Neuwied, June 2,—Half the American bridgehead is today in flames. Banners are flaming in the breeze, happy hearts are flaming with enthusiasm, military routine has been thrown to the winds to make way for a flaming desire for merry-making. The Second Division, half Marine and half doughboy, is celebrating in Germany the first anniversary of the great battle northwest of Château-Thierry when the Boche was stopped on his way to Paris.
Adding fuel to the flaming enthusiasm, members of the 258th Aero Squadron began early this morning flying over the division's area, dropping 50,000 leaflets bearing a message from the skies from Major John A. Lejune. Special aerial stunts will entertain the soldiers holding the front line at the distant outposts. Lieutenant Johnson, aerial liason [sic] officer, is in charge.
Tonight the skies will be bright with flaming fireworks. Every town will have a theatrical performance or a dance. A donut and ice cream barrage is being put over throughout the area. Six parties of girl entertainers will visit as many places as possible.
Trucks carrying five bands and a circus of more than 40 clowns are making flying trips. Also four orchestras are traveling around. A schedule of ten towns has been arranged for the K. of C. Troubadors [sic], including nine girls.
Of the many athletic programs, Heddesdorf, division headquarters, has the most elaborate; the climax being reached in the evening when Third Army champions and the French boxers traveling under the auspices of the Knights of Columbus will stage 35 rounds of classy exhibitions of the manly art.
During the morning the First Field Signal Battalion will play the Second Supply Train, and Division Headquarters will meet the 2nd Military Police. The winners will play in the afternoon for the championship of Heddesdorf. Between the games theatrical performances will be given on the baseball grounds. The ‹‹Iron Jaw Man›› will exhibit some Houdini stunts. Cora Youngblood Carson's All American girls and ‹‹Are You There›› are on the program. An all-star cast will entertain at Uncle Sam's Theater tonight.
At Engers the Second Engineers have arranged big doings and the town is all decorated with pennants. The 17th Field Artillery is putting on a regimental field day for Ehrenbreitstein, a feature of which will be motorcycle races. There will be a tug of war, a relay race, three-legged race, 100-yard obstacle race, a tractor competition and an officers' combination race on foot and motorcycle.
Heinies in this area are puzzled at the sudden outburst. When told of the significance of the day they usually take to the tall timbers, fearing that possibly the celebrants might duplicate their performance at Belleau Woods.
Major General Lejune's message from the skies follows:
1. One year ago the enemy was at the high tide of success. His great offensives of March and April in Picardy and Belgium had with difficulty been checked, when on the verge of attaining decisive results; and at the end of May he launched a powerful surprise attack against the thinly held lines between Soissons and Rheims. This attack had been successful and many enemy divisions were marching victoriously toward Paris. The way seemed open; the opposing Allied forces had been defeated, and there were few available reserves with which to stem the enemy's advance.
2. On June 1, when the Allied hopes were lowest, the Second Division was brought up by camions and deployed north of the Marne near Chateau-Thierry, across the Paris-Metz highway. It stopped the advance of the enemy, in spite of heavy attacks by strong forces and, on June 6, it assumed the offensive it attacked successfully. It seized Hill 142, Bouresches and the southern part of the Bois de Belleau. The news of this victory, coming at a psychological moment spread like wild fire throughout the world. It filled the Allied nations with a new hope of ultimate victory and correspondingly depressed the morale of the enemy. For over a month the Second Division continued its fierce attacks, and in spite of bitter opposition cleared the Bois de Belleau, captured Vaux and advanced its lines along its entire front.
3. It is very fitting that we should celebrate, on German soil, the first anniversary of this great battle. It was in that battle that the American established his moral supremacy over the enemy, and this was the prelude of his final defeat. All honor, therefore, should be given both to the living and to the dead of the ‹‹Immortal Second Division›› for their glorious victory in the Chateau-Thierry Sector.