was equipped as for the field, we considered ourselves on our way to war. The guard that night began the wearing of steel helmets. Duffle bags were ordered packed. The following evening they were collected, and taken to the railroad station at Guer. Long will the men of Battery E remember the night they were hauled out of bed twice to push the wagons out of the mud, the night they unwittingly gave their last farewell to their duffle bags, which they expected to see so soon, yet were to see again never.
At the end of January, Harry Overstreet, who had been with the battery on the Mexican border, rejoined, after having seen plenty of activity in the vicinity of Verdun with the French Ambulance Service, winning the Croix de Guerre. With him came Franklin Kearfott, who had been in the same unit with him. February 10, Andre Tubach, formerly of France and Woodlawn, also joined Battery E.
February 12, Sergeant O’Meara succeeded First Sergeant McElhone, who returned to the charge of the Second Section, Sergeant Suter going to the Fourth Section.
Saturday, February 16, the regiment began to leave Camp Coetquidan, Headquarters Company and Battery A going that morning, while the band played American airs. The following afternoon Battery E hiked to Guer. There was a long wait while Battery D pulled out. Then guns, caissons, wagons and horses were packed on flat cars in short order. The men were first distributed thirty men to a box-car of the type made famous by the label, “Chevaux[Pg 26] 8, Hommes 40,” about half the size of an American box-car. In the cars was an intricate contrivance in the shape of benches which took up so much space that, with their bulky packs in every nook and corner, the men had little space more than to sit down. Sleep was impossible, so cold was the first night, except for those who, tired to exhaustion, dozed off, to wake up later feeling half frozen.
Next day the presence of a few empty box-cars at the tail of the train was discovered. By using these, the number of men in a car was reduced one-half. When the benches were taken out, also, the quarters were roomy enough for some comfort. At the occasional stops the men had an opportunity to get out to stretch themselves. Sometimes a couple of French Territorials (men too old or otherwise unfit for service) were on hand with hot black coffee in which there was just enough touch of rum to make one feel its presence. Many, many times subsequently was such a cup of hot coffee cause for great thankfulness. Indeed, it was on that trip, for the cold rations—hard tack, corned beef, canned tomatoes, canned pork and beans, and jam—left one thirsty and cold.
Our train had pulled out of the station at Guer about dusk Sunday evening. Tuesday we seemed headed for Paris, but, after a glimpse of Versailles, we skirted it to the south. Resuming our eastward course, we turned south in Lorraine, reaching Gerberviller about midnight Wednesday, February 20.
Unloading at Gerberviller was far different from the easy job of loading at Guer. The night was black. On account of the proximity of the front, no lights could be used. Not a match’s flare, not a cigarette’s glow, was allowed, lest it serve as a target for some bombing aeroplane. There was no loading platform, and the carriages and wagons which had been rolled across ramps directly onto the flat cars had to be coaxed and guided down planks steeply inclined from the car’s side to the ground. Handling the horses packed closely in box-cars was a difficult task in utter darkness.
Dawn was just breaking when the battery pulled out. A grey light showed us the ruins of the town of Gerberviller as we passed through. The houses stood like spectres, stripped of the life and semblance of home which they had held before the German wave had swept this far in August, 1914, and then, after a few days, had receded, leaving them ruins. Four walls, perhaps not so many, were all that remained of building after building; windows were gone, roofs fallen, and inside were piles of brick and stone, in which, here and there, grass had found root.
At the village of Moyen the battery stopped long enough to water the horses. At 10:30 we arrived in Vathimenil, where the battery halted till 1 o’clock, and mess was served. In the afternoon in the dust and heat of a sunshiny day such as Lorraine can produce after a cold spring night, the battery hiked through St. Clermont to Lunéville, the cannoneers following the carriages on foot.
There we were quartered in an old barrack of French lancers, whose former stables housed our horses. Big, clean rooms, on the third floor, were assigned to Battery E. With bed ticks filled with straw, we made this a comfortable home.
[Pg 28]A practice review the following morning and another, the real thing, in the afternoon, before a French general and his staff, formally introduced us to Lorraine. In our free hours during the day and in the evening, we added to this acquaintance by pretty thorough familiarity with the city of Lunéville.
Though its nearness to the battle front restricted trade and industry a great deal, yet its shops, restaurants and cafes proved a paradise for the men who remained there at the horse-line, as the battery’s song, “When We Were Down in Lunéville,” attests. Though the streets were absolutely dark, behind the shuttered windows and the darkened doors business was brisk enough. At 8 o’clock, however, all shops were closed, and soldiers must be off the streets by 8:30.
These restrictions were, in fact, precautions against enemy aeroplanes. Of these we had close enough experience on our third night in the city, when a bomb fell in the fields that lay back of the barracks, shaking the windows by its explosion.
The cannoneers did not stay long in Lunéville. February 25 they marched out of the city with their packs on their backs, up near Marainviller. There were between forty and fifty men altogether, including the four gun crews and the engineers’ detail. When we marched along a road screened from the enemy by a mat of boughs stretched by wires between high poles along one side of the way, we knew we were not far from the front. The big thrill came, however, when, turning off the high road, we went forward one squad at a time at intervals of about 200 yards. The chief object was to avoid attracting the notice of some chance enemy aeroplane by the movement of a considerable body of men. To our minds the precaution seemed for the purpose of limiting casualties, in case a shell burst on the road, to the men of only one squad.
But we took our way in peace up the hill in front of us, and carried up supplies and tools that followed on the ration cart. We put all in a big abri—a marvelous piece of work, of long passages, spacious rooms, wooden floors and stairways, electric lights, and flues for stove chimneys. Then we discovered that this was not for us, but for some brigadier-general and his staff when he directed an operation[Pg 29] at the front. So we moved ourselves and baggage to another big abri not far away and not much less comfortable, except that it lacked the wooden floors, the electric lights, and the spaciousness of the rooms which the first abri possessed.
The next four days were spent in preparations for building a battery position. The spot chosen was in a hollow, back of a gently rising slope. The woods near by and the tall thickets made good concealment, but the ground was rather marshy in the wet weather we were then having. Part of the men began to dig, and part wove twigs through chicken wire to stretch over the excavations as camouflage. From 7 a. m. to 5 p. m. was a long arduous day, particularly since it was begun and ended by a hike of two miles from the dug-out to the position. Rain fell most of the time, soaking through slickers and blouses to one’s very skin.
Two of the days the gunners, No. 1 and No. 2 men of each section spent at a French battery near by, to gain experience in actual firing. Little firing was done—only 24 rounds per gun one day and 15 rounds the second, for in this quiet sector there was little ordinarily but reprisal fire—but the men learned quickly the actual working of a battery. To the Frenchmen the quickness and the constant good-humor of the American boys, much younger than the average among them, were matters of comment. “Toujours chantant, toujours riant” (Always singing, always laughing), were the words of the lieutenant who fired the battery. The warm-hearted hospitality of these Frenchmen—resting in this sector from the fearful work, night and day, at Verdun and pardonable, one would say, if somewhat uneven-tempered and unmindful of others in their fatigue from that strain—impressed the Americans in turn. Every comfort that the dug-outs afforded was offered to the visitors, and when the Americans had, in an impromptu quartette, entertained the Frenchmen with harmonized popular songs, the latter summoned a young “chanteur” who sang the latest songs from Paris till his voice was weary.
Orders came to cease work on this position, and none too soon. For when the men were returning from work there for the last time, about 5 p. m., March 2, the woods in the vicinity were deluged with gas shells.
[Pg 30]The following day the gun squads and engineers hiked to the town of Laneuveville-aux-Bois, about two kilometres away. There they had for billet a big room, formerly the police magistrate’s office. The town contained only French soldiers billeted there en route to the trenches or return. So close to the lines was it, that shells fell there frequently.
Back of the town and to the left was the site of Battery E’s first gun position. On the far side (from the enemy lines) of a gently sloping hill, covered by tall yellow grass, was staked out the four gun pits, with abris between. The first work was to construct the camouflage. This was composed of strips of chicken wire, in which long yellow grass was thinly woven so as to blend with that growing around the position. These strips were supported by wires stretched from tall stakes, forming the ridge, to short stakes, scarcely two feet above the ground, at either side. In shape, the result was something like a greenhouse. The angles were so graduated that no shadow was cast by the sun, and the color blended so well with the surroundings that no human trace was visible on the hillside from a distance.
As fast as the camouflage could be “woven” and put in place to shield them from observance by the enemy planes that whirred overhead in the bright afternoons, the gun pits were dug. Platforms and “circulaires” were installed as each pit was dug. The guns of the second platoon were brought from Lunéville on the evening of March 7, and caissons of ammunitions followed during the night. The rapidity and excellence of the work on the position were partly due to the French officer, Captain Frey, whose battery was near, who gave his advice and counsel, and to the little sergeant, nicknamed “La Soupe” (the words with which he always signified his intention to depart for mess, for he acquired no English), who constantly supervised the work.
At 9:50 a. m., March 8, Battery E fired its first shot at the front, the Third Section piece having the honor. The gun crew was composed of Sergeant Newell, Corporal Monroe, and Privates Sexauer, Ekberg, Farrell and Kilner. The crew working on the Fourth Section piece, which registered the same morning, included Sergeant Suter, Corporal Holton, and Privates O’Reilly, O’Brien, Ladd, Colvin and Kulicek.
[Pg 31]Until the first platoon’s guns came up, the gun crews of that platoon alternated on the pieces with the crews of the second platoon, who could sleep in the billet in town on their nights off. The men on the guns had two watches to keep, one at the guns, and one at the “rocket post” on top the hill, to notify the battery if a red rocket, the signal for a barrage, appeared at points laid out on a chart. At first there were two barrages, Embermenil and Jalindet, the names of two towns in whose direction the different fires lay. If the sentinel on the hill-top shouted either of these names, the sentinel at the position was to fire the guns and awake the crews. The names, unusual and difficult to ears unfamiliar with French, were not easy to remember. From that difficulty developed the “Allabala” barrage which made Mosier famous.
Seeing a rocket rise in the vicinity of Embermenil (whether white or red is a mystery), he started to shout the name, but in his excitement could not pronounce the French word, and stuttered forth a succession of syllables like some Arabian Nights’ incantation. Whatever it was, “Allabala” or something else, it worked. The guns were fired—until an order from the O. P. called a halt, declaring the alarm false.
The First and Second Section pieces were brought from Lunéville on the evening of March 15, and registered the next day. The First Section gun crew was composed of Sergeant Bolte, Corporal Fred Howe and Privates Nickoden, Freeburg, Mosier, Wallace and Hodgins; the Second Section crew of Sergeant McElhone, Corporal Clark, Privates Donald Brigham, Meacham, Nixon and Herrod.
March 17, 1918, was remarkable not because it was Sunday or St. Patrick’s day so much as because on that day Battery E’s camouflage burnt. In the course of a 10-round reprisal fire, about 4 p. m., the flame from the muzzle of the Second Section gun set ablaze the grass woven in the wire netting overhead. In a second the covering was in flames. The dry grass burnt like tinder. The men beat the blaze with sand bags, but could check it but little in the face of the intense heat and thick smoke. By tearing off several strips of netting, they succeeded in preventing the fire’s spreading to the other end of the position. Within a short space of time the first platoon’s camouflage was[Pg 32] changed from yellow grass to black ashes. The work of seven or eight days was undone in as many minutes.
On so clear and bright a day there was grave danger that the position would be betrayed to enemy observation by the flames, or by the black scar they had left, or even by the men’s activity in repairing it. A few bursts of shrapnel gave warning of the danger. Immediately as much of the burnt surface as could be was covered with rolls of painted canvas on wire netting, such as the French artillery used. Then all the men were set to gathering grass in the fields back of the position. Not long after, about fifty men from D and F batteries came over to help, and all the available men were brought out in the chariot du parc from the battery’s horse-line at Lunéville. So eagerly and rapidly did all of them work that the old netting was restretched and woven full of grass by midnight.
During the next two days the firing was small, only a few rounds occasionally. The chief work was digging the abris and carrying up beams and concrete blocks from the road for their construction.
On March 20 the battery was engaged in tearing down enemy barbed wire, firing 216 rounds per gun during the day, in preparation for an attack that night. At 7:40 p. m. commenced the actual bombardment. A few minutes before that time 75’s began to bark from the woods to our left and in the rear of us. The reports gradually grew in number. At the appointed moment, our guns began to bang away. For the next two hours and forty-five minutes, the noise was deafening. Batteries of whose existence we had not the slightest suspicion were firing near us. Every hillock and clump of trees seemed to blaze with gun flashes. Joined with the constant bark and bang of the 75’s near by was the deep thunderous roar of heavier cannon in the distance.
At 10 o’clock the firing began to die away. Half an hour later only a few shots at long intervals could be heard. Fatigued with their strenuous and racking work, the men eagerly attacked the mess just then brought up to them. Nearly all were a little deaf from their guns’ racket. A few, on the gun crews, were totally oblivious to all sound whatsoever, and could comprehend only signs.
|B. C. Detail at Observation Post near Ancerviller||Cook Boisacq Hears Thrilling Tales at the O. P.|
|Horseshoers’ Shop at the Merviller Horse-lines||Aeroplane Scouts Wouldn’t See this Pup-Tent|
The first published account of an engagement of the 42d Division was brief and anonymous. In the Paris[Pg 33] edition of the “New York Herald” of March 22, 1918, at the end of a column on the first page telling of the decoration of Corporal Alexander Burns and other members of the regiment appeared this paragraph, under date of March 21:
“Members of the American force made a raid last night. Following a long barrage, the boys went over in good shape, but the German trenches were deserted, the long heavy Allied barrage having driven every one out. No American was hurt or killed.”
The enemy’s reply to us did not come till the next morning. Roused at 4 to stand by the guns, the cannoneers had scarcely occupied their posts when shells began to drop dangerously near. Captain Robbins ordered everyone into the abris till the shelling ceased. Half an hour later we went out to find that a gas shell had made the officers’ abri and vicinity untenable, all our telephone wires were cut, and shell fragments had torn up things here and there. How Nickoden fared, who had been out at the rocket post on the hill-top during it all, we learned when he was relieved shortly after. Hearing not a sound, he was aware that shells were falling near only when he saw them plow up the ground within a few hundred feet of him. Corporal Buckley was wounded by a shell fragment and Private McCarthy was badly gassed that morning, in the machine-gun post at the top of the hill.
Private (later Corporal) Mangan was recommended for the D. S. C. by the regimental commander “for volunteering to and aiding the French in keeping open a telephone line running from a forward observation station across the open to the rear. This on March 19 and again on March 20, when the telephone line was repeatedly cut by an intense enemy bombardment of heavy caliber shells from both guns and trench mortars.” The French cited Mangan for the Croix de Guerre for his conduct on this occasion also.
Orders to move came that day. A few more shells landed within a few yards of the position in the afternoon, and one end of Laneuveville-aux-Bois received considerable shrapnel. But we pulled out safely that evening, reaching Lunéville at midnight.
Two days later the regiment left Lunéville on a 120-kilometre hike to the divisional area, in the vicinity of Langres, where the division was to spend some time in[Pg 34] manoeuvres. But the orders were countermanded before the regiment had gone more than its first day’s hike, on account of the Germans’ success in their first big offensive of the spring on the northern front.
So the battery remained for a week at Remenoville, in readiness to return to the front upon the receipt of orders. During those seven days of sunshiny weather, in the bright warmth of early spring, the men basked in ease and comfort. Gun drill for the cannoneers and grooming for the drivers occupied the mornings. The afternoons the men had to themselves, for games of horseshoes, writing letters to make up for lost time at the front, baths in the cold brook, and washing clothes in the village fountain. Eggs and potatoes and milk were abundant in the town—until the battery’s consumption depleted the supply—and the men ate as often in some French kitchen as in their battery mess line. Some boys “slipped one over on the army,” too, by sleeping between white sheets in soft big beds, renting a room for the munificent sum of one franc a day, instead of rolling up in their blankets in the haymow where they were billeted.
