The 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Veteran Association
The 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division
in World War I
From the ‘Iron Jaw Division’
to ‘Les Terribles’
Activation and Mobilization of Wisconsin and Michigan National Guards
March to the Rhine
Army of Occupation - Die Wacht am Rhein
The U. S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Two infantry regiments that would become part of the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division, the 33D Michigan Infantry and 3D Wisconsin Infantry, were already in Federal service.
The 33D Mich. had been on active duty since it was mobilized for the Mexican Border Crisis. As soon as they returned from El Paso, TX they were dispatched to guard important sites in their home state, to prevent possible attacks from saboteurs. Company L, from Menominee, guarded to ore docks at Escanaba. The other companies guarded the ore docks at Marquette, guarded the railroad tunnels under the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers, and performed garrison duty at Camp Custer, Fort Wayne, and Fort Brady. The 33D Mich. was relieved of this duty on 31 Jul. ’17.
The 3D Wis. also served during the Mexican Border Crisis, they returned from Waco, TX and demobilized 14 Dec. ’16, only to be activated for Federal service again in Mar. of ’17 to guard vital infrastructure and industrial sites. Company B, from La Crosse, guarded the large railroad bridge over the Chippewa River between Pepin and Nelson. Part of Co. H, from Menomonie, guarded the Red Cedar railroad bridge while the remainder went to Superior to guard bridges and ore docks. Company M, from La Crosse, guarded the ore docks at Superior, WI.
Almost all of the pre-April 1917 units of the Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard had been activated for the Mexican Border Crisis. After war was declared, many new units were organized as the Wisconsin and Michigan National Guards nearly doubled in size.
On 15 July 1917 the National Guards of Wisconsin and Michigan were officially ordered into Federal Service and mobilization commenced at state camps, Camp Douglas and Camp Grayling respectively.
The mobilization order had been anticipated and several units had arrived in camp before the official mobilization. One such unit was the 1ST Wisconsin Field Artillery, which arrived at Camp Douglas, WI on 2 July.
General Order No. 95, War Department, 18 July 1917, specified that the National Guard troops from Wisconsin and Michigan would be combined to form the 32D Division and would train at Camp MacArthur, near Waco, Texas, where the organization of the 32D Division would be completed.
While the official orders for the creation of the 32D Division were dated 18 July, the actual, physical organization of the Division did not start until late Aug. and early Sep., when most of the units had reached Camp MacArthur.
There are three important dates associated with the birth of the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division. As mentioned above, 18 July 1917 is the date that pronounced the impending creation of the 32D Division. War Department instructions dated 22 September 1917 provided detailed information about how the old Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard units would be combined and reorganized to form the 32D Division in accordance with the 1917 Tables of Organization. The third date is 15 October 1917, the date that numerous Division unit histories mention as the date their units came into existence. This is likely the completion date, the effective date, of the physical reorganization to create the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division from those historic Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard units. [updated 1 Sep. ’14, TPB]
The 32D Division was to be a massive “square” division, like all American divisions being created at the time.
“A complete division is difficult to visualize. One must see it with all its armament, troops, and trains to begin to understand - infantry brigades, machine gun battalions, artillery, engineers, trench mortar battery, signal corps, ammunition trains, supply trains, sanitary trains, mobile repair shops, medical corps troops, field hospitals, ambulance companies, brigade staffs, and division staff. In personnel 28,000, animals some 9,000, motor cars, motor trucks, tanks, balloons, airplanes, and last but not least, the military police. In a single close column - men marching in column of fours well closed up - the division is now more than 30 miles long.” (Haan 8)
On 4 August 1917 Company A, 1ST Michigan Engineers became the first unit of the 32D Division to arrive at Camp MacArthur, Texas.
On 5 August the National Guard Soldiers from Michigan and Wisconsin were officially drafted into federal service.
They had to be discharged from National Guard status and immediately “drafted” into federal service due to constitutional restraint that prohibited the use of the National Guard outside of the U.S.
On 17 August Major General James 'Galloping Jim' Parker assumed command of the 32D Division. On 18 September he left for France on special duty. He returned in early December, but was almost immediately transferred to the 85TH ‘Custer’ Division which was being organized at Camp Custer, Michigan.
The first units from Wisconsin entrained at Camp Douglas at 1200 hours on 18 August and reached Texas on arrive on 21 August 1917. Those units were Co. A (Reedsburg) and Co. G (Madison) of the 1ST Wis. Inf.; Co. D (Mauston) of the 3D Wis. Inf.; as well as Btry. F (Racine) 1ST Wis. Field Artillery.
Included among Btry. F’s equipment and baggage was a goat, the mascot of Btry. C, which had recently been kidnapped “after considerable intrigue” (Souvenir no page no.). [added 28 Dec. ’14, TPB]
On 25 August the Division’s 57TH Field Artillery Brigade was organized from the 1ST Wisconsin Field Artillery, 1ST Wisconsin Cavalry, detachments from 4TH and 6TH Wisconsin Infantry Regiments, 1ST Michigan Field Artillery, 1ST Michigan Cavalry and detachments from 31ST Michigan Infantry.
On 8 September 1917 the Division’s 64TH Infantry Brigade was organized from the 1ST, 2D, and 3D Wisconsin Infantry Regiments plus detachments from the 4TH, 5TH, and 6TH Wisconsin Infantry Regiments.
On 9 September Company L, 32D Michigan Infantry and entrained for Camp MacArthur, arriving there on 12 September. The remainder of the 1ST Wisconsin Field Artillery entrained at Camp Douglas on 9 Sep. and also reached Camp MacArthur on 12 Sep. [updated 28 Dec. ’14, TPB]
On 11 September the Division’s 63D Infantry Brigade was organized from the 31ST, 32D, and 33D Michigan Infantry Regiments.
On 15 September the remainder of the 32D Michigan Infantry entrained for Camp MacArthur. Three trains were needed to transport the Regiment and they arrived in Texas on 19 Sep.
On 18 September Brigadier General William G. 'Bunker' Haan (then commander of the 57TH Field Artillery Brigade) became acting commander of the 32D Division. BG Haan officially assumed command of the Division in December, when MG Parker was transferred to the 85TH Division. Brigadier General Edward Fenton McGlachlin, Jr., assumed command of the 57TH FA Brigade when BG Haan became 32D Division commander.
From 22 September to 15 October the organization of the 32D Division was finalized in accordance with the Tables of Organization of 8 August 1917.
The 1ST Wisconsin Field Artillery officially became the 121ST Field Artillery Regiment on 22 September. [added 28 Dec. ’14, TPB]
On 23 September the 107TH Engineer Regiment was organized. The 1ST Michigan Engineers formed the 1ST Battalion, Companies A, B, & C. The 1ST Wisconsin Engineers formed the 2D Battalion, Companies D, E, & F. The 107TH Engineers had the dual burden of attempting to train to go to war while simultaneously assisting in the construction of Camp MacArthur.
The autumn of 1917 witnessed the establishment of a unique connection between the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division and Baylor University that continues to this day. For many years the university did not have a mascot but on 14 Dec. 1914 the students voted to have a bear represent the University as mascot. However, they did not have a real-live bear for their mascot until the fall of 1917 when the men of the 107TH Engineer Regiment presented the school with a black bear named ‘Ted’ who had served as the mascot for the Regiment. The bear’s name was ‘Ted’ but he was often called ‘Bruin’. Since then more than 50 North American Black Bears have called Baylor home.
