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March To The Rhine

At 9:15 p. m., November 16th the following order was received:
"Headquarters Sixth Regiment,
Marine Corps, A. E. F.
France, 16 November, 1918.
No. 29.

1. In order to follow the Fifth Regiment who clear Pouilly with their advance guard at 5:30 a. m. tomorrow 17th instant, it will be necessary for the train of the Third Battalion to leave Villemontry at 4:00 a. m. The train of the 1st and 2nd Battalions should leave Bois du Fond de Limon at 5:00 a. m. The 3rd Battalion will march at 5:00 a. m. via the bridge opposite. Villemontry, thence South along the road on west edge of the Bois des Flavieres-Almagisors, thence eastward along the road to the latter woods, thence south along the farm Vigneron-Pouilly road to Pouilly. The 1st and 2nd Battalions will march from Villemontry in rear of the 3rd Battalion. Its train will follow the train of the 3rd Battalion. The Supply Company will leave Beaumont in time to arrive at Pouilly and follow in rear of the Headquarters Company at 7 :00 a. m., from that place. The Machine Gun Companies will follow battalions to which attached.

2. It will be absolutely necessary to leave promptly on the hours indicated in order to properly join the column. If the battalion and company desks, typewriters, etc. are not delivered to organizations tonight, they will be picked up by the train at Pouilly.

H. Lee, Colonel, USMC., Commanding."

In accordance with the above order, at 5 :00 a. m., November 17th, the battalion began its movement toward the Rhine, crossing the Meuse on pontoon bridge at Villemontry and joining Brigade column as the last battalion in line at Pouilly. This regiment halted for the night at Laferte, arriving there at 2 :00 p. m. (Field orders-Brigade No. 42, Regimental No. 29).

The following morning (November 18) at 8:00 a. m. the march was resumed, this battalion being again last in Brigade column. Battalion arrived at La Hage, Belgium at 5:00 p. m., having crossed the Belgian border at Villers at 10:50 a. m. A delegation from the town of La Hage met the battalion at Belle Fontaine and escorted the column with music and banners to billets at La Hage. A great reception was given the troops throughout the day's march. Flags and fireworks were in evidence everywhere. Battalion remained in this place 36 hours. The march was resumed at 5:30 a. m., November 20th. The Sixth Regiment was assigned as the advance guard and this battalion detailed as the main body of the advance regiment but, due to the failure of the 1st Battalion to arrive at the appointed time at the rendezvous given, Major Shuler received verbal orders from the Regimental Commander at 9:00 a. m. to take up the flank guard with two companies on the right flank and two companies on the left flank. Battalion Headquarters and the 82nd and 84th Companies took up the right flank guard and the 83rd and 97th companies covered the left flank. Battalion Headquarters and 84th Company joined the 83rd and 97th Companies for billets at Bonnert, the 82nd Company going to Frassem for billets. (Field orders, Brigade No. 46, Regimental No. 30).

At 7:30 the next morning the march was resumed, this battalion again being assigned to flank guard. The 83rd and 97th marched as left flank while the battalion headquarters and 84th company marched to Frassem and, together with 82nd company, made up the right flank guard. The 83rd and 97th Companies arrived at Schandel, Luxembourg, at 1:00 p. m. and billeted there, being joined at 3:00 p. m. by Battalion Headquarters and the 84th Company, the 82nd having billeted at Bowingen, as liaison with 3rd Brigade. (Field orders, Division No. 70, Regimental No. 31).

During the night 330 replacements arrived and were bivouacked, and fed.

At 6:45 a. m., November 22nd the march was resumed, this battalion, less one company, being the reserve of the advance guard. The 82nd Company was detailed as right flank guard and proceeded to Schrondweiler independently. The remainder of the battalion left the regimental column at Colmar-Berg and proceeded to Cruchten for billet, arriving at 11:30 a. m. Here the replacements who had been marching as a separate company were distributed among the four companies of the battalion; and Lieut. Conahan, who had reported the previous night, was assigned to 82nd Company. (Field orders, Regimental No. 32).

