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September 11-16, 1918.
HEADQUARTERS, SECOND REGIMENT OF ENGINEERS, WAM/wtp
American Expeditionary Forces. 17 September, 1918. G-3.
From: C.O., 2nd Engineers.
To: C.G., 2nd Division.
Subject: Report of operations of 2nd Engineers from September 11 to 16, 1918, inclusive.

1. A report is submitted herewith concerning the work of the 2nd Engineers and of the Division Engineer, 2nd Division, during the recent operations.

2. This report is submitted in the following form:

Paragraphs 3 to 11, inclusive, Preparations.
" 12 to 13, " Wire-Cutters.
" 14 to 16, " Trap-Hunters.
" 17 to 27, " Road Work.
" 28 to 30, " Other Operations.
" 31 to 55, " Other Information.
  36 to         Recommendations.
 
PREPARATIONS.

3. The Division Engineer and the Regiment had naturally not been informed ahead of time of the exact date of the movement, but they had been aware that some preparation was to be made and all of the wagons had been stocked up.

4. Two wagon-loads of tools had been delivered at convenient points for each of the two regiments (9th and 23rd Infantry) which formed the attacking Brigade, and four extra loaded wagons were held in reserve for the two regiments of the 4th Brigade, as they stated that they did not want any tools, at least at present.

5. The Army Engineer and the Corps Engineer had stocked up Engineer Dumps at ST.JEAN, NOVIANT, DIEULOUARD, etc. Consequently, there was no lack whatever of Engineer Material.

6. As soon as information was received as to just what was to be done, the 2nd Engineers was divided into operating forces as follows:

(a) 2 Companies, less a few detachments, as WIRE-CUTTERS. (Almost a whole Company of these two Companies was later diverted to take care of the big tanks).

(b) 4 Platoons at the NOVIANT DUMP to load and unload material, and for emergency work.

(c) 9 squads to go with the SMALL TANKS.

(d) 6 Squads to go with the ARTILLERY.

(e) 2 TRAP-HUNTING Platoons, one to follow each attacking Infantry Regiment and look for traps, and for other effective work.

(f) Balance of the Regiment (about two and one-half companies) to follow in the rear of the advancing troops and REPAIR ROADS.

(g) MAP SECTION to follow the 3rd Brigade, and report concerning the character of the roads, and what work would be advisable on them.

7. The wire-cutting squads were given special drill in wire-cutting, until they became fairly expert, having gone through a 60 yard belt of ordinary smooth wire in about two minutes.

8. As it was believed that the THIAUCOURT BRIDGES would be destroyed, 24 trestles, 10 feet high, were made and placed on trucks so that they could be run forward for repair of these bridges. Three special squads were detailed for this bridge.

9. Two officers were especially detailed to study up beforehand and look out for the WATER SUPPLY. They were instructed to label such water as could be found and to be prepared to furnish all possible information, with their recommendations.

10. For ROAD WORK, small bridges, "Cheney" model, in half-sections were prepared and loaded on Artillery Caissons and Engineer Wagons, and transported so that they could be thrown over the ditches in "No Mans Land".

11. Also facines were built for the TANKS, so that the ditches could be filled. This is not considered a good idea, but the tanks wanted them and we built them for them.

WIRE-CUTTERS.

12. The Wire-Cutters, under Capt. Wyche, proceeded with the 1st Line, with the 3rd Brigade. They remained with this line in its position N.W. of THIAUCOURT. Naturally, they assisted somewhat in organizing the position, though not particularly needed for this work.

13. When the 3rd Brigade was pulled out of the line on the night of September 13/14, the men under Capt. Wyche were ordered back to duty with the 2nd Engineers.

TRAP-HUNTERS.

14. The two trap-hunting platoons followed behind the 3rd Brigade and found things about as expected. Two tank traps had been found in locations reported by the Intelligence Department. In one or two cases, it was possible for these platoons to be useful in cutting wires leading to certain mines.

