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13. Barrages and Raids


HISTORY OF THE 305th FIELD ARTILLERY
by
Charles Wadsworth Camp
1919


XIII

BARRAGES AND RAIDS

IN LORRAINE, however, liaison with the infantry was never the bugbear we had feared. One had to be diplomatic. The gravest danger lay in a slip there.

We had, as a matter of fact, forward guns nearer the Hun than infantry battalion headquarters. We were ordered to place these as soon as we were in position. They were called pirate guns. Their code name was, appropriately, the goat. Their mission was to deliver harassing fire, to snipe at fleeting targets, to safeguard the battery positions from sound and flash ranging by making it necessary to fire only barrages from them. In other words the pirate gun went into action with its eyes open. The Hun could spot it by sound or flash ranging. The Hun did. Those guns were always shelled more or less.

Battery A sent in the first pirate gun for the First Battalion under command of Lieutenant Ellsworth Strong. The emplacement was an excellent one in the cellar of a ruined house in Fenneviller. It was heavily casemated. To guard against emergencies it was necessary to keep the limber and teams at hand in a stone stable.

The Second Battalion pushed its gun forward to a French emplacement in a piece of woods. Lieutenant Watson Washburn took it up.

We wanted to keep an officer with each of these pieces. We had too few. It was necessary to put them in charge of non-commissioned officers. It was a good thing. The results increased the confidence of the officers in their enlisted assistants.

Both of these positions were shelled. Fenneviller got it nearly every day. It was the custom when the music started to take the men off to a flank and keep them there until the concert was over.

Later the Second Battalion put out a piece from Battery F.

Another phase of organization concerned the observatories. To be serviceable they had to run according to a perfect system. Conduct of fire was only a short side of their usefulness. Rocket signals from the infantry were relayed through them. Scouts sat at the instruments all day watching for signs of enemy activity and for fleeting targets. Minute watchfulness will often locate enemy positions and observatories; will indicate to a certain extent his immediate intentions.

There was always an officer at each battalion observatory, and at the regimental one, far back behind Neuf Maisons. Battle maps were carefully marked. Dead space and visibility maps were made, and elaborate panoramic sketches. Anything observed on the terrain could be reported by its coordinates.

Our organization was good, but the question of rocket signals disturbed it always. It seemed simple enough in the beginning. Heaven knows why it wasn't always. We placed at each observatory a circle on which the limits of our sector were fixed. When a rocket went up an indicator was turned so that it pointed to the burst. That showed us at once whether or not the rocket was intended for us. The rocket guard was always on duty.

There were very few rocket signals-one for each of the various barrages, one for short firing, another for gas, but among the higher officers there seemed to be a diversity of opinion as to which signal should indicate what. It gave the men in the front line lots of fun guessing what signal to use in an emergency, and the men in the observatories an equal pleasure gambling on what was wanted when a rocket appeared.

The system was altered frequently. That's where the confusion lay. One morning during a reconnaissance of the front line a captain of infantry asked our advice. He ran through a batch of orders and memoranda. He flung up his hands.

" If I should need a normal barrage tonight," he said,

I honestly don't know what I ought to send up. Anyone of three rockets might be right-or wrong."

Such a situation could not be tolerated. Our officers in liaison with the infantry did what they could. Both branches were equally anxious. There's enough danger in a rocket signal anyway, and that is no reflection on the doughboy. An inexperienced non-commissioned officer with a small squad in an exposed and lonely place, when he becomes aware of danger or fancies it, wants help in a hurry. He may in his anxiety send up the first thing that comes to hand, or everything he's got. Or in the dark he may easily mistake a rocket. The artillery must sense such mistakes. When signals are changed too frequently it requires a clairvoyant.

A new order came down, settling the matter. There would be a rehearsal of the new signals that night.

The telephone officers had arranged a system of barrage calls by projector with the infantry. While the rehearsal was in progress that and the telephone were the only means open to the infantry to cry for help. The Hun didn't catch on and attack. The rehearsal proceeded peacefully. It was like a pleasantly conservative display of fireworks. The telephone system was given every conceivable test. Runners were sent breathlessly from organization to organization, and to and from the infantry. Bicycle messengers tore along the dark roads. Everything worked. Towards midnight we talked it all over and went to bed with a sense of security that had hitherto lacked.

That's the way things go in war. Within an hour we were awakened by our first real emergency. And there was plenty of confusion that the night's display had not accounted for.

