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(Editor's Note: Maison Murre, referred to in paragraph 3 of this report has not been identified. It is believed that "Maison Neuve" was intended by the reporting officer.)
 
OPERATION REPORT, Co. A 4th M.G. Bn., 2nd Div., July 29, 1918.

Co. A 4th M.G. Bn. 2nd Div.
July 29, 1918.
From: C. O. Co. “A” 4th M.G. Bn.
To: The Comdg. General 2nd Division (Through Military channels)
Subject: Operation report April 6, to July 29, 1918.

1. April 6, 1918, two platoons of the company went into support line in the Sommedieue sector, one platoon being held in reserve, at the company P. C. at camp Deramee. On April 21, one private was slightly wounded by a shell fragment, the only casualty sustained by the company while in this sector. During the night of May 4 and 5, the company P. C. was shelled for about three hours, no casualties or damage resulted.

The company on three different occasions fired indirect fire, and just before being relieved worked out the firing data and established the gun emplacements behind the lines near Troyon to lay down a box barrage in support of a raid contemplated by the 23rd Infantry. As the raid was abandoned the emplacements were never used. On Saturday, May 11, the company moved from Camp Deramee to near Sommedieue, leaving Sommedieue 6 A.M. May 12, by trucks proceeding to Couvonges. Here an epidemic of fever broke out causing the evacuation of several men.

On May 20, the company entrained at Mussey near Couvonges with the 2nd Bn. of the 9th Infantry, Major Bouton commanding, detraining the next morning at Beaumont. From Beaumont the company proceeded by marching to Reilly arriving the afternoon of May 23.

On May 31, the, company left Reilly about 6 A.M. marching to Chaumont-en-Vixen, entraining there June 1, after a six hour journey north the train was partially wrecked by flying wreckage from a rear end collision of two refugee trains on the adjoining track. One man only in the company was injured, but a delay of nearly twenty-four hours followed. The company was employed for a time in aiding the injured and clearing away and clearing away wreckage. After the arrival of a wrecking train, the company proceeded to Ormoy arriving June 2. The company established contact with the Ford trucks while at Ormoy and starting the morning of June 3, proceeded by marching to a wood north of Lizy, a distance of twenty-two miles, the march was resumed the morning of June 4 and passing through Montreuil the company took up a reserve position in the Bois Gros Jean, forming a part of the divisional reserve.

On the night of June 7, the company moved to Longe Farm, where they joined the 2nd Bn. of the 13th Infantry, but proceeded no further and returned in the morning to their former position. During the following ten days reconnaisance [sic] work was undertaken by the Officers and Non-commissioned Officers of the company, and a series of machine gun emplacements were made in a semicircle, from the Paris-Metz road left or northwest through the line of Pyramide Ferme as far as l'Hospital Ferme, Company “B” this battalion established a line extending from the Paris-Metz road southeast for a distance of 3,000 meters. These positions were constructed but never occupied. About June 10, the company commenced work under the supervision of the Engineers upon the construction of the 2nd or "Army" line of trenches, this work was done at night and extended from near Voie du Chatel to behind Lucy le Bocage. While engaged in this work the company came under considerable shell fire and suffered casualties, three men being wounded. On the afternoon of June 19, Captain Ernest N. Stanton, commanding the company was wounded while on reconnaisance [sic].

On the night of June 21, the company proceeded to Le Bois de Belleau through the Ravine Gobert and there relieved the 77th Machine Gun Company of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, the relief was completed without casualties.

2. Operations in the Bois de Belleau. The company took over the guns and positions of the 77th Co. of the 6th M.G. Bn. which were located as shown in the attached sketch marked "A", the positions marked in green. On the afternoon of June 23, one sector, the reserve section, under command of 1st Sergeant Charles N. May, moved up to support the right flank of the Marines in their attack upon the German positions in the north end of the woods. On the same day, gun positions #10, on map "A" was abandoned, being an unsatisfactory position, and also spotted by the Germans, the gun crew sustained 50% casualties. This gun was moved down to join the 2nd platoon. Early in the morning of June 24, the section under Sergeant May's command returned to the reserve position, as the attack had failed to attain its entire objective. They sustained no casualties. During the attack of June 24-25, the mission of this company was the defense of the right or western side of the Bois de Belleau from Bouresches to the patch of woods north of coordinate #62. To accomplish this result, two guns were sent up under Lieut. Garvey at 3.30 P.M., June 26, under the Americans' fire and took up positions just north of the co-ordinate #62. Here they were joined the next morning at day-break by the other two guns of the 3rd platoon. The remaining eight guns were placed as per the attached sketch, marked "A", the positions marked in black. 1 and 2 in reserve positions to protect the ravine and valley in the rear of Bouresches, 3 and 4 to fire belt fire across the front of the town of Bouresches, 7 and 8 to fire belt fire northwest, along the line of the Bois de Belleau, and 5 and 6 with alternate positions to protect either Bouresches or north west along the line of the woods. After the successful attack of the 26th, the gun positions 9 and 12 were consolidated, so that 9 and 12 fired northwest, crossing with 7 and 8, and 10 and 11 slightly north of west, crossing the belt fire of the first two guns of Co. "B". The company was relieved during the night of July 4, by Co. "A" 103rd M.G. Bn., the relief being accomplished without casualties. During the stay in the Bois de Belleau, the company had three men killed outright and nineteen, wounded, one of whom subsequently died. All the casualties were caused by shell fire, mostly high explosives.