The march was resumed at 7:00 a. m. the 23rd with the Sixth Regiment as advance guard and this battalion vanguard of the advance guard. The 84th Company halted for billet at Beforthaide at 1 :00 p. m., the remainder of the Battalion arriving at Dillingen, on the Sauer river (German border) at 3:00 p. m., where two companies were billeted and one (97) bivouacked. (Field orders, Brigade No. 49, Regimental No. 32).

There being an insufficient number of billets in town the 83rd and 97th companies were moved Nov. 25th, to Beforthaide for billet. November 24th the Regimental signal men, one Stokes Mortar and crew and one one-pounder and crew reported. The sector and bridgehead were organized for defense. The 15th machine gun company reported and was billeted in farm one kilometer south of Dillingen. Twelve machine guns were placed at advantageous points covering bridge approaches and possible landing points on river. One-pounder and Stokes Mortars were placed in position to shell bridge. Strong outposts and patrols were placed along Sauer river covering front assigned to this battalion. A drill schedule was followed while in this area and between 9:00 p. m. and 4:00 a. m. the night of November 30-December 1, some clothing and equipment were issued. Shoes were received but not enough of each size to equip men. When march was resumed some fifty men marched with their feet on the ground.

At 8:15 a. m., December 1, the battalion resumed its march, crossing the Sauer river into Germany at the Wallendorf bridge at 9:15 a. m. as the last battalion in the Brigade column. Battalion split at Neuerburg, the 82nd and 84th companies and 15th machine gun company going to Scheuren for billets and the Battalion Headquarters and 83rd and 97th companies going to Plascheid for billets. (Field Orders. Division No. 30, Brigade No. 30, Regimental No. 33).

The next morning the march was resumed at 6:30, the 82nd and 84th companies joining column on the Neuerburg-Waxweiler road, this battation being again last in brigade column. Battalion left column at Waxweiler and proceeded to Lambertsburg, and Grimelscheid for billets. 83rd and 97th companies were billeted at Lambertsburg at 1:00 p. m. and the 82nd and 84th companies and the 15th machine gun company billeted in Greimelscheid with Battalion Headquarters. (Regimental Operations Memorandum No. 1).

At 5:30 a. m., December 3rd battalion marched to join column at Waxweiler as last battalion in brigade column. Battalion left Regimental column at Prum and arrived at Giesdorf for billet at 3:00 p. m. (Regimental Field Order No. 33).

The Division remained in place December 4th but this battalion, in accordance with Regimental Operations Memorandum No. 2, marched independently to Duppach, leaving Giesdorf at 7:00 a. m. and arriving at Duppach at 1 :00 p. m. where battalion was billeted.

At 7:00 a. m., December 5th the battalion again marched independently, arriving at Hillesheim at 12:30 p. m., the remainder of the Division being halted. (Brigade Field Order No. 53.)—These independent moves were made in order to get into position to march eastward on the left flank of the divisional zone when the Division resumed its march December 6th.

At 7:30 a. m., December 6th this battalion, with Company "D" of the 2nd Engineers and the 15th machine gun company, marched as vanguard of the leading regiment, arriving at Ahrhutte at 1:00 p. m. where the 83rd and 84th companies, the 15th machine gun company and the Battalion train were billeted. The Battalion Headquarters and the 82nd and 97th Companies continued the march to Udelhoven where they were billeted together with Company "D" of the 2nd Engineers. (Regimental Field Order No. 34).

The march was resumed at 7:00 a. m., December 7th, the battalion assembling on the main road at Ahrdorf and again marching as vanguard. Insull was reached at 2:00 p. m. and this battalion (less one company), Company "D" Engineers and Troop "L", 2nd Cavalry billeted. The 97th Company continued the march to Dumpelfeld where it billeted as outpost company. Divisional Field Order No. 78. Regimental Field Order No. 35).

The following morning (December 8th) the march was resumed on the river road at 7:00 a. m. This battalion with the 15th machine gun company and Company "D" 2nd Engineers, attached, continued to lead the Brigade column until it reached the Rhine. Battalion reached Neunahr at 4:00 p. m. where entire battalion was billeted.

At 6:45 a. m., December 9th the march was resumed and continued to Brohl-on-the-Rhine which was reached at 12:00 noon. Battalion billeted here and remained until 5:00 a. m., December 13th, when it marched up the Rhine to Andernach and crossed on the Andernach-Leutesdorf Ferry, billeting in Leutesdorf. The battalion train, which was ordered to proceed north to Remagen and cross on the bridge did not arrive until 2:00 a. m., December 14th.