The following Saturday, the battery hiked to Fontenoy-la-Joute, on its way back to the front. Easter Sunday, March 31, was spent there, the band playing in front of the “mairie,” on the steps of which the chaplain held the church services. Rain fell intermittently in a depressing drizzle. Pulling out in the afternoon, the battery reached the spot they since call “Easter Hill,” where some French batteries had their horse-lines. There the battery had its evening mess—stew—and while waiting for orders to move on, the men slept wherever there was shelter and dryness—on sacks full of harness, in caisson boxes, under tarpaulins stretched over the pieces. At 1 a. m. the guns pulled out, arriving in position as day was breaking.
Sergeant Bolte had gone to officers’ school at Saumur from Remenoville, and Sergeant Landrus took charge of the First Section in his place. At Fontenoy, Sergeant Newell was sent to the hospital with acute bronchitis; so Sergeant Wright went to the front in charge of the Third Section. Sergeant Newell did not return to the battery, but went from the hospital to Saumur, returning later to the regiment as a second lieutenant in Battery F, after serving a while in the 32d Division.
[Pg 35]The new positions were near Montigny, the first platoon to the left of the town, the second platoon just in back of it. Both were abandoned French positions, but much different in construction; 163, the first platoon’s position, was constructed well underground. Only the embrasures through which the guns fired were exposed to the enemy’s fire. On the other hand, 162, the position of the second platoon, was covered only by camouflage, with the exception of the abris, of course. An 8-foot trench, instead of a tunnel, connected the abris and gun emplacements, and the position was much lighter and dryer than 163. But the solid construction of the latter was of fortunate advantage when the enemy directed its fire on it for several hours continuously on two occasions.
After one night on “Easter Hill,” the horse-lines moved, with a stop next night at Azerailles, to the Ferme de Grammont, between Merviller and Baccarat. The Second Battalion occupied old French stables, which long use had made veritable mudholes. Piles of ooze and “gumbo” had been dug out and these were constantly added to, but still the mire was so bad that it was fatal to loose rubber boots. Grooming seemed a hopeless task, so far as looks were concerned.
This was the first time a divisional sector was taken over completely by American forces. The French were sending all their available troops to the northern part of the front, where one big enemy offensive followed another. So, as a matter of fact, this section of the front was very lightly defended. But the spirit of the American soldiers, who took this light task as seriously and as determinedly as they did far heavier and more vital ones later on, made up for lack of numbers, and the enemy was worsted in every encounter. The discipline and care that was the rule in this comparatively easy work during the three and a half months in Lorraine formed the basis of the division’s splendid record in the big battles of later months, and was the chief reason why the division, though engaged in all the major operations of the American army, and, in addition, at the vital point of General Gouraud’s army in Champagne, in the biggest battle of the war, spending a greater number of days at the front than any other division, has not so big a casualty list as some other divisions.
[Pg 36]Since both positions occupied by the platoons were known to the enemy, and our only safety lay in maintaining his belief that they were abandoned, no one was allowed to enter or leave them during the daytime. At first so rigid was this rule that we could not even go to Montigny for meals. Instead, the raw rations were divided among the sections, and the men cooked them as best they could in their mess kits over the little stoves that were in each abri. But cooking could only be done at night, lest the smoke betray us. So seven or eight hungry men, having eaten hard-tack and a little cold food during the day, crowded around the little stove from nightfall till early morning, doing their unskilled best to make something edible out of hard-tack, canned corned beef, canned tomatoes, potatoes, a slab of bacon, coffee, some sugar, and occasionally some beef cut up into small slices or cubes. The result was that the men got neither much sleep nor much nourishment, and after about ten days of this sort of living, the meals were cooked in the kitchen at Montigny and then carried in heat-containing cans to the positions.
Even when conditions were thus bettered, there were still heavy inroads on sleep by the large amount of sentry duty required. In a clump of bushes at the top of the mound in which was dug the position, was placed an indicator board, similar to that at Laneuveville-aux-Bois, on which were marked several barrages. From 6 p. m. to 6 a. m., a sentry stood at this post watching the horizon for red rockets signaling for a barrage. In addition, one man, and sometimes two men, had to be on watch in each gun pit, ready to fire a barrage the instant it was called for. For a time this required four hours’ watch every night for each man. Later this was reduced to two, or at most three hours a night.
April 6 Battery E commenced work on a new position halfway on the road from Montigny to Reherrey. Under the direction of a camouflage non-com. from the engineers, wires were stretched on top of stakes, forming a frame not unlike that of a greenhouse roof, which was covered by slashed burlap on a backing of chicken netting, a species of camouflage manufactured by the French by the millions of square yards. It hid whatever was beneath it, and cast no shadows, and blended in tone with the grassy fields around. When the camouflage was up, a trench eight feet deep[Pg 37] was dug the length of the position. From it saps were started downward and forward from the trench. These carried the work into solid rock, necessitating drilling and blasting every foot of the way. At the same time the gun pits and ammunition shelters were begun. Work was slow because of the hardness of the rock, and the available men were few. After staying a few days in Reherrey, the squad of engineers had moved to Montigny. There, in billet No. 19, they and the extra cannoneers, sent up later from the horse-lines, lodged. To speed the work, some of the gun crews came from the positions each day. After several weeks, drivers were sent from the horse-lines to exchange places with some of the cannoneers. A well designed wooden tablet, the work of Nixon, was placed at the entrance to the position, reading:
BATTERY E, 149th F. A.
A. D. 1918
The gun pits were rushed to completion in the last days of April, so that they might be occupied by the guns of Battery D in an attack that came May 3. In the preceding days the French had moved up heavy artillery in support, and several batteries of 75’s, of the same 232d French regiment which had been our neighbors in the Lunéville sector, occupied the meadows to the left of our new position.
Our firing had been only occasional and limited to brief reprisals up to this time. The first platoon, at 163, had suffered most in reply, receiving over 400 shells one day. Now a heavy bombardment was planned, to push back the enemy lines a short way and safeguard our own occupation of “No Man’s Land.” On May 2, some of the batteries kept pounding away all day, cutting barbed wire entanglements and clearing away obstacles in the infantry’s advance.
The following morning we were aroused at 3, and stood by the guns. At 3:50 we added our fire to the din around[Pg 38] us, sending over a barrage in front of the troops going over the top. It lasted only two hours, and expended about 175 rounds per gun. So thorough and heavy had been the preliminary bombardment that the enemy had been forced to withdraw all his troops from the shelled area, and the infantry met with next to no resistance in reaching the objective set for them.
May 13 the officers and sergeants went to Azerailles to inspect Battery B equipped and packed in the manner of a battery on the road prepared for open field warfare. Rumors had been plentiful for weeks (1) that the 42d Division was going home to become instructors of the millions of drafted men in the great camps in the United States, (2) that the 42d Division was going to the Somme to aid in checking the rapid drive of the enemy in the north, (3) that the division was to go to a rest camp in the south of France, (4) that the regiment was to turn in its horses and be motorized, etc., etc. The review at Azerailles strengthened some of these rumors and stirred up still others. But, for the present, all these reports came to naught.
May 21 the battery moved four kilometres back to a reserve position just in front of Merviller, which had formerly been occupied by Battery B. The latter moved up to relieve us. After the seven weeks of close confinement in damp abris, the change to the life at the Merviller position was like a trip to a summer resort. Being so far back of the lines, the men were permitted to move about with perfect freedom. The stream just back of the position invited cool swims on the hot dusty afternoons. Ball games passed the time of waiting for mess. Battery E won a close game and keg of Baccarat beer from Headquarters Company by the score of 12 to 11. Just across the road was stationed a bathhouse and laundry unit, and before long the battery had replaced their uniforms, torn and dirty from digging, with more presentable ones.
Merviller’s cafes and “epiceries” furnished food to make up for the lean weeks at Montigny. Being only a few minutes’ walk from the position, the town was a frequent evening’s resort. Baccarat, about eight kilometres farther, was visited when Sunday passes permitted. This city was not so large as Lunéville and held by no means the same attractions as that early favorite of the 149th men. But the shops,[Pg 39] cafes, large hospitals, the celebrated Baccarat Glass Works, and the fact that it was a city drew the men there often. Across the Meurthe River, between the cathedral and the heights at the western edge of town lay the ruins of a large section of the city, shelled in those days of August, 1914, that marked the limits of the Germans’ first onrush.
Work had been dropped, after a couple of days, on the position begun by Battery B some distance in front of the one we occupied. Gun drill and instruction in various phases of the battery’s work was the sole occupation of the men. Only once did the battery fire. At 1:30 a. m., June 5, the gun crews were hurriedly aroused, and fired for about an hour, in response to a heavy enemy barrage, to which all guns in the sector replied.
Gas alarms woke the battery many times at night, but by this time the men had reached that stage where their own judgment told them when they should sit up with their gas masks, and when they might turn over and go to sleep. In brief, the alarms, though frequent, bothered them little.
June 9 the first two sections took two Battery D guns up in front of our forward positions, to demonstrate for the officers of the regiment the methods of open field warfare. All of the men learned to put up the “flat-tops” that were always, after we left Lorraine, used as camouflage over the guns. From four corner poles, held firmly by ropes and stakes, heavy ropes were stretched as taut as possible. On this framework was spread a cord netting, about thirty feet square, whose corners slanted out equidistant from the corner poles. On the netting were fastened wisps of green burlap thick enough to conceal what lay beneath it, but not so thick as to cast a heavy shadow which might be distinguished in an aerial photograph. This form of camouflage could be set up and taken down quickly, and used repeatedly.
During the latter part of our stay near Merviller, the peculiar sickness called “trench fever” ran through the regiment, thinning the ranks of the men fit for active duty and sending many to the hospital for a few days. After a few days of fever, languidness and weakness, the illness passed away.
June 19 the first platoon pulled out, and the second[Pg 40] platoon followed on the next night, hiking 37 kilometres to Damas-aux-Bois. After two days there, the regiment marched to Charmes, where we entrained for a short train ride to Chalons-sur-Marne. By noon next day the battery was in comfortable billets in Chepy, which, to us, is the cleanest village in France, for no manure piles decorate its main street and no dirty gutters line its roads.
Swimming in the canal near by, French “movies” at the Foyer du Soldat, plenty of food—vegetables were abundant, and so were cheese, butter and milk till the hungry soldiers bought out the creamery completely—made this a delightful place, in spite of the boredom of “trigger squeeze exercise” and overlong “stables” in the heat of the day.
On the night of June 28 the regiment marched up through Chalons to Camp de la Carriere, a large concentration camp in the midst of woods, away from any towns, the nearest of which was the little village of Cuperly. We were in the great area known as the Camp de Chalons, where MacMahon had mobilized his army of 50,000 men in 1870, which ended so unhappily at Sedan.
Sunday, June 30, one year since the regiment had been called out, there was a rigid inspection in the morning, and in the afternoon Colonel Reilly and Major Redden spoke on the work of the regiment in that time, and announced that the 42d was now to go into a new sector as a combat division.
The 149th had no fireworks on July 4, 1918. Even the games arranged for the afternoon to celebrate the holiday were neglected. There was good reason: one of the biggest batches of mail our battery had ever received. A letter from home was worth many skyrockets or three-legged races to us. But that evening we saw a bigger variety of pyrotechnic displays than we had ever witnessed before, even at “Paine’s Burning of Rome” or some other such spectacle.
After supper we were given the order to pack, and at 10:30 pulled out on the road. Our way was north, through a broad and barren country, marked in the darkness only by chalky white roads and trenches. Overhead were planes whirring and buzzing, invisible, but very audible, in the dark night. Here and there one dropped a sparkling signal light. At our backs were big fingers of whiteness thrust up into the sky; they were the searchlights in front of Chalons, seeking for enemy planes to reveal to the anti-aircraft guns defending the city from bombers. Ahead, and far to the right and left, the front lines disclosed their presence by light rockets or “star-shells” that continually shot up into the sky and perhaps hovered there for long minutes. We were used to rockets in Lorraine, but never had we seen so many and such a variety as confronted us now. Here was visible evidence that we were engaged in something big.
At 3:30 a. m., we unlimbered our guns and pointed them across a deep chalk trench in front of us. The ammunition from the caissons was piled beside them. As day broke we pitched the flat-tops. The first platoon was located about 200 meters to the right of the second platoon. An equal distance on either side were located platoons of D and F batteries. Thus were the regiment’s guns lined along[Pg 42] the trench for a distance of two kilometres. To the right flowed the Suippes river, on which was situated the nearest town, Jonchery-sur-Suippes. Several kilometres in front, the church steeple of St. Hilary-le-Grand served as a point for calculating the guns’ fire.
The regiment was in a reserve position, just back of a gently sloping crest, on the forward side of which were the strongly fortified entrenchments of the front lines. One of our earliest fires practiced in gun drill was “firing at will” at imaginary German tanks appearing over this crest. At that time such a possibility was not without its thrills, for the four previous German offensives, on the northern part of the line, had been strikingly successful that spring, and the one which we were to help stop was known to exceed in magnitude any previous attempt. General Gouraud’s exhortation to the French Fourth Army, to which our division was attached, was to “Stand or die!” This his men were ready to do, but how successfully they would withstand the repeated rushes of the German hordes, whose numbers had proved superior in the north, no one could be sure. Two reserve positions were picked, to which the battery might fall back in case the enemy broke through, and Lieutenant Anderson, Sergeant O’Meara and Sergeant Suter spent three days exploring by-roads and paths through the barbed wire for short cuts to be used in case it became necessary to fall back. Fortunately, “falling back” was something the 42d Division never had to do.
Our first work was to dig a gun-pit beneath our flat-top, with a short shelter trench for the gun crew on each side. The pit was dug nearly three feet deep, and the soil piled high in sand-bags on the sides, for additional protection. The gravel and lime, into which our picks and shovels went, seemed as hard as mortar. Under the hot July sun, the men shed all the garments they could, and still the perspiration poured down their bodies.
Ammunition came up at night, and three thousand rounds per gun was stacked in the trench in front, and camouflaged, ready at hand when the attack should come.
For meals the cannoneers walked, in reliefs, to an expanse of low brush, just over a rise a few hundred yards behind us. At a distance this was an innocent looking spot. But when one followed a path into it, he discovered on[Pg 43] every hand pup-tents full of infantrymen, battery and company kitchens cooking meals, and wagons and teams hidden by the foliage. Here was our kitchen, with Tubach and Harris in action, and the branch battery office where “Rainbow” Gibbs officiated, under a tarpaulin beside the chariot du parc. Jerry Rosse, on his ration cart, brought up fresh beef, which Tubach made into delicious roasts and nourishing steaks, as well as an abundance of supplies which enabled us to eat better than we had dreamed a battery could eat in the field.
Daytimes one would scarcely imagine a war was on. Not a gun could be heard. Over the crest in front we could see the black ovals of the enemy’s observation balloons. Occasionally an aeroplane’s whir made us scurry to cover, while a machine gun took a few shots at it, if it was an enemy craft. But otherwise scarcely a sign of activity could be seen on the whole landscape.
At night it was far different. The heavy booming of big guns in our rear, the scream and whistle of shells through the air overhead, the thunder of the enemy’s cannon, lasted from 10 o’clock to 3 or 4 in the morning. The rattle of wagons, carts and caissons in the darkness betokened a continuous procession along the roads up to the front lines the whole night long. Red flares illumined the sky, and light rockets hovered above the crest like a string of arc lamps. The gun crews stood guard, a man at each gun, in two-hour watches through the night.
The men of the gun crews slept in pup tents beneath the flat-tops. The other men—machine gunners and B. C. detail—carved bunks out of the sides of the trench that ran along in front of the pieces. These bunks they covered with their shelter-halves, whose brown was whitened, to blend with the chalky soil they covered. Some shelter-halves bore chalked signs, such as the “Windy Alley Hotel,” the abode of Berney and Pond, with the injunction, “Bombers Aim at This!” Under the caption, “Familiar Sayings,” was chalked up: “Tonight’s the Night!” “What’s for Mess?” “Is there any Mail?” etc.
Captain Robbins spent his time at the battalion observation post. The first platoon was commanded by Lieutenant Waters and the second by Lieutenant Adams. When the latter left, July 13, to act as instructor at an artillery school, many were the regrets expressed, not only by the men of[Pg 44] the second platoon, but also by those of the first platoon, who had spent the months at 163, in Lorraine, under him. Lieutenant Cronin came up from the horse-lines to take his place.
