The Robb Centre curates a number of collections in-house. Alongside research related to the Valor Medals Review, the Centre’s Emilio V. Acosta Archives and Howard R. Votaw Library hold military (Divisional and Unit) history collections, World War I memorabilia, rare books and publications, and Park College Alumni-Veteran materials (jointly held with the University’s Frances Fishburn Archives). As with the Valor Medals Review Servicemember Database, the collections are under constant update.
The Robb Centre military collections are a combination of unit histories, photographs, maps, and engagements that have been meticulously researched by the Robb Centre team.
Divisional History: U.S. Army's 77th Division
77th Division - "Statue of Liberty" Background
The American 77th Infantry Division, most commonly known as the Statue of Liberty Division, was referred to as a “Melting Pot Division” during the Great War given the extensive diversity of immigrants that served within it. It was the first National Army Division to be made responsible for a sector of the European battlefront, the first division of American draftees to be sent overseas to fight in World War On, as well as the first American contingent to be ordered to an actively engaged section of the Allied lines.
The 77th Division was activated on 18 March 1917 and had organized at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York, completing its organization in September 1917. Through most of April 1918, the main purpose of Camp Upton was reserved for the training of the men in the 77th, equating to approximately 28,000 men (the standard size of a division at the time). Artillery crews of the 77th Division were forced to train on logs mounted on old wagon wheels given the shortage of artillery and shells the American military held at the beginning of its involvement in the Great War.
Due to the vast diversity of the recruits within the 77th, including a reported 43 different languages being spoken within the unit, training the men proved to be very difficult due to “difficulties of teaching the rudiments of military art to men, however willing, who couldn’t understand. Officers have had sometimes to get down on their hands and knees to show by actual physical persuasion how to ‘advance and place the left foot.’” Despite the difficulties in training the men, the press devoted a great deal of focus on how well the Irish, Jews, Italians, Poles, Greeks, Ukrainians, and Magyars got along under the American banner.
The 77th Division was entirely organized of Selective Service draftees from New York and adjoining counties, and comprised of “men who had only recently been subjected to the pogroms of Russia, gunmen and gangsters, a type peculiar to New York City, Italians, Chinamen, the Jews and the Irish, a heterogeneous mass, truly representative both of the varied human flotsam and the sturdy American manhood which comprise the civil population of New York City.”
In July 1918, the 77th Division went into action at Chateau-Thierry and played a critical role in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (26 September to 11 November 1918).
Perhaps one of the best known accounts of the 77th Division heroism comes from the 554 men of the 77th Division who became lost on 2 October 1918. Cut off from friendly lines, the “Lost Battalion” was surrounded by the enemy and constantly bombarded by German artillery and machine-gun fire in a ravine in the Argonne Forest.
Organization of the 77th Division:
The 153rd and154th Infantry Brigades battle participation was:
Baccarat Sector (21 June – 4 August 1918)
Vesle Sector (12 August – 17 August 1918)
Oise-Aisne Offensive (18 August -16 September 1918)
Meuse Argonne Offensive (26 September – 11 November 1918)
The 77th Division can be described in the following seven phases:
25 August 1917 – 27 March 1918
The formative period with the arrival of the first recruits at Camp Upton, New York and training from civilian to soldier being conducted. The training instilled the fundamentals and discipline in the recruits and provided preparation for deployment to France.
6 May 1918 – 6 June 1918
The infantry took further training with the British Army in the Pas-de-Calais while the artillery proceeded to Souge for additional instruction from the French Army. Infantry training was completed on 6 June 1918, however, the artillery instruction was not completed until 4 July 1918.
19 June 1918 – 3 August 1918
The 77th Division held the Baccarat Sector, at first with the French and later by itself. Although the 77th faced two German divisions in the Baccarat Sector, the battlefront was relatively quiet and little activity occurred during this period.
11 August 1918 – 4 September 1918
The 77th Division took position along the Vesle River in France where it experienced its first encounter with German artillery fire, the accuracy and devastation the German artillery provided had tested the stabilization of the front and the fortitude of the inexperienced troops of the 77th.
4 September 1918 – 16 September 1918
A turning point for the 77th Division when it had struggled to establish itself in its development as a combat unit. Each part of the 77th Division had previously functioned separately and the proper coordination to operate efficiently didn’t exist. Subsequently, General Robert Alexander took command and created a significant positive change in the development of the 77th Division. During this period, the 77th advanced and attacked from the Vesle River to the Aisne River with confidence and efficiency.
26 September 1918 – 15 October 1918
The Battle of the Argonne Forest, as part of the larger scale Meuse-Argonne Offensive beginning on 26 September 1918, commenced and lasted 20 days. During this time, the Argonne was cleared of German units and the Aire River was crossed along its northern boundary. The towns of Grand Pre and Saint Juvin were captured, and the Allied line was firmly established just north of the towns. During the operation to clear the Argonne Forest, the 77th Division had operated within the dense forest at all times and was assigned a front that was initially 7.5 kilometers long. The American 28th Division was located to the 77th Division’s right flank, while the Franco-American liaison known as Groupement Durand, consisting of elements from the American 368th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division and the French 1st Dismounted Cavalry were assigned to the left flank of the 77th Division to maintain contact with the French Fourth Army during the operation.
The Argonne was considered impractical ground for an offensive, but was cleared of five German division defending the forest regardless. The 77th Division advanced through 22 kilometers of black forests, across a river valley of marsh and mud whereby the commander was congratulated twice during the operation for its remarkable success. It was during this period that the struggles of the “Lost Battalion” would occur.
1 November – 11 November 1918
The 77th Division continued its advance from the Aire River to the Meuse River, a distance of 37 kilometers in only 10 days. When the Armistice took effect, the 77th Division advanced a total of 59.5 kilometers from its original line on 26 September 1918 to 1100 hours (11:00 A.M.) on 11 November 1918; its left flank was located less than 2 kilometers east and southeast of Sedan with an advanced outpost across the Meuse River on the eastern bank. Records indicate that no other American division was closer to the German frontier than the frontline of the 77th Division.
77th Division - Photo Gallery
77th Division - The Baccarat Sector
77th Division - Oise-Aisne Offensive
77th Division - Meuse-Argonne Offensive (26 September - 16 October 1918)
77th Division - Meuse-Argonne Offensive (31 October - 11 November 1918)
Divisional History: U.S. Army's 92nd Division
92nd Division - "Buffalo Soldiers" Background
The American 92nd Infantry Division, known as the Buffalo Soldiers, was formed in 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The all-black 10th Cavalry Regiment had earned their names from the Native American tribes they encountered during the Indian Wars, but the nickname soon spread to all African-American regiments including the 10th, 24th, 25th, and (Second) 38th Infantry Regiments.
On 29 November 1917, the 92nd Division was formed from African-American men who were willing to serve for a country that discounted them at every turn. The “all-negro” outfit was commanded by Major General Charles C. Ballou, whom oversaw the African-American officer cadets at Fort Des Moines Officers Training Camp in Des Moines, Iowa. However, despite African-American officers being trained at Fort Des Moines under Ballou, United States Army policy determined that no African-American could rise above the rank of Captain. Subsequently, the majority of the 92nd Divisions command laid in the hands of Caucasian officers. In May 1918, the 92nd was brought to full strength and was concentrated at Camp Upton, New York prior to embarking to France.
Organization of the 92nd Division:
The 183rd and 184th Infantry Brigades participated in battles of the Saint Die Sector (Vosges, France) from 29 August to 20 September 1918, and the Marbache Sector (Lorraine, France) from 9 October to 11 November 1918.
Note: The only exclusion to this was the 368th Infantry Regiment who had also participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive from 26 September to 4 October 1918 as part of a Franco-American liaison group known as Groupement Durand (or the lesser known designation of Groupement Rive Droite).
92nd Division - Photo Gallery
92nd Division - The Saint Die Sector
The Saint Die Sector formed part of the Southeastern tip of a battle that extended from the North sea to the border of Switzerland, where opposite of the Saint Die Sector laid Alsace and a strip of country riddled with mountains and forests. Natural and manmade physical barriers made any extensive military movement within the sector virtually impracticable, and therefor the sector was reasonably quiet. The Saint Die Sector was so notoriously quiet, in fact, that it was deemed a “rest sector” by the French and German armies.
The frontlines of the Saint Die Sector was established 60 days after the opening of World War One and stretched about 25 kilometers wide. It laid within the Vosges Mountains (North of the town of Saint Die), and had controlled the Saales Pass. Although numerous attempts at assaulting various portions of the line had been made by the French and German armies, they had proven fruitless in the three years of combat prior to American intervention. The first change in the lines had occurred when the village of Frapelle was taken by the American 5th Infantry Division during the middle of August 1918.
Frapelle controlled an important high and the loss of the village had threatened the German railroad systems used to transport troops, supplies and messages along the frontlines in Southeast Alsace. To compensate for this loss, the Germans rapidly moved its Prussian troops to replace the bewildered Alsatian Guards while simultaneously providing the sector with more artillery and heavy machine-guns.
On 16 August 1918, the Prussian troops attempted to retake control of Frapelle, but had ultimately failed in its endeavors against the 6th Infantry and French units of the 33rd Army Corps (which the American 6th Infantry Regiment was brigaded with). The German elements along its line had disrupted the once peaceful sector with an artillery barrage on the town of Saint Die with high explosive and gas artillery shells.
21 August 1918:
On 21 August 1918, advanced infantry elements of the 366th Infantry Regiment arrived in the Saint Die Sector and began relieving elements of the French 87th Division. During its relief, the 366th Infantry Regiment had been subjected to heavy German artillery that lasted around four hours. The town of Frapelle was devastated and “no wall in the entire town was left standing.”
During the night, the advance elements of the 366th Infantry Regiment were located in the trenches of the Saint Die Sector, commencing relief of the American 5th Division during which two men were killed with an additional six being wounded.
23 August 1918:
By 23 August 1918, the entire 92nd Division (excluding the 167th Field Artillery) had moved from the training area into the Saint Die Sector and were assigned to relieve the American 5th Division. The 92nd Division was affiliated with the French 87th Division, French XXXIII Corps, and had controlled its portion of the line until it was relieved by the French 20th Division. The German artillery that had been battering the line was slowly subsiding.
25 August 1918:
The 92nd Division began receiving German high explosive and gas artillery fire on its lines during 25 August 1918 as retaliation from a raid conducted 9 days prior (16 August 1918) by the 6th Infantry and its capture of the town of Frapelle. Amid the shelling the 92nd Division units occupying the front line were three companies of the 365th Infantry, five companies of the 366th Infantry, two companies of the 367th Infantry, three companies of the 368th Infantry, as well as other combat units placed in support and reserve of the 92nd Division.
German Army air superiority in the Saint Die Sector led to supply disruption and casualties. as any time the weather was clear enough the frontline trenches of the 366th Infantry Regiment were bombed by German planes. The German planes had also assisted in directing artillery fire for barrages that commonly lasted more than 30 minutes at a time. Subsequently, the German artillery and aerial bombings were accurate enough to bombard the railroads used by French supply trains, as well as target the 366th’s lines with shrapnel, high-explosive and gas shells.
“From the 25th of August  until the [92nd] Division was relieved on the 20th September , the principal activities consisted of patrolling and raiding parties, with artillery and aerial bombardment of positions. Skirmishes between raiding parties were frequent.“
29 August 1918:
“Except for the occasional enemy raids the short month in the sector, from 29 August to 19 September , was not particularly hazardous. Artillery fire came into the area more or less on schedule, and periodic bursts of rifle and machine gun fire sometimes caught the unwary, but most dangerous, where the lines came close to one another, were the hand grenades lobbed over without warning… During those three weeks G-2 generously estimated that [German] artillery had fired a total of 22,366 shells into the sector.”
30 August 1918:
Until 30 August 1918, the French had retained command of the Saint Die Sector where the 92nd Division had been located, meanwhile the 92nd Division were trained in trench maneuvers and in patrolling the mountains. After their first full week in the Saint Die Sector, the 366th Infantry Regiment had taken complete responsibility for no-man’s-land and participated in nightly patrols over the first and second-line German trenches.
31 August 1918:
On the night of 31 August 1918, the 92nd Division experienced one of the most intense engagements of its time in France when German forces attacked Frapelle in an attempt to retake the village. The attacking German infantry had been supported by intense German artillery with mustard gas. It was during this skirmish that the 92nd Division had been exposed to the German Model 41 Wechselapparat’s (flame-throwers) for the first time.
The 92nd Division successfully repulsed the German attack and caused heavy German casualties during its defense of Frapelle. Meanwhile the 92nd Division sustained 34 wounded and gas with 4 Killed In Action including its first officer killed, First Lieutenant Thomas Bullock of the 367th Infantry Regiment.
1 September 1918:
By 1 September 1918, the 92nd Division had taken control of their line in the Saint Die Salient. To test the fortitude of these new and inexperienced defenders, small German units supported by heavy artillery, aerial support, sneeze gas and tear gas made a series of raids that lasted until 4 September 1918. During the opening of the raids, German artillery bombarded the 92nd Division with more than 12,000 shells; despite their efforts, however, the Germans were unable to break the 92nd from their position. During this three day defense, the 92nd Division sustained 92 casualties: 8 Killed In Action, 39 wounded, and 45 gassed.
Around 1230 hours (12:30 P.M.) and 1500 hours (3:00 P.M.), the Germans attacked the lines of the 365th and 366th Infantry Regiments located at Ormont. The Germans began their attack with heavy artillery barrages and more than 12,000 shells fired on the frontlines. Regardless of the German attempts, the 365th and 366th Infantry Regiments proved their defensive abilities by successfully repelled the German attacks.
“Troops not actively engaged in holding positions and repelling the [German] attacks were extending and repairing trenches and dugouts. The entrenchment system was inadequate for the protection of troops and out of repair from long non-use.”
A lesson learned during these attacks were that the Small Box Respirators (SBR) issued to the 92nd Division were ineffective due to improper training they received before their assignment to this sector. The SBR’s were also ill-fitting and the eyepieces were often worn-out, subsequently the 92nd Division Gas Officer had reported that at least 1,500 men could not be properly fitted and were not safely protected from the German gas.
Numerous patrols were sent out from the 92nd Division’s lines, upon returning there were no reports of contact with German units. In many cases, German trenches were found abandoned and it was believed that the Germans were anticipating a fight in a general or large-scale engagement.
2 September 1918:
During a German shelling on the 92nd Division’s lines, an officer and eight men of the 92nd Division had failed to recognize the odor of mustard gas mix due to the smell of the High Explosive shells bursting around them, and had become gas casualties as a result.