On 29 September systematic training for the Division began in earnest. This was also the date of arrival for the 31ST Michigan Infantry Regiment.
The last Wisconsin unit arrived on 1 October; although not sure which unit it was. I currently do not have much information pertaining to the arrival of the Michigan units.
A newspaper article from 2 October 1917 stated that the 32D Division had been given the nickname, “The Iron Jaw Division.”
As mentioned above, 15 October 1917 is the date that numerous Division unit histories state as the date the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division came into existence. This is likely the completion date, the effective date, of the physical reorganization to create the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Division from the old Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard units. You can find some information about how the various Wisconsin and Michigan units were combined to form the 32D Division here: http://www.32nd-division.org/history/ww1/32ww1org.html. [updated 1 Sep. ’14, TPB]
Between 26 October and 3 November
1917, the Division received 4,000 draftees from Camp Custer, Michigan, and
Camp Grant, Illinois, but it remained under strength by nearly 3,500 Soldiers
and would remain below authorized strength at the time of its embarkation for
Brig. Gen. Haan and Staff of the 32D Div. at Camp MacArthur, Waco, Texas.
The first troops left Camp MacArthur on 2 January 1918, bound for Camp Merritt, New Jersey and then onto the Port of Embarkation at Hoboken, New Jersey. Camp MacArthur was cleared by 1 March.
On 13 January the advance detachment of the 32D Division sailed for France.
The 125TH Infantry Regiment left Camp MacArthur on 16 and 17 January bound for Camp Merritt, New Jersey. [added 20 Jan. ’14, TPB]
On 18 January the 127TH Infantry Regiment left Camp MacArthur for Camp Merritt, New Jersey.
On 24 January the SS Tuscania departed Pier 54 at New York and began its ill-fated journey toward the war zone. Units from the 32D Division on board included some or all of the 107TH Engineer Train, 107TH Supply Train, 107TH Sanitary Train, and 107TH MP's. [added 16 Jan. ’15, TPB]
On 24 January the advance detachment of the 32D Division arrived at Brest, France.
The 32D Division suffered its first casualties of the war when, on 5 February, the SS Tuscania was sunk by a German submarine (UB-77, commanded by Lt. Cdr. Wilhelm Meyer) while crossing the Atlantic. The 107TH Engineer Train, 107TH Supply Train, 107TH Sanitary Train, and 107TH MP's were aboard the Tuscania and at least 13 men of those 32D Division units died as a result of the attack. In addition to the above mentioned 32D Division units, there were also other American units; about 230 Soldiers and ship's crew members died in the attack.
On 5 February, the 120TH and 121ST Field Artillery Regiments left Camp MacArthur for Camp Merritt, New Jersey.
On 6 February the 107TH Field Signal Battalion landed in England (continued on to France a few days later) and Ambulance Companies 125 and 128 landed at St. Nazaire, France.
On 7 February 1918 General Haan was promoted to the rank of Major General.
On 7 February, the 125TH Infantry Regiment boarded transports at Antigone, President Lincoln and the Martha Washington at Hoboken and sailed for France. [added 20 Jan. ’14, TPB]
On 11 February the 121ST Field Artillery Regiment, and presumably the 120TH, reached Camp Merritt, New Jersey. [added 28 Dec. ’14, TPB]
The 121ST FA Regt. history points out that their brief stay at Camp Merritt was the first time since mobilization the men slept on real beds in barracks, as opposed to cots in tents. “About half the regiment got 24 hour passes to New York, and half of the rest went anyway. (Souvenir no page no.)” This is also where they were issued their dog tags just before they embarked for France, which must have been a sobering experience. [added 28 Dec. ’14, TPB]
On 15 February the 107TH Supply Train and 107TH Engineer Train landed in England, both units were aboard SS Tuscania when it was torpedoed on 5 Feb. off the British coast. They continued on to France a few days later.
On 15-16 February, the 127TH Infantry Regiment boarded the transport USS George Washington. The 119TH Machinegun Battalion boarded on 18 February. MG Haan & his staff, 64TH Infantry Brigade Headquarters, 57TH Field Artillery Brigade Headquarters, and 107TH Mobile Ordnance Repair Shop were also aboard this ship.
On 16 February the 126TH Infantry Regiment, 107TH Trench Mortar Battery, Field Hospital Companies Nos. 127 & 128 of the 107TH Sanitary Train, and several non-divisional units finished boarding the USS President Grant at the Port of Embarkation at Hoboken, NJ. Col. Joseph B. Westnedge, commander of 126TH Inf., was designated Commander of Troops aboard the ship. On 18 February they sailed for France in a convoy which included the transports George Washington, Covington, De Kalb, Manchuria, Pastores, Susquehanna, and El Sol, the cruiser USS Huntington served as the convoy escort. The 128TH Infantry Regiment also sailed on this convoy.
On 16 February 1918 the 32D Division Headquarters landed overseas, at the time the official arrival date for divisions was the date their HQs landed. The first 32D Division Command Post in Europe was set up on 20 February at Le Havre, Seine-Inférieure, France. On 24 February the Command Post was moved and established near Prauthoy, France, the designated training ground for the Division.
The 32D was the sixth division to join the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Force). The 1ST ‘Big Red One’ Division (RA) arrived 17 June 1917. The 26TH ‘Yankee’ Division (New England National Guard) arrived on 23 October 1917. The 42D ‘Rainbow’ Division (National Guard units from 26 states and Washington D.C.) arrived on 1 November 1917. The 41ST ‘Sunsetters’ Division (National Guard units from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, North Dakota and Washington) arrived on 27 December 1917. The 2D ‘Indianhead’ Division (RA) arrived on 28 December 1917.
On 17 February the 107TH Ammunition Train landed in England (continued on to France a few days later).
On 24 February the convoy transporting the 125TH Infantry Regiment reached St. Nazaire and Brest, France. [added 20 Jan. ’14, TPB] The 1ST Battalion, of the 125TH Infantry was among the units that disembarked at St. Nazaire.
The Division’s artillery regiments sailed for France on 26 February and 3 March.
At 1200 hours on 4 March, some references state 3 March, the USS Leviathan left Hoboken, New Jersey, with 8,500 troops aboard, in addition to the crew of 1,000. The 120TH and 121ST Field Artillery Regiments were among the units on board. [updated 28 Dec. ’14, TPB]
The Leviathan was formerly the Vaterland of Germany’s Hamburg America Line. It had been impounded by the U.S. while it was docked at Hoboken, NJ in 1914 and after the U.S. declared war it was converted to a troop ship and renamed. At the time it, and its sister ships Imperator and Bismarck, were the largest and fastest passenger ships afloat, so its new name of Leviathan was quite the apt moniker. [added 28 Dec. ’14, TPB]
As massive as the Leviathan was, it became pretty crowded with 8,500 troops aboard. “The officers were crowded pretty tightly on the top two decks, but below these the entire interior of the vessel down to the tops of the boilers was filled with canvas bunks, four deep and separated by aisles 18 inches wide. The only exceptions were the spaces used for mess halls and the storage of baggage. Throughout the whole ship hung the odor of disinfectants, while of ventilation there was almost none.” (Souvenir no page no.) As crowded and uncomfortable as it was, many on board considered themselves more fortunate than some of their friends in other 32D Division units. The fast Leviathan could make the trip to the war zone in about 7 days, while the trip aboard equally crowded but slower vessels could take more than 20 days. [added 28 Dec. ’14, TPB]
The threat of attack by German U-boats was taken seriously, especially in light of the sinking of the Tuscania with many 32D Division Soldiers aboard. “Life belts had to be worn or carried all the time, and “abandon ship” drills were held daily. These drills were useful in showing the men the methods of getting out of their quarters below the water line to the decks above, but they were also discouraging in that they demonstrated that in case of really abandoning ship there were not enough lifeboats or rafts to sustain a tenth of those on board. When ship’s officers were consulted privately, they admitted that the best thing to do, if the ship were sinking, would be to jump overboard and try to swim around until picked up by someone (identity unknown). As the upper decks were fifty or sixty feet above the waves, even this jumping business did not seem especially inviting.” (Souvenir no page no.) [added 28 Dec. ’14, TPB]
On 4 March, MG Haan & his staff, 64TH Infantry Brigade Headquarters, 57TH Field Artillery Brigade Headquarters, the 126TH, 127TH, and 128TH Infantry Regiments, 119TH Machinegun Battalion, 107TH Trench Mortar Battery, Field Hospital Companies Nos. 127 & 128 of the 107TH Sanitary Train arrived at Brest, France (although they did not disembark until 6-7 March).