15. Promptly upon the capture of THIAUCOURT, the Bridges were taken over; the mine wires were cut and everything made as safe as possible. Through carelessness, however, no guard was placed at these bridges, and I personally secured a guard from the Commanding General of the 3rd Brigade at about 11:00 P.M. on the night of September 12th, for these bridges. To show the importance attached by the Germans to these bridges and also their probable disgust in their lack of foresight in not blowing them up, it is only necessary to bring out the fact that on September 14th they shelled these bridges, and secured two hits squarely on one of them and one hit about twenty feet away. All, however, without serious damage to the bridge.

16. The work done by these trap-hunting platoons shows considerable energy and initiative as may be seen by the copy of a message below: (This message has some slight errors, but illustrates the speed with which Lt. Slade did his work):

"From: C.O. 2nd Bn., 2nd Engrs.
"At : Camp 365.7 - 7 236.8.
"Date: 14 Sept. 18. Hour 10:15 A.M. No.1. Sent by runner.
"To : C.O. 2nd Engineers.

"1. Lt. Slade reports this A.M. (5:00 o'clock) general shell-
"ing over forward area during night.

"2. Lt. Slade reports our tanks going up to line; occupation
"of JAULNY completed yesterday P.M., Marines in front. One squad
"of Lt. Slades detachment under Sgt. Poteet captured 7 Germans
"and a machine gun in BOUILLONVILLE 12th Sept. and with 8 In-
"fantry from the 89th cleared the town and captured several pri-
"soners, including ten officers; prisoners turned over to 89th
"Am. Div. (?). He further reports that main 3-way road to JAULNY
"clear. 2-way steel girder bridge 50 meters long was in shape
"for heavy traffic last night; mine chambers emptied. One trestle
"pile bent. Wooden bridge along side needs repair of one
"bent on enemy side before being passable for traffic. He reports
"narrow-gauge line THIAUCOURT-ESE to 5th Div. front was ready
"for operation last night. His steel gang with work trains is
"laying rail to meet Co. "F". He (Lt. Slade) has taken steam
"engine and work train to THIAUCOURT and works north to JAULNY.
"One detail is going on to JAULNY, presumably to reconnoiter,
"and rest of platoon is ready to go forward. Complete itemized
"inventory of dump at 364.8-240.2 has been made and filed there.
"A copy will be sent here later. I ordered Lt. Slade to remain
"on job. Herewith copy of list of materials at THIAUCOURT re-
"ceived last night from Lt. Slade. An itemized list of narrow-
"gauge railroad material and supplies at THIAUCOURT turned over
"to Lt. Wyman by me this morning.

"Co. "F" expects to have narrow gauge through to THIAUCOURT
"by noon, and steam engines here.

"All companies of the 2nd Bn, being organized with former
"personnel this morning.

"10 men from Co. "E" sent to work on road LIMEY - 6846 -
"REMENAUVILLE as directed by Col. Mitchell. As truck had to go to
"LIMEY, I sent them on it with instructions to work back to
"REMENAUVILLE and report here at night. One squad Co. "E" putting
"water reservoir near Regt. Hdqrs. in shape for use. Two plumbers
"Co. "F" tracing pipe-line to reservoir. Balance of Co. "F" on
"narrow gauge.

"3. No text existed. Ed.

"4. All battalion and company transportation supposed to be
"here, but report not yet received. Ration wagons leave this
"morning.

"5. Messages to me here.

"PECK, Capt. Comdg."
ROAD WORK.

17. The road companies divided the area in front of them into two parts, and had laid out for them two complete roads to be put through, based, of course, on changes which might be found in the area in front of them. The road to the West was to be used for a return road by empty wagons. The Road to the East, via REMENAUVILLE was to be used by loaded wagons and trucks in going forward, and empty trucks in returning. The companies started off promptly about a mile behind the front line and did very effective work.