About five kilometres back, the horse-lines were located in a wood of evergreens, where the caissons and picket lines were camouflaged under trees. During the hot, sunny days before the attack, the men lay in the shade and “read their shirts.” After July 14, they were so constantly on the road for ammunition that the horse-lines were deserted.
Sunday, July 14, was “Bastille Day,” the French Fourth of July. If the rumor was true that the French army issued a bottle of champagne to each three soldiers in way of celebration, it affected the American troops with it not the least. For the day was as dry and hot as those preceding, and the only variation in drink from the coffee at mess was the water of the Suippes river, where some men went to bathe and swim and wash clothes. If the German high command believed the rumor, and thought by beginning their offensive that night they would catch the French incapacitated from their holiday spree, they found they were sadly mistaken.
At any rate they commenced their greatest and last offensive against the Allies that night, a night the 149th can never forget. Shortly before midnight the order came to make up our rolls and packs, so that if events required, we could move out quickly. The information came over the wire that two prisoners captured about nine o’clock had revealed the entire plans of the attack to the minute. At midnight the preliminary bombardment was to commence, which was to last four hours. At 4:15 a. m., the enemy’s infantry was to start over the top. And so it occurred.
At twelve o’clock broke loose a thunderous roar, which sounded like a gigantic hailstorm, so many and so rapid were the cannons’ reports. Over five thousand cannon, it is estimated, were in action. Our orders were to stand by the guns ready to fire the instant command came. So we stood listening to the tremendous cannonading, the whistle and screech of shells overhead from the long-range guns behind us, and watched the red glow of cannon’s belch and shells’ burst. Now and then a great red glare filled the sky, when some ammunition dump was set afire. Off to[Pg 45] the right appeared a lurid eruption of rockets and signal lights of all kinds, the varied pyrotechnics lasting for ten or fifteen minutes; the infantry’s stores of rockets had been hit. Along the crest ahead, where ran the road on which we heard so much traffic at night, shells from the enemy’s heavy guns were dropping. In addition to the heavy bombardment of the front lines, there was constant fire on all trenches, roads and other ways of communication.
At 4 a. m., the blackness was lightening to grey. The guns were laid, ready to drop a barrier of bursting shells when the enemy’s first wave neared our front line. The ’phone rang. There was checking of data and minute directions. At 4:15 came the command, “Fire,” and the guns along the trench began to blaze and bang unceasingly. The men worked like demons, deaf now to all the thunder and roar about them, no eye to the crimson glare that lit up the horizon in front beneath the black piles of smoke like thunder clouds over the front lines, unconscious of the occasional shrapnel that fell near or the fragments from the big shells that burst along the crest and sometimes over towards them. Hour after hour they fed the guns at the same rate of speed. They could see no signs of the enemy themselves, none but the shells from his guns. But they knew that on the other side of the crest their fire was thinning the successive grey waves of Germans that hurled themselves on our infantry. The strength, the lives of our infantry depended on these 75’s, and we could not fail them for a second. Fatigue, hunger, thirst were unminded. Coffee was brought to the gun crews at noon. The first food was some beans and hard-tack at midnight, more than thirty hours after mess of the evening before.
At 11 a. m. came a lull. The enemy’s first mighty effort was broken. General Gouraud’s plan had succeeded. By drawing back all his forces from the front lines to the intermediate defences, he had caused the bombardment of hundreds of the enemy’s guns to fall harmlessly, and exposed the German infantry waves to the more deadly fire of our cannon and machine-guns while they crossed the vacated trenches. In addition to the three German divisions holding the sector opposite the 21st French Corps—comprising three French divisions and the 42d Division—six first-class divisions of the enemy were hurled against[Pg 46] our lines. Yet, says the division’s official Summary of Events of July 15, 1918, “In spite of the most vigorous attempt of the enemy, he was able to set foot on the intermediate position only at one point. A counter-attack by two companies of French infantry and two companies of the 167th Infantry drove him from this position in a bloody hand-to-hand combat.” Five successive attacks that morning were one after another thrown back with heavy losses.
Not only in our immediate front, but all the way along the line from Chateau Thierry to the Argonne, the Allied line had held. The program by which the enemy expected to reach Suippes at noon July 15, and Chalons at 4 p. m. July 16, was irretrievably defeated. The Second Battle of the Marne, involving greater numbers of men than any previous battle in history, and more cannon than were engaged in our entire Civil War, was a decisive triumph for the Allies and a fatal crisis for the enemy.
Late in the afternoon, the enemy undertook a second great effort, and our firing, which had slowed down during the afternoon, at its rapid rate. Again there was a lull, and again the attack recommenced. All night long we fired, but since the rate was slower, three men could handle the work. Half the crew slept half the night, and then relieved the others. So tired they were that the frequent report of the gun ten feet away disturbed their slumbers not the slightest.
Next day the firing continued, but slowly, as during the night. During the 15th the battery fired nearly one thousand rounds per gun. On the 16th about half that number of rounds were fired.
The reserve ammunition stored in the trench had been expended, and the caissons were bringing up more. This necessitated hard, long and dangerous trips by the drivers. On the night before the attack they had packed up, harnessed and hitched, and stood till morning waiting for possible orders to pull out the guns. In the four big offensives before this one, in 1918, the Germans had swept through the lines the first day; so preparations had been made for any contingencies. In the morning, caissons were sent out for more ammunition. One dump was blown up while they were alongside. This and other difficulties compelled them to search about the countryside for available stores[Pg 47] of shells. It was midnight before they brought them up, along shelled roads, to the position. Those who had not gone out in the first hitches, were out next day on another search. When they were on their way to the battery position, a great rainstorm burst. A high wind swept from the woods where the enemy had been dropping gas shells during the day. Alarms came so frequently that the order was given to put on masks. To follow a road in utter darkness amid beating rain with gas masks on was next to impossible. And that the caissons reached the position without accident seemed a miracle, for which the drivers can not be given too much credit. The gas alerte passed. But the rain was still pouring down so heavily and the sky was so black that the caissons had to be unloaded by lightning flashes. A few stray steps might pitch one headlong in the deep trench. With this intermittent illumination, unloading four caissons was a slow job. When it had been finished, everyone was, in spite of slickers and gas suits, so drenched that water could be wrung out of every garment. The storm passed across the front lines towards the enemy. As it cleared on our side, the silence, interrupted only by peals of thunder before, was broken by a heavy cannonading from the Allies’ guns.
A hot sun next day dried out clothes and blankets. The quiet of the days before the battle returned. Exciting aeroplane battles, or an occasional balloon sent down in flames, were all the evidence of warfare. Captain Robbins read the communiques of the preceding days, and told of the mighty repulse the enemy had suffered.
A projectile with an I. A. L. fuse, the most delicate of those we used, had stuck in the bore of the Third Section piece on the evening of the 17th. Since all efforts of the battery mechanics were unavailing, the piece was taken to the divisional repair shop at about dawn on the 19th and another gun sent from the shop to replace it.
Though there were losses in other batteries of the regiment, Battery E went through the engagement without a casualty. The death of Lieutenant Cowan, who had enlisted in the battery as a private, gone with it to the Mexican border, and been commissioned an officer of it before leaving Fort Sheridan, in August, 1917, came as a heavy blow to the men of Battery E because he was so generally[Pg 48] and thoroughly well liked by them. His transfer to Headquarters Company had merely removed him from their eyes but not their hearts. As liaison officer, he was in the forward trenches during the engagement, and there a shell fragment struck him on the afternoon of July 16. The weird beauty of his funeral the following evening left a deep impression on the men who were at the regimental horse-lines at the time. After a drizzling rain early in the evening, the sky cleared, and the moonlight sifted down through the trees, glittering on the wet leaves, as the procession marched slowly through the woods to the band’s solemn music of Chopin’s “Funeral March”. The call of “Taps” through the dead of night, the final rifle volleys, brought the keener anguish at the thought that our first loss at the enemy’s hands had been a comrade with whom we would have parted last.
On Friday, July 19, came orders to move. All ammunition was carried into the trench and camouflaged. When darkness came the flat-tops were taken down, and everything packed. The limbers were up early, and at 10 o’clock the battery pulled out. Our way was through Dompierre and into a woods, where we camped during the next day. Next night, leaving at 9:45, the regiment made a wide detour around Chalons, which was receiving heavy bombing by dark, and arrived at Vitry-la-Ville about 7:30 a. m. That night we entrained, bound for the west, where the Allies were pushing back the Chateau Thierry salient. Our destination was not far by direct route, but the presence of the enemy in the valley of the Marne about Dormans cut us off. So we traveled in a circuitous course, southward to Brevonne, then westerly through Troyes, Rumilly-sur-Seine, Longueville and Gretz, to the environs of Paris, and east again down the valley of the Marne, through Meaux, to La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, where we detrained at midnight, July 22.
|Lieutenant “Kelly” Ennis||Home Life in a Dug-Out|
|En Route to the O. P.||Lieutenant Adams at the O. P.|
At our encampment near Montreuil-aux-Bois, whither we hiked from La Ferté-sous-Jouarre on the morning of July 23, we found traces of the horse-lines of the artillery of the 26th Division, in the shape of trampled picket lines, bunks of woven branches, and abandoned equipment of all kinds. Stories of heavy losses, of nights and days without sleep or rest, as the New England batteries tried to catch up with their infantry in the wake of the rapidly retreating Germans, of extraordinary advances by the American forces, of hardships and lack of supplies due to the inability of supply trains to catch up with the rapid progress of the forward troops, met us on every hand. They might have been, as we recall them now, prophecies of what we, too, were to undergo in this sector.
We had only a day’s respite. On the 24th, a large number of the battery were allowed leave to visit La Ferté. The civilians had not long returned to the city, from which they had fled when the enemy had advanced beyond Chateau Thierry, and shops were only beginning to be restocked. Fruits and vegetables were plentiful but at high prices. Meat was altogether lacking, and eggs were few. No restaurants were open at all, and few cafes. To secure a meal, one had to first buy the food, and then seek a housewife who would cook and serve it.
Next morning came a sudden order to move, and, three-quarters of an hour after its receipt, the battery was on the road at 9:30 a. m. The way led through places whose names were already known to our ears for the splendid fighting American troops had done there—Coulombes, Bouresches and Belleau woods. In the golden fields of wheat were big splotches where shells had torn up the black earth; trampled spaces often held a mound marked by a rifle stuck bayonet first into the ground—time was only enough to bury the dead, not yet sufficient to put wooden[Pg 50] crosses over them. Along the roads was equipment and material of all kinds, abandoned by the Germans in their hurried retreat, or cast aside by the Americans pushing on in pursuit.
At night the battalion camped in the woods above Epieds. Early next morning the carriages were pushed under the shelter of the trees to hide the signs of troops from enemy aeroplanes scouting overhead. So close to the lines were we now that no movement could be made in the open by day. At 9 p. m., the guns moved out to go forward into position, leaving the wagon train here. The battery had not gone far when a heavy rain began to fall. The road, through the dense woods of the Foret de Fere, was narrow, muddy, and full of ruts. “Cannoneers to the wheels,” was the constant cry. Splashing through water and mud to their knees, the dismounted men tugged at wheels sunk far down in the deep ruts and holes. “Horse down!” came the cry from a Fifth Section caisson. The animal was on its back over the edge of the road, so that it could not regain a footing on the road, and if it rolled the other way the horse would be lost in the ravine below. With prolongs around its body, the men pulled the horse almost back on the road where it could get a footing, after three-quarters of an hour of hard effort directed by Captain Robbins. Then a caisson, catching up to the column, went over the horse’s hoof, and the animal had to be shot.
By this time the rain had ceased. In the silence that succeeded the sound of the falling drops, could be heard the venomous pop and spit of gas shells bursting in the woods. Rifle shots rang out occasionally. Uneasy in the midst of unknown danger, the men greeted the sudden order to turn back with surprise. But they made haste to execute it. Most of the battery had debouched from the narrow road into an open grassy space. The last three caissons, however, were unlimbered and turned around. Tveter gave an exhibition of skillful driving that brought cheers from the men, turning the big chariot du parc with its three-horse hitch without assistance or accident. The other carriages returned through this stretch of woods by another road, little, if any, better than the one by which they came. The drivers lashed their horses to a gallop and took the guns and caissons through with scarcely a stop, giving them no[Pg 51] time to sink in ruts or holes. The wooden boxes roped on top the caissons swayed and tossed, spilling gas equipment and liaison instruments, to be picked up by the dismounted men following, who cheered on the drivers to greater speed.
Not until long after was the explanation of the sudden countermarch revealed. When the orders were given to move up our artillery, it was with the belief that the infantry would make a certain objective that day. The stiff resistance in these woods delayed the infantry advance, however, and the doughboys were still occupied in clearing these of the enemy when our battalion pulled through them. The courier sent to apprise Major Redden of the circumstances and consequent change of orders caught up with us when we were, therefore, beyond our own lines and up with our advance infantry. This was the first time the battalion was in so unusual a place for artillery. Just a week later, we occupied a position ahead of the infantry over night. But so fast was the enemy retreating that any thrills over our exposed condition lay in imagination rather than actual circumstances.
By the next night the woods had been cleared, and we went forward again. The long steady climb up hill through the Bois de la Tournelle made hard pulling. The halts to rest the horses were frequent, and, near the top, teams from one carriage had to be added to another hitch and then the assistance returned in order to get up the steep grade. Our division was on the extreme left of the American forces, and we were constantly alongside the French troops who adjoined us on our left. How strenuous had been the fighting was evidenced by the bodies of dead still lying where they had fallen the afternoon before. Haggard Frenchmen were just then beginning to seek their missing comrades.
The battalion took position in an open field in front of the woods, at the top of the hill, under flat-tops. The horse-lines were at the edge of the woods behind. On our left was a small woods, at the edge of which were several French batteries of 75’s. They pitched no flat-tops, but camouflaged their guns with green boughs, staying in the woods, where were their shelters and kitchen, except when actual work on the guns required their presence. Our telephone men, mechanics and Captain Robbins also had their[Pg 52] quarters in these woods. Elaborate abris, benches and tables woven of boughs about a cleared “Appelplatz,” and rifles, overcoats and other equipment spoke of the occupation of the same woods by the Germans not long before. Every section of the battery had one or two German rifles and a stock of “boche” ammunition beneath its flat-top, with which ambitious marksmen sought to emulate the example of the automatic riflemen of the Alabama and New York regiments, who had each brought down an aeroplane at Champagne.
This position is called by the men the “tower position,” from the high observation platform built of wooden scaffolding by the Germans half-way between the position and the edge of the woods. Being in the open field our batteries escaped the fire of the enemy, which was directed several times on the French batteries at the edge of the woods and in the depths of the woods also. Sometimes the bursts and fragments came dangerously close to the gun-pits, but they were not many enough to seem directed at our position.
Berney came close to providing the battery with fresh beef while it was here. But “close” was all! A lone cow was seen wandering in a field near by. A volunteer raiding party composed of Corporal Pond, of the engineers, and Acting-Corporal Berney of the machine-gunners, set out in pursuit. They had no difficulty in surrounding and capturing the cow, which continued to graze placidly when they forcibly seized the rope that hung from its neck. Then the members of the foraging party remembered they had no authority from their officer in command to conduct such operations. So half the detail, namely Corporal Pond, returned to outline the situation and report the success of their movement to Lieutenant Waters. Not averse to acquiring fresh beef free himself, he granted the necessary authority. But in the meantime, a new force had appeared on the scene demanding possession of the cow, to judge from his gesticulations, for his torrent of words were meaningless to the two foragers. This was a young French soldier, breathless from a run across the fields, cap askew and hair disheveled. So Pond went back to the position again, this time for some one to act as interpreter. Through this medium the volunteer raiding party learned that the cow was the property of the major commanding the [Pg 53]neighboring French batteries, that the cow’s guardian had fallen asleep and the cow had wandered off, and that the major would do dire things to the poilu if he did not recover the cow before the major learned of his loss. So the battery got no fresh beef, but ate “goldfish” instead.
Two days later the machine gunners achieved real distinction, when Donahue and Bowly brought a German aeroplane to earth a few hundred feet from the position. The plane was riddled with bullets and both pilot and observer were badly wounded. In descending the plane crashed into a tree at the edge of the woods, wrecking the machine. This first actual contact with the enemy and visual token of damage done him was not without its thrills. Needless to say, “beaucoup souvenirs” were secured.