On 6 March the 119TH Field Artillery Regiment landed at Liverpool, England (continued on to France a few days later).
On 13 March, the USS Leviathan reached Liverpool, England, with the 120TH Field Artillery Regiment, 121ST Field Artillery Regiment, and other units, aboard. The units disembarked and were sent to Camp Winnal Downs, near Winchester, by train.
Upon waking on their 1st morning in the United Kingdom after their arduous journey, the men were hoping for a large breakfast. They were somewhat disappointed when they were served a modest portion of cheese, bread, and tea, which was repeated for most of the meals during their short stay there. Even though they were beginning to realize “war was hell,” “…it didn’t take the first American soldier more than one meal’s time to rechristen it “[Camp] Dwindle Down,” although many also referred to it lovingly as “Camp Cheese.” (Souvenir no page no.) [added 28 Dec. ’14, TPB]
On 20 March, the 120TH Field Artillery Regiment and 121ST Field Artillery Regiment landed at Le Havre, France. They made the 6-hour cross-channel jaunt from Southampton standing shoulder-to-shoulder on open decked cattle boats, which were still rife with the manure of the boats’ usual occupants.
Before the 32D Division arrived in France, the General Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force had made the decision that the sixth American division to arrive in France would be designated as a replacement organization. The 32D Division had the misfortune of being the sixth division to arrive and was informed of its fate as soon as it debarked. This decision would soon be reversed (due, in part, to a German offensive), the 32D Division would remain intact as a fighting unit, but not before approximately 7,000 of its soldiers were farmed out as replacements to other American units (the Division had 27,000 men when it left for France).
The 125TH, 126TH
and 127TH Infantry Regiments were assigned as temporary labor troops
immediately after their arrival, and went to work on important projects in the
Service of Supply (mainly constructing supply depots). Because of this, only
scattered detachments reached the 10th Training Area during the first month the
Division was in France. The 57TH Artillery Brigade went to the
artillery training area at Camp Coetquidan and the
107TH Engineers were assigned to engineering work in the Service of
Replacement Detachment, 128TH Inf. going to front, Royaumiex, France on 21 March 1918.
Replacement Detachment, 128TH Inf. first gas mask drill, Menil-la-Tour, France on 21 March 1918.
The 128TH Infantry, however, reached the 10th Training Area in March, and bore the brunt of the replacement blow. For about four weeks the Division functioned as a replacement organization and during that time all the privates, privates first class, and captains of the 128TH who were present for duty were transferred to the 1ST ‘Big Red One’ Division as replacements. The 1ST Division had completed its training and was entering the trenches at Cantigny. Many NCOs of the 128TH asked to be reduced in rank so they could accompany their comrades, but they were needed to train the new men the Division would soon get and their requests were not granted.
In early April, the high command reverted the 32D Div. from a replacement unit back to a combat unit. The decision was prompted by a large German offensive that began on 21 Mar., and was off to a good start. There was an urgent need for every available U.S. division and the 32D Div. was, for the most part, still intact. The units of the Div. were released from their extraneous duties and returned to Div. control. Most of the Division, still minus the artillery and engineers, was finally assembled in the 10th Training Area on 10 April 1918. Training resumed in earnest. [updated 22 Jul. ’15, TPB]
The infantry strength of the Div. was a concern though, three regiments were close to full-strength but one was nearly depleted. It was ordered that each of the nearly full-strength regiments would give up about 375 privates and privates first class to be transferred to the 128TH Inf. on 17 April. Those from the 125TH Inf. were assigned to 2D Bn., 128TH Inf.; those from the 126TH Inf. were assigned to 3D Bn., 128TH Inf.; and those from the 127TH Inf. were assigned to 1ST Bn., 128TH Inf. [added 22 Jul. ’15, TPB]
With the 32D Div. a combat unit again, another replacement division needed to be designated. The Army bestowed that designation upon the 41ST ‘Sunsetters’ Division. The 32D Div. received many replacements from that new unit, but most of the Soldiers from the 41ST Div. were transferred to the 1ST and 2D Divisions. [updated 22 Jul. ’15, TPB]
On 18 May 1918 the first troops of the 32D
Division (four battalions) were assigned to front line duty in Haute Alsace, as
part of the 40th French Corps. The 1ST Battalion of the 125TH
Infantry was the first of the first. Thus the 32D Division were the first
U.S. troops to set foot on German soil (Alsace was part of Germany when the war
started in 1914).
On the night of 21-22 May, the 3D Bn., 127TH Inf., command by Maj. Charles S. Buck, entered the trenches in the Alsace sector.
On 24 May 1918 the Division suffered its first KIA in combat in France when Pvt. Joseph W. Guyton was killed. This also meant that he was the first U.S. Soldier to be KIA on German soil. Born in Evart Township, MI, on 10 Jun. 1889, he was assigned to Co. I, 126TH Inf.
Near midnight on 24 May, Guyton was a machine gunner at Petty Post 9, an observation post (OP), at the front line. He had been told to intermittently fire his machinegun toward the German trenches. After one of these bursts he was struck in the temple by a German machinegun burst and died instantly.
On 25 May, the commander of the French 9TH Infantry Division cited Pvt. Guyton in its orders and decorated him with the Croix de Guerre with silver star: “Divisional Order No. 297 General Gamelin, commanding the 9th Infantry Division, cites in the Divisional Order: The soldier, Joseph W. Guyton, of the 126th American Infantry Regiment, ‘on guard in the first line was killed by a machine gun bullet. He is the first soldier of the 32nd American Division to fall fighting for the cause of right and liberty on Alsacian soil, beside his French comrades.’” This meant that Pvt. Guyton the first 32D Div. Soldier to be decorated.
Pvt. Guyton’s comrades buried him in the cemetery of a nearby German church. He was repatriated in 1921. In May of that year, President Warren G. Harding placed a wreath on his flag-draped coffin during a ceremony for 5,000 repatriated American remains at the pier in Hoboken, NJ, where he said: “In the name of the republic, I bestow this tribute on the casket of the first soldier who perished on the soil of the enemy... I chose it because I am offering the tribute to the one returned whose death on enemy soil marked the day when our civilization went face forward and the assault on our present day civilization knew it had failed. May 24, 1918, is the date on which this soldier was killed, and the name is that of Joseph W. Guyton, Company I of the 126th Infantry, a resident patriot and hero of the State of Michigan of the United States of America.” After the ceremony, he was transported to his hometown of Evart, MI, where he was reinterred at Forest Hill Cemetery. Ten-thousand people turned out for his funeral in that tiny community on 5 Jun. The local VFW Post, a park, and a bridge were named in his honor.
