The Argonne

HISTORY OF THE 305th Infantry
Frank Tiebout

Chapter 7




THE Western Front, since the Autumn of 1914, bad been a great face protruding into France and frowning upon the Allied armies. The brow rested on the English Channel near Dunkerque, the features extending generally south to a point where the chin in September protruded as far as Noyon, in the direction of Paris. Thence the jaw ran eastward past Soissons and Rheims to Verdun, whence the neck was drawn southeast toward the quiet of the Lorraine front. What might have been likened to the Adam's apple had been painfully amputated at St. Mihiel by the first American Army early in the month of September.

That First American Army, of which the 77th Division was now a part, was to strike a blow at the jaw of the great German face. Since July 18th, the French, British, Americans and Belgians, under the general command of Marechal Foch, had been hammering the Boche on his soft spots, using up his reserve patience and strength. The time was ripe for a knockout blow on the jaw, the major objective being the railroads running through Mezieres to Metz and Luxembourg, one of the enemy's great supply routes.

The German front at this time has also been likened to a gigantic door, the hinges of it secured at Mezieres, swinging open at Belgium and the northern coast. As long as the hinges held, the great door might be closed in the face of an intruder. It was the task of the First Army to smash the hinges, and break down the door!

It did.

It was not until the night of September 25th, as the First and Second Battalions were quietly taking their places at the jump-off on the Le Four de Paris-La Fille Morte line that we realized our show was to be only a part of the greatest battle of the war. From Verdun to the Belgian Coast the Allied armies were to attack. Stunned by surprise and the savagery of that initial onslaught in the morning fogs of September 26th the foe recoiled, though fighting tenaciously, bitterly, treacherously, until utterly routed and crying quits in the first week of November. Not only had their life-saving railroads through Mezieres been cut by long range artillery, but were almost within the actual grasp of the Allied armies!

No one had any hallucinations now about visiting "the big town." Yet, this bad all the earmarks of a quiet sector. Only a few shells winged their way in now and then. Nobody would clamor loudly for a rest camp if they could be allowed to spend Christmas here performing the ordinary routine duties of a defensive position. After months of mud and squalor wouldn't you like to step from a moonlit balcony through a door-a real, honest-to-goodness door with a knob on it and panes of glass-into your own private hallway, and after investigating the back passage which led to a bomb-proof deep in the bowels of the defending hillside, turn into your own room, a room with latticed window, stone fireplace, electric lights, real furniture, the heavy beams in wall and ceiling painted white, the panels a cool gray and topped by a frieze of dainty cut-outs from La Vie Parisienne?
This was the strongest, the most unique and comforting system of trenches one could imagine. In the early days of the war, the wavering lines had come to rest at this point. Attempts at gain by either side through the heavily wooded, deep ravines and abrupt ridges of the forest had proved futile and costly.

Black, gloomy, forbidding, this largest expanse of woodland between the Mediterranean and the Rhine stretches a distance of thirty-nine kilometers from Passevant and Beaulieu in the south, with the big town of St. Menehould in its southern confines, to Grand-Pre and the valley of the River Aire on the north. On the eastern edge of the forest are Varennes, Mont-blainville, Cornay and St. Juvin. On its western boundary are the towns of Binarville, Lancon and Grand Ham. For four years the upper twenty-two kilometers of it, held by the enemy, was a region of dark mystery, its densely wooded hills and ravines, swamps, brooks, marshland, tangled underbrush, trailing vines and briars adapted by them into a vast, impregnable fortress.

From time immemorial, the Argonne had proved a stumbling-block to military operations. Julius Caesar went around it; Napoleon avoided it; in this war, neither Germans nor French could push all the way through it; it remained for Alexander to conquer. Four years of desultory shelling, just enough to let the other side know that the fight was still on, four years of occasional raids and minor actions had carved out of the forest a long stretch of bald and barren ridges, splintered trunks, yawning shell-pits-a scarred and battered wreckage of landscape. All life at first glance seemed extinct.
But here were the evidences of incredible labor. Officers and non-coms. who crept stealthily forward to the P. P.'s and listening posts found a torn, twisted and tortuous maze of earthworks, caverns, pits, dugouts, emplacements and barriers-outposts which were scarcely more than shellholes in which man still dared to eke out a precarious existence. Here he was, out of sight-a grim and silent poilu, Chauchat gunner or sentinel watching from his hidden recess for signs of enemy activity, shifting his position ever so carefully from time to time, speaking at rare intervals to one of his fellows in the merest whisper, cautioning the American up there on observation to utter no word of English, lest the Germans sense the impending attack.

Peering timorously over a parapet one might see, not more than thirty yards off in places, the German trenches crouching low behind their mountains .of rusted and barbed wire entanglements, cheveaux de frise, refuse, tin cans, broken bits of materiel and equipment, wire and more wire. Lanes would have to be cut through all of that before the attacking troops could hope to pass.

Perpendicular to the front, each one carefully mapped and named, the boyaus or connecting trenches clambered abruptly down into the ravines, then labored up over the ridges, many of them carved with steps into the solid rock and camouflaged, leading to the support systems and beyond. Here, daily work by the very few men necessary had by degrees made the trenches almost perfect. Nouveau Cottage, the elaborate concrete residence of the sector commander, was an underground chateau-a palace, it seemed to us then.

