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History Of The Third Battalion Sixth Regiment, U.S. Marines


COMPILED FROM THE OFFICIAL RECORDS KEPT BY THE BATTALION HISTORIAN— AND OPERATIONS REPORTS COVERING ALL OF THE ENGAGEMENTS IN WHICH THIS BATTALION PARTICIPATED
Lieut.-Colonel Berton W. Sibley Lieut.-Colonel Berton W. Sibley
Maps by the Battalion Intelligence Section
Published by
AKERS, MAC RITCHIE & HURLBUT
Hillsdale, Michigan
1919

The Third Battalion of the Sixth Regiment was organized at Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, August 1, 1917, with Major Berton W. Sibley in command. The companies composing the battalion were the 82nd, Captain Dwight F. Smith commanding; the 83rd, Captain Albert R. Sutherland commanding; the 84th, Captain Harry G. Bartlett commanding; and the 97th, Captain Robert W. Voeth commanding. The roster of officers at time of embarkation for overseas was as follows:

 
STAFF
Sibley, Berton W. — Major
Commanding
Hicks, Frederick I. — Second Lieutenant
Battalion Adjutant

Organized with Company Commanders and senior non-commissioned officers from the old Marine Corps school of experience and junior officers and men from the recruit depot at Paris Island, S. C. and Mare Island, California, the training of the battalion for service on the Western front began. This training included close order drill, skirmish drill by platoon and company, trench digging; erecting barbed wire entanglements, signalling of all kinds, and rifle practice. The rifle and machine gun practice took place on the newly completed Quantico Rifle Range. Practice marches and open warfare maneuvers were interspersed with the specialty training and the men hardened to the game which was to become their lot in France.

At 9:30 a. m., October 24, 1917, the battalion began its journey to France, travelling by train to Philadelphia where the troops were embarked on the U. S. S. Von Steuben, then lying at anchor in the Delaware River off League Island.

At 5:00 a. m. October 25th, the Von Steuben weighed anchor and sailed, arriving off Tompkinsville, in New York harbor, at 9:00 a. m., October 26th. Here the ship remained at anchor five days but no one was allowed to go ashore and all mail was carefully censored. Absolute secrecy was maintained as to the time set for departure and as to the destination. The remaining ships of the convoy, three transports, one armored cruiser (North Carolina) and two destroyers, gathered within the next few days and at 7:00 p. m., October 31, the convoy moved out on its way to France.

The weather was unusually fair and all went well until 6:13 p. m., November 9th, when, due to a misunderstanding of orders, the Agamemnon and the Von Steuben collided, making a large hole in the bow of the Von Steuben. This occurred in the edge of the submarine zone and the ships of the convoy were ordered to separate and meet the following day. After steaming all night alone at seven knots per hour, her bow in the air, to keep the hole above the water line, temporary repairs were made, the remainder of the convoy was picked up and at noon the group continued the trip at 15 knots. Later in the day ten destroyers from the American fleet in European waters joined the convoy and the North Carolina turned back for the United States. The journey through the submarine zone was made without further accident and early November 12th, land was sighted. At noon the convoy dropped anchor in the harbor of Brest, France.

While awaiting debarkation orders and transportation to the final destination the Battalion Commander ordered one company ashore each day for a practice march. November 17th the 83rd and 84th Companies with Battalion Headquarters paraded in Brest. Early Monday morning, November 19th, the troops disembarked and entrained in a French troop train which left at 12:30 p. m. on the Chemin de Fer de L'Ouest Southward, arriving at Lormont, France, a suburb of Bordeaux, at midnight, November 20, 1917.

The Battalion here rejoined the regimental headquarters 73d and Supply companies and was assigned to duty with the 18th Engineers building docks at Bassens. The following detachments were deailed for provost and engineer duty in the neighboring camps and towns: Captain Voeth Provost Marshal Tours, November 27-January 21, First Platoon, 97th Company, Provost duty, Tours, November 27-January 21, Lieut. Skelton in command; the 84th Company, Provost and fatigue duty La Corneau, December 18-January 5th, Major H. G. Bartlett, commanding; Lieutenant Marshall and twenty men from the 97th Company, La Cortine December 8th to January 5th, fatigue and provost duty; Lieutenant Timmerman and 30 men, 83rd Company, Marche Prime December 6th to January 4th, fatigue duty; Lieutenant Roberts and 1st Platoon 82nd Company, Cenon, provost duty, December 27th to January 6th.

The regiment was relieved by the 162nd Regiment Inf. (Montana National Guard) on January 8th and entrained January 9th, 1918, at Carbon Blanc for the Second Division training area. After a three day trip in 3rd class and box cars the troops were detrained at Damblain, Haute Marne, January 12, 1918 and marched to Chaumont-la-ville, a distance of five kilometers. Here intensive training for trench and open warfare began at once. This training was very severe due both to strenuous schedule and the winter season which set in in earnest about this time. However, gruelling as it seemed then, it so hardened the men that they were able to bear up under the strain of continuous fighting which later became the lot of the Second Division. The schedule included hikes, close order drill, extended order, bayonet fighting, games, practice in both rifle and hand grenade throwing, rifle range practice, storming trench systems, taking strong points, defense against gas attacks and all modes of signalling then in use. Steel helmets were received shortly after arrival in this area and included in the uniform for drill in order to accustom the men to wearing them at all times when in the line. A great deal of gas defense drill was included in the schedule and men were required to shoot, march, throw grenades and perform every possible duty with the masks on.

