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E BATTERY GOES TO WAR

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E BATTERY GOES TO WAR

BEING EXTRACTS FROM THE

WARTIME DIARY

OF

FIRST SERGEANT ANTHONY D. CONE
BATTERY E, 15TH FIELD ARTILLERY
SECOND (REGULAR) DIVISION
U. S. ARMY

PRIVATELY PRINTED FOR MEMBERS OF THE BATTERY

By

MAJOR RAYMOND E. LEE, LATE 15TH F. A.
Washington, D. C.
1929
Copyright, 1929, by MAJOR R. E. LEE

Sergeant Cone, Regular soldier in every admirable sense of the word, commanded Number Two Gun of E Battery, 15th Field Artillery, from the day the outfit was organized, June 1, 1917, until after the Armistice.

This means that he was with it day and night for the duration of the war; from Pine Camp to Camp Merritt, Southampton, Havre and Valdahon; in action at Verdun and Marbach and (throughout the great battles of Chateau Thierry, Soissons, St. Mihiel and the Argonne.

During that time, like every Chief of Section, he kept in his pocket a little black notebook with brief daily entries concerning the business in hand and he has been prevailed upon to allow a large part of this to be printed. The affair with which he was concerned, it will be seen, was war, pure and simple.

The full meaning of this chronicle lies not altogether in what he says, vivid as that is, but also in what is left to be read between the lines. His outfit was part of the cutting edge of the A. E. F. and there will be found no mention of Paris, London, Monte Carlo, mademoiselles, the Ritz, pretty war workers and gay night life. On the contrary, it is merely a straightforward account of the grim business which absorbed all the energies of the battery.

For, however much war has changed in its larger aspects, the combat soldier is still confronted by the same diverse and implacable foes which have existed for ages. His existence continues to be a bitter conflict with hunger, mud, wearinesss, thirst, vermin, rain, dust, uncertainty, cold, contradictory orders, heat, snow, delays and disease. Through all these, he struggles to come to grips with the mortal enemy, where his reward may be mothing more than swift destruction.

All these are are in this record and there are still others which it will recall. Intangible things, yet of a lifelong permanemce; evanescent but enduring. It will bring back the smells of damp straw in billets, of innumerable picket lines, of wet wool uniforms, of sweating horses, of frosty mornings and rainy nights, the odors of steaming marmites, hot coffee and of burnt powder; the sound of creaking leather; the clop-clop of hoofs on the pavee, the rattle of equipment, and the clash and rumble of guns rolling across France.

It is a picture of the war as it actually was and not as it is now often portrayed; distorted, mellowed and heavily embroidered with the fancies of ten intervening years.

RAYMOND E. LEE.
E BATTERY GOES TO WAR
if
UNE 1, 1917, the 15th Field Artillery was organized at mobili-
zation camp at Syracuse, New York, by the transfer of men from the 4th Field Artillery, which had been recruited to well over strength. On being organized and not having tents, we were billeted in the large grand stand, on the State Fair Ground.
June 19, 1917, we moved into tents in our new camp which we had built. Here we had plenty of mud. During our stay here we were drilled on the 2.95 mountain gun, and in the school of the soldier. July 4th, we drew our first horses, and at this time we found we had become Light Field Artillery.
August 17, 1917, the regiment left for Pine Camp, N. Y. The first night we camped at Cicero; August 18th, we camped at Hastings; August 19th, Pulaski. To show their appreciation, the people welcomed us with ice cream and cake. August 20th, camped at Adams Center. Received much pie. The next morning while passing through Adams, N. Y., the people treated us with many sandwiches. That afternoon we arrived at Watertown, N. Y. More pie and cake. Arrived at Pine Camp August 22nd. On our long remembered hike from Syracuse to Pine Camp, having no harness or equipment, the men were forced to ride the horses bareback or walk. The riding of the horses caused both men and horses to become very sore. During our stay at Pine Camp we had target practice with 2.95 guns.
On September 9th, 1917, the horses of the entire regiment, with the exception of "E" Battery, broke loose from the corral and stampeded. They started down the main road into Watertown a distance of 25 miles. Some of them went as far as Adams Center, five miles below Watertown. When the people
9
in Watertown heard them coming, they thought it was an earthquake. The night was very dark, and it rained pretty heavily. Call to Arms was sounded, and every man turned out to gather the animals together and bring them back. It was an all night and most of the next day's job. There were quite a few horses killed at a railroad crossing, when they ran right into a train. One of the boys was also injured, having three ribs broken. It was a very hard job to get them all together, and bring them back to camp, and an experience which we will never forget.*
On November 29th, 1917, we entrained at Pine Camp and arrived at Tenafly, N. J., November 30th. We remained at Camp Merritt till December 11th, 1917, when we entrained for the port.
On the afternoon of December 11th, we were safely aboard the transport "Adriatic" and on the early morning of December 12th, we left the States behind. The second night we encountered a seventy mile gale of wind. The next morning we arrived at Halifax. The harbor was filled with debris from the terrific explosion of a transport that was loaded with ammunition.
We arrived at Liverpool, December 25th. Our Christmas dinner consisted of a half portion of boiled potatoes. However, we were glad we arrived safely.
Entrained at Liverpool night of the 25th, and arrived at Southampton the morning of the 26th. We left on a channel steamer, the afternoon of the 26th, and arrived in Le Havre, France, the early morning of the 27th. We crossed the Channel on an English cattle boat. We were packed in as though we
*"By this time the fall was well advanced and the weather was growing steadily colder. Many of the officers had their tents pitched over dug-outs. The kitchen and the mess hall were similarly dug in and walls of pine boughs were erected around them. The men were sleeping on canvas cots with bed sacks full of straw for mattresses and nearly everyone suffered from the cold. Many of the men slept in "heavy marching order," fully undressing only on the most moderate nights, for the Sibley stoves were inadequate to heat the big pyramidal tents throughout the night. At one time the supply of wood became exhausted and, at the direction of Captain Lee, Sergeant Cone took a detail of men on an exzedition over the reservation in search of anything that would burn. Not a board or a dry branch of a tree rewarded the efforts of the searchers. At last Sergeant Cone, acting, perhaps on the hypothesis if you never take a chance you'll never take the prize, took a long chance. He turned the saws and axes of his men on a box car sitting on a siding and for a few more days Battery "E" kept warm."—Extract from "The History of E Battery," by Verne H. Torrance.
10
were cattle. We were cold and hungry and it was a very disagreeable trip. Spent the night at an English rest camp, but in our estimation it was a restless camp. Zero weather, bum tents, and no stoves and plenty of snow.
We entrained at Le Havre late on the afternoon of December 28th. Arrived at Camp Du Valdahon in the early evening of December 30th, 1917. This was our first introduction to the now famous Hommes-40, Chevaux-8. There were 40 men in each car, and so crowded that, if one man wanted to move, he was sure to penetrate his hob nails into some one's face. It was far below zero weather, and to try and keep warm was in vain. We found a bucket and built a fire in it with coke. This helped very little to make us comfortable as the smoke caused us to open doors and windows. In fact, during the whole trip, everything was combined to make it as disagreeable as possible. On our arrival at Valdahon, we were quartered in French barracks, which we found very comfortable.
On January 3rd, 1918, we were equipped with French 75's and on the 15th, we had our first target practice. The range was about three kilos from our barracks and we were forced to draw our guns and caissons to their positions by hand. The snow and mud were deep there and the hills were steep. We had target practice three times a week.
January 17th, we drew our first pay in France.
February 1st, while adjusting by aeroplane, we were firing H. E. shell with red fuse. The second piece exploded, due to a defective fuze. The fragments from the piece caused two casualties. Sergeant Whitby, who had charge of the third piece, had his right leg nearly severed and lost it afterwards. Our other casualty was Private Andrews. He was acting No. 1 and was hit in the right knee and was unable to resume his duties.
The whole month of February we had some real hard training. March 7th, we fired the first rolling barrage and were qualified for the front. This ended our target practice. Fired approximately 3112 H. E. shell and shrapnel.
Our Battery Commander, Captain R. E. Lee, was promoted to Major at Valdahon and was given charge of the Second
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Battalion, Lieutenant Waters taking command of the Battery. He was later promoted to Captain.
March 8th, we drew our horses.
March 16th, full pack inspection. Cold and rainy.
The 12th, 15th, and 17th Field Artillery received their training at Valdahon. These three regiments composed the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade.
March 19th, we left on a thirty kilometer road march at 9 P. M. for Besancon. We hiked all night in a continuous downpour of rain. We were wet, hungry and sleepy and I might say it was one of our meanest hikes.
We arrived at Besancon early the next morning and were willing to take a rest.
Entrained at Besancon. Detrained at Souilly in the Verdun sector and here for the first time we heard the guns of the enemy. We hiked to Cinq Freres (Five Brothers) Camp, arriving late in the afternoon of March 21st. This place was our first experience of the kind of life we expected to find at the front. We were met by rats about the size of a cat. They immediately started a war on our reserve rations. Also saw some interesting air battles and a number of bombs dropped quite close.
Shortly after dark, March 25th, the firing battery left for the front and took up firing positions behind Rupt, on the hill N. W. of Mouilly. Mouilly was a mass of ruins and not a whole house remained standing. This may be said of all the towns in the vicinity. While near a cross road we heard the whiz of a German projectile for the first time. It was a moonlight night and the battery crossed this road at a gallop, for they were being dropped every few minutes. We reached the positions which had been occupied by the French since 1915, when they were discovered by the enemy and were chased to other positions. It was up to us to keep well camouflaged, for to be discovered would mean that we would have to vacate.
The gun pits were dug well into the ground and were covered overhead and on the sides by steel and timber and rocks. The dugouts, or our sleeping quarters, were dug much deeper than
1.? the gun pits, with but one opening, a door, which led down the steps to our quarters. They were damp and not a bit comfortable.
The second piece, No. 10102, at noon of March 28th, fired the first 25 rounds of H. E. shell meant for the destruction of the enemy. The gun squad consisted of Chief of Section, Sgt. Cone; Gunner, Cpl. O'Driscoll; No. 1, Pvt. Wm. Smith; No. 2, Pvt. Carlson; No. 3, Pvt. Hubler; No. 4, Pvt. Staub; No. 5, Pvt. Fryczak.
Our kitchen was on the side of a hill below our positions. We went for our chow one and two at a time and often, while on our way, Jerry would open up and we would make a hasty retreat to our dugouts. Many a messkit of chow was spilled on this journey.
We carried our ammunition about a half a kilometer and some times we worked all night, and when daylight came we would have to quit and remain concealed for the rest of the day and resume our work when darkness set in again.
Our first time to be under heavy fire, was March 26th and it did not take us long to get into our dugouts. To an observer, it would look as though it was a bunch of rats crawling into their holes. Everyone seemed a little excited, but we soon overcame this in the days following.
We fired our first barrage Easter Sunday at 10:30 P. M., on March 31st, in answer to a call from the 23rd Infantry, whom we were covering. The enemy attacked and were repulsed. We realized the importance of our barrage and it was sent over on time, with great success, which encouraged us greatly. We had a strange feeling when we fired our first barrage. We felt then that we could meet the best troops the enemy had.
About this time nearly every man was infested with the enemy called cooties, and these gave us very little rest during our whole stay on the front. A simple method we found of getting rid of these pests was to lay our underwear on an ant hill and let them battle it out with the ants, who generally won.
The 6th day of April, 1918, the 2nd Platoon moved to Hill
13