The greater part of the men were held in readiness further back past a series of wooded and slippery ridges, where the forest had not been blasted out of existence by shell-fire. Some of them found comparative comfort on a forward slope in wide, deep trenches shaded by tall and stately trees. Others were quartered in reserve in a camp on the reverse slopes at La Chalade, where it seemed as though every group which had ever occupied that position had contributed of its ingenuity and resource to make the spot more restful and inviting to the tired troops who might come after. Only by a process of evolution through many seasons could that little city have been built in the wilderness. Beautiful dugouts, walks, stairways, balconies, kitchens, baths -even an open-air theatre; an electric light plant; furniture, hangings, bric-a-brac, and even pianos in some of the huts! It was Heaven, after all the bloodshed, misery and disappointment we had been through.

Many a poker game was broken up by stories the sergeants brought back from the front-that a drive was about to start which would mean the end of the war, and that many an extra first-aid man would be on the job. Hurried letters were written to the folks at home. Vigorous preparation for the on-slaught ensued, two extra bandoliers of ammunition, hand grenades, rifle grenades, wire cutters being issued-everything convenient to kill a man with. A copious supply of cigarettes, bounty of the Auxiliary, helped. Everything in the way of equipment, excepting rifle, belt and bayonet, gas mask, slicker and combat pack was turned in.

Our ranks had been depleted by deaths, wounds and illness. While officers and platoon sergeants were assembled at headquarters for their thrilling instructions, a welcome issue of replacements was received from the 40th Division. Most of these new men had been in civilian clothes on the Pacific Coast in July. They had had almost no practice with the gas mask. Very few of them, if any, had ever thrown a live grenade. Some had fired not more than fifteen rounds with the service rifle. A Camp Upton veteran actually collected a five-franc note for teaching one of his new comrades how to insert a clip, and thought he had pulled a good one! What he expected to do in the-woods with a five-franc note, no one knew; yet it was just as safe in one pocket as another. About fifty, went to each company, though when M Company hopped the bags, it comprised one sergeant, one corporal, forty men skilled, in the care and handling of horses, and a hundred and fifty recruits. Thank God, most of them were from the woods and could ordinarily dust the eye of a squirrel at fifty yards. They were quick to absorb the pointers handed out by the older men though what we were to buck up against, Methuselah, for all his years, could not have taught. It had not been tried before. These inexperienced men were just as well off as others. They had the proper, spirit, which was the only real equipment necessary.

The moon was rising when the Second Battalion, under command of Captain Eaton, filed out of Le Claon whither it had been withdrawn a few nights before into the woods, past the burning house and popping ammunition dump ignited by shell fire, through La Chalade, with its gaunt spectral church, through Nouveau Cottage, where the last hot meal was due and which was not forthcoming, through the winding boyaus and up to the forward lines on the Route Marchand. It was to lead the attack followed in close support by the First Battalion and then the Third. On our left was the 306th Infantry, in column of Battalions also. The Division was to attack in line of regiments.

All night the men clung to that steep hillside, or herded into the dugouts awaiting the "zero" hour, while from their midst heavy mortars in the hands of the French played havoc with the German wire. Back on the roads paralleling the front the artillery was massed hub to hub. Shortly after midnight their pandemonium broke loose; the steady roar of great guns was deafening, terrifying. Jerry must have thought a whole ammunition dump was coming at him.

The chill September air was blue with fog and smoke and powder, the dawn, Just breaking as the silent columns filed up through the steep boyaus toward, the jumping-off places, ready to go over the top with only raincoats and rations for baggage, armed to the teeth, and more thrilled than ever Guy Empey thought he was. This was just what we had all read about long before America got into the war; this was just what the home folks doubtless imagined us to be doing every day. Could anyone who was there ever forget the earnest, picturesque figures with their grim-looking helmets, rifles and bayonets sharply silhouetted against the eastern sky; the anxious consultation of watches; the thrill of the take-off; the labored advance over a No Man's Land so barren, churned, pitted and snarled as to defy description; the towering billows of rusty, clinging wire; the flaming signal rockets that sprayed the heavens - the choking, blinding smoke and fog and gas that drenched the valleys, and then-one's utter amazement at finding himself at last within the German stronghold which during four years had been thought impregnable! This was certainly a long way from New York!
A few corpses lay strewn about in the wreckage of emplacement, camp or dugout; a few dazed and willing prisoners were picked up here and there; but for the most part the Boches had fled, their only resistance being a feeble shell fire, machine gunning and sniping. They had pulled out as rapidly as possible-all who were not blown off the earth by that first blast of fire at midnight-to their second line of defense.

Despite the intensity of the shelling, the maze of wire revealed no open avenues and there was difficulty in keeping up with our own rolling barrage as it swept over the ground before us at the rate of a hundred meters in five minutes. Pieces of cloth and flesh staved with the rusty, clinging barbs; a number of men were impaled on spikes cleverly set for that very purpose. With difficulty the leading and supporting waves were reformed in line of gangs" or small combat groups before plunging on into the ravines, there to become lost or separated from their fellows until after climbing to some high point above the sea of fog they might determine again the direction of advance by a consultation of map and compass and a consideration of whatever landmarks rose above the clouds.

