Category: american heroes

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“The
first time I went “over the top” was on June 6th.“

“If there be any
person who does not believe there is a God, let that man go “over the
top” just once. It will do more to convince him than a thousand years of
religious meetings.

The first time I
went “over the top” was on June 6th. Oh, what a happy bunch we were shaking
hands with one another, happy and exultant in the fact that at last we were
“going over.”

Of the forty men
in my platoon that started to cross a small ravine only 100 yards across, four
of us reached the other side. That was when we took Bouresches. We were in the
line for one whole month. It is an absolute fact that the Marines stopped the great German drive, saved
Paris, and then, with over half of their number killed or wounded, drove the
Germans back and once more saved the day.”

June 1918, in
Belleau Wood, American Marines’ letter home. – Dear Folks At Home, The Glorious Story of The United States Marines in France
Illustration: WW1 song “One, two, three, boys over the top we go”
Library of Congress. Here, the WW1 Centennial News’s podcast gives a very interesting
June 1918 Overview. Here, France remembers.

The day before Memorial Day of this year, (191…

The
day before Memorial Day of this year, (1918), Marshal Petain wrote General
Pershing,

“I have invited French troops stationed near American cemeteries
to go and salute their brothers-in-arms
fallen for the safety of their Land and
the Liberty of the world. Later, when you have left Europe, rest assured that
the same rites will be rendered them and with the same fervor. The remembrance
of these valorous men will endure in our hearts.”

It did and still does. See here, Memorial Day 2018 celebrated in Chaumont, France.

Source: A Machine Gunner’s Notes – Photo: WW1, Memorial Day French soldiers, ladies & children paying tribute to the fallen American soldiers. Ministere de la Culture, France.

Memorial Day 1918 in France, Masevaux, Chaumont, Romagne

                                              …

                                                               “Everything was dead“

‘On May 27 1918, the
attack began at 12:55 am with “a terrific crash that rocked the entire sector… Hundreds of bulking missiles, wobbling through the
air with a sickening rush, exploded in their midst, and terrified shouts of
‘Gas!’ warned us that we were in for the greatest of horrors, a night gas
attack. The barrage ceased at 2.00 am. Later that day, we saw that the deadly
fumes not only affected the soldiers but also the flora and fauna.
Everything was dead. Messenger pigeons lay in their baskets; rats,
swollen and distended, were stretched out in the trenches and dugouts … The whole area looked as if it had been visited by a killing frost.’

This
gas attack coincided with a large German offensive
that occurred near Chemin des Dames to the northwest. The final report from this attack stated that
236 Americans were gassed, 36 were killed.

Somewhere in Northeast France,

American
soldiers, members of the Rainbow Division – Somewhere
Over There: The Letters, Diary, and Artwork of a World War I Corporal
An
American Soldier in World War 1
– Photo: 1918, France, No Man’s Land

                                        “seemi…

                                        “seemingly oblivious
of the impending ordeal”

‘Our
stay at Lattainville at the end of May was an idyllic interlude
on the brink of the frenetic drama of the days that followed. Our American
division was now readied by the Supreme Command for the great German drive,
and it was just a question as to where and when we would be called on to parry
it. My journal evokes the unreality of these days of waiting in the
glorious landscape of the Oise when spring was at its full height. Routines
went on. The men lived in the present with their customary garrulousness and
byplay, seemingly oblivious of the impending ordeal into which they
would be plunged.’

End of May 1918, Oise, France – American ambulance driver who then became a corporal in the Army’s 17th Field
Artillery of the 2nd Division – Armageddon
Revisited: A World War I Journal
– Photo: WW1, France, American soldiers’
“idyllic unterlude”. La Contemporaine

                                              …

                                                                    
Pitch dark.

“April 10-11 1918 – Cut
more hair and shave. Move from Sermoise to Braine. Pitch dark. Sleep in car in
street. Notified by Lieut that I am to have Croix de Guerre. Big punch bowl.
Have to buy champagne for boys.”

In Aisne, France, American ambulance driver’s diary – Special Collections Department, Stewart Library, Weber State University. Illustration: WW1, France, ambulancing at night. Herbert Ward.

March 23 1918 – After a month in Lorrain…

March 23 1918 – After
a month in Lorraine, the 42nd Division was withdrawn from the front, assembled,
and started on a long hike to the Rolampont area for further training. Before the division left, the French presented the Croix de Guerre to Colonel
Hough and 23 soldiers. One
day’s hike took the regiment to Hallainville, where they rested a few days and received new equipment.

On March 23, a regimental review was held and captured on photo by a French photographer. Here, on IMGUR, are 10 awesome photos of that glorious day.