Lieutenant-Colonel Stimson's telephone buzzed. The officer at the First Battalion observatory was on the line. A red rocket, he said, had just gone up from the infantry. He had repeated it to the batteries. A red rocket under the new system called for a barrage on the line of resistance. It was not, therefore, to be fired without confirmation by telephone. Yet those at the observatories were certainly under the impression that they had been told to pass red rockets directly on to the batteries. Our line of resistance was full of men, happily asleep.

It was one of those times when the switchboard is busier than one on the stock exchange during a panic. Colonel Stimson got to work. He put in calls for all three batteries at once. He wanted infantry battalion headquarters, too, to find out what the emergency was, for certainly there had been a mistake in the rocket. Our officer with the infantry wanted him. The battery commanders had judgment. They wanted him too, to find out why the red rocket had been relayed to them. Regimental headquarters wanted the battalion commanders. The regimental observatory was in the same case. It was necessary to report to three outside stations that a barrage was to be fired.

Meantime while waiting for the battery commanders to respond we listened, apprehensive, for the sound of our own guns, firing that short and murderous barrage.

As has been said, the battery commanders had judgment. They didn't respond to the signal. Our operators were good enough for the stock exchange on a panic day.

They got the calls through. They put the battery commanders on Colonel Stimson's wire as they came in until he was talking to all three at once. That situation was saved. But what the deuce did the infantry mean, firing a red rocket? They wanted something, and they wanted it in a hurry. It might mean anything from a small trench raid to the attack in force we always felt was a possibility in that thinly held sector.

A captain back in pleasant Neuf Maisons evidently sprang at the worst. We had no time for him. Lieutenant Graham was on the telephone, calling from infan-try battalion headquarters. They hadn't been able to get anything from their front line. Infantry brigade took a hand.

As far as we could get any satisfaction the infantry seemed to want the Negre barrage, a barrage similar to our so-called normal, but to the right.

The battery commanders had the receivers at their ears. Lieutenant Colonel Stimson called the single word "Negre. " The guns spat. The rapidity of their fire filled the night woods with an evil, staccato crashing. And although it has taken moments in the telling, that response came in an amazingly swift period after the red rocket had awakened us.

Infantry brigade headquarters took a hand again. They had had enough of the Negre. They wanted the normal. Two batteries were about through and finished before shifting. Another, a trifle behind, shifted nonchalantly in the midst of its firing.

The Second Battalion was in much the same case. Its central boiled, too. Neuf Maisons informed it that the Huns were breaking through the center, and cried for the Chamois barrage. One battery was ready to respond to the red rocket ' but was stopped in time. Another fired the Grand Bois, and then shifted to the Chamois.

"By gad!" the infantry said afterwards, "it was bully to hear those shells ripping over. Sounded efficient and safe somehow."

We smiled in a superior fashion. Why had they sent up their red rocket anyway? No one ever found out. As far as we could learn it spoiled the evening for everyone except the Germans. They seemed particularly peaceful that night.

While the firing continued, the details were armed with the few rifles available, and runner relays were got out. But most of the men agreed with the infantry. It was worth staying awake to hear such a superior noise.

When quiet descended upon the woods, except for some distant firing, a call came through from Battery C for an ambulance and the surgeon. Three men had been struck by shell splinters.

That was our only material damage. But the night's work disturbed us. There was a vagueness about the whole proceeding. It intimated that the infantry was not in that close liaison with us that we conceived as necessary to success. And other sectors would offer nastier problems.

Only one unpleasant incident followed this affair, a charge of short firing against one of our batteries. It was not pressed, because of the strain under which our under -officered brigade was working.

In view of the generally peaceful nature of the sector sleep was surprisingly scarce in Lorraine,. We tried to do everything at once. We felt that a multiplicity of endless conferences was necessary. A man needs a clear head, especially when he is new at the game, to figure complicated corrections for modern artillery.

Nor should it be forgotten that Paper Work had taken a new interest in us. We had foolishly imagined he would be left behind when it came to killing Huns. Absurd dream! He stalked into our midst with a new confidence. He destroyed friendships. He threatened reputations.

The morning report and the sick book were complicated by the fact that each organization had men in two or three places. The firing battery, for instance was at the position. The drivers and extra cannoneers were at the echelon several miles away. Communication between the two was seldom good. A few men would be at the observatory, at a pirate piece, with the infantry, or on detail at battalion headquarters. Yet reports on these men must be consolidated and at regimental headquarters at the usual hour.

