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July 1, 1918.
ACTION OF THE SECOND TRENCH MORTAR BATTERY DURING THE ATTACK ON VAUX, FRANCE, BY THE 2ND DIVISION, JUNE, JULY, 1918.

The Second Trench Mortar Battery was part of the Second Field Artillery Brigade, Second Division. Its personel [sic] consisted of five officers and 181 men. The equipment consisted of 12 - 582 trench mortars (French Type), which were transported by means of carts drawn by horses. The amunition [sic] was also hauled by means of the same carts, a load consisting of 18 bombs.

The Officers of the battery were Captain John P. Bonner, 1st Liut. [sic] E. W. Elliott, 1st Lieut. Robt. A. Clyde, 2nd Lieut. Donald Kieth, 2nd Lieut. E. E. Edloff. All the officers had attended the Army Trench Mortar School at Langres, France.

The 2nd T. M. Bty, was holding target practice back of the lines when the 2nd division was in the Chateau Thiery [sic] Sector.

The reason for this practice was on account of the battery receiving their equipment just about two days before the division moved into the Chateau Thierry Sector. Orders were issued by the commanding general to hold the practice. As the division was holding an unstable front there was very little chance for the use of trench mortars. The warfare was open. However, after the division had established positions in the vicinity of Vaux and as the Germans had fortified themselves in the Town itself establishing a system of wire about them the chance for the use of trench mortars had presented itself.

While at the target practice orders were received for the C.O. of the Battery to report at brigade hdqs.

Plans for the artillery attack were received and a reconnaissance was decided on. After a consultation with the Co. of the 2nd Bn. 9th Inf., a likely position was thought of in the ravine, which led from the Marette Woods to Monneaux. On investigation a position about midway between the edge of the woods and the Town of Monneaux was selected. The range estimated was approximately 900 yards and targets selected were machine gun positions, wire entanglements and the destruction of the town itself.

From the firing program of the preparation the intensity of the shelling by the 155's increased about 4 P.M. The infantry was to go over at 6 P.M., so from this data the time for firing the mortars was set at 4 P.M., and to last until 5:55 P.M.

The ammunition was hauled in mortor [sic] trucks of the 2nd Am. Train to a dump located about 3/4 of a mile from the mortars. It was then carried by men from the dump to the position; 600 bombs were transported in this manner, all the work being done at night.

The number of mortars used were four. These were carried in the same manner as the amunition [sic]. Small dugouts or shelters for men were dug next to the mortar positions. The amunition [sic] was placed in an old quarry, and later carried to the rear of the pieces.

The firing began at 4 P.M. as scheduled and 420 bombs were expended in the given time. These hit the given targets, and their usual distructive [sic] results were obtained. A great amount of the wire was cut and much damage done in the outskirts of the town.

Prior to this attack and after same the battery formed one company of the horse section of the 2nd Am. Train, loading and unloading ammunition, and also hauling the same from the dump to the gun positions. During the offensive at Soissons the Battery also worked on ammunition and ammunition dumps.

(Sgd) John P. Bonner,
John P. Bonner,
Captain C.A.
Commanding 2nd T. M. B.
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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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