During the day of July 29, the battery fired on machine gun nests that obstructed the infantry’s advance. Next afternoon it gave heavy response to a German barrage, and continued with a concentration fire all evening. Both nights the battery was called on to fire at one o’clock for an hour or two. On the night of the 31st the men were at the guns almost till morning, firing intermittently all the while.
This constant firing was accompanying our infantry in their advance. The names of Sergy, Seringes, Hill 212, Meurcy Farm and the River Ourcq represent terrible hours to the infantry of the Rainbow division—hours whose awfulness we realized when the battery moved forward at noon August 2. Skirting the town of Fere-en-Tardenois, which still drew occasional shots from the enemy’s long-range guns, we crossed the small stream whose line had been so strongly defended by the Germans until our doughboys had forced them from it. The Ourcq was not more than fifteen or twenty feet wide at the place where our guns and caissons forded it. But there was a steep incline on the far-side leading up to a high road. Taking this road into Fere-en-Tardenois, we turned at a sharp angle at the outskirts and took the road to Seringes. In the shelled fields along which we passed, litter-carriers were still at work bringing back wounded. Some boys came limping back alone, or supported by others with an arm in a sling or bandaged about the head. Conversation with one of these turned always to the question of relief: When will relief be up? Have you heard of troops coming up[Pg 54] to relieve us? Some battalions of infantry were pushing on after having lost fifty per cent of their men.
About 4 p. m. the batteries of the second battalion gained a crest to the right of the Foret de Nesles.
“How far are our lines from here?” asked an officer in the lead, of a signal corps man on the road.
“There’s only a company and a half of infantry beyond here. I don’t know how far ahead they are,” was the reply.
So the battalion turned back and took cover in woods behind the crest. Here supper—canned corn and stewed dried apricots—was served, and here were established the horse-lines, which only stayed a day. German equipment and dead lay strewn through the woods.
After mess came the order to harness and hitch. The Second Battalion trotted into position for the first and only time in the regiment’s history. The sight of the guns and caissons dashing into action was stirring, and it sent up the spirits of the fatigued infantrymen to a pitch that enabled them to carry on when already exhausted. In the morning we learned that during the darkness the company and a half of infantrymen, who had been scouting to gain contact with the enemy, had withdrawn, leaving us the nearest unit to the enemy. But the enemy were retreating so rapidly that they were beyond our range again by afternoon. The road forward was swarming with supply trains, artillery, machine gun carts, and infantry that passed, company after company, their packs on their backs, pushing ahead to keep the enemy on the move, giving him no rest in which to organize and entrench himself.
On the evening of August 3 came the order to move forward again, compelling us to abandon our mess to pack up. Our route, through Chery-Chartreuse, was so congested that progress was slow. Supply trains were doing their utmost to execute their mission, difficult because the line was pushing forward so rapidly, and leaving railroad heads so far behind. At one point it was necessary to halt for several hours because the road ahead was being constantly shelled, making passage impossible. It was daybreak when we pulled up a long steep hill, passing through muddy fields to avoid danger on the shelled roads. The horses, already worn out by continued labor, little food and[Pg 55] scarcity of water, could hardly make the ascent even with cannoneers pushing, shouting and urging them on by every means possible.
Our position here was on the forward slope of a bowl-shaped valley. At the bottom, in the shelter of a line of bushes, were the guns of the First Battalion. To our left were woods, in which the horses and limbers took cover. At the right was a large farm house that housed the B. C. detail and some other men. Far down, in the depths of the basin were two roads that drew much fire. In front along the crest ran another, also a frequent target. Artillery, infantry and supplies were coming up all the time in preparation for an attack to push across the Vesle river.
The men had traveled all night in the rain and cold. But before there could be any rest, trail pits must be dug, in order that we might be able to fire if called upon at any time to do so. With increasing experience of hunger and consequently keener eye to the emergencies ahead, the men had levied upon a pile of rations lying where they had been abandoned by some cart whose load was too great to make progress along the miry road. They had, therefore, for breakfast—ere the battery kitchen had time to get its fire going—some of that canned commodity labelled by the packers “canned roast beef” but more generally termed, by the consumers, “monkey meat.” Canned sweet potatoes heated in a mess-kit over a can of solidified alcohol was an excellent dish, the more appreciated because they had never been issued to the battery. The infantry were favored in this regard, it seems. The discovery that elderberries grew in the woods near by furnished dessert, for sugar was supplied from some one’s store, acquired, no doubt, from some other abandoned rations. But the dessert was, for most, a mistake, as they realized when they began to feel sensations like those of years before resulting from an overdose of green apples.
When the digging was done, the cannoneers passed the afternoon in sleep. In the evening the battery fired. Heavy shelling on the road behind, after midnight, was accompanied by another call to the guns to fire again. The caissons, which had gone back after more ammunition after they had come up with the pieces, came up with their second load in the midst of darkness. The first two reached[Pg 56] the position without delay, but the others, halted by the constant shelling on the road, had to wait till nearly daybreak before it was safe to venture up.
Rain fell next day. But the big tarpaulins belonging with the guns were stretched as a tent under the camouflage, and gave comfort to the men so long as they were not called upon to fire. The bread that came with meals—carried in cans from the kitchen in the woods—was green with mould, from the long journey in inclement weather from the bakeries. The coffee tasted like quinine, since the water to be found was so bad that it had to be strongly chlorinated. But a big sack of mail came to the battery that day, and all troubles were forgotten in the joy of hearing from home.
That day, August 5, Sergeant McElhone left the battery to go back to the United States as an instructor, an opportunity that made him the envy of everyone while they congratulated him on his good luck. Corporal Monroe succeeded to the charge of the Second Section, Herrod taking his place as gunner.
All that night and the next day, the battery maintained a steady fire on the enemy, destroying machine gun nests, entrenchments and available shelter in preparations for an advance across the Vesle. From 4:30 till after 8 p. m. August 6, we dropped a slow barrage on the town of Bazouches, to the left of Fismes.
At noon next day the Second Battalion went forward to a position almost overlooking the river. The movement was not without danger. For the bright day, with enemy aeroplanes overhead constantly, exposed the batteries to discovery, particularly when they galloped up an open hillside into position. A blanket covering two still figures just beside our path, several others farther away without such cover, and white bandages gleaming on the bodies of some of the battalion of engineers who, with pontoon bridges, were waiting in readiness in the woods below, were evidence that the shells which whirred over and burst a ways beyond us were not always so far from their mark. The battery went up the hill one carriage at a time. Flat-tops were stretched at once, and in addition to the trail pit, each section dug a trench for shelter as well. Shells bursting on the crest ahead lent speed to the shovels and picks.
Captain Robbins, using a tree-top as an O. P., directed[Pg 57] the adjustment of the pieces, firing only two rounds per gun in doing so.
But that was all the battery fired from this position, although we stayed there the following two days. The division which had relieved our infantry could not keep up the pace the latter had set, which formed the basis of the plans by which we had moved up, ready to support the crossing of the Vesle.
The roads behind us received constant fire from the enemy. Shrapnel bursts came near the position occasionally, and gas alarms were frequent. In the horse-lines just behind lit a shell on the afternoon of August 8 that caused the battery’s first serious casualties. Parkhurst was instantly killed. Foster was struck in the breast by a large fragment, and died two days later. Lawrence Gibbs was wounded in the hand. He refused to go to the hospital at the time, and kept at his duties as clerk of the firing battery, though later the wound, becoming worse, compelled him to go. For his bravery in going after medical aid and under heavy shell fire, refusing treatment himself until the others had been attended to, he was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross by the regimental commander.
This news of death in our own battery—the first enlisted men lost in action—caused a heavy sorrow and grief that could not be shaken off, among the men of the battery, whose friendship by this time had become very close.
On the night of August 10, the battery moved back to a spot within a few hundred feet of that it had occupied before making the last advance. The caissons drivers made trip after trip to bring back all the ammunition, under frequent shell fire on the road. Horse after horse, weakened to exhaustion, dropped in harness, and had to be taken out of the hitch.
Artillery of the Fourth Division were in position all about us, in the valley. In the woods were their horse-lines, too, from which they so openly brought their horses to water that they received ironic inquiries concerning their “horse fair.”
Shelling was frequent, and gas was always noticeable at night. Itching throats and watering eyes were too common for comfort. When the battery was in readiness to move out, the caissons having gone and the guns waiting for sundown[Pg 58] to follow, the enemy gave a parting salute, a little fuller of thrills than any before. In the trail pit was the only protection. The buzz of jagged fragments through the air, the loud whang and eruption of sod and soil from a burst not far from Captain Robbins’ tent, sent everyone to this slight shelter. Fortunately the farewell ended with no one injured.
Next day, August 12, found the regiment in the Bois de Chatelet, where they examined the site of the “Big Bertha” which had been there. Only a huge turntable ten yards in diameter, with a concrete base at least eight feet deep—one saw that far down a circular trench around it—was left, with the railway tracks along which the carriage ran. The ball-bearings of the turntable were the size of a man’s head.
That day Corporal Holton was appointed first sergeant. Corporal Collier succeeding him as gas N. C. O. Sergeant Landrus, who had been appointed “top-cutter” in O’Meara’s place July 24, had gone to Saumur to officers’ school.
Two days later the regiment marched through Chateau Thierry, to which its citizens were just returning. French soldiers guarded German prisoners at work clearing out houses and cleaning the street. Before some doors stood wagons loaded with furniture. Other doors bearing the sign, “Habitée,” indicated those houses’ occupants were settled. The church’s walls, torn by shell holes, bore witness to the severe shelling the town had received. On the hillside beyond, lay the village of Vaux, now a heap of white bricks, where the Germans had advanced. Hiking both morning and afternoon, the battery reached a woods on the bank of the Marne, near the hamlet of Mery-sur-Marne, where we encamped.
For three days the battery lay here, twenty men going to Paris on a 48-hour pass, the others visiting La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, more thriving now than when we had detrained there three weeks before. But prices were very high: peaches and plums, 3 francs a pound; melons, 4 and 5 francs each; tomatoes, 15 sous a pound; potatoes 10 sous a pound; sugar, 20 sous a pound. Swimming in the Marne was a favorite pastime until the drowning of a member of Battery F clouded our enjoyment of it.
On August 18 the regiment hiked along the Paris [Pg 59]highway, alongside the Marne, to Trilport, where it entrained that evening.
A box-car was a welcome haven of rest then. The weeks in this sector had passed like months. The constant moving up, the difficulty of getting adequate rations, the lack of good water, the shortage of sleep, and the continual and strenuous activity through it all, had worn out the men and killed many of our horses. But the division had done much in the time during which it had been in the line, and our fatigue seemed lightened by such statements as that of the divisional commander: “In eight days the 42d Division has forced the passage of the Ourcq, made an advance of 16 kilometres, and met, routed and decimated a Prussian Guard division, a Bavarian Reserve division and one other division.”
Our train journey took us south to the divisional area, about Langres. The regiment detrained at Bourmont, and from there the batteries hiked to different towns, E to Bourg Saint Marie.
This is as close as the battery ever came to spending leisure at a “rest camp,” of which we heard rumors at the front, and it promised to be quite the opposite of a rest, from the schedule laid out. No more than promised, however, for the ten days spent there sufficed for only a day or two of the schedule, after the time required for settling down and before the days required to prepare for moving.
The men who went to the “scabies” hospital, at Bourmont, of whom there was a considerable number, were the ones who had the rest. Those who were members of the “Two Weeks’ Club” enjoyed only what rest the corporals, honorary members because their sentence was three weeks, who were in charge of the details—which did various choice bits of excavation work—allowed them; whether that was insufficient or excessive can only be determined by testimony.
The dread schedule appeared only for one day, Monday, August 26. Reveille was at 4:30; breakfast, 5; watering and feeding horses; foot drill, 7:30-8:30; pistol drill, 8:30-9:15; standing gun drill, 9:30-10:30; stables, 10:30-11:30. In the afternoon two hours of pistol drill and standing gun drill were followed by stables, 4 to 5 p. m., filling the time as completely as in the morning.
Next day reveille was at 5:45, and the schedule was thus rid of its most disagreeable feature, early rising. Otherwise it was nearly as the preceding day. Wednesday, however, a regimental review, and the consequent washing of harness, and cleaning and greasing of carriages, upon[Pg 61] return, knocked out the schedule completely, and it had no time to regain its feet. Next day the caissons went after ammunition, and at night the regiment marched again on its way to the front.
Before this departure, the battalion witnessed the presentation of colors donated by Corporal Beatty’s father to Battery E. The summing up of the battery’s work on this occasion, the formal statement of its standards and achievements by Captain Robbins were indeed impressive.
All traveling on our way to the St. Mihiel front was by night. Particular care was being taken that no troop movements should be revealed to the enemy. To us this plan had its advantages because we hiked during the cool hours of night and rested when the day was hottest. The first day we passed in woods near St. Ouen des Pahey, the next under trees at the fork of two roads, and that evening made the two hours’ hike to a large camp of wooden barracks at Rebeuville, just over the hill from Neufchateau.
Here we stayed four days, visiting the city of Neufchateau, bathing in the river, and grooming and grazing the horses. Troupes of Y. M. C. A. entertainers played two afternoons, giving a performance of “Baby Mine” on the hillside behind the barracks. The last night of our stay, the whir of planes overhead caused the cry “Lights Out!” The explosion of several bombs gave proof of their being enemy planes. But fortunately the bombs damaged nothing but farm land on the other side of Neufchateau.
Next night we took the road at 8:30 and hiked till midnight, passing near Domremy, the birthplace of Jeanne d’Arc. Our billets for the day were several hay mows, in the town of Brancourse.
Starting out at 5 p. m. September 5, we made a record hike, going forty-seven kilometres before making camp after daylight. At the end of the journey, the carriages, having followed the wrong road, had to cross a narrow embankment, sloping dizzily to a deep valley below on each side. Misfortune struck the very first carriage. A wheel went over the edge, and gun, limber, horses and drivers rolled over and over down the slope. Kadon and Searles fell free and unhurt. Al Overstreet, being wheel driver, was brought down by the pole and pinned beneath a horse. His situation was precarious, but he was finally extricated,[Pg 62] suffering from the fall and a badly wrenched leg. The horse escaped unhurt. The chief damage was done to the wheels of the gun carriage, both of which were broken. These were replaced that day by two spare wheels from the battery wagon. After a day of frequent rain and little rest, the battery drove through Toul that night and camped next day in the Bois de la Reine, near Sanzey. Here we stayed for four days, moving up into position for the attack September 10.
Amid spasmodic showers, the firing battery started forward at 5:30 p. m. Brakes, mogul springs and trace chains had all been wrapped, to muffle their clatter. Our position, a short distance past Mandres, was within a thousand yards of the enemy’s lines. The road from which we turned into an open field was being shelled, and the fire increased after we pulled into position, at about 10:30. Shell splinters cut ropes and a stake of the Third Section camouflage. A fragment struck Baker in the knee, making a bad wound. His leg was stiffening, but he was lifted to a limber seat, and rode there back to the aid station.
The crowded roads on the way up, teeming with supply trains, batteries of artillery, machine-gun carts and caissons of ammunition, gave evidence of what thorough and powerful preparations the American army had made for driving the enemy from the St. Mihiel salient. The roads themselves, very vital to an advancing army, had been put in excellent condition, and guide posts and marks were on every hand to expedite and facilitate traffic. Infantry was billeted in the towns as close to the line as they could be kept concealed, and came up in long lines when night fell September 11. By that time each section had dug its trail pit and shelter trenches, improvised some sort of a platform for the gun wheels, and cleaned and greased all its ammunition.
As darkness came on, rain began to fall. It became a heavy downpour later, and in a couple of hours the trail pits and trenches were a foot deep with water and mud. At 11 o’clock came the command through the dark, “Chiefs of sections, report!” Huddled at the entrance of the captain’s tent, the sergeants received the data for the firing that was to prepare for and accompany the attack to take place next morning.
[Pg 63]At the same time the rattle and clank something like that of a steam roller told us of tanks coming up for the attack. We could see their clumsy silhouettes against the sky, as they crossed in front along the crest. The rain had ceased, and the sky was clearing. Long, dark lines resolved themselves into files of infantry winding their way up and over the crest ahead, into the trenches beyond.