4 September 1918:
The Germans opposing the 92nd Division line launched another raid against the frontlines, after a brisk firefight the elements of the 92nd Division managed to drive off the German raids.
7 September 1918:
During the night of 7 September and into the early morning of 8 September 1918, another German gas attack hit the 92nd Division’s lines with a reported 730 gas shells falling on the trenches. This was the first and only time the German raiding parties were successful in entering the trenches of the 366th Infantry Regiment’s lines, however, after a brisk firefight the Germans determined that the 366th would not be driven from their positions.
8 September 1918:
“One bright Sunday morning [8 September 1918] after being in the trenches two weeks, the Germans following closely behind a most terrific bombardment, which battered down two frontline dugouts, entered the frontline trenches and after a hand-to-hand bayonet encounter were forced to retire in complete disorder.“
The conclusion was made by the Germans that the 92nd Division would not easily be driven off, and resulted in using ranged attacks to harass the 366th Infantry Regiment including the use of snipers, light artillery mounted on armored trucks, machine-guns and heavy artillery, which often targeted the 92nd Division’s strongpoints. These German motor trucks were extremely effective against the 92nd Division patrols in no-man’s land during the early part of September.
11 September 1918:
On 11 September 1918, a recognition was given to the 366th Infantry Regiment as having more superior arms than the Prussians it had been facing, and it was thoroughly believed that it had the means to advance and capture the villages of Beulay and Provenchires. In capturing these towns, the 92nd Division would create a advantageous position whereby fewer casualties would be sustained due to remaining in the valley of Fave. However, despite this belief an advance never took place on the towns.
12 September 1918:
During an early morning patrol two members of a patrol party from the 92nd Division were captured by the Germans. Through this capture, the Germans had learned that the 92nd Division was made-up of African American troops. The Germans attempted to use this to their advantage by changing their tactics from artillery barrages and gas attacks, to propaganda for the 92nd to change sides.
During the morning of 12 September 1918, a section of the 367th Infantry Regiment was bombarded with fliers instead of gas shells. The circular letters were addressed to the troops of the 367th Infantry Regiment stating:
“TO THE COLORED SOLDIERS OF THE U.S. ARMY
Hello, boys, what are you doing over here? Fighting the Germans? Why? Have they ever done you any harm? Of course some white folks and the lying English-American papers told you that the Germans ought to be wiped out for the sake of Humanity and Democracy.
What is Democracy? Personal freedom, all citizens enjoying the same rights socially and before the law. Do you enjoy the same rights as white people do in America, the land of Freedom and Democracy, or are you rather not treated over there as second-class citizens? Can you go into a restaurant where white people dine? Can you get a seat in the theater where white people sit? Can you get a seat or a berth in the railroad car, or can you even ride, in the South, in the same street car with white people? And how about the law? Is lynching and the most horrible crimes connected therewith a lawful proceeding in a democratic country?
Why, then, fight the Germans only for the benefit of the Wall street robbers and to protect the millions they have loaned to the British, French, and Italians? You have been made the tool of the egotistic and rapacious rich in England and in America, and there is nothing in the whole game for you but broken bones, horrible wounds, spoiled health, or death. No satisfaction whatever will you get out of this unjust war.
You have never seen Germany. So you are fools if you allow people to make you hate us. Come over and see for yourself. Let those do the fighting who make the profit out of this war. Don’t allow them to use you as cannon fodder. To carry a gun in this war is not an honor, but a shame. Throw it away and come over into the German lines. You will find friends who will help you along.”
Regardless of their efforts the German propaganda had no effect on the dedicated troops of the 92nd Division.
14 September 1918:
On 14 September 1918, only two days after the propaganda reached the troops of the 367th Infantry Regiment, the 92nd Division had captured their first Prisoners of War (POW) when a raiding party of the 366th Infantry Regiment surprised and captured a group of five soldiers. Previous raiding parties had managed to capture rifles, machine-guns and message dogs; but had not managed to capture any POW’s prior to this day.
“During the week of September 14, 1918, one of the raiding parties of the 366th Infantry [Regiment] surprised and captured a group of five German soldiers, the first prisoners taken by the 92nd Division. Other raiding parties captured [German] rifles, machine-guns, and message dogs.”
15 September 1918:
In retaliation to the capture of the Algerian troops, German aerial activity increased and at 1400 hours (2:00 P.M.) on 15 September 1918 a German Fokker combat plane flew above the 92nd Division lines at an altitude of 8,000 feet and began strafing and bombing the lines. At 1420 hours (2:20 P.M.) minutes later, a French plane flown by French Lieutenant Fagon spotted the German Fokker and the two planes began a dog fight above the 92nd Division lines. After approximately 20-minutes of fighting, Lieutenant Fagon successfully shot and killed the German pilot.
18 September 1918:
On 18 September 1918, elements of the American 81st “Wildcat” Division (attached to the French 20th Division) began relieving the 92nd Division. The 368th Infantry Regiment continued to hold its lines in the subsector Ravines in the Saint Die District.
19 September 1918:
During the night the 1st Battalion of the 368th Infantry was relieved from the Center of Resistance (C.R.) Colxns by a battalion of a French Regiment. The 2nd Battalion, 368th Infantry was relieved from the C.R. Coirots by three companies of the French 20th Division, French XXXIII Corps and 1 company of the American 321st Infantry Regiment, 81st Division. The 3rd Battalion, 368th Infantry was relieved from the C.R. Colxns by a battalion of a French Regiment and were to rendezvous at Rage l’Stape.
The 2nd Battalion, 368th Infantry was to rendezvous at Stival and embussed at 2030 hours (8:30 P.M.) at Pajails, where it went to Vanemont and La Cote. The 3rd Battalion, 368th Infantry embussed at the same time in La Haute-Nouviville to go to Concizuk.
A casualty report from the 92nd Division’s G-3 reported 24 Killed In Action (KIA), 108 Wounded, 49 Gassed, and 5 Missing In Action (MIA). In addition, 12 soldiers were accidently killed and another 31 wounded due to careless weapons handling.
20 September 1918:
At 1000 hours (10:00 A.M.), the command of the sub-sector previously controlled by the 92nd Division had passed to Colonel Louis-Gaston Zapff of the French 116th Infantry Regiment. Around the same time, the 2nd Battalion, 368th Infantry Regiment arrived at Varimont and La Cote where it entrained at the Corcikol entraining area to go to Givry-en-Argonne.
With the American 81st “Wildcat” Division, along with a French unit, taking over the Saint Die Sector where the 92nd Division had been located, the 92nd Division was officially relieved of duty in the Saint Die Sector and had began departing by road and rail to the Argonne. While en-route to the Meuse-Argonne, General Hunter Liggett (commander of the American First Army, I Corps) issued orders for one regiment of the 92nd Division to report for temporary duty with the French XXXVIII Corps.
Liggett and other commanders had identified a problem in the upcoming Meuse-Argonne Offensive in which a gap would develop between the French Fourth Army and American First Army. The plan for the regiment chosen from the 92nd Division was to provide liaison and protection within this gap, the group would ultimately be composed of the French 11th Cuirassiers and the American 368th Infantry Regiment, known as Groupement Durand.
The relief of the 92nd Division was concluded on 20 September 1918 and the 92nd Division departed for the Argonne.
“During the 28 days in the St. Die sector the men of the 366th Regiment gained confidence in themselves and their weapons, such as could never have come in a camp or training area. They learned coordination and a real love for the war game. It became difficult to send out small patrols, for every officer and man desired to participate. Company commanders in order to settle disputes as to priority among the volunteers for night patrols and raiding parties were compelled to promise places days in advance of orders.“
21 September 1918:
On 21 September 1918 the 92nd Division left the Saint Die Sector and relocated in the Corcieux zone for entrainment. Orders directed the 92nd Division to proceed to the Department of the Meuse and take positions as the corps reserve for the American I Corps. At 0500 hours (5:00 A.M.) the 1st Battalion, Headquarters Company, Machine-Gun Company, and a portion of the supply company of the 368th Infantry Regiment physically entrained at Corcieux to travel to Givry-en-Argonne. From Corcieux and other nearby entraining points, units of the 92nd Division (excluding the 167th Field Artillery Brigade and the 317th Ammunition Train) entrained en-route to the Argonne region.
Meanwhile, the 366th Infantry Regiment marched 20 kilometers with heavy packs to entrain with other units of the 92nd Division, and then were quickly rushed to the village of Le Chemin. However, the officers of the 366th were disappointed in thinking that their opportunity for the regiment to prove itself would never be fully realized. Although German raiding parties were often driven off by the 366th, even without the assistance of French sector artillery, the 366th was never given an opportunity that allowed them to advance their line.
Preparations for the largest American military operation in history, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, were nearly complete.
92nd Division - The Meuse-Argonne Offensive
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive (26 September to 11 November 1918) was the largest American military operation in history, and had involved more than 1.2 million American servicemembers. The 92nd Division (excluding the 368th Infantry Regiment and the 167th Field Artillery Brigade) was placed in reserve of the American I Corps, American First Army at the beginning of the offensive, whereby the American First Army was to be directed against principal German lateral line of supply known as the Carignan-Sedan-Meziers railroad (located about 53 kilometers from the front of Sedan). Severing this German line of supply would render the German positions to the West and Northwest of Sedan untenable.
To protect the line of supply, the Germans had constructed a series of fortifications since 1914 and four distinct defensive positions:
The First defensive position laid close behind the frontline.
The Second defensive position included Montfaucon and traversed the Argonne (south of Apremont)
The Third defensive position was known as the Kriemhilde Stellung which ran from the vicinity of Metz to the North Sea. This position had also extended from Bois de Foret, across the heights of Cunel and Romagne, included the high ground north of Grand Pre, and had formed a portion of the Hindenburg Line.
The Fourth defensive position included the heights of Barricourt extending west to Buzancy and Thenorgues.
The first three defensive positions were thoroughly organized and had numerous intermediate defensive positions constructed between them. The defensive positions were also naturally fortified by the difficult terrain any attacking force would have to overcome.
The 92nd departed from the Saint Die Sector and were under orders to take positions as Corps Reserve, the division traveled more than 300 miles during its journey from Saint Die Sector to the Argonne. By the afternoon of 23 September 1918, the 92nd Division arrived at their destination of Le Chemin in the Department of the Meuse at 1900 hours (7:00 P.M.) under very heavy rain. Almost immediately, the men of the 92nd Division began an arduous march toward the Argonne Forest and the road from Le Chemin to Camp D’Italien was riddled with dead horses, mules, and broken equipment.
The plan for the American First Army was to penetrate the Kriemhilde Stellung to force the Germans to retreat from the Argonne Forest and ensure a junction between the French Fourth Army to the left, and the American First Army on the right. For this plan to succeed, the American 77th Division of the American First Army would need to maintain liaison with the French 1st Dismounted Cavalry of the French Fourth Army.
Subsequently, a small liaison group known as Groupement Durand would be formed and consisted of troops from the 368th Infantry Regiment (92nd Division) and the French 11th Cuirassiers. Groupement Durand would be under the command of the French Fourth Army during its operations in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
22 September 1918:
At 0130 hours (1:30 A.M.), the 1st Battalion of the 368th Infantry Regiment, as well as the remainder of the Supply Company (detached from the 325th Field Signal Battalion) entrained at Corcieux for Givry-en-Argonne.
23 September 1918:
By the afternoon of 23 September 1918, the 92nd Division had arrived at their destination, whereby more than 300 miles were covered during the 92nd Divisions travels in troops trains. The 92nd detrained at the village of Le Chemin and the 92nd Headquarters were established at Saint Menehould.
At 1900 hours (7:00 P.M.), the 92nd Division began their movements toward the Argonne Forest under heavy rain. The march was difficult and exhausting to the men, mules, and horses of the division. Most of the men of 1st and 3rd Battalion, 366th Infantry hadn’t removed their shoes in more than 10 days, making the march even more strenuous on their blistered and exhausted feet. However, there was good news to help lift the spirits of the 366th. The 2nd Battalion, having been in the frontline trenches for 20 days under artillery fire, found out that 18 Distinguished Service Crosses were being awarded to men of their battalion.
Meanwhile, the 1st Battalion of the 368th Infantry, as well as a portion of the supply company from the 325th Field Signal Battalion, arrived at Givry-en-Argonne and immediately marched to La Neuville, then Bouronville. At 2030 hours (8:30 P.M.), the entire 368th Infantry marched from Bouronville, France to Camp Sounait.
24 September 1918:
Early in the morning of 24 September 1918, at 0500 hours (5:00 A.M.), the 368th Infantry Regiment completed its all-night march and arrived to the outskirts of the Argonne Forest to join the French 11th Cuirassiers.
At 0900 hours (9:00 A.M.), the 368th Infantry arrived at Camp Sounait and reported to the French 1st D.C.P. (Division de Cavalierie a Pied – Dismounted Cavalry Division) in accordance to instructions from the American First Army Corps Headquarters. Subsequently, the command of the 368th Infantry was passed to the French Fourth Army and assigned to the Brigade commanded by Colonel Rene Durand (of which Groupement Durand was named after).
With only four hours of rest since arriving in the outskirts of the Argonne Forest the 368th Infantry Regiment had once again began marching, this time to join the French XXXVIII Corps. The remainder of the 92nd Division proceeded to a region northwest of the Argonne Forest and assumed a reserve position.
Upon arrival, the 92nd Division was placed under the command of the American I Corps, American First Army and officially designated as the reserve element of the American I Corps. Much like the 368th Infantry Regiment (officially operating as part of Groupement Durand), various units of the 92nd Division were detached for special operations, such as the 317th Engineer Regiment, three battalions of infantry and two companies of the 351st Machine-Gun Battalion, and the 167th Field Artillery Brigade. Although the 167th Field Artillery Brigade was not attached to the 92nd Division at the time the 92nd had the 62nd Field Artillery Brigade (American 37th Division) attached to it.
“Resting in the woods of Camp d’Italien without shelter except from pup tents during the day of the 24th [September 1918], another start was made that night and after marching nine kilometers, a part of which was over the famous Verdun highway, Camp Cabaud was reach in the early morning and rest once more established.”
Throughout the 92nd Division’s march (excluding the 368th Infantry Regiment) from Camp d’Italien to Camp Cabaud, the Verdun highway was littered with several miles of trucks, dead horses, broken equipment and as a result the road congestion was terrible. Due to several days of rain, the shell-torn roads caused some trucks to flip on their sides or even completely over, and given the priority of ammunition over everything else, infantry and ambulances were often halted to allow ammunition trucks to pass.