At Leutesdorf, Battalion took up regular program of training and December 31st found it still in place.

The seven and a half months of 1919 that were spent on the Rhine were without unusual activity. A training schedule varying from open warfare maneuvers and demonstrations to rifle practice and close order drill was carried on throughout this period. There were several Divisional Reviews held on the heights of Vallendar and Gladbach. This battalion participated in ceremonies reviewed by General Pershing, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Benson, besides two decoration ceremonies on its own drill grounds reviewed by the Division Commander. At these ceremonies decorations were given to men for gallantry in action on all the fronts from the Chateau Thierry salient to the Argonne. The Regimental colors were decorated three times with the Croix de Guerre with palm, and had the battle ribbons for all the fronts put on.

In early February four officers and two hundred men from the battalion were detached for service with the 2nd Engineers, who were constructing barracks, mess halls and corrals all over the Divisional area. Two officers were sent to the 17th Field Artillery and two to the 23rd Infantry. Up to this time the battalion had been about 200 men and 15 officers over-strength, due to the returning casuals, both sick and wounded.

On April 23rd the Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Company moved to Honningen to take the billets vacated by the 12th Field Artillery, leaving this battalion the entire town of Leutesdorf for billet. The Battalion Headquarters was moved to the Marienburg estate, the 83rd company moved its office to the Masberg Hotel and took over the Rhein-strasse billets vacated by battalion headquarters personnel. Adjustments of billeting areas by the other companies to conform to this movement added greatly to the comfort of the men.

Orders were received early in June for all units of the 2nd Division to be ready to march on a twelve hour notice. Combat allowance of ammunition was kept ready for loading, the animals were brought into the best possible condition, practice marches were held for the hardening of the men and everything put in readiness for a march eastward should the Germans show the slightest indication of a refusal to sign the peace terms.

At 9:00 p. m., June 17th telephonic orders were received from the Regimental Commander to prepare to move at once. Later orders indicated that there would be no move before morning but the night was spent in preparing for the march. Company Commanders were called to Battalion Headquarters for a conference and the plan of movement laid before them. Excess baggage and equipment was packed B. & R. wagons reporting to all companies to it was to be left under guard. Men's baggage was reduced to what they could carry in their packs, haul excess to the 82nd Company mess hall where officers stored everything but small bedding or clothing rolls and every effort was made to prepare the command for anything that might come. The B. & R. wagons, after hauling excess baggage to the storage point were sent to the company store-rooms and offices and loaded with ammunition, reserve land field rations and officers' baggage.

Orders were received during the morning that this battalion would march at 11:00 a. m. and clear the town before the arrival of the remainder of the Regiment. Forming on Rheinstrasse at 10:45 a. m. the battalion marched promptly at eleven followed by its train and, at a distance, by the other battalions. A halt was made near Segendorf for one hour at noon and a hot meal served. Battalion marched again at 1:00 p. m. and despite the fact that men had been up nearly all night preparing for the move the march continued in good time and Hardert, the town selected for billet, was reached about 4:00 p. m. Although the town was very small all the officers and about 90 per cent of the men were billeted, the remainder bivouacking in the neighboring fields.

The Regimental Headquarters was located at Rengsdorf, three kilometers away, and the Battalion Adjutant was sent there in the side-car to get the preliminary order for the morrow's movement. This preliminary order was confirmed by the receipt of complete orders at 11 :00 p. m. requiring this battalion to join Regimental column two kilometers away at 7:30 a. m. the following day. Reveille was set for 4:45 and the battalion arrived at the meeting point in ample time to take its place in the column between the 2nd and first battalions. Four trucks reported at Hardert at 6:00 a. m. and were assigned to the four companies to carry the men's packs. The entire Regiment marched in combat packs and much better marching time was made than on the previous day, the head of the regiment arriving in Herschbach, near the bridgehead perimeter, at 3:00 p. m. As there was only billeting space for one battalion in the town, the 2nd battalion was billeted and the remainder of the Regiment bivouacked in the fields at the edge of town.

