After some of its units had marched all night and double-timed over muddy roads in a driving rain in order to jump off at the time designated, the 2d Division attacked at 4:35 a. m., July 18, in this general direction from a line about 2 miles to the right front. The initial attack was made without the machine gun companies, as they had been unable to reach the line of departure in time to participate, and without the full support of the tanks, which were late in arriving.
About 5:45 a. m. the French tanks which had caught up with the front line circled around La Verte-Feuille Farm, partially visible through the trees to the right front, while troops of the Marine Brigade charged out of the woods seen beyond it and overpowered the German garrison after a sharp encounter.
Beaurepaire Farm, which the Germans had converted into a veritable fortress, is seen straight down the road. It was near the center of the 2d Division zone of action and was captured early on the morning of July 18 by the Infantry Brigade of the division. At least 100 prisoners were captured in or near the farm.
Batteries of German artillery in the wheat fields in this general vicinity fired point-blank at the Americans as they advanced, and before they could be silenced these guns had destroyed many of the tanks accompanying the attack.
Adding to the confusion caused by these terrific bombardments, low-flying airplanes, both Allied and German, machine-gunned and bombed the troops of their opponents. The Americans crawled or darted through the wheat, steadily advancing against the Germans, who were often unseen until the infantry practically stumbled on them or until the rapidly moving tanks drove the German soldiers from their cover into the open.
Across the open field to the left, on the low ground a mile away, is Vauxcastille, and running toward the left from it, approximately parallel to this road, is a deep wooded ravine. Attacking from right to left across this road in the early morning of the first day of the offensive, troops of the 2d Division swarmed into that ravine, where a desperate conflict raged until about 7:00 a. m., when the Germans were driven beyond it. A large number of the enemy who had been surrounded at Vauxcastille took refuge in the caves in that vicinity. They received a message dropped from a German airplane directing them to retire, and late in the afternoon were captured while attempting to fight their way back from the town to their own lines.
Vierzy, situated in a ravine to the left of and beyond Vauxcastille, is about 2 miles from here on this side of the nearest heavily wooded hill in that direction. It was reached by American troops about 7:00 a. m. The town was entered about 9:30 a. m. but the American soldiers were later compelled to retire on account of the presence of persistent gas.
Early in the evening the 2d Division attacked from the vicinity of Vauxcastille, and after a hard fight in Vierzy, where a large number of Germans were made prisoner, pushed on and by midnight was about a mile beyond that place. Desperate counterattacks launched against the 2d Division during the night of July 18 were unsuccessful.
On July 19 the division attacked about 9:00 a. m. The Germans were driven back steadily until 10:00 a. m. when the American troops were near Tigny, which can be seen on a clear day 4 miles away from here, beyond Vierzy. There a German counterattack against the division's exposed left flank was repulsed.
The 2d Division was relieved by a French division during the night of July 19-20, after brilliantly accomplishing, during two days of continuous attacks, almost every mission assigned to it. Its losses were over 4,300 officers and men.