At 1 a. m. began the preliminary fire, at the low rate of twenty rounds per gun an hour. This continued until 5 o’clock, when a huge shower rocket signaled with a great burst of light the beginning of the advance. At this we increased the rate of fire, commencing the barrage that preceded the infantry’s line. The heavy rain had so softened the ground that it gave way beneath the improvised platforms on which the gun wheels rested. When the firing was slow, the planks could be straightened, the gun crews tugging to lift a wheel out of the mud. But the barrage could not be interrupted. Before long the planks were thrown aside altogether, and the wheels sank with the shock of each round until they were eight to ten inches in the mire when the order to cease firing came at 10 o’clock.
By that time group after group of prisoners were passing us on their way to the rear, in such numbers as to indicate our great success. Still more infantry filed past to the trenches. Reports of incredible progress and amazing figures of prisoners filtered to us. At noon we packed up, ready to go forward when the limbers should come up. But, though they had started at 7 o’clock that morning, they did not arrive till 8 in the evening. The roads were black with advancing troops and supply trains. The broad fields between us and Beaumont suddenly turned an O. D. hue when a battalion of infantry pitched their pup tents there for the night.
At 11 p. m. our battery was on the road, after a hard pull to get out of the soggy field. We went only a kilometre or so to the left, toward Seicheprey, when we found the way impassable. After waiting an hour or more, the battalion turned around and headed in the opposite direction. Here, too, was blocked traffic and delay. At Flirey, in the early morning, the dismounted men were distributed along the road to assist the M. P.’s in clearing a way for us. There was, it appeared, but one road to advance into the territory ahead of us evacuated by the enemy. And it, as[Pg 64] we found later, had been shelled almost to extinction. Had it not been for corned beef sandwiches and coffee from kitchens at the roadside near here, the boys would have gone hungry all day, although a good many levied successfully on the ration dump in the town.
Advance was at a snail’s pace, and halts were frequent and long. Not far out of town, we gained the summit of a ridge that gave us a wide view of what had yesterday been the battlefield. It had been so plowed up by shells that trenches were obliterated, abris buried beyond sight save for some timber jutting up from the torn earth, and the woods and thickets swept as by fire. Recently captured Germans were gathering stones to fill shell holes in the road and make it passable for the long line of wagons, carts, ambulances, guns and caissons.
By afternoon we had reached the town of Essey, where large vegetable gardens, stores and warehouses full of supplies, and furnished houses showed how comfortable the enemy had been in their four years there. Now that they were gone, a throng of black-clad refugees, old men and women, a few girls, and little children, crowded the market square, with carts piled high with bedding and household belongings.
In the afternoon the battery went into position in front of LaMarche, the limbers and caissons going into woods a few hundred yards ahead. The horses, watered in a small stream, broke the dam that held it, and allowed the water to flow into the dry gulley below, in which the guns were placed. By morning the second platoon was flooded out, and had to move back a few yards to dry land. In the race between the two sections the Third Section won Lieutenant Leprohon’s prize of a keg of beer, which, however, they were destined not to drink. There was compensation for the labor caused, however, in the presence of water for bathing and washing. Since we did no firing in two days we stayed here, this was of real advantage.
The battery kitchen, in town, a few hundred yards away, put the Germans’ vegetable garden to good use, cooking the carrots, cabbage and turnips in vessels which the Germans had abandoned—a practically complete kitchen equipment. Fresh vegetables were so rare that they were highly appreciated. The wounded cow—divided, according to Solomon’s principle in the dispute of the two women over the babe,[Pg 65] in equal parts between E and F batteries—proved to be more venerable than we thought, and though boiled for many hours, provided only soup for our nourishment.
|Highways Swarmed with Troops Advancing to Clear the St. Mihiel Salient|
|Terraced Vineyards about Dernau, Germany, where the 149th Spent Christmas, 1918|
By the afternoon of September 14 details came to us of the clearing of the entire St. Mihiel salient, freeing 150 square miles and yielding 15,000 prisoners, as well as considerable prestige to the American army in its first independent effort. Occupying the center of the advance, the 42nd Division had advanced nineteen kilometres in twenty-four hours.
The following day came the order for us to advance. The move was a short one, only two kilometres ahead, but the road was uphill through mud up to the axles. The horses, succumbing already under the heavy labor and scanty food, required all the assistance the dismounted men could give them. Sometimes there was question whether the cannoneers were not pushing the horses as well as the caissons. Even such famous teams as Hardy’s “Omar” and “Ambrose,” Grund’s “Bunny” and the mare, Hedgepath’s “Dick” and “Fatima,” and Young’s “Red” and “Bud,” were worked to their utmost to pull up carriage after carriage through “Lepage Avenue,” as the muddy way was named from its resemblance to the famous glue.
The position was on the hill top in the midst of woods, the greater part of which had already been cut by the Germans. A well equipped saw mill was not far away, and from its yards was obtained lumber for the gun pits and for shacks built for the officers and for the kitchen. Corrugated iron huts housed the B. C. detail and the extra cannoneers, who brought up supplies and ammunition on a narrow gauge railroad which ran from LaMarche up through the woods to St. Benoit station in front of them, where there was a full gauge track. When the Alabama doughboys first discovered the narrow gauge railroad, it furnished them high entertainment for a couple of nights. They coasted on flat cars down the hill to LaMarche. They ran the little engine on a wild journey through the woods, tooting the whistle and shouting loud enough to wake Fritz in his dugouts two or three miles away. Then the 117th Engineers took over the rolling stock and operated it for practical instead of amusement purposes.
The gun crews finished their gun pits and dug abris, employing the lumber and corrugated iron left by the enemy,[Pg 66] before there was call to fire. Now that the salient was cleared, the chief work was the establishing of a firm defensive line. On the 19th the battery fired twenty rounds on an American aeroplane which had fallen within the enemy lines, in order to destroy it before the enemy carried it off. That day also the battery fired for adjustment.
Rocket guard was established when the data was provided for an indicator board. By sighting along an arrow on this board, the sentinel could tell from the location of the place where the red rocket rose whether it called for normal barrage, “green” barrage, or whatever other barrages might have been given us.
The following morning, September 20, about 5 a. m., the call came over the telephone for normal barrage, no rocket having been seen. No sooner was that fired than orders were given for green barrage. Later we learned that the enemy raiding party had gone around the first barrage but were caught by the second and none escaped back to his lines.
Two days later, September 22, we crawled out of our tents at 3 a. m. to carry 100 rounds per gun from the piles along the road back of the position. From 4 to 5:45 the battery fired a slow bombardment and then a barrage till 6:30, to accompany our infantry’s highly successful raid of Marinbois Farm, strongly held by the enemy. About noon a few rounds were fired on an enemy working party.
At 3:30 a. m., September 23, at the cry, “Normal barrage,” from Kulicek, then on watch at the rocket post, the guard in each gun pit woke the men sleeping in their pup-tents in the bushes behind. Hastily pulling on our shoes, we dashed out into a drizzling rain, and fired about 100 rounds per gun in the next two hours. A raiding party of American troops and one of the enemy had accidentally stumbled on each other in the darkness. The following night there was heavy firing on both sides, and the battery was aroused twice, but fired little either time. Both sides, it seemed, were uneasy in anticipation of the great drive that began September 26.
Though the actual drive on this date was northward, by troops west of Verdun, the preliminary cannonading stretched along the line facing eastward, south of Verdun, as well, thus concealing from the enemy the actual line of[Pg 67] attack until it was too late for him to concentrate his forces. Battery E, firing from 11:30 p. m. till 6:30 a. m., the morning of September 26, expended about 1,500 rounds in this ruse, our infantry having been withdrawn from the front lines, in anticipation of heavy counterbombardment.
Perhaps the worst task on this night was that of the drivers on the caissons which carried the shells from the railroad track to the position. The haul was short, but the mud was deep and heavy. They made trip after trip, using every possible means of urging the horses to their task. But when the last load had been carried, about 3 a. m., the horses were so exhausted that they could not pull the empty caissons through the long stretch of gumbo on the way back to the horse lines. When the gun crews had ceased firing, therefore, the cannoneers went to the drivers’ assistance. The latter lay, dead asleep, on top of the caissons, while the horses munched in the bushes at the roadside. By much shouting and more pushing, the men at last got the caissons past the wallow of gumbo to the hard road, where pulling was easy for the horses.
On the night of the 27th the battery moved to the front edge of the woods. It was another struggle against heavy mud, and morning came ere the second platoon was finally in position. The two platoons were about half a kilometre apart, Lieutenant Leprohon commanding the first, and Lieutenant Lombardi the second. Brush and trees had to be cut down to permit firing without danger of a shell bursting prematurely in the tree tops in front of the guns. Gun pits were commenced, proving a difficult task in the sticky clay full of wiry roots. But these were not finished by us. After three days here, the battery was relieved by artillery of the 89th Division, and started on the cross country hike to the Argonne, whence had come a hurry call for the tired veterans of the 42nd Division to aid the troops held up at one part of the line by terrific resistance on the part of the Germans.
The horse lines, near Nonsard, occupied one of the many elaborate camps which the Germans had constructed in the vicinity. Boughs had been used with the lavishness of a millionaire building an elaborate rustic garden. Walks, roads, fences, shacks, ornamental gateways, were all of this material, in camps covering acre after acre. Piles of[Pg 68] empty hogsheads, and wicker tables and benches, gave evidence that the enemy troops had not lived an overhard life while they had been here.
The battery pulled out of the horse-lines at 8 p. m., October 1, and hiked without stop till after midnight. After covering thirty kilometres, the battalion pulled in at an old German remount camp, near Ambly, alongside the canal. The following night the distance was shorter, but progress was slow and waits were long—during which the drivers fell asleep on their horses with blankets over their shoulders, and the dismounted men dozed in the grass at the side of the road, mindless of cold and damp. At 6 in the morning came the climb up the hill into the Camp du Bois de Meuse, where the whole 67th Brigade encamped.
Spending the day of September 3 there, we made the next journey by daylight on September 4, rising at 4:45 and pulling out on the road at 8. Our way led past the many camps where the French troops had been assembled to engage in the terrible struggles about Verdun, and past fields, at Vadelaincourt, where the red crosses of French dead seemed to grow thick as wheat. A little beyond Rampont, we pulled into another camp, in Brocourt woods, where we spent the succeeding day greasing the carriage axles and cleaning the firing mechanism. On October 6, the brigade moved forward up the hills from Recicourt, through Avocourt, razed to a mere pile of bricks and mortar, over roads still in process of mending by engineer battalions, and that afternoon into a wide valley, pock-marked with shell holes and bearing a desolate look, emphasized by the stark black tree trunks, stripped of their branches, as though the whole area had been swept by a blaze. This was what was left of the forest of Avocourt. Occasional shells burst on the ridge ahead, and orders were strict for every man to dig a hole for his bunk that night.
At nightfall October 7, the battery took the road over the hill toward Cierges in the rain and darkness. The position lay on a hillside not far from gun pits where a wrecked gun carriage and other debris showed how thoroughly a preceding battery had been shelled out. From these gun pits the cannoneers carried abandoned ammunition all next day, while the pieces in turn kept up a bombardment of fifty rounds an hour.
At mess, October 8, in the thicket near the windmill, the men first saw the newspapers bearing the news of Germany’s acceptance of President Wilson’s “Fourteen Points”. Many rumors had come to their ears of the Kaiser’s abdication, of separate peace by Austria and Turkey, of Germany’s surrender, etc. This was the first intimation of the facts, and gave rise to much speculation. There was little opportunity for speculation that night, however, for mess was scarcely over when shells bursting in the field and along the roads drove everyone to cover. A couple of hours later, the limbers came up, and the guns pulled out on the road. But the caissons were not loaded and drawn through the miry field so easily. Teams, after pulling out one caisson, had to go back to assist another. Day was breaking when Captain Robbins, calling the sergeants together, announced that the battery’s mission was to accompany the advance of infantry of the 32d Division that morning, and haste must be made to reach the appointed spot in time.
So the carriages were taken ahead at a trot, the cannoneers following as rapidly as they could, along shelled roads, through the ruined village of Nantillois, passing the infantry arising from their roadside holes for breakfast. A heavy fog hid the battery from the observation of the enemy and so removed some of the danger of the undertaking. Shells burst frequently on the hillside to the right and on the road[Pg 70] in front of us, along which long files of infantry advanced to the attack. When the other batteries of the regiment came up, in the afternoon of October 9, they were met by heavy shelling on the road, four shells falling directly in Battery A.
On the night of October 11 the battery pulled back to the horse-lines, which had moved to the left, near Cheppy. Arriving in the morning, the battery had only a few hours’ rest, going forward again in the afternoon, to the left of our former positions, to relieve the 1st Division. Blocked roads, rain and cold, slow going and long stops, pushing carriages up long hills—it was an old story, relieved a little that night by a battalion of engineers who turned out of their shacks along the road and pushed our guns up the longest and steepest slope. By morning we were digging trail pits in a flat field on the right bank of the River Aire just behind the town of Fléville. In the trees along the river were batteries of the 320th F. A., belonging to the 82d Division, whose infantry occupied Fléville. Between them and our position were holes dug for shelter littered with blankets, gas masks, helmets and other equipment of the German soldiers who had occupied them not long before. Opposite us the Aire was dammed to form a pool, alongside which was a sign, “Schwimmung verboten”.
Though we had had almost no sleep for two days, we dug all day October 13, to be ready to fire when called upon. To obtain an elevation of 25 degrees, the trail pit must go nearly three feet deep in an arc eight or ten feet long. If the ground offered much resistance, there was a heavy job for the five or six men of the gun’s crew. Fortunately we slept long that night, with only an interruption of two hours’ guard for each man.
At 6:30 next morning we began firing at a rate of 80 rounds per hour, continuing, with gradually decreasing rate, until 3:30 that afternoon, expending a total of about 2,300 rounds. In this attack, our infantry broke through the formidable Kriemhilde Stellung, taking Hill 288 by noon. During the succeeding days the battery fired constantly. On the 16th the infantry captured the Côte de Chatillon in a whirlwind attack, taking also Musard Farm.
The enemy sent plenty in return at the same time. We had forewarning of this the day we arrived, when the field[Pg 71] in front of us was full of smoking holes. The constant procession of guns and wagon trains up the road on our right drew fire. So did the 155mm. rifles that thundered and blazed on the other side of the road. So did the exposed horse-lines of the batteries in the trees ahead of us. At first an occasional shower of earth was all that disturbed us. A few days later the enemy dumped a few “ash-cans” or “freight-cars,” as they were picturesquely called, not many hundreds of yards from us. These, with a thunderous, ear-splitting crash, sent huge black geysers of earth and smoke, scattering fragments far and wide. Then came a mysterious missile that seemed to explode twice, and burst near us almost as soon as we had heard its warning scream. One of these, striking a box of fuses in Battery F, caused considerable unrest. Next the batteries ahead were the target for so much shelling that they and their horse-lines moved out. Our relief was shortlived. On the morning of October 20 while the men were still asleep beneath their pup tents, in shelter holes approximately two feet deep, big shells began to drop along the muddy trail that ran from the highroad to our position. The fragments that cut camouflage ropes and pierced fuse-boxes were forgotten when it was learned that two shells had struck amidst us squarely, both fortunately “duds”. One buried itself in the ground alongside the trail of the second piece. The other, piercing a pup tent in the fourth section, scorched its way through Becker’s blankets, and disappeared into the earth, leaving him benumbed in the foot which the shell had so narrowly missed and much confused in the head as to what might happen next. All morning the boys could only gaze at the hole in the ground and talk about E battery’s horseshoe.
That afternoon, the battery moved back about 300 yards, enough to escape the enemy’s shells if his aeroplanes had discovered our old position, to which the morning’s greeting lent belief.
At this time Lieutenant Waters, returned from Battery B, was in command, having succeeded Captain Robbins a few days before, when the latter took Major Redden’s place at the head of the battalion. Lieutenants Leprohon and Ennis were in charge of the first and second platoons, respectively, and Lieutenant Neiberg was in command at the horse-lines. A few days previously Sergeant Jones left the Fourth[Pg 72] Section to go to officers’ school, together with Sergeant Kilner, who had been in charge at the horse-lines since his return from the hospital. Corporal Donald Brigham succeeded to the charge of the Fourth Section, Colvin becoming gunner.