The Regiment remained here until PEACE was signed at 3:14 p. m. June 28th. A program of close order, practice marches and ceremonies was held here, the large space available for drill grounds making it practicable for the entire Regiment to drill together. The band played on the field for an hour every morning in order to give the troops practice in marching to music and in addition a Regimental parade was held every afternoon that the weather permitted. Frequent rain interfered with the drill program somewhat and made the bivouac rather uncomfortable but everything possible was done to add to the comfort and relieve the monotony of the troops. The Regimental entertainment troupe gave several evenings' entertainment on the field, the band gave nightly concerts and an occasional moving picture or "Y" troupe aided in the entertainment.

Orders were received the evening of the 28th that the Regiment would march the following day, the first unit clearing Herschbach at 7 :00 a. m., following the Fifth Regiment which was to return to its former area in one day. The Sixth Regiment divided the return trip into two parts, bivouacking on the Gladbach rifle range the night of the 29th and marching to its area the 30th, this battalion arriving in Leutesdorf at 10:30 a. m., after leaving Gladbach at 7:00 a. m. as the last battalion in the Regimental column.

Upon arrival in Leutesdorf troops immediately returned to billets formerly occupied and the usual activities prevailed again. The training period was almost exclusively devoted to close order and ceremonial drill to prepare for the parades and reviews that were likely to occur in the United States.

All officers and men on detached duty in the Third Army were ordered to rejoin their organizations for preparation to return home. This order brought all our officers and men with the engineers, men from the Amaroc News (The Third Army Newspaper), the Second Division "Indian" and all other special duty assignments. Colonel Lee received some very fine letters of commendation from the Commanding Officer of the Second Engineers and the various battalion and company commanders for the work performed by the Marines while attached to the Engineer Regiment.

Orders were received July 4th, turning the Division over to the S. 0. S. for preparation for return to the United States. Ammunition was turned in July 6th, all excess property was turned in between that date and the 16th, and the command put in the best possible shape for the journey. On July 11th all animals and all of the transportation except the rolling kitchens, were taken to Sinzig and turned in, the rations being delivered by motor truck from thence forth.

At 6:45 a. m., July 19, 1919, the anniversary of the attack of this Regiment near Soissons, the battalion marched out of Leutesdorf to the entraining point at Rheinbrohl where bedsacks were filled with cork shavings, cars loaded and all preparations made for the maximum comfort during the three day journey to Brest.

Leaving Rheinbrohl at 12 :08 p. m. the battalion train with Major George A. Stowell in command, moved out, passed through Leutesdorf then south to the Engers bridge, crossed to the yards at Coblenz-Lutzel, was switched to the northbound track and started for Brest. The route taken was the one followed by the German army in 1914: Cologne, Aix-la Chapelle, Liege, Namur, Valenciennes, Arras, Albert, Amiens, Rouen; thence via Alencon, Laval, Rennes and Morliaix to Brest.

Arriving at Brest at 7:20 a. M. the 22nd, the Battalion detrained, was met by debarkation officers and guides and conducted to mess halls for breakfast and marched to Camp Pontanezen for billet and preparation for embarkation.

At Pontanezen the Passenger Lists were made up, a final requisition for emergency clothing and equipment was filled, men were deloused, given physical and pack inspection, French money collected and changed for American currency, dogs were deloused and given health certificates and the Battalion pronounced ready to go.

At 6:00 a. m. Sunday, July 27th, the Battalion marched from its billets, followed in column by the Headquarters Company and the 73rd Machine Gun Company, bound for the docks. After being checked through the gates aboard the waiting lighter, we moved out into the harbor, drew alongside the one-stacker, U. S. S. Wilhelmina, and marched the troops aboard. The baggage and troops all loaded, the Wilhelmina weighed anchor at 1 :55 p. m. and pushed out into the North Atlantic HOMEWARD BOUND ! ! !