No concerted resistance was met with until about noon, after three kilometers of wooded terrain had been covered. There a stubborn machine gun resistance and a heavy shell fire persuaded the Second Battalion, reinforced by companies of the First, to dig in while they spread their panels on the ground to indicate to the Liberty planes overhead the point of farthest advance. At last we were to get some assistance from the air! Casualties there had been in great numbers from enemy shelling and from lurking snipers; but like North American Indians, we continued to stalk our prey from tree to tree.

With difficulty the scattered units were gathered together from all points of the compass. Here and there a little "gang" had had its thrilling experience. The scout, whose trying duty it is to advance far in the lead to observe or-failing in that-to draw fire from the hidden ambush, had detected a skulking sniper or hidden machine gun post. Signalling to his fellows, the rifle grenadiers had perhaps planted their missiles within the enemy nest, the automatic rifle had been noiselessly carried to a point of vantage, the riflemen and bombers had surrounded the group of the enemy and with their fire routed him out.

How these men learn to work together in their own little "gangs"-four such units constituting a platoon-and how they sometimes come to love their old weapons is suggested by the homely statement of a private in B Company who says, "I had my most experience on a Shawshaw gun, and number one and two men got wounded. Walter and Jim and I took the gun and held the position and got a helper from the same platoon and he got wounded and I held the position until I was called back by my sergeant and took up another position and held it until we moved out and never got wounded at all and all we had to eat is one can of corn willie and two cans of hard tack for two of us. But we got along with it and while on the front I used two mussets of ammu-nition on the Germans and my gun got hot and my gun got hit in the stalk and split it, but I carried it all along in the Argonne drive where I got gassed and had to lend it to some other boys in the platoon."

The American doughboy is a curious bird. He wanders along most casually under shellfire, feeling-if he thinks about anything at all-that he stands as good a chance as anyone of not being hit. In the midst of what one might ordinarily consider fairly important or distracting duties all his thought is for something else. "Oh, Lieutenant, looka here," he says in the midst of an attack, pointing out some unusual bit of concrete trench in the German lines. He is more absorbed with his guess as to the number of nights someone has had to spend there in digging, than the probability of its holding a company of lurking Boches. Presently another one off on the right says, "Oh, Lieutenant, looka here." There are about seventeen fat Germans stand-ing outside a lovely dugout but all eyes are on the dugout instead of on the Germans.

"Keep out of that dugout! Search 'em, quick," gasps the Lieutenant, fearing treachery-which they do, mindful only of the envied Luger automatic pistols they are to acquire. The prisoners are lined up, and one slightly wounded American private detailed to take them to the rear.

"Come along, youse, " he says, lighting up a cigarette, and making as if to start off at the head of the willing column, with the sling of his rifle over his shoulder and chest.

"Wait a moment; I want to speak to you," yells the worried lieutenant, who then whispers in the doughboy's ear, " Unwind that rifle from your throat so you can use it.
" Yessir. Giddap, youse Heinies! "
" Comeback here," shouts Mr. Officer once again. "What the Hell do you think you're on-a picnic Don't turn your back on that column! Get behind 'em I "
" Yessir, good idea," and off he wanders.

A strong outguard having been posted against the possibility of counterattack in the night, and reliefs arranged, the remaining men crouch in the slime of their miserable funk holes, cursing the cold, clammy drizzle, and shivering themselves into fitful sleep under the meagre protection of an army rain-coat, gas mask slung in readiness, helmet covering one ear, rifle loaded, locked and in instant readiness. Perhaps it is arranged that two will occupy the one hole - one man constantly on the alert, and so on down the entire line. At dawn they stretch their aching limbs, a warming fire not to be thought of, with no expectation of a hot meal; for there are no roads as yet open to the pursuing cookers. Nothing in view but the prospect of another day of advance.

On the evening of the 27th a determined though unsuccessful attack was launched against the strong positions on the extreme right of our line, at the Carrefour des Meurissons. Into a pocket which the enemy had cleared out of the brush two companies unwarily advanced before meeting up with a barricade of unexpected chicken wire. just at that moment, the machine guns opened up from three sides. Why those companies were not blown to atoms cannot be said. Night put a damper on further attempts, from which we desisted until morning. After our third costly attack on this point the enemy broke and ran. On the left, the Abri St. Louis fell to the Three Hundred and Fifth after four attacks.

Through the Abri du Crochet and a bit beyond, the front was extended on the, night of the 28th, the Regiment finding the brush even more thick- almost impenetrable. For units to advance in attack formation and to keep proper contact with each other was well nigh impossible. The kitchens succeeded in moving up by road to the Abri, which was consoling, and carrying parties were furnished by those in support. Where breathes the good soldier who hasn't breathed yet more deeply at the sight of the old chow-engine, or whose magnetic hand has not at times pilfered a can of jam from the larder? Did you ever threaten to raid the kitchen and the defending cooks with hand grenades? You certainly caused enough anxiety with your determination to congregate in their vicinity.

