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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles
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BWilson

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Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/1/2018 1:18:43 PM
 1 June.


Quote:
On the evening of 1 June 1918, German forces punched a hole in the French lines to the left of the Marines' position. In response, the U.S. reserve—consisting of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, and an element of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion—conducted a forced march over 10 km (6.2 mi) to plug the gap in the line, which they achieved by dawn. By the night of 2 June, the U.S. forces held a 20 kilometres (12 mi) front line north of the Paris-Metz Highway running through grain fields and scattered woods, from Triangle Farm west to Lucy and then north to Hill 142. (Wikipedia)




Cheers,

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Phil Andrade
London, UK
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/1/2018 1:52:55 PM
Bill,

Is this the battle which gained the USMC the title Mad Dogs ?

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

BWilson

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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 4537

Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/1/2018 2:15:58 PM

Quote:
Bill,

Is this the battle which gained the USMC the title Mad Dogs ?

Regards, Phil
--Phil Andrade


Hi Phil,

 The title "Devil Dogs" came from this battle, purportedly a curse uttered by a German.

Cheers,

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Phil Andrade
London, UK
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Posts: 3198

Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/1/2018 3:03:11 PM
So James Mattis’s grandpa wasn’t there, then ?
😁

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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Posts: 764

Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/1/2018 8:04:26 PM
Belleau Wood was for many years held up as a triumph of arms on the part of the Marine Brigade of the U.S. Second Division. In recent years, however, more critical evaluation of the AEF, in terms of leadership, training, doctrine, and tactical performance; has resulted in a highly negative assessment of the performance of the Marine brigade. Not, I hasten to add, in terms of the individual Marines, who fought with courage and determination, but who saw their efforts largely wasted due to poor leadership and obsolete, inappropriate tactics.

Much of this must rest at the feet of the brigade commander, James Harbord. An army officer and Pershing's former Chief of Staff, he was given command of the Marine brigade just before the battle to give him a chance for a combat command. Unfortunately, while a top-notch administrator, his skills as a combat leader were limited. He was a devotee of Pershing's emphasis on the rifle and bayonet as the most powerful weapons on the battlefield, with little understanding of the importance of artillery or other supporting weapons. His Marines would be sent forward in parade ground lines and mowed down by German machine gunners who hadn't seen such targets since 1914.

Despite this, Harbord would step up to command the division at Soissons, where it was successful, but also took another beating. Shortly after that, Pershing put him in command of the AEF Services of Supply, which was badly in need of Harbord's logistical skills. As for the 2nd Division, command went to John Lejeune, a Marine general. Under his command, the division would master the set piece, material intensive battle, and go on to become one of the best in the AEF.


Interestingly, a few years ago I attended a WW1 seminar at Quantico, VA, one of the topics being, naturally enough, the USMC and Belleau Wood. Despite the current, highly critical evaluation of the brigade at Belleau Wood, any adverse comment on the brigade's performance was hard to come by. Legend is a powerful thing!
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

BWilson

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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 4537

Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/1/2018 11:35:58 PM

Quote:
So James Mattis’s grandpa wasn’t there, then ?
😁

Regards, Phil
--Phil Andrade


 Here you go, Phil. A vintage recruiting poster.



Cheers,

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/2/2018 1:26:12 PM
All American school children were taught this was a victory,

brought about by US Doughboys!?

Regards,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Posts: 7826

Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/2/2018 1:37:30 PM

Quote:
All American school children were taught this was a victory,

brought about by US Doughboys!?

Regards,
MD
--Michigan Dave


You were also taught that you won the war of 1812.

The US marines were brave at Belleau wood. But it takes a significant length of time to learn how to fight, especially in a war like WW1, and while climbing the curve, sometimes losses are high.

Jim Cameron mentioned that Pershing and subordinates were wedded to the belief that an aggressive man with rifle and bayonet could carry the day.

That proved to be costly, as costly as it was for British and Commonwealth troops when, in the early days, they had insufficient numbers of artillery guns and shells to ensure that the infantry had a chance against similar technologies on the other side.

Cheers,

George

BWilson

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Posts: 4537

Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/2/2018 1:44:20 PM

Quote:
All American school children were taught this was a victory,

brought about by US Doughboys!?

Regards,
MD
--Michigan Dave


 In fact, it was a victory. The lines were stabilized and the Marines cleared the Wood of the Germans. But that is getting a bit ahead of the 100-year timeline.

Cheers,

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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Posts: 764

Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/2/2018 2:05:45 PM
It was a victory, although a very costly one for the Marine brigade.

Almost overlooked due to the tight focus on the Marine's fight for Belleau Wood was divison's 3rd Brigade's (Army troops) well executed and economical capture of Vaux, shortly after the wood was secured. The big difference was in the proper use of supporting artillery.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/2/2018 4:06:46 PM
The marines had to cross some open farmland just to get to the woods.

