Home | Angelillo Family History - The beginning of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive to the death of Giovanni Angelillo on 27 September 1918

The 315th Infantry On the Western Front

Preface: this page is about the circumstances surrounding the death of my father's only uncle, PVT Giovanni Angelillo, who was born in Sant'Angelo d'Alife, Italy, on 3 May 1893 to Nicola Angelillo and Maria Martone. Giovanni emigrated to Bristol Borough, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1905, and he was living there when he was, apparently, drafted into the U.S. Army. He was killed in action on 27 September 1918, the second day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, and is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne (Meuse), Lorraine, France.

The source for this page is a book which came to me briefly via Interlibrary Loan:

The Official History of the 315th Infantry U.S.A., being a true record of its organization and training, and of its operations in the World War, and of its activities following the signing of the Armistice, 1917-1919, Compiled and published by Historical Board of the 315th Infantry: Philadelphia, 1920.

An important note about how I have used this book to write this page: what follows is not an exact reproduction. Most of this page is direct quote, but in many places I have edited and paraphrased the text to make it shorter (I have not indicated where). Also: I have ended the story with the death of my great-uncle, which occurred a month and a half before the Armistice that ended World War One.
  [Very brief description of U.S. Participation in World War One]

Organization of the 315th Infantry Regiment

The 315th Infantry (79th Division, United States Army) was a combat unit of the American Expeditionary Forces in France (p. 6). The 315th Infantry was made up of three battalions and four special units:

Giovanni Angelillo served in Company "K", Third Battalion, until his death on 27 September 1918. His training began 27 May 1918 and ended 25 June 1918; his overseas service began 9 July 1918. Four months from beginning to end.
  [Roster of Company "K" as it was on 1 September 1918]

Operations Map  -  79th Division, A.E.F.
Sept. 16-30, 1918

  -·-  Front Line
  -+-  Sector Limits

79th Division, Operations Map, Montfaucon - Sector 304, 11 KB

On the map the Captured Territory (indicated by shading lines between the two arrows) is about 9 km x 3.5 km (5-1/2 miles x 2 miles). (Map based on p. 116)

Origins of the 79th Division, U.S. Army

The 79th Division consisted of the 313th, 314th, 315th, and 316th Infantry Regiments. The 315th and 316th Regiments together formed the 158th Infantry Brigade (p. 21).

The order creating the various units of the 79th Division was issued by the War Department on 3 August 1917, and the 315th Infantry Regiment was provisionally organized on 26 August 1917, and then permanently organized on 21 September 1917 (p. 19). In the fall of 1917 the strength of an infantry regiment was set at 103 officers and 3,652 enlisted men (p. 32-33).

Immediately following its declaration of war against the Imperial Government of Germany (on 6 April 1917), the U.S. Government rented some 15 square miles of land in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, which the War Department proposed making into a national army cantonment to receive recruits from eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The cantonment was called "Camp Meade" [now Fort Meade, Maryland], in honor of the U.S. Civil War's General George Meade. (p. 19)

Training the Soldiers at Camp Meade

Up until April 1918, most of the training the soldiers had been given was toward the methods of trench warfare, because that sort of action seemed to predominate in France. But toward the beginning of summer 1918, the higher commanders began to believe that, after all, the war would be decided by the tactics of open warfare, and therefore detailed attention was given to this method of training. (p. 31-32) In the nine months before 31 May 1918, some 10,000 men had been received by the 315th Infantry, given a period of intensive training, and then transferred to the ranks of the organizations which had secured places on the "priority list" for transfer overseas. In May 1918 units of the American Army had landed in France and in June 1918 had begun to participate in the offensive. (p. 32)

In June 1918, the 79th Division finally secured its own place on the priority list for departure overseas. (p. 33).
  Until just before sailing for France, the men assigned to the 315th Infantry had come from Philadelphia (p. 11), but on 14 June 1918 fifty-seven men from Camp Upton, New York, were assigned to the Third Battalion's Company "K" (p. 261).

Steamship Departure for Europe

On Sunday, 7 July 1918, the final orders for movement arrived. One after another of the companies marched from their barracks in "R" block at Camp Meade to the station at Disney [unidentified], where trains of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad were waiting for them. The first groups left at 2 P.M. [The Third Battalion left at 4 P.M. and there were thousands of cheering or tearful people at the station to see the soldiers off (p. 262)], and by 5 o'clock that afternoon the entire Regiment was on its way to Hoboken, New Jersey.