No. 442; the night was dark and the roads were muddy, the mud coming up to the axles of the carriages. Many times we were stuck. Got on the wrong road and had to go back about a kilometer. We at last got to our position and then our difficulty began. That was getting the guns into positions. The first platoon was still on Hill No. 441 and on April 10th, for the first time, we were gassed heavily with mustard gas. This was one of the worst gasses that the enemy had. They sent it over for about two hours and then we were forced to wear our gas masks for another hour until the "All Clear" signal was given.
Our battery was very fortunate, for Battery "F", on our left, had about 50% of their men gassed. They were nearly all blind and were leading each other to the dressing station. The night the second platoon left for Hill 442, they had not been gone an hour when Jerry opened up and the 4th Section gun pit was demolished by a direct hit. The total H. E. shell and shrapnel fired by our battery on Hills Nos. 441 and 442 amounted to 12,484.
The firing battery withdrew from both positions on the night of April 23rd. We had many difficulties in getting away. Our horses were very weak, due to the lack of forage and overwork. We joined forces with our echelon.
April 24th, the entire battery left our echelon at Blancardville, and proceeded to Ambly, where the echelon was established.
The firing batteries continued toward the front and took up positions on the outskirts of LaCroix-sur-Meuse. We hiked all day of April 24th and on the 25th we hiked all day and night while our echelon soldiers were eating steaks and biscuits.
May 1st, about 4 A. M., we had three men doing outpost duty as observers, somewhere near the front-line trenches. The Germans made a raid, dressed in the uniforms of French soldiers, and came to the mouth of the dugout where two of the observers were sleeping and called them out, using French langugae. Our men did not suspect anything and went out unarmed, and the Germans jumped upon them and demanded their surrender. They refused to surrender and started to clean the enemy up in good old Yankee style. They found that they could not overpower the Americans, whereupon they threw a hand grenade which mortally
14
wounded Private Mountain, who died the 6th of May. Corporal Williams was overpowered and dragged back to the enemy's lines. This is the story of Private Mountain before he died. Corporal Thygesen, on duty on the outpost, did not know anything about it. Private Mountain was awarded the Croix de Guerre for this act of bravery. This was the first decoration given to any man
of tmheayba4ttther, wy.
e were shelled heavily with 10-inch projectiles of the German howitzers. They started at 1 P. M. and lasted till 5 P. M. These were four long hours, but we were well under cover in a French tunnel dug into a large hill and we were quite safe from shell and fragments. After the bombardment, we went out to see what damage was done. We found that there were only a few dugouts remaining. We got through pretty lucky on this front, and on May 8th we were relieved by French artillery
and joined our echelon.
While we were on the front, at LaCroix on May 5th, 1918, Major Lee received orders to return to the U. S. A. with our regimental commander, Colonel Merrill. The Second Battalion, especially Battery "E", were very .sorry to see Major Lee leave, as he was the best Battery Commander we ever had.
May 9th, the entire battery left Ambly and hiked to Cinq Freres.
May 10th, we hiked to Hargville, where we were billeted for the night.
May 11th, we were again hiking, and arrived at Brillon. We 'were billeted here in stables and received many replacements. We also received overseas caps here. These were our first and we said good-bye to our campaign hats.
May 19th, we hiked to Mussy where we entrained. We swam in the Meuse River here. The water was very cold. We passed through the eastern outskirts of Paris and detrained at 4:30 p. m. Supper along the road and camped for the night near a small village.
May 21st, at 9 a. m., we were again on the road, had dinner at Marines and arrived at Dellencourt at 4:00 p. m. In this place
15
A HALT.
we were first introduced to the French rations, called monkey meat, and bread of poor quality.
May 30th, we had a parade and memorial services in honor of our dead comrades.
We remained here in reserve for the First Division, which was at Cantigny. We were here ten days.
On May 31st, we left Dellencourt, hiked about 10 kilometers, and entrained at Liancourt. We detrained at Ormoy-Sur-Marne at 4:00 P. M. of June 1st. Between 4:00 P. M., June 1st, and June 3rd, we hiked 65 kilometers to Chateau Le Rue. We met wagonload after wagonload of refugees who were forced to leave their homes, taking with them but very little of their belongings. The Germans were advancing on Paris. The road was crowded with our infantry, who were on the hike day and night with very little to eat. We hiked 36 hours without anything to eat.
June 3rd at 11:00 A. M., we hiked from Chateau La Rue for the front. The echelon was established in Villers-Sur-Marne
and the firing Battery took up positions about one-half kilometer east of Copru, which is six kilometers west of Chateau-Thierry.
As we were nearing Copru, we were attacked by enemy aeroplanes. "C" Battery of our regiment brought one of the planes to the ground with a machine gun. We had just entered Copru and the enemy opened up and threw much shrapnel among us and a few H. E. shells. Luckily we had no casualties. While the battery commander was looking for our positions, the cooks got busy and served a very light lunch. We were under fire the whole time we were eating, a French battalion firing a barrage while we went into positions. To get into position we were forced to cross an open field where we were in plain view of their observation balloons. One section at a time galloped across the field to the woods, close by which we took up our positions. This was our first time to battle in the open, having nothing to protect us but camouflage. We had no sooner got into position than we began to fire. We were under shell fire almost continually.
June 5th, the caisson sections were bringing ammunition to us. They were stretched along the road from Copru to our positions when Jerry opened up with H. E. shell and did much damage.
16
We lost one man, who was killed, Private D. A. Paul, and had two men wounded, Corporal Brenizer and Private Bure. While this was going on, we were firing a defensive barrage. The enemy was attacking but were beaten back, the barrage lasting for three hours. This was the last time they tried to advance, and from this time on they were steadily beaten back. The machine-gun fire was something fierce and kept up for twenty minutes before the artillery opened up. At intervals, when we were swabbing our guns, we could hear the incessant rattle of machine guns and rifle fire. We captured about 500 prisoners that night.
June 5th, the division, complete in all its elements, took over the sector with a front of 12 kilometers, extending from the S. E. corner of the Bois De Marette to a point on the Champillion Bussiares road, about 800 meters north of Champillion. The Third Brigade, on the right, extended from the Bois De La Marette to Triangle. The Fourth (Marine) Brigade from Triangle to the left extremity. The 12th F. A. supported the 4th Brigade, the 15th F. A. the 3rd Brigade, the 17th F. A. supported both infantry brigades. The 3rd Infantry Brigade consisted of the 9th and 23rd Infantry; the Fourth (Marine) Brigade, the 5th and 6th Marines. The six groups of French artillery remained on duty with the Division. The terrain is hilly, with many small woods that at this season afforded excellent concealment for the troops of the contending armies. Good roads ran in every direction, connecting the numerous villages, the main highway being the Chateau Thierry-Paris road. On the German side, our front was occupied by two divisions and part of a third. They had the advantage of position. From Hill 204, the crest of which they held, the Paris road could be observed for a long distance. To the N. W. near Etrepilly, is a high ridge which overlooks much of the ground we captured. They also had control of the air, and watched our movements from sausage balloons and airplanes, whose duty it was to inform the German artillery.
This made concealment, during the daylight hours, absolutely necessary. No movement of the troops near the front could take place at these hours without certain exposure to artillery fire. Units in the support and reserve, miles from the front, could not
17
assemble for the same reason. We were strengthening oui position by digging trenches. Those engaged in that work must sleep in the woods by day and work at night. The supply of cooked or hot food to the front line was difficult. No fires could be built, for the tell-tale smoke would make a target for the German guns. The rolling kitchens were put in sheltered places, four or five miles in the rear of the front line, and cooked food and hot coffee were carried forward from them at night in large cans loaded on mule-drawn ration carts. Only one hot meal was served during the twenty-four hours and it was frequently cold by the time it reached the men in the front line. This continued during the entire forty days in which the division held the front line.
We received the French ration, a part of which was canned beef shipped from Madagascar. It had a peculiar taste which our men did not like. They called it "Monkey Meat" and it soon became known by that name throughout our army. On June the 6th, in the afternoon, the Marine Brigade began the attack on the Belleau Wood and Bouresches. The Belleau Wood extends for a distance of two kilometers in length, from north to south, with an average width of more than a kilometer. It is very broken, and at this time was covered in many places with a thick undergrowth. The Germans had seen its value for the assembly of infantry and machine guns to continue their attack. They had occupied it with a regiment of infantry and numerous machine guns and trench mortars. It had the protection of their artillery, placed in concealed positions to the north. As long as they held it, it would be an ever present menace to our line.
General Pershing had taken every occasion to teach his army the spirit of the offensive. His teaching was now bearing fruit. Every American officer and soldier knew that the best way to hold our own line was to attack that of the enemy. General Degoutte, who had his Corps Headquarters at Champigny, a town on the Marne some distance to the rear, saw the importance of taking it as soon as possible. Bouresches was also important, as one of the strong points of the German first line. Under the orders of General Harbord, the Marines went for
18
ward to the attack at 5:00 P. M., after a short artillery preparation. More ammunition at that time could not be spared.
June 12th, the firing battery took up a position in a large wheat field for the first time under a camouflaged screen in plain observation of numerous sausage balloons about 500 meters N. E. of our first position at Copru. 'This was done in order to get a better position for the final attack on the Bois de Belleau and Bouresches and Torcy. The enemy shelled us at short intervals the whole time of our stay in this position. We would shoot craps beside the guns under the camouflage and, when we would hear the whistle of a shell, we would take cover in a small trench we had dug a few feet in rear of our gun. At one time I saw $200 lie on a blanket while everybody had taken cover. At this time everybody had plenty of money as there was no way of spending it. We had by this time became so used to the whistling and bursting of shells that we were quite at home when Jerry was sending them over. We had a dummy battery on our left that we constructed to fool the enemy, and it succeeded, for the enemy wasted much ammunition trying to destroy what they thought was a real gun.
June 15th, our forward echelon about 500 meters to the left of our positions, was shelled heavily and the 2nd Section lost six horses of their gun team. One of the shells dropped right among them. The people who were driven from their homes left much cattle and fowls behind. Champagne, Vin Rouge, Vin Blanc and hard cider could be found in great abundance. A detail was sent out each day to round up and bring back all the cattle and fowls that could be found.
Our battery was lucky. We found and butchered four heifers and one cow.
June 23rd, 11:55 A. M. The men were in the ravine about 100 yards to the left of our guns, where our kitchen was camouflaged in the heavy woods. Without warning, the enemy opened up a sweeping barrage that covered an area of about 300 meters. The position we were now in was discovered without a doubt. We had a number of casualties, two killed, Private Kennedy and Private Cominskey, who were two of the smallest and youngest