Was there a preliminary bombardment or any use of a creeping barrage to get them to the woods?

Did the French offer artillery support?

Nearly 10,000 casualties taken. Impressive resolve in the face of German MG fire.


As well, I understand that there was conflict or resentment by the US Army over the attention that the Marines received as a result of their brave actions at Belleau Wood. What was the source of the conflict? Just inter-service rivalry at work?

Cheers,

George

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 764

Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/2/2018 6:24:35 PM
There was no rolling barrage for the opening attack, or for that matter much artillery support of any kind. This would change as the fighting dragged on, but initially the Marines were pretty much on their own.

AEF press regulations prohibited mention of specific units, for security purposes. However, this did not apply to mention of branch of service. Since there was only a single Marine brigade in the AEF, writing about it not only got around the security restriction, but made it perfectly obvious who was being written about. Army units remained anonymous. Bad feelings over Marines getting all the publicity would last into WW2.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/3/2018 12:46:41 AM
Sixteen hundred German prisoners were captured by the Americans in this battle.

That’s a very significant number, given that in all the immense battles of March to June 1918 , barely twenty thousand Germans were captured by all the Allies combined on the Western Front .

I would interpret that figure of 1,600 German POWs captured at Belleau Wood as a favourable testimony to the fighting prowess of the Americans .

How many marines were there in that brigade ?

I note that they suffered more than half of the nearly ten thousand US casualties in this fighting .

Presumably, gas accounted for a significant proportion of those casualties.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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Posts: 764

Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/4/2018 11:27:06 AM
I don't have exact figures, but the Marine brigade reportedly took something like 4,000 casualties, said to be roughly 55% of its original strenght. That would put it at about 7,000 or so at the start.

In retrospect, one can see what happened. James Harbord was very much a devotee of the AEF's doctrine of the primacy of the rifle and bayonet, and Pershing was chaffing under what he (far from alone among the AEF high command) saw as misbegotten trench warfare being imparted by the British and French. The AEF command was itching for a chance to demonstrate proper open warfare techniques, and the trench free open fields leading to Belleau Wood looked tailor made for the task. Unfortunately, they proved even more so for the German machine gunners, left all but untouched by American artillery.
Once in the wood, even when artillery support was provided - and it was far from uniformly so - the wooded terrain made it difficult to identify targets or to adjust fire. The Marine riflemen were again very much on their own, forced to relearn what the British and French had alearned before them. Rifles could not generate to combat power necessary to overcome established defensive positions.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/4/2018 3:31:13 PM
The Allies Nightmare!!!!!!

[Read More]

Scary,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/5/2018 10:37:16 PM
Perhaps I’m making too much of these statistics, but there is a very uncanny similarity between the experience of the First Canadian Division at Second Ypres and the USMC at Belleau Wood.

I don’t have my data to hand, but I’m pretty confident that, in both cases, in the order of five or six thousand casualties were sustained by a force that probably deployed twelve thousand or so men in the respective battles.

In both cases North American men gave a fabulous account of themselves in a crisis : plugging a gap and pitching in, with a blood and guts determination which cost them - and their foe - dearly.

In both cases the tactics were clearly profligate and lacking in the attributes that experience was to confer.

Kitchener’s Wood, April 1915, and Belleau Wood, June 1918....does the comparison have validity ?

If numbers can speak, it certainly does.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/13/2018 10:01:50 AM
Returned from Malta, I can now cite some figures .

The US 2nd Division entered the battle with 28,059 men. Included in this were 8,469 Marines of the 4th Brigade, including 258 officers. I wonder whether additional reinforcements were sent to swell those numbers.

Total US casualties for the period 6 June to 1 July were 9,777, of whom 1,811 were killed.

The Marines’ share of this was 5,183, of whom 1,062 were killed. Their officers suffered 126 casualties, which is a lower rate than that for the enlisted men.

One wonders why. Probably the high incidence of gas casualties, with the supposition that officers were more assiduous in gas drill.

On 6 June alone, there were 1,087 Marine casualties at Belleau Wood, of whom 222 were killed.

For the entire war on the Western Front, 31,871 US Marines served, of whom 12,179 became battle casualties, including 3,284 killed or died of wounds or gas poisoning.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/22/2018 6:16:48 AM

Quote:
For the entire war on the Western Front, 31,871 US Marines served, of whom 12,179 became battle casualties, including 3,284 killed or died of wounds or gas poisoning.--Phil andrade


Horrific statistics, Phil. Who would be a Marine?

Cheers,

Colin

---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

Phil andrade
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/22/2018 8:14:47 AM
Yes, indeed, Colin .