On 25 May, Pvt. Joseph P. Dugan, Co. D, 125TH Inf., was KIA and became that regiment’s first combat casualty. Pvt. Dugan was from Taunton, MA and was assigned to the 32D Div. on 18 Apr. ’18.
On 27 May, the 127TH Inf. suffered its first combat casualty when Pvt. Kenneth E. Counter, from Alden, MN and assigned to Co. I, was killed.
Sgt. Charles E. Cunningham, from Grand Rapids, MI and assigned to Co. K, 126TH Inf., was also among the casualties of the 32D Division’s first days of combat. The circumstances are detailed in History of the 126TH Infantry in the War With Germany:
“About 4:30 o'clock in
the morning of May 27th, the detachment from Company K designated to occupy the
advance day position in P. P. 2 [Petty Post 2], was
proceeding along the communicating trench to its post with Sergeant Charles E.
Cunningham, the detachment commander, in the lead. As the detachment neared the
day post, Sergeant Cunningham was separated from his detachment by some
Germans, who were members of an enemy raiding party, and concealed in a recess
in the trench. They attempted to make him prisoner, but Sergeant Cunningham
opened fire on the enemy, who returned the fire, knocked him down and rushed
along the trench. The first shot struck the sergeant in the chest, severely
wounding him, but despite his wound, he climbed upon the parapet and,
single-handed, attacked the enemy raiding party, fired six shots at them from
his pistol and drove them off, but not before he had received two more gunshot
wounds and fell unconscious in the trench. Sergeant Cunningham was immediately
given first aid and taken to a hospital, but the wounds he received in this
early morning encounter proved fatal, and he died on the afternoon of July 3,
1918.” (Gansser 70) [added 6 Jul. ’14, TPB]
Sgt. Cunningham earned the Distinguished Service Cross and the Croix de Guerre with silver star for his actions on 27 May. Maj. Gen. Haan, 32D Div. commander, presented the Croix de Guerre to Sgt. Cunningham while he was being treated for his wounds in a hospital, the DSC was bestowed posthumously. He was a member of the Michigan National Guard when it was mobilized on 15 Jul. ’17. More information about him and his medal can be found on the roster of DSC recipients. [added 6 Jul. ’14, TPB]
Co. A, 125TH Inf., 32D Division, crossing the German frontier at Sentheim, Alsace, 29 May 1918.
Soldiers of Co. A, 128TH Inf., 32D Div. cleaning up St. Ultrich, Alsace, Germany on 4 June 1918.
Soldiers of Machine Gun Co., 127TH Inf., 32D Div. returning from duty in the trenches, Manspach, Alsace, Germany on 4 June 1918.
Rolling kitchen of Co. E & F, 128TH Inf., 32D Div. at Austerlitz, Alsace, Germany on 5 June 1918.
Pvt. J. P. Borchers, Co. B, 127TH Inf., 32D Div. on duty in OP in Gerspach Woods, near Altkirch, Alsace, Germany on 6 June 1918.
Medical Detachment, 127TH Inf., 2D Bn., 32D Div. at first aid station, Eglingen, Alsace, Germany on 6 June 1918.
Pvt. Albert V. Lems of 127TH Inf., 2D Bn., 32D Div. on duty in OP at Lock 25 on Canal at Eglingen, Alsace, Germany on 6 June 1918.
Soldiers of Co. B, 127TH Inf., 32D Div. carrying in mess to men in the trenches, Carspach Woods, Alsace, Germany on 7 June 1918.
On 9 June, Battery A fired the first shot of the war for the 120TH FA. Several days later the 120TH FA suffered its first casualty of the war when Pvt. Kenneth Head, from Battery B, was seriously wounded on 16 June.
By 15 June, eight
battalions of the 32D Division were in the front line (the other four
battalions were in support and would soon rotate into the front line). The
Division’s sector of the front stretched 27 kilometers, from Aspach le Bas to the Swiss border. In the middle of June
the 57TH Field Artillery Brigade joined the Division in Alsace and a
few days later was firing in support of the infantry. The 107TH
Engineers joined the Division about the same time, so that on 15 June 1918
the Division was practically complete, except for the shortage of about 2,000
enlisted men, mostly from the infantry. The 32D was sent here to
complete its combat training in order to prepare to be sent to a more active
sector in the future. This area was considered a quiet sector; no major combat
activity was taking place in this area at this time. Aggressive patrols and
raids were the normal activity here, patrols from both sides met and clashed in
no man’s land almost nightly.
Gen. Pershing, Maj. Gen. Haan and Col. Laucagne, 9th (French) Division, at Sentheim, 20 June 1918.
Mrs. Maude Radford Warren and Charles Winner, Y. M. C. A. workers, with 32D Division Soldiers at Michelbach, Alsace, 22 June 1918.
Sgt. Charles Arnold Quick, Cpl. Mark A. Young and Pvt. Albert Ozro Lull, 126TH Inf., 32D Division, manning 37mm gun near Dieffmatten, Alsace, 25 June 1918. Sgt. Quick later earned the DSC.
Machine gunners from 126TH Inf., 32D Division, at Diefmatten, Alsace, 26 June 1918.
At about 0530 hours on 23 June, a group from 4TH Plt., Co. M, 126TH Inf., led by 1st Lt. Carl A. Johnson, was making its way through the trenches to occupy an advanced OP near Diefmatten, Alsace. Unbeknownst to them, a well-camouflaged German raiding party was lying in ambush on the parapet. The Germans opened fire and 1st Lt. Johnson was shot in the abdomen and fell seriously wounded. Sgt. Dewey F. Slocum, Cpl. John C. Phillips and Cpl. Newton Bell, who had been directly behind 1st Lt. Johnson, were suddenly surrounded, the rest of their patrol had been forced to withdraw to their previous position. They were able to hold off the enemy with rifle fire and grenades, inflicting at least four casualties. Eventually they were able to fight their way back and rejoin their comrades. Later, another group from Co. M moved forward to clear the trench. They found 1st Lt. Johnson’s body where he had fallen. He had been shot in the forehead as he lay wounded and his body was booby-trapped with grenades and other explosives. Sgt. Slocum and Cpl. Phillips, from Grand Rapids, MI, and Cpl. Bell, from Muses Mills, KY, earned the DSC for their actions on 23 June, Cpl. Bell’s was bestowed posthumously because he was later KIA on 10 Oct. More information about these three Soldiers and their medals can be found on the roster of DSC recipients. [added 20 Jan. ’14, TPB]
Early in July 1918, General Pershing inspected the 32D Division. Major General Haan expressed the opinion that his men would give a good account of themselves, and hoped that he would soon get orders to go to an active front. General Pershing replied, “I like the snap in your Division, and unless I am mistaken you will be on your way to a more active front in the very near future. Tell your men I like their spirit.”
Pvt. Leo R. Hahn, sniper, Intelligence Section, 127TH Inf., 32D Division, in trench at Benholz, Alsace, 1 July 1918.
Soldiers of Co. K, 127TH Inf., 32D Division, in trenches at Benholz, Alsace, 1 July 1918.