To keep the trucks and supplies moving, orders were given for all transport vehicles to move to the left side of the road after the right side had come to a complete standstill. Vast efforts had been made to reopen the roadways, but the roads became completely blocked for as long as 7 kilometers by midnight of 24 September 1918. Trucks and troops alike were bogged down by the mire and mud, the 92nd Division was forced to move by foot in small detachments to reach the woods above Passaavant-en-Argonne the next morning.
By 2100 hours (9:00 P.M.), the 368th Infantry Regiment marched to the front and was assigned to the right bank of the Aisne River, north of Vienne-le-Chateau and La Harazee. Due to the long day of marching and the muddy terrain, the 368th Infantry Regiment was physically exhausted and hungry, however this wasn’t the only troubles the 368th encountered.
“The intense fatigue only compounded the lack of preparation for what lay before them. What should have ideally been weeks of careful coordination was instead reduced to several hours hastily thrown together planning. The officers lack[ed] maps and could not familiarize themselves with the terrain. The infantrymen did not have much-needed light machine-guns and grenade launchers. Most troubling, without essential supplies such as signal flares and heavy wire-cutters, a reflection of the 92nd Divisions perpetually under-equipped state.“
– A Companion to the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, Page 165-166.
25 September 1918:
The 368th Infantry and Groupement Durand:
On 25 September 1918, a change in disposition of the allied troops had made it vital for the 368th Infantry Regiment and Groupement Durand to take over the sector, with the town of Binarville opposite of their frontline. Groupement Durand’s mission was to maintain contact between the French 1st Dismounted Cavalry Division of the French Fourth Army to the left, and the American 77th Division of the American First Army to the right. The sector that was held by the 368th Infantry had formed an irregular triangle that projected forward beyond the general line. In front of the 368th’s position were vast stretches of German wire entanglements that extended in intervals throughout “no-man’s land” and beyond the German wire were concealed German machine-gun emplacements. Fighting in the sector of the 368th Infantry was harder than any unit of the 92nd Division had encountered prior to that time.
The French 1st Dismounted Cavalry Division announced that the assault troops of Groupement Durand would be in position on the night of 25 September and early morning of 26 September 1918. Special efforts were made not to attract the attention of the Germans as the American units approached their lines of departure. The 368th moved from Vienne-le-Chateau and took positions on the left flank of the American 77th Division by moving in a column of battalions, taking over a 2.5 kilometer section of front from the French 11th Cuirassiers north and south of the Biesme River.
An artillery preparation was planned to commence 6 hours prior to the attack, whereby Groupement Durand was to advance at h-hour (set for 0530 hours (5:30 A.M.)) to a line extending east and west through Servon and to occupy the first line of German trenches.
The positions obtained by Groupement Durand were to be held against all German counterattacks, which were highly anticipated and suspected to come from the Argonne Forest. While in position, the 368th were assigned to keep the Germans under surveillance and maintain contact between the French 1st Dismounted Cavalry and the American 77th Division, it as also noted that in the case of a German withdrawal the 368th were to actively pursue the Germans with the French 11th Cuirassiers.
The formation of the 368th Infantry assigned its 1st Battalion in reserve of the French 1st Dismounted Cavalry at Camp Die Haute. The 2nd Battalion was located in the front line and was to be the assault battalion with three companies along the assault front and one in reserve. The 3rd Battalion was to be in close support with three companies of the 1st Battalion on the northern bank of the Biesme River, and 1 company on the right bank.
The 368th Infantry would soon find out that they would be facing the German Third Army, which had 10 division at its disposal. The German Third Army focused its defense in the area of the Champagne and the German High Command, Oberste Herresleitung (OHL), detached an additional three divisions to serve as “intervention divisions” to assist Group Argonne when necessary.
The rest of the 92nd Division:
While the 368th was preparing to advance as part of Groupement Durand, the rest of the 92nd Division (excluding the 167th Field Artillery Brigade) arrived in the woods above Passavant-en-Argonne at 0500 hours (5:00 A.M.) on 25 September 1918. During their march to this position, although the sky was cloudy it was well lit due to the flashes of the Allied artillery cannons firing about 11 kilometers from their position. The roar of the guns was deafening and hearing or speaking to a comrade beyond a few feet was impossible.
During the morning, 8 German mustard gas shells were fired directly onto the 92nd Division and an Official Medical Department statistics indicated that between 20 August to 25 September 1918, the 92nd Division’s casualties resulted in 21 Killed In Action, 202 Wounded, and 99 Gassed. However, Field Hospital 366 didn’t record the deaths but showed 130 Wounded with 168 Gassed in the same period of time. 94 of the 168 gas cases admitted between 2 September and 5 September, alone, were due to mustard gas inhalation. However, their records changed on 8 September to state that no disease had been found, and the actual gas cases at Field Hospital 366 declined to 74.
The 92nd Division had been designated as reserve for the American I Corps, American First Army according to Secret Field Orders No. 13, Headquarters 92nd Division. The orders designated its station to be the woods north of Clermont. The woods had barely been reached when the 183rd Infantry Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Malvern H. Barnum, had ordered the 1st Battalion of the 366th Infantry to move forward and build roads across “no-man’s land.”
The need for these roads to be quickly built were crucial due to the necessity in transporting heavy guns, ammunition, troops and supplies rapidly as the infantry attacks advanced during the offensive and contribute to its success. The advance was so rapid in the first few days of the Meuse-Argonne that the entire 183rd Infantry Brigade were all engaged in road rapid road construction. The 1st Battalion, 366th Infantry conducted its road building assignment amid German gas and high explosive shells.
“In the chill rain of dark nights our engineers had to build new roads across spongy, shell torn areas, repair broken roads beyond no-man’s-land, and build bridges. Our gunners, with no thought of sleep, put their shoulders to the wheels and drag-ropes to bring their guns through the mire in support of the infantry, now under the increasing fire of the [German] artillery. Our attack had taken the [Germans] by surprise, but, quickly recovering himself, [the Germans] began to fire counterattacks in strong force, supported by heavy bombardments, with large quantities of gas.”
26 September 1918:
“Owing to the extent of the front covered and the necessity of advancing by small groups, the battalion commanders could influence only a small part of their command….The character of the terrain and the German defense system made the advance depend entirely on the aggressiveness and leadership of the company and platoon commanders.”
–Colonel Frederick Brown, commanding officer of the 368th Infantry Regiment
The 92nd Division, excluding the 368th Infantry Regiment and the 167th Field Artillery Brigade, was placed in reserved of the American I Corps, American First Army. They were located in the woods northwest of Clermont-Beauchamp Farm, and during the opening days of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive the battalions from each of the three infantry regiments in reserve (365th, 366th, and 367th) conducted in constructing passages for supplies and ammunition across “no-man’s land.” The 368th Infantry Regiment was the only infantry regiment of the 92nd to take part in combat operations for the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
Before the Meuse-Argonne Offensive began, it was noted that the 92nd Division was shorted on supplies, water and food rations. The 368th Infantry was not supplied with the necessary heavy wire cutters needed to pass through the German barbed wire, as well as hand grenades, rifle grenades, Chauchat automatic rifles, nor signal flares.
The 368th Infantry Regiment:
Acting as part of an element of the Franco-American Liaison Group known as Groupement Durand under the command of the French Fourth Army, the 368th Infantry and French 11th Cuirassiers were tasked with maintaining liaison between the French Fourth Army and the American First Army. On the morning of 26 September 1918, the 368th Infantry Regiment prepared to attack as the right element of Groupement Durand on and “I-Battalion” front between La Harazee to Vienne-le-Chateau.
The 2nd Battalion was chosen as the assault battalion for the 368th Infantry and were ordered to maintain contact with the Germans, ensure liaison between the French 11th Cuirassiers and the American 305th Infantry Regiment (77th Division, American First Army), and follow any German retreat by sending out strong patrols to occupy any abandoned German position.
At 0523 hours (5:23 A.M.), the 2nd Battalion of the 368th Infantry Regiment, commanded by Major Max Elser, observed the German trench positions opposite of their line, through the dense fog that blanketed the Argonne.
At 0525 hours (5:25 A.M.) the 2nd Battalion began their advance toward the German lines supported by the regimental machine-gun company. Almost immediately the 2nd Battalion realized that the French 1st Dismounted Cavalry Division’s artillery was inefficient in its the preparatory barrage, it had not damaged nor destroyed the thick French and German barbed-wire that had accumulated over a 4-year period and blanketed nearly 3 kilometers of “no-man’s land.”
Between the solid thicket of French and German barbed-wire that had accumulated over a 4-year period and covering nearly 3 kilometers of “no-man’s land,” and the thick underbrush that grew up through the rusted wire and created an entangled mess; the terrain was “absolutely impenetrable” according to the 368th Infantry Regiment commander, Colonel Frederick R. Brown. Overall, the 2nd Battalion encountered some of the most difficult terrain that any force of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) had come across.
Because the 368th were not supplied with heavy wire cutters, the small wire-cutters issued to the regiment proved to be useless against the massive wire defenses. The 2nd Battalion was forced to advance through existing trenches and paths, making lateral communication extremely difficult, if not, impossible. The difficult terrain and barbed-wire defenses also made the movement of the 368th Infantry’s heavy machine guns, 37mm guns, and stokes mortars nearly impractical.
The 368th Infantry had no other option than to navigate through a maze of existing trenches that were interlaced with barbed-wire and chevaux-de-frise. The labyrinth of paths resulted in a limitation of communication between the companies of the 2nd Battalion, ultimately resulting in the separate movements and loss of contact between three groups of the 2nd battalion whereby only one group was still controlled by Major Elser. The three groups of the 2nd Battalion consisted of Company [G] to the left, Company [F] in the center, and Companies [E] and [H] to the right.
Companies [E] and [H] advanced with four machine-guns with Major Elser and had crossed Tranchee de Suede to reach the area of Tranchee de Courlande. During their advance they had encountered strong German machine-gun fire, although there was no liaison to either flank and forward patrols had not disclosed any German positions, the companies managed to isolate and silent the machine-gun nests and killed three German soldiers in the process.
Meanwhile, Company [F] reached the first line German trenches without any opposition and split into two groups consisting of two platoons each. One group of Company [F] managed to reach Tranchee Tirpitz and capture one German prisoner and one machine-gun, killing three Germans in the process; however, the group was forced to withdraw back to their position in the first German trench they had reached. The other group of Company [F] were unable to reach Tranchee Tirpitz and had only advanced to Ravine des Neirailieuses, but were also driven back to their original departure point.
Company [G] spent the day working through the heavy-barbed wire and trenches, although it carried out its mission with a scout platoon the company didn’t progress far throughout the day.
At 0800 hours (8:00 A.M.), Major Elser headed to the regimental command post after having “temporarily los[ing] his way.” Two hours later around 1000 hours (10:00 A.M.), the 2nd Battalion advanced 1.5 kilometers without much opposition from German forces. At 1035 hours(10:35 A.M.), Colonel Brown reported to the division stating that the 2nd Battalion was “against [German] wire and working their way through… with no tools nor artillery preparation passage of enemy’s wiring is very difficult.”
At 1100 hours (11:00 A.M.), one of the groups from Company [F] of 2nd Battalion had advanced to Tranchee de Finlande via Boyau de Stuttgart was was temporarily held up by intense German machine-gun fire. During the engagement against the German machine-guns, the group had taken one prisoner and killed six other German soldiers.
Around 1300 hours (1:00 P.M.), the 3rd Battalion of the 368th Infantry moved to the line of trenches located about 350 meters in the rear of the French frontline, and detachments of Company [K] of 3rd Battalion had operated as a liaison to both flanks of the 368th Infantry Regiment excluding one group that remained with 2nd Battalion’s Company [F].
“[3rd] Battalion, in accordance with plan, supported the advance of the 2nd Battalion and occupied the trench system vacated by the latter battalion when it moved forward at H-Hour, which position it continued to hold after the 2nd Battalion had [later] passed through it on its withdrawal.”
At 1315 hours (1:15 P.M.), after crossing Tranchee Tirpitz Companies [E] and [H] of 2nd Battalion resumed their advance along the narrow-gauge railroad that paralleled Boyau de Turquie. As they advanced, the group quickly encountered German rear-guard machine-guns which halted their movement. Reconnaissance and reorganization was implemented during the halt but the men had trouble locating the direction of the incoming German machine-gun fire through the mangled trees, smoke and fog which limited visibility to only a few yards.
By 1430 hours (2:30 P.M.) the liaison detachments of the 3rd Battalion, as well as portions of Company [E] of 2nd Battalion had lost contact with the American 77th Division to the east of the 368th Infantry. As the day progressed, contact with the west element of Groupement Durand in the French 11th Cuirassiers was lost. Subsequently, a platoon of Company [M] from 3rd Battalion was sent south to Ravin de l’Artillerie in an attempt to reestablish contact with the left element of the 368th Infantry. This platoon was not only unsuccessful in reestablishing contact, but didn’t return to Company [M] for the remainder of the operation.
The 2nd Battalion commander, Major Elser, still had not been found since his visit to regimental headquarters in the morning, and all communication between him, other companies, his battalion, as well as headquarters were completely lost.
By 1630 hours (4:30 P.M.) the thick barbed-wire, maze of trenches and German defense systems, smoke, mud and fog had taken its toll on the inexperienced officers of the 2nd Battalion, 368th Infantry Regiment. As a result, the 2nd Battalion was in near complete disarray, its elements were dispersed into platoons and section units across the sector with little-to-no leadership. To make matters worse, German airplanes were dropping bombs which resulted in shrapnel and increased terror among the troops. Confusion increased as the sun began to set and the companies of 2nd Battalion became even more scattered with communication being lost and movements disjointed.
At 1730 hours (5:30 P.M.), two platoons of Company [F] were forced to withdrawal from their positions and relocate to the ravine in rear of Tranchee de Damas due to heavy German artillery fire. Once relocated, the German artillery began bombarding this position as well and the two platoons were forced to relocate further south of Tranchee de Goeben, where they stayed for the remainder of the night.
Later in the day, the 1st Battalion of the 368th Infantry who were serving as the divisional reserve had moved forward from their position in Haute Batis to P.C. Capinere.
By 2100 hours (9:00 P.M.), Company [F]’s platoons had managed to reach the German frontline trenches. Captain James Wormley Jones of Company [F] had pushed his men forward in heavy German fire until they had crossed nearly 1.5 kilometers of “no-man’s land.” As the sun set, the smoke and fog over the battlefield had thickened and these platoons used the cover to its advantage in concealing its movements as it cut through the barbed-wire, cleared machine-gun nests, and bombed German dugouts in order to safely maintain their position for the night.