And yet I’m bound to say that if we were to take a look at a comparably sized cohort from the first infantry divisions of the BEF that disembarked in France in mid August 1914, or from their Gallipoli counterparts in 1915, and assessed them in a similar five moth period ( August -December 1914 ; April - Sept 1915; USMC June -November 1918 ) the death rate suffered by the Marines would look pretty acceptable .

Just over one tenth of the Marines were killed ; I reckon that nearer one in six of the British troops in the infantry divisions who landed in France in August 1914 were dead five months later, and an equal - perhaps even greater - proportion of those who disembarked at Gallipoli in April 1915 were dead by the end of the August fighting there. Then, of course, there were the wounded to be reckoned with, and the permanent invalids from disease.

You’ll forgive me, I hope, for these constant musings of mine....I really want to encourage interpretation of these horrific statistics .

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/22/2018 4:15:19 PM

Quote:
Perhaps I’m making too much of these statistics, but there is a very uncanny similarity between the experience of the First Canadian Division at Second Ypres and the USMC at Belleau Wood.


Hello Phil, the Canadians did give a good account of themselves but we may never say that this effort was a masterful display of military planning.

After the gas attack, the Canadians were plugging holes.

At midnight on April 22, they were ordered to drive the Germans out of Kitchener's Wood.

They lined up at the start line without any recce. They had not made contact with the Algerians who were supposed to attack on their left.

The officers organize the battalion into lines with the companies 30 yards apart, creating four waves of attackers who were to advance shoulder to shoulder. Later it was reported that Canadians had not seen this formation since the War of 1812.

Side note: The officer was Garnet Hughes who was the son of the eccentric and perhaps crazy Minister of Defence, Sam Hughes. When Arthur Currie became the CO of the Corps, he refused to give Garnet command of his own division and kept him in England.

The men ran forward, no helmets at this stage and drove the Germans from Kitcheners' Wood. A captured German commented, "you fellow fight like hell".

It was hand to hand, bayonets and vicious.

For the Canadians the 2nd Battle of Ypres cost them 6000 casualties, about 1 in 3 men in the division and 2000 deaths.

The type of combat at Kitchener's Wood seems similar to that experienced at Belleau Wood by the Marines. Also similar was the lack of experience that led to many deaths despite the willingness of the troops. For the Canadians, this was their first real combat and it was a costly affair undertaken before they had learned what they had to know.

The attack on Kitchener's Wood led to 75% casualties in the 10th and 16th battalions.

I cannot fairly compare the actions of the Canadians to the US Marines with respect to the importance of what they did but it was reported that after the war, Marshall Foch declared the attack on Kitchener's Wood by two Canadian battalions to be the, "greatest act of the war".

Ignoring his hyperbole I think that we may say that the Canadians prevented the Germans from exploiting the 5 km gap in the line created when the two French divisions were forced to retreat because of the gas attack.

Lastly, the cost for the British and Commonwealth at 2nd Ypres was 59,000 casualties. One hell of a butcher's bill.

Cheers,

George

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/22/2018 4:17:11 PM
Kitchener's Wood.

Eerily similar to the artist's work posted earlier of the Marines at Belleau Wood.



Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/22/2018 5:31:19 PM
George,

Thank you.

It’s reassuring to have my comparison of Canada’s 2nd Ypres and the US Marines’ Belleau Wood endorsed.

I am convinced that the similarities in the casualty figures do stand up to scrutiny.

In a sense, the fighting prowess of the Canadians at 2nd Ypres appears all the greater when we bear in mind how lamentably primitive and unrefined their tactics were.

The true essence of a “ soldiers’ battle “ lies in that very failure of planning and senior direction that condemns the soldiers to a fight In which their own instinctive combat skills come to the fore.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

RiaindeVoy
Geelong, Australia
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Posts: 1393

Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/22/2018 5:39:07 PM
I've read that the 4th Marine Brigade was an important stepping stone to the Marine Divisions of WW2, being a comparatively huge force by Marine standards of the day and fighting much more powerful opposition than in recent operations in Central America and the Caribbean.
---------------
Fact: The phrase "she'll be right mate" increases an Australian's healing process by 40%.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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Posts: 2331

Re: Belleau Wood: 100 years
Posted on: 6/22/2018 5:50:34 PM

Quote:

Quote:
So James Mattis’s grandpa wasn’t there, then ?
😁

Regards, Phil
--Phil Andrade


 Here you go, Phil. A vintage recruiting poster.



Cheers,

BW

--BWilson


Unfortunarely, this is a myth.It was invented by the journalist Floyd Phillips Gibbons of the Chicago Tribune and taken up by the artist Charles B. Falls.

Devil Dogs would be Teufelshünde in german not Teufel Hunden. Unlike the Entente troops, german troops never had nicknames for their enemies. And in all the personal memoirs and regimental histories involved there is not a single mention of this.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

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