The night of 3 July, a 10-man ambuscade patrol from Scout Platoon, 1ST Battalion, 127TH Infantry, made their way toward the German lines Hagenbach, Alsace, a nightly occurrence. Second Lieutenant George M. Gerald, from Beloit, WI, was the patrol leader and the assistant patrol leader was Sgt. Herman Graskamp, from Sheboygan, WI. The patrol was forced to turn back prematurely, after it was caught in an artillery barrage. Three members of the patrol were captured by the Germans in the chaos, Cpl. Eugene Ramaker, from Sheboygan Falls, WI and WIA by the artillery fire, Pvt. William J. Bullock, from South Chicago, IL, and Pvt. Evelyn J. Smith, from Oroville, CA (all three were assigned to Co. C, 127TH Inf.). [added 29 Oct. ’15, TPB]
Lt. George M. Gerald was born in Jul. '96 at Sheboygan, WI. He enlisted as a Pvt. in Co. L, 1ST Wis. Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Beloit, WI and had been promoted to Sgt. by the time of the Mexican Border Crisis. He was commissioned at some point before being assigned to Co. D, 127TH Inf. when the 32D Div. was organized. He transferred to Scout Plt., 1ST Bn., 127TH Inf. He would be KIA on 31 Jul. '18 while leading his Scout Plt. near Sergy; he was struck in heart by machinegun bullet. He lies interred at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and is also memorialized at Wildwood Cemetery, Sheboygan, WI. Two of his brothers also enlisted in Co. L, 1ST Wis. Inf. Brother Sgt. Charles J. Gerald served with Co. D, 127TH Inf. and was KIA on 4 Aug. '18. Brother Cpl. Arnold A. Gerald served with Co. D, 127TH Inf. and was severely WIA on 4 Aug. '18. When their mother passed away in Dec. '21, it was said she was “a war mother whose sacrifices are not believed to have been equaled by any other woman in the state.” [added 29 Oct. ’15, TPB]
Sgt. Herman Graskamp was born 21 Feb. '94 at Holland, WI. He enlisted in Co. C, 2D Wis. Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Sheboygan, WI and had been promoted to Cpl. by the time of the Mexican Border Crisis. He was assigned to Co. C, 127TH Inf. when 32D Div. was organized but transferred to Scout Plt., 1ST Bn., 127TH Inf. After the war he became Postmaster at Oostburg, WI and was also a Red Cross field worker. He moved to Presque Isle, WI in '40 and operated a resort until he moved to FL. He passed away 18 May '63 at West Palm Beach, FL. [added 29 Oct. ’15, TPB]
Cpl. Eugene Ramaker, born ca. ’97, was originally from Waukegan, IL, and had moved to Sheboygan Falls, WI at some point. He enlisted as a Pvt. in Co. C, 2D Wis. Inf., Wisconsin National Guard, at Sheboygan, WI in ‘16 and served during Mexican Border Crisis. He was assigned to Co. C, 127TH Inf. when 32D Div. was organized. On 30 Jul. '18 his family was notified he was MIA, but several weeks before the notification, the father had a premonition that his son had somehow been separated from his unit. It wasn’t until about 9 Oct. '18 that the family learned he was still alive but was a POW. [added 29 Oct. ’15, TPB]
Pvt. William J. Bullock was born 21 Jun. '91 at Milwaukee, WI. On 30 Jul. '18 his family was notified he was MIA. He passed away in Jan. '65. [added 29 Oct. ’15, TPB]
Sgt. Willard D. Purdy, from
125TH Inf., 32D Division, passing through Massevaux, Alsace, 14 July 1918.
On 12 July Col. Russell C. Langdon assumed command of the 127TH Inf. from Col. Wilbur M. Lee.
On 19 July the Division began to pull out of Alsace, bound for a different sector of the front. There had been three German divisions, the 30th Bavarian Reserve Division, the 44th Landwehr and the 25th Landwehr, in the trenches opposite the 32D Division in the Alsace sector. The Division suffered 440 losses from all causes, including: 1 officer and 39 men KIA; 3 officers and 79 men severely WIA; 9 officers and 211 men slightly WIA; 7 officers and 67 men gassed; 1 officer and 15 men DW; and 8 were taken POW (8 German prisoners were captured).
The Division would move by rail to its next area of operations. “Loading began at 1:00 p.m. on July 22 and the first train left at 5:00 p.m. Thereafter every four hours day and night for 48 hours a train departed and usually on time. (Garlock, 70)” Fifty trains were needed to move the Division, each train consisted of 49 or 50 cars. The standard French military train included 17 flatcars, 30 boxcars, 1 coach, and 1 or 2 cabooses. The boxcars were the storied ‘40 Hommes et 8 Chevaux,’ ‘40 men or 8 horses,’ often referred to simply as ‘Forty and Eight’ or 40/8 cars. The last train departed at 5:00 p.m. on 24 Jul., the trip to Verberie, about 50 miles east of Château-Thierry, lasted 32 hours. From there the Division was disbursed around the area of Compiegne, to await a motor march to Château-Thierry. [added 31 Jan. ’16, TPB]
On 26 July 1918 the Division proceeded to the region of Château-Thierry, as part of the 38th French Corps, 6th French Army, in the tip of the famous Marne salient.
After nightfall on 29 July, the 64TH Brigade (127TH and 128TH Infantry) began to filter forward to relieve the 3D Infantry Division in the front line, on the Ourcq in the vicinity of Ronchères. The 3D Division had been fighting continuously since the German offensive started about 15 July and was exhausted while attempting to overcome strong German resistance in the Bois de Grimpettes.
On 29 July, two members of the Army Nurse Corps, attached to the Division’s 127TH Field Hospital, performed deeds for which they earned the Silver Star Citation (also known as the Citation Star, now known as the Silver Star). The nurses were Lina E. ‘Linnie’ Leckrone and Irene M. Robar and they were recognized for their heroism while caring for the wounded during an artillery bombardment. They became two of the first three women to earn the new decoration for bravery, the third woman, Jane I. Rignel, earned the decoration under similar circumstances at a different hospital unit 14 days earlier. At the time it was uncommon for nurses to be assigned to such forward hospitals, but as the war progressed it became more frequent. Some references state that nurses did not have formal rank at that time, but transcripts of these two women’s citations list their rank as WO3. [added 30 Jan. ’16, TPB]
Nurses Leckrone and Robar were friends; they both graduated the Training School for Nurses at Wesley Memorial Hospital in Chicago, that program was part of Northwestern University’s Medical School. Unfortunately, like many other WWI service members, it appears they may have never known that they had been awarded the decoration, the recommendations were processed after they were discharged from the service. To complicate things further, the Silver Star Citation became the now more familiar Silver Star Medal in 1932. In order to receive the new, full-sized medal, veterans had to apply for it by submitting proof they had earned the Silver Star Citation. The Army presented Leckrone’s Silver Star Medal to her daughter in 2007, living relatives of Robar could not be located at the time. [added 30 Jan. ’16, TPB]
Leckrone was born in 1893 at Illinois and her family resided at Marion Co., IL. Her brothers Orris, Dwight, and Lyle also served during the war. She returned home after the war and worked in nursing, but later moved to CO. She was commended in the Red Cross Bulletin for her actions as a nurse during a flood near Pueblo, CO in June of 1921. She married Ralph B. Bolles and they settled on a farm and raised a family of four. She passed away in 1989. [added 30 Jan. ’16, TPB]
Robar was born 29 December 1886 at Aurelia, Iowa; her family moved to Alta, IA. She attended Morningside College before heading to Chicago to complete nurses training. She entered service on 8 Nov. '17 and departed for overseas on 12 Dec. '17. She landed at Liverpool on 25 Dec. '17 and arrived at Boulogne, France on 29 Dec. '17. She served at American Red Cross Military Hosp. No. 1 at Paris and Base Hosp. No. 66 at Neufchâteau before being attached to the 125TH and later 127TH Fld. Hosp., 107TH San. Tr. She sailed for home from St. Nazaire on 6 Feb. '19, landed at New York on 28 Feb. '19 and was discharged 5 Mar. '19. Her brothers Clifton J. and Garret D. also served during the war. She worked in Chicago, and possibly Rutland, MA, before moving to CO. She passed away 1 June 1986. [added 30 Jan. ’16, TPB]
The 32D Division received its baptism of fire (first major offensive action) at 1430 hours on 30 July 1918 when the 127TH Infantry went over the top and followed a rolling barrage into the Bois des Grimpettes. The 127TH pushed through the woods until they were stopped by machine gun fire from the right flank. On this flank, from positions in the Bois de Cierges, the Germans continued to oppose every effort to advance, but the 127TH Infantry gained the edge of those woods and established themselves there. During the night the Germans launched a counter attack from the Bois de Meuniere and a bayonet melee raged for hours in the dark, tangled woods, until the attacking force was finally routed.