Early next morning the various units of the 315th Regiment left the train [The Third Battalion arrived in Hoboken at 5 A.M. on July 8th (p. 262)] and went by ferry to United States Embarkation Pier No. 3 at Hoboken. The ship assigned to the 315th Infantry was the former Hamburg-American liner "Amerika", renamed "America", and at that time the third largest U.S. transport ship. (p. 35)

The night of July 8th was spent aboard ship [Each man received a life preserver and a copy of the Naval I. D. R.  All ammunition, flashlights and matches were turned in: it was a court-martial offense to strike a light on deck after dark when the ship was out at sea (p. 262)], and late in the afternoon of the 9 July 1918, the America, in a gray mist, steamed down the Hudson, past Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and sailed out into the Atlantic. The ship was one of a convoy of five steamers which carried a total of nearly 22,000 troops, at that time one of the largest, if not the largest, single shipment of troops ever made. The America carried nearly 6,000 troops, so there was great over-crowding. There was even a shortage of standing room on deck, and the Regiment was divided into three shifts for sleeping. (p. 35) Several times daily the soldiers responded to the "Abandon Ship Call" during which they practiced marching quickly and in an orderly way to their assigned stations. The weather and the ocean were calm throughout the voyage. (p. 162)

There was an accident on the night of July 14th: at 11:50 P.M. the America rammed and sank the British freight steamer Indestructo; the steamer was struck amidships, cut almost in two, and kicked off about fifty yards to the starboard, where it sank stern down in seven minutes. The night was very dark and both steamers were running without lights. The captain of the America ordered that life-boats be lowered and succeeded in rescuing eleven of the forty-two crew members of the Indestructo. (p. 35-36)

The rest of the voyage, which lasted in all nine days, passed without incident, and on Thursday, 18 July 1918, the America dropped anchor [at 5 P.M., after land was sighted at 2 P.M. (p. 262)] in Brest harbor at the western tip of the French peninsula of Brittany. At 7 P.M. a lone lighter [scow: flat-bottomed barge (p. 262)] appeared, and the First and Third Battalions, some 2,000 men, crowded aboard and were ferried to the docks along the harbor front. (p. 36)

Arrival and Training in Europe

This advance guard of the Regiment, after many twistings and turnings, reached its camping ground at midnight and pitched shelter tents in a driving downpour of rain. The next day the Second Battalion, Headquarters Company, Machine Gun Company and Supply Company came ashore and joined them. During the three days which the Regiment spent in the fields outside the city of Brest, it rained almost continuously. Food, water and firewood had to be carried on men's backs for a distance of two miles over roads that were ankle deep with mud, and the bread supplied to the soldiers arrived with a coating of mud. (p. 36-37)

But on 21 July 1918 the first movement toward the fighting line began, when at noon the First Battalion and Headquarters Company struck tents and waded through the mud to a railroad siding near the dock, where a train was waiting to move them inland. The trip by train was made in box cars said to be capable of holding forty men or eight horses ("Hommes 40 -- Chevaux 8") [however, Company "K" was transported in compartment coaches; a squad was forced into each compartment, and the squad's corporal was given charge of three days of "iron rations" for the men (p. 262-263)]. The Second Battalion and Machine Gun Company followed on the morning of the 22nd, and the same afternoon the Third Battalion and Supply Company also left. Three days and nights were spent on the trains, during which time the Regiment passed through the cities of Rennes, St. Brieue, Laval, Le Mans, Tours, Bourges, Nevers, Dijon and Is-sur-Tille. (p. 37-38)

The Regiment began arriving at the station in Vaux on July 24th. The third section [which included the Third Battalion arrived the next day at 11:30 A.M. (p. 263)]. These units were billeted in the surrounding towns, the Third Battalion as follows: Companies "I," "K" and "L" and Third Battalion Headquarters at Chalancey [which was a 10 mile march over hills from the station; Company "K" arrived at Chalancey at 5 P.M. (p. 263)], and Company "M" at Vesvres. The second section arrived on 26 July 1918. The towns allotted to the Regiment were part of the Tenth Training Area, in which the 79th Division was to spend its final period of training before going to the Front. The Tenth Training Area was some fifty kilometers [30 miles] south of Chaumont, the site of the General Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces. (p. 38-39)

Six weeks were spent in the Tenth Training Area in final preparation. During this period, great stress was laid on maneuvers, and everyone was drilled incessantly in all the whys and wherefores of his job. [Training lasted from 5 A.M. to 4 P.M. daily (p. 263).] During this period the Regiment also became familiar with the habits and customs of rural France. (p. 39, 41)