19
men in the battery.ounded were Cook Wencek, Corporal
Gunner Ott had his foot blown off, Private De Loreto had
his right leg blown away. Private Staub was hit in the stomach. Corporal Burley, a runner, was seriously wounded. A scene we will long remember, that we saw from the trench where we were concealed, was Corporal Gunner Kelly and Sergeant Newton chased by the sweeping barrage to the top of the hill. They sure did run and they sure did burst on their heels. While in this position, we were paid while under shell fire, one man going to the Captain's dugout at a time.
It was useless to stay in this position any longer, for Jerry had our number down pat, and to stay any longer would have meant a long list of casualties. June 25th we took up position just south of Copru, between Copru and Dompton. They were difficult positions to get in. This position was on the base of a steep hill and we had to wait till daylight to put our guns in position. We had to build a gun pit directly over a small brook, and we had plenty of hard work on our empty stomachs. To get our guns in position, we had to lower them down the hill with ropes, dodging around trees and vines, and being careful not to destroy anything, for we realized that camouflage was an important factor. A French battery took up a position about 100 meters directly in front of us. A few days later the enemy discovered them and immediately set in to destroy them. They sent over many six-inch shells and all the overs dropped into our position.
We had three men wounded during this shelling, Corporal Gunner O'Driscoll, Corporal Gunner Kelly and Private Welsh. July 1st, the Third Brigade (9th and 23rd Infantry) launched an attack on Vaux. There was a big artillery preparation for this attack. The whole Second Artillery Brigade concentrated their fire on Vaux and Hill No. 204, which was the key to that part of the line and Chateau Thierry. The enemy had been fortifying the crest of Hill No. 204 for a month, and had well occupied with machine guns the woods on the southern slope near the French line, and with a full realization of its importance, had held this hill against repeated French attacks. We started our bombard-
20
ment July 1st at 1 :00 P. M., and we fired 1400 yperite special No. 17 gas shell, and all of the men of our gun crew wore gas suits to handle this shell, for it was said to be the deadliest gas used by the Allies. After the gas bombardment, we started a rolling barrage, followed closely by our infantry. In this barrage we fired 1520 rounds of H. E. Shell. The guns were about red hot, and we could have easily cooked a meal on their muzzles. The men were about all in but felt happy at that, for word was received immediately that Vaux and Hill No. 204 were in our hands. The number of rounds fired by our battery at Chateau Thierry was 22,700 rounds of H. E. shrapnel and gas shell.
July 8th, we were relieved by the artillery of the 26th Division and we joined our echelon. July 9th, we made a night march, the firing battery taking up a reserve position near Bezu and the echelon being established one kilometer northeast of the town of Chamigny. In this position General Petain of the French Army visited our sector and left a number of souvenirs to be given to the men. The 15th Field Artillery received two.*
The evening of July 14th, the firing battery withdrew from this position and joined the echelon at 1 :00 A. M., July 15th, when the entire battery took the road through Lizy-sur-Ourcq, without breakfast, and hiked to Mayen-Multain, where we halted at 11 :00 A. M. for dinner which consisted of rotten monkey meat. We hit the road again at 11:30 and halted beside the road at 2:00 P. M., and were waiting orders to proceed or return. We halted directly beside a number of French 10" mortars. The weather was extremely hot, our socks were in no condition to be worn any longer. We needed a change of clothes. Most of us were in rags, but it was impossible to get any new clothes. The cooties certainly played hell with us, and at every opportunity we had our clothes off, and waged a war upon the little pests.**
We ate supper at 5:00 P. M., monkey meat, warm for once,
*Sergeant Cone was one of the two recipients.
**"Everyone was disgustingly infested with lice and had been for months. The clothes of the men were worn to rags ; knees and seats worn out of breeches, buttons held on shirt and blouses by the wire from fuze boxes, blouses worn and stained with rust and grease from shells and with mud. Many of the men were nearly barefooted, few of them having more than one pair of socks and their shoes were worn out. No one thought of a bath ; it was difficult enough to get sufficient water to make coffee and wash mess kits."—From "History of E Battery," by Verne H. Torrance.
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and proceeded on our hike. We hiked all night of July 15th, and halted at 5:00 A. M., of July 16th, in woods north of Villers Cotterets. The last few miles we hiked through a heavily shelled area. We were so tired by this time that we lay in the wet grass off the road and we were soon asleep. We were on the road at 12:15 P. M. again and arrived and stationed our echelon 2 kilometers south of Tallefontaine at 7:15 P. M., July 16th. This hike was all through the Villers Cotterets Forest. There were thousands of troops placed all through these woods. They were concentrated here for the attack which was soon to begin. There were French, Algerians, Moroccans, Scotch and American troops. The firing battery received orders to be ready to leave our echelon at 9:00 P. M. We remained in readiness all night and did not leave till 9:30 A. M., July 17th, and took up positions at 1:30 P. M., in the edge of the Forest of Villers Cotterets, near Long Pont.
The hike to our positions will be long remembered. There were dead horses every couple of hundred feet. Some were blown almost apart. Ambulances, trucks and wagons of all descriptions were scattered all along the road, most of them nothing but scrap heaps. The road was blocked for miles with artillery and ammunition trucks who were moving forward to take up positions. We would move up a hundred yards and then we would stop for ten or twenty minutes. There was no room on the road for the dismounted troops so they took through the woods. As we got close to our positions we found many of the larger caliber guns already in position. The trees in the woods were mostly all from thirty-five to one hundred feet high and from two to three yards apart and you could not find one that was not hit by a fragment of shell. The engineers were kept busy taking the fallen trees off the road. They kept up a continuous fire on this road and we could hear the whistling and bursting of the shells which fell quite close. As we got quite near our positions the shell holes became quite numerous. The ground was so full of shell holes it looked like a checker board. This place was shelled heavily with gas. It was still quite strong and most of us had a headache from the effects of it.
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last arrived and after placing our guns in position, we began to carry ammunition to the guns, which were in a large opening in the forest. We were but a hundred yards behind our infantry and had to be careful not to expose ourselves to the numerous airplanes which were flying over the forest. After everything was in readiness for the attack, we were sent about 200 meters to the rear in a small trench to await the hour of the attack. It rained all night and everyone was drenched to the skin, and at 4:00 A. M., July 18th, we ran to our positions by order of the B. C. and immediately began to lay our guns, for the attack was soon to begin.
At 4 :28 A. M., the attack started. It is impossible to describe how terrible the artillery fire was. At the same time we started a rolling barrage. There were a few trees about one yard in diameter and about fifty meters high, directly in line with our fire. They were not long in our way for they were blown off by our own projectiles. The guns were very hot by the time the order came to cease firing. During the barrage, Corporal Gunner Kelley of the fourth piece fell over exhausted. The reason for this was that for forty hours we had not a bite to eat, and everyone was about ready to drop. The attack was successful and by this time there were thousands of prisoners in our hands, and the enemy was on the run.
About 10:00 A. M. the forward echelon reached us. Had some slum, hard biscuits and monkey meat and sure did eat. There were wounded lying all around our positions, waiting for the ambulance to take them to the rear. The German prisoners were carrying our wounded soldiers back to the rear on stretchers made from their overcoats and two sticks. There was a scarcity of stretchers and ambulances, and the wounded were taken back part of the way by the ammunition trucks. While the enemy was on the run hundreds of our planes chased them.
At 11 :00 A. M. we received orders to advance and started immediately. The enemy had the roads barricaded with the largest trees that were to be found, in great numbers. This was done to delay our artillery. The 2nd Engineers were on the job and had it soon cleared. We went through on a gallop. The road
was strewn with the dead. Mostly all were German, with a few khaki figures here and there.
After we got clear of the forest it was all open country and here we could see the effect of our barrage. It seemed impossible for anything to live through it. The ground was torn up like newly plowed ground and it was a hard job for a driver to keep up the gallop and dodge the shell holes. The men were all happy and everyone had a smile on his face, for it was plain to be seen it was a badly beaten enemy. We took up positions just outside the wall of Beau Repaire Farm at 11:30 A. M. We fired a barrage immediately. This was a rapid-fire barrage; we were firing just as fast as we could fire. We could see the effect of our fire through field glasses. There were hundreds of French tanks of all sizes, moving up at great speed. There were also eighteen regiments of cavalry, French Lancers, and they sure made a pretty sight. We could see them form their line and give chase to the enemy. The horses they had were of the best and the men looked neat and well trained. The fields near our position were covered with dead.
We left this position at 9:00 P. M. the same day and continued forward, taking up a position about a hundred meters south of the cross-road at Vaux Castile. Early the next morning we had a reception from the enemy in the form of gas shell. They landed almost on top of our guns. We took shelter in the shell holes which were to be found close by. Some of the shell holes were big enough to bury a whole house in them.
We were shelled heavily all day by a battery of Austrian 88's. The shape of an 88 projectile is like an ice-cream cone and it comes with such velocity that it bursts before you can hear the whistle. Our infantry captured a regiment of 77's and their guns were about a hundred meters in front of our position. We turned the 77's around and gave the enemy some of their own shell. The first round fired from the 77's was fired by Sergeant Long and Sergeant Cone. The enemy had thousands of rounds of ammunition of all calibers stacked up for their attack they had intended to deliver, but we beat them to it. The dead were laying all around : Moroccans, Americans and Germans. The fields were
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covered with rifles, machine guns, equipment of all kinds, and supplies. There was a dressing station just to the left of our position. It was crowded with wounded. These wounded suf-ered greatly due to the lack of doctors. Our doctor, Captain Schaffer, worked so hard the perspiration was rolling off him. He had his sleeves rolled up and worked with all his might. At noontime we were attacked by a flock of enemy battle planes. They turned their machine guns on us, and also dropped thousands of steel needles. These needles are about six inchs long and will penetrate through any part of the body. We had no protection overhead except our guns, which would only give protection for about one man and we opened fire with our .45 pistols without effect. Our machine guns were popping continuously, but without effect. We had many casualties in our regiment from aeroplane machine-gun fire and• H. E. shell. We saw many air battles here, and quite a few planes came down in flames. There were many observation balloons burned up by the enemy, and the anti-aircraft batteries were kept busy day and night.