Company [F]’s platoons, as well as a liaison group from Company [K], had advanced to the ravine south of Tranchee de Finlande. However, they soon received intense German artillery fire that forced them to withdrawal south of Tranchee de Breslau where they spent the remainder of the night.
As a result of the chaotic movements throughout the day, both groups of platoons from Company [F] were not in communication with any other units throughout the night. By dark, Groupement Durand had failed in its mission maintain liaison between the French Fourth Army and the American First Army due to the disorganized movements of its elements throughout the day.
Company [G], 2nd Battalion, which was located on the left of the assault of the 368th Infantry throughout the day had reached Tranchee des Baleines. This position was held for the night with 3d Battalion’s Company [M] in support. Although liaison was maintained with the French 11th Cuirassiers, there was no liaison with any its units within the frontlines of the French 11th Cuirassiers located around Tranchee de l’Euphrate. Companies [E] and [H], 2nd Battalion, which assaulted as the right element of the 368th Infantry had withdrawn for the evening and took positions in the rear of the line of 3rd Battalion, 368th Infantry.
The 368th Infantry Regiment Commander, Colonel Frederick R. Brown, reported that the 2nd Battalion had captured a single German prisoner from the German 7th Company, 2nd Battalion. Which was a part of the German 83rd Landwehr Regiment (Infantry), 76th Landwehr Infantry Brigade, 9th Landwehr Division, Group Argonne, Army Group Crown Prince, German Third Army.
At 2359 hours (11:59 P.M.), the line of the 3rd Battalion, 368th Infantry was the only organized line of the 368th Infantry Regiment, extending about 600 meters across, excluding the portion of Company [G] lines in Tranchee des Baleines. Elements of the 2nd Battalion, 368th withdrew through portions of the 3rd Battalion during the night. However, the scattered groups of Companies [E], [F], and [H], 2nd Battalion, were located just ahead of the 3rd Battalion line and not in contact with the 3rd Battalion nor any other elements.
“The net result of the work of [2nd] Battalion [368th Infantry Regiment] on the 26th was the withdrawal of half of it to a point within our own lines and the consequent disorganization of Companies “H”, “F”, “E”, which it took the greater part of the 27th to drive into a renewal of the advance on BINARVILLE. They thus on the 27th simply retraced their steps over the ground abandoned by them on the 26th.”
Misinterpretations of History
Military documentation can often be subject to interpretation and thereby support, contradict, or convolute historical fact. It is up to the researcher to maintain an objective position and verify information in meticulous investigation of sources and documents, as sources may misinterpret information and lead to an inaccurate recount of events. In the case of the operations and orders of the 368th Infantry Regiment and its activities for the 26 and 27 September 1918, the U.S. Army Chemical Corps Historical Studies, Gas Warfare In World War I: The 92nd Division in the Marbache Sector October 1918 states on page 11 that the “368th Infantry made no attack, had no orders to attack, and had no “objectives” as such.”
However, this is inaccurate and based on the orders the 368th Infantry received on the 25 September 1918 orders of maintaining liaison between the French Fourth Army and American First Army, and keeping the German infantry under surveillance. Even so, it disregards the assignment of assault battalions in Groupement Durand including the 2nd Battalion, 368th Infantry Regiment by the French Fourth Army in orders given on the same day as supported in documentation such as the reports of operations of companies [E], [F], and [H], 368th Infantry, 26-30 September 1918; Report of Operations, 2nd Battalion, 368th Infantry, 26-30 September 1918; Field Message, 368th Infantry to Groupement Durand, 8 P.M., 26 September 1918; and the Report of Operations, 368th Infantry, 15 November 1918.
According to pages 14-15 to the 92nd Division Summary of Operations in the World War, prepared by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the French 1st Dismounted Cavalry, French XXXVIII Corps, French Fourth Army ordered a continuation of attack for the 27 September 1918 on both sides of the Aisne River. Within these orders, Groupement Durand were specifically directed to reconnoiter the German points of resistance at daybreak, then advance throughout the day to Tranchee de la Palette – Tranchee de Charlevaux – North of Binarville-Autry Road.
The United States Army in the World War 1917-1919: Military Operations of the American Expeditionary Forces Volume 9 from the Center of Military History supports that the 368th Infantry were, in fact, directed by the French Fourth Army in a continuation of attack. Dated 27 September 1918 and located on page 140, Field Orders No. 26, 1(b) can be seen stating that “the attack of the French Fourth Army has progressed favorably. Its right now rests as follows: 1km south of Binarville — 1km north of Servon — south of Bouconville.” This provides further support in that the French Fourth Army did give orders to its units, including Groupement Durand whom was in the area of Binarville on 27 September, for a continuation of attack.
27 September 1918:
At 0345 hours (0345 A.M.) the 368th Infantry received Ordre No. 27 by the French 1st Dismounted Cavalry Division (D.C.P.) to advance to the line of Tranchee-du Dromadaire – Tranche Clotilde at 0515 hours (5:15 A.M.). The objectives were located 2 kilometers within the German lines, but the French 1st D.C.P. placed a group of 75mm artillery guns at the disposal of the 368th Infantry and Groupement Durand. The orders given had specified that the 368th would attack with the 3rd Battalion on the left and the 2nd Battalion on right, while the 1st Battalion would remain in reserve.
The 2nd Battalion was in complete disorganization when they received their attack orders around 0430 hours (4:30 A.M.). The morning was spent assembling the battalion to prepare for the attack. The reorganization of the scattered units had caused a delay in the time of attack with another reason for delay back at Regimental Headquarters. Major Elser, commander of the 2nd Battalion had reported back to the line earlier in the morning, was in the middle of a tense conversation with the 368th Infantry Regiment commander, Colonel Fred Brown, when the time of attack had come. Major Elser suggested that the 2nd and 3rd Battalion not attack side-by-side, but rather “leap-frog” (bounding overwatch technique) the battalions to give Elser time to recognize his men. However, Colonel Brown dismissed Elser’s request and refused to change the orders given by the French 1st D.C.P. Nonetheless, the attack commenced with the elements of the 368th making advances at different times throughout the day.
Regardless of the delay, Company [G], 2nd Battalion advanced from its position in Tranchee des Baleines until it was stopped by German machine-gun fire at Tranchee de l’Euphrate.
At 0730 hours (7:30 A.M.), the 3rd Battalion advanced in its zone of action from Boyau-de-Stuttgart, and reached a portion of the trench at Tranchee de l’Euphrate.
Around 0900 hours (9:00 A.M.), Company [G], 2nd Battalion established contact with the French 11th Cuirassiers while Company [I] supported Company [M], 3rd Battalion in their advance to the northwest over Hill 176. During its movement, Company [M], 3rd Battalion got into position behind Company [G], 2nd Battalion in an advance to Tranchee de l’Euphrate and remained south of the trench. Meanwhile, Company [K] assembled in preparation for an afternoon attack.
At 1130 hours (11:30 A.M.), elements of the 2nd Battalion launched an attack from Ravin de del Adri and advanced around 2 kilometers against German machine-gun fire before it was halted. The forward companies remained in position throughout the day and night until the morning of the following day.
At 1200 hours (12:00 P.M.), Company [G], 2nd Battalion was withdrawn from Tranchee de l’Euphrate and moved under cover of a ravine to Tranchee de Finlande to prepare for its afternoon attack. After Company [G] withdrew, Company [M] of 3rd Battalion moved to the east so that its right flank rested on the Vienne-le-Chateau – Binarville Road, forward to occupy Tranchee de l’Euphrate against slight German resistance.
Meanwhile, an assault on portions east and west of Vienne-le-Chateau – Binarville Road in and near Tranchee Tripitz and in Vallee Moreau with Company [E] acting as support to Company [H] of the 2nd Battalion. Company [H], 2nd Battalion assembled in Tranchee de Suede with Company [E] in support earlier in the day. At 1200 hours (12:00 P.M.) Company [H] advanced two platoons to Tranchee le Tringle and was supported by the remaining elements of Company [H] in Tranchee de Courlande. These platoons remained in their position until 0300 hours (3:00 A.M.) the following morning. Although the advance was considered successful, liaison was still unestablished on both flanks throughout the day and night despite efforts made by Company [E] to reestablish communication with the 77th Division to the east.
The 2nd Battalion of the 368th made an advance at 1230 hours (12:30 P.M.), but the assault quickly fell apart when Major Elser lost communication with his companies, and the company commanders lost communication with their platoons. The soldiers lacked maps and had quickly gotten lost their sense of direction within the dense woods. In the meantime, the 3rd Battalion formed an organized line on the left sector of the 368th zone of action and were preparing for an assault planned for 1730 hours (5:30 P.M.).
“1st Battalion was moved up to the front-line trenches of the original French system. A reconnaissance party under Colonel Brown, commanding the regiment, and including Captain [James T. Burns], Lieutenant Carpenter, made 9 prisoners and took 2 machine guns at [German] position in the Lager? Line at 203.56-272.85.”
At 1630 hours (4:30 P.M.), Companies [F] and [G] of 2nd Battalion advanced from Tranchee de Finlande toward Tranchee Tirpitz. Company [G], on the right, reached Tranchee Tirpitz in the area of Boyau de Kehl and halted its advance to remain in its position for the rest of the night. Meanwhile, Company [F], located on the left, had advanced past Tranchee Tirpitz and was examining the ravine to the north when patrols from Company [F] working their way northeast had encountered German machine-gun resistance.
Company [F] was the most exposed unit of the 368th, and was forced to fall back from its position at 2200 hours (10:00 P.M.) to a less exposed position just north of Tranchee Tirpitz due to German machine-gun, artillery, and airplane fire that consistently rained down on it. Due to the chaos of the German resistance, Companies [F] and [G] lost contact with one another.
At 1730 hours (5:30 P.M.), Companies [I], [K], and [M] of 3rd Battalion attacked northward with Company [M] on the left, Company [I] in the center, and Company [K] on the right. Companies [I] and [M] followed the Vienne-le-Chateau – Binarville Road as Company [M] stayed to the left of the road and remained in contact with the French 11th Cuirassiers. Around 1900 hours (7:00 P.M.), the advance by the companies came to a halt and Companies [I] and [K] took positions extending from the road to about 400 meters east on a line Depot – Tranchee Tirpitz. Company [M] extended itself to the west by approximately 500 meters and set-up an outpost to the northeast, liaison had not been maintained between Company [M] and Companies [I] and [K]. Company [M] had also lost contact with the French 11th Cuirassiers, who were located to the west of Company [M].
“…Elser’s 2nd Battalion advanced about two kilometers against considerably more opposition than it had met the first day but got to Finlande Trench and later to Tirpitz Trench. Major B.F. Norris’s 3rd Battalion reached Euphrate Trench, and despite some panic as a result of enemy shelling, these positions were occupied through the night…”
To prepare for the upcoming attack on the following day, the Machine-Gun Company of 1st Battalion was divided between the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, and the 2nd and 3rd Battalions attached the elements of the Machine-Gun Company to their assault battalions. An additional unit from the French 10th Dragoons were also attached to Groupement Durand.
Meanwhile, the German Third Army, for whom the 368th Infantry faced, placed additional reserves in the Champagne region. However, the German Third Army lacked the necessary reserves to protect its boundary with the German Fifth Army on its eastern flank, subsequently all of the reserve units were placed in combat positions.
28 September 1918:
At 0215 hours (2:15 A.M.), the French 1st D.C.P. directed the 368th Infantry to attack in the direction of Binarville, France astride the Vienne-le-Chateau – Binarville Road. The 368th was reinforced by a squadron from the French 10th Dragoons, they were to proceed the advance of the 368th and maintain liaison with the French 11th Cuirassiers to keep them informed them of the situation in the area of Binarville. Along with the French 10th Dragoons, a group of 75mm and 105mm artillery guns were placed at the disposal of the 368th.
The 368th Infantry began preparations for its assault on Binarville and the surrounding area. Around 0225 hours (2:25 A.M.), a group of French 75mm guns and two companies of the 351st Machine-Gun Battalion were instructed to direct their assault toward the town of Binarville. At 0300 hours (3:00 A.M.), Companies [E] and [H], 2nd Battalion of the 368th moved to Tranchee de Damas to receive rations and supplies. Company [G] withdrew from its position in Tranchee Tirpitz and relocated to Tranchee Finlande at 0400 hours (4:00 A.M.) under German artillery and machine-gun fire.
Preparation for Attack:
In the early morning of 28 September 1918, the 1st Battalion, 368th Infantry continued serving as division reserve for the French 1st D.C.P. were ordered to move to Tranchee de Breslau and prepare for possible German counterattacks from the east and northeast. They were to hold their positions for the day and were ordered to determine the exact positions of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 368th, as well as establish communication with the American 77th Division located to the right flank.
The 2nd Battalion remained disorganized and needed to reestablish positions along a coordinated front. Subsequently, Company [E] reorganized itself and was placed on the right flank in Tranchee de Finlande. Company [F] was the most forward element of the 2nd Battalion and had to relocate from its positions north of Tranchee Tirpitz at 0500 hours (5:00 A.M.) to Tranchee de Finlande, and upon its southward movement Company [F] reorganized its scattered detachments and reached Tranchee de Finlande by 1100 hours (11:00 A.M.). Company [G] assembled in Tranchee de Finlande and was placed in support while Company [H] moved from Tranchee de Damas to Tranchee Tirpitz, where they paralleled Boyau de Fribourg.
Overall, the 2nd and 3rd Battalion were given the task of capturing Tranchee du Dromadaire, with their original zones of attack being unchanged from its previous orders.
“On the 28th [September 1918,] the 2nd Battalion attempted an orderly advance with Companies “E”, “F”, and “H” (from right to left) in front lines with Company “G” in support. The advance was necessarily made by boyous [sic] and tramway lines as the intervining [sic] terrain was a jungle of wire entanglements, cheveaux [sic] de frise, and ruined forest. Again the officers failed to hold the ground gained, and also failed to hold their companies and platoons together. [Colonel Brown] stopped the disorganized mass of men when they reached the line of trenches near which [Colonel Brown’s] P.C. was located.”
At about 0645 hours (6:45 A.M.), although the sun had risen the visibility on the battlefield was low due to the overcast skies and rain, and around 0730 hours (7:45 A.M.), the 3rd Battalion was located abreast the 2nd Battalions left flank with Companies [I], [K] and [M] with Company [L] serving as reserve. The 3rd Battalion began a forward advance of 2 kilometers toward a position south of the line Tranchee du Dromadaire – Tranche Clotilde, facing little opposition in its initial crossing of Valle Moreau in the process. Company [M] was the leftmost element, Company [I] was in the center, and [Company K] was the right element of the 3rd Battalion’s advance.