Here was an ideal place for Regimental Headquarters to operate. When advance elements first entered these palatial German dugouts, there lay beside the telephone a partially decoded message in German, forwarded of course with all speed to the Divisional Intelligence Department. But the real haul consisted of many bottles of " Selzwasser " and some light wines which Lieutenant Poire, being an expert on such things, decided to sample lest the unwitting Americans stumble into any trick stuff. That was the last seen of the wines. Nothing further was heard of them but the gurgle. But the Colonel's mess that night boasted of freshly cooked rabbit, fresh vegetables and head lettuce, all of which had been in the course of preparation for the absent German dignitary's evening meal.

On the 1st our front was extended to the left by companies of the First and Third Battalions, taking over ground previously held by the 306th, which brought them into the high, wooded ground of the Bois de la Naza, and in front of a ravine which extended from the west up toward the center of the line. G, E and F Companies also went into positions on the left, and H was rushed over to the extreme right flank of the Division. Sector, to fill in a gap that was not closed by the 28th Division. The undergrowth in this portion of the forest was so dense that individuals could in some places with difficulty worm their way unobserved to within a few yards of the enemy by making extraordinarily careful use of cover, and by patiently avoiding the small clearings or traps cut in the forest by the Germans, where a false move would be certain to call forth enemy fire, point blank. An examination of these positions after they had been taken showed that the murderous machine gun fire which halted the advance was delivered from a line of gun pits at intervals of not more than twenty feet. During the initial advance, our men proceeded in thin lines and in combat groups to the very tip of these well hidden positions and were there mowed down.

That troops could subsequently push up to within a very few yards of the German gunners without detection-and likewise without being able actually to see the enemy-seems remarkable; and yet, the extreme right company actually dug for protection while a searching machine gun fire sprayed through the brush, at a range of only thirty yards. It was accomplished only by extending into skirmish order and patiently, inch by inch, one man at a time, crawling ever closer and closer to the enemy until fired at point blank by the opposing gunners-then digging for dear life.

Both sides maintained an almost constant rifle and machine gun fire, although for the most part our men failed to appreciate the demoralizing effects of a grazing fire, taught as they were to aim at definite targets. This the enemy seemed to estimate of great value, for our positions were swept by an almost constant fire. It can easily be understood how difficult it was to promulgate orders for subsequent operations, or to distribute food. To provide drinking water, one man would painstakingly crawl from one hole to another collecting on a stick a dozen or so canteens which he would bear to some point in rear. Movement or noise of any kind seemed to draw forth a raking fire of greater intensity than usual.

Naturally, the runners led a precarious existence. The right company had made an effort to swing forward the far extremity of its line, pivoting on the left. The air was blue with bullets. In the midst of all the hullaballoo a runner squirmed forward to the company commander who at that moment lay on his stomach, his gas mask slung over his back instead of his chest, that he might place himself just those three inches nearer the ground. Surely it must be a message of great tactical importance demanding that a soldier jeopardize his life to effect its prompt delivery! Breathless, wounded in the canteen, the brave lad banded over the vital message which ran like this: "You will send at once to Battalion Headquarters a man who will be detailed to attend a School for the Care and Handling of Army Asses."

Constant patrolling was necessary in order to maintain the closest sort of contact, to learn at once not only of any offensive operation on the enemys' part, but also of any withdrawal or maneuvering of their troops. Patrols of another nature were necessary, too-searching for those who failed to return. An adventure which was typical of many that happened in the Bois de la Naza was that of Sergeants Tompkins and Collins, Corporal Neitziet and Private Arkman of L Company who crawled forward to within ten yards of the enemy guns, weathered the fire and the "potato-masher" hand grenades thrown in their direction, and carried to safety three wounded comrades who had been ambushed during an attempted advance. They were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

" We took Chaplain Johnson out on patrol," writes the F Company scribe, "looking for snipers. One of the men salvaged a German rifle and while looking it over almost blew off the Chaplain's head. We got no snipers that time, but did get a bunch of blankets, which the boys were glad to have. The Chaplain was game, and was always in the thick of it, comforting the wounded, and seeing to it that the dead got as decent a burial as possible." Both of the chaplains had plenty of work to do and contributed greatly to the maintenance of morale, during those trying days. We have seen funerals on the battlefield; we have seen funerals in French towns, magnificent with trappings, pomp and professional mourners. Yet there was never one more impressive than that of Private Morgan of H Company, killed by the accidental explosion of hand grenades which he carried. In the first light of a chill October morning a group of his comrades gathered 'round as the poor boy's body was interred, while his Corporal extemporaneously uttered a homely, heartfelt prayer.

For the better part of four days, we strove against these positions. Artillery could not be used to advantage because of the proximity of our lines to those of the enemy and the likelihood of short bursts in the treetops. "The American Army never retreats," and those higher up would not consider for a moment withdrawing troops while a sudden barrage might be laid down. We prayed for that artillery, but got precious little such assistance. Rifle grenades fouled in the trees. Stokes mortars were brought into play, and captured German "grenatenwerfer" were used by the Mortar Platoon with damaging effect on the enemy. But, in order to register accurately, it was necessary for an observer to be on the spot-not thirty, nor fifty, nor a hundred yards back, but within a very few yards of where the shells were calculated to land. On October 3d, such a barrage of Stokes mortars was attempted. The German fire was heavy and incessant. Sergeant Sustick of L Company volunteered to crawl forward to observe the effects of our fire. He therefore came not only under the fire of the enemy, but was virtually within our own mortar barrage. For that he, too, was decorated.