18. Those companies in charge of the West road (the return wagon-road) repaired very promptly about a mile of this road, threw the Cheney bridges across in two or three places where needed, and were progressing favorably when we suddenly discovered that this road had been assigned about 24 hours before to the 89th Division, and the 2nd Engineers had not been notified. The companies were immediately withdrawn and placed along the single road to EUVEZIN, through REMENAUVILLE, along with the other companies.

19. All companies combined worked very effectively on the road shown on the map as a paved road through LIMEY, REMENAUVILLE, thence N.W. to 365.8-236.3. As the so-called paved road existed only on the map, and could only be found by digging through 6 inches of mud and as it could not be found at all in REMENAUVILLE, it was decided to abandon it at 365.8-236.3 and go straight North from there to join the main highway from REGNIEVILLE to THIAUCOURT, instead of going 3 kilometers to the N.W. through EUVEZIN and 3 miles to the N.E. back to the REGNIEVILLE-THIAUCOURT ROAD on this paved road covered with mud.

20. Luckily, also on this paved road, I was able to discover about 800 meters of road through the woods, which had been paved by the Germans.

21. The companies worked very hard in most cases (there were a few idlers, of course), on this road. Two large tank traps, about 10-feet deep and 18 feet long were found, squarely in the middle of the road, and these had to be filled. Four others were found, but it was not necessary to fill them. About 20 ditches and deep shell holes had to be filled. In fact, much of the road had to be entirely rebuilt. However, by 2:00 P.M. it was possible to get an automobile over the road with considerable racking, and the road continued to improve from this forward.

22. That night, at about 22 o'clock, it was decided that ammunition must come up in spite of the bad condition of the road, so Colonel Strong, 2nd Engineers, took position at LIMEY and allowed absolutely nothing but ammunition vehicles to come forward, while various engineer soldiers were distributed along the road with orders to work on the wheels when necessary. All other traffic then on the road was pushed off until daybreak. I went to the other end of the line and ordered all traffic stopped coming the other way. I then had to go to THIAUCOURT and to Division Headquarters. I have an idea that the work on the wheels was not very effective, as the soldiers had worked all day up till dark with nothing particular to eat, and they probably did not distinguish themselves on this particular wheel work. However, the ammunition got through some way.

23. Before the beginning of operations, I had learned that the Corps had available for each Division 2 Engineer Companies and 1 Pioneer Company, and had offered the Corps Engineer to take charge of these, but he probably considered it better to hold them until the proper employment of them became apparent. As soon as the situation developed sufficiently, I again asked for these and they were promptly furnished; arriving some time next day.

24. As the value developed of this one road through to THIAUCOURT, this being the only road through along the whole front as far as I could learn, a great deal of assistance was sent me from many directions. The 2 Engineer Companies and the Pioneer Company came up sometime during the 13th. The Replacements of the 3rd Brigade and those of the 4th Brigade also came up and did very effective. work. The reserves of the Division were promised me, but for some reason did not arrive; another Engineer Regiment was promised me, but did not arrive in time to be of any particular value; several Infantry Regiments were promised from the Reserve Division, but they also did not arrive.

25. After the first night, during which the ammunition came through, an arrangement was made with Corps Headquarters whereby all North-bound traffic would follow the main REGNIEVILLE-THIAUCOURT ROAD and the South-bound traffic would follow the road we had built through REMENAUVILLE, north to the REGNIEVILLE-THIAUCOURT HIGHWAY. Inspection next morning of this main highway showed that there was practically nothing through REGNIEVILLE at all, so I had 2 of my Engineer Companies and assisting troops switched over to this road: and all arriving assistance was also sent to this road. Considerable progrees had been made before 2:00 o'clock by troops of the 5th Division already working there. Consequently, this road was passable with difficulty about 5:00 P.M. on September 13th with trucks, and at 6:30 P.M. I took my troops off the REGNIEVILLE ROAD, gave them supper at 7:00 P.M. and laid them off until noon the next day, except for reassembling of companies, checking casualties and othe necessary readjustments. From the afternoon of the 14th to the night of the 15th the 2nd Engineers worked on the road North and South of REMENAUVILLE and on the road Southeast of THIAUCOURT, paving as much as possible of the unpaved sections and throwing the mud off the paved sections.