After we had moved back, the mechanics improvised a bath-house for the battery by the conjunction of a big wooden tub and a cauldron to heat the water in a shack beside the stream. In a time and place where baths—to say nothing of the temperature of the water used—were an extreme rarity, we were greatly thankful that the departing enemy had left these articles for this valuable use. The cabbage patches in this vicinity came to good purpose for the battery kitchen, also.
On the evening of October 26, the Second Battalion moved up through Fléville and to the right, near Sommerance. This spot is historically known by the battery as “Gassy Gulch”. Our guns were located behind a line of bushes along a sharp embankment ten to fifteen feet high that descended to a dirt road. Along this road were lined American 155mm. rifles. In front of them, on the gentle slope to a low crest ahead, were several French batteries. To our right were 75’s, 155mm. howitzers, and 155mm. rifles indiscriminately mixed. The whole 67th Brigade, some batteries of heavy corps artillery, and several French batteries were concentrated in this little valley.
The dirt road in front and the high road, which ran at an angle behind, drew much fire, making the drivers’ task in bringing up caissons of ammunition a dangerous one. On the day the battery moved up, a shell bursting close wounded Cook and killed the horse under him. But Sergeant Lucius Brigham’s coolness in cutting out the dead horse and leading the hitch safely through prevented greater damage from the resulting confusion; for this work he was highly commended by the regimental commander.
Several days later this road was heavily gassed. All traffic was held back till shelling should let up. On this account no rations had gone up from the horse-lines the day before. When, on the second attempt, Rosse insisted on making the trip, an M. P. stopped him:
“You can’t go up that road. You’ll never get through the gas and shelling.”
[Pg 73]An officer argued, too, “Don’t take that road. It’s too dangerous.”
“The boys gotta hava the rash,” insisted Jerry imperturbably. And he lashed up his horse, and galloped past with the ration cart. When he arrived at the position, his eyes and nose were streaming from the effect of the gas, and he could scarcely see. But the boys, “they gotta the rash!” For this act the regimental commander highly commended Rosse, remarking on his “high sense of duty and exceptional courage.”
Gas alarms were frequent at night. The itching in one’s throat left no doubt of there being actual danger present. The favorable wind carried away the noxious fumes of several shells that burst at the edge of the flat-tops. The boys dug their bunks deep to escape the fragments. Near the machine gunners, the shells burst thick, and both Donahue and Harry Overstreet were sent to the hospital with bad poison burns. Practically everyone at the position suffered a little from gas, some in one way and some in another, but, since they were afflicted in no violent way, they stuck to their work, disregarding minor discomforts.
Friday morning, November 1, was the big barrage in which Battery E fired its last shot of the war. At 3:30 a. m. began the preliminary fire, at 100 rounds per hour. Then followed the barrage, with first reduced charge shell, then smoke shell and normal charge shell, and finally high velocity shell, reaching a range of nearly 12,000 metres when the firing ceased, at 1:30 p. m. The total for each gun was over 1,000 rounds.
This barrage was fired in support of the infantry of the 2nd Division, which had relieved our own infantry. After the marine brigade had broken through the Freya Stellung in the morning, capturing the villages of St. Georges and Landres-et-St. Georges, the brigade of regulars kept on going, driving the enemy out of range of our guns.
By Sunday the enemy was so far away that even the heavy guns about us had to cease firing. The Frenchmen in the neighboring batteries were gloriously drunk in the prospect of a speedy victory and early peace. That night the battery pulled out, not to rest, as we had been expectantly hoping in the midst of fatigue and discomfort from gas, etc., but to go ahead in pursuit. Our infantry had relieved[Pg 74] the 78th Division and were to march to Sedan. To make matters worse for the dismounted men, an order was issued that each man must carry his full pack upon his back, to lighten the load for the worn out horses. So we staggered up the mud roads to Thenorgues, where we spent a sleepless day Monday moving carriages here and there to accommodate the throng of traffic. In the afternoon we moved on, through Buzancy to Harricourt, where we made camp at dark, just as enemy planes dropped a succession of bombs on the road over which we had just passed.
Next morning we learned that Battery E had indeed fired its last shot of the war. So low had the number of horses become in the brigade that it was determined to send forward only the guns of two batteries in each battalion, turning over to them the horses and drivers of the batteries left behind. This wise provision made it possible for the 149th to be constantly up in support of the infantry in the long chase northward, when other artillery outfits were straggling along miles in the rear. Since Battery E’s commander was ranked in seniority by the captains of both D and F batteries, our guns were left behind.
Although the second battalion did not fire on this pursuit, the trip was an extremely severe one, entailing little rest, scant opportunity for meals, and constant exposure to shell fire on the road. The hardships of the journey are engraven deeply in the memories of Battery E’s drivers. Near Cherery, November 7, they were caught by heavy shell fire fully horsed and limbered up, but got off the road without injury or confusion. Worst of all was the night of November 9, at Bulson. As the batteries entered the town, the guns of the enemy seemed trained by direct observation on the cross roads, and shell after shell fell directly in the path of the column. The casualties were the heaviest of any day in the regiment’s history. The death of George Hama caused the deepest sorrow in the battery, heavier even when the first shock of the news was past and the loss came to be actually felt. That he should have gone through all the service of the battery, to be stricken down on almost the last day of hostilities, was tragic indeed, but the fact that he was gone, no matter how or when, was to his fellows the greater tragedy. McLean and Loring Schatz were wounded the same night. Lieutenant Leprohon went to the hospital,[Pg 75] having been severely gassed when he tore off his mask to guide the batteries up the shelled road, winning the admiration of all the men by his courage and energy.
In the meantime the remainder of the battery, at Harricourt, had cleaned out for their quarters German barracks and an old stone building that had been a prison pen. Guard duty and care of the few horses left occupied their time. So fast were the troops advancing to the northward that communication was slight, and only the vaguest rumors of what was happening ahead reached the men now left in the rear. Reports of an armistice were so persistent that they were believed by some, days before the actual event, and disbelieved by others even when confirmed. Every night glares, bonfires and signal rockets indicated celebration at some point on the horizon. But the men at Harricourt could not give credence to such good news while the drivers were still gone. These men returned to the battery November 10. Upon arriving at the gates of Sedan, the 42nd Division, occupying the suburb of Wadelincourt, had yielded to the French the honor of entering this historic city, one battalion of our infantry accompanying the French general on that occasion. At retreat November 11, Captain Waters formally announced the signing of the armistice. But there was a sting in the good tidings in the announcement that the 42nd Division would probably go into Germany as a part of the Army of Occupation, which killed such glad reports as that the Rainbow Division would sail from Bordeaux immediately upon the cessation of hostilities, and other equally welcome though groundless bits of rumor.
On November 15, Battery E began the long hike into Germany, a total of 350 kilometres, the dismounted men covering it all on foot. During the first few days they carried full packs, but later these were put on the carriages, as before the order at Sommerance. The first day’s journey was only seven kilometres, through Buzancy, to Imecourt. There the battery received forty men from the 80th Division, as replacements, to bring the organization up to full strength. They brought with them 116 horses, to replace our old ones, which, such as could work, had been turned over to the First Battalion.
After fitting the harness to these new horses next morning, we made another short hike, to a wide valley near Ancreville, where we spent a cold, windy night in pup tents. These slight shelters, however, the men had learned to make very comfortable protection against the elements, by banking soil about the edges and covering the open end with slickers or shelter-halves.
The following morning the second and third pieces were fitted with new tubes, and the caissons were loaded with ammunition before the battery set out again, this time on a march of twenty-two kilometres. Crossing the river on pontoons at Dun-sur-Meuse, and winding our weary way over hills on the opposite side through interminable woods in the descending darkness, we came to the town of Breheville, surrounded by hundreds of lights and bonfires of the brigade camping for the night. Fortunately we had billets in the village, and thereafter always were billeted in towns, though sometimes our sleeping quarters were only barns and hay mows, not remarkable for either comfort or shelter. At Breheville we stayed for two days, receiving some new clothes and cleaning up at the bath house contrived out of[Pg 77] the stone structure where ordinarily the housewives of the town do their washing.
November 20 we made another long journey, to Thonne les Pres, under the fortified heights of Montmedy-Haut, and the next day a still longer one into Belgian territory. At Montmedy we had opportunity to see how far the Germans had carried their occupation of the land they had held for the previous four years. An electric power plant lit the streets and houses of the town, the “mairie” and other buildings had been converted into hospitals, and extensive railroad yards, gun repair shops and factories spoke of important activity here by the enemy.
The first Belgian towns we entered, Lamarteau, Dompartin and the city of Virton, were gaily decorated with arches of greenery, festoons of paper lanterns, and flags of the Allied nations, in welcome of the American troops. We came at night to St. Leger, where Battery E was quartered in the school house.
The following night found us in a similar building at Arlon, on which the words, “Volkschule für Mädschen,” were painted over those of the French name. Arlon still showed the marks of having been a wealthy city, of fine buildings and a wide variety of shops. The barbarian ravages which had desolated the northern part of Belgium had not spread here. But the scarcity of food and other supplies, and the citizens’ accounts of extortion and cruelty, revealed the same spirit of oppression.
From Belgium into Luxembourg we went November 23, encountering at the border a gendarme in a uniform worthy of a general. There were not the welcoming demonstrations across the border that had greeted us in the Belgian towns. The houses were closed, and even the children kept off the street. A blind neutrality still prevailed in the duchy. Late at night we entered Brouch, where we stayed the following week, over Thanksgiving day.
The week was filled with foot drill, gun drill, grooming, cleaning harness and carriages, and inspections. But there was ample time for making the acquaintance of the townsfolk, with the ulterior motive of securing “apfelkuchen,” “wafflen,” or a full meal. Food, it became evident, was not so scarce as in Belgium, and could always be obtained if the American soldiers were willing to pay the prices which the[Pg 78] natives, upon learning the extent of the demand, gradually pushed to exorbitant figures. Not content with their gains through extortionate prices, they asked the rate of exchange, from francs to marks, that had prevailed before the war, when, as a matter of fact, the mark was much below the value of a franc, and rapidly descending farther. However, some of the inhabitants, who had lived in the United States, or had relatives living there, were cordial indeed, among them the chief magistrate of the “dorf,” who had laid the foundations of his fortune as a barkeeper in some Chicago Loop saloons of fame.
Turkey was not served Thanksgiving day. The army issue for the day was corned beef hash. But Battery E ate a Thanksgiving meal, nevertheless. A foraging detail went out several days before and was able to buy vegetables, apples and pork, going clear back to Arlon for the meat. So the menu comprised roast pork, rich gravy, apple sauce, mashed potatoes, salad, cake, bread and coffee, and the quantity precluded requests for “seconds.”
Sunday morning, December 1, the battery took the road again, up and down hills, whose gloom of dark pines and gray tree trunks was lightened by the carpet of brilliant red leaves beneath them—a landscape peculiarly and always recognizably that of Luxembourg—arriving in Bourglinster late in the afternoon. Next day we made another march of more than twenty kilometres, reaching Osweiler.
There was a competition for speed at “harness and hitch” on the morning of November 3, and the winner, the Third Section, led the battery when it entered Germany that day, crossing the Sarre river at Echternach. When the battery arrived at Alsdorf to spend the night, orders were given that, now that we were on enemy soil, there should be no fraternizing with the natives whatsoever, and no intercourse save in line of military duty. These rigid restrictions were lightened a day or two later, when it was permitted to buy meals or make other purchases of the inhabitants, but otherwise “fraternizing” is still forbidden in the Army of Occupation. All sentries went in pairs, doubling the size of the guard, patrols walked the streets of the towns in which we stayed, and everyone wore his “45” at all times. Such precautions were hardly necessary, for the people of the Rhineland are the most peaceable of the [Pg 79]ex-Kaiser’s ex-subjects, and much prefer to devote their time to their farms instead of fighting people whose money they would far rather have than their blood.
Most of E battery was billeted in a flour mill—which seemed to have plenty of grain to grind—at Alsdorf. Next day a shorter hike brought us to Ingendorf, where the billets were principally haylofts. On the march of November 5, we passed through the city of Bitburg, whose stone buildings, heavy architecture, numerous shops with plate-glass windows, and fine residences reminded us more of an American city than had any French town we had seen. The night we spent in the village of Malbergweich.
A long hike next day, about thirty kilometres, took us through the city of Kylberg and along the Kyl river, to Lissingen, where we caught up with units of the 2nd Division, which preceded us. We did only seven kilometres on Saturday, through Gerolstein, to Pelm. The ruins of the old castle of Casselberg, on a neighboring hill-top furnished a bit of historical interest to those whose appetite for sightseeing was strong enough to overcome the pain of sore feet. Next day’s hike was eighteen kilometres to Nohn. From there, on December 9, we went, through Adenau, to Quiddelbach, where we stayed for five days. Five days of mud and rain, with intervals of sunshine, while the battery cleaned harness and carriages, and groomed horses.
Sunday, December 15, we marched back to Adenau and thence to Altenahr and down the valley of the Ahr to Dernau, our home for the next month. Though rain and mists were frequent and the winds swept chilly between the high craggy walls of the valley, the discomfort of these elements during the hours at drill and at work on the picket line were alleviated by the compensating hours of warmth and comfort in the billets. These in most cases were ground-floor rooms—often the parlor of the house—furnished with tables, chairs, stoves and electric light. Our beds were the hard floors, sometimes softened by straw ticks.
Passes to Ahrweiler were in demand. In this, the capital of the “Kreis” or province, whose gates and ruined wall remained of medieval centuries, were to be had candy, at very high prices; “kuchen,” of varying excellence; and rings, Iron Crosses and other souvenirs in abundance. But the charms of this place faded before those of Bad Neuenahr,[Pg 80] two kilometres farther down the river, which came into prominence later as a divisional leave area. There the big hotels, housing the 150th F. A., the Kurhaus, the Casino, and the baths, along the brawling little river Ahr, spoke of a resort international in fame before the war. These all became conveniences for the American soldiers.
The foraging detail which had produced so good a Thanksgiving dinner, went out again for Christmas. Corporal Unger, Corporal Collier and Sergeant Pond scoured the countryside. Finances had been provided by the house’s interest in games of poker, craps and chuck-a-luck on several evenings at Quiddelbach. Chocolate and soap, however, were better buyers than francs and marks, for these commodities were very nearly priceless to the farmers in the vicinity.
On Christmas Eve the square stone building which had served as the battery guardhouse was thrown open to the battery, decorated with pine boughs and holly, with a spangled, candle-lighted Christmas tree in the center. Every man received chocolate, cakes and tobacco, and a little gift from Captain Waters. Just outside, a huge bonfire threw a red warmth over the whole scene, not the least part of which was a barrel of beer tapped for the occasion. Next day a holiday dinner was served, of roast pork, mashed potatoes, creamed onions, apple sauce, cabbage salad, apple pie, bread, butter and coffee. Of the additional rabbit, chicken and other dinners that were served in the billets that day, this history hath recollection but no menus.
About twenty-five men less ate the same meal New Year’s day, for, on the day before, those afflicted even slightly with scabies had been sent to the hospital at Neuenahr, where some of them spent a prolonged vacation amidst the already recounted enjoyments of the resort town.
When, on January 7, the battery left Dernau, it was with some regret at parting with comfortable quarters. But that regret was forgotten when we arrived at Ringen, a farming town on the upland away from the left bank of the river. For here were not only rooms as comfortable as those at Dernau, but beds as well, a “wirtschaft” to serve as a mess hall, and stables for all the horses. The town held only Batteries E and F, and therefore allowed more elbow-room than did Dernau, where all six batteries of the regiment[Pg 81] had been crowded in. Later the rest of the regiment moved up from the valley, after Colonel Reilly returned to the command of the regiment at the beginning of February, and Ringen, first on the main road from Neuenahr and Ahrweiler, assumed more importance than ever, though regimental headquarters was farther on, at Vettelhoven, and the First Battalion headquarters were at Geldsdorf, six kilometres away.
|The Sergeants in front of the Battery Office at Ringen, Germany||Picket Lines in the Snow at Ringen, Germany|
|Home at Last—The Leviathan Steaming up the Hudson||Ready for the Review by General Pershing. March 16, 1919|
Only a week had passed by at Ringen when the battery received the sad report of Captain Waters’ death, in the hospital at Coblenz, whither he had gone from Dernau. He had been a private of Battery E when it went to the Mexican border, and esteemed the privilege of commanding that same battery very highly, containing, as it did, his early associates in the ranks.