The 2d of October brought forth a succession of bloody attacks on various parts of the line. Those in higher command could not or would not appreciate the unspeakable difficulties of the situation and demanded that the opposition be shattered at once. On the 3d, Captain Eaton with E, F and G Companies had, under orders from authority higher than the Regimental Commander, taken over, man for man, positions from the 306th in the Ravine de la Fontaine aux Charmes, facing the northern slopes which came to be known as Dead Man's Hill or Suicide Hill. At this juncture, before any tactical redisposition of the men could be effected, a Marine Major had come forward in the capacity of Corps Inspector to investigate the delay, had removed Captain Eaton because his men were huddled into a ravine, and reported that the Three Hundred and Fifth were "soldiering"-lying down on the job! This was rank injustice to a very able leader and to the poor devils who had been crawling around on their empty bellies for a week, seeing their comrades dropping like flies. They were incensed.

In the afternoon these companies under command of Captain "Bill" Mack stormed the hill. It was the same old story. F Company alone suffered over fifty casualties in that one afternoon. The right of the line under command of Major Harris, who was carrying on despite a broken collarbone, attacked repeatedly an impregnable line of machine guns. There we got artillery support but it fell short and must have knocked out as many of our own men as those of the enemy. Brigadier General Wittenmyer, "Old Witt," as the boys affectionately called him, and who fears nothing under the sun, came forward himself to lead the attack in person. The dead lay thick in the brambles and shrubbery; the wounded came back in droves. All night the ambulances labored to evacuate the casualties of that brief attack as fast as the dressing station could put them through. Over three hundred men had been killed, were missing, or were so badly wounded that they could not eventually rejoin. Here again, the Sanitary Detachment did heroic work under fire. At seven o'clock the next morning the last three men were trundled off in a brave little Ford ambulance, and the General, Old War Horse that he is, sat down in his head-quarters, mopped his brow and is reported to have said, "Well, anyone who, says he likes war is either a damn fool or a damn liar."

An account of the attack by an F Company boy reads: "At 3.30 we lined up our gangs and started over that most terrible hill. We were at once under direct machine gun fire, the worst yet, and it seemed as if the air was so full of bullets that a man could not move without being bit. A man standing upright would have been riddled from head to foot. That's what happened to Lieutenant Gardner, leading E Company. We were approaching the crest of Suicide Hill, advancing very slowly on our bellies. The only order that could be heard was 'Forward,' and Company F was game. It was awful. The poor boys were getting slaughtered as fast as sheep could go up a plank. No one could ever describe the horror of it. The screams of the wounded were terrible, but we stuck to it. We could not see a Boche; once in a while one would stick his head out of his machine gun emplacement only to his sorrow. We were supposed to go over with a rifle grenade barrage; but we fired off all we had and the effect was too weak. What we really wanted was a violent artillery barrage but never did they throw a shell. Our commander, Lieutenant Hever, got hit in the lung, and that left us without any officers; it was every man for himself. The Boches made our company look like a squad; all that was left was a handful of men."

In justice to Captain Eaton, be it said in large type, that he was almost immediately exonerated by a Court of Inquiry and returned to his command, greatly envied for the brief breathing spell he had enjoyed at Le Claon.

On the 5th and 6th, these positions were taken over by the 306th. On the 7th, pressure on the flanks succeeded in squeezing out the resistance. Tired units were drawn into the comfortable retreat at Abri du Crochet for a couple of days of bathing and hot food, and for the absorption of a new batch of officers recently commissioned from the Regular Army Divisions, whose only equipment seemed to be comfort kits and Sam Browne belts. the selection of an orderly in some instances being the subject of far more concern than making the acquaintance of a new platoon, or familiarizing themselves with the maps of the region. That sounds a little bit unappreciative - for they were in reality a corking bunch of officers who jumped into their new duties with vigor and vim and quickly endeared themselves to officers and men alike. If the roll were called today, a great number of them would be found to have paid the price.

The lines which a member of the Machine Gun Company wrote of his Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Frank T. Montgomery, who was killed in the Bois de la Naza, might also have been said of many another.



He's younger than the most of us-far younger than the "Top," And, bein' young, he's full of pep and keeps us on the hop; He hasn't been in long enough to sour on the game; He's tickled as a kid with it-that's why we bless his name.

He puts us through all sorts of stunts to liven up the drill, He laughs when he turns corners sharp and takes a muddy spill. It's up and in it all the time-he never seems to tire, And doesn't know what ducking means in face of Fritz's fire!

He always calls us " fellows "-never pulls the line " My men He likes to think he's one of us; and back in billets, when He has to make inspections, he'll sit down and chin a while, And as to all that "Yes Sir" stuff, " Oh, can it!" That's his style.