Blamont – Photo: The American soldiers (and a little French boy) walking to the field where the review will take place. La contemporaine – France

    March 5 1918 – “The Americans lost 1…

    March 5 1918 – “The Americans lost 19 killed
and 28 wounded tho the Boche raid had failed.”

‘At 4:30 this morning we were
awakened by a terrific bombardment. I thot at first that it was a
French barrage but soon realized that it was Boche instead. Gil lighted a
candle and we put on our shoes to be ready for any call that might come. That candle made all the difference in the
world, it ‘s true that we are less afraid when he can see things… The big shells were coming over in great style. We went outside to get the car
warmed up and as I was cranking the car an éclat hit about
2 ft from my head but we got the car going. The shells made so much noise we hardly heard the motor. We went
to the kitchen again which was fairly safe and was the
best we had because the Americans had filled the abri under the house to
overflowing. I started up the “Money Blues” on the Vic and we sat around
waiting either for a shell to hit the house or a call to come. Our counter
barrage had begun – it ‘s nice to know that
your enemy is getting just as badly scared as you are.

The racket lasted an hour
and a half dropping about 500 shells in the town, teaing their way thru almost
anything. A call came so we went and saw that the communication trench had been
smashed up badly
. The American wounded did not start to come in till 8 o’clock
so we took in a French blesse’ and returned. Coming up the road from’ Pexonne
which runs perpendicular to the lines we found that the Boches had put up
a saucisse which looked
straight down the road so we hung close
to the camouflage along the road and gave old Lizzie the gun. The Americans lost 19 killed and 28 wounded
tho the Boche raid had failed.

They say that the Americans stood up on the parapet and
cursed & cried for the Boches to come over and when they finally did they
gave them such a hot reception that they were forced to retreat to their own
lines. These Americans showed
themselves worthy descendants of the men of 61 with so much courage and good
spirit. And the wounded were heroic Spartans to the core. They have astonished
the Boche and the French and also myself in that they were not only not afraid
but seem to like it. It is their first affair and of course they were still keyed up
with enthusiasm. After they have seen more, they will realize what a dirty
rotten seemingly endless game it is.

And we made only two trips before noon as 6
other cars had been sent out.’

March 5 1918 – American ambulance driver’s diary in Badonviller, Meurthe et Moselle,France – The Compensation of War – Photo: early spring 1918, Meurthe et Moselle, American ambulance drivers loading the coffin of an American soldier into an ambulance. @ Ministère
de la Culture
Here, in Badonviller, the graves soldiers who were killed that day.

“Snow, snow, snow, everywher…

“Snow, snow,
snow, everywhere … we had no extra stockings, no
nothing. Well, it snowed so damn hard we couldn’t, we didn’t
know where to sleep. And there was a farmer up there, he let us sleep in the
barn. So we all — can you picture two hundred and fifty guys sleeping in a
barn? Like sardines! And by God, you know, nobody caught a cold”

The
Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War
– Photo: February 1918, ‘snow snow snow everywhere’, American soldiers in the
Gondrecourt sector, France.

“Jim Europe was our benefactor and inspi…

“Jim Europe was our benefactor and
inspiration. Even more, he was the Martin Luther King of music." 
Eubie Blake

“Europe led his band
in a concert on Brest’s quay, crowded with French sailors, soldiers, and
civilians as black American soldiers passed through the streets, up the long,
winding hill leading out of the city toward the railyard. The first tune the lieutenant selected was the French national anthem,
the “Marseillaise.” Playing it in a jazzy way, Europe was surprised that none
of the French people stood at attention when they heard their country’s
national song. It was as if they were not familiar with the music.
But suddenly, as the band had played eight or ten bars, there came over their
faces an astonished look, quickly alert, snapping-into-it-attention, and salute
by every French soldier and sailor present. The style of Europe’s band playing
the “Marseillaise” thrilled them to a far greater extent than their own bands
playing it. It was the unaccustomed interpretation of their anthem that caused
the French soldiers and sailors to be so tardy in coming
to the salute.”

About James
Reese Europe
who led the 369th Infantry Regimental Band. Harlem’s
Hell Fighters: The African-American 369th Infantry in World War I

‘Into our shack the soldiers crowded every aft…

Into
our shack the soldiers crowded every afternoon after drill and each night, and wretched as it was, we managed to
get a great deal of fun out of it and many a good time we had there’

My
Hut: A Memoir of a YMCA Volunteer in World War One
–  Photo, early 1918. Meuse, France, American soldiers relaxing at the Y.M.C.A.  B.D.I.C.