Pvt. Edwin Austin, from Shawano, WI, and Pvt. James C. Hix, from Beloit, WI, both assigned to Co. F, 127TH Inf., earned the DSC for their efforts to rescue wounded comrades during that attack near Ronchères on 30 July. Both decorations were bestowed posthumously; Pvt. Austin was KIA that day and Pvt. Hix was later KIA on 7 or 9 Oct. Pvt. Austin was a Soldier in the Wisconsin National Guard when it was mobilized on 15 Jul. ’17. More information about them and their medals can be found on the roster of DSC recipients.
During the night of 30 July, the 63D Brigade (125TH and 126TH Infantry) moved up from support to relieve the 28TH Division, Pennsylvania National Guard (adjacent and on the left of the 64TH Brigade, the 4th French Division was on our right).
Earlier on 30 July, at 1530 hours, while leaders were coordinating with the units they were to relieve that night, a high explosive shell hit a house in Courmont that was the Command Post of the 110TH Infantry from Pennsylvania. CPT James J. Cook and 1LT Elmer E. Nelson, both from Pontiac, MI, were KIA and the 1ST Bn., 125TH Inf. commander and his entire staff were WIA. One officer and seven men from the 110TH Inf. were also killed. CPT Charles Learned assumed command of the 1ST Bn., 125TH Inf. and the relief was executed as planned. CPT Cook was from Co. H, 126TH Inf.; he had previously served with the 120TH MG Bn. 1LT Nelson was from Co. A, 120TH MG Bn.
On the morning of 31 July, both Infantry Brigades of the 32D Division went into action side by side. Directly in front of us was the long, open slope of the Ourcq Valley, reaching to the woods of Les Jomblettes on Hill 212, a spur of Hill 230. This objective constituted one of the strongest German positions on the line of the Ourcq, and the success of the contemplated operation meant the breaking of the Kaiser’s last formidable line of resistance south of the Vesle. Les Jomblettes was not only holding up the 32D Division, machine gun nests there and in the Bois Pelger, further back, flanked the open ground in front of the 42D Division and absolutely prevented any advance by the “Rainbows”. On the left, the 63D Brigade promptly reached its objective, Hill 212, after some wicked fighting. They dove into Les Jomblettes and mopped it up and then cleaned out the Bois Pelger, allowing the 42D Division to advance. On the right, the127TH Infantry pushed their attack through the village of Cierges and passed beyond, only to be held up by a withering hail of machine gun bullets from Bellevue Farm, which had been organized into a very strong center of resistance which the artillery had failed to smother.
The attack was renewed on the
morning of 1 August 1918. The objective of the 63D Brigade
was Hill 230. The mission of the 64TH was to take Bellevue Farm, which
had stopped the attack the day before. The Germans resisted desperately and
were amply supported by machine guns and artillery. But “Les Terribles” were not to be denied. The objectives were
gained and after dark the 32D Division dominated Hill 230. The
Germans were forced to retreat after they lost this commanding high ground.
Soldiers of the 126TH Inf., 32D Division, assembling for an attack near Coutmont, 1 Aug. 1918.
Soldiers of the 2D Battalion, 126TH Inf., 32D Division, assembling in a wheat field prepatory to an attack near Coutmont, 1 Aug. 1918.
The situation was now such that the commander of the 6th French Army thought it probable that a consolidated advance could break through. Such an advance was ordered to begin on the morning of 2 August. The German resistance was not as stubborn as it had been over the last few days. As a result, the 32D Division advanced rapidly. The pursuit was continued to a line north of the village of Dravegny, which the 32D reached by nightfall, after an advance of about 6 km.
While lamenting the detritus of war, Lt. Col. Glenn W. Garlock recalled numerous gruesome scenes. “We went up the hill and passed a little strip of timber. Here were many Germans dead in pits and shelter trenches. A little way beyond was a gravel and clay pit. Here Co. A [128TH Inf.] had found a group trying to surrender but poured in a volley before any prisoners were taken. The dead were numerous there.” Soon after, “Here about the farm [Bellevue Farm] dead were strewn everywhere. Rain was falling and the finger tips of the dead were creased in little wrinkles from the water. Many faces there were familiar to me; the whole scene was depressing. At a corner of the farm a German machine gunner sat in a pit with his hands still gripping the handles of his Maxim. He wore glasses and had been a short man. Now he was shorter than before for a shell fragment had sliced off the whole upper two inches of his skull leaving it startlingly flat. A peculiar thing about this dead gunner was that his spectacles were undisturbed, there was no blood on his face and his body held the same posture it had when he was peering across his sights ready to pour out the terrific firepower of his gun.” (Garlock, 118) [added 31 Jan. ’16, TPB]
On 3 August, the pursuit was resumed and our troops continued to steadily gain ground, although meeting with increased resistance, especially on the left flank, where the 42D Division was unable to advance as rapidly as the 32D. By the end of the day, the Division’s front line had advanced about 7 km to the hills overlooking the valley of the Vesle, about 1 km south of the Vesle on the left and 2 km south of Fismes on the right. Here considerable resistance was met from the German rear guard, which was making a stand to protect the withdrawal over the river.
1LT Clarence G. Noble, from
On 4 August the 127TH moved out toward Fismes, while the 63D Brigade attacked the railroad yards on their front. The enemy had no intentions of yielding without a bitter battle and by means of very heavy artillery and machine gun fire was able to hold the town and railroad yards during the early hours of the afternoon. In its attack on Fismes, the 127TH was badly cut up and late in the day Colonel Langdon organized a provisional battalion out of what was left of his regiment and sent it forward to storm the town. His shattered companies made a desperate assault and finally succeeded, about nightfall, in passing through the town and establishing a position on the south bank of the river. On the left, the 63D Brigade took the railroad yards and succeeded in getting a few small patrols across the river during the night, but was unable to maintain them there so they were withdrawn.
The 3D Battalion, commanded by CPT Byron Beveridge, was the assault battalion for the 127TH Infantry's attack on Fismes. The 3D Bn. commenced their attack at 1430, covered by machine gun fire from Co. A, 121ST Machine Gun Battalion and some artillery from the 120TH Field Artillery. The authorized strength of the battalion was 20 officers and 1,000 men; the 3D Bn. was down to 12 officers and 350 men when they started their assault on 4 August. They suffered many more casualties as they advanced over 2,100 yards of mostly open ground while subjected to intense German artillery and machine gun fire. The 2D Bn., 127TH Inf., commanded by CPT George F. O'Connell, also understrength due to the recent fighting, was brought into to assist the 3D Battalion's push toward Fismes. The 127TH Inf. was able to capture Fismes, but at terrific cost. That night, the 3D Bn. was down to 2 officers and 94 men; the 2D Bn. had 5 officers and 104 men. The 1ST Bn., commanded by CPT William Smith, was held in reserve during this attack.