There were reams of extra paper work. The war diary became a bogey. If, the men asked, they had to have anything of the sort, why not do away with all the other reports. For the war diary brought everything together,. positions, men, animals, casualties, rations, forage, ammunition. At the front where we had less time than we had ever had repetition haunted us. The information on that little war diary blank had to be collected from many sources, and the batteries had to have their figures together by five in the morning, for battalion headquarters wanted them by Six, and regimental headquarters insisted on receiving them by seven. That meant somebody had to sit up nights, and usually it was the battery commander.

The figures didn't always come through on time. They couldn't understand that in Ned Maisons. One makes no excuse for these delays. Those at the front were engaged in the biggest and most dangerous war in history.

It is incredible, perhaps, that they should have been more interested in hurting the Run and sparing their own men than in compiling innumerable neat figures that scarcely changed from day to day. It took some harsh words from Neuf Maisons to bring them to their senses. Paper work had to be fed, for regimental headquarters had many people whose only duty was to look after the thing. And Brigade was voracious, and Division was unappeasable.

Then there was an observatory report in code to go down at 5:30 A. m; a munitions report at 6.; another at 11; a third during the afternoon. There were firing reports, and supplementary observatory reports.

In spite of all this, we did manage to annoy the Hun at times, and after a while we got enough system to run the thing after a fashion.
Another ideal was shattered in Lorraine. At Souge they had told us that while supplies might be difficult to get there, we would need at the front only to telephone the echelon to have anything we needed brought up the same night. Our instructors had been at the front during a period of stabilized warfare with only a handful of Americans on whom our entire service of supplies had been concentrated. Conditions had altered when we got in. There were more Americans, and warfare was no longer stabilized. Echelons were further back, and roads were not so well protected as they had been. Actually the material didn't exist to satisfy everybody. Yet we were absolutely dependent on equipment. We learned, therefore, to be economical, to improvise, to salvage.

Camouflage was one of our chief needs. We got enough flat tops to take care of the batteries, but we needed protection for ammunition dumps, wireless stations, the observatories, the entrances to command posts and positions. We made a careful study of camouflage in Lorraine, and the experience we had there was invaluable in Champagne and the Argonne.

When we were left in complete possession we found a number of fresh tracks that had to be covered up. The springs were danger points. Water is heavy, and men want to carry it by the shortest route. We covered such places with fresh cut foliage, and established penalties that kept us all in the desired ways. For larger work, such as entrances to positions, we used small trees to supplement our insufficient nets.

The engineers helped all they could, but they had many organizations to look after. They gave us what material they had for our dugouts, which progressed day by day. We needed gas proof curtains, and got them somehow. A sly spirit developed here and there. A man who got much needed material usually went around with an expression that connoted:

"Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no lies."
And one watched carefully what one had got.

While all this work of organization continued we paid some attention to our more strictly military affairs. One does not recall the number of supporting barrages we figured for one purpose or another, and never fired. It was splendid practice, but the futility of it depressed us. Things didn't always come off as one planned in Lorraine. The show for which Battery A had been rushed into the line had never got beyond paper.

That wasn't the only case.

No one in the regiment is likely to forget Sunday, July 28th. We figured a box barrage for a raid that day. We were a good deal concerned about it, for we had been told it would be a daylight raid whose object was the bringing back of prisoners. Capt. Barrett of the infantry would be in command of fifty men. It seemed a hazardous undertaking to us. We knew that the most accurate fire would be necessary. That noon we were informed that we would not fire. Yet the raid would go on.

Between two and three o'clock we heard machine guns, and the popping of grenades. The rest is history.
Eighteen men, we were told, came back, just two of them unhurt. Capt. Barrett and the rest were killed or made prisoners. Evidently the secrecy which had eliminated the artillery, had failed to mystify the Huns.

Many other raids were projected and died. There was, too, the usual crop of rumors. You would hear after nightfall that the Huns were going to attack before dawn, and to hold yourself in readiness. You sat up all night, waiting for the first guns, and as a rule, nothing happened. Sometimes, as you waited, sleepless, you almost wished for the real thing. Our officers in liaison with the infantry were lavish with these rumors. It is inevitable that the infantry should get its wind up, and one must take its fancies as seriously as its facts.

False gas alarms were more annoying than anything else. You can't fool with a gas alarm, for discipline's sake, even though your judgment tells you the presence of gas at a given place at a given time is impossible.