Two days later the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Redden struck the men an even harder blow. The men of the Second Battalion gave him their full devotion when he had been their major. When Colonel Reilly had been raised to the command of the 83d infantry brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Redden had led the 149th Field Artillery through the hardest days of the war, accepting the most arduous tasks and heaviest responsibility. And when the men of the regiment followed him on the long hard march into Germany, they looked forward to the day when he should lead them home. In addition to the capacity to command, he had the quality to inspire admiration, respect and love in his men. They felt, when the news of his death reached them, that they had lost not alone a capable and admired commanding officer, but indeed a highly esteemed and dear friend. The funeral, at Coblenz, Saturday, January 18, was a splendid military tribute, the entire regiment marching behind the caisson that bore his body up the side of the Kartause to the hillside overlooking the Moselle river, where his body was laid near Captain Waters’.
These two deaths postponed to the following week the famous “Stagger Inn” cabaret of Battery E. The performances were held on the nights of January 21 and 22. On the program was a collection of remarkable talent drawn from the battery. Holden, Browere, Monroe and Gahan were remarkably attractive chorus beauties when they donned feminine attire borrowed from German households.[Pg 82] Van Hoesen, as a Hawaiian dancer, was unexcelled in his gyrations. Holton’s solo, “Smiles,” delivered with the assistance of the black swallow-tail, glistening shirt front, high hat and cane of the professional monologist, brought a hearty encore. George and Holden received heavy applause as drawing-room dancers. Pat O’Mara’s efforts as a Scotchman got much laughter, but the real variety bloomed in Wallace the second night. O’Brien, O’Mara, Gahan and Monroe rendered “My Little Belgian Rose,” with more pathos than tune. To the black-faced waiters, dressed in the uniforms of Ringen’s ex-soldiers, under the leadership of Oberkellner Unger, resplendent in brass and braid, belonged much credit for the hilarity of the evening. Much could be said of the impromptu—and unconscious—amusement afforded by Lieutenant Bradford’s attempt to lead the orchestra, Captain Bokum’s infatuation with Miss Browere, and the actions of various other Sam Browne-belted personages. But words fail to picture the delirium of the occasion.
A day in Coblenz, January 27, was the first of various passes and leaves for men of the battery. On this Monday practically all of the Chicago men of Battery E made the journey, riding to and from the Rhine city in American box cars, dining at the big hotels operated by the Y. M. C. A., attending the entertainment at the Festhalle, the city’s fine opera house, entirely devoted to Y. M. C. A. activities now, and visiting the many shops, all well supplied with articles for sale. By the middle of February leaves were granted men of the 42d Division, and 14-day trips to points of interest in France or 7-day sojourns at the leave areas of Aix-les-Bains and vicinity were enjoyed by many men of the battery.
Early in February two of the old men of the battery left us. Harrison and Collier, having residence in England, obtained their discharges and left for the British Isles.
About the same time Colonel Reilly made his appearance in Ringen, back in command of the regiment, and thrilled the boys by telling them the division would go down the Rhine and sail from Rotterdam early in March. The Rotterdam plan was not realized, however, and the expectations of early departure proved vain.
[Pg 83]Instead of that happy plan materializing the reverse occurred. The horses of the 150th F. A. were turned over to the regiment when the Indiana artillery was motorized. The result was more grooming, and the horses seemed to be a greater and greater bugbear, as the number of men decreased with the departure of some to the hospital and others on leave.
But the spirits of the men did not down. The “Order of the Monk” developed, its degrees depending on one’s success at a new solitaire, and its popularity on the chant that echoed through Ringen. “Apes” were many; “Monks” fairly numerous, but “Zimmermeisters,” “Keepers of the Keys,” etc., were few. Then the “raspberry” came into a vogue that threatened to pass all bounds. The query, “Have you been down the Rhine?” was not wholly for the purpose of ascertaining the extent of one’s travel. “Slewfoot Kelly’s Shoe and Belt Polish” was an article much advertised but not sold at the “Price: One Week.”
The schedule was about the following: 6:10, reveille. Feed and water horses. Mess. 8:00 to 10:00, horse exercise. 10:00 to 11:30, stables. 11:30 to 12:00, feed and water. Mess. 1:30 to 2:30, athletics. 2:30 to 4:00, stables. Feed and water. 6:00, mess.
March 16 reports of going home were substantiated by the review of the entire division by General Pershing at Remagen. Wearing overcoats, helmets, side-arms and empty packs and fortified against hunger by two sandwiches apiece, the men were carried by motor trucks in the morning to the outskirts of Remagen. There the regiment assembled and marched to the music of the band through the city to a large field bordering the Rhine river just beyond the bridge. After the division had waited in formation over two hours, General Pershing appeared at 2 p. m., the 149th band, posted in front as the divisional band, playing the welcoming music. After riding around the division on horseback, General Pershing inspected each organization on foot, and, fast as the general walked, it was past 5 o’clock when he completed his tour. Then followed the decorating of the colors and the award of medals to over forty men of the division. Most spectacular of all was the sight when the entire division, at one command, “Squads, right,” marched past the reviewing stand in a column of regiments, like a whole sea of brown,[Pg 84] round helmets sweeping irresistibly onward. In his farewell speech to the division, General Pershing praised it highly for its work, without which, he said, the Americans would not be celebrating victory now.
The following day, amidst rain and snow, the division presented a mounted review on the road from Neuenahr to Heimersheim, waiting several hours in the cold for General Pershing to roll by in his Locomobile.
Tuesday the men of the battery underwent a hypodermic injection that included in one “shot” the half dozen doses received at Camp Mills. The halting gait of the men next day, bent double with the stiffness amidships, gave the townspeople and members of Battery F great amusement, though the latter’s was much tempered by their prospect of undergoing the same thing a day or two later.
Sunday, March 23, the guns and caissons were taken to Oberwinter, and there turned in. The day was spent by the men who did not accompany the carriages, in cleaning and oiling all the battery’s harness. Such was the enthusiasm of the men at the prospect of getting rid of this cause of much labor, that the big task was completed hours before anyone expected it could be.
The departure of the horses next day was the signal for much joy, and the battery heaved a sigh of relief when they had gone.
The resulting schedule shows good reason for their relief. Reveille was at 7. From 8 to 9 were calisthenics and some foot drill. At 10 the battery went out for foot drill or a road hike, carrying full packs. An hour’s athletics in the afternoon completed the day’s work. Baseball games were played with Battery F. A basketball team, under Lieutenant Kelly’s coaching, defeated all opponents, with the invincible line-up of the two Durling brothers, Dodge, Vavrinek and Lieutenant Kelly.
Friday morning, April 4, the battery marched to Gelsdorf, where the regiment assembled for the presentation of the “flammes de guerre”—red ribbons bearing the names and date of engagements in which the regiment participated—which were fastened on the regimental colors. The ribbons read as follows:
Luneville sector, Lorraine, France, February 21 to March 23.
[Pg 85]Baccarat sector, Lorraine, France, March 31 to June 21.
Esperance-Souain sector, Champagne, France, July 4 to July 14.
Champagne-Marne defensive, France, July 15-19.
Aisne-Marne offensive, France, July 25 to August 11.
St. Mihiel offensive, France, September 12-16.
Essey and Pannes sector, Woevre, France, September 17-30.
Meuse-Argonne offensive, France, October 7 to November 1.
Meuse-Argonne offensive, France, November 5-9.
Two days later we bade Ringen goodbye, marching out at 8 with full packs. The regiment assembled at Oeverich and paraded to the music of the band through each town en route, arriving at Remagen early in the afternoon. There the battery was billeted in the Hotel Fürstenberg, one of several big hostelries that overlook the Rhine, its broad verandah scarcely a hundred feet from the river’s edge. On Tuesday the battery made a short hike up the river to Oberwinter, where we boarded the train for Brest. The big American box cars, hot meals served when the train stopped, abundant candy and cigarettes from the welfare organizations, doughnuts and coffee and oranges at various stops made the ride far different from those we had taken months before from one front to another. The run, 72 hours, equalled that of through passenger trains.
At Brest there were three days of sanitary processes and equipment inspections, with a night of stevedore work at the docks sandwiched in. On the morning of April 15, the regiment marched from Camp Pontamezen to the docks, but the high sea prevented loading that day. So the regiment slept in cots in the dock sheds and embarked next day on the “Leviathan.”
Friday, April 18, eighteen months to a day since the regiment had sailed out of New York harbor on the “President Lincoln,” the 149th left Brest harbor, at 5 p. m., on the “Leviathan” with a load of over 12,000 Rainbow men, homeward bound.
In comparison with the voyage on the “President Lincoln,” this was a pleasure trip. The greater deck space, the freedom of movement, the sense of security from the [Pg 86]dangers that threatened our passage over, the clear weather and the quiet sea, and, above all, the elation at the prospect of seeing home soon, made the week pass in swift happiness. Battery E minded not the two-meals-a-day plan, for we were on commissary detail, working where food was plentiful, and our badges gave us the run of the cooks’ galleys, where we could cook impromptu meals for ourselves.
About noon, Friday, April 25, land came in sight. In an hour or two, welcome boats appeared to greet us, and played about our ship like terriers around a great Dane. Then the Statue of Liberty brought a cheer from the crowded deck, and the “Leviathan” entered the Hudson River with bands playing fore and aft, drowned by the whistles that hailed us from boats and from shore. The office buildings of lower Manhattan blossomed with waving handkerchiefs, and passing ferryboats seemed a mass of fluttering humanity. But their welcome was not more heartfelt than the intense, though quiet, satisfaction and joy of the boys at being home once more.
As they transferred from the ship to the ferry boat at the adjoining dock, the boys received apples, candy, chocolate and other food, none of which was so welcome as a quarter of a juicy American apple pie, truly a token of home. After a short ride up the river, we boarded a train of American passenger cars, a great change from our previous mode of railway transportation. A driving snow and a chilly wind reminded us that we were in a new climate, much different from the mild weather of the winter we had just passed. It was nearly midnight, after a hike of several miles to Camp Merritt with full packs, when we at last found our barracks, but the place buzzed in sleepless excitement long afterward.
After going through the required sanitary processes next day and moving to new barracks, there followed several days of basking in the warmth of the New Jersey spring sun, trips to New York quite without regard to the limited number of passes allowed the battery, and details that bothered no one save perhaps some conscientious corporal.
But everyone awaited impatiently to entrain for Chicago. May 6 was a joyful day. Indeed, no days were otherwise for the rest of the week. Leaving, at Dumont, at 3 Tuesday afternoon, the Second Battalion train reached the outskirts[Pg 87] of Chicago early Thursday morning. The bedlam of engine blasts as we passed the train yards was deafening. From then on, there was a continuous accompaniment of whistles and bells. All along the I. C. tracks, flags and pennants and handkerchiefs waved welcome. Nobody seemed to notice the light rain that fell. The way out of the Park Row station was so blocked by relatives and friends that it took over an hour to cover the three blocks to the Coliseum. As each soldier emerged, a joyful cry marked his discovery by those who hastened to fling themselves upon him. There is doubt whether there was a girl in Lagrange who failed to kiss Dick Barron. Nobody much cared about the formation of the columns; before long there wasn’t any. Just happy soldiers walking along, each in the midst of his own joyous group. At the Coliseum were more relatives and friends, who made the next hour pass like a fraction of a minute.
With steel helmets, gas masks and gun-belts, the regiment paraded between cheering crowds, north on Michigan boulevard, south on State, north on Clark and south on La Salle, and everywhere in the Loop a throng packed the streets waiting for the boys to march by. Tired and wet, but very happy, they dined at the Congress hotel, and then sped on to Camp Grant late in the afternoon.
Next day they entered the discharge mill, and Saturday noon, May 10, 1919, Battery E was a chapter of history, an extinct military organization, but still a living bond of memory among the men of its roster and among their relatives and friends who had worked so steadfastly for them when Battery E was in France.
|Adams, Allan B., 1st Lieut., Claremont, Miss.|
Anderson, Frank O., Pvt., 734 W. 61st St., Chicago, Ill.
Anderson, Walter E., Pvt., 7030 S. May St., Chicago, Ill.
Ashcraft, Allan C., Pvt., 511 N. Macon St., Monroe, Mich.
Avery, Daniel J., Corp., 1011 E. 41st Pl., Chicago, Ill.
Baker, Edgar H., Pvt., 533 Bowen Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Balmer, John C., Pvt., 20 Church St., Ashley, Penn.
Barnhart, Lynn G., Pvt., Carmichaels, Penn.
Barron, William J., 130 N. Ashland Ave., La Grange, Ill.
Beatty, Harland G., Sgt., 200 Park Road, La Grange, Ill.
Beck, Herbert H., Pvt., 5448 Iowa St., Chicago, Ill.
Beck, Robert H., Pvt., 302 N. Pine Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Becker, Frederick C., Pvt., 6304 Magazine St., New Orleans, La.
Berg, David W., Chief Mech., 10253 S. Elizabeth St., Chicago, Ill.
Bergeron, Arthur L., Pvt., Box 373, New Market, N. H.
Berney, James T., Corp., 4705 N. Winchester Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Bindley, Carlton, Bugler, 1435 Catalpa Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Blackwell, Raymond C, Pvt., 5931 West End Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Boisacq, Raymond J., Cook, R. F. D. 1, Millville, N. J.
Bolte, Roswell A., 2nd Lieut., 3757 Ellis Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Booker, Zeno, Pvt., 253 N. Sack St., Warrensburg, Mo.
Bosenberg, William G., Pvt., 2816 California Ave., Pittsburgh, Penn.
Bowly, Devereux L., Pvt., 210 W. Water St., Winchester, Va.
Bowra, Harold W., Pvt., 1217 W. Garfield Blvd., Chicago, Ill.
Bradley, James C., Pvt., Meely, Miss.
Brewer, Thurlow W., 1st Lieut., 705 N. Prairie St., Bloomington, Ill.
Brigham, Donald, Sgt., 1610 Washington Ave., Wilmette, Ill.
Brigham, Lucius, Sgt., 1610 Washington Ave., Wilmette, Ill.
Browere, Harold, Pvt., 6408 Harvard Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Brown, Lewis F., Pvt., Wheaton, Minn.
Brydon, John H, Pvt., 16 Sixth Ave., La Grange, Ill.
Buckley, Joseph H., Corp., 381 Fourth Ave., New York, N. Y.
Cahill, Daniel, Saddler, 1748 Ogden Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Carlson, John S., Pvt., Linghem, Sweden
Carroll, Edward J., Pvt., 226 Bertha St., Pittsburgh, Penn.
Clark, Lyman, W., Corp., 684 Irving Park Blvd., Chicago, Ill.
[Pg 90]Collier, Robert, Jr., Corp., 5446 Fulton St., Chicago, Ill.
Colvin, Donald K., Corp., 6146 Dorchester Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Colwell, Charles H., Pvt., 281 Marion St., Brooklyn, N. Y.
Connery, Charles P., Pvt., 236 N. Clark St., Chicago, Ill.
Cook, Harold W., Pvt., 5206 Kimbark Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Coon, Carrol L., Pvt., Minton Junction, Wis.
Cromley, George, Pvt., R. F. D. 2, Hubbard, O.
Crowther, Frank H., Sgt., 4615 N. Seeley Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Darst, William G., Pvt., Glasgow, Mont.
Dearborn, Allen B., Pvt., 719 Lawrence Ave., Janesville, Wis.
DeCamp, Harry I., Pvt., 41 S. Kensington Ave., La Grange, Ill.
Dodge, Wilbur K., Pvt., 3916 N. Kostner Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Dolan, Leslie A., Pvt., 4451 W. Congress St., Chicago, Ill.
Donahue, Leo J., Pvt., 8119 S. Green St., Chicago, Ill.
