Now, listen and try to get this. I know it’ll be hard at
first, but it’ll grow on you after a while. Are you ready? Well, then, — I’m a lady
leatherneck; I’m a real, live, honest-to-goodness Marine! The process was painful
I admit, and lasted for thirty-six hours, but I survived it all right. Don’t be
surprised if you see me mentioned for a Croix de Guerre or something. They’ve
done everything to me except punch my name out on my chest. That’s coming soon,
I guess. I always knew that the Marines would realize the necessity of women
some day, so I was laying low and waiting. Well, when I heard they had at last
hung out a sign at the recruiting station — ‘Women wanted for the United States
Marine Corps’ — I was ready!’
August 13, 1918 – Women officially enlist in the
United States Marine Corps for the first time – American lady’s letter to her boyfriend – Women Marines in World War 1 – Photos: US
“Friday july 26 1918 – Hiked toChateau-Thierry this morning. Reached there at noon. Passed through Vaux and there’s not a wall standing. I
saw my first dead German soldier there. He was about five days dead then.
Chateau-Thierry was pretty badly shot up, but altogether got out of it
pretty lucky. Saw “beaucoup” Bosche material here; guns, ammunition,
etc. Hiked to Belleau Woods this afternoon and are now camping on a spot that the Marines fought so hard
“Wow, it is hot — both weather and shells coming over, the Hun must have their
dates mixed and are trying to celebrate the 4th of July but we will set them
right at midnight tonight when we start our third drive.
The Marines are doing all
the good work here but are paying dearly for it, and they not having any ambulances
we are called on to do the work. Some large ambulances which came here to help
out are too big to do the work but the little old Fords sneak up
close to the lines, always on the go and for good work! General Pershing commanded
us for our excellent work.”
I really felt that I had reached the supreme moment of my life
“The 4th celebration in Paris. To
our delight the nurses were asked by the French government to march in
the parade. It was the first time women have ever marched in a parade in Paris.
We formed in the Place de Trocadero at 8:45am. I carried the flag, it was the
proudest moment of my life, in fact I don’t think I ever had that proud feeling
before. But when we fell in line behind the Marines, our band playing Dixie and
I held that banner on high to the cheers of the crowd “Vive l’Amerique!”
I really felt that I had reached the supreme moment of my life. You can’t imagine
the exalted sensation of marching through that sea of cheering people, throwing
flowers before us, and every now and then someone would shout: “I want to
touch that flag, I love it! The flowers are for it!””
June 26 1918, Paris, a Franco-American Red Carpet Event.
‘June 26 1918 – The official American
Expeditionary Force picture
“America’s Answer to the Hun” was presented for the first time at the Gaumont
Palace in Paris. The house was crowded with French and Americans, including celebrities such as Marshal Joffre, Ambassador Sharp, the
British Minister, and many French Senators and Ministers. One
section of the theater was reserved for the wounded marines who were
brought to the theater in huge trucks, and the
ovation they received was tremendous. During that period, all France, and
especially Paris, had come to realize that the Hun had been stopped, and
that the Americans had played an important part in the fight.
picture depicted the enormous effort that America had put forth, both in
an industrial and a military way and was given a mighty reception.
Copies of the film were promptly
sent to all the allied and neutral countries for
showing there. The big commercial producers,
Gaumont and Pathe, sent it to all their theaters in France, and it was used
most successfully among the troops, in factories,
universities, schools, etc.’
June 25 1918, Belleau Wood–The battle for Belleau Wood had raged for nearly three weeks; after multiple attacks and counterattacks, the Americans had secured large parts of the wood, but German resistance continued. The Marines who had begun the assault had been relieved on June 16th, but came back six days later to finish the job. However, an attack on the 23rd was repulsed with heavy casualties, and the French were convinced to provide overwhelming artillery support. At 3AM on the 25th, the French began a 14-hour bombardment of the woods, after which the Marines were able to capture the remaining German machine gun posts. The next day, the Americans were able to report: “Woods now entirely US Marine Corps.” Over the twenty-day battle, more than half the Marines engaged were killed or wounded.
officers coming in wounded, terribly, terribly, wounded, rarely complain. They
have endured their hardships and suffering gloriously. My heart has bled by the
things I have seen.”
June 1918, Belleau Wood, American Surgeon J.T. Boone’s letter to his wife. He received the Medal of Honor for his incessant work and heroism in WW1, especially during the Belleau Wood battle. In one instance,
on June 25 1918, Dr. Boone
followed the attack of one battalion against enemy positions in Belleau Wood, establishing advanced dressing
stations under continuous shelling. More about Dr. Boone @ the Library of Congress – Illustration: June 1918, US Marine regimental aid station in Belleau Wood, France – militar.org.ua
“I suppose father will
want to know if I kept a stiff upper lip. Yes, Dad, I did. As I lay wounded,
out in a clover-field, with machine-gun bullets cutting the top of the grass,
and shrapnel breaking all around, the field covered with dead and dying, I
thought of what you used to tell me, “Keep a stiff upper lip, boy.”
Well, I did. So with a prayer on my lips (it wasn’t the first one that day by any
means) I made a dash for it and gained the woods safely.”
A wounded Marine being evacuated from Belleau Wood.
June 6 1918, Belleau Wood–The Americans had only “just got here” when they began a counterattack against the Germans. At 5PM on June 6, the Marines advanced on Belleau Wood across an open wheatfield behind a relatively anemic rolling barrage. John Thomason recalled that
[They] attacked across the open, losing hideously. Platoons were shot down entire….They gained a footing in the rocky ledges at the edge of the Bois de Belleau, suffering much from what was believed to be a machine-gun nest at this point. They tried to leave it and go on, with a containing force to watch it; they found that the whole wood was a machine-gun nest.
With the Marines was the journalist Floyd Gibbons, who had rushed there from Paris that day just in time for the battle. Gibbons would be seriously wounded in the battle; thinking he had died of his wounds, his piece on the battle was let past the censors unaffected. In a later memoir, Gibbons recalled:
[Sgt. Daly read the order] quickly, then glanced along the line of the dug-in platoon. He stood up and made a forward motion to his men. There was slight hesitation. Who in the hell could blame them? Machine gun and rifle bullets were kicking up the dirt, closer and closer. The sergeant ran out to the center of his platoon – he swung his bayoneted rifle over his head with a forward sweep. He yelled at his men: “Come on, you sons-of-bitches! Do you want to live forever?”
The Marines would take the town of Bouresches, but the Germans held on to most of Belleau Wood itself, and close-quarters fighting would continue for nearly three weeks, the Marines only being briefly relieved (by other Americans). An American staff officer ordered his liaison with the French: “On that question of relief, leave that matter entirely to the French. Do not insist on any relief. The reports that we have show that conditions are not very bad.” The Marine brigade suffered over 1000 casualties on the first day, and nearly ten times that number over the following weeks.