Remarks on the operations: The fact that stands out most clearly in regard to the operation were: (a) the absence of adequate maps. At first we had no maps and later only three, made up from aerial photographs which were unsatisfactory, due to distortion. As a result of this lack and the difficulty of keeping directions clearly in mind, due primarily to the shattered condition of the woods, the placing of guns in satisfactory positions was extremely difficult. Communication was complicated by the heavy shelling. For example, a path would be marked out every day and the shelling that night would completely obliterate it. (b) with the exception of the two guns flanking Bouresches, all the guns were on the front lines. The cause for this disposition was that, due to the numerical weakness of the force holding the entire Bois de Belleau, there was only one line. No support trenches having even been constructed. A point which may have influenced the Infantry Officers in making such a disposition was the fact that the Germans expended the greater part of their shells, particularly when they fired a heavy barrage, over the entire woods, as was the case whenever there was an attack, on the only position in which a satisfactory second line would have been established. As no one occupied this position, the infantry support being held in a ravine and the rear, the casualties were materially reduced.

B. Co. 4th M. G. Bn. went into the Bois de Belleau the night of June 20. Their positions were always to the left or west of A. Co. During the attack of June 25 I believe they advanced in support of the marines to consolidate the positions taken. They were relieved the same night ad [sic] A Co.