By 8 September 1918 the 315th Infantry was ready to take its place at the front, and the Regiment started on the journey that ended at the edge of No Man's Land. [The soldiers of Company "K" left at 8 P.M. hiking to Vaux in a heavy rain with slickers fastened to their packs. They arrived at 12:30 A.M. and their captain found some barns for them to rest in. (p. 263)] The journey was made by rail from Vaux to Revigny. The Third Battalion was the last to arrive this time. [Because of the rain Company "K" stayed in the train at Revigny from 9 P.M. until 12:30 A.M. and then bivouacked for the night at a short distance from the train. But the next morning the soldiers marched to Haironville, 27 kilometers [17 miles], where they arrived at 5:30 on 10 September 1918. (p. 263)] After two days rest, the Regiment was transported to the front on a French camion train [i.e. motor trucks (p. 263)]. The trip lasted all night, with the various units arriving at Rampont early on the morning of the 13th. That day was spent in camps near Dombasle, and on the night of 13 September 1918 the 315th Infantry set out for the trenches. (p. 41)

The Beginning of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive

For its first experience of the battle-front, the 315th Infantry was assigned to replace the French Army in the Favry sub-sector of the right half of the 79th Division's sector of the Allied line, Sector "304". This sector was about 15 kilometers [9 miles] northwest of the great French fortress on the Meuse River, Verdun, which during the spring and summer of 1916 had been the site of the bloodiest struggles of the war, when the German Army had tried to smash the French line. There were still human skulls and bones lying around during the night of 13 September 1918 when the 315th Regiment took up it positions. (p. 45)

[On 12 September 12 at 6 P.M. Company "K" had marched the short distance from Haironville to the Bar-le-Duc road where a large fleet of motor trucks was waiting. After riding nearly all night, at day-break the soldiers marched to Brocourt Woods where they rested all day. In the evening Company "K" waded through the mud on its way to a camp in the Forêt de Hesse [Hesse Forest], just north of Dombasle, where the soldiers were quartered in their first dug-outs. There they could hear the rumble of the big guns and speculated about when they would see "no-man's land", when one evening they marched quickly and quietly to the first line trenches on Hill "304". The sector at this time was extremely quiet. (p. 263) The Company was to be relieved the third night, September 20th, but the relief was not accomplished until early on the morning of the 22nd, when because dawn was close at hand the soldiers had to rush to reach their reserve positions unobserved. The Company was scattered about in dug-outs for two days and then went forward to a position from which it was to begin its advance in the biggest drive of the war. (p. 264)]

No Man's Land south of Montfaucon, 36 KB

"No Man's Land" in Sector 304, with Montfaucon in the distance (p. 44)

The Strength of the German Army's Position

Opposite the 315th Infantry lay one of the most formidable positions on the entire Western front: five hundred meters beyond the Regiment's most advanced posts of the outpost line, across the waste of rusted wire and shell-torn ground that marked No Man's Land, lay the German front line. The German Army had held this position for nearly four years and within it, in the sector opposite the 315th Infantry, lay the nearly obliterated villages of Haucourt and Malancourt. Beyond these the country rolled to the north in hills and valleys dotted with small clumps of woods and underbrush, and traversed by band after band of barbed wire entanglements. Beyond all, far back on the northern horizon, rose the dominating heights of Montfaucon [altitude: 280 meters = 900 feet], which the German High Command had said would never be taken by the Allies. (p. 46-47)

Strong as the German position was by nature, it had been rendered still more formidable by artificial means. During the four years of their occupation of the French soil north and west of Verdun, the Germans had constructed and organized four successive lines of defense. The first of these was the prolongation of the famous Hindenburg Line, which at this point lay three kilometers south of Montfaucon. At the point opposite Sector 304, the distance between the first and last of these lines of defense was less than 18 kilometers [11 miles]. Such was the position opposite the 315th Infantry. (p. 47)

The Favry Sub-sector was what the French would term a "très bon" sector. The days and nights were quiet and, except for the whistle of an occasional shell, there was little to indicate that here lay the forces of great nations engaged in war. (ibid.)