You would hear far in the distance towards the front line three rifle shots in quick succession. They would be repeated nearer. Steadily they would drift back, exigent, uncompromising, accompanied usually by the jarring screech of gas horns. Weary men would turn over and groan. Our own alarm would belch, and you would struggle into your stifling respirator, and give up all idea of sleep until you got the all clear.

It may as well be said now that where gas was infinitely more plentiful we weren't so conscientious. We had too much work to do, and we formed the habit of trusting our own noses.

After one of these alarms the whole world would seem to lie awake and ask for trouble. A screech owl would set a dozen alarms going. A runner would tear in from the infantry, gasping in his mask. He'd got a whiff of something on the road, and the wind was blowing in our direction.

The men at the echelon usually wore their masks in the alert position when they came up. That was proper, and they had to put up with it for only a few hours at a time. They had become strangers to us. Often we envied the more comfortable conditions under which they lived. They appeared at the front only by night when they brought up rations and ammunition.

No one coveted that side of their job. Registered roads don't make for contented travel.

The drivers announced their approach by shouts and a cracking of whips. The details rushed to the entrance to the position. The contents of the G. S. carts or the fourgons were unloaded and carried away with anxious haste. The drivers would chat with the cannoneers for awhile. Now and then a nearby battery would cut in, and the horses would grow restless. Then the drivers would mount and rattle off again to the remote and desirable woods they inhabited.

That's the way our rations came to us. Food, too, brought its new problems at the front.
A book might be written in praise of the army cook. His name, as everyone knows, is no stranger to the casualty lists. His devotion to his work was nearly fanatic. Others might falter or straggle by the road. The cook clung to his rolling kitchen or his field range with pathetic devotion. And always, quite naturally, I dare say, he craved to build fires. Flame became to him a sort of god, and its resultant smoke was incense from an altar. The rest of us couldn't look at it that way. Smoke was as dangerous as the flash of our guns. For the enemy it was a banner, advertising our positions.

As long as wood was dry we could manage to keep the cooks at their devotions, not without benefit to ourselves; but in damp, chilly weather the wet wood was too much for our experimental smoke screens. It was frequently necessary to scatter and extinguish fires while the cooks stood by with an air of witnessing a sacrilege.

Fortunately it didn't rain much in Lorraine, and we were sufficiently far back to make fires practicable most of the time. We weren't destined to fare so well again until the close of the war.

Nor did we dream we would be left in Lorraine for long. The fighting was taking a new turn, that destined to be its final phase. We had been rushed into the line. So, it developed presently, would we be rushed into the hottest battle of the war at the war's supreme strategic point. As the truth faced us more and more frankly we reviewed our slight training, our mistakes on this front, and we asked ourselves if we were ready.

The powers were in no mood to consider such things meticulously. We were a regiment, and we could shoot, and so we were needed.

We had erected our wireless station on the hill above battalion headquarters, and from it the communiques slipped down to the command post, unofficially but vividly. Newspapers, a trifle stale, came up at night from the echelon. So, after a fashion, we kept in touch with the vast workshop of the western front. We could see there roughly the modeling of our immediate future.

We read of the Hun's last great offensive on the side of the Chateau Thierry salient. We shrank from a repetition of the anxious days at Souge when Paris had been menaced. That menace seemed to exist again, uglier than ever. But all at once the spirit of the news altered. Foch's brilliant counter attack was under way. And as green American troops had stood with smiling ease and confidence on the defensive against those vicious thrusts of May and July, so now they were tearing forward with the French, laughing and singing as they went, killing Huns and dying themselves with a courage superb and indifferent.

Chateau Thierry came back to France, and many smaller towns. The Huns were going out of the salient like water from a pressed bulb. Fere-en-Tardennois, their base of supplies, was threatened, had been entered by American troops. The allies stood in front of Fismes, were in the city. Except for a few outposts the enemy was between the Vesle and the Aisne.

Rumors thickened into fact. We were to move almost at once. No one shirked the fact that we would probably be thrust into that vast, sanguinary, and decisive battle.

Battery B offered a complication. On July 15th Corporal Samuel W. Telling was sent to the field hospital in Baccarat, and back to us drifted the dread word typhus. The battery would be quarantined and the most minute sanitary precautions would be taken throughout the rest of the regiment. Except for its officers, Battery B was passed through the delousing station, and placed in shelter tents in the woods near Baccarat. Yet the battery could not conceivably abandon its share in the missions assigned to the regiment. A detail of cannoneers, drivers and telephone men were sent from each battery to Lieutenant Montgomery, and in his stride, as you might say, he welded them together so that his work suffered no interruption.