26. They were then relieved by the 303rd Engineers, and the Regiment marched to new station on the night of September 15-16.

27. As an incident to show how closely some of these road troops followed the front line, it is desired to add that at 4:30 P.M. on the 12th, two platoons of the road troops were in THIAUCOURT and beyond to repair the roads and incidentally took over the German Engineer Dump at THIAUCOURT and made a list of its contents.

OTHER OPERATIONS.

28. It was found that the 60 c.m. Railroad Southwest of THIAUCOURT was in fair shape. 18 locomotives were captured and about 10 of them could be run after certain repairs. A platoon of Co. "F", and later all of the company were put to work on the 13th repairing this road from North of REMENAUVILLE to THIAUCOURT. A message was also sent early this day (13th) to Colonel Hoffman, requesting that the road be connected up from the South, and the situation must have been foreseen because very promptly some members of the 21st Engineers appeared, and the road was connected up and operating in a precarious manner by noon of the 15th, all the way from TOUL to THIAUCOURT.

29. The locomotives were examined by Co. "F" and several of them were put in operation. Co. "D" assisted the 21st Engineers somewhat in laying the track until the Regiment was relieved.

30. Co. "D" also investigated the Meter-Gauge road Southwest from THIAUCOURT, through ESSEY, BERNECOURT to NOVIANT, but found that practically nothing but the roadbed existed. It was not practical to repair this road.

OTHER INFORMATION.

31. The Water-Supply Lieitenants investigated the WATER SUPPLY especially in THIAUCOURT, fixed leaks and opened up the system for gravity flow, but could not start the pumps to working. The situation was in good shape when the Water Supply Regiment appeared. Also a cistern was found at 365.8-237.8. This was entirely empty when the Water Supply Regiment appeared and refilled it.

32. A map of the Water Supply System around THIAUCOURT was ordered turned over to the Water Supply Regiment.

33. The Map Section of the Second Engineers became diverted from its original road investigation project, and presented a very full report concerning the water supply of THIAUCOURT. This was turned over to the Colonel of the 303rd Engineers, on his relieving me.

34. GERMAN ENGINEER DUMPS were found at 366.4-236.9, THIAUCOURT, and S.E. of THIAUCOURT. These were filled with many articles of value and a list of supplies was furnished to the Colonel of the 303rd Engineers, duplicate lists being sent to the Corps Engineer for his information and that of the Army Engineer.

35. On turning over the section to the Colonel of the 303rd Engineers, I turned over to him the few personal maps that I possessed, one or two German maps that I had acquired, and a statement of conditions.

RECOMMENDATIONS.

36.

(a) That Lt. Hohn, 2nd Engineers, be cited in Division Orders for effective work in discovering and putting into best possible condition during the time available the Water Supply in THIAUCOURT and vicinity.

(b) That Lt. Spafford, and Lt. Slade, 2nd Engineers, be cited in Division Orders for their ability and initiative in following up the advancing troops, destroying mines and removing explosives under the Bridge at JAULNY, and in rendering safe the bridges at THIAUCOURT.

(c) That Captain __________ of the Marines be cited in Division Orders for the effectiveness of his work under three different supervisors on road work in two different places with Replacement Marines not at all well organized.

(Sgd) W. A. Mitchell
W. A. MITCHELL,
Colonel, Engineers,
DIVISION ENGINEERS,
Commanding.
 
Records Of The Second Division (Regular) Volume 7; Operation Reports — War Diaries — Patrol Reports
Second Division Historical Section, The Army War College, Washington, D. C.
 
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