Dunn, George L., Pvt., 5427 Harper Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Durling, Charles, Pvt., 8516 Euclid Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Durling, Paul L., Pvt., 6504 Minerva Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Eadie, William, Pvt., 3401 Indiana Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Ekberg, Roy H., Corp., 25 Bluff Ave., La Grange, Ill.
Ennis, Callistus J., 1st Lieut., 79 W. Monroe St., Chicago, Ill.
Enright, Thomas, Pvt., 5225 Emerald Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Evans, David W., Pvt., 774 Clark St., Hammond, Ind.
Fagan, William J., Corp., 5841 Indiana Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Farquharson, Frank C., Pvt., Western Springs, Ill.
Farrell, James E., Pvt., 4946 W. Superior St., Chicago, Ill.
Finer, Harold A., Pvt., 123 Lincoln Ave., Waukegan, Ill.
Fisher, Charley, Pvt., Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria Railroad, Joliet, Ill.
Freeberg, Carl, Corp., 614 N. Waiola Ave., La Grange, Ill.
French, Ralph L., Pvt., 125 S. Stone Ave., La Grange, Ill.
Fryer, David H., Pvt., 329 Menard Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Fuhrman, Richard, Pvt., Goodbee, La.
Gahan, William J., Pvt., 5757 S. Carpenter St., Chicago, Ill.
George, Willis D., Pvt., 525 N. East Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Gibbs, Frederick R., Pvt., 424 Pleasant St., Oak Park, Ill.
Gibbs, Lawrence B., Corp., 2175 Fourteenth St., Troy, N. Y.
Glosup, Raymond R., Pvt., Wheaton, Ill.
Gough, Arthur A., Pvt., Mineral Point, Mo.
Grose, Wilbur E., Pvt., Swiss, W. Va.
Grund, Harry T., Pvt., 1407 Pratt Blvd., Chicago, Ill.
Grund, Norman, Bugler, 1407 Pratt Blvd., Chicago, Ill.
Gustavson, Rudolph, Pvt., 1411 N. Keeler Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Haase, Paul C. F., Pvt., 606 N. Ashland Ave., La Grange, Ill.
Hall, James G., Pvt., 2825 E. Venengo St., Philadelphia, Penn.
Hanson, Thomas H., Sgt., River Lawn Farm, Sodus, Mich.
Hardy, Edward L., Pvt., 1132 W. Ontario St., Oak Park, Ill.
Harris, Donald J., Cook, Gilman, Ill.
Harrison, William A., Pvt., 21 Wicker, Sheffield, England
[Pg 91]Headley, Fred C., 2nd Lieut., 90 Bennet St., Phillipsburg, N. J.
Hecker, William R., Pvt., 4025 S. Artesian Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Hermes, Charles, Pvt., 531 N. Ridgeland Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Herrod, Chester E., Corp., Youngstown, O.
Hershberger, Emanuel B., Pvt., Kouts, Ind.
Higgins, Allan, Mech., 1616 E. 55th St., Chicago, Ill.
Hodgins, Thomas A., Pvt., 4014 Lexington St., Chicago, Ill.
Hoivaag, Ole P., Pvt., 420 Juneway Drive, Braddock, Penn.
Holden, William W., Pvt., 534 N. East Avenue, Oak Park, Ill.
Holton, Lloyd E., 1st Sgt., 46 Linda St., Oakland, Cal.
Horne, Frazier, Pvt., Fort Green Springs, Fla.
Hoskins, William, Jr., Sgt., 49 S. 6th Ave., La Grange, Ill.
Howe, Carl, Jr., Pvt., 315 S. East Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Howe, Fred A., Sgt., 211 N. Delaware St., Indianapolis, Ind.
Humble, John R., Pvt., 1022 E. Jefferson Blvd., South Bend, Ind.
Humphreys, Milton H., Pvt., Sutton, W. Va.
Hurndon, Prentiss, Pvt., 1939 Music St., New Orleans, La.
Hutchinson, Paul, Cook, 6318 Harper Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Jamison, Ralph D., Pvt., 210 Whitfield St., Pittsburgh Penn.
Jensen, Otto, Pvt., Bloomfield, Neb.
Johnson, Arthur E., Pvt., 99 N. Lincoln St., Hinsdale, Ill.
Johnson, Frank O., Stable Sgt., Streator, Ill.
Johnson, Roy H., Pvt., Herold, Braxton County, W. Va.
Jones, Stephen B., Sgt., 232 N. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Kaden, Erwin E., Pvt., 3721 Greenview Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Kaden, Walter A., Horseshoer, 1245 N. La Salle St., Chicago, Ill.
Kearfott, Franklin C., Pvt., 4247 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Kelly, Ralph A., 1st Lieut., R. F. D. 2, Box 38, Huntington, Ind.
Kilner, Arthur G., Sgt., Clarendon Hills, Ill.
Kilner, Frederic R., Pvt., 2715 Warren Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Kimbrell, Lee B., Cook, Braxton, Miss.
King, William B., Corp., 2305 Calumet Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Klemz, Henry E., Corp., 1741 Fletcher St., Chicago, Ill.
Knapp, Anthony, Pvt., Coteau, N. Dak.
Knight, Eugene W., Pvt., Shuqulak, Miss.
Kulicek, Joseph, Jr., Pvt., 1921 S. 63rd Ct, Chicago, Ill.
Kurtz, Henry Z., Pvt., 1425 S. Homan Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Ladd, Elwood K., Pvt., 105 Throop St., Chicago, Ill.
Lamb, Howard M., Pvt, 424 Oakdale Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Landrus, Paul E., 2nd Lieut., 34 West Ave., Wellsboro, Penn.
Lawrence, Stuart M., Pvt., 2228 W. 119th St., Chicago, Ill.
LeGregg, Jules, Pvt., Armour Packing Co., New Orleans, La.
Lesh, Llewellyn B., Pvt., 4520 Lake Park Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Lidwell, Bernard J., Pvt., Ashville, Penn.
List, Max H., Corp., 1508 E. 67th Pl., Chicago, Ill.
Lobaugh, David P., Pvt., Rimersburg, Penn.
Loomis, Harry E., Jr., Sgt., 3415 Calumet Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Lyons, Arthur V., Pvt., 1111 E. 55th St., Chicago, Ill.
Lyons, Thomas, Pvt., 1401 W. Marquette Rd., Chicago, Ill.
Mackenzie, William, Corp., 330 S. Taylor Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Madere, Ellie, Pvt., La Place, La.
Magnusen, Waldo M., Pvt., 2738 S. Throop St., Chicago, Ill.
Mangan, James E., Corp., 4328 N. Albany Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Manska, James J., Horseshoer, Route 3, Box 169, Owatonna, Minn.
Marshall, Charles F., Mech., Paw Paw, Ill.
Mason, Frederic O., Corp., 603 Elm St., Winnetka, Ill.
McAleer, James R., Pvt., 905 Branch Ave., Providence, R. I.
McCarthy, Harold J., Pvt., 8840 Commercial Ave., S. Chicago, Ill.
McCartney, Daniel P., Pvt., 7305 Dorchester Ave., Chicago, Ill.
McDermott, George J., Pvt., 206 Wilmot St., DuQuesne, Penn.
McDonald, George W., Pvt., Platts, W. Va.
McElhone, Fred H., Sgt., 134 So. La Salle St., Chicago, Ill.
McLean, Donald F., Pvt, 325 N. Grove Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
McWatters, John, Jr., 146 N. La Porte Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Mead, Thomas E., Pvt., 137 Gold St., Buffalo, N. Y.
Mecham, Florus D., Pvt., 99 First St., Hinsdale, Ill.
Meidinger, Harold F., Pvt., 1833 Millard Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Messina, Herman C., Pvt., Apalachicola, Fla.
Miles, Benjamin F., Pvt., Riverside, Ill.
Miles, Frank H., Mech., 106 N. Madison Ave., La Grange, Ill.
Miller, Frank R., Pvt., 416 Broad St., Chambersburg, Penn.
Monroe, Howard C., Sgt., 1648 E. 53rd St., Chicago, Ill.
Moodie, Leslie A., Pvt., 1151 Hyde Park Blvd., Chicago, Ill.
Morency, Paul W., Pvt., 122 S. Elmwood Blvd., Chicago, Ill.
Mortimer, Randolph L., Pvt., 7410 Luella Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Mosier, George W., Pvt., 2824 Madison St., Chicago, Ill.
Motschman, Herman, Corp., 1029 Wolfram St., Chicago, Ill.
Mulligan, John J., Pvt., 74 Chapel St., East End, Wilkesbarre, Penn.
Naughton, John J., Pvt., 4828 S. Marshfield Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Nelson, Paul A., Pvt., 312 Ashland Blvd., Chicago, Ill.
Neiburg, Simon J., 1st Lieut., Paxton, Ill.
Newell, Kenneth E., 2nd Lieut., 1412 Hyde Park Blvd., Chicago, Ill.
Nickerson, Edward, Pvt., Parkview, Elm Grove, W. Va., R. F. D. 4
Nickerson, Howard C., Pvt., North Harwich, Mass.
Nikoden, Thomas J., Corp., Terminal Theatre, Lawrence Ave. & Spaulding St., Chicago, Ill.
Nixon, Edwin M., Pvt., 4858 Monticello Ave., Chicago, Ill.
O’Brien, Daniel J., Corp., 4416 Indiana Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Odell, Irving, Major, 230 W. Randolph St., Chicago, Ill.
Olmstead, Clarence A., Pvt., 1512 Fourteenth Ave., Meridian, Miss.
O’Mara, Patrick J., Pvt., 624 W. 54th Pl., Chicago, Ill.
O’Meara, John J., Sgt., 6571 Lakewood Ave., Chicago, Ill.
O’Reilly, John J., Pvt., 3805 N. Crawford Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Ouelette, Harry O., Pvt., 4700 Sheridan Rd., Chicago, Ill.
Overstreet, Albert P., Pvt, 112 Home Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Overstreet, Edward V., Pvt., 112 Home Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Overstreet, Harry, Pvt., 112 Home Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Paine, Clifford S., Pvt., 254 Barret St., Burlington, Ia.
Pells, Michael J., Pvt., 6 Hillard St, Providence, R. I.
Pond, Harold, Sgt., 6044 Woodlawn Ave., Chicago, Ill.
[Pg 93]Potter, Clifford B., Pvt., 4646 Drexel Blvd., Chicago, Ill.
Powers, Thomas P., Pvt., 1842 W. Fourth St., Davenport, Ia.
Preston, Alfred B., Pvt., Eldorado Springs, Mo.
Quinlan, Robert E., Pvt., East Dubuque, Ill.
Rattell, Howard N., Pvt., Box 12, Rudolph, Wis.
Rector, Alburn C., Pvt., 1125 Granville Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Regan, William A., Pvt., 3225 Fulton St., Chicago, Ill.
Reno, Robert R., Jr., Pvt., 534 N. Elmwood Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Rice, Charles B., Jr., Pvt., 710 Corn Exchange Bank Bldg., Chicago, Ill.
Richardson, Keith K., 2nd Lieut., 1637 Marshall Field Annex, Chicago, Ill.
Robbins, Lawrence B., Major, 11 S. La Salle St., Chicago, Ill.
Rosse, Jerry, Pvt., Canastata, N. Y.
Roth, Edson C., Pvt., 357 Chicago Ave., Hinsdale, Ill.
Rowe, John F., Pvt., 6322 Wayne Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Ruppert, Andrew F., 1951 Belmont Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Russell, Henry T., Pvt., Box 190, Carbondale, Penn.
Russo, Guiseppe, Pvt., 247 N. Simpson St., West Philadelphia, Penn.
Ryan, Harold J., Corp., 1354 Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Sanders, Clarence A., Pvt., Iron Springs, Penn.
Sargeant, Charles F., Pvt., White Bear, Minn.
Satterlee, Hugh W., Pvt. 101 Park Ave., New York, N. Y.
Savage, George R., Corp., 1424 Hollywood Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Schatz, Edwin L., Pvt., 617 W. Front St., Wheaton, Ill.
Schatz, Loring M., Pvt., 120 Main St., Wheaton, Ill.
Schilling, Elmer H., Pvt., 6056 Broadway, Chicago, Ill.
Schneider, Arnold G., Pvt., 3024 Broadway, Chicago, Ill.
Scrymiger, Roy C., Pvt., 4104 Colorado Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Searles, Donald K., Pvt, 327 S. Madison St., La Grange, Ill.
Sexauer, Loren D., Corp., 6447 Kenwood Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Shinkle, Merle W., Horseshoer, 5942 W. Huron St., Chicago, Ill.
Shultz, Bruno W., Pvt., 3404 N. Lavergne Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Simpson, John J., Pvt., 7122 Rhodes Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Smith, Eldred, Pvt., Route 2, Box 52, Okolona, Miss.
Smith, Randolph D., Pvt., 4907 West End Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Smouse, George F., Pvt., Henrietta, Penn.
Sofa, John, Pvt., 745 Lehigh St., Georgetown, Wilkesbarre, Penn.
Sostheim, Elmer D., Pvt., 4837 Prairie Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Spaulding, Elmer, Pvt., Spaulding, Ia.
Spence, James C., Corp., 9811 Longwood Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Stack, John R., Pvt., 4645 Evans Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Starrs, Albert L., Pvt., 4626 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Stein, Morris, Pvt., 2118 S. Fifth St., Philadelphia, Penn.
Stone, Howard R., Capt., 320 Main St., Evanston, Ill.
Strobeck, Leonard C., Pvt., 4946 W. Nelson St., Chicago, Ill.
Sturges, Arthur, Mech., 11052 S. Irving Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Sturges, George, Sgt., 11052 S. Irving Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Sullivan, Bernard J. M., Pvt., 5140 S. Kolin Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Suter, Francis E., Pvt., 4812 Langley Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Tahl, Harry C., Pvt., Marshall Field & Co., Dept. 10, 215 W. Adams St., Chicago, Ill.
Thompson, Arthur, Cook, 7420 Harvard Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Thorson, Philip S., Mech., 176 S. Washington St., Hinsdale, Ill.
Trevey, Virgel K., Pvt., Box 151, Montgomery, W. Va.
Tubach, Andre G., Pvt., 6278 Champlain Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Tuszynski, Andrew, Pvt., R. F. D. 7, Erie, Penn.
Tuttle, Roger, Corp., 8023 S. Sangamon St., Chicago, Ill.
Tveter, Trygve, Pvt., 2455 N. Springfield Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Unger, David S. M., Corp., 129 Harris Ave., La Grange, Ill.
Vandervort, Stokes T., Pvt., Weston, W. Va.
Van Hoesen, William H., Supply Sgt., 6334 Greenwood Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Vavrinek, Henry J., Jr., Pvt., 629 Clinton Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Vinnedge, Al. S., 2nd Lieut., 5508 Hyde Park Blvd., Chicago, Ill.
Waage, James M., Pvt., 6611 University Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Wallace, Anthony, Pvt., 877 Cambridge St., Cambridge, Mass.
Wallace, Richard J., Pvt., 254 W. 115th St., New York, N. Y.
Wallace, Wilfred, Pvt., 6542 Sangamon St., Chicago, Ill.
Walstrom, Walter, Pvt., Route 2, Box 4, Kane, Penn.
Walter, Alfred J., Pvt., 125 N. Grant St., Hinsdale, Ill.
Ward, Barney L., Pvt., Seaboard Air Line, Saint Petersburg, Fla.
Warden, Sidney C., Corp., 4336 Gladys Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Wesoloski, Joseph F., Pvt., 5001 Roscoe St., Chicago, Ill.
Wheeler, Robert W., Corp., Paw Paw, Ill.
Wilkes, Fred J., Corp., 6412 Kimbark Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Wilkinson, William A., Jr., Pvt., 10876 Prospect Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Williams, Robert, Horseshoer, R. F. D. 3, Weston, W. Va.
Williams, Robert F., Pvt., 1846 Anthony Ave., New York, N. Y.
Willingham, Turner L., Pvt., Vanderbilt, Penn.
Wilson, Lawrence M., Pvt., 1039 N. Spaulding Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Wiseman, Carlos D., 2nd Lieut., 6338 Ellis Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Wright, Arthur H., Sgt., 5600 Glenwood Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Yardley, George H., Jr., Corp., 244 Clinton Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Young, Leroy L., Pvt., 4325 Prairie Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Youngs, Phineas R., Jr., Pvt., 6515 Kenwood Ave., Chicago, Ill.