1LT Ray C. Dickop, from Beloit, Wis., CO of Co. L, 127TH Inf. was KIA in this attack on Fismes, France, on 4 August 1918, and was posthumously awarded the DSC for his actions that day. 1LT Dickop's citation reads: “On reaching Chezelles Farm, he was shot in the head, body and legs. Although thus fatally wounded, when orders came for another assault, he gave the command ‘Charge’ to his company and led the assault until he fell dead.”
Near the end of the war, General Pershing compiled a list of the 100 greatest American heroes of the war. The list became known as Pershing's 100. Gen. Pershing included 1LT Ray C. Dickop on his list.
PVT Wilford Lloyd, a soldier in Co. L, 127TH Inf., was awarded the DSC for his actions during the attack on Fismes, France, on 4 August 1918. He was serving as 1LT Dickop's orderly and was wounded at the same time as 1LT Dickop. As PVT Lloyd fell wounded, he lost his pistol. He then crawled over to a dead soldier, picked up the dead man’s rifle and joined a squad in a successful attack on the strongly fortified stone wall surrounding Chezelles Farm on the outskirts of Fismes.
On 5 August, the 127TH gave their attention to mopping up the town. Attempts were also made to cross the river, but without success. On the night of 5 August, the 3D Battalion of the 128TH, the only strong battalion left in the 64TH Brigade, was ordered into Fismes to reinforce the 127TH. On the morning of 6 August, the 127TH was relieved from Fismes. There were still German snipers in the town, and the 128TH continued to mop up the place. In the eastern half of the town German and American patrols clashed and it was nightfall before the Americans could claim anything like control of the city.
It was during this action that the 32D Division earned the nickname of “Les Terribles”. When this fight first started General de Mondesir, the 38th French Corps Commander, under whose orders the 32D was serving at the time, went to the front to see how the Americans were conducting the battle. After he personally observed the 32nd clearing the Germans out of their powerful positions with regularity and determination, he exclaimed “Oui, Oui, Les soldats terrible, tres bien, tres bien!” General Mangin heard of it and referred to the 32D Division as “Les Terribles” when he asked for the Division to join his famous 10th French Army of shock troops north of Soissons. He later made the nickname official when he incorporated it in his citation for their terrific punch at Juvigny.
The 32D Division was the only American division to be bestowed a nom-de-guerre by an Allied nation during the war.
On 7 August Soldiers from the 32D Division found the grave of Lt. Quentin Roosevelt, son of former president Theodor Roosevelt. Lieutenant Roosevelt had been shot down behind German lines on 14 July. The Germans buried him next to his wrecked plane where it had crashed on the outskirts of Chamery; they afforded him a large funeral with military honors. Chamery was in the 32D Division’s sector as they pushed the Germans back. [added 27 Feb. ’15, TPB]
The Soldiers who found the grave were Pfc. Edward J. Donoghue and Horseshoer Fred J. Doyle, both from Bay City, MI and assigned to the 128TH Ambulance Company, 107TH Sanitary Train. When they found the grave the wreckage of Lt. Roosevelt’s plane was intact, except for the engine. Within about 24 hours the plane had been disassembled and carried off by souvenir hunters. Someone even pilfered Lt. Roosevelt’s dog tags, which the Germans had fastened to the rudimentary cross they erected to mark the grave. [added 27 Feb. ’15, TPB]
Before the Division moved on, Soldiers from the 107TH Engineer Regiment made some improvements to the grave and Maj. Gen. Haan wrote a letter to Theodore Roosevelt to inform him that his son’s grave had been found. [added 27 Feb. ’15, TPB]
On 7 August 1918 the 32D Division was relieved in the front by the 28TH Infantry Division. In the savage fighting that occurred since 30 July, the German line was forced steadily back, over difficult ground, from the strongly fortified position on the Ourcq River to the Vesle River, a distance of 19 kilometers. The brilliant and determined American attacks culminated in the 64TH Infantry Brigade’s capture of the important town of Fismes (on the Vesle) on 7 August, and the 63D Brigade’s capture of the important German railhead on the Vesle (in the left of the Division’s sector) on 4 August. During the past week the Division had captured 18 villages and fortified farms, captured 4 pieces of heavy artillery, five pieces of light artillery, ten trench mortars, 28 machine guns and hundreds of rifles. The Division had faced three German Divisions in this offensive: the Fourth Prussian Guards, the 200th and the 216th. One German officer and 96 soldiers were taken prisoner. The 32D Division casualties were 4,597 losses from all causes, including: killed and died of wounds, 797; severely wounded, 1,153; slightly wounded, 2009; gassed, 618; missing, 12; captured, 2 officers and 6 men.
While pondering the relative scarcity of decorations for bravery for the 32D Division, Lt. Col. Glenn W. Garlock noted in his memoirs, “In the fighting around Bellevue Farm hundreds of men displayed conspicuous bravery. Unfortunately the deeds of the great majority have gone unrecorded. In many cases recommendations for decorations were made and possibly these papers rest in some file in the War Department. Few awards were given so few men were mentioned in citations. (Garlock, 120-21)” [added 31 Jan. ’16, TPB]
On 23 August 1918 the Division started movement to a new sector, in the vicinity of Pierrefonds, near Soissons. After a few days in the Army reserve the Division was sent across the Aisne to a position in the rear of the 127th French Infantry Division, with orders to relieve that division on short notice.
The relief of the 127th French Infantry Division took place on the night of 27-28 August. The 63D Brigade went into the line and the 64TH Brigade went into support (of the 63D). (The Infantry companies were down to 50% of their authorized strength of 250 soldiers as the 32D Division prepared to enter its second battle.) The relief was completed at 0200 hrs. The first attack was set for 0700 hours, the precise hour that command of the sector passed to the 32D Commander, General Haan.
The 63D went over the
top at 0700 hours on 28 August to participate in a limited attack to
eliminate a dangerous salient in the sector of the 59th French Division to the
right of the 32D. During the morning the 32D readily
gained their objective, the railroad track west of the village of Juvigny, the
village was destined to be one of the high spots in the career of “Les Terribles”. The 63D Brigade turned in over 100
prisoners as a result of their push, and the captured Germans all testified to
their complete surprise at the presence of Americans in the sector. Later the
32D found that the position they had captured was difficult to hold.
They were on high, open ground on the slope of a hill facing the enemy. There
was little cover, except shell holes, and they were subjected to artillery and
machine gun fire from positions that had excellent observation of our front.
The exposed position could not be abandoned without endangering the French; as
a result, the casualties were high. Shortly after noon, the Germans counter
attacked to attempt to dislodge the Americans. Our machine gunners held their
ground and, aided by our artillery, were able to repel the German counter
attack. After that, the Germans continued their harassing artillery and machine
gun fire on the troops in the vicinity of the railroad tracks.
Soldiers of the 121ST Machine Gun Battalion, 32D Division, resting in a shell hole near Valpriez Farm, Juvigny, 29 Aug. 1918.
Men of the 107TH Field Signal Battalion, 32D Division, repair telephone wires broken by enemy shells near Juvigny, 29 Aug. 1918.