At 1125 hours (11:25 A.M.), as the 3rd Battalion approached the line of Tranchee du Dromadaire – Tranchee Clotilde, two urgent field messages from the 368th command were received by the 2nd Battalion. The field messages ordered the advance of the 2nd Battalion and capture of Tranchee du Dromadaire from the Germans to protect the right flank of the 3rd Battalion.
Around noon, the 3rd Battalion continued to advance but were soon met by German machine-gun fire and grenades, the 3rd Battalion were forced to stopped. Although the 3rd Battalion had artillery support, it had minimal effect and the 3rd Battalion quickly became disorganized while confusion ensued. As a result, the 3rd Battalion expected the 2nd Battalion to assist them, however, the 2nd Battalion were under pressure of their own.
At 1230 hours (12:30 P.M.), the 2nd Battalion began its advance toward Tranchee du Dromadaire as ordered. After the 2nd Battalion advanced from their lines at Tranchee de Finlande and beyond Tranchee Tirpitz by about 800 meters, they had also encountered German resistance. The officers of the companies and platoons of 2nd Battalion became overwhelmed and the battalion was forced to fall back to Tranchee de Finlande. Company [H], 2nd Battalion attempted an assault later in the afternoon to the west down Vallee Moreau and toward the Vienne-le-Chateau – Binarville Road, however, they were almost immediately met with German machine-guns, which stopped their advance.
Around 1430 hours (2:30 P.M.), the advance of 3rd Battalions companies [I], [K], and [M] were stopped along the line south of Tranchee du Dromadaire – Tranchee Coltilde due to the increasing intensity of the German machine-gun, artillery fire and sniper fire. It was later found that the German snipers had been utilizing a series of tunnels to get behind the 368th and engage with them, adding to the confusion and disorganization of the 3rd Battalion. Companies [I], [K], and [M], excluding a single detachment from Company [M], withdrew south of the stream flowing in Vallee Moreau to reorganize.
Company [L] of 3rd Battalion began an attack in an eastward direction from their trenches south of the depot to relieve pressure on the 2nd Battalion. During their movements, they had met heavy resistance in the area of Boyau de Stuttgart and became briefly disorganized during their withdrawal back to their original line and were placed back in reserve upon arrival.
At 1500 hours (3:00 P.M.), the 2nd Battalion organized itself and launched another attack from Ravin del Adri, however, the infantry was unable to advance due to heavy German machine-gun fire within the woods. Without orders, the 2nd Battalion retired to a ravine behind Tranchee Finlande and Tranchee de Courlande.
More to Come, Please Check Back Soon!
92nd Division - The Marbache Sector
On 5 October 1918, the 92nd Division was assigned to the American IV Corps and began to move into the vicinity of Nancy, France. The 92nd Division was under orders to move to the Marbache Sector, which had extended along the Moselle River for approximately 16 kilometers between Marbache to Pont-a-Mousson.
More to Come, Please Check Back Soon!
Divisional History: U.S. Army's 93rd Division
93rd Division - "Blue Helmets" Background
The American 93rd Infantry Division, known as the Blue Helmets Division, was organized in December 1917 at Camp Stuart, Virginia from African-American National Guard units in New York (State), Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington D.C. as well as Selective Service draftees from South Carolina.
Organization of the 93rd Division:
The first unit of the 93rd Division sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey on 12 December 1917 while the remainder of the 93rd sailed between February to April 1918. The units of the 93rd landed at Brest and Saint Nazaire, France. The four infantry regiments of the 93rd Division (369th, 370th, 371st, and 372nd) were sent to fight with French units, originally as a temporary solution to the depleting French Army. However, later developments had led to the 93rd spending nearly the entire time in France fighting with the French Army, remaining with French divisions until the armistice on 11 November 1918.
The 369th Infantry Regiment: “Harlem Hellfighters”
Arguably the most known African-American company of the Great War, the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters or the Harlem Rattlers, was organized as part of the 93rd Division (Provisional). The 369th Infantry Regiment arrived in Brest, France in December 1917 and sent to Camp Coetquidan for duties in Services of Supply.
After spending December 1917 and January 1918 performing monotonous duties such as supporting the issuing of supplies to seaport and receiving services, maintaining roadways, caring for animals, etc. the 369th was ordered to travel to Givry-en-Argonne. They had arrived to their destination on 12 March 1918 and were attached to the French 16th Division for training.
On 8 April, the 369th Infantry Regiment participated in the occupation of the Afrique Sector located just west of the Argonne Forest and north of Saint Menehould. The 369th assumed command of the line that had stretched from Ville-sur-Tourbe to the west bank of the Aisne River on 29 April 1918, and remained in this position until it was relieved on 4 July 1918.
Between 15 July and 18 July 1918, the 369th participated in the Champagne-Marne Defensive where the Allied defensed against a German offensive in attempt to widen the Marne salient via attacking both sides of the Reims. During this defensive, the 369th Infantry Regiment stopped a German attack against the French 16th Division and was moved to support the French 161st Division. From 21 to 22 July 1918, a single battalion of the 369th Infantry Regiment entered the front line in the Beausejour subsector (Calvaire Sector) located 1 kilometer south of Butte du Mesnil.
From 23 July to 19 August 1918, the 39th Infantry Regiment occupied the Calvaire subsector (Calvaire Sector) 1 kilometer north of Calvaire. They were then moved to Saint Ouen and trained with the French until 7 September 1918. Two days later, the 369th was assigned to the French 161st Division. The 369th relocated back to the Beausejour subsector on 11 September 1918, where on 14 to 16 September 1918 they were moved to the Somme-Bionne area (15 kilometers west of Saint Menehould) in preperation for the Meuse-Argonne (Champagne) Offensive with the French Fourth Army.
During its service, the 369th Infantry Regiment suffered 1,500 casualties and had participated in the Champagne-Marne, Meuse-Argonne, Champagne (1918) and Alsace (1918) campaigns.
The 370th Infantry Regiment: “Black Devils”
The 370th Infantry Regiment companies organized at various rendezvous locations pursuant to the call to service by President Woodrow Wilson. Originally the 8th Regiment Illinois National Guard, the unit was called into service in early August 1917 and commanded by Colonel Franklin Denison. However, in December 1917 the 8th Illinois National Guard was re-designated as the 370th Infantry Regiment and assigned to the 185th Infantry Brigade of the 92nd Division alongside the old 15th New York National Guard (369th Infantry Regiment).
The 370th Infantry Regiment was the only infantry regiment of the United States Army that served in the Great War comprised almost entirely of African-American servicemembers, including African-American officers from the highest rank of Colonel on down. Recruits of the 370th Infantry Regiment primarily came from the “Black Belt” and other southside communities of Chicago, Illinois. However, not all recruits came from Chicago and the companies assorted within the 370th were assigned dependent on the location they came from:
Chicago, Illinois: Headquarters Company, Machine-Gun Company, Supply Company, Detachment Medical Company, as well as Companies [A], [B], [C], [D], [E], [F], [G], and [H].
Springfield, Illinois: Company [I]
Peoria, Illinois: Company [K]
Danville, Illinois: Company [L]
Metropolis, Illinois: Company [M]
After sailing for 16 days on the U.S.S. President Grant, the 370th Infantry Regiment arrived in Brest, France on 22 April 1918. Upon arrival the 370th proceeded to Grandvillars in the Vosges Region near Belfort and was attached to the French 73rd Division for training. On 19 May 1918, the regiment was transferred to the French 133rd Division but was transferred to the French 10th Division to occupy a sector near the Swiss border on 1 June 1918. After 11 days, the 370th was moved to Lignieres where it spent only five days before being transferred to the French 34th Division at the tip of the Saint Mihiel Salient. On 22 June 1918, the 370th Infantry took control of the subsector south of the town of Saint Mihiel where it remained until 1 July 1918.
After its relief in the Saint Mihiel subsector, the 370th Infantry was transferred to the French 36th Division in the vicinity of Auzeville (about 20 kilometers southwest of Verdun). From 7 July to 18 August 1918 the 370th participated in the occupation of the Aire Sector on the Meuse-Argonne front 10 kilometers north of Auzeville.
Upon being relieved from the Aire Sector, the 370th trained in the Bar-le-Duc area until 11 September 1918 until it was moved to the area of La Ferte-Milon (65 kilometers north of Paris). However, “according to official records of the Army at the close of World War One, the 370th Regiment and the 93d Division were never in the front lines, never advanced against the enemy, and suffered no casualties. They were basically written out of the history books.”
In total, 71 Soldiers of the 370th Infantry Regiment were awarded the Croix de Guerre, 23 were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, 1 servicemember was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, and the entirety of Company [C] was awarded the Croix de Guerre unit citation.
The Red Hand Division:
Although the American 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments were a part of the 93rd Division, the 93rd was never formally organized and as a result, the 371st and 372nd were loaned to the French 157th “Red Hand” Division and technically separate from the 93rd Division in its endeavors.
The 371st Infantry Regiment
Upon its arrival in France, the 371st Infantry Regiment proceeded to Rembercourt-aux-Pots, about 26 kilometers west of Saint Mihiel, and trained with the French XIII Corps until 6 June 1918. After training, the 371st was designated as an organic part of the French 157th “Red Hand” Division and then placed at the disposal of the French 68th Division holding the Verdun Sector on the Meuse-Argonne front.
On 11 July 1918, the 371st Infantry moved into a support position in the Verdun Sector and was passed back to the control of the French 157th Division five days later. The 371st Infantry Regiment participated in the occupation of the Verdun Sector until 14 September 1918, and moved with the French 157th Division to the Somme-Bionne area in preparation for the Meuse-Argonne (Champagne) Offensive with the French Fourth Army.
The 372nd Infantry Regiment
The 372nd Infantry Regiment was an African-American infantry regiment composed of the First Separate Battalion of the District of Columbia, the 9th Ohio Separate Battalion, Company [L] of Massachusetts, the First Separate Company of Connecticut, and the First Separate Company of Maryland.
All of the troops in the 372nd Infantry were National Guard servicemembers, and 250 men were from Camp Custer, Michigan that had been recruited mainly from Michigan and Wisconsin.
The 372nd embarked on the U.S.S. Susquehanna from Newport News, Virginia on 30 March 1918 for overseas duty. On 13 April 1918, the 372nd arrived to port at Saint Nazaire and entrained for Vaubecourt. Ten Days later, the 372nd arrived at 0700 hours (7:00 A.M.) and began a march in heavy rain at 0830 hours (8:30 A.M). By 1400 hours (2:00 P.M.) the next day, the 372nd reached their destination of Conde-en-Barrois (5 kilometers south of Rembercourt-aux-Pots) and began its training with the French XIII Corps until 26 May 1918.
After completing its training the 372nd joined the French 63rd Division, which had been holding the Aire Sector on the Meuse-Argonne front between the Aire River to the Le Four de Paris. The 372nd departed Conde-en-Barrois at 0805 hours (8:05 A.M.) via French motorized trucks and headed for Les Sennades on 28 May 1918, where it had arrived at 1330 hours (1:30 P.M.) on the same day.
The next day, the 372nd Infantry took over the sector known as “Argonne West” and were officially on the frontlines by 4 June 1918. On 29 June 1918, the 372nd change its sector and took over the Vacquois Sector (subsector of the Verdun) where a suspected German attack was to take place. The French 157th Division, of which the 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments were attached, had been placed as the Reserve Division, and on 1 July 1918 the 372nd assumed command of the Vaquois subsector, east of the Aire River. The next day, the 372nd became an organic part of the French 157th Division.
After occupying the Verdun sector between 16 July to 14 September 1918, the 372nd moved with the French 157th Division to Hans, near Somme-Bionne, in preparation for the Meuse-Argonne (Champagne) Offensive with the French Fourth Army.
On 17 November 1918, the French 161st Division and the 369th Infantry advanced into Germany as part of the French Army of Occupation until the 369th was relieved from French command on 12 December 1918. The 369th Infantry would return to the area of Belfort on 17 December 1918, where on New Year’s Eve it would relocate to the American Embarkation Center in Le Mans and sail from Brest, France on 2 February to arrive in New York on 12 February 1919.
On 20 December 1918, the French 157th Division of which the 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments served under, was disbanded. The 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments went back under American command. In January 1919, they were relocated to the American Embarkation Station in Le Mans, France where they sailed from Brest, France on 3 February 1919 and arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey on 11 February 1919).
93rd Division - Photo Gallery
93rd Division - Oise-Aisne Offensive
The Oise-Aisne Offensive began on 18 August 1918 when the French Tenth Army attacked in the area of Noyon, France with the objective of forcing the Germans to abandon their defensive lines along the Vesle and Aisne Rivers. The offensive was to continue as a secondary operation while the Meuse-Argonne offensive began on 26 September 1918, both offensives were to eventually converge. The 370th Infantry Regiment operated with the French Tenth Army in the Oise-Aisne Offensive, while the 369th, 371st, and 372nd Infantry Regiments operated as part of the French Fourth Army in the Meuse-Argonne.
Given the success of the British-French attack between the Oise and Scarpe Rivers, the German Army began a tactical withdrawal between the Vesle and Scarpe Rivers between 3 to 7 September 1918. The French Tenth Army came across new German positions along the Ailette River, and on 14 September 1918 the French Tenth Army attacked the line: Vailly-sur-Aisne – Fort de la Malmaison – Chavignon.
The objective was to force another German withdrawal from the line of the Aisne River. However, the attack was only slightly successful and the French troops were ordered to organize defensive positives and remain prepared in case of another German withdrawal.
The 370th Infantry Regiment
The 370th Infantry Regiment was assigned to the French 59th Division (part of the French Tenth Army) and entered the line on 17 September 1918 as a part of the French XXX Corps. Taking over the missions of the French 17th and 66th Division, which the French 59th Division had just relieved, the 370th assisted in stiff fighting that resulted in no change in the lines.
Companies [F], [G], [I], and [L] of the 370th Infantry were attached to the frontline regiments of the French 59th Division, and although not originally in the assault echelon, they had participated in fighting near Moisy Ferme and Mont des Singes. Meanwhile, the rest of the 370th remained in division reserve in the area of Antioche Farm.
Throughout the night of 22 September, and into the early morning of 23 September 1918, the 370th Infantry entered the line between Vauxaillon and Canal de l’Oise a l’Aisne. The 1st Battalion, 370th Infantry had relieved French troops in the frontline along the road between Champ Vailly and Ecluse.