At the echelon, however, things didn't go so well. The officers there were very few. This influx of green drivers added much weight to their already great burden. When the regiment finally pulled out some property was left, paper work was involved, the colonel was annoyed, and there was a good deal of harsh language about. From a broader point of view, however, the meeting of this emergency by Battery B was an extraordinary accomplishment.

The situation was a little relieved about this time by the arrival of two officers, fresh from Saumur. Second Lieutenant Charles F. Wemcken was assigned to us by order of July 10th and was sent to Battery C. Second Lieutenant Charles F. Perry was assigned by order of July 20th and was sent to Battery B, while Lieutenant Robinson was shifted from B to C with which organization he fought with pronounced success until the armistice.

Another encouragement came in a telegram for Lieutenant-Colonel Stimson. An extraordinary exception had been made in response to his plea. We would soon have Captains Reed, Ravenel, and Delanoy back. On the other side we lost definitely

First Lieutenant Watson Washburn who was transferred to a staff job at Corps headquarters; and First Lieutenant Paul Pennoyer, who, while on a temporary mission from Souge, had been given a corps staff job, too.

The Hun probably had got some of our rumors. At least he was extremely attentive during our last days in Lorraine. Nearly every night now we got some kind of an alarm from the infantry, and we retaliated by planning many coups de main, ordered by infantry brigade headquarters, few of which materialized.

One morning towards the end we were awakened by a heavy bombardment. Shells were bursting close to the First Battalion command post. Either the Hun was registering to transport directly on us, or be was after Nenette.

Lieutenant Brassell was at Nenette with Corporals Tucker and Goldberg, and Private Braun. Lieutenant Brassell telephoned down while we snatched a bite of breakfast, and, to all appearances, dismissed our uncertainty.
"I think they're bracketing Nenette, sir."

We settled our tin hats on our heads and climbed the hill. The arriving swish of the shells and the noisy bursts were not comfortable. With each burst, close at hand, little volcanoes of jet black smoke sprang out of the pretty wheat field.

Thirty odd projectiles fell over and short of Nenette and to either side. There the show ended. Nenette had not been touched. We tried to assure ourselves that all we had got were overs intended for an anti-aircraft battery near the Pexonne road. Yet Nenette was always an an-xious place after that, and we held ourselves ready at the first alarm to shift to the alternative observatory among the birch tops. And we endeavored again to find other points suitable for observatories near the front line.

During one of these reconnaissances Colonel Stimson came upon an observatory unique in conception and treatment. It is doubtful if the war produced anything of the sort more admirable.

We were on a defiladed road immediately behind the infantry front line. To the right was a hill, thick with tall pine trees. A fundamental protection of the place was its patent antagonism to terrestrial observation. You can't observe through pine trunks and heavy foliage. But the French had got around that. They had gone above the foliage and without using the common expedient, which sooner or later gives itself away, of building a platform in the trees. They had constructed a huge new tree. They had a tower raised from similar trunks, and covered with the same foliage. You could stand within a few feet of it and remain unsuspicious of its existence. You climbed many ladders to the observatory at the very top. There you had a sense of Peter Pan come true. You swayed in the breeze. And you looked almost directly down into the Hun lines.

The infantry was in possession and we went back to Nenette and our poor makeshift.
On July 30th French officers appeared at the command posts and informed us they were going to take over, beginning the next night. These men had just come out of the great battle. We, who suspected an immediate entrance into that which they had left, listened breathlessly to their talk of unheard of artillery concentrations, of long casualty lists, and of a supreme exhaustion.
"Formidable!" was their favorite word.
"You've never dreamed of the noise and the effect of their barrages," they said. "Formidable!"
One glanced about our pleasant woods. He sighed contentedly.
"It is tranquil here. A sector for fin pre defamille."

In spite of ourselves there was a little envy in our hearts. Certainly the Bosche guessed something was going on. We had known all along that he had control of the air in Lorraine. His planes were constantly overhead, and the bell like note of the archies was with us much of the day and night, and there were nearly always white clouds in the air undetermined by the weather. Still Jerry had not been very aggressive. French planes had been up and given us one or two reglages undisturbed. The night of July 30th, however, the Huns came over in force loaded with bombs. Unquestionably they fancied the relief was under way that night.

A huge ash can dropped beside the Battery F position. The force of the detonation knocked Lieutenant Derby down, and spattered a dozen men with dirt and twigs. By an incomprehensible good fortune the hot, ugly pieces of metal touched no one.