The positions of the various companies were changed on the night of September 18th, and it was also at this time that the Regiment first became aware of unusual activity in its sector. First a group of French marines began the construction of large gun emplacements along the Dombasle-Montzeville Road. A day or two later, batteries of heavy howitzers took up position one by one in the vicinity of Esnes, a ruined village on the right edge of the Regimental sector. Still later, batteries of French 75-millimeter [3-inch] guns arrived just behind the line of resistance, and then it was settled beyond all question of doubt that an attack on a large scale was impending. (p. 47-49)

Were Green Troops to lead the Attack?

With this fact assured, speculation became rife as to whether or not the 315th Infantry would be included in the assaulting forces. Old-timers in the ranks scoffed at the idea of green troops being sent against positions such as those lying opposite the Regiment, and the majority of the Regiment was of the opinion that the initial attack, at least, would be made by some of the more tried and seasoned divisions. But finally the question was settled: on the 23rd, orders were received that the attack would be made on September 26th, and that the 79th Division would form part of the attacking line as a shock division. The 313th and 314th Infantries were to initiate the attack in the Divisional sector, which was to he narrowed to half its original width. The 315th and 316th Infantries were to act as a support, the 315th Infantry following the 314th. For the attack, the front of the Regimental sector was to be diminished to include only that held by the battalion on the right, at that time the Third Battalion. (p. 49, 51)

Field positions, 315th Infantry, 26 September 1918, 12 KB

315th Infantry, Company positions on 26 September 1918 at 5 A.M.
(Map based on p. 50)

The plan of action, as outlined in Brigade orders, was that the 315th Infantry should support the attack of the 314th Infantry at a distance of 1,000 meters, advancing with two battalions in line and one in support, the latter to serve as a Brigade reserve. To carry out this plan, the First Battalion was placed on the left of the Third Battalion in the Regimental attack sector. (p. 51)

After the necessary changes of position had been accomplished, the Regiment was disposed in support of the 314th Infantry as follows: The First Battalion occupied the front line on the left half of the Regimental sector; Company "C" in trench Delacroix, Companies "D", "A" and "B" along the Boyau Tournefiere. The Third Battalion was posted on the front line on the right half of the Regimental sector; Company "I" in trench Cant, Companies "K" and "L" in Boyau de la Cannebiere and Boyau des Zouaves, Company "M" in trench Raoul Duval. The last-named company was detailed as Regimental reserve. The Second Battalion had taken position, with Companies "E", "H" and "G" just south of the road opposite P. C. Cannebiere, and Company "F" immediately behind the center of the First and Third Battalions to act as "moppers-up". (ibid.)

The Allied Bombardment

At eleven o'clock on the night of September 25th, a deep boom far behind the American lines announced the beginning of the six-hour Allied barrage. Massed between the Meuse and the western edge of the Argonne, were three thousand pieces of artillery gathered from all parts of the Western front. There was an average of one gun for every eight meters of front, and, at certain points in the line where stiff opposition was expected, the average interval was much less. Opposite Montfaucon, in the sector occupied by the 315th Infantry, the artillery was literally lined up hub to hub. (p. 51-52)

To those who witnessed the artillery barrage the hills guarding Verdun and the country to the west seemed rimmed with flame. The air was filled with the whistling of passing shells, and above all rose the thunder of the guns. Close at hand was the sharp, staccato of the French 75-millimeter [3-inch] guns, farther back the roar of the six- and nine-inch howitzers, while, in the distant rear, hills and valleys reverberated to the deep boom of the huge naval guns along the Dombasle road. (p. 52)

Two hours after midnight the fire of the artillery seemed to double in intensity, and the metallic whiz of shells overhead merged into a continuous scream. The batteries had changed to drum-fire. It was the final barrage before the attack, and for three hours a deluge of steel and flame was sent down upon the German positions ahead. (ibid.)

Over the Top - The Offensive Begins - 26 September 1918

At 5:30 A.M. on the morning of September 26th, the first waves of infantry swept forward, and the American Army, with nine divisions on a 25-mile front, began an offensive that ended only with the Armistice. (p. 53)

In accordance with the plans laid down, the 315th Infantry started its advance across No Man's Land when the last elements of the 314th Infantry had passed a thousand meters beyond the jumping-off point. On its right was the 4th Division, on its left the 313th and 316th Infantries, the 313th Infantry on the front line. The 315th Infantry Machine Gun Company supported the First Battalion, and Company "A," of the 312th Machine Gun Battalion, supported the Third Battalion. (ibid.)

