Category: war

“October 18-20 1918 – Still bad weather …

“October 18-20 1918 – Still bad weather so I hugged the
stove they put at the post. Evacutation to ligineres today.  Austria threatens to surrender and Germany
wants to parlez longer. The Belgians, French and English have taken Zeebrugge and have reached the Holland border.”

American ambulance driver in the Argonne sector – Google map of his route – Arthur B Eddy’s diary – Orleans County Department of History
Photo: October 1918, a thawing out party in the Argonne forest, France – The National
WW1 Museum and Memorial

                                              …

                                                                     C’est fini! Almost…

‘October
14 1918 – Today we heard the great news of the beginning of the end of war. For
the past week rumors have been spread around concerning peace. Yesterday
morning, on one of my trips I passed a lieut who hollered to me “C’est la fin
de la guerre! The Boche haven’t fired a shot since midnight!
” I took his words
for it and continued toward the front. Just after I passed Cheppy, one of Jerry’s
whistlers passed over my machine and lit the mud on the side… Well, anyway, it
spoiled my happy dream of an
armistice. But after reading today’s paper, I cannot help feeling that the war
has reached its last lap.’

American
ambulance driver’s diary, in the Meuse Argonne sector – Diary of Allison LePontois  Crile
Archive Center
– Photo: 1918, American soldier in France reading good news –   The National WW1 Museum and Memorial

The news for October 13-14
1918 – The Germans accept the Armistice
terms proposed by President Wilson. They also engage in a general retreat
along the Western Front in France stretching from the Northern sector to the Argonne Forest, and abandon positions along the Belgian
coas
t, as the French, American, British
and Belgian armies steadily advance.

                                              …

                                                             Good Morning!

WW1 Awesome American soldiers’ morning routine at camp.

“Wednesday October 2 1918 – “The news is…

“Wednesday October 2 1918 – “The news is marvelous –
Bulgarian has consented to a complete surrender – St Quentin and Cambrai have
been partly taken by the allies – Turkey’s fall is imminent. How can the
Germans hold on?”

Indeed, German military commander Hindenburg, could not have
agreed more! In his memoirs, he wrote about the Meuse-Argonne
offensive: “It was plain that this situation could not last. Our armies
were too weak and too tired. Moreover, the pressure which the American masses
were putting on our most sensitive point in the region of the Meuse was too
strong
.”

American ambulance driver’s diary in the Meuse Argonne
sector – Arthur B Eddy’s WW1 diary – Orleans County Department of History – Photo: 1918,  German prisoners in Argonne. Argonne 14-18

                                              …

                                                         Struggling through the Argonne

“Every man who served in the regiment will have many pictures
like this in his mind – trucks, caisons, fourgons, and “slat
wagons”, struggling along through the mud and long, straggling lines of
engineer and pioneer infantry lads carrying German shell baskets full of rocks
and dumping them into the mud-holes.”

Note: in
the Meuse-Argonne sector, the roads across No Man’s Land were almost
impassable and ammunition, food & water supplies moved very slowly. Even the Ford ambulances experienced difficulty
in getting to the dressing stations.

Text & photo: early October 1918, Argonne, France History of the 113th Field
Artillery 30th Division

One of the very best books about the epic Meuse-Argonne offensive: To Conquer Hell: The
Meuse-Argonne, 1918 The Epic Battle That Ended the First World War

“October 1st 1918 – Nearly every crossro…

“October 1st 1918 – Nearly every crossroads
is heavily mined and tho the engineers
move just behind the attacking waves to discover them and render them harmless, still many mines are left
to be exploded later by a horse’s hoof, a wagon wheel or a foot, causing numerous deaths and leaving huge holes.
Generally the mines are so laid that a piece of wire
when pulled or disturbed will detonate them tho often they are timed to explode
after a certain number of hours. We saw many Belgians grouped around horses who
had been killed by mines from which they carved off large lump of steaks.”

American ambulance driver’s diary in Belgium – The Compensations
of War
– Photos: October 1st 1918, mines on roads & streets in Noyon,
Northern France, not far from the Belgium border. See Google mapLa Contemporaine

“Our soldiers are brave but …

“Our
soldiers are brave but when they see a bottle of wine, they just cannot resist; they
have to have one bottle, then two, three, ect.  But it’s true that water is scarce, and wine always plentiful…”

WW1 French soldier’ letters – Lettres de guerre 1914 1918 – Photo: WW1 French soldier drinking game.

‘September 26 1918 – Roads and bridges w…

September 26 1918 – Roads and bridges were completely obliterated by
shelling. All that remained were craters, trenches, and belts of barbed wire. Working feverishly
through darkness and shelling, the bridge and road-building companies
reached the jump-off line at zero hour — 5:30 a.m. The sustained
bombardment had so paralyzed the defenders that the assault troops met practically no resistance. Two engineer companies
went over the top with the infantry. Organized into squads of wire
cutters, they opened gaps through the barbed wire and mopped up hostile dugouts and
trenches. Then, these engineers fought as riflemen for the next four days.’

The start of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, France – The photo is
captioned “H Hour, troops at the Forges River at Daybreak. Jumping off
place of the Argonne Drive, Company B Bridge Bethincourt. 9-26-18.
” It shows American engineers & soldiers standing at a bridgehead on the morning of the start of the
Meuse-Argonne Offensive. 

Sources: History 80th Division, AEF The Military Engineer The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, YouTube

                                              …

                                                                 A Million Dollar Barrage

‘At 11 o’clock that night, September 25th, a signal gun barked
fardown the line. The gunners of every battery were at their posts, lanyards in
hand, and on the instant they pulled.

That
has become known in the army as “the million dollar barrage,” because
enlisted men figured it must have cost at least that much. Whatever it cost, no
man in that great army ever had heard the like. There had been talk in the war
of a bombardment “reaching the intensity of drum fire.” No drums the
world ever has heard could have provided a name for that bombardment. It was
overwhelming in the immensity of its sound, as well as in its effect. There
were 3,000 guns on the whole front.

Toward
morning, the twelve ugly, snub-nosed weapons of the 103d Trench Mortar Battery,
added their heavy coughing to the monstrous serenade which rent the night. They
were in position well up to the front, and their great bombs were designed to
cut paths through the enemy barbed wire and other barriers so the infantry
could go forward with as little trouble as possible.’

Sept 25-26 1918, the Meuse-Argonne
Offensive, the final Allied offensive of WW1 – The Iron Division: National Guard of Pennsylvania in the
World War
– Photo: Fall 1918, American tir de barrage in the Argonne
forest.

Fine YouTube video: The Meuse-Argonne Offensive

                                   ‘You know, …

                                   ‘You know, it doesn’t
do to take this war too seriously
.’

“It
was a great saying, a philosophy which had kept men sane. Without laughter,
somehow, anyhow, by any old jokes, we should have lost the war
long ago. The only way to avoid deadly depression was to keep smiling. And so, for laughter’s sake and to keep normal in abnormal ways of life, there was a great
unconscious conspiracy of cheerfulness among men.”

The 54th Infantry Brigade, 1914-1918: Some Records of Battle
and Laughter in France
– Photo: WW1, in Bazentin-le-Petit, Northern France, British soldiers’ big smile.