header image

Report of Operations, 1st Bn. 5th Marines, July 16-20, 1918.

Images 1|2|3
July 16-20, 1918
P.C. at Carrefoure de Tourneaux
21 July a.m.
From: C.O. 1st Bn.
To:     C.O. 5th Regt. Marines
About 10 p.m. July 16th Bn. left Saacy-sur-Marne in camions.
   "      8:20 am. July 17th Debussed at R.R. Station north of Brasson.
   "    10:20 am. July 17th Bivouaced on improved road 2 K south of Taillefontaine.

9:40 p.m. 17 July started march to attack. Were followed by 2nd and 3rd Battalions. Left 20% of Bn. Marched eastward along road to CARREFOURE DU SONT DU CERF, where we expected to find French guides to take us to our position of attack. They were not there. The march to this point was made under the greatest difficulty as the road was packed with wheel traffic of all sorts and it was necessary to march in single file in the ditch on the right side of wood. Even the ditch was blocked at various points by wagons or camions, which had slipped off the road. Rain with consequent slippery clay mud added difficulties. Being in the woods, it was so dark that one could not see ones hand before the face. Several men were injured by horses or wagons. Under the conditions it was impossible to progress through the woods at side of wood. No guides being at above mentioned cross roads, we turned our march to the N.E. along the National Maubeuge road to an ammunition dump, where we took enough ammunition to give each rifleman 2 extra bandoleers. It was not necessary to draw many as the 1st Bn. supplied itself with 2 extra bandoleers per man before leaving Crouttes. The march was continued. (Long packs were thrown off on side of road before turning N.E. at the cross-roads — this was done to expedite march). At the intersection of 169.7 with the National road, a barbed wire obstruction was encountered, here we turned into woods and deployed on the north side of road, with the 66th Co. on right and the 17th Co. on left, the 67th Co. was in support. The 49th Co. came up about 10 minutes later and went to the left to establish liaison with Moroccans. We covered the front in the woods from the National Road to the Route Chretiennette. A few Frenchmen were seen, and some trenches where we started our deployment. Our barrage commenced while we were deploying. Before the completion of our deployment, some of the 2nd Bn. came up on our right. The German barrage came down on us at this time. About 20 minutes after our barrage commenced, orders were given by me to advance.

About 6:30 a.m. 18 July moved Bn. P.C. to point 171.3—288.5. From this point a line of skirmishers, on line 172.4 could be seen fighting. Also 7 or 8 Tanks were engaged. The information from front was very meager. The line kept advancing. About 9:00 a.m. advanced Bn. P.C. to point 172.3—289.0. About 9:20 a.m. 18 July, moved P.C. to intersection of line 172.5 with National Road Maubeuge. While here, efforts were made to locate lines and establish liaison. Captains' Platt and Yowell's companies came up as a support with 3 bandoleers of ammunition apiece. (The 67th Co. had been sent into line about 8 a.m.) Platt's and Yowell's companies with some of the 49th Co. formed a new support. At 5:15 p.m. which happened to be the time we received the order. As soon as possible I started for VIERZY with Bn. Hdqters and the above mentioned support. Two men were wounded before reaching VIERZY. The advance was made thru wheat fields to south of MAISON-NEUVE FERME, thence along wood to 300 yards N.E. of Beaurepaire Ferme, thence thru the fields to VAUXCASTILLE through northern end of that town to VAUX-CASTILLE — VIERZY road. This indirect advance was necessary to avoid other troop and firing batteries. At western edge of latter town halted to locate the 3rd Brigade which we were to support. About 5 minutes after this halt, the 8th M.G.Co., came up and Capt. Fay told me he had orders from the C.G. 3rd Brigade to occupy the eastern edge of town with his Co. At this time, I thought from the information received, that there was an American line to the east and south of town. While we were standing in the road, snipers opened up on us. I sent a couple of squads to follow the ridge and slope north of town to drive out the sniper or snipers. I still thought that our lines were as stated above, to the east and south of town and that a stray German had been missed in the advance and that he was using his opportunity to the best advantage. At this time, I was sent for by the C.G. 3rd Brigade and went back down the road about 50 yards around a bend out of range of the sniper, where I met him. He asked me what my orders were and I told him they were to "support the 3rd Brigade". He drew attention to the time, which was 8 p.m. and expressed the opinion that I should have been there earlier. I told him I rec'd the order at 5:15 p.m. and came as soon as we could. I gained the impression that he thought I should have rec'd different orders. His excitement and anger gave me the impression that there had been some miscarriage of plans and that the person responsible therefor had not as yet been ascertained. I assured him that I had carried out the orders I had received as promptly and as well as I could. Further I told him that I had about 150 men there, which were all I could get hold of under the circumstances. He then ordered me to take the town of VIERZY and "keep going" until I took the town of HARTENNES ET TAUX and hold a line to the N.W. corner of the BOIS d'HARTENNES. And when I had accomplished this mission I was to report the fact to him. This was. to be done in case the 23rd Inf. did not come up and make the attack. The front we were to attack was 1500 meters, with the town of HARTENNES ET TAUX at the south end, and was nearly 6 kilometers into the enemy's territory. (I omitted to say that just before reaching Vauxcastille I received a note from Col. Upton 9th Inf. to join him. In view of my orders did not do so.)

Continued July 25, 1918.

By 9 p.m. 18 July, had reached the eastern edge of Vierzy. During our advance and when we had gone four-fifths of the way through VIERZY the 23rd Inf. came through the north edge of the town and pushed on through our lines. We captured quite a good many prisoners (one group of 56 men were captured in southern part of town by 3 or 4 men). After the 23rd Inf. passed, I assembled the Marines and proceeded to the western slope of a ridge just east of the cemetery, which is at the southeastern corner of VIERZY. There I found a battalion of the 23rd (Major Fechets - spelling uncertain) deployed. I deployed a few yards in rear of his line. Here we spent night. The shelling was continuous but not heavy. Most of shells did not strike on this slope but near it. There were a few wounds from fragments. About 4:30 a.m. 19th July, the Bn. of 23rd advanced six or seven hundred yards. We remained stationary. Liaison was effected with Col. Malone, under whose orders we were placed. He left us where we were all day.

Around 4 p.m. received orders from Col. Feland that we were to assemble in tunnel in VIERZY. Where I went to reconnoiter the location of tunnel. While at Regimental P.C. received word from Captain Hamilton, 2nd in command, that the enemy was dropping air bombs on battalion and that they had shifted some guns so as to enfilade the slope Bn. was in, and that an immediate move was necessary to avoid unnecessary losses. I, at once, sent the order for him to bring Bn. to tunnel which he did without any losses. Bn. reached tunnel before dark. Remained in tunnel until about 2 a.m. 20 July, when we moved to vicinity of CARREFOURE de FOURNEAUX there we remained all day and night.

Quite a little information as to what was going on was obtained from wounded and from runners from the front lines. The most of the latter failed to return to their companies when sent to the front. They got lost intentionally or otherwise. Some messages from the front lines were not received until 10 or 12 hours after hour of sending.

Major, U.S. Marines.
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.
Last Update: 06/18/2017 8:42 AM Sitemap Search this Site ©2002-2017 MG Ryder & Contributors