Scarcely had the leading units of the Regiment cleared their own wire, when they plunged into a dense smoke barrage which the First Gas and Flame Regiment had put over just prior to the advance of the front line. This smoke, combined with the mist which lay in the valley, made it extremely difficult for companies and platoons to keep touch with one another. (ibid.)

About eight o'clock, the "put-put-put" of German machine guns could be heard in the mist ahead, as the 314th Infantry gained contact with the German machine gun nests in and around Malancourt. (ibid.)

Although the firing ahead had been in progress for quite a time, the advance went on rapidly. The Regiment did not come under direct fire until "I" Company, the leading company of the Third Battalion, reached the Forges Brook at the southern edge of Haucourt and the dismal swamp of the Bois de Malancourt. Here the men of the Third Battalion were subjected to the fire of German snipers who had taken up positions in the ruins of Malancourt. (p. 53-54)

On the left side of the Regimental sector, the First Battalion went forward without resistance until it had crossed the Forges Brook, when its advance was held up by a rain of bullets from machine guns and snipers in the Hindenburg trench, one and one-half kilometers [1 mile] north of Malancourt. (p. 54)

At 12:30 P.M., an "S.O.S." call for assistance was received at Regimental Headquarters from 314th Infantry which requested reinforcements for its front line. The Third Battalion was at once directed to send forward two companies. Following the issuance of this order, however, word was received from Division Headquarters that no aid would be given the leading regiment at this time, and, in consequence, the orders for two companies to reinforce the 314th Infantry were immediately revoked. (p. 54-55)

By three o'clock in the afternoon, the Third Battalion, despite the continuous fire of snipers from the front and flanks, had "mopped up" Malancourt and had advanced a half kilometer beyond. But here its advance was held up by a storm of machine gun bullets, one pounder shells, minenwerfers and the fire of a 77-millimeter gun, a sacrifice piece, which was firing over the sights at the advancing troops. (p. 55)

This fire swept in a southeasterly direction down through the draw leading into Malancourt, and came, in the main, from what were afterwards found to be specially prepared positions in the Hindenburg trench system. (ibid.)

At three o'clock, the advance of both the First and Third Battalions had been halted by the overwhelming fire from the German trenches ahead. The front line companies, however, made repeated attempts to advance and gradually the line edged forward. By six o'clock on the evening of 26 September the first wave of the 315th Infantry had crawled up the hill slopes and into the Hindenburg trench. Here the Regiment took up positions for the night; Companies "I" and "K" of the Third Battalion, east of the Malancourt-Montfaucon road; Companies "L" and "M" and the First Battalion, west of the road; the Second Battalion in a system of trenches about 400 meters south of the Third Battalion; and Regimental Headquarters one kilometer southeast of Malancourt. (p. 55, 57)

During the day, the Regiment had lost 3 officers and 9 men killed and 31 men wounded. 61 German soldiers had been captured. Owing to the strong resistance encountered by both the 313th and 314th Infantry, the front line of the Division at the end of the first day was considerably behind the line established by the 4th Division on the right and the 37th Division on the left. (p. 57)

The Advance of 27 September 1918

Shortly after six o'clock on the morning of 27 September the 79th Division was reorganized into two provisional brigades, one consisting of the 313th and 316th Infantries; the other of the 314th and 315th Infantries, the regiments maintaining their same relative positions as on the preceding day. (p. 57, 59)

Reports had come into Regimental headquarters early that morning that conditions on the right of the Malancourt-Montfaucon road would make it impossible for troops to move forward without being subjected to heavy machine gun fire from the direction of the village of Cuisy. Therefore the Second Battalion was ordered to take up position immediately behind the Third Battalion on the west side of the Malancourt-Montfaucon road and await further orders. But when reconnaissance of the front line positions showed that an advance on the right of the road would not be so seriously held up as reported, the Second and Third Battalions were at once ordered to reform on the right of the road and to push forward until contact was regained with the rear elements of the 314th Infantry. (p. 59)

At 8:30 A.M., contact was gained with the 314th Infantry. Both regiments had now started to push ahead, but the advancing troops were already beginning to get beyond the range of their light calibre supporting artillery, and the enemy was resisting with increasing vigor. Preparations were made for the artillery to reposition itself, but its movement was slowed by the conditions existing on the road over which it had to pass. (p. 62)

