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Report of Operations of Commanding General, 4th Brigade to C.G. 2nd Division, for period Sept. 10-18, 1918

G-3 September 10-18, 1918.
Headquarters, 4th Brigade,
Marines, American E. F.
23 September 1918.
Secret
 
From: Commanding General.
To : Commanding General, 2nd Division.
 

1. In accordance with Memorandum 2nd Division, dated 20 September, 1918, the Commanding General, 4th Brigade, submits the following report regarding the experiences and lessons derived from the operations of the Brigade during the period 10-18 September inclusive:

(a)

In the attack of the 2nd Division on 13 September the 4th Brigade formed the second line (Reserve) and supported the 3rd Brigade (1st Line) in the execution of the Division mission; this Brigade relieving the 3rd Brigade as the First Line on night of 14-15th September and continuing the attack until the Army Objective was reached. The 4th Brigade was relieved by the 155th Brigade, 78th Division on the nights of 15-16th and 16-17th September. During the 1st days operations the enemy retired speedily offering little resistance. On the 2nd Day his resistance (mainly machine Guns) stiffened and on the 3rd day he seemed to make a determined stand on the Hindenberg Line.

(b)

Terrain traversed by this Brigade consisted of rolling country partly wooded. The northern part of the 2nd Division sector was traversed by the ravine of LE RUPT de MAD. The wooded areas were not particulary dense and had fairly good trail communication.

(c)     The initial disposition of troops as follows:
 
1st Line:
  5th Regiment: 1 Bn. Infantry and 1 M.G.Company
  6th Regiment: 1 Bn. Infantry and 1 M.G.Company
2nd Line:
  5th Regiment: 1 Bn. Infantry and 1 M.G.Company
  6th Regiment: 1 Bn. Infantry and 1 M.G.Company
3rd Line:
  5th Regiment: 1 Bn. Infantry and 1 M.G.Company
  6th Regiment: None.
Brigade Reserve:
  Companies "B" , "C", "E" and "F" 2nd Engineers:
  One Company Light Tanks.
  4th M. G. Battalion.

Each Battalion formed with two companies in 1st Line and two companies in support.
(d)

The formation outlined above proved suitable.

(e)

In general the principles governing the formation of troops in the Brigade were as follows: A light front line to develop enemy resistance closely followed by combat groups under good control for maneuvering to attack the flanks of Machine guns nests etc; these lines closely followed by counter-attack groups. Dispersed formation to avoid enemy aerial observation and aerial attacks was the rule on open terrain and lines of small combat groups in the woods.

(f)

The rapid advance of the infantry rendered the use of special weapons very difficult and they were rarely used. The one-pounders were used to good effect on the 3rd day in the reduction of enemy pill boxes and M.G. Nests north of THIAUCOURT. The Stokes Mortars were not used. Hand Grenades were used several times in rushing machine gun nests. Rifle Grenades were not used. It is believed that the special infantry weapons could have been more widely used and steps have been taken to see that they are properly used in the future. In this case the wooded terrain favored their advance and employment.

(g)

The artillery support of the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade was excellent. The 4th Brigade had no accompanying guns assigned to it and it is believed that with well trained artillery which responds quickly and accurately to the call of infantry, that accompanying guns are not necessary if special infantry weapons are properly used. Some of our troops were fired upon by American artillery but it did not belong to the 2nd Division.

(h)

This Brigade encountered no obstacles of importance. The enemy wire was in poor shape (at least by the time the artillery had finished with it) and there were no other obstacles except a few tank traps which were discovered by the engineers before they could affect any damage (so far as known) (See note below)

(i)

The passage of lines in this Brigade and the relief of the 3rd Brigade on the night of 14-15 was affected without unusual loss or incident.

(j)

The general rule used in the attack of machine gun nests, etc. was to affect a holding fire in front with all infantry weapons available and despatch [sic] combat groups with rifles and grenades to attack on flanks. The success in reducing machine gun nests depends primary on quick and efficient leadership of combat groups engaged.

(k)

As stated in Paragraphs "e" and "j".

(l)

Lines were generally consolidated inside of edges of woods and on reverse slopes of hills, the troops digging in rapidly. Strong outposts and patrols were pushed to the front with counterattack forces held in close support of the front lines.

(m)

Liaison was fairly good.

As a rule combat liaison was well maintained between the Regiments and with the Divisions on the right and left flanks. However, the failure of the 89th Division to advance in concert on our left on the 13th and 14th September made combat liaison very difficult on that flank and was largely responsible for the Boche resistance and counterattacks in the woods between XAMMES and CHAREY.

Telephonic Communication from Regiments to the rear was good considering the volume of shell fire. Communication from the Regiments forward was very difficult owing to the shell fire and the wooded terrain. All units of the Division complained to lower units of the delay in obtaining reports.

(Editor's note: The notation "so far as known" in Par. "(H)" appears in pencil on the original. It is not known by whom it was made) Sgd) Earl H. Ellis, Lt. Col. Brig. Adjt.
(for) W. C. NEVILLE,
Brigadier General, USMC. E/s
 

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Records Of The Second Division (Regular) Volume 6; Operation Reports — War Diaries — Journal of Operations
Second Division Historical Section, The Army War College, Washington, D. C.
 
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