At shows he plays his uke for us, and sings his college glees, And if there's a piano, wow! He sure can pound the keys! On hikes he always starts a song, or sends along a laugh- And those are things, you darn well know, that help us stand the gaff.

I never cared for college guys when I was in the States; I thought they were a messy lot, a bunch of underweights; But if our Loot's a sample, why, I've got to change my mind -He's got the sand, the bean and go to pull us through the grind!

To be dragged out of a hell-hole, considerably the worse for wear, cold, muddy and hungry, and back into a sheltering ravine out of reach of the German machine guns, though not yet beyond shell fire, was great. After the first shave in ten days and a night's sleep under a stray piece of corrugated iron, what ho!-one is a man again. But some fared better even than that. " On the reverse slopes of these hills," quoting from the 7 7th Division History, "huge deep dugouts had been constructed-one of the famous rest areas of the German armies, where battle-worn and weary Boches were taken to fatten up and recover morale amidst amazing comforts and luxuries. On the heights above these dugouts, more pretentious abodes had been built for officers and non-commissioned officers. These were of concrete, with logs and concrete roofing, twenty feet in depth, and were ornamented to resemble Swiss chalets and Black Forest hunting lodges with peaked roofs and exterior fresco work of burnt oak. Within were oak wainscoted chambers, fitted with electric lights and running water, supplied from the power house in the valley below. Benches and tables in rustic solid oak were supplemented by plush arm-chairs and hair mattresses to cater to the comforts of weary warriors. Adjoining "Waldhaus Martha" was the bowling alley with the open-air restaurant and beer garden built above it, where once sat the onlookers, quaffing their beer, perhaps, and cheering the bowlers. Down in the ravine where the brook ran was the great concrete swimming pool, and here, also, were found spacious shower baths supplied with hot water by modern boilers and concrete furnaces. These baths, you can bet, were put to immediate use.

The advance over the next six kilometers by the remainder of the Brigade was opposed only by shell fire. On the night of the 9th, it was announced that La Besogne had been taken; but when the entire Brigade, led by the 306th, took up the advance the next morning in column of squads, with Berlin as the objective, they found that a body of French had cut across the Division sector from the left and lay at some distance in the rear of the tiny hamlet dignified by such a beautiful name.

Some historian ' with a mania for painful detail, will some day point out with glee that for a few moments that morning the 77th was an attacking Division which had no front; for the French above referred to were joined up on their right with a battalion which had strayed beyond the limits of the 82d Division's sector. We hereby take the wind out of his sails.

The three battalions of the 306th having taken position to the front and west of Besogne, the First Battalion of the Three Hundred and Fifth became the attacking unit of the Brigade. It did a splendid piece of work that afternoon. The shelling had become very heavy. The attacking battalion of the 82d Division encountered on our right, which had become separated from the rest of its outfit, was literally cut to pieces and digging in. Gathering up portions of this scattered unit on his way, Major Metcalf delayed not a moment, but led his command rapidly through shellfire, through the positions of more or less demoralized troops to the Marcq-Chevieres line and succeeded in pushing patrols to the Aire. Lieutenant Clokey, though no more than partially recovered from a serious wound sustained on the Vesle, had returned to the Regiment just in time to be put in command of C Company and to enter the attack. With remarkable dash and vigor he led his company across two kilometers of open ground, under the full observation and heavy shell fire of the enemy, and extended his front so as to enter and hold the town of Marcq, going out of the Regimental sector to do so and then reaching the river. These positions were taken over by the 154th Brigade on the night of the 13th at which time the other elements of the Regiment were drawn back to the Pylon crossroads to the west of Cornay by a difficult night march. Though ready for a genuine rest, men had to be satisfied with the following:

Headquarters, 77th Div., 12 Oct., 1918.
General Order
No. 32
1. The following is published for the information of all concerned: 804/G3
Oct. 12, 1918. From: Commanding General, 1st Army Corps.
To: Commanding General, 77tb Division.
Subject: Commendation.
1. The Corps Commander directs me to inform you that he feels once more during the present operations called upon to express his gratification and appreciation of the work of the 77th Division.
2. This Division has been in the line constantly since the night of the 25th of September under circumstances at least as difficult as those which have confronted any other Division of the First Army.
3. In spite of these conditions your command has pushed steadily forward on a line with-the foremost and today, after eighteen days of constant fighting is still ready to respond to any demand made upon it.
4. The Corps Commander is proud indeed of such a unit as yours and congratulates you on such a command.
Chief of Staff.
Chief of Staff.

The 77th Division had cleaned out the Argonne Forest, but they had to go on.
The 14th was an eventful day and productive of a lasting difference of opinion. After it had weathered a night of heavy shell fire, an early morning barrage of great intensity and a counter attack, H Company certainly felt as if it had taken the town of St. Juvin and held it against vigorous opposition. However, credit for its capture has, in the Division History, officially gone to H Company of the 306th Infantry, and very little has been said of the part played therein by the Three Hundred and Fifth, which experienced all the thrills of approaching an enemy town under shell fire, mopping it up, hastily entrenching to defend it, sending back prisoners, and feeling very much alone in it during all the night of the 14th.