Men of Co. K, 128TH Inf., 32D Division, in line on Valpriez Farm in front of Juvigny, 29 Aug. 1918.
French tanks moving to the support of French troops operating on the left of the 32D Division, 29 Aug. 1918.
General Mangin ordered a general attack by the entire 10th French Army (of which the 32D was a part of at this time) to take place at 0525 hours on 29 August, with the objective of a complete break through the German line. Two companies of tanks and a troop of Moroccan Cavalry were attached to the 32D Division (several French Artillery units were also attached to the 57TH Field Artillery Brigade of the 32D Division).
Those two tank companies, although French-manned, were the first tanks used in support of U.S. troops. The first employment of U.S.-manned tanks occurred on 12 Sep. ‘18 near St. Mihiel. [added 19 Jan. ’14, TPB]
A tremendous artillery preparation had been delivered during the night, followed by a rolling barrage in front of the attacking infantry in the morning, but all this seemed to have little effect on the German machine gun nests, some of which took good advantage of numerous caves in the area. The Germans also laid down an effective counter barrage, just as our troops jumped off. The entire 10th French Army met a determined German defense occupying well sited and protected positions. Casualties were heavy on both sides and very little ground was gained. Because of the heavy casualties, the 63D Brigade was relieved by the 64TH Brigade on the night of 29-30 August in preparation for the next general attack, planned for 30 August. The 127TH was on the right and the 128TH on the left, each with two battalions in the line and one in support.
The planned attack for 30 August was not ordered. This situation left the 32D Division front line still exposed on the hill west of Juvigny, with the troops suffering heavily. While corrective measures were being considered, word was received from the 59th French Division on our right that its right flank had advanced in close liaison with the division to their right, which had found a weak spot in the German line and had broken through. It became apparent that this movement was going to meet with success and preparations were made for the 32D to participate in the shove. This would give us the opportunity to attack Juvigny. When the attack was launched, the left flank, together with the 66th French Division on our left, was held up by heavy fire coming from the northeast. The right flank, however, moved forward, and while it encountered determined opposition in going through the woods, it succeeded in making its way through the ravine to a position to the south of Juvigny with the extreme right partially enveloping the town to the east. One battalion of the 128TH Infantry moved forward west of Juvigny and reached a position north of the town, in this way the village was practically surrounded. The enemy was taken by surprise by the attack, but recovered and delivered a counter attack on our left flank. This attack was repulsed by the 128TH, which had been reinforced on its left by a battalion of the 125TH Infantry. With Juvigny surrounded, the support battalion of the 127TH Infantry entered the town from the southwest and mopped up, encountering some wicked fighting. Nearly all of the German troops holding the village were either killed or captured.
1LT Henry S. Blomberg, from Superior, Wis., an officer in Co. D, 127TH Inf., was awarded the DSC for his bravery during this attack at Juvigny, France, on 30 August 1918. 1LT Blomberg's citation reads: “Inspiring his men by his own personal bravery, he vigorously led his company forward in the face of heavy machine-gun and artillery fire, capturing the heights overlooking Juvigny with many prisoners. After reaching the objective he repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire time after time in reorganizing the line. During the defense of the position won he personally set up and operated a captured German machine gun against the enemy while under terrific fire.” 1LT Blomberg was later KIA on 4 October 1918.
General Mangin ordered his second general attack to take place at 1600 hours on 31 August 1918. This attack was needed to straighten out the front line and improve the positions of some of the forward units. He ordered an artillery preparation of four hours to precede the infantry attack. The entire 57TH Artillery Brigade, commanded by BG George L. Irwin, and the artillery of the 1st Moroccan Division, which was supporting the 32D, was assigned to General Haan for this attack. Novel use was made of this abnormal abundance of artillery in the form of a triple, rolling barrage, to cover a depth of about 1 ½ km. Some of the German prisoners taken during the day remarked that there were so many artillery shells bursting around them that they thought the Americans had a machine gun that sprayed 75 mm shells. Even after all this, the 32D Division still suffered considerable casualties as they progressed to the Terny-Sorny-Betancourt road, where the general advance stopped.
In an operation against a determined enemy, disposed in great depth, supported be adequate artillery and entrenched in highly organized positions in country that lent itself naturally to defense, the 32D Division had again broken through a German key position, had penetrated his line to a depth of 5 ½ km, and started an enemy withdrawal, thus paving the way for a forward movement by the whole French 10th Army.
The 32D was relieved
by the First Moroccan Division; this division included the Foreign Legion and
other famous units, on the night of 1-2 September and went into support
for the 10th French Army.
Cave at Tartiers used as 32D Division command post and first aid station.
Lord Reading, Chief Justice of England, at Tartiers, 4 Sept. 1918, congratulates MG Haan on the victory at Juvigny.
On 4 September near Juvigny, the 120TH FA Regt. fired gas shells for the first time. [added 1 Jul. ’15, TPB]
On 5 September orders were received stating that the 32D was being transferred to the First American Army, thus effecting the 32D Division’s withdrawal from the Oise-Aisne offensive. General Mangin later decorated the Division for its actions in this offensive. He decorated the colors of all four Infantry regiments, all three artillery regiments and all three machine gun battalions with the Croix de Guerre with Palm, the highest order of the Croix de Guerre. These were the only National Guard units bestowed with the highest order of the Croix de Guerre during WWI.
The citation for the 63D Inf. Bde. was published in Order No. 13978 “D” and said, “The 63rd United States Infantry Brigade, composed of the 125th and 126th Infantry Regiments, have acquired the most splendid title of glory in the battles of August 28th, 1918, in the vicinity of Juvigny. Scarcely having entered the lines, it dashed forward into the assault; the enemy, surprised, became demoralized by the rapidity and vigor of the attack. It proved its superiority in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle where the 125th and 126th Regiments emerged victoriously despite counter-attacks by the enemy. It drove back the beaten enemy as far as the approach of Terny-Sorny, while efficaciously supporting the neighboring French troops during the attacks from August 31st to September 1st, 1918.” [added 23 Nov. ’15, TPB]
Gen. Mangin also cited over 500 officers and men for gallantry in action while under his command. The 32D Division casualties were 2908 losses from all causes, including: killed and died of wounds, 485; severely wounded, 599; slightly wounded, 1251; gassed, 574; missing, 14; captured, 5 men. Five German Divisions were used up in an attempt to hold the position which the 32D stormed-the 7th, 7th Reserve, the 223rd, the 238th and the 237th. From these Divisions 937 prisoners were captured, 9 of them officers. The material captured included 2 pieces of heavy artillery, 2 pieces of light artillery, 16 trench mortars, 112 machine guns, 700 rifles and great quantities of ammunition and material.
The Division was moved to a rest area in the vicinity of Joinville, north of Chaumont, on 10 September 1918. About 5,000 new men arrived in the Division, but the rifle companies were still short three officers and 50 men each.
On 15 September General Pershing visited the 32D Division and congratulated them on their accomplishments during the Oise-Aisne campaign.
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Garlock, Glenn W. Tales of the Thirty-second. West Salem, WI: Badger Publishing Co., Aug. 1927.
Haan, William G., Major General. "The Division as a Fighting Machine". The Wisconsin Magazine of History. Volume 04, Issue 1. Menasha, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1920.
Hill, Jim Dan, Major General, Retired. The Minute Man in Peace and War. Harrisburg: The Stackpole Company, 1964.
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Wheat, George Seay. The Story of the American Legion. New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1919.
revised 25 March 2016
created 27 February 1999