3. Operations after relief from Bois de Belleau. Upon being relieved, the company marched back via the Ravine Gobert, Mont-givrault Ferme, to Paris-Metz road and back of the camp in the Bois Gros Jean. During the night of July 7, the company marched to the woods near Chaumont, where it formed a part of the reserve unit holding the line from Chambardy northwest to Ferme les Brulis. On the night of July 16, the company moved by camion convey to the northwest, arriving about 10 A.M., July 17, near the Foret de Retz, where it detrained and proceeded by marching down the Rue de les Fait, to a position near the center of the forest. At 3.30 A.M., July 18, the march was resumed, the company marching to the crossroads near Montgobert. Here about 6 A.M., orders were received to proceed along the Route Nationale to Verte Feuille Ferme. This position was reached about 9 A.M., the machine guns and ammunition arriving about 11 A.M. The orders then were to reconnoitre and take up positions near the Beaurepaire, Maison Murre line, but before this could be done, Major Waller, commanding 6th M.G. Bn. arrived with orders to take the same position, and for the 4th M.G. Bn. to remain in reserve. Therefore the company remained alongside of the road just west of Verte Feuille until 4.30 P.M., when orders came to report to commander of the 23rd, commanding the 4th Brigade at Beaurepaire Ferme. Upon reporting to him orders were received to move the company to the farm, to be ready for another advance. Upon the arrival of the company at the farm, further orders were given at 5.30 P.M. to advance to the front lines, then running from Vauxcastille, approximately north to Chaudun through the 9th and 23rd infantry then holding the line for another attack. As the evening artillery was quiet the company moved out, taking the machine guns and ammunition on the Fords, down the road Beaurepaire-Vaux Castilleto the rear of the town, where the guns were unloaded and the company deployed to the left of the road, under cover of the ravine, running partly from Vaux les Filles. The entire company was in position at 6.25 P.M. when the 9th and 23rd Infantry moved out from the ravine and advanced in an easterly direction. We had been told that the objection of the attack was the Bois de           , hill 176, and that the particular mission of the company was to advance supporting the infantry, to consolidate the lines in that woods or any intermediate line which might be established. From this time on the narrative of the company's progress should be in two parts; that of the 1st and 2nd platoons in command of 1st Lieut. McCrum and 2nd Lt. Schoonover respectively, which advanced with the 9th Infantry and that of the 3rd or right flank platoon in command of Lieut. Mills which advanced with the 23rd Infantry. The advance of the 1st and 2nd platoons was made with the second of the two infantry waves, about one hundred yards, running between the waves. At the start the direction was almost due East from the ravine, and the formation of the company squad columns. However as the second wave soon closed up to the first, and deploying as skirmishers, mingled with it, we changed our formation to conform with that of the infantry and proceeded with them. This formation was particularly suitable, for while we were under or less artillery fire, it was apparently random shooting, and fell mostly behind the advancing troops. There was at the start however, rifle and machine gun fire probably from the rear of Tours, on our right and from the outskirts of Vierzy. When the Vierzy-Lachelle line was reached, due possibly to heavy machine gun fire from the left flank coming from the wooded hill west of Lachelle-Chazelle, the infantry changed direction to the southeast and proceeded through the open fields between Vierzy and Charan-Tigny. At the time of this change of direction, the machine guns were possibly a hundred yards behind the advancing infantry, and direct overhead fire could be employed to good advantage upon the German positions on our left flank except for the fact that we had lost touch with the American troops on the left, and some Moroccans appearing between the guns and Lachelle, we were afraid to fire for fear of shooting into our own lines. The 9th Infantry and our own immediate front were advancing so fast that we had all we could do to keep our positions with them so there was no need to halt for overhead fire to the front. After crossing the Vierzy-Charan-Tigny road, the enemies’ fire increased in strength from the left flank and front. The enemy appeared to be holding the hill near Ville-montoire and the vicinity of Tigny in force. Moreover it appeared from the direction of the fire on our left flank (it was too dark to see) that our particular sector had advanced beyond the troops upon our left. The infantry therefore halted outside the eastern end of hill 132, and the machine guns catching up, joined them. The infantry had halted at the western edge of the wheat field, so the line wag moved back about twenty yards to gain a field of fire, and digging started. This was at about 11 P.M. and on our right flank were several companies of Moroccans, while other Moroccan troops were establishing a line of support, possibly a hundred yards to the rear. The disposition of the 9th Infantry was from the Chaudun-Droizy road, right or south, a distance of possibly 1,200 metres, with one platoon to the left of the road. After consultation with Col. Upton, of the 9th Infantry, it was decided to place the machine guns in position, all to the right of the road, as there was no field of fire on the left. The positions were chosen and dug by the Engineers who came up in very good style at 11.45. Six guns were placed, as the right flank gun and squad of the 2nd platoon had been separated from the rest of the platoon by the Moroccan Infantry, it was later found in position with the 23rd Infantry toward Montreboeuf Ferme, and another gun could not be mounted owing to the number of casualties sustained in the advance. By the time the emplacements and trenches were dug the guns were amply supplied with ammunition, as Col. Upton had several ammunition trucks run up the road to directly behind the trenches. This, in spite of constant sniping and machine gun fire from the wheat fields to our front and left flank. At day-break we came under the fire of our own artillery which caused several casualties before Corporal Carageorge very gallantly went across an open field to the French lines on our left, where he borrowed signal lights and with these and the aid of our Infantry airplanes got word back to the artillery of our positions. During the early morning there were several false alarms of German attacks. The rest of the day passed without incident, except for the visits of several German planes who flew very low over the trenches and fired on us with machine guns, causing no casualties. Shortly after midday, hot food brought up to the company in two of the Fords, later, about 6 P.M., food and water were again brought up. This was rather well done on the part of the drivers as our lines and the roads and fields they drove through were being shelled with 77s and 105s gas, one Ford being blown up by a 77. For some reason, the gas shells fired at us were all sneezing or tear gas, uncomfortable but harmless. The advance of the 3rd platoon, this platoon was on the right flank of the company at the junction of the 9th and 23rd Infantry, and when the advance was started, followed the 23rd Infantry which swung to the right to capture the town of Vierzy. Before reaching the town, one gun had an opportunity to go into action against a German machine gun, and after one strip had been fired the German gun ceased to answer. This platoon pushed forward with the infantry to the far side of Vierzy, after which, at 9 P.M. three guns under Lt. Mills were ordered back to the ravine at the edge of the town, where they went into a reserve position. The fourth gun under Sergeant Coon was kept in the line with the infantry. At 11.30 P.M., July 18, we received orders to withdraw from our positions and return to Verte Feuille, so Fords were sent up to the rear of the trenches on hill 132, the guns and ammunition loaded there, and the company marched down to Vierzy, picking up Lt. Mills' platoon on the way. From Vierzy, we marched across the fields, avoiding the gas-filled ravines to Verte Feuille. The company's casualties during the entire operations were 16 wounded, mostly by machine gun fire, and ten (all in the 3rd platoon) burnt by mustard gas, none of them had to be evacuated. Five men were missing, two later showed up and three killed.

B. Co. marched down to Vauxcastille so were just coming into position as the advance started. They came up during the night and established a second line position several hundred meters in the rear of our position on hill 132. As I understand their casualties had been heavy I believe they could only place eight guns in position.

1st Lieut. 4th M.G. Bn.
Commanding Company.
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Records Of The Second Division (Regular) Volume 8; Operation Reports — War Diaries
Second Division Historical Section, The Army War College, Washington, D. C.
 
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