On that afternoon, the Second Battalion had been on the high ground behind Marcq in support of the 306th, which was to cross the river and take St. Juvin. General Wittenmyer in person had suddenly ordered Captain Dodge to lead his company by trails through the brush down to the River Aire, to advance and enter the town, followed by the rest of the battalion. Major Bennet, the Brigade Adjutant, guided the company north along the railroad to a foot bridge, which they crossed, single file, into the open meadows two kilometers southeast of the town. It was beautiful to see the men turn left, on command, and proceed north in line of gangs under a heavy shell fire, which the Boche with his perfect observation instantly opened up, and despite casualties to maintain their attack formation.

Into a sheltering ditch they flopped momentarily for breath. No moving troops had been seen to their front during this part of their advance. All set for a hand-to-hand scrap, they were surprised therefore to encounter at the bridge on the eastern limits of the town, which they entered at five-thirty, a number of German prisoners in the hands of American troops, men of the 306th who had succeeded in accomplishing an enveloping movement to the right, in the sector of the 82d Division. The shelling had ceased; it was evident that the Boches were loath to bombard the great numbers of their own troops who were still there.

Troops of the other regiment, it was said, were in the eastern edge of the town. Accordingly, H Company of the Three Hundred and Fifth divided into groups, proceeding through the streets of the center and western half, mopping up the cellars, clear to the northern limits. While engaged in this thrilling work, no other American troops were encountered, unless one excepts the drunken engineer whose helmet and gas mask were gone, whose only equipment was a Colt .45 stuck in the waistband of his breeches, and who wept, while pointing out the choicest wine cellars, because he hadn't taken any prisoners. They had all insisted upon running away from him, he said. It was after the sobering barrage which shortly occurred that he confessed to having found some pretty good stuff back in Marcq, and that after the bridge on which he had been working was completed, he had sauntered forward into a town then completely dominated by the enemy, to see what the wine cellars there had to offer.

In the region of the church, and north of it, several groups of unresisting prisoners were taken, including three majors, one captain, one lieutenant, several non-coms, and about eighty men who were grouped with a large number turned over to us at the entrance to the town by the 306th, and sent to the rear in charge of one officer and a squad. There was no hand-to-hand fighting. The German soldiers had been told by their officers that an armis-tice would be in effect the next day, and were only too happy to fall into a column of squads and later, to serve as litter bearers-if someone would put in a good word for them.

None of the equipment taken from them could be listed. Prized trophies which the boys would now give a great deal for were hurriedly dumped into a heap, while the platoons sought to assemble and dig in on Hill 182, about seventy-five yards north of the town, just as night fell. The company numbered about sixty effectives, plus two guns of the 306th Machine Gun Company, 82d Division, which came up at nightfall and took position on our left. A patrol to the northwest on the Champigneulle road scared up some Germans who fled. Outpost No. 1 on Hill 182 located by nine-thirty at a considerable distance from its right, and slightly to the front, another small detachment of the 326th Machine Gun Company.

The enemy shells commenced to land upon our positions at about nine o'clock and continued to do so practically without cessation all through the night. Digging was difficult because of flying shell splinters; and it seemed as if the noise of pick and shovel brought a desultory rifle fire from the right front, bullets repeatedly grazing the parapets-which seriously disputes the presence of friendly troops on that quarter. In fact, H Company felt utterly alone. Sergeant Leopold, sent to the rear to give information in detail as to the situation and to ask that companies be disposed to defend the right and left, found no one in town, the walls of which by that time were rocking, and was interrupted in the carrying out of his mission by having to gather up single-handed, about forty more prisoners who at that inconvenient moment insisted upon shrieking " Kamarad!

At about ten o'clock, an officer of the 306th reached Captain Dodge and his executive lieutenant to ask about our dispositions and what was on the left. It was pointed out to the visitor that his company had not advanced to its objective; that there was nothing on our left. He was asked if possible to move up from the St. Juvin-St. Georges Road in order to help out in case of trouble. At about five o'clock in the morning it appeared that he was taking up position in old German trenches on Hill 182, on our right front, out of which those troops were shelled an hour or so later by the most intense barrage our men had ever experienced. The Germans loosed everything they had, finishing up with a rain of machine gun bullets and a feeble counter attack which was repelled. It cannot be said that there was any desperate fighting in and About St. Juvin although not a man was there who does not earnestly pray that he will never again have to live through such a nerve-wracking experience as that shell fire. This operation elicited the following commendation from General Alexander:

American E. F.
14 October, 1918.10:55 P. M.
General Order.

1. The Division Commander congratulates most heartily the troops of this division upon the successful result of operations, 14th October. A most difficult night march was necessary to place 153d Brigade in proper position to attack. This was done, the attack launched and the objective gained. In the course of the operations a large number of prisoners, including officers of superior rank, were taken by the 153d Brigade.

2. This success, coming as it does, in the course of a campaign which has already lasted eighteen days, made under circumstances which have tested to the limit the courage and endurance of the officers and men, demonstrates once more the indomitable spirit and courage of the officers and men of this division.

3. The Division Commander, reiterating the commendation already twice made of the work of this organization by the Corps Commander, feels that it is indeed an honor to command such troops.