Another big one landed in the field back of Nenette, and sprinkled fragments all about the observatory. That was near enough to the command post to make it advisable to get the men in the dugouts. Then the planes turned and went back to Germany, sprinkling their foul droppings as they went. We escaped, but there were casualties close by in Ker Arvor woods.

The next day our formal orders arrived Two pieces. from each battery, except B, whose position would not be taken over by the French, would be relieved that night. The whole of B and the remaining guns of the other batteries would go out on the night of August Ist-2nd.

The first guns out would go to the echelon and wait there until the next night when they would join the last guns which would proceed without stopping at the echelon to the division regrouping area two marches away. The Huns were evidently satisfied with what they had done a night too soon. The relief was undisturbed.

Battery B again presented a special problem. Since its position was not to be taken over by the French it was necessary that its plant be kept intact until the last moment. Yet it could not delay to the point of losing its place in the column. There were miles of wire to salvage and much equipment to be packed at the very last. Lieutenant Montgomery managed it, and pulled out on time.

Lieutenants Camp and Fenn remained behind with the two French groups for twenty-four hours to induct them into the mysteries of the sector. The French weren't exigent. Half a morning served to organize them completely. Again one was forced to admire the way they achieved the completest results with a minimum of effort.

The first night of the relief Lieutenant-Colonel Stimson left the regiment never to return to it. A telegraphic order had reached him that afternoon, instructing him to report to America for duty with the Field Artillery there. We watched him drive away that night with a sense of grave loss. Afterwards we heard that he had been made a full colonel and given command of a new regiment in training at home. The armistice came before that regiment could sail.

XIV

THE FIRES BEYOND CHATEAU THIERRY

OUR movement from the Baccarat positions was not as simple as we had expected. The road for its entire length was perfectly visible to Hun airmen, so it was advisable to march at night. The column was late starting, and it crawled, as such columns do, on traffic-laden roads. Our schedule called for a bivouac at Magni6res during the day of August 2nd. But it was long after daylight when the regiment arrived, anxiously glancing aloft; and by the time horses and men were settled the hour of departure was at hand.

Again the roads were packed, and progress was snail-like. It was nearly noon of the 3rd before the column, dusty and tired, entered its regrouping area on the Moselle. We hadn't imagined the movement of a single division could be so complicated and tedious.

That march, however, was not without its valuable impressions. For the most part it lay through the district of Lorraine, destroyed by the Germans during their retreat after the battle of the Couronne de Nancy, the eastern phase of the battle of the Marne. The smashed villages were now sketchily inhabited, and the fields were under cultivation again, but about this resurrection still clung an appearance and an odor of death.

Our own area was just beyond high tide of the Huns. To us after that journey it was impressively undisturbed and peaceful. We felt that our ugly carriages parked in fields along the Moselle were out of place in such a landscape.

Regimental headquarters and the Second Battalion were at Bainville. The First Battalion was at Mangonville, two kilometers to the south. The Headquarters and Supply Companies were in and about the charming chateau of Menil Mitry, three kilometers to the east of Bainville.

Significant changes were announced here. Among them was the transfer of General Rees, who had commanded the brigade, to other duties, and the appointment of Colonel Manus McClosky, soon to be made a brigadier general, to replace him. For a few days Colonel DoyJe, as senior colonel remaining with the brigade, was in command. There was a feeling in the air that the changes wouldn't stop there.

Captain Dana, of course, was again in temporary command of the First Battalion. Captain Reed reported back from Souge on the first day and took over his duties of battalion adjutant while Lieutenant Klots went back to the Headquarters Company. These two officers set to work with a will to get the battalion ready for the serious work just ahead.

Captain Mitchell was transferred from Battery F to the Field and Staff as adjutant of the Second Battalion. Lieutenant Derby took command of Battery F. -

We had expected two days in this regrouping area. They stretched into four, and no one was sorry for the delay. It was pleasant there, and we had a great deal to do. We settled down to straightening out the tangled paper work situation. We made more complete than before the divorce of the three details from the Headquarters Company. Men, animals, and equipment were reported to regimental and battalion headquarters, and were assigned to organizations for travel and rations. The Battery B men, released at last from quarantine, reported back.

We were ready when the order came to march on the mornings of August 6th and 7th.