It was a clear day and we could see quite plainly a number of French tanks battling with the enemy. The bigger tanks were mounted with 75's and we could see them firing. We could also see the smoke from their machine guns. They were firing direct at the enemy and we could see the bursts. The enemy counterattacked and the tanks were forced to retreat, but they again advanced under shell fire, till they cleared a way for the infantry. The cavalry were attacking all day and night. We had no sleep and very little to eat and we were almost exhausted.
At 3:30 A. M., July 19th, the firing battery was relieved by the French artillery, and withdrew to Verte Fuille Farm, part of our hike through heavy shell fire. We arrived at 6:00 A. M., and got our breakfast here, and after resting up we took a look around. The woods were covered with dead Germans—some bayoneted, others killed from shell, rifle, and machine-gun fire. It was an awful sight. It was a hot day and the smell from the dead was nearly more than we could stand. We left here at noon for our rear echelon and arrived at 5:30 P. M.
We just had time for supper and were preparing for a good
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and returned to the ravine near Vierzy, again passing through a heavy shelled area. Several horses and a caisson lost. We returned to the ravine near Beau Repaire Farm and had our dinner. Our meals were at long intervals.
The afternoon of July 21st, we took up positions northwest of Vierzy and while passing through were shelled with gas and H. E. shells. The gas was terribly strong. There were many dead lying along the road and horses were lying around. We were exposed to heavy machine-gun fire. While crossing the road we found the dead more numerous, for it was here that the enemy had offered strong resistance. We arrived at the position and here we did not have a minute's rest, night and day. The first day, July 21st, we fired a couple of barrages and then looked around our position. About 200 meters to our rear, on the crest of a hill, we found the dead more numerous than at any time we were at the front. The 9th and 23rd and the Marines were advancing and they ran into a machine-gun nest. The enemy sure did play hell, but they were soon done away with and our infantry went ahead. Quite a number of the dead were gassed and their gas masks were still over their faces. That night our positions were attacked by planes. They took advantage of a moonlight night and opened up with heavy machine-gun fire and at short intervals dropped large bombs. The only place we had to take cover was under our own guns and a German battery of 105's
night's rest, when we received orders to return to the front and support an attack for the French. Our own infantry had been relieved. Their numbers had been reduced to almost nothing and it was impossible to keep them in any longer. We left the echelon July 21st. It was a long hike and it was all through rain. Our horses were about all in and were hardly able to drag the carriages after them so the men were forced to hike. In a small valley east of Vierzy shortly before daybreak, July 21st, the attack had been in progress by the French for over an hour when the battery started forward. As we moved out of the valley at the head of the ravine the road came under heavy enemy shell fire. At the head of the ravine there we had, to wait about twenty minutes before we could go into position. The shells were bursting all around and it was the hottest hole one would want to be in. There was a cemetery close by and the graves were all torn up. The French had a dressing station in a small dugout at the head of the ravine, where there were many wounded, and they were coming in large numbers. We received orders to move forward and take up our positions previously planned in the line of attack. We started off at the gallop and passed over the front line into No Man's Land. The road was under heavy enemy barrage. The French infantry were fifty feet to the right of the road, which for about fifty yards was soaked with blood. In some places there were pools of blood. It was all from the French soldiers and horses who were lying dead in large numbers.
We galloped for ten minutes and started down hill. Our B. C. received orders to return to the ravine because the infantry had not advanced, having met a strong enemy counter-attack at the moment of advancing.* The battery wheeled at the gallop
*"On the brow of a bluff just ahead, the Battery saw shells beginning to explode among a French battery; saw the cannoneers vainly trying to serve their guns, only to be cut down by the enemy's savagely accurate fire. Again the Battery advanced at a gallop. It was moving picture stuff of the most far-fetched type; a battery of field artillery charging an enemy in the open in modern war. It was a reversion to Gettysburg and Chancellorsville. Drivers doubled halter shanks around their right arms and used them as whips; cannoneers stood on limber steps, pounding wheel pairs with pick handles, shovels, clubs, anything that could be used to push the horses to more speed. In the second section, Henry Hanners was driving what had been a lovely pair of sorrels in the wheel of the gun team. Mickey O'Driscoll was stimulating the activities of Hanners' pets with the flat surface of a short handled shovel while Hanners, who thought more of that half-starved pair of horses than he did of his life moaned, "Don't hurt my babies! Don't hurt my babies."
"To hell with your babies," roared O'Driscoll, "Get in the collars, you red buzzard baits." On first one, then on the other, landed the shovel.
Every man in the battery wore a contented smile and their eyes gleamed with happy excitement. Great stuff, that! Suddenly, the Battery was surprised to see the first section come to an abrupt halt and the second section swing out and pass the erstwhile leaders. A shell had burst just in front of the first section gun team, knocking the lead pair down. Almost at once the driver, Carol Burris, had the animals on their feet again but before the section had gone far it was necessary to stop again as a swing horse had leaped over the traces when the leaders went down.
Barely had the first section gotten under way the second time when Captain Waters commanded counter-march, and he might have added that classic line from Shakespeare's Macbeth, ",Stand not upon the order of your going." Already under an intense shell fire, the Battery had ridden into No-Man's Land and a few minutes more would have taken them—or what was left—into the German lines. The French Infantry, holding the front lay about 50 meters to the right of the road and French tanks were coming up behind the Battery, firing as they came. In one place, for about 50 feet, the metalized road was almost slippery with blood and in many tittle hollows blood lay in pools. Right at the point where the battery counter-marched lay a dead Marine, his bayoneted rifle pointed out in front of him and held in his death-stiff hand as though, while dead, he was still carrying on, pointing the way his surviving comrades should go."—From "The History of E Battery," by Verne H. Torrence.
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which were only a few yards behind our positions. We fired continuously, all night and day of July 22nd. The enemy planes were active all day and our truck train was on its way to our position when they ran into a heavy enemy barrage. From our positions we could see the effect of the barrage. A few of our trucks were blown to pieces, the enemy making a direct hit on quite a number. We fired all night at different ranges with no rest and our stomachs were empty.
July 23rd we were shelled heavily. Private Linderman and Private Lee were wounded. The enemy were active with their planes again and set a couple of our observation balloons in flames and brought down one of our planes. They discovered our positions and began to shell our zone heavily. The First Battalion of the 15th, about 200 meters in front of us, were forced to leave their guns and take cover behind our guns and positions. While this shelling was going on, our infantry called for a barrage and the Second Battalion had to take up the fire for the First and Second. This meant some fast firing and all the time under shell fire. A French battalion on our left had one of their guns blown up. The whole gun was blown to pieces and it caused many casualties. Our artillery was strung along the field for
miles and but a short interval between guns. When the artillery was firing it was a regular hell. The noise was so great that data
was given on paper to the chiefs of sections, for it would be impossible to hear a command. We fired continuously all night, no sleep and empty stomachs.
July 24th we got a little to eat and felt much stronger. We also got a little rest. It was the only day we got a few hours rest on this front. At 2:00 A. M. we began to fire on different zones. This was rapid fire. It lasted until daybreak when we began a rolling barrage. The enemy felt it heavily. The French infantry went over the top and met strong resistance, the enemy counter attacked and we were called on for a counter barrage which we fired. Immediately after we started a rapid zone fire and kept up zone fire till 3:00 P. M. We had a short interval to cool and clean our guns and at 4:00 P. M. we started a rolling barrage which lasted till after 6:00 P. M., and then kept up a standing
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barrage till the French infantry had dug themselves in their new holes and positions they had taken from the enemy. It was a hot day and we were wringing wet with sweat. Most of the gun crews were working in their undershirts. The guns were so hot we could not touch them with our hands. The sponge we used to swab the gun was burned up. There was not a bristle left on it. Our guns had, fired from 2:00 A. M., July 25th, till 8:00 P. M., that night, and our battery fired 4108 rounds of H. E. shell.
The number of rounds fired by our battery on the Soissons front exceeded 12,500 rounds, mostly H. E. shell with a very few shrapnel, gas and semisteel shell. We were relieved by French artillery July 25th, at 10:00 P. M., and returned to our echelon, which had moved up to the edge of the forest near Long Pont, arriving at 12:30 A. M., July 26th. July 27th the entire battery left the echelon at 5:15 A. M., and hiked twenty and one-half kilometers to a temporary camp in a small village two kilometers west of Bitz. We arrived at 2:00 P. M. At 8:00 A. M., July 28th, we were again on the road and arrived at Forfry at 1:45 P. M., hiking fifteen kilometers that day. We immediately set in to destroy the cooties, every man was full of them and they were all fattened up on the good meals they had on our flesh. The clothes (our whole possession of clothes was on our back) we wore were dirty, crummy and torn almost -to shreds. We were issued new clothes and had a chance to take a bath in a small creek close by and a clean change of underwear and socks, the first change in many weeks. We received a number of replacements who had just come from the States.
July 31st at 4:30 P. M. we left Forfry and hiked eighty kilometers to Le Plessis Belleville, where we entrained immediately after our arrival at 7:15 P. M., August 1st. We again passed through the eastern outskirts of Paris and detrained at 3:45 A. M., August 3rd, at Jarville, the suburbs of Nancy, and began at 5:45 A. M., on a march and arrived at Ludres at 4:00 P. M. There were twenty-five passes given to the men in the battery in Nancy and they had a great time. Quite a few went without a pass and you could not blame them, for these were the
29
positions and it was quite a walk tp get deloused. We received new clothes here and also got rid of the pest, cooties.
The 89th Division Artillery relieved us at this position August 21st. This was the first time for them to take up a position and they were sure excited. They acted as though they were under shell fire. It was a moonlight night we joined the echelon at Sanzy. Number of rounds fired at Toul was 650 H. E. shell. August 22nd the entire battery left the Toul front at 9:30 A. M., and stopped one kilometer south of the city of Toul for dinner, of ter which they proceeded to Bicquelay, arriving at 3:30 P. M. and passed the night there. We resumed the march the following morning at 6:30 A. M., and arrived at Viterne at 10:00 A. M., marching 8 miles or about 12 kilometers. We established a camp here. It was a fairly good town, in fact, it was better than we had been getting. We were able to buy hot bread, eggs, etc., and also plenty of good beer. We were entertained by the women from the Y. M. C. A., and were also paid in this town. We had some fairly good weather and most of the boys had a swim in the Moselle River. We left Viterne at 9:45 P. M., the night of the third day of September and hiked twenty-one kilometers. Arrived at 4:50 A. M., in the Bois La Gondreville where we camped for the day with the entire division.
We derived great pleasure in watching the marines and infantrymen practice bayonet charging and yelling at the top of their voices just the same as they do at the front. September 4th, at 8 :28 P. M., the battery moved from the woods and reached the Bois Ville sector at 5:45 A. M. September 5th we hiked thirteen kilometers. Left Bois Le Sector at 6:30 P. M., the same day and arrived in a stretch of woods near Royameix at 1:45 A. M., September 6th; we hiked sixteen kilometers. The roads were very muddy and it rained almost continually. September 7th at 9:15 P. M., the firing battery left this camp and arrived at the selected gun positions at 2:00 A. M. On September 8th we hiked fifteen kilometers. We traveled mostly through a very dense wood. There was only one small road, and it was so dark we could not see a foot in front of us. We finally had to stop as the horses were very weak after a hard ride and
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first passes given out to us since we went to the front with the exception of Sergeant Long and Sergeant Cone, who had a pass to Paris the 4th of July while on the Chateau Thierry front to participate in the parade with the Victors of the Marne.
We left Ludres at 1:30 P. M., August 5th, and hiked to French barracks two kilometers east of Toul, arriving at 8:30 P. M., and putting up there for the night. August 6th at 8:15 A. M., we left the barracks and hiked to Sanzey, and here we established our echelon. The first platoon of the firing battery left at 6:00 P. M., the same day and arrived at positions one kilometer south of Raulicourt at 8:45 P. M., marching twenty kilometers. Our battery was in a reserve position in the woods. The wildcat was the fourth piece and was further advanced. While in these positions we had the time of our lives; not a thing to do but eat and sleep. The French had some 90 mm. guns in this position. They must have been built in the time of Napoleon. They had no recoil mechanism and when a shot was fired the whole carriage would fly back about two yards. They were very slow, but they were accurate. We fired a number of shots from the 90's for adjustment and we got good results. While here we saw a couple of companies of infantry of the 82nd Division going into the lines for the first time. We never saw such a scared bunch in our lives. They were afraid to talk even while passing our positions which were five kilometers from the enemy lines. For the first time we met the Salvation Army and we must say they put more cheer into a soldier than any other organization we met during our entire stay at the front. They were in the town of Raulicourt, only four kilometers from the front-line trenches, and they were exposed to shell fire. The shell fire did not bother them, for the girls said the pies and doughnuts had to be made for the boys and they kept on with their work. When we moved into this sector the Y. M. C. A. was there, but during the night they moved out for they were nowhere to be found in the days that followed. Captain McClean was with the battery in Toul. For the first time we ran across a delousing station put up by the Red Cross. It was about four kilometers in the rear of our
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pull and neither men or horses had anything to eat since early morning. We laid down on the grass after giving the horses what shelter we could and went to sleep with the Boche shells singing over us. The battery position was called Bois De Hoquernont: it was about a half kilometer from Liny. We could not work in the daytime because our position was under close observation from the Boche balloons, so we did all our work at night. It was quite a hard job digging gun pits, but hauling the ammunition was manual labor. We first had to march about three kilometers to the ammunition dump and load the shells on small flat cars that were operated by hand. We handled and hauled the ammunition on these cars up a steep grade for about two kilometers and from there had to carry it by hand the rest of the distance. The woods were so dark and we were not very familiar with the surroundings, so many of the boys took quite a few falls, tripping over stumps, brush, etc. The roads were muddy and the horses so weak that it was impossible for our caissons to get up, and all of our ammunition was carried in this manner.
The night of September 11th our caissons managed to arrive at the position so we had quite a supply of ammunition on hand. On the morning of September 12th the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient began. At 1:00 A. M. the big guns began firing and every time the shells passed over us, it sounded like a freight train. The Germans and our own infantry were throwing up star shells, which lighted up the place for miles around. We could see the Germans signaling frantically for a barrage, but the big guns had their artillery so well covered that the German gunners could not work the guns without meeting certain death. At 5:00 A. M. sharp, our 75's began to pour out a rolling barrage in rear of which the infantry advanced. The barrage was so heavy and accurate that the infantry met very little opposition. The Germans turned loose a little machine gun fire and then, seeing it did not have any effect, started to retreat. Our battery left this position at 6:30 A. M., and advanced under a supporting barrage following the infantry. We took a position 500 meters north of Remonville arriving at 11:00 A. M.,
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CONCEALED IN THE WOODS. AWAITING ORDERS TO GO INTO ACTION NEAR ST. MII-HEL
BATTERY
,
LI
having advanced seven kilometers. While making this advance, we were obliged to stop several times in order to build roads over the trenches which our barrage had completely destroyed. Directly over us there was an air battle going on. The German aviators were trying to drop hand grenades on us and our own aviators were fighting to prevent them. We saw three planes fall, one of them landing nose first in the soft ground. Just ahead of us we saw marines and infantry going across the field with fixed bayonets and the sun shining on them made a pretty picture. To our left, there were about a dozen tanks going over to help the infantry. The Germans had by this time organized a few gun crews and they were shelling the tanks. They put two of them out of the battle. About this time our infantry were coming with plenty of prisoners, some of them carrying wounded soldiers, both American and German. They were immediately put to work repairing the roads and taking up the barbed wire which made it very difficult for us to pass through with our guns. We got quite a few souvenirs from the prisoners, such as rings, watches, German money, etc. Just in the rear of us was a battalion of infantry and, as we were just about to continue our march, a German airplane came over and dropped a few hand grenades on them. We were unable to tell if any of them were killed or wounded.
About a kilometer ahead of us, there were the smoking ruins of what had once been two fairly large towns. They were the most destroyed towns we have ever seen on any front. We finally got our guns laid and opened up with our second barrage which was also a rolling barrage. We continued with zone firing after the barrage, until the ammunition ran out. It was very difficult for the ammuntion trains to reach us because they had to travel the same roads and meet the same obstacles that we did. We were at a standstill for a half hour after which the ammunition arrived. Taking everything into consideration, they had made very good time. There were quite a few American boys dead alongside of our position, who were duly buried. It got pretty cold towards evening, and as the Germans had some very good overcoats, we collected most of them and put them on.
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At about 8:00 P. M. on the same date, we again advanced and took up a position two kilometers southeast of Thiacourt near the southern edge of the Bois De Heiche. We arrived at this position at 1:00 A. M., on September 13th making an advance of four kilometers. On leaving our second position we came across three tanks. One of them was in the middle of the road and camouflaged to look natural. The roads were very muddy, the wheels of the gun sinking clear to the hubs, which made it very hard traveling. We had considerable trouble at first in laying the guns at night as our lighting devices had seen such hard service that they were no longer serviceable. However, we scouted around some old German gun pits and positions and found some German lighting devices without which we would have been seriously handicapped.
On the left of our new position about one hundred meters there was a trench in which some of the German infantry took cover and were caught in our 75's barrage. It was here that we saw the effects of our firing, as the trench was filled with German dead. We were very short on rations these days, but some of the boys found a German kitchen and a detail was sent out to bring back anything they could find to feed the battery. There were quite a few old German gun positions in the woods close to this position. We found potatoes and a few other articles in the kitchen and it helped a great deal to feed the men who had gone quite sometime without anything to eat.
All along the road and fields were gas masks which our infantry had thrown away, filling the cases with ammunition. The firing battery again moved forward on the 14th of September at 9:15 P. M., and took up a new position in a large ravine one kilometer southeast of Thiacourt. We arrived at 11:30 P. M., having advanced three kilometers. The roads were pretty fair, but there was much traffic. We made very slow progress. We passed two large German dugouts which were used as store rooms. They were dug in the side of a steep bank and were full of supplies, such as helmets, gas masks, rifles, etc. Outside the dugouts was a German wagon with the horses all harnessed up. There were two Germans lying it it, both dead as were the
34 horses. It was the result of a direct hit from one of the guns, just as they were about to drive off. There were also many others lying along the road with legs and arms blown off. It was a bright moonlight night and just as we reached the position, an enemy airplane came over us dropping flare lights and turning machine guns loose all along the column. We got into position and found that the ground sloped downward which made it necessary to dig about two feet to make the ground level. We then had to dig about three and a half feet deeper in order to attain our elevation. It was an all night job as there were many stumps and roots to dig up. It tired all the men out as they had been working without any thing to eat since noon the day before. We also had to put up a camouflage screen which was a slow, hard job and took quite a little time. We rested up the next day and after sleeping a few hours, we started to explore our new location, which was a German supply base and also the best German camp we had run across. There was a large storehouse there, which was well stocked with axes, lanterns, telephones, candles, twine, shovels, etc. One of the boys, Pvt. Herzog, picked up a small fuse about the size of a cigar, and while looking at it, it exploded and he suffered the loss of a hand. There were quite a few houses built there which had been occupied by German officers. They were fitted out with all the comforts of home, such as furniture, baths, reading lamps and everything a man would want. There was also a cafe with a large sitting room, plenty of beer and some fancy mugs. In their retreat, the Germans did not have time to take any thing with them, so left it there.
Our artillery had destroyed the railroad which was connected with this camp, and the infantry captured a whole train load of big guns which the Germans were trying to move out. The capture of Thiacourt released a number of French civilians who had been held prisoners for four years. They were all smiles and offered us sugar which they seemed to have plenty of. Some of the boys who had money, distributed it to the people whom they thought needed it the most. We took great
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pleasure in speaking to them as we had not heard a woman's voice in quite some time.
On the morning of September 16th we began a rapid zone fire. Our cook, Jerry Lynch, will long be remembered by the firing battery as he scouted around and found enough German supplies to give us three square meals that day, being the only cook who had ever performed such a feat. On the morning of the 17th we fired a couple of barrages and zone fire. On the night of the 17th the Germans sent over a few gas shells, but we sent back ten to their one which quieted them down. On the same night the battery withdrew from this position and joined the echelon, the entire 2nd Division being relieved from the front by the 5th Division. We proceded to Bois De Ursaras arriving at 4:30 A. M., September 18th, after hiking fifteen kilometers. The woods were very damp and we had to sleep in the mud and water, which caused quite a few of the men to contract Spanish influenza. September 20th, the battery left the Bois De Ursaras; number of rounds fired at St. Mihiel front is 3,124 H. E. and a number of gas shells. The Bois De Ursaras is three kilometers North of Manonville. We left here at 6:30 P. M., and arrived at Bois De Boucq, two kilometers East of Sanzey at 3:00 A. M.
September 21st we left the Bois De Boucq at 12:30 P. M., and hiked eighteen kilometers to Aulnois, arriving at 9:00 P. M. This town was seven kilometers from Commercy. We were billeted here and had quite a little rest, being able to buy beer and champagne. On September 26th the battery again took the road at 11:30 A. M. We hiked sixteen kilometers to Dompierre where we entrained at 1:00 P. M. September 27th we detrained at 4:00 A. M. at Vitry Le Sec and hiked sixteen kilometers to Sorcey, where we were billeted. September 29th at 2:00 A. M., we left Sorcey and hiked ten kilometers to a woods near Courtisol. We arrived at 6:30 A. M. We had very bad weather on this march. It rained from the time we started until we reached our destination. We left at 7:30 P. M., the same day and arrived at Suippe at 4:00 A. M. This place was filled up with French cavalry and large caliber artillery. There were also a number of 14 inch guns mounted on flat cars. They kept up a con-
36
tinuous fire all night long and every time they fired they shook the earth. There was quite a heavy bombardment going on at the front, about four kilometers ahead of us. There was an observation tower where we could see the flashes from hundreds of guns engaged in the battle at Argonne.
We were paid in the woods just before we left for the front and as the money was of no use to us, the men shot craps with it in their spare moments. October 1st, at 8:00 P. M., the firing battery moved forward and took up a gun position east of Somme-Py where we arrived at 5:00 A. M. We hiked sixteen kilometers. On this trip we traveled roads that were torn up with shell holes. There was very heavy traffic and 75 mm ammunition was piled up on both sides of the road. The road was under shell fire from the enemy's guns which made the hiking more difficult. We reached a town that had been destroyed and was still being shelled. Here the column was blocked and we had to stop about a half an hour. We went about two kilometers past the town and through. The Battery Commander gave orders to countermarch as the road ahead was blocked by some French outfit and we had to pass through a stretch that was once No Man's Land. There were shell holes all around us, but it was a moonlight night and that helped us considerably. We only had one accident, that was when our ration cart slid into a big shell hole and we spent quite some time in getting it out. We then crossed a very narrow bridge and the drivers had to be on the alert to prevent going off. The pole on the first section carriage broke and that caused another delay while we fitted a new one. We then pulled into a valley where we established an echelon and the firing battery kept right on into the position.
We took up a position on a hill in plain view of the enemy, just at daybreak. .There was a battalion of French infantry on the same hill in reserve. We went into position at a gallop being exposed to the enemy machine guns. Directly In rear of us, was a French tank which had been hit by a shell. We were so tired and hungry that we laid down to sleep after we had drag our gun pits and laid our guns. We slept in a big shell
37
hole where there were two twelve inch shells that had failed to explode.
On the morning of October 3rd, at daybreak we began a rolling barrage which was part of the bombardment of the trenches, the big guns and machine guns all starting at the same time. This is one day that we will always remember, as the attack in the big drive from Italy to Holland began at the same time. When we ceased firing our guns were very hot. The attack was a success, the infantry advanced and every one felt happy. We then received word that the marines and infantry had taken Medeah Farm and Mont Blanc and when they had established a new position protected by our standing barrage we moved forward at 2:00 P. M., taking a position two kilometers North of Somme-Py, advancing four kilometers. On the road to Somme-Py we passed through the Hindenburg Line, where we saw some Austrian gun positions and plenty of the ammunition known as whiz-bangs, or 88's. There were also many dead along the road; French, Germans and Americans. We had to pass through Somme-Py at a gallop as there was an observation balloon up and the town was under shell fire. We passed two auto trucks that the Germans had burned up and, as we came near the other side of the town, the dead became more numerous.
We went into a position that was under indirect machine gun fire, laid our guns and began to fire barrages and zone fire, We stayed in this position five days because we had advanced too far and were flanked on both sides. The French on either side of us met very strong resistance and while it was no stronger than the resistance met by the Second Division, they did not succeed as well and we had to wait until they came up, firing night and day to keep our infantry from being shot to pieces. Our position was heavily shelled, as we were exposed to shell fire from three directions, North, East and West. On October 6th the line was established as the French succeeded in advancing on both flanks. We delivered a rolling barrage without any success as the Germans put up a strong counter barrage. On the morning of the 8th, we repeated our rolling barrage which was twice as strong as the one on the 6th and was a complete success,
38
as our infantry made the Boche retreat. While firing this barrage, we were under shell fire and one of the guns in F Battery which was on our right, blew up, killing three men. At the same time a Boche shell lit in front of the piece, bursting and seriously wounding eight men. We started to dig a few trenches for protection and just had them finished when we received a heavy shelling. We had to take one piece out of the barrage and bring it to the repair shop. All the roads were under constant shell fire.
The cook was coming up with our supper, when a shell exploded right in rear of the wagon, spilling the chow all over and making us go on short rations. Our position was right alongside of a cemetery where there were a number of Germans buried from the early days of the war in 1914. In rear of the cemetery there was a French dressing station crowded with wounded soldiers. There were also French soldiers burying their dead comrades in shell holes. We received word from the Chaplain that night, that the Germans were willing to come to President Wilson's terms of his speech of January 8th, 1918, but we did not take it seriously very long. We had a few casualties on this front while hauling ammunition under shell fire. Corporals Giles and Brindle were killed when a shell exploded between them and their caissons. While looking over the wires which connected our telephone with the front line, Charlie Merrell was seriously wounded. We also had two runners who were in the front line and went over that morning with the infantry. One of them, Roland Roeder, was reported missing in action (probably killed) ; the other, Private Stevens, was killed.
Our Liaison Officer, Lieutenant Vandergraef, whik. leading a battalion of infantry (36th Texas Division) over the top was also wounded by machine-gun fire. We had nine men recommended for the Croix de Guerre who were later decorated in Germany. Private George, who was with Corporal Brindle, was also seriously wounded.*
*"One of the unsung, uncited, undecorated heroes of the battle of Mont Blanc was Thomas Jeremiah, Private, Battery 'E,' 15th Field Artillery. 'Jerry' held down the lowly job of chauffeur on the water cart. But a man's value in this world lies, not in the position he holds so much as in how he performs his duties; and success all depends upon a man's goal. Jerry's job was to get water to the kitchen, and if there
39
After driving into this position until we were so far advanced that we were outflanked on both sides, the Germans sent in two of their best divisions to attack us, but we stood our ground until our own flanks were able to advance.
Just before going into the Champagne front, our battery commander, Captain McClean, who had relieved Captain Waters at Forfry, was taken sick with the Spanish influenza and Lieutenant Gore was given command of the battery.
After our division had got the Germans on the run, we were obliged to use high velocity or semi-steel shell in order to shoot our maximum range of 11,000 meters. The normal charge could not reach this long range.
October 10th, at 2:00 P. M., we left this position and moved forward, taking up a new position four and a half kilometers southeast of Mashault. We arrived at 6:30 P. M., advancing eight kilometers. Our forward echelon moved up also, billeting in some wooden shacks that were once a German camp. There were the remains of a German ammunition dump which had been blown up, scattering small and large shells, hand grenades and bombs all over the fields. To the left of our position, was a large town which had been pretty well shot to pieces. Here we saw American infantrymen stretched out in shell holes as if waiting for the word to advance. One was looking at his wristwatch at the time he was killed. We were unable to fire from this position as the Germans were running so fast they were out of our range.
On October 11th we left this position at 9:30 A. M., and took up a position two and a half kilometers North of Liffincourt, arriving at 2:30 P. M. We advanced fifteen kilometers. On this hike we had to pass a road that had been torn up by bombs
was water within miles he got it. When the guns went into position, the cannoneers dug in and either fired or rested. At least, they "arrived." When the echelon parked, they too were where they were going. But for Jerry it merely meant going back after water ; back to town under shell fire, and over roads shell ridden. He filled all the containers at the kitchen and went back to re-fill his water cart and he did not confine his activities to his own Battery but to any unit of the Division. Jerry was happy to draw water. Into the front lines, went Jerry and his cart, to doughboys and Marines who hailed him as Heaven sent. He seemed to bear a charmed life and it was remarkable, for it was usually the man of most value to his mates; the man most liked and most essential to the scheme of things, who went first."—From "The History of E Battery," by Verne H. Torrance.
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from our own bombing planes, dropped on the retreating Germans. We were also unable to fire from this position as the Germans had kept on going, so we laid our guns and fed the horses with some hay which we found at the position. It had once been a German echelon.
We were still overrun by those cooties and had no opportunity to get rid of the dirty pests as we were always on the go. We slept all night long without being interrupted. It was the first night in a long time that we had a whole nights rest.
On October 12th, the firing battery again advanced, leaving at 5:00 A. M., and taking up a position two kilometers south of Vaux Champagne, arriving at 6:15 A. M. We left our rear echelon near Liffincourt in an old German camp, where they had good stables and billets. In this position which was on a large hill, we were right in plain view of the enemy, who had made a stand on the other side of the Aisne River, from which we were not very far. We fired quite a number of rounds from this position and were soon discovered and given a shelling from the German guns. On the 14th, the firing battery moved to a new position one kilometer east of Vaux Champagne leaving at 8:30 A. M., and arriving at 9:30 A. M., traveling one and a half kilometers. We had our gun pits all dug and platforms made when we received orders to move for the position was claimed to be unsafe, and it caused us a lot of unnecessary work. This position was under close observation from the German observation balloon.
In the afternoon of the same day, we moved at 2:30 P. M.,
taking up a position at 3:00 P. M., a kilometer and a half east
of Vaux Champagne. We stayed here four days, doing very
little firing. Our cook Jerry Lynch was on the job giving us three meals a day and plenty of it. We pitched pup tents here
for the first time since leaving Chateau Thierry. Our forward echelon moved up in a large hollow about one kilometer in rear of us. Here we had a chance to shave and clean up. We were allowed to build fires during the day as it was very misty. There was plenty of water handy and Sit. Cone built a shower bath by sawing a large barrel in half and setting it on three poles
41
about ten feet high. We heated the water and poured it into the barrel. Every man in the firing battery took a bath including the Battery Commander and a few men from the forward echelon. We also changed clothes, which helped to reduce the cooties. Our sector here was very quiet, but at night there was always a heavy bombardment going on to our right towards Grand Pre. We were shelled once in a while, but not very heavily.
Our Regimental P. C. was in the town of Vaux Champagne and here one of our runners (Pvt. Gerald Johnson), was killed by a high explosive shell with time fuse. On October 19th, at 3:30 P. M., the entire battery left the front and hiked sixteen kilometers to an old German camp where an echelon was established two kilometers south of Mashault, at 7:00 P. M. We had pretty good quarters here in some wooden shacks with beds and stoves, and we also established a shower bath. We expected to stay here quite a while and rest up, but the night of the 21st. we received orders to return at once to the front and relieve a French outfit which was very badly shot up. We left this camp at 9:00 P. M., and took up a position in the town of Marquiney, arriving at 2:00 A. M. We hiked sixteen kilometers. It was a very poor position, being muddy. There wasn't even a dry place to sleep, so after we laid our guns, which was very difficult because of the lack of lighting devices, we laid down in the mud and got a little sleep.
On October 22nd, we fired quite a few rounds and at dusk we moved to another position about two hundred yards to the left. It was a much better position, as it afforded good concealment for our guns and there was also a house and barn in which part of the firing battery slept. Our marines and infantry had been relieved and we were covering the infantry from the 36th Division. In this position we were getting very little to eat as they had changed cooks on us and the rear echelon was getting it all. There was a large turnip patch and also a cabbage patch and any time of the day or night the men could be seen there, eating turnips. When we fired at night, between intervals the men would run out to the patch and come back with an armful
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of turnips, eating them while working. We were shelled at this position, but most of them were over us. We were gassed pretty heavily for about three hours on the morning of the 25th. It was a very foggy morning and the smell of gas was very strong. At intervals they sent over a few high explosives. We had a good supply of gas shells on hand so we sent back a bigger dose and made them quiet down. We continued firing in all zones with rapid fire all the next day and night of the 26th.
On the 27th, at 4:00 P. M., we fired a rolling barrage for the 36th Division infantry which lasted about two hours. We then began a standing barrage to protect the infantry while they dug in their new positions. We had nothing left but shrapnel, so we finished our standing barrage with it. On October 28th, at 3:00 A. M., we were relieved by a French outfit and hiked to the rear echelon. Number of rounds fired on this front (Champagne), 8512 High Explosive, Gas and Shrapnel. (Also includes semi-steel.)
We arrived at the echelon at 6:00 A. M., hiking sixteen kilometers. While we were in position at Marquiney we heard that the Americans at Argonne Forest were meeting great resistance and all divisions engaged there were having heavy casualties and were calling for reinforcements. This was the reason we were taken from Champagne. Our infantry and marines were already on the way to Argonne. On October 29th the entire battery left the echelon and hiked thirty-eight kilometers to Cerna Dormois. We left at 8:00 A. M., and arrived at 4:35 P. M. We passed through Somme-Py again on this hike and the town was very quiet, a great difference from our first trip through there. The weather was very warm for this time of the year. On the way to Cerna Dormois, we saw an aviator land in a field about three hundred yards from the road. He was waving his arms to attract our attention and some of the men galloped over to him and saw that he had been wounded by a machine gun bullet in his right leg. They took him to a field hospital close by and left him there. We left Cerna Dormois at 1:30 P. M., October 30th, with the firing batteries in the lead and the three echelons of the battalion bringing up the rear, as a supply train. The echelon
43
was established near Eglise Fontaine. The firing battery went into position at 9:00 P. M., a half kilometer southeast of Fleville. We hiked twenty kilometers. The roads were crowded with troops going in two directions. The 42nd and 77th Divisions were coming back. There were also a number of auto trucks hauling ammunition. We left the main road and turned into a side road that had very deep mud, almost to the hulbs of the wheels.
It was stiff pulling for the horses. We had a very small supply of rations, but our cook came upon a pile of rations which had been left by some outfit that was pulling out. We took up a position in a ravine and laid our guns, after which we rested, although the ground was muddy, and it was raining continuously. We rested all the next day and on the morning of November 1st we started a rapid zone barrage at ,3 :00 A. M. At 5 :00 A. M., we began a rolling barrage that lasted two hours. This was a very hard front to advance on and ,there were thousands of guns there . The bombardment was terrible. The guns were mostly 75's although there were quite a number of large caliber guns from 155's to 16 inch. At intervals we could hear the big shells passing over us and also the rattle of machine guns, which kept up a terrible fire. While we were firing, our cook, Jerry Lynch came up with a Boche wagon that he got at St. Mihiel, and we had our breakfast, one man from each gun at a time. This attack was successful and the heavy bombardment put the Germans on the run.
At 7:30 A. M., we moved up under the protection of a barrage that was still rolling and advanced eight kilometers, taking a position one kilometer south of Landres St. George, arriving at 10:00 A. M. We had to pass a road that was dotted with big shell holes and had it been at night we could never have made it. There was also barbed wire all along the road. We passed a trench that the Americans had held. There was a lot of equipment there, also some canned corned beef, which we took. In this position, which was on the side of a hill, we quickly got the necessary data and picked up a barrage at 10:20 A. M. We continued to roll it until 3:00 P. M. At 4:00 P. M., we again
44
advanced four kilometers and arrived at 5:00 P. M. in position Southeast of Landreville. When we were half way to the position, the Germans shelled us with gas and high explosives and we were ordered back about two hundred meters from the main road.
While we were moving into position, we were shelled pretty heavily and we moved forward without laying the guns and arrived in position at 5:00 P. M. We fired on a machine gun nest from this position with semi-steel shell.
On November 3rd, we fired a number of rounds, and at 2:00 P. M., we moved forward to a new position. We passed through Fosse and hiked about five hundred meters north of the town and were then ordered to return to our old position. On this trip the horses were very weak from lack of food and a wheel horse of the second section went down. The chief of section, Sgt. Cone, was forced to shoot him as he was no longer able to rise. The section caught up with the column and we reached the old position at 8:00 P. M. The reason we had to return to the old position was that the infantry had not advanced. That evening from 8:00 to 11:00 we fired three hundred rounds of semi-steel shell into Beaumont, a range of nearly 11,000 meters. November 4th at 7:00 A. M., we left this position and advanced eight kilometers and took up a new position five hundred meters east of La Forge Farm arriving at 10:30 A. M. We fired at intervals most of the time we were here and one of the guns in Battery "D" blew up. Our battery had their guns in the open under a camouflage screen. The Germans were shelling the road continuously, which was close to our position but we remained undiscovered.
We left this position, east of La Forge Farm on November 5th. At 5:00 P. M. we advanced on the crossroads of the southern edge of Beaumont and took a position a kilometer and a half south of Beaumont. On this hike it was very dark. It rained all night long and the mud was almost knee deep. The boys were in good spirits, singing songs and joking most of the way. We had to stop for two hours on this road as the traffic was very heavy. We finally started again and had to climb a
45
very steep hill. It was a severe strain on the horses and one of the sections had to stop quite often in order to give the horses a rest. The front line was close to Beaumont and it was so dark that it was impossible for a lead driver to see the road and it was necessary for someone to lead the horses. We could see the flash of the guns and just as we reached the crossroads, a flare rocket was sent up. It was what is known as a star shell and illuminated the place for a mile around. It was rumored that this rocket was sent up by a German soldier who was left behind when the rest of them retreated. Immediately after the rocket went up we were shelled by the Germans, with gas and high explosives. Although the gas was very strong none of the boys put their gas masks on and as a result there were a few of them gassed pretty badly. A high explosive hit right in front of the telephone wagon killing three horses, wounding one man, Pvt. Stone, who was brought to the rear, and turning over the wagon.
We were forced to abandon the telephone wagon for the time being but recovered it later the same night. The following is a piece from the Stars and Stripes which was received in Germany, April 11, 1919: "Through the pouring rain of that black night one battalion of the 9th Infantry marching in column of twos and "E" Battery of the 15th Field Artillery, with a company of infantry a few hundred yards ahead as advance guard, moved rapidly up the single road, capturing German machine gunners asleep besides their pieces and other sleeping Germans at La Forge and La Tuliere Farms. Just before midnight, the Americans occupied strong natural positions in the neighborhood of La Tuliere Farm commanding Beaumont." We arrived in position at 10:00 P. M., on November 5th, hiking eight kilometers. We laid our guns and went to bed in the mud and rain with nothing to cover us but a tarpaulin. We got up in the morning and as we were almost barefooted and our socks were wet, we went out to look for some German boots and socks. We found plenty of boots and socks as the Germans left all kinds of equipment behind them. There were also a number of German dead by their machine guns. We could see that the guns had been used continuously, as there were thousands of empty cartridges
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on the ground. After we changed socks and put on the German boots we started to look around. We saw a big monument about three hundred meters to the right of the main road. This monument was on a hill and parallel with it were three lines of German machine gun emplacements, which were pretty well camouflaged. Our infantry had run right into these trenches and were surprised by the Germans. They met with heavy losses as we could see them stretched all over the fields where they had been shot down. There were a few dead Germans who had been bayoneted by our men. All of the dead soldiers, and there were about five hundred, had their pockets turned inside out; someone had looked through them during the night for money and valuables.
By this time the Germans had crossed the Meuse River and we were not very busy at this position, firing very little. In the vicinity of Beaumont there were quite a number of German artillery positions. In their haste the Germans could not get the guns out and were forced to leave them behind. Our cook found quite a good supply of food in Beaumont which was left behind by the Germans and we had some pretty good meals.
On the morning of November 8th, we were shelled heavily and Private Anderson was hit in head by a piece of rotating band and was removed to the rear. While in this position, we received orders to move to Sedan and as our horses were not in good condition we decided to leave one piece behind and make the trip with three pieces. We were all ready to go when we received orders to keep our old positions as the First Division had gone there and had met with very little resistance, so we were not needed.
The firing battery left this position near Beaumont at 3:00 P. M., November 9th, and advanced four and a half kilometers to a position one kilometer east of Yoncq, where we arrived at 5:30 P. M. On this hike we passed through Beaumont under direct observation. We had to stop in this town as the regiment was going into position on the other side. To the right of our column was a large church and while we were standing here a a big shell hit the church about ten yards to the right of our
47
second piece. It broke the pole on this piece and scared the horses, but nobody was wounded. There were three infantry-
men killed and a number wounded during this shelling. We put our guns in position alongside of the road and pitched our pup tents on the side of a hill.
The night of November 10th we were shelled very heavily by some big caliber guns. It started about 5:00 P. M., and the shells were dropping all around our position. At 7:30 P. M., we fired a rolling barrage and rapid zone fire for the . 2nd Engineers and Marines who were forcing their way across the Meuse near Muzon. We stopped firing at 10:30 P. M. The Marines and Engineers met strong resistance but held their positions until the Armistice was signed on the 11th day and 11th hour of the 11th month of the year 1918. On this front (Argonne-Meuse) we fired 5652 rounds of high explosive, shrapnel and semi-steel, also a few rounds of gas shell.
The battery fired their first shot at the enemy March 28th, 1918, at 12:00 Noon (Thursday), and fired their last shot at the enemy November 10th, 1918 (Sunday), at 10:30 P. M. The number of rounds fired by Battery "E", 15th Field Artillery, in the length of their engagements with the enemy was :
At Valdahon Target Practice 3112
Verdun Front 12484
Chateau Thierry Front 22700
Soissons Front 12500
St. Mihiel Front 3124
Champagne Front 8512
Meuse-Argonne Front 5652
Total Rounds 68084
When we heard that the Armistice had been signed we did not believe it, as there had been so many rumors going around about peace that we did not know whether to believe it or not. The Germans were firing right up to 10:47 and when everything became quiet at 11:00 A. M., we were still in doubt. You could see the boys listening for the sound of a gun, expecting to hear
48
one every minute. Towards the afternoon we heard about the signing of the Armistice from every soldier we saw and were finally convinced. We then went out exploring and as we came to Muzon we could see the Germans on the banks of the Meuse waving their hands to us. We found a five gallon jug of schnapps and proceeded to celebrate. Some of the boys began to feel pretty good and started singing. Towards night it grew cold and we all built fires. It seemed funny to see so many fires now when twenty-four hours before we could not even strike a match. Our cook got busy and scouted around Muzon where he found a large supply of flour and sauerkraut. We brought the flour to our position and the boys had lots of hot cakes and biscuits. They ate sauerkraut until they were filled up.
On November 14th, the firing battery and echelon left their respective positions, being relieved by the 305th Field Artillery of the 77th Division at 2:30 P. M. We moved to Andrecourt where the regiment assembled arriving at 4:45 P. M., hiking six kilometers. We slept in a large aeroplane shed. While her( we received orders to prepare for a long hike into Germany. We cleaned up our equipment and took a bath, changing our clothes and once more got rid of a few cooties, although there were still plenty of them around. At 7:00 A. M., November 16th, the entire battery left Andrecourt and marched eight kilometers to Beaumont arriving at 10:30 A. M. Here we salvaged all our old clothes and drew new ones, being outfitted from head to foot. We also drew some new horses. We left Beaumont at 2:00 P. M., and marched to Stenay arriving at 6:00 P. M., crossing the Meuse River. We billeted here for the night.
On November 17th we left Stenay at 7:00 A. M., and marched seventeen and a half kilometers to Montmedy arriving at 12:30 P. M. We stopped here for the night. We saw some of the first prisoners released by the Germans returning to France. They were only half dressed, wearing German boots, hats and coats, but all of them were happy. These prisoners were all French and Italian. November 18th we left Montmedy at 8:45 A. M., and marched fourteen and a half kilometers to Belmont, Belgium, arriving at 4:30 P. M. We passed through
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a large city called Vitron. The Belgian people were glad to see us, meeting us with a band of music and signs which read "Welcome to our Deliverers." We stayed at Belmont two days and enjoyed ourselves very much. The people had a dance to celebrate our victory and we were all treated very well by them. We were paid in this town and we also received an order to wear the division insignia which was a star and Indian head. November 20th at 10:00 A. M., we left Belmont and arrived at Tornich at 5:30 P. M. We hiked twenty-two kilometers. November 21st at 7:00 A. M., we left Tornich and passed through Arlon, Belgium, which is one of the largest cities there. We arrived at Fantingen, Luxemburg, at 3:00 P. M. We hiked twenty-one kilometers. On November 22nd at 6:45 A. M., we left Fantingen and hiked past a big town called Mersch and arrived at Schoos at 11:00 A. M., seventeen and a half kilometers. November 23rd at 7:00 A. M., we left Schoos and arrived at Walldbilling at 10:30 A. M., thirteen kilometers. We stopped at this town about a week and the people here were strictly neutral. They treated us civilly and we had a fairly good time here. December 1st at 7:00 A. M., we left Walldbilling and crossed the Sanie River at Bollendorf at 9:45 A. M., and entered into Germany which a year ago we never dreamed of seeing. We arrived at Olsdorf at 3:00 P. M., hiking twenty-eight kilometers. December 2nd at 8:00 A. M., we left Olsdorf and hiked through Rittendorf, a large town, and arrived at Ehlenz at 4:30 P. M., hiking twenty-one kilometers. December 3rd, at 8:00 A. M., we left Ehlenz and passed through Seffern and Schoencken arriving at Nieder-kersdorf at 1:30 P. M. We hiked twenty-four kilometers. We stayed here two days in order to give the horses a rest.
December 6th at 7:15 A. M., we left Niederkersdorf and arrived at Gees at 3:00 P. M., hiking twenty-eight kilometers. December 7th at 6:45 A. M., we left Gees and arrived at Rum-hausen at 3:00 P. M., hiking twenty-four kilometers. December 8th at 7:00 A. M., we left Rumhausen arriving at Niederadnean at 4:30 P. M. We hiked thirty kilometers. December 9th at 6:45 A. M., we left Niederadnean and arrived at Nenenahr at 4:45 P. M. We hiked thirty kilometers. We stopped here for
so
three days to rest the horses. On this trip we hiked through hills and valleys and the scenery was beautiful. We saw old castles and grape vines on large hills and also passed through two tunnels in the hills. Nenenahr is a famous summer resort and we enjoyed our stay very much. Every man had a bath in the large bath house there, in a real tub with lots of hot water. There were women attendants who washed our backs for us and we thought it was a great joke. On December 13th at 7:45 A. M., we left Nenenahr and crossed the Rhine River at 10:00 A. M. (Friday), at Remagen. Our band was playing here and as we marched across the great bridge, everybody was happy and the tune our band played was "Over There". It was a day we will never forget. This bridge was very strong, being made of steel and the scenes for miles around were beautiful. There was a man from the U. S. A. who took a photograph of us as we passed over the bridge, for some moving picture company. Our colors were all uncased. We arrived at Gonnersdorf at 5:30 P. M., and were billeted here in very good billets for a permanent stay in the Army of Occupation.
After we had been here a while we started in the old routine for peace time. We had plenty of inspections, and after we had policed all our equipment up and cleaned our horses the best we could, which was not very good as they all had the mange from hard work and lack of feed, we were inspected by the acting Brigade Commander, Colonel Moore, and without taking into consideration the hard usage both our horses and equipment had seen, he confined the entire regiment to camp for three weeks. This was very hard on us as we did not deserve it and we will never forget it.
On March 17th we assembled with the entire Second Division on the heights of Vallendar and were inspected by General Pershing and passed before him in review immediately after. He told us that out of 500,000 troops he had inspected we were the best division he had seen. He also complimented us on the good work of our division in the war and claimed that we captured more prisoners and equipment and advanced the greatest number of miles of any American division over here. Here all
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of the men who were recommended for a Croix de. Guerre were decorated. On April 19th we were inspected by secretary Daniels, Commander of the U. S. Navy, and he also complimented us upon our appearance and told us we would soon be home. This put us all in good spirits and we were all anxious to leave for the U. S. A. On April 21st, the entire regiment left for Heimbach a distance of five kilometers, arriving the same day. On June 5th, at 8:00 P. M., the Call to Arms was sounded throughout the regimental area which was quite a surprise to everyone and made every man believe the war was started all over again. The real cause was that Germany failed to sign the peace treaty and therefore the Allies were ready to renew the warfare. The 15th F. A. was ordered forward and on the morning of June 6th were on their way to the outpost. We arrived at Selters at 3:00 P. M., the same day. The men were billeted in different buildings, waiting for further orders. We had a very fair time at Selters but we were expecting to go forward at most any time but to our surprise nothing happened. On June 28th, an extra came out that Germany had agreed to sign the peace terms and the men were well pleased. On the morning of June 30th the entire regiment were on their way back to Heim-bach. The regiment left Heimbach at 1:00 P. M., July 18th, 1919, and entrained at Engers the same day. Left Engers at 3:30 A. M., July 19th, 1919. In the old reliable 40 Hommes and 8 Cheveaux, on the way to Brest, we went through the following named towns: Duren, Aachen, Liege (Belgium), Namur, Vallenciennes, Valleur, Somanur, Arras, destroyed town, Albert, completely destroyed, Corbees, Amiens, Rouen, Rennes, and a few more little towns which were pretty well destroyed and could not be accounted for. Arrived at Brest 6:30 P. M., July 21st, 1919. Left Brest on the U. S. S. "Julia Luckenbach" July 24th, at 4:00 P. M. The ship was up to date taking everything into consideration and the men were well pleased. August 4th, arrived at New York, 6:00 P. M. Distance traveled by water 3200 miles. August 5th arrived at Camp Mills at 2:00 A. M., traveled on train eighteen miles. On August 8th, left Camp Mills for New York at 6:30 A. M. Arrived at 9:30 A. M., and
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the entire division paraded at 4:00 P. M., from 10th Street to 115th Street on 5th Avenue. After the parade, entrained for Camp Mills where the entire division was demobilized August 12th, at 2 :00 A. M. It was here that Capt. G. A. Gore left the battery and it was hard leaving for him and also the men, as he was one of the best and well liked officers the battery ever had. He led the battery at two fronts, Champagne and Meuse-Argonne, with great success. He also took the battery back to the U. S. A., and was relieved by First Lieut. Anthony at Camp Mills, N. Y. The few regulars left after the demobilization, with the exception of the 5th and 6th Marines which were detached from the division, entrained for Camp Travis, Texas, where we arrived on August 16th, 1919, at 2:00 P. M., for usual camp duties. Traveled by rail 2000 miles.
 
E BATTERY GOES TO WAR
FIRST SERGEANT ANTHONY D. CONE
BATTERY E, 15TH FIELD ARTILLERY
Washington, D. C. 1929
 
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