21. The two brigades entered the line and became engaged with the enemy in the early
morning of June 2. By this time, the engineer battalions had made reconnaissance and the
companies had been assigned their tasks.
22. From June 2 to 7, inclusive, the 4th Brigade held a general line beginning at a
point about 1 kilometer north of CHAMPILLON, thence in a southeasterly direction, passing
through the wood of LUCY-le-BOCAGE to Triangle. The task assigned to the 2d Battalion of
Engineers was to intrench and consolidate this position. This work was carried on with
difficulty under heavy shell fire; and, on occasions, detachments of engineers were called
upon to go forward as infantry in support of attacking parties of Marines, and again
they were sometimes called upon to defend against enemy attacks the positions they were
fortifying. During these four days of strenuous work and fighting, both officers and men
of the engineers found occasion to be thankful that their training in infantry tactics in
open warfare had not been neglected.
23. The 1st Battalion was not so heavily engaged at the outset; they were, as aforesaid,
attached to the 3d Brigade, and were entrenching the support line extending from
Triangle south through and about two kilometers beyond Le THIOLET. Later, as the town
of BOURESCHES was retaken by a battalion of Marines, the 1st Battalion was disposed of as
follows: Company A ordered into BOURESCHES to fortify the town, Company B to brigade reserve,
about one kilometer west of BOURESCHES, Company C attached to 23d Infantry for
intrenching and fortifications. This work consisted mainly of constructing temporary
firing trenches and barbed wire entanglements.
24. By June 8, the front line held by our troops had become stabilized to such an
extent that definite plans for the organization of the terrain could be planned, and the
work thereon systematized. Three lines of defense were designated for the 1st position.
These lines were termed positions A, B, and C, in order from rear to front. The engineers
on June 7 were ordered back to the divisional reserve and under the direction of the division
engineer were assigned the task of organizing and constructing position B. Working
parties from the infantry of the division reserve were also placed at the disposal of
the division engineer officer for this work.
25. One engineer officer was attached to each brigade to give technical advice and
assistance in the construction of position C or the front-line position. Work on this
position was carried out by the infantry units occupying the line.
26. At 5 p. m. on June 11, just at the time when the battalion commanders had completed
the reconnaissance of position B and when about to begin work, Companies D and F
were ordered to report to the 4th Brigade commander for duty with that Brigade. This action
was taken in view of the fact that an enemy attack was expected. These companies
were placed in the front-line positions in support of the Marine units holding that line
and were used as infantry until June 14, when they were again withdrawn to the division
27. This action seriously delayed the work of the 2d Battalion, not only because of
the time lost, but both companies were subjected to terrific artillery fire and suffered
serious casualties, and the men who were withdrawn were in a state of exhaustion and
physically unfit to carry on the work properly for several days after this action as
28. The work done on position B consisted mainly of organizing company Groupes de
combat or elements of firing trench and machine-gun positions located in such a way as to
be self-supporting and to afford a flanking fire covering the entire front. These Groupes
de combat were echeloned in depth in such a manner as to form a support line. Groupes de
combat were located in rear so as to flank the Groupes de combat forming the front of the
position with object of preventing enemy infiltration.
Barbed wire entanglements were constructed. On account of the scarcity of material.
these entanglements were simple in nature and usually consisted of a single row of double
apron wire. An attempt was made to locate machine guns so that all wire entanglements
would be enfiladed.
29. All engineer material for this work was obtained from the French Army Corps and
difficulty was experienced in getting material in sufficient quantity. Barbed wire and
sandbags were the only items obtained in any quantity.
30. Tools and materials were supplied by the division engineer to the infantry brigades
to carry out this work. At times, small details of engineers constructed special
works such as splinter-proof shelters for infantry brigade and regimental command posts.
31. During the latter part of the month of June, a readjustment of the lines was
effected. The first position was then divided into three zones, termed the zone of advanced
posts, zone of principal resistance. and the zone of reserves. Position B, with
certain minor changes, constituted the zone of principal resistance. Work on field fortifications
of this position were continued throughout the month of June and up until
July 7, when both battalions were relieved by the 101st Engineers of the 26th Division.
32. All work in this sector was done at night and was greatly interfered with by the
enemy artillery fire, both high explosives and gas. At times, work was stopped on account
of the heavy concentration of mustard gas.
33. The casualties suffered by this regiment during the period from June 2 to July 7
were 11 officers and 370 men. Most of these occurred during the time the companies were
acting as infantry; however, numerous casualties were caused by enemy artillery firing on
34. From the experience of this regiment in the CHATEAU-THIERRY sector, company commanders
and the regimental commander are convinced that in order to maintain the highest
degree of efficiency in an engineer regiment, the regiment should not be used as infantry,
except in the gravest emergency, otherwise the training and skill of the engineer
soldier will be sacrificed. Casualties are usually replaced by unskilled men, and casualties
are obtained at the time when trained and skilled men are in greatest demand.
Engineers are trained for certain important duties, and when in the face of the enemy
they are used as infantry, just at the time when the occasion presents itself for them to
put to practical use their training and knowledge, then all the time and cost of training
the soldier is lost.
However, it is obvious that occasions will arise when engineers must and will be
used as infantry. The experience of this regiment has proved beyond a doubt that to meet
such emergencies, the engineer company should be armed with a certain number of Chauchat or automatic rifles in addition to the rifle.
In the engagement with the enemy before-mentioned, engineer soldiers picked up abandoned
Chauchat rifles and ammunition during the fighting and although not trained in their
use were able to use them efficiently against the enemy. It is considered highly important
that an engineer company be equipped with a certain number of Chauchat rifles and
that sufficient personnel be trained in their use.
35. The camouflage detachment of the 40th Engineers, under command of Captain St.
Gaudens, remained with the 2d Division and continued their work throughout this period. The following is a report submitted by Capt. St. Gaudens on the operation of this detachment: