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Chapter XI —
History of The 2nd Engineer Train.


Organization

The Engineer Train was formed at Courchesne bridge, El Paso, Texas, on April 23, 1917. On this date sixteen enlisted men and one officer, 1st Lt. Gordon R. Young, were transferred from the 2nd Engineer Regiment and organized into the 2nd Engineer Train. The Train was attached to the Engineer Regiment for organization.

By the end of June the enlisted strength of the Train had increased to a total of one hundred and sixty-six men and during this month the Train was organized into Headquarters, Pontoon and Searchlight Sections.

Enroute To France

Under this organization the training and equipment of the Train was continued until the later part of August when the Pontoon and Searchlight Sections were transferred from the Train, and the Headquarters section—which by itself now constituted the Train under the new Tables of Organization—proceeded to Washington, D. C., preparatory to embarkation to France.

On August 27th Captain Gordon R. Young was succeeded as commanding officer by 1st Lt. Frank S. Bowler. Several days later the Train left for Newport News, Virginia.

Arriving in Newport News on September 1, the Train was the second organization to reach that camp. The first was a casual company made up from the 9th and 23rd Infantry regiments and the 5th Machine Gun Battalion, units which the Train was to see much of during the following year in France.

On October 17th the Train left Newport News on the U. S. A. T., Panaman and after an uneventful trip St. Nazaire, France, was reached on November 10th.

St. Nazaire

The Train remained in St. Nazaire for six weeks. During this period all men not required for ordinary Camp duties were employed on construction work. This work consisted in the repair of buildings and in the construction of stables and concrete water troughs at the Remount Depot.

On December 23rd six Quad trucks were drawn from the Motor Park at St. Nazaire and on the following day orders were received directing the Train to leave the animals at the remount depot and to proceed overland with the motor transportation and to join the 2nd Engineer Regiment at Longeau, Haute Marne.

On Christmas morning the movement was begun. Lieutenant Eric W. Luster was in command, Lieutenant Bowler having been sent to the hospital with the "la grippe" the day before.

A stop of two days was made at Nevers to obtain much needed tools, tires and repair parts. On the 2nd of January, 1918, the convoy reached Longeau only to find that the 2nd Engineers had moved to the Bourmont area. A stop was made for some gasoline and a broken down Atlas truck abandoned by the regiment was taken in tow and the journey resumed. On the following day the convoy arrived in the Bourmont area and was assigned to the village of Rosiers sur Mouzon which was also occupied by one of the 2nd Division Ambulance Companies.

Bourmont Area

In the Bourmont area the Train was badly handicapped in its training through lack of equipment. On its arrival in the area its entire equipment consisted of six quad trucks. About two months later or two weeks before the Train left the area full equipment was received with the exception of horses and mules.

Lack of equipment however did not lessen the activities of the Train. Trucks were used each day with the 2nd Engineers on barrack construction and with the Division Quartermaster who was improving the grounds around the Quartermaster offices and dumps at Bourmont. The men not used to run the trucks and on necessary company duties operated a stone quary [sic quarry] about one-half kilometer from Rosiers. The Train also took part in all the Regimental maneuvers held by the 2nd Regiment of Engineers.

Verdun Front

On March 18th the Train moved into the Verdun front. As the animals had not yet arrived the wagons and harness were left behind and our trucks together with four borrowed from the Marines were loaded with the other equipment. In this area the Train was billeted on the west bank of the Mouse [sic Meuse] at Ancemont. At this place the trucks were unloaded and an engineer dump was established.

Engineering materials were soon in demand, as the engineers were doing considerable work towards strengthening the lines, by the construction of strong points, dugouts and the like, and the artillery regiments of the division were busy improving their battery positions. Owing to language difficulties with the French the Train took over on April 6th the engineer dumps known as Tillot. Bois St. Nicolas, and Bernatant. At each of these four men and a non-commissioned officer were stationed. The artillery positions which were all adjacent to the dumps were supplied during the day time, and the material for the engineers was sent forward in escort wagons at night.

On April 10th, replacements were received sufficient to bring the Train up to its authorized strength of eighty-two men. On the 21st the horses and mules arrived. A detail was immediately sent back to the Bourmont area to ship the wagons and harness left there by the Train and on May 12, eight F. W. D. trucks were received. On this date the Train was for the first time, since its arrival in France., fully equipt [sic equipped]. It now had its full compliment of everything, men, transportation and supplies.

Chaumont En Vixen

The following day the Division was relieved and the Train moved to Combles, the motor section arriving the same day and the animal section the day after. The period from the 14th to the 20th was spent in cleaning equipment and in properly loading the tool wagons. On the morning of the 21st the animal section entrained at Mussey, arriving at Persan-Beaumont on the following morning and by marching to Valecourt in the Chaumont-en-Vixen area on the 23rd. The trucks moving overland arrived the day before.

The Train remained in Chaumont-en-Vixen one week and was engaged in training.

Chateau-Thierry

On the 30th of May orders were received to move to Beauvais on the morning of June 1st, but in the afternoon of the 30th owing to serious developments at the front these orders were rescinded and the Train was ordered to move to the vicinity of Meaux. At 5:00 A. M. on the following day the motor section left, loaded with sand bags, barbed wire and some technical equipment. The animal section began to move at 7:30 P. M. of the same day. The latter marched the entire night, practically without rest until 10:00 A. M. the next morning when a halt was made at Pontoise where a hot meal was served the men and the animals were watered and fed. The march was continued at 1:00 P. M. and a halt for the night made some ten kilometers northeast of Paris. The march was resumed the next morning at 4:00 A. M. and continued until 7:00 P. M. when a halt was made at Prinzy three miles north of Meaux. The next morning the march was resumed early and at 2:00 P. M. on June 2nd, arrived at Cocherel. In the meanwhile the motor section had reached a point on the Paris-Metz road one kilometer south of Montreuil and were in bivouac at that place.

The headquarters of the 2nd Engineers which were at Montreuil were notified of the arrival of the animal section of the Train as well as was the motor section. Trucks were immediately dispatched to the animal section and loaded with the entrenching tools carried in the tool wagons. These tools were delivered to the engineer regiment and to regiments of Marines on the same afternoon.

On June 3rd, acting under orders from the commander of the Divisional Trains the animal section of the Train moved to the camp occupied by the horse battalion of the ammunition train at Coumont.

Throughout the month of June the Train was engaged in transportating engineer tools and supplies. During the day the trucks carried picks, shovels and barbed wire from the French engineer dump at Le Ferte to the 2nd Division engineer dump north of Montreuil. At night these same trucks re-inforced by from five to ten wagons from the animal section carried this material forward to the troops at the front, in some cases delivering material practically to the front line positions. Although this work was carried on over roads subjected to heavy shell fire only one man was wounded and the losses to the animals consisted of only three mules killed and twenty wounded.

On July 7th both the animal and motor sections of the Train were assembled at Courcelles. Requisitions were made for the re-equipping of the Train as the stock of tools and supplies was greatly depleted through the drain of the past month. On the 14th sufficient tools were received to bring our equipment up to about sixty percent complete.

Soissons

At 9:00 P. M. of July 15th The Train was ordered to pack up equipment and stand ready to move at a moments notice. The order was rescinded about 3:00 A. M. and the men were able to get a few hours sleep. In the afternoon of July 16th orders were received to clear Ussy at 9:00 P. M.; destination to be given as the Train passed through Ussy. The motor section cleared Courcelles at 5:00 P. M. amd received orders to go direct to Betz. The animal section arrived at Ussy about 9:00 P. M. As no one met the animal section its commanding officer, Lt. Luster, decided to follow the 2nd Division transportation and broke into the column at the first opportunity. The march continued throughout the night, and the column arrived at Betz about 9 o'clock the next morning at which place the commander of the Divisional Trains assigned the animal section a parking place. At 1:00 P. M. orders were received that the various units camped at Betz could proceed independently to their areas. No maps were available and no information was furnished but a list of the towns through which the animal section was to pass. The animal section was under way at 3:00 P. M. and by nightfall was entering the Villers-Coteret forest. Soon after the section reached the woods it began to rain and the woods made the night a very dark one. Side roads were invisible and signs were unreadable in the inky blackness and without maps and any knowledge of the country it was found extremely difficult to keep the proper direction. At about 12, midnight having missed a turn to the left in the darkness Villor-Coteret was reached. From French soldiers the right road to Croix de Merel the billeting area of the train was learned.

At 7:00 A. M. a halt was made, breakfast served and the men allowed a few hours rest, they having had no sleep or rest for three days and nights. A runner was dispatched to the 2nd Engineers Headquarters giving them the location of the animal section.

In a short while he returned with orders that the Train was to proceed to the Maison Neuf on the Viller-Coteret-Soissons Road. At 1:00 P. M. the start was made but due to the traffic congestion travel was extremely slow and it was 7:00 P. M. before the destination was reached. A ration detail was sent out and Lt. Luster reported to the commanding officer of the 2nd Engineers who gave orders to stand by to move forward to the vicinity of Vauxcastile. The men were allowed to lie down and rest, animals were fed and watered and a meal prepared. At midnight orders were received that the animal section would clear Maison Neuf at 6:00 o'clock the next morning, the 19th.

The motor section which had gone direct from Courcells to their area had arrived on the afternoon of the 17th. They had delivered entrenching tools to the Infantry and Engineers before the attack and had closely followed the advance of the Infantry and on the afternoon of the 18th were parked along the Viller-Coteret-Soissons road at Verte Feuille Farm.

At 6:00 A. M. the 19th, the animal section left Maison Neuf and went into camp in the ravine west of Vierzy. Here it was in close proximity to friendly batteries and received the full effect of the enemy counter-battery fire. Three animals were killed and several wouded.

Throughout the day the motor section was employed in hauling wounded from Vierzy to Maison Neuf. One driver was killed and three wounded.

At 5:00 P. M. word was received to send forward all tool wagons and establishing two engineer dumps in the vicinity of Tigny. This order was rescinded at 7:00 P. M. and instructions were received to stand by for relief. At midnight orders were received to move back to the camp of the night before at Maison Nauf [sic Neuf]. The animal section cleared immediately and arrived at camp at 6:00 A. M. It was joined here by the motor section. The trucks were used all day hauling back engineer supplies from Vierzy. At 8:00 P. M. orders were received to get ready to move at 11:30 P. M. Animals were harnessed and ready to move at the appointed hour, but orders did not arrive until 4:00 A. M. The Train left at once arriving at the Croix de Morel at 2:00 P. M. on the 21st. Here we were promised a nights sleep, so, after a meal had been served and the animals watered and fed, the men turned in for a much deserved rest. This was the first full nights sleep since the night of July 14th.

The Train remained at the Croix de Morel until the morning of the 24th when they moved to Macqueline near Betz. Wagons were reloaded and the equipment gone over for shortages and requisitions submitted. On the 26th both sections moved to Pringy, three miles north of Meaux.

Nancy Area

On the 30th at noon the animal section cleared Pringy for Dommartin where they entrained for the Nancy area. The motor section moved by marching starting at 4:00 P. M. of the same day. The morning of August 1st found the animal section comfortably billeted at Frouard where they were joined in the afternoon by the motor section.

The Train remained at Frouard from the 1st to the 5th inclusive and during this time transportation was cleaned and minor repairs made to the trucks. Men and animals were allowed as much rest as possible.

Pont-A-Mousson

At 11:00 P. M. on the 5th the Train moved in to the woods between Dieulouard and Belleville, the Division having taken over the Pont-a-Mousson front. A division engineer dump was established at Dieulouard and the Trains wagons and trucks were used in hauling to and from this dump. The duties on this front were very light, only few trucks and wagons being used.

On August 15th Lieut. Bowler was evacuated to the hospital, and Lieut. Luster took command of the Train. Lieut. Mack C. Byrd was assigned to the Train from Company D, 2nd Engineers, and was placed in charge of the animal section, with Master Engineer Miller in charge of the motor section.

Bois L'Eveque

On the night of the 15th both sections cleared the woods near Dieuloard and moved by marching to the Bois l'Eveque. The motor section arrived that night and the animal section the following afternoon. The Train was well billeted, having excellent billets, stables and kitchen, with wash house and latrines at the end of each street.

During the stay at this camp all the trucks were given a thorough overhauling, wagons were painted and all transportation marked with the 2nd Division insignia. Tools were secured by requisition from nearby engineer dumps and the Train was more completely equipped than it had been since we left the Chaumont- en-Vixen area in May.

St. Mihiel

At 8:30 P. M. on September 3rd, both sections moved to a ravine east of Aingeray and the following night to the Bois de Cumejie between Manoncourt and Royamiex, from here trucks carried tools and bridge material forward to Noviant, where a dump was established at the south of that town. On the night of the 9th the Train moved forward to Noviant, the motor section billeting at the dump the animal section in the woods three quarters of a kilometer from the town. On the 11th picks, shovels and wire cutters were delivered to the Infantry and the Engineers.

The attack started early in the morning of the 12th and at 9:00 A. M. wagons were sent forward to collect unused tools left behind in the attack. These returned during the afternoon. On the night of the 12th all tool wagons were sent forward to the Bois de Foursand and on the 13th the tools were used by the engineers for repairing the roads through no mans' land which were almost impassable. On the morning of the 13th the remaining wagons were sent forward followed at 4:00 A. M. of the 14th by the trucks. Due to road congestion neither arrived until 3:00 P. M. There was no work that day but the following day, the 15th, the trucks operated forward to Thiaucourt to a German engineer dump. This dump was taken over by the 2nd Engineers and some of the tools there were distributed to the organizations doing road work. From the Thiaucourt dump and one located in the Bois de Fours, the Train was partially re-equipped. On the 15th the Train moved back to Ansauville. Here more tools were requisitioned from the engineer dump at Ansauville and Menil la Tour.

At 1:00 P. M. the Train moved to Limey to help the 2nd Engineers who had been recalled to work on the roads. The Train furnished all of its trucks and fifteen wagons for hauling tools and rocks.

Champagne

On the 21st of October the Train left Limey and took up a new camp at Fort DeEcruves near Toul. On the 26th the motor section moved by marching to Vesig neuil in the Champagne area. The animal section entrained from Toul on the same day arriving at Vesigneuil on the 28th.

On the 29th at 9:00 A. M. the animal section moved forward to Suippes, the motor section following the same day at 6:45 P. M. Due to heavy traffic the latter did not arrive until 7:00 A. M. the next morning. Camp was made at Forme de Piemont. On the night of October 1st six wagons loaded with entrenching tools and wirecutters were delivered to the 5th and 6th Marines at the inter section of the old Roman road with the Suippes-Suain road. At 6:00 A. M. on the morning of the 2nd, the Train moved forward to Suain and established an engineer dump at that place. In the afternoon of the same day sixteen wagons, seven trucks and fifteen wheelbarrows were delivered to the 2nd Engineers for use in improving the roads. The wagons were employed again on the 3rd for the same purpose. On the night of the 4th four tool wagons were sent to the front with entrenching tools.

On the 8th, the train moved forward to Somme-Py and established an engineer dump. On the 12th, the Germans having fallen back to the Aisne, the Train moved forward to St. Etienne camping at the German engineer dump in that town. The dump was inventoried and from the supplies found there the Train was partially re-equipped.

On the 15th at 3:00 P. M. the Train moved forward to the German engineer dump one kilometer east of Pauvre. On the 17th seven escort wagons, minus the bodies, were sent to Mt. St. Rony and St. Etienne, to bring back to Pauvre, railway iron to be used in bridging the Aisne. For this work the reaches were removed from the wagons and the front and rear wheels separated by thirty feet. Two 90 pound sixty foot rails were carried on each wagon. At the same time the trucks were used carrying timbers for this large bridge and complete material for a number of foot bridges of a ponton type. This work continued through the 25th.

On the 18th Master Engineer Miller, who had been in charge of the motor section since August 15th left the Train to attend Officers' school. He was succeded by Master Engineer Howe, attached to the Train from Headquarters Detachment 2nd Engineers.

On the night of the 25th, two escort wagons loaded with entrenching tools went forward to the Infantry of the 36th Division, who were to attack the following morning.

Meuse-Argonne

On the 27th orders were received to load all tools and be ready to move to a new area. Trucks and wagons were loaded immediately and at 1:00 P. M. the motor section started for Les Islettes arriving at 8:00 P. M. and billeted for the night. The animal section moved by marching camping for the night at Somme-Py. The motor section remained at Les lslettes the following day, the animal section continuing its march and arriving at St. Menehould by night fall.

On the 29th the motor section moved to a ravine northeast of Charpentry and established a dump at that place. Advance dumps were established at Sommerance and Exermont, the tools being placed at those dumps being those carried on the trucks plus a large supply received from the Corps dump at Chepy and Aubreyville, the tools being moved forward by the Trains trucks. Besides entrenching tools and wirecutters a large supply of bridge material was placed at Sommerance.

The animal section arrived at Charpentry on the night of the 29th after a long forced march. On the 30th camp was moved a half kilometer farther east down the ravine due to the activity of enemy artillery. On the 30th and 31st, the trucks were used continually moving forward practically all the tools carried by the animal section. More bridge material and a quantity of elphant shelters from the Corps dump was also taken to Sommerance. On the night of the 31st both sections moved into a ravine one-half kilometer west of Exermont. The trucks carried forward to Sommerance the last of the bridge material for that place and took on an extra load for quick delivery to any designated place. At 7:00 A. M. on November 1st the attack having started, both sections started forward to the Sommerance dump and stood by for orders to rush forward tools or bridge material as might be required. At 10:00 o'clock two truck loads were sent forward to Landres et St. Georges. No further material was needed.