The 2nd Battalion was placed in support near Les Tueries (about 1,700 meters west of Vauxaillon), while the 3rd Battalion was placed in reserve near Tincelle Farm (about 1,400 meters southwest of Antioche Farm). Once in position, the 370th took command of the left subsector on the 24th September 1918. There was local fighting in the right zone of action of the French 59th Division between 25 to 27 September, of which the 370th Infantry Regiment engaged in minor combat actions to clear enemy positions from the triangle formed by the road, the canal, and the railroad.
The Army Group of the German Crown Prince approved the tactical withdrawal of the German Seventh Army to Canal de l’Oise a l’Aisne and Bois de Mortier during the night of 27 September and early morning of 28 September 1918.
This withdrawal was necessary to the survival of the German units within the area due to the desperately needed reinforcements in the Champagne and Meuse-Argonne areas, where the American First Army and the French Fourth Army were battering away at the German lines in their general attacks starting 26 September 1918. It was also necessary to avoid dramatic German losses entailed in holding the Laffaux Salient nearly 4 kilometers southwest of Pinon.
Following the German evacuation of positions south of Canal de l’Oise a l’Aisne, information of the withdrawal was obtained by the French around 0100 hours (1:00 A.M.) on 28 September 1918. The French were ready to make a all-out charge on the frontline and ordered an attack at daybreak to gain contact with the Germans. The 370th Infantry received orders to attack as its 2nd Battalion was being relieved on the frontline, regardless, the relief was completed.
The advance began at 0800 hours (8:00 A.M.) and German resistance presented itself from Mont des Singes, Ferme de la Riviere and Bois de Moriter. The right of the 370th Infantry Regiment was unable to advance, however, its left was successful and occupied the woods west of Ferme de la Rivere by noon on 28 September 1918. The position was held facing east toward the farm, and north toward the canal.
Throughout the day, despite hardened German resistance, the French forces persisted and captured the towns of Pinon, Ouvrage Pierre, Ouvrage Jacques, and Mont des Singes around the area of the 370th Infantry. At 1720 hours (5:20 P.M.) the French 59th Division issued orders for a continuation of attack for the night of 28 September, of which the 370th participated, with the sector of the 370th extending from the Pinon – Brancourt road crossing to Ecluse.
Between the 28 and 29 September, the 370th Infantry remained in combat against stubborn German resistance. Although the fighting was continuous throughout the daytime, only small gains had been made whereby Patrols of the 370th had crossed the canal and entered Bois de Mortier but were quickly driven back by German machine-gun fire.
The attack continued without any changes to the objectives on 30 September 1918, and the French managed to capture the line of bastions in Foret de Pinon as well as the Sawmill (Scierie) west of the Anizy railroad station. The 3rd Battalion, 370th Infantry Regiment moved into a position along the railroad northeast of Vauxaillon and relieved the 2nd Battalion of the 370th Infantry, excluding Company [F], which remained along the canal and within the woods west of Ferme de la Riviere. The 3rd Battalion and Company [F] (of the 2nd Battalion) attacked at 1500 hours (3:00 P.M.) and captured the farm, then established a position along the canal from the Pinon-Brancourt road bridge/crossing to the French 59th Divisional boundary.
Between 1 and 3 October 1918, the French captured the Anizy railroad station, the sugar factory (Sucrerie) south of Anizy, and conducted mop-up operations south of the canal. While these advances were being made, the 370th Infantry engaged in mop-up operations south of the canal as well. The French 59th Division was ordered to organize its sector for defense and make preparations to cross the canal and capture Anizy-le Chateau.
Between 4 to 11 October 1918, the French 59th Division (including the 370th Infantry Regiment) actively patrolled and prepared to cross the canal and the Ailette River. Unsuccessful attempts were made to build temporary bridges across the canal despite indications that the German were withdrawing. On 4 October 1918, the 3rd Battalion, 370th Infantry reconnoitered the western portion of Bois de Mortier and on6 October 1918, the French 59th Division was assigned to the French XVI Corps.
The 3rd Battalion, 370th Infantry Regiment’s Company [C] relieved Company [F] along the canal west of Ferme de la Riviere throughout the night of 7 October 1918 and the 1st Battalion relieved the 3rd Battalion in the frontline throughout the night of 8 October 1918. The continued attacks by the French and Americans in the Champagne Region, as well as between the Meuse River and Argonne Forest, forced the Germans to execute a withdrawal between 10 and 13 October 1918.
By 12 October 1918, German artillery had ceased altogether, however, patrols continued to meet German resistance and the first attempts to cross the Pinon-Brancourt bridge had failed. At 0630 hours (6:30 A.M.), the bridge had finally been capture and the crossing of the canal had begun.
Soon after, the 1st Battalion, 370th Infantry (aided by the French 31st Division to its left) crossed the canal and advanced approximately 500 meters and entered Bois de Mortier. With Bois de Mortier captured, the first phase of the German pursuit by the French 59th Division was complete and the French 59th Division (including the 370th Infantry) was passed down to division reserve or acted as support during the rest of the operation.
On 13 October 1918, the 370th was passed to the reserve of the French Tenth Army and remained in the area of Cessieres and reorganized for road construction duties.
The French Tenth Army was relieved by the French Third Army on 27 October 1918, and the French 59th Division was assigned to the French XVIII Corps with the task of relieving the French 127th Division located northeast of Laon. The relief was completed on 30 October 1918 and command of the sector was passed to the French 59th Division at 1000 hours (10:00 A.M). The mission of the French 59th Division was to join in the attacks to capture the line of La Serre Riviere, as well as be ready to aggressively pursue any German withdrawal.
The French 59th Division (artillery included) was placed at the disposal of the French XVIII Army Corps effective at noon to ensure the relief of the French 127th Division. General Orders No. 2020/3 instructed one battalion of the 370th Infantry to move forward during the night and station itself at the end of the march at Allemagne and Coudedeau Farms, meanwhile the headquarters and two other battalions of the 370th Infantry were to move into conformity with orders to be given at a later time.
To complete its mission, the French 59th Division organized the sector between its French 232nd and 325th Infantry Regiments. The 370th Infantry Regiment’s battalions were divided and assigned to support and reserve echelons for the French 59th’s attack. In the case of a German withdrawal, the frontline battalions were ordered to immediately pursue the German forces by using the support battalions for a passage of lines. The main objective was to obtain the line of La Serre Riviere and organize defensive positions after its capture.
In early November the Germans were forced to withdrawal to previously prepared defensive positions of the Antwerp-Meuse line. The German withdrawal opposite of the French 59th Division commenced on 4 and 5 November 1918. The German withdrawal was discovered during a patrol in the early morning of 5 November 1918 and the French 59th quickly responded by taking pursuit. (Picture below, French troops engage with the Germans outside of Saint Pierremont).
On 5 November 1918, the 1st Battalion, 370th Infantry Regiment was attached to the French 325th Infantry Regiment and entered the frontline. Although German resistance consisted of delaying actions to slow the pursuit of their units via artillery and machine-guns, regardless, the advance was rapid and by nightfall the division had held the south bank of the Serre River. The 1st Battalion held a position on the hills overlooking Saint Pierremont overnight. (Picture below, church located in Saint Pierremont today and in 1914-15)
The following day, 6 November 1918, the French 59th Division continued its pursuit with the objective of capturing the railroad through Jeantes la Ville. The 1st Battalion, 370th Infantry advanced through Bois du Val St. Pierre, where Company [C] captured a German artillery battery. It was here that heavy machine-gun resistance was encountered and the division was forced to establish a line along La Brune Riviere for the night, the 1st Battalion of the 370th spent the night in the frontline on the right of the division, east of Nampcelles-la-Cour.
On 7 November 1918, the pursuit was once again continued. At 0600 hours (6:00 A.M.) the advance toward a line between the plateau of La Hayette Ferme and Bas Val-la Caure as the objective. Very strong German resistance was encountered along the line of the Aubenton-Hirson railroad, and the French 59th Division halted and held a line both south and north of Hurtebise as well as east of Beaume. The 1st Battalion, 370th Infantry halted at Monplaisir, however, wasn’t in the frontline.
The advance objectives changed to capturing the Maubert-Fontaine-Hirson railroad on 8 November 1918. The 370th’s 1st Battalion was relieved by its 3rd Battalion, while its 2nd Battalion entered the line along the railroad east of Beaume as part of the French 232nd Infantry Regiment (on the left). The Germans stubbornly resisted and little progress was made throughout the day. A detachment from the 3rd Battalion, 370th Infantry had reached Logny les Aubenton as the rest of the 3rd Battalion remained near Hurtebise and charged with protecting the right flank of the French 59th Division. Meanwhile the 2nd Battalion partook in fighting east of Beaume, and at the end of the day the French 59th Division held a line facing Aubenton.
Field Report 529-30.1 on 8 November 1918 stated that at 2000 hours (8:00 P.M.), the 370th were holding the northern edges of Logny and the south edges of the Aubenton Railroad Station. The formation listed Captain Patton’s 2nd Battalion in line, with Colonel Duncan’s 3rd Battalion in Support.
On 9 November, the attack order was resumed with the previous days objectives having been unchanged, however, an hour before the attack commenced the French 59th Division had learned that the German positions had been abandoned overnight. At 1500 hours (3:00 P.M.), the French 59th Division reached the objective of Maubert-Fontaine-Hirson Railroad. The front of the 3rd Battalion, 370th Infantry held Pont d’Any, while the 2nd Battalion advanced and held a position at Goncelin throughout the night.
On 10 November 1918, the French 59th Division was assigned to the French XVI Corps and ordered to continue its pursuit of the Germans to the line between Taillette – le Cul des Sarts. During the day, the division’s advance guard reached a line along the eastern and northern edges of Bois des Hingues. The 3rd Battalion, 370th Infantry was located north of Eteignieres but not within the front lines.
On the day of the Armistice, 11 November 1918, the French 59th Division and the 370th had continued its advance with its objectives having been unchanged. The advance had met slight resistance but the French 59th Division reached the Rocroi – Regniowez road by 1100 hours (11:00 A.M.), the time the Armistice became effective, with the divisional cavalry occupying Taillette with outposts located in La Verte Place. By 1100 hours (11:00 A.M.), the 3rd Battalion, 370th Infantry Regiment discontinued its advance and was located at Le Gue d’Hossus.
After the Armistice became effective, the 370th Infantry was concentrated in the area of Aubenton then moved to the area north of Laon. On 13 December 1918, the 370th was relieved from duty with the French 59th Division and relocated to Soissons, where ten days later it moved to the American Embarkation Center of Le Mans to return to the United States. On 2 February 1919, the 370th Infantry Regiment embarked the ship La France IV in Brest, France and arrived one week later in New York to little praise, celebration, or recognition.
The total casualty count of the 370th Infantry Regiment during the Oise-Aisne Offensive was 665: 560 being wounded, 15 dying of their wounds, and 90 being Killed In Action (KIA).
93rd Division - Meuse-Argonne (Champagne) Offensive
While the 370th Infantry Regiment of the 93rd Division were fighting in the Oise-Aisne Campaign, the rest of the 93rd Division’s infantry regiments (369th, 371st, and 372nd) were participating in the Meuse-Argonne (Champagne) Offensive as part of the French Fourth Army, French IX Corps, and taking heavy casualties. The 369th Infantry Regiment was attached to the French 161st Division, French Fourth Army; while the 371st and 372nd were attached to the French 157th Division, French Fourth Army.
The Champagne region is located on the northeast of the Paris basin, although known for its for its flat plains, chalky soil, low hills, and the valley of the Marne River; it also holds a series of escarpments that transform into ridgelines and are great for use as a natural barrier. The terrain within the Argonne Forest consisted of broadleaf forest growing on ridges that raised 300 feet above the surrounding land, meanwhile the Meuse River ran parallel to the Argonne Forest and the Meuse Heights that consisted of a range of hills that raised over 600 feet above the battlefield made the land notoriously difficult to navigate.
“The effect of the high ground to left and right is to turn the sector into a long, shallow channel. This configuration, with the ridges running across the sector and Montfaucon in the center, gave the Germans good observation over perhaps 80 percent of the battlefield, with the remainder visible from balloon or aircraft [reconnaissance]. Small though Montfaucon is, it had twenty-three artillery observation posts on it because the lie of the land gave it panoramic views as far south as Verdun. In 1918, with artillery at a peak of accuracy, the sector was effectively a shooting gallery, with the attacks troops and rear areas exposed o shell fire at all times.”
-Harries, Meirion, and Susie Harries. The Last Days of Innocence: America at War, 1917-1918. New York: Vintage Books, 1998. Page 349-350
The Champagne cradled intricate German trench networks that had been built and reinforced since the beginning of the war in 1914, with the German Third Army improving the fortifications in the rear-guard positions. The necessity of the Meuse-Argonne (Champagne) Offensive came from the Spring Offensive launched by the Germans in 1918.
As a result of the German offensives, the Allied reserves had faced almost certain defeat unless the Americans provided immediate support from the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). The AEF Commander-in-Chief, John J. Pershing, had postponed the concentration of American Divisions for the formation of the American Army and made all American combat units available for the British and French, given this assistance the Allies were able to stop the German offensive before it had won a decisive victory during its counter offensive beginning on 18 July 1918 in the Marne Salient. During the Marne Salient counteroffensives, a strategic plan was agreed upon by the Allied forces to reduce the various salients that interefered with railroad communications, including the Saint Mihiel Salient.
The Meuse-Argonne (Champagne) Offensive began on 26 September 1918 and was the largest operation the American Expeditionary Forces had participated in, involving over 1 million American servicemembers and had a total casualty count over 350,000 (over 26,000 being American). The Meuse-Argonne Offensive of the American First Army and the French Fourth Army was directed against the principal German lateral line of supply (the Carignan-Sedan-Mezieres railroad), which laid about 53 kilometers from the front at the town of Sedan. This railroad was the final objective of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, and was a stretch of the four-track railroad that linked German General Ludendorff‘s Armies with Germany. The railroad was responsible for carrying a vast amount of German troops and munitions vital to the German war effort.
The American First Army was organized on 10 August 1918, where on 30 August 1918 it had assumed command of the front between Port-sur-Seille (east of the Moselle River) to Watronville (approximately 11 kilometers southeast of Verdun). On 12 September 1918, components of the American First Army conducted the Saint Mihiel Offensive and reduced the Salient by 16 September 1918. With the salient reduced, the Allies could now being their push into German lines on 26 September 1918. Various offensives were conducted, including the American operations between the Meuse River and Argonne Forest supported by the French Fourth Army located between the Argonne Forest and Suippes River (left of the American First Army). Overall, the campaign would be the final Allied effort of the Great War, deciding the fate of who were to be the victors in the four years of death and carnage.