The Esnes-Malancourt-Montfaucon Road

From the outset, on the morning of September 26th, there had been only one road available for the use of both the 4th and 79th Divisions. This was the Esnes-Malancourt-Montfaucon Road. But that road was now nothing but a shell-pocked waste of earth and stone, the result of the explosion of thousands of French and German shells during the fighting about Verdun in 1916. During the first days of the American drive, the Engineers did what was possible, but a single day was not enough to build a road that could satisfy the transportation needs of two entire divisions. (p. 62-63)

Under these circumstances, the morning of the 27th found the Esnes-Malancourt-Montfaucon Road buried under a hopeless jam of ambulances, artillery, supply trucks, and vehicles of all descriptions. The forward movement of artillery became nearly impossible, and, as the day wore on, the advancing troops were forced to reply more and more on the momentum of their own attack. (p. 63)

By eleven o'clock that morning, the Division front had been pushed well forward: The leading elements of the 313th Infantry were filtering through the battered ruins of Montfaucon, and the 314th Infantry had gained the southern edge of the Bois de Tuilerie. Here, however, the latter regiment was halted by heavy sniping and machine gun fire. As the First and Third Battalions of the 315th Infantry closed up on the line of the regiment ahead, they were ordered to hold their positions and await further orders. The front line of the 315th Infantry then ran east and west across the Malancourt-Montfaucon Road, less than half a kilometer south of Fayel Farm, with the Third Battalion lying east of the road, the First Battalion west of the road, and the Second Battalion halted in rear of the Third. (p. 65)

The Afternoon and Evening of 27 September 1918

During the afternoon of the 27th, the 315th Infantry held itself in readiness, close up behind the leading regiment, awaiting orders to move, while the troops ahead slowly worked their way through the Bois de Tuilerie and the valley to the east. Finally at 7:00 P. M., the order directing the forward movement arrived, and, preceded by the light tanks, the Regiment advanced toward its next objective -- Nantillois. (ibid.)

Division orders provided that as soon as the 314th Infantry had taken Nantillois, the 315th infantry would pass through and relieve it in the front line, the 314th falling hack in support. (ibid.)

It had been hoped that Nantillois would he taken before dark, but the strong resistance encountered by the front line troops during the day had so delayed the advance that the occupation of the town before night set in became impossible. (ibid.)

Nevertheless, the troops drove ahead long after darkness fell, and by ten o'clock that evening the Regimental front line had been carried to a point nearly a kilometer beyond the Montfaucon-Septsarges Road. At that time, word was sent to the troops to dig in. This was done by the front line battalions, the First and Third, on the line just mentioned, while the Second Battalion took up position 200 meters in rear of the front line battalions. Regimental Headquarters was established in the Bois de Tuilerie, east of Montfaucon. (ibid.)

The advance of September 27th had cost the Regiment the loss of 9 men killed and of 4 officers and 76 men wounded, the majority of these casualties having been sustained by the First Battalion during the early hours of the morning. (ibid.)

Between 10 P.M. and midnight, the German Army let down a heavy, harassing artillery fire on the small plateau lying northwest of Septsarges. This fire fell in the area occupied by the right half of the Regimental front line and caused the Third Battalion to change its position to a system of trenches just north of the Septsarges-Montfaucon Road. (ibid.)


[According to his Burial Case File, one of the 9 men killed on 27 September 1918 was Giovanni Angelillo. His skull was shattered by a high-explosive projectile in Malancourt.]

Company "K", Group Memoir

September 26th, shortly after midnight, the artillery began to prepare the way for us, making the earth tremble. At 8:15 A.M., the Company advanced through a heavy smoke screen toward Haucourt, following the 314th Infantry Regiment. After passing Malancourt, very stiff resistance was met in the form of machine gun nests and minenwerfer cannons. This resistance was finally overcome and the advance resumed. We reached the main line of German trenches about 6:00 P.M. and remained in them overnight. The advance was resumed at 7:00 A.M. on September 27th, but we had practically nothing to do this day but follow the 314th Infantry. An occasional H. E. shell was all that marred the manoeuvre. We halted about 10:30 P.M. northeast of Montfaucon, where the 315th Infantry relieved the 314th of their assaulting task. (p. 264)

[High-Explosive (H. E.) Shell: a steel artillery shell designed to do harm by busting in the air or in the ground. If burst in the air, the shell shatters into fragments that fly into their victims; the area of fragmentation is mostly to the sides (as opposed to the front or back) of the explosion, and in that direction a 75-millimeter [3-inch] shell is effective up to 25 meters (to both sides of the burst). (Encyclopedia American 1954, Vol. 22)]

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Last revised: 22 March 2007 : 2007-03-22 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.

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