Regimental Headquarters, the remnant of the Headquarters Company, and the Second Battalion proceeded to Charmes on the 6th, where they entrained. The First Battalion and the Supply Company entrained at Einvaux on the 7the

This movement was unlike the one from Souge. There a brigade had had a week to entrain. Now from a small section an entire division was going out practically in a single day. While there were a number of points of departure the congestion at each was such that a careful schedule had to be made and followed.

Each battery broke park and took the road at a stated moment. It arrived at its entraining point at a given time. It fed and watered according to the clock. We passed large parties of our doughboys maneuvering in the fields while they waited their turn at the trains. They interested us. We intrigued them. Their glances followed the long, overladen column from which the sleek snouts of the pieces, escaping from burdens of forage and equipment, peered at them encouragingly.

The Supply Company was off first. Battery A commenced entraining at 2 o'clock and was completely loaded at 3:30. Before the train had pulled out the head of Bat-tery B was on the ramp. Before B had gone C appeared and was ready to load.

At Charmes there was a similar precision of movement.
We were surprised to learn how much we had profited by our one previous experience. The drivers made short work of refractory animals. The carriages seemed to roll into their places on the flats automatically.

These days were warm, and such speed makes men thirsty. There was a little Y. M. C. A. hut on the ramp. When the job was complete the men were allowed to line up for a glass of raspberry syrup and water, and a limited quantity of chocolate, cakes, and tobacco.

Not until the trains had left did any one know the projected destination of the regiment. That is, we had moved under sealed orders. Before the departure of his train each battery commander had received an envelope with a typewritten command that it was not to be opened until he had passed a certain station. Inside each envelope was a rough engineers' map of the district North of Paris-a map covered with significant names-and a small typewritten slip of paper which said:

"You will detrain at Nanteuil-le-Houdin.
We spotted it eagerly on our maps. Its location indicated to us that we might either go in with the British, or swing more to the cast through Soissons. There was another possibility. Were we going to lie in reserve behind the lines? Didn't the powers think us good enough for the big show, except in an emergency?

Whatever the original intention it was altered the next day, as everyone remembers.
Except for the customary struggles with a few unruly animals the trip was tame enough, but there were plenty of reminders the next morning that we were close behind the busiest portion of the front. We saw many spreading nets of tracks, crowded with flat cars on which reposed battle-scarred cannon, camouflaged tanks, trucks, automobiles. On everything the deep wounds of shell fire could be seen. We passed huge gun parks, ammunition dumps, airdromes, dreary and interminable hospitals.

We gazed at such sights with a depressed interest, and wondered if we would crawl through the outskirts of Paris. Then the trains halted shortly after noon at a small station, and an officer climbed aboard each one, presenting the commander with a new envelope. Everyone guessed as soon as be saw it that our destination had been altered.

There was a map inside a 1-80,000, marked Meaux. And there was an order, brief and to the point. The division would detrain at Coulommiers and nearby stations, and on August 10th would commence a movement forward into the zone occupied by the First United States Army Corps. The infantry would be moved by motor busses to be furnished by the French. The artillery would go on its own wheels and legs.

Within half an hour after receiving that order the batteries were detraining.
Battery A detrained in the yards at Coulommiers; Batteries B, C, and F at Chailly Boissy; Batteries D and E, and the Headquarters and Supply Companies at St. Simeon.

There were huge evacuation hospitals at Coulommiers through which thousands of Americans, gassed or wounded in the Chateau Thierry salient, were passing at that time. We listened, fascinated, to the gossip of hospital orderlies about the effects of big shell fire and concentrated phosgine and mustard gas.

The sky was full of aeroplanes. Constantly they circled overhead. We tried to impress on each other that, although, they were our own planes, discipline must be maintained as if we were at the front. The bugle, consequently, blared alarm after alarm, and our work was retarded. Still we were willing that it should be, for in our ignorance we believed this great flock of airmen behind Chateau Thierry meant that we had control of the air, that, therefore, our offensive and defensive dispositions would be made simpler and safer on this nasty front.

Battery A was billeted for that night and the next at the comfortable little village of St. Germain-sous-Doue. Battery B went to La Loge Farm, Battery C to Epieds. Regimental Headquarters, the Headquarters and Supply Companies, and the Second Battalion were at the comparatively large town of Doue.

Things had been fairly hectic on the Moselle, but that wasn't exceptional. Going into billets for a battery is always much the same problem, much the same mad strug-gle for a solution. And, when it's reached, the solution is always about the same. Yet invariably out of the co.. fusion emerges a sort of order and comfort. Eventually we became more than ever like a great traveling circus whose discipline automatically repairs the mistakes of a poor advance man. And that isn't intended as any reflection on our billeting officers and non-commissioned officers. They, as a rule, had too much to do, and they were restricted to too small an area by the advance agents of the division.

