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A Road Without An End


The Indian Magazine
Volume 1, No. 12 — July 1, 1919

The first few days of September, 1918, found Company B, Second Engineers, quietly enjoying life in some French barracks south of Toul. These barracks were located on the top of a chain of hills, from which one could see several towns in the distance, and the beautiful Moselle, as it wended its way towards the German border. But life was too easy here, and on September 3 we rolled packs, and at 8:30 o'clock, through a drizzling rain, started forward on a road that seemed to have no end.

After eight hours on the road, we stopped in a wooded valley for rest, as orders were against mov­ing in the daylight. The following night found us again on the road, making the usual number of kilometers. Just as dawn was creeping over the eastern sky, we passed Manoncourt, and located in the beauti­ful woods to the northwest. With pup tents all in a row, we waited the great drive that was to come. On the nearby railroad we could see great quantities of ammunition and guns being unloaded, and prepara­tions coming to a head. We picked our way out past the railhead and hidden supplies across a field, to that ever-winding streak of white.

Next morning found us in a narrow stretch of woods behind a heavy barbed-wire entanglement. For three days we were kept hidden and not allowed to leave cover. Rain had made the ground soft, as well as life miserable in the small pup tents. Here, too, a large number of our comrades were chosen to cut the enemy wire, and one night as darkness crept over the land, they went forward to take up life with our brother fighters, the marines.

Rain set in and everything was wet and damp, but regardless of conditions, at an hour past midnight, hell broke loose. Our guns belched forth death and destruction to all humanity that lay in their path. For four hours these monsters sent missles [sic] of steel and gas at the enemy, and just as the gray streak of dawn were appearing in the east, the Second Division went over the top.

Company B was assigned to road work, and as the first sounds of the barrage were heard, orders came to move forward. We reached the main road in the early dawn, passed by the roaring guns across No Man's Land, and into the home of the Hun. Stopping to fill the holes in the road and to prepare it for the advance of the artillery, we worked our way towards Remenauville.

The following day we reached Thiaucourt, and about 4 o'clock our kitchen pulled into the shell torn town to cook us a hot dinner. With a full stomach we returned about three kilometers to an engineer dump, which we took over and made into a home for the next few days. Stray shells would drop into the woods and gas alarms would sound during the night, but men of Company B only drew their blankets closer about them and slept until morning.

The pretty town of Thiacourt, located on a little stream that flows into the Moselle was not entirely destroyed, although during the drive many shells were thrown into it. The little stone bridge which had been damaged was repaired by Company B men.

A narrow-gauge railroad followed the stream, and one could see its entire equipment standing in the yards, just as they had left it.

Thiacourt, France
Thiaucourt, in the St. Mihiel Salient, which fell before American onslaught, Sept. 12-13, 1918

On September 15, when the Second Division was relieved, Company B went to the rear, making a 20-kilometer hike, and pitched tents in the Bois de la Reine. For the next two days we took a much needed rest. The boys that went over the top with the marines and infantry came back, and we heard many weird tales of the taking of towns and woods, and the capture of many prisoners. A few days later we donned our packs again, and by daylight set out on that never-ending streak of white. At noon we took a rest while th[e] kitchen made coffee. Late in the evening we entered the quiet town of Pagney. Billets were assigned, and for the next ten days we did "squads right and left."

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