At noon of the 2nd the animal section started forward to Laundreville. The motor section moved forward that night for the same point. The animal section arrived that night but the motor section being very heavily loaded and the roads in a very poor condition, did not arrive until the afternoon of the following day. Upon arrival nineteen of the escort wagons were immediately sent out to work on the roads. This work continued llirough the 5th and 6th. The motor section on account of the condition of the roads was unable to help on this work. During this time the Supply Train was also having difficulty, due to the roads, and the rations and forage received were very light thus contributing to the difficulties of the task.

On the 6th both sections moved to Buzancy and on the 7th to Sammauthe. On the 8th fifteen wagons minus bodies were sent back to Buzancy to bring forward bridge timbers. They returned with timbers on the 9th and on the afternoon of the same day the Corps delivered six truck loads of heavy timbers for bridge use. These timbers were loaded on the Trains trucks and the remaining wagons sent forward on the night of the 10th to the Meuse where they were used by Companies A and B of the 2nd Engineers in bridging the river. During this operation the Train was particularly fortunate in not having received a single casualty. One riding horse billed and one mule wounded by shell fire being the only losses.

On the 11th the animal section moved forward to Beaumont, the motor section remaining in Sammauthe because of the impassable roads. On the morning of the 12th the motor section joined the animal section at Beaumont. Here requisitions were submitted to re-equip the Train. On the 15th and 16th property was drawn from the property dump at Beaumont and two Ford light delivery trucks were received from the M. T. O. at Bayonville.

March To The Rhine

On the 17th the Division began its march to the Rhine. The Train moving forward from Beaumont to Stenay. On the 18th the march was resumed, the Train billeting at Dampicourt (Belgium). On the 20th the motor section moved to Arlon, the animal section to Miex-leTige. On the 21st the Trucks remained at Arlon, the animal section moving to Hobshied (Luxemburg). Both sections moved to Reckingen on the 22nd and the following day to Rollingen.

The Train remained in Rollingen from the 23rd to the 31st inclusive, and during that time it received sufficient tools from the 23rd Engineers to bring its equipment up to that laid down in the tables of organization. Wagons were cleaned and oiled and trucks over hauled.

On December 1st the march to the Rhine was resumed billeting for the night at Huttingen (Germany). On the 2nd the motor section billeted at Waxweiler and the horse section at Oberweiler. On the 3rd both sections moved to Renland, three kilometers south of Schoenneckon [sic Schönecken].

The Train remained in place on the 4th and 5th, continuing the march on the 6th both sections billeting at Budsheim. On the 7th billeting at Dires and at Gilgenbach on the 8th, Arhweiler on the 9th and Remagen on the 10th.

The Train remained at Apollinarisburg (Remagen) from the 10th to 13th inclusive. On the 11th and 12th the 2nd Engineers were used in improving the approaches to the bridge over the Rhine at Romagen [sic Remagen]. One of the Train's trucks was used in this work and crossed the Rhine on the 12th. This is believed by everyone in the Train to be the first truck of the American Army of Occupation to have crossed the Rhine.

On the 14th the animal section crossed the Rhine at Remagen and the motor section at Kripp, using the ferry from that point to Lintz, both section were billeted that night in Bendorf. On the 16th both sections marched to Neuwied and on the 20th to Bloch Heimback, between Engers and Neuwied.

Block [sic] Heimback—Army Of Occupation

For over seven months the Train remained at Bloch Heimbach. This was the longest stay that it had ever made in one place since its organization.

With the exception of the motor section the work of the Train here was very light. The motor section was employed in transportating building material for the various organizations of the Division and in transportating [sic transporting] road material for the repair of roads within the Divisional area. The remainder of the Train was employed at first in making improvements to the billets and billeting area. After these improvements had been made the work was reduced to that of ordinary garrison duty.

Enroute To The United States

About the 1st of July the Train turned in all equipment except individual equipment of the men, and on July 19th entrained for Brest, France.

After three days in box cars the Train arrived in Brest, where it embarked on July 27th for the United States.

On the morning of August 6th after an absence of over twenty-one and a half months the Train arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey. From Hoboken the Train was moved to Camp Merritt where all the emergency men were transferred to demobilization camps.

The regular army residue of the Train, consisting of one officer and six men then proceeded to its present station, Camp Travis, Texas.

 
United States, and W. A. Mitchell. 1920.
The Official History Of The Second Regiment Of Engineers And Second Engineer Train, United States Army, In The World War.
[San Antonio]: [San Antonio printing Co.].
 
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