Major-General, Commanding.
Transmitted to
Commanding Officers 305th and 306th Infs. and 305th M. G. Bn.
For information.

Captain, U. S. A.,
Operations Ogicer. H.Q. 153 Inf. Brig. 14th Oct. 10:55 P. M.

The remainder of the Battalions then got their nerves severely wracked. From a ditch southeast of town it was difficult enough for Regimental Headquarters to function, the place littered with the wounded, dying and dead, shells dropping all about from time to time. But it was even more difficult for troops to maneuver about the marshes and swamps of the Aire river-bed in which men were plastered from head to foot and their equipment irretrievably lost, buried under showers of black mud tossed skyward by the crumping 49 21o's." Extending its front to the west, toward nightfall, along the Crand-Pre road was another ghastly performance, rendered not a whit more delectable by the heavy rain, which fell, and which continued to fall during the entire night. The troops of the Third Battalion lay in just as uncomfortable a position on the hills to the east of the town.

Yet, this was one of the most happily expectant moments of our lives. The Division was to be relieved by the 78th! What did it matter if the rain came down in torrents? There was a rest a-coming. What did it matter if the-say, was there anyone there so utterly miserable that he didn't feel sorry for the poor old 78th as it crawled into those hopeless, inadequate positions beyond St. Juvin? Didn't you feel like apologizing when you offered that slimy funk hole along the roadside to the clean, well-fed youth who came to take it over! Didn't you beat it, though, back through the town in the early morning light, heedless of the rain, past that shambles at the entrance to St. Juvin, past all the dead men sitting upright in funk holes along the left-hand side of the road, past the wire and the huts and meagre uprootings all along that crest, past the old dressing station and the headquarters at the ditch -where you dropped off a few more men just then wounded during that very relief? It had been worth living through all the false rumors of relief just to realize the joy of that moment. After marching, marching, marching all day through sloppy mud that was ankle-deep, you approached the old German rest camp at Bouzon and Sachsenhain, far in the rear, where you would hear, thank Cod, only the occasional straying shell and pray that the bombing planes wouldn't come over too often.

A lieutenant wrote: "I stood at the foot of the trail leading into Camp de Bouzon watching the stream of faces that passed-white, weary faces which told more eloquently than words of the utter fatigue, the nerve-shattering strain, the loss of good comrades, the rains and the cold and the hunger of twenty-one days in the fighting-of twenty-four days in the line-of twenty-two kilos advance. Ragged, mud-caked, unshaven outcasts they seemed, scarcely able to plant one foot in front of the other, stumbling down the trail, eyes staring vacantly-hungry for sleep - bodies as hungry for shelter, warmth, baths and clean clothes as for hot food." They crawled into huts, or under pieces of old corrugated iron, sank at once into a stupor, unable to sleep, -and dreamed, perhaps:

Me!-a-leadin' a column!
Me!-that women have loved!
Me a-leadin' a column o' Yanks an' tracin' Her name in the stars.
Me that ain't seen the purple hills before all mixed in the skies.
With the gray dawn meltin' to azure there-,
Me, that ain't a poet, growin' poetic;
An' the flash o' the guns on the sky line,
An' red wine-an' France!
An' me laughin'-and War!
An' Slim Jim singin' a song;
An' a lop-eared mule a-kickin' a limber
An' axles 'thout no grease hollerin' "Maggie" at me!
Me, that women have loved-
An' War goin' on!

Mornin' comin',
An' me-a-leadin' a column
Along o' them from the College
Along o' them from the Streets,
An' them as had mothers that spiled them, and them as hadn't,-
Lovin' names in the stars,
An' Slim Jim singin' a song,
An' folks to home watchin' 'em, too,
An' Maggie, that never had loved me, lovin' me now,
An' thinkin' an' cryin' for me!-For me
that loved Maggie that never loved me till now.
With War goin' on!

Mornin' comin',
An' me-a-leadin' a column,
An' a town in the valley
Round the bend in the road,
An' Ginger strainin' his neck An' thinkin' o' Picket Lines-
An' me an' the rest o' them thinkin' o' Home and eggs down there
in the village,
An' Coney startin' to close at Home
An' Maggie mashed in a crowd-
An' me a-leadin' a column-
An' War goin' on!

Me that hollered for water,
With a splinter of Hell in my side,
Me that have laid in the sun a-cursin' the beggars an' stretchers
As looked like they'd never 'a' come;
Me that found God with the gas at my throat
An' raved like a madman for Maggie,
An' wanted a wooden cross over me!
Me-knowin' that some 'll be ridin' that's walkin' tonight
-Knowin' that some 'll never see Broadway again,
An' red wine
An' Little Italy,
An' Maggies like mine
-Me! a-murmurin' a prayer for Maggie
An' stoppin' to laugh at Slim,
An' shoutin', "To the right o' the road for the swoi-zant-canz!
Them babies that raises such Hell up the line,
An' marchin'
An' marchin' by night,
An' sleepin' by day,
An' France,
An' red wine,
An' me thinkin' o' Home,
Me-a-leadin' a column,-
An' War goin' on!
From "Up With the Rations, and Other Poems," By John Palmer Cumming, Sergeant, Supply Company.
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