Making an average of about 355 miles per day with only one day of rough sea the Fire Island Light was sighted at 2:51 p. m., August 5th. Ambrose Light was passed at 4:57 p. m. The pilot, bringing New York newspapers telling of the coming parade, was taken aboard and the Wilhelmina picked her way slowly up Ambrose channel into the North River, where she anchored off Weehawken, N. J., at 7:30 p. m. Reveille was sounded at 4:30 the next morning, breakfast was served at 5 and the troops were ready to disembark when the ship was shoved in alongside pier 15, Hoboken, N. J., at 7:00 a. m. Companies were formed and check roll call held on the pier, then the Battalion marched aboard a ferry boat together with Headquarters Company and the 73rd and was taken down North River, around the point of Manhattan Island through the East River to Long Island City, where we disembarked and boarded Long Island railroad trains for Camp Mills. Troops were given cake, ice cream, oranges, cigarettes, etc., by the Red Cross and other welfare societies, both at the pier and before boarding trains. Arriving at Camp Mills, Battalion was met by guides and taken to barracks. Here men remained until 8:00 p. m., when delousing and inspection began, the companies passing through in numerical order, beginning with the 82nd Company at 8:00 p. m. and ending with the 97th at 2:30 a. m. Officers were given liberty the afternoon of the 6th and 7th. Men were given liberty after delousing and inspection Wednesday night until 9:00 a. m. Thursday and from noon to 9:00 p. m. Thursday.

Friday morning the Battalion left Camp Mills at 11 o'clock for parade in New York. The uniform included combat packs, helmets, blouses and arms with slickers and mess gear and one cooked meal carried in the pack. Detrained at Long Island City, took ferry to East Tenth street, New York, and then marched, following the First Battalion at 100 yards, west on Tenth street to University Place, south to Ninth street and west to Fifth avenue. The entire Regiment formed in the block on Ninth street between Fourth and Fifth avenues and remained there until the Fifth Regiment cleared Ninth street, marching north on Fifth avenue. The Sixth Regiment then took up the march with the First, Second and Third Battalions, Headquarters, 73rd and Supply Companies in the order named. The formtion of each Battalion in line of companies with companies in column of squads (four columns of squads abreast and closed up), distance between platoons was sixteen paces measured from rear guide of one to leading guide of the next. The parade was reviewed by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Roosevelt and Mayor Hyland, of New York. The reviewing stand was erected in front of the New York Public Library at Forty-second street and Fifth avenue. Cheering crowds lined the avenue from Washington Square to 110th street and made the marchers forget that they had walked two miles before starting the parade in addition to five miles at attention in the parade proper. General LeJeune and staff fell out and reviewed the Division at 110th street.

Turning west on 116th street the Fourth Brigade marched to the 129th street ferry slip via St. Nicholas and Manhattan avenue and boarded ferry boats for Jersey City. As the battalions passed through the ferry house mess gear was broken out and a supper of frankfurters, sauer kraut, ice cream, milk cake and oranges was served by the Red Cross. At Jersey City Pennsylvania terminal the Brigade was taken to Quantico on thirteen trains leaving at fifteen minute intervals, the last train getting out at 12:10 a. m. and arriving at Quantico at 1:00 p. m. August 9th.

At Quantico the company office force worked day and night closing out accounts and making up pay rolls while the post quartermaster issued Marine Corps uniforms campaign hats and barracks shoes to every man.

Tuesday, August 12th, the Battalion entrained at 7:00 a. m for Washington arriving at 8:30 a. m. After marching to position in Regimental column, men were allowed to fall out and rest until 12 noon when first call was sounded. The line of march was from the Peace Monument up Pennsylvania Avenue to Nineteenth, turning out to the south and returning to the Union Station. The formation was column of masses with six squads in each platoon. Men wore combat packs, arms, helmets and blouses. President Wilson, General March, Major General Barnett, Major General LeJeune and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Roosevelt, were in the reviewing stand. After parade Battalion marched to Union Station and entrained, leaving fifteen minutes ahead of schedule at 4:00 p. m. and arriving at Quantico at 5:31 p. m. Demobilization arrangements were resumed immediately upon return of the men from Washington and the first elements of the Fifth Regiment were sent out on special trains early Wednesday morning, August 13th, followed by the Sixth in order, First, Second, Third Battalions, Headquarters, 73rd and supply companies.

At 3:30 p. m. the train bearing the demobilized men of the Third Battalion pulled out and the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, one of the finest fighting organizations on the Western front, ceased to be.

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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