The mission of the French Fourth Army, and subsequently the 369th, 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments of the 93rd Division, was to advance toward the Aisne River. Preparations were in the works and at 2100 hours (9:00 P.M.) of 23 September 1918, the 372nd Infantry left Dommartin for Camp des Mangineux, arriving at 0030 hours (12:30 A.M.) in the morning of 24 September 1918. During the day, the 372nd left Mangineux to relocate to Hans, where upon arrival it joined the French IX Army Corps.
During the night of 24 September and early morning of 25 September 1918, the support battalions of the 369th Infantry Regiment were attached to the French 161st Division. They were ordered to move forward to positions within the rear of the French frontline troops as the reserve battalion moved to a position nearly 4 kilometers south of Bois de Beausejour. To the French 161st Division’s right flank was the French 74th Division of the French XXXVIII Corps and to the right was the French 161st Division’s 2nd Moroccan Division of the French IX Corps. Meanwhile, the 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments were held in reserve of the French 157th Division located about 14 kilometers south of Ripont at Somme-Bionne.
At 2300 hours (11:00 P.M.) on 25 September 1918, the French artillery opened fire all along the front to begin a 6 and a half hour artillery barrage preparatory to the offensive. An observer of the French artillery barrage remarked that “The thunder and roar of the massed artillery shook the earth and the sky was alight with the flashes of the guns. It was wondrous – it was insanity and the fever gripped us all.“
26 September 1918:
On 26 September 1918, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive had officially began with the American First Army and the French Fourth Army beginning their advance in the morning following a rolling barrage at 0525 hours (5:25 A.M.). A dense fog and smoke had blanketed the Argonne that was so thick that it was reported one could only see as far as 40 feet. A solid thicket of French and German barbed-wire covered nearly 1,000 feet of “no-man’s land,” accompanied by thick underbrush that turned the intertwined man-made and natural obstacles into a nearly impenetrable terrain.
The French IX Corps, of which the 369th, 371st, and 372nd Infantry Regiments were attached, battle plan was to attack in a northward direction with French divisions abreast. The 2nd Moroccan Division was located on the left while the French 161st Division, with the 369th Infantry attached, was located on the right. Meanwhile, the French 157th Division, with the 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments remained in reserve with the task of filling any gaps that may occur during the advance.
The tough German defenses and challenging terrain created obstacles for the advance. In the path of the advance was the Dormoise River followed by the heavily forested ridgeline known as Bellevue Signal Ridge, which extended over 2 kilometers across the route of the advance and where numerous villages laid in the paid that had been fortified by the German defenders.
The French 161st Division, of which the 369th Infantry was attached, had encountered no resistance during their advance to their first position. The French 161st continued their advance, shortly thereafter a gap had opened between the 2nd Moroccan Division and the French 161st Division. The 369th Infantry, upon its own initiative, closed the gap and placed three battalions in column with its 3rd Battalion leading the way.
The 3rd Battalion, 369th Infantry, remained abreast the 2nd Moroccan and French 161st Division’s for the remainder of the day, and had advanced on the town of Ripont alongside the 2nd Moroccan Division and the French 163rd Infantry Regiment. The 3rd Battalion crossed La Dormoise Riviere around 0800 hours (8:00 A.M.) as the French 163rd Infantry reached the Rouvroy-Ripont Road around the same time. German fire from the north had halted the advance of the 3rd Battalion, 369th Infantry as well as the French 363rd Infantry Regiment on the far right flank of the French 163rd Division, of which the 2nd Battalion of the 369th Infantry was attached.
“At 8 A.M. of the 26th of September, our assault was started through the Calvaire Sector. Many prisoners were taken and sent to the rear, as well as large quantities of guns, machine guns, ammunition and supplies. The town of Ripont was also captured by 3rd Battalion. The Moroccan troops at the same time attacked the Butte de Mesnil, a strongly fortified German position, which had always withstood all attempts to reduce it. However, in a sustained attack occupying two days, the defense was overcome and the Moroccans caused the [Germans] to retire in confusion. The casualties on both sides, owing to the fact that most of the fighting was of the hand to hand type, were exceedingly heavy.”
– George S. Robb, Manuscripts Collection 51: 1887-1972.
At noon, 26 September 1918, the French 161st division issued the order to continue its assault after a heavy artillery barrage commenced on the German line of resistance. This assault would continue to the road extending northwest through “crossroads 188,” located about 600 meters north of Fontaine-en-Dormoise. When this objective was reached, the 1st Battalion of the 369th Infantry was to remain as Division Reserve as the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were given orders to attack and hold Tranchee de Bellevue and the slopes descending from Bellevue Signal Station located to the northeast. The attack was to commence behind a rolling barrage as soon as the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 369th were ready.
Attacks were attempted at 1530 (3:30 P.M.) and 1700 hours (5:00 P.M.) but despite the artillery bombardment against the German lines, the German resistance remained heavy and the low-lying ground on both sides of the Dormoise River created a natural defense in slowing the advance, with its muddy and marshy soil that remained exposed to the German machine-guns. The 3rd Battalion, 369th Infantry held the left portion of the line on the slopes north of La Dormoise Riviere with the French 163rd Infantry (center) and French 363rd Infantry (right). This line extended from the area of Tranchee de Brun along the Rouvroy-Ripont Road.
During the night of 26 September 1918, the French 157th Division, of which the 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments were attached, had been moved to the area of Butte du Mesnil. This location was near the original line of attack on 25 September 1918, but well behind the French 161tst Division and 369th Infantry Regiment.
27 September 1918:
The French IX Corps ordered a continuation of attack for 27 September 1918 without any changes to the objectives of the French 161st Division, and an advance was ordered to a line between Mont Cuvelet – Tranchee de Bellevue, by two successive stages. The French 161st Division ordered the attack to commence at 0515 hours (5:15 A.M.) after a 30-minute artillery bombardment on the German lines, and the attack lines consisted of the French 163rd Infantry Regiment on the left, the 369th Infantry in the center, and the French 363rd Infantry Regiment on the right; the 3rd Battalion of the 369th had been ordered as the assault echelon with its 2nd Battalion in support and 1st Battalion remaining in division reserve.
Despite the preparations made throughout the night of 26 September and early morning of 27 September 1918, the attack did not begin on time due to the slow transmission of orders. The delay in communications due to translation and transmission had resulted in the 3rd Battalion of the 369th Infantry being delayed in entering its line of departure.
At 0915 hours (9:15 A.M.) on 27 September 1918, the French 161st Division ordered its French 163rd Infantry Regiment to attack to the left of the zone of action assigned to the 369th Infantry. The general advance of the French 163rd and 363rd Infantry Regiments commenced between 1000 (10:00 A.M.) and 1030 hours (10:30 A.M.), and the French 161st Division ordered its 163rd Infantry Regiment, assisted by the 363rd Infantry Regiment, was to attack to the north and advance to the southern edge of the wooded area about 1 kilometer north of Ripont known as Parc. As the French regiments commenced their attack, the 369th Infantry was ordered by the French 161st Division to move forward in a column of battalions and be placed in line between the French regiments after reaching its objective.
At 1230 hours (12:30 P.M.) the French 161st Division announced that the flank divisions were side-by-side, which made it possible for the Germans to offer serious resistance along the plateaus north of Fontaine-en-Dormois and Bellevue Signal Ridge. Subsequently, a strong advance was ordered behind a rolling artillery barrage. By 1425 hours (2:25 P.M.), a line had been reached along the crest of the hill north of Fontaine-en-Dormois and crossroads 188, and was held throughout the night with the 369th Infantry Regiment in rear of the line inside Fontaine-en-Dormois as well as along the Fontaine-en-Dormois – Gratreuil Road.
At 1720 hours (5:20 P.M.), the French 161st Division issued orders calling for a continuation of attack in the direction of Mont Cuvelet – Croix Renard. The division cavalry was ordered before daybreak the following day (28 September 1918) to precede the infantry between the town of Sechault and Bouconville. Orders had also specified that the Germans were holding Bellevue Signal Station and an infantry attack would be necessary, supported by artillery concentration on the station, to start at 1830 hours (6:30 P.M.). However, the attack on Bellevue Signal Station was not made on 27 September 1918. Throughout the night, the 2nd Battalion of the 369th Infantry relieved the 3rd Battalion in the frontline.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day at about noon on 27 September 1918, the French 157th Division ordered the 371st Infantry Regiment to march from Butte du Mesnil to the crests between Maisons de Champagne Ferme and Butte du Mesnil. Around 1230 hours (12:30 P.M.), as the French 161st Division and the 369th made their assault, the 371st Infantry Regiment made its march to relocate.
At 1600 hours (4:00 P.M.), the French 157th Division ordered the 371st Infantry to move in the direction of Ripont-Bussy Ferme, which would be followed by a battalion of the French 333rd Infantry. The 371st was to dispose its battalion in depth to occupy the positions between the 2nd Moroccan Division on the left and the French 161st Division on the right, with a boundary set in a southwest-northeast direction through the crossroads located about 500 meters south of Le Pied. Around 1725 hours (5:25 P.M.), the 371st Infantry continued its advance in accordance to the orders of the French 157th Division.
28 September 1918:
The march of the 371st Infantry was in progress throughout the night, and the regiment had arrived to its destination at the break of dawn on 28 September 1918, astride the Ripont-Gratreuil Road with its leading elements at the Fontaine-en-Dormois-Gratreuil Road. The 1st Battalion of the 371st Infantry was the lead element, with the 3rd then 2nd Battalions following.
The 372nd Infantry (excluding its 2nd Battalion), in accordance to the French 157th Divisions orders, moved throughout the day to Ravin-d’Hebuterne. At midnight, the 372nd Infantry Regiment continued its march to Ripont and arrived at 0230 hours (2:30 A.M.) on 28 September 1918.
At 0130 hours (1:30 A.M.) on 28 September 1918, the French 161st Division issued field orders announcing that if the plateau of Bellevue Signal Station hadn’t been taken during the night of 27 September or early morning of 28 September 1918 by the French 163rd Infantry and the 369th Infantry Regiments, the attack would be renewed at 0700 hours (7:00 A.M.). Since the attack had not occurred, a the orders of the French 161st Division would stand and at 0330 hours (3:30 A.M.) the 369th were given orders to attack. With the 2nd Battalion of the 369th now on the front, and abreast of the flanking French Regiments, the 3rd Battalion stayed in close support. A preparatory artillery barrage bombarded the German signal station at 0430 hours (4:30 A.M.) and the infantry attacked.
Regardless of the supporting barrage, the Germans provided stiff resistance with machine-gun fire from the ridge of Bellevue Signal Station against the 369th. Nonetheless, the 369th prevailed with the 74th Division to its right, with the right portion of the line reaching a northwest-southeast line on the ridge and extending south of the crossroads near Bellevue Signal Station. However, the left and center was unable to pass the crossroads around 500 meters south of Le Pied.
Around 0900 hours (9:00 A.M.) the 369th Infantry repulsed a German counterattack, and at 1400 hours (2:00 P.M.), the French 161st Division gave stated that the crest of Bellevue Signal Station would be taken. By 1600 hours (4:00 P.M.), the advance elements held a line along the road just south of Tranchee de Bellevue. However, this line was lost and the 369th were forced to organize its line on the southern slopes of the plateau for the night. Around midnight, the French 161st Division issued orders to take complete possession of Bellevue Signal Station, the spur located to the northeast, and Mont Cuvelet.
In the French 157th Divisions zone of action, the 371st Infantry began its attack at 0645 hours (6:45 A.M.) on 28 September 1918, with a 500-meter wide front. 1st Battalion, 371st Infantry was the lead element, followed by its 3rd Battalion and then the 2nd Battalion. The advance occurred after a passage of lines had been made through the right battalion of the 2nd Moroccan Division (on the 371st Infantry’s left flank). German machine-gun fire dramatically slowed the advance and caused disorganization that left a gap between the right flank of the 371st Infantry and the left flank of the French 161st Division. At 0840 hours (8:40 A.M.), the French 157th Division ordered the 372nd Infantry to advance from Ripont with two of its battalions to fill the gap.
The 3rd Battalion, 372nd Infantry Regiment was placed as the assault battalion, with the 1st battalion following 1 kilometer behind in support and the 2nd Battalion was to remain in reserve. Around 1130 hours (11:30 A.M.), the 1st and 3rd Battalions were engaged in combat. With the combined attack between the 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments, the western slope of Bellevue Signal Ridge was taken. By nightfall, the advance elements had reached the heights south of Bussy Farm and slopes of Le Pied.
After dark, 3rd Battalion of the 371st Infantry was relocated to the left of the 1st Battalion and Bussy Farm was occupied for the night. On the right portion of the 372nd, two companies of the 372nd Infantry continued their advance, but had lost direction and became separated from other elements of the 3rd Battalion. Portions of these companies reached positions west of Sechault at the road junction and had spent the night there, the remaining elements of the 372nd Infantry were located on the slopes of Le Pied.
29 September 1918:
The French 157th Division had issued orders at 0200 hours (2:00 A.M.) on 29 September 1918 for its attacks that day. The mission of the division to cover the right flank of the 2nd Moroccan Division while simultaneously advancing in the direction of Monthois, taking the German positions on the plain east of Marvaux during its movement. The French 157th directed the assault to commence at 1000 hours (10:00 A.M.) in three columns, with the French 333rd Infantry on the left, the 371st Infantry in the center, and the 372nd Infantry Regiment on the right. At 0645 hours (6:45 A.M.), the division issued further orders that prescribed intervals of 500 meters between the assault regiments.
The 371st Infantry were ordered to attack around 0915 (9:15 A.M.) and verbally transmitted their orders to the 3rd Battalion to attack at 1000 hours (10:00 A.M.), however, the orders weren’t actually received by the 3rd Battalion by 1000 hours (10:00 A.M.). Given that the French 333rd Infantry commenced their attack, the 3rd Battalion advanced with them despite receiving the orders. Company [K], located on the leftmost portion of the 3rd Battalion, helped attack German machine-gun positions and drive back German infantry which allowed the French to continue their advance. Company [K] reached positions about 750 meters northwest of Ardeuil were it had formed on the line with French troops for the remainder of the night.
The attacking regiments of the French 157th were to be on their line of departure at 0930 hours (9:30 A.M.) and attack in a northward direction. Upon receipt of the orders, the 372nd Infantry replaced the 3rd Battalion with its 1st Battalion in the assault echelon, with the 3rd Battalion now acting as support. The attack began at 1000 hours (10:00 A.M.) as ordered and the 1st Battalion, 372nd Infantry advanced to the right of its assigned axis toward the town of Sechault. The situation became further complicated when it was discovered that the French 161st Division to the right of the 372nd Infantry hadn’t begun its forward movements.
Around 1300 hours (1:00 P.M.), patrols of the 372nd Infantry entered the town of Sechault, but were driven back by German machine-gun fire. Luckily, during the morning of 29 September 1918, the 1st Battalion of the 369th Infantry was ordered to pass through the lines of the 2nd Battalion and take the town of Sechault. This passage of lines commenced shortly after noon and the 1st Battalion began its attack on the town of Sechault at about 1425 hours (2:45 P.M.) from the heights south of the town. 1st Battalion, 369th Infantry attacked Sechault without artillery support, and had crossed a plain under heavy Austrian 88’s and German machine-gun fire. During the advance elements of Company [K] of the 372nd Infantry Regiment, who had gotten lost the night prior and spent the night west of Sechault, had come into contact with the 1st Battalion of the 369th. During the night of 29 September 1918, the 2nd Battalion of the 372nd Infantry was relocated to the ravine southwest of Bellevue Signal Station.
Sechault was taken in the afternoon, and a line was consolidated to its north and east, the 2nd Battalion assisted the 3rd Battalion of the 369th Infantry in holding this line throughout the evening. The elements of Company [K], 372nd Infantry helped to mop-up portions of the town as the 369th held its line. During the night, the 369th Infantry were ordered to withdraw to the southern edge of Sechault from its position to allow a friendly artillery barrage to commence the following day. The 369th was greeted by the French regiments to its left and right, and the artillery barrage commenced just north of the town. The elements of Company [K], 372nd Infantry were withdrawn and reorganized south of Bussy Farm.
The 3rd Battalion, 371st Infantry (excluding Company [K]) advanced north with the rest of the 371st throughout the day and had captured the towns of Ardeuil and Montfauxelles. It established a line for the night in the railroad yards located north of Montfauxelles, but had lost contact with the French 333rd Infantry Regiment to its left flank until after midnight, and a gap in the line was recorded on its right flank between Sechault – Moulin Moya. The 2nd Battalion, 371st Infantry moved to Montfauxelles and formed a right-flank guard with a single company, while the 1st Battalion, 371st Infantry took positions just south of Sechault-Ardeuil road and extended the right-flank protection of the 2nd Battalion to the southwest.
Due to the heavy losses taken of both officers and enlisted men, the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 372nd Infantry were reorganized into a provisional battalion during the night of 29 September 1918.
30 September 1918:
“Today is September 30, 1918, and we find that the 1st Battalion is on our right, and advancing fast in the rain and mud. Machine gun opposition is still stiff. Our casualties are small and we have captured a large number of prisoners.”
The French 157th Division was ordered by the French IX Corps to take the towns of Monthois and Savigny-sur-Aisne, while the French 161st Division were ordered to take Challerange and the heights to the north. The 369th Infantry had been warned that Challerange was strongly fortified and thus shouldn’t be attacked in a frontal assault until artillery preparation and partial encirclement had been made. The attacks began at 0700 hours (7:00 A.M.) with the French cavalry aiding the advance.
The 3rd Battalion, 371st Infantry Regiment lead the assault of the French 157th Division and was supported by the 2nd Battalion, 371st Infantry.
At 0830 hours (8:30 A.M.), the French 163rd Infantry Regiment was held up near Les Petit Rosier by German machine-gun fire from the east and southeast. The 1st Battalion of the 369th Infantry Regiment, followed by the 2nd Battalion, received fire from the right-rear flank but continued to advance in a northeast direction with the French 363rd Infantry alongside them on the right.
A battalion of the French 333rd Infantry attacked on each flank of the 371st Infantry, and had reached Trieres Farm by 0930 hours (9:30 A.M.). By 1100 hours (11:00 A.M.), the 371st and French 333rd Infantry had established a east-west line that was held immediately north of Trieres Farm where the regiments had halted for the remainder of the day.
By 1500 hours (3:00 P.M.), the advance had reached the line between the southwest corner of Bois de la Malmaison – les Petites Rosiers with the infantry regiments of the 161st Division abreast. Further advances on the left had been stopped due to the flooded condition of the Avegres Riviere, and couldn’t be flanked from the west without entering into the zone of action of the French 157th Division. Due to the inability of the French 161st Division and the 369th Infantry to pass the flooded areas of the Avegres Riviere, the 2nd Battalion of the 371st Infantry accompanied by the 1st Battalion were ordered to cover the right flank.
Awaiting further orders to launch an attack on Monthois, which had depending on the success of the 2nd Moroccan Division to the left of the French 157th Division, the 371st Infantry was relieved by the 2nd Battalion, 372nd Infantry during the night of 30 September and early morning of 1 October 1918. The 371st Infantry was then reorganized in the area of Ardeuil and remained in division reserve until the relief of the division during the night of 6 October and early morning of 7 October 1918.
Also throughout the night of 30 September and into the early morning of 1 October 1918, the 369th Infantry was relieved by the French 363rd Infantry Regiment and relocated to the area of Bellevue Signal Station. The 369th Infantry Regiment had remained in reserve until the French 161st Division was withdrawn from the line during the night of 6 October and early morning of 7 October 1918.
1 October 1918:
Just after midnight, the 372nd Infantry’s 1st and 3rd Battalions had moved to support positions 3 kilometers north of Sechault on the Sechault-Monthois road. Preparations to continue the attack on Monthois were being made along with the French 333rd Infantry, who held positions on both flanks of the 372nd Division.
At 0500 hours (5:00 A.M.), the 2nd Battalion of the 372nd Infantry Regiment completed its relief of the 3rd Battalion of the 371st Infantry in the frontline north and west of Trieres Farm. At 0700 hours (7:00 A.M.), the French 157th Division issued orders to be ready to attack Monthois once the 2nd Moroccan Division was ready to attack and reconnaissance missions ordered in the direction of Challerange. The attack on Monthois was to be signaled by rockets from the French 120th Division, who had just relieved the 2nd Moroccan Division to the left of the 372nd Infantry Regiment and the French 157th Division. The attack was planned for 1100 hours (11:00 A.M.) for the following day, allowing preparations to be made. The advance was to be supported by a rolling barrage once the rockets were fired.
Throughout the cloudy and windy day, the 372nd Infantry remained engaged with the Germans and encountered stiff resistance from a hill that had been fortified overnight. Due to the deeply muddy conditions, the support from French artillery was completely ineffective at keeping the German machine-guns and artillery at bay.
Between 27 September to 1 October 1918, casualties were mounting up for the 93rd Division. The 369th suffered 783 casualties, with 122 soldier Killed In Action and 663 wounded. Meanwhile, the 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments had sustained 1,275 casualties with the 371st having 107 Killed In Action and 769 wounded; while the 372nd saw 62 Killed In Action and 337 wounded.
2 October 1918:
At midnight between 1 October and 2 October 1918, the French 157th Division issued orders detailing that the three attacking battalions zone of action would be from vertical grid line 281.5 west to vertical grid line 280.
In the early morning, the French 120th Division advanced along the ridges north of Croix des Soudans, however, were unable to entirely clear their zone of action from German defenders; subsequently the French 120th Division did not provide the rocket signal as planned. The French IX Corps, however, still mistakenly believed the ridges were cleared and ordered the French 157th Division to attack.
The assault battalion of the 372nd Infantry, with the French battalions on either side, began their attack under heavy rain, gusty winds and cloudy skies at 1350 hours (1:50 P.M.) behind a rolling artillery barrage.
The Germans rendered heavy resistance and made the advance exceedingly difficult, nonetheless the 2nd Battalion reached a position about 800 meters south of Monthois with battalions of the French 333rd abreast.
Regardless of the 372nd’s success, the American First Army and French Fourth Army had great difficulty in advancing. The French XXXVIII Corps was being held up at Binarville to the 372nd Infantry’s east while the French II Corps couldn’t overcome the German defenses at Blanc Mont Ridge.
3 October 1918:
As the heavy rain, gusty winds, and cloudy skies continued into the next day, the French 157th Division informed its regiments of resent progress made by the French 161st Division at 0300 hours (3:00 A.M.). The French 161st Division, located to the east of the French 157th Division, had captured the town of Challerange; however, the French 120th Division to the east was still unable to make any progress on the slopes of Croix des Soudans.
At 0525 hours (5:25 A.M.), the 372nd Infantry issued field orders that gave detailed information for the order of attack on Monthois should the French 120th Division succeed in taking the slopes southwest of the town. However, the French 120th Division made no gains throughout the day and the 372nd Infantry made no changes in its position for the day as a result.
During the day, German General Georg von der Marwitz issued orders to his soldiers stating:
“It is on the unconquerable resistance of the Verdun Front that the fate of a great part of the Western Front, perhaps even of our nation, depends. The Fatherland must rest assured that every commander and every man fully realizes the greatness of his mission and that he will do his duty to the very end.“
4 October 1918:
The rain in Monthois was letting up, however, 4 October 1918 was still gusty and the clouds remained overhead. The Germans were participating in their tactical withdrawal and retreating to a valley where a supply base stood. As the Germans withdrew from the area, they destroyed anything they couldn’t move by burning or blowing it up.
“October 4, 1918, the 2nd Battalion [372nd Infantry Regiment] is going in this morning, and we are still resting at Vieox, which is about four kilometers from Monthois and is one of the enemy’s railroad centers and hospital bases. The enemy is busy destroying supplies and moving wounded. We can see trains moving out of Monthois. Our artillery is bombarding all roads and railroads in the vicinity. The enemies’ fire is fierce and we are expecting a counter-attack.“
5 October 1918:
The heavy rain returned on 5 October 1918, with increased winds and cloudiness over the heads of the 372nd Infantry Regiment. In the zone of action of the French 157th Division the attack on Monthois was still planned to take place after the French 120th Division had captured Croix de Saingly, however, because the French 120th Division failed to accomplish its mission the plans remained postponed.
The German artillery bombarded the line of the 372nd Infantry and a German counterattack commenced after its conclusion. The 372nd Infantry remained in its position and the fighting became intense and hand-to-hand combat ensued. The German counterattack against the front of the 2nd Battalion was unsuccessful and the Germans suffered heavy losses. The 2nd Battalion of the 372nd was able to fend off the German attack, capturing prisoners in the process. No significant changes in the line had been made, although it was claimed that the 372nd Infantry “continued [its] advance and are now on the outskirts of Monthois.”
6 October 1918:
The sky above the 372nd Infantry finally opened up and 6 October 1918 proved to be a sunny day with cool winds. With the weather proving to be blissful in comparison to the rain and strong winds they had encountered for the past few days, the most encouraging part of the day was the reception of orders from the French 157th Division that it was to be relieved by the French 125th Division during the night. Things continued to look up as the liaison work of the French 157th proved to be exceptional.
“I am proud to forward you here with the thanks and congratulations of General Garnier-Duplessix and I want the same time, dear friends of all ranks, Americans and French, to tell you as your leader and as a soldier, from the bottom of my heart how grateful I am to you all for the glory you have acquired for our splendid [French] 157th Division [371st and 372nd attached].” – General Mariano Goybet, commander of the French 157th Division
During the overnight relief, the Germans bombarded the 372nd Infantry’s line as the French 333rd Infantry attacked and pushed the Germans further back. The 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments were ordered to take station north and south of Ruisseau de Marson, near Beausejour Farm after being replaced by elements of the French 125th Division.
In total the 369th, 371st, and 372nd Infantry Regiments had suffered a total of 2,502 casualties, including 418 Killed In Action.
7 October 1918:
Although the French 125th Division was relieving the French 157th Division and subsequently the 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments, elements of the 372nd Infantry continued to patrol the area of Monthois and engage the enemy until they were fully relieved.
“October 7, 1918, our patrols entered Monthois early in the morning but were driven out by machine gun fire, but returned with gun and its crew. [The 372nd Infantry Regiment] have just received word that we are to be relieved by the 76th Regiment, French, sometime during the night; we were relieved at [2000 hours] 8:00 P.M. We hiked a very long distance over the ground. We fought so hard to take Minnecourt [sic] where the [372nd Infantry] regiment proceeded to organize”
Once the French 125th Division were done relieving the French 157th Division and the 371st Infantry Regiment in the frontline, they took command the following morning at 0500 hours (5:00 A.M.), the 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments headed to their destination near Beausejour Farm (approximately 20 kilometer south).
The 369th Infantry Regiment was relieved from their position near Bellevue Signal Station, where it had remained in reserve for the French 161st Division throughout the night of 6 October and into the morning of 7 October 1918. The 369th was ordered to move with the French 161st Division to Vitry-le-Francois, roughly 80 kilometers south, and the French 161st Division passed to French IX Corps Reserve.
8 October 1918:
After the French 157th and 161st Divisions had been relieved, all three infantry regiments of the 93rd Division (excluding the 370th Infantry) spent time for rest and rehabilitation in their southern positions from the frontline. The 2nd Moroccan, French 157th and 161st Divisions were transferred from the French IX Corps to the French X Corps. It was at this time that Colonel Herschel Tupes, commander of the 372nd Infantry Regiment, learned that the unit had been recommended for the Croix de Guerre citation found within the general orders of the French Army to be pinned to the units regimental colors.
9 October 1918:
The 372nd Infantry Regiment marched south and reached Somme Bionne where it stayed until 11 October 1918 to entrain for Vignemont.
11 October 1918:
The French 157th Division, including the 371st Infantry Regiment, moved from Saint Menehould 60 kilometers north of Belfort to the area of Corcieux. Meanwhile, the 372nd Infantry Regiment left Somme Bionne and entrained for Vignemont.
12-13 October 1918:
At 0800 hours (8:00 A.M.) on 12 October 1918, the 372nd Infantry left Valmy, France to their destination of Vignemont, where they had arrived the following day. Upon arrival, the 372nd Infantry hiked an additional 15 kilometers to Saint Leonard and arrived later the same day (13 October 1918).
13 October to 11 November 1918:
From 13 October to 11 November 1918 (Armistice Day), the 371st Infantry Regiment participated in the occupation of the Anould Sector located northeast of Corcieux where it remained in relative peace until the war ended.
On 14 October 1918, the French 161st Division, including the 369th Infantry Regiment, moved just north to the city of Belfort where it participated in occupying the Thur Sector. The French 161st Division and the 369th Infantry Regiment would occupy this sector until the war was ended on 11 November 1918 at 1100 hours (11:00 A.M.).
On 15 October 1918, the 372nd Infantry Regiment left Saint Leonard and arrived at Ban de Laveline in the Department of the Bosges at 2215 hours (10:15 P.M.).