In March, trench knives, extra clothing, etc. were received and issued, preparations were made for storing extra baggage, and men only allowed to keep what clothing they could carry in their packs.

Orders were received that the Second Division was going in line just south of Verdun for thirty days, training under fire, and on March, 14th the battalion marched to Breuvannes and entrained for the front, moving at 9:42 p. m.

HOLDING TRENCHES, VERDUN SECTOR
(Toulon Sub-Sector)
FIRST CASUALTIES

Arriving at Dugny, 10 kilometers from Verdun, at noon, March 15th, the battalion detrained and moved out by companies as quickly as possible. Orders were to clear loading platform within two hours to avoid shelling.

After walking approximately 16 kilometers to the support position of the Toulon sector, companies were billeted in the following camps: 82nd Co., Camp Richert and Camp Ronde Fontaine; 83rd Co., Camp Marquenterre; 84th Co., Camp Massa; 97th Co., Camp Fontaine St. Robert; Battalion Headquarters, Camp Ronde Fontaine.

The battalion went into line in the C. R. Mont-sous-le-Cotes, sub-sector Bonchamp the evening of March 18th, 82nd, 83rd, 84th Companies in line, the 97th Company in reserve at Camp Fontaine St. Robert.

Being relieved March 28th by the 2nd battalion, 6th Marines, the battalion marched to Sommedieue for billet, arriving at daylight March 29th. Ordered to march on the 31st, 82nd and 84th Cos. and Battalion Headquarters moved at dark four kilometers to Camp Douzains; 83rd Co. going to Camp Sommedieue and 97th Co. going to Camp Eveche.

Remained here working on defenses, building entanglements and digging trenches until April 7th.

At dark April 7th the battalion relieved the Second battalion, 6th Marines in C. R.† Mont-sous-le-Cotes, three companies in line and one in reserve.

Without incident until the night of April 20-21, when Germans after putting down a box barrage around the outpost town of Villers, attacked P. P.* '16 at 1 :00 a. m. with flame-throwers, grenades, and knives, about thirty men being seen. This raid was repulsed by rifle fire and grenades in the hands of the men assigned to this post, the Germans leaving two dead in our wire.

Relieved night of April 24th by 3rd battalion, 20th French. Marched to reserve position at Camp Chiffoure.

†Center of resistance.           *Petit poet.
 

May 1, sent one officer and two NCO's. from each company to 1st Corps Schools at Gondrecourt.

May 2 relieved the 1st battalion, 6th Marines in strong point Haudiomont with two companies in the line, one in support and one in reserve at Camp Chiffoure. Battalion Headquarters and support Co. 84th at P. C.t Bordeaux. The battalion spent a quiet ten days in this sub-sector.

May 9th Lieut. Marshall and four NCO's. left to secure billets in a new area.

May 13th relieved by a battalion of the 174th French. Marched to Haudainville, arriving at 2 :00 a. m. Remained here until 1:00 p. m. May 14th when battalion marched to Ancemont and entrained. DeĀ­parted 6:30 p. m.

 
TRAINING
 

Arriving at Blesmes (Marne) at 3 :30 a. m. May 15th, the battalion marched without breakfast to new training area. Battalion Headquarters, 83rd and 84th Cos. were billeted at Vavray-le-Petit, the 97th Co. being billeted with Regimental Headquarters at Doucey and the 82nd Co. in Vavray-le-Grande.

Training schedule was put into effect and followed until May 19th. The 97th Co. was assigned as a loadĀ­ing detail for the 2nd Division and proceeded to Vitry-le-Francois May 16th.

On May 19th at 10:00 p. m. the 82-83-84th Companies and Battalion headquarters marched to Vitry-le-Francois, a distance of 17 kilometers, arriving at

*Post de command.
4:30 a. m. Breakfast was served at 5 :00 a. m. on loading platform and entire battalion entrained and left at 5:30 a. m.

At 5:55 p. m. May 20th, arrived at l'Isle-Adam and detrained, marching to Nesle-le-Ville, five kilometers distant, for billets.

Marched at 8:00 a. m. May 21st, arriving at Marines at 4:44 p. m. where battalion billeted for the night.

May 22nd marched at 6 :00 a. m., arriving at Mon-tagny-en-Vexin at 10:30 a. m. and billeted together with the 2nd Battalion, remaining there until May 31.

A training program including divisional terrain exercise was carried out. Men were issued clothing and equipment and the battalion was put in first class condition in all respects.

OPERATIONS CHATEAU-THIERRY SECTOR

The 30th of May, 1918, found the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, stationed at Montagny-en-Vexin, Regimental Field Order No. 2, of that date contemplated a march movement to a new area to begin at 11 :00 a. m., on the 31st. The following order was received at 6:00 p. m. on the 30th:

"Headquarters, Sixth Regiment,
Marine Corps, A. E. F.,
France, 30 May 1918.
MEMORANDUM:

1. Advance information official received that this Regiment will move at 10:00 p. m. 30 May by bus to new area. All trains shall be loaded at once and arrangements hastened. Orders will follow. Wagons

 
 
(Partial transcription of first eleven pages only.)
History of the Third battalion, Sixth regiment, U.S. Marines compiled from the official records kept by the battalion historian-and operations reports covering all of the engagements in which this battalion participated; maps by the Battalion intelligence section. 1919. Hillsdale, Mich: Akers, Mac Ritchie and Hurlbut.
 
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