Some towns had a better welcome for infantry than for artillery, but that fact didn't seem always to be appreciated. Besides billets for officers and men, the artillery needed ground suitable for extensive picket lines and gun parks, and no matter how suitable, the ground you couldn't establish either near the front without overhead cover.

Organizations, whether they arrived in the afternoon or during the dark hours, ran into much the same conditions in those billets north of Coulommiers. The billeting officers couldn't be all over the district, so the non-commissioned aides, as a rule faced the battery commanders alone:

One always experienced a quick sympathy for these unfortunates. Invariably they glowed with a naive pride. They always produced careful lists, showing the billets available, and the number of men that could be housed in each. A battery commander going into billets, however, is only interested at first in two things.

"The picket line and the gun park! " he cries as he meets his man.
Perhaps the glowing advance agent has let the Battery slip past these vital points, and it may be necessary to turn the entire column around by sections in a narrow street. Battery commanders never take to that kindly, nor do tired drivers. It is seldom that the places chosen for the picket line and the park please. The ground is swampy, or there isn't enough room, or the tree trunks are too small, or-

The most indifferent commander can find something lacking in the most perfect park or line.
The advance agent, of course, isn't to blame for these short-comings. The town major, as a rule, has given him no choice.
"That's it," he has said. "Take it or leave it."

But a battery commander doesn't analyze causes when he is displeased by effects. He decides darkly to make the best of things. He considers his disappointed advance man.

"All right," he says. "The thing's impossible. You ought to have done better than this, Smith, but it's getting dark. We'll make it do. Undoubtedly you've arranged to billet the drivers in a group close to the picket line, and the cannoneers by the park. Explain your distribution to the first sergeant."

If the advance agent is a man of parts he salutes, seeks the first sergeant, curses, and with him arranges some kind of a compromise. If, on the other hand, he flushes and starnmers forward with facts about some of the billets being large and some small, and everything scattered through the town and the surrounding country, he usually tries the battery commander's patience too far. Then he sees himself as others see him.

As soon as the animals are arranged for, and he is certain his men will have some kind of a lodging, the battery commander turns his attention to the kitchen. The site of this, too, has been more often than -not an arbitrary selection of the town major's. It is nearly always in a farmyard, redolent and wet with manure, and thronged by an assortment of unclean animals.

It is at this point that the billeting non-commissioned officer generally goes back to his section a sadder and a wiser man. He mutters over his lists and his wrongs. He tells everybody that he has done just what he was told to do by those above him in rank. He has, probably. But no one is sympathetic. The customary response of his friends is:
"Can it, will yeh? It's a heluva billet yeh gave me."

That detail became more unpopular than kitchen police. It reduced corporals to the ranks. It made officers lose faith in their men, and men in themselves. You see, you usually billet at the close of an exhausting day. Everything about you is strange. Often black night covers the world. And, more than the rest, the whole battery is hungry.

No meal tastes so good as the first one in billets. You sit around on the grass or a stone wall, eating with the comfortable assurance that for a few hours no violent effort will be demanded of you, that in a little while you will probably be able to go to sleep. Or, if it is in colder weather, maybe you carry your dinner or your supper to your new home where a hospitable housewife gives you a corner by the fire and maybe crowns Corn Willy with fried potatoes or a piece of cake.

Afterwards, except for the guard, and the few necessary details, everybody seeks his bed. You climb a ladder into the loft of a house or a barn, centuries old. You find straw there, sometimes clean, sometimes not, but always soft. You drop off to sleep with a healthy and abrupt unconcern scarcely known to civilian life.

There was enough in the Coulommiers area to keep any but the weary awake. As we strolled to bed that first night we watched in the sky to the north vivid and endless flashes spreading and contracting with a variety of intensities.

Somebody chuckled self-consciously.
"Reckon the world has never seen such northern lights before.
Judged by our experience of flashes in Lorraine it was clear that highest battle, even according to the standard of this war, raged up there. In a very few days we would be among the flashes.

As you watched that pallid, violent display you strained your ears for appropriate sounds. But the night was silent, except for a distant and amorous song and the rhythmical music of a breeze across the foliage.

The song vibrated away, and the breeze fell. All night long before that distorted sky the silence was ironical.


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