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1-106 Report for the Chief of Staff, First Division, November 3, 1917

1917
   
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 3, 1917



Report for the Chief of Staff, First Division

November 3, 1917 Einville, [France]

German raid on sector held by 2d Bn. 16th Infantry.

1. At 7:30 A.M. today I learnt at Division Headquarters1 that there had been a very heavy hostile bombardment of the front line trenches from Aero to the south and that two soldiers of the 16th Infantry had been killed and two more of the same regiment wounded. This information was telephoned by Lieut. Hugo and myself to Colonel King at Gondrecourt.2 I started out with General Bordeaux about 8:00 A.M., and went to Infantry Headquarters at Einville. There we heard that one French soldier had been killed, in addition to the two Americans. We went on to Regimental Headquarters but learnt nothing new there. On our way up to the Artois Post of Command at Gypse we met an Artillery Major who had heard that some Americans were missing, but as there were no traces of a raid, it was thought that these men had been lost in the taking over of the sector that night. At the Battalion P.C. we met the French Battalion Commander and Major Burnett, 16th Infantry. There we were told that three Americans had been killed and five wounded by the bombardment, etc., and that they were still investigating the absence of fifteen men, but had not yet located them. We went forward and located the Commanding Officer, Co. F, 16th Infantry, Lieut. Comfort, whose company occupied the Artois Strong Point. He was still somewhat dazed by the shell shock of the bombardment. He conducted us forward. After reaching the doubling trench we met a French lieutenant who said that there had been a raid as they had found a German helmet and a German rifle. We continued on up to Lieut. McLoughlin’s (?) platoon and found him slightly wounded in the face, his helmet bent by a shell fragment and he himself very much shaken by the bombardment he had experienced. The trenches had been badly knocked about, the communication trenches almost destroyed in several places. The general facts of the affair were still in much doubt, but a short investigation quickly cleared things up. The following is about what happened.

2. About 2:50 A.M., Nov. 3d, a heavy bombardment was delivered by the enemy on our line from Aero to the south, including Bures. In the vicinity of the Artois salient it was extremely violent. It lasted about fifty minutes. Apparently the tip of the salient was only lightly bombarded with 77 mms., as it was only slightly damaged. The men generally sought shelter in their dugouts. Lieut. McLoughlin, commanding the platoon holding the salient, sought to get his men back to the doubling trench, but the the latter was under the heaviest bombardment and he was knocked down several times by shell blasts. During this bombardment the enemy exploded long, gas pipe dynamite charges under the wire in front of each face of the tip of the salient. When the bombardment lifted on the front trench about forty of fifty Germans rushed in from the two sides, killed or drove off the one or two soldiers who had come out of their dug outs, and carried off twelve of our men. Three soldiers of Co. F, 16th Infantry were killed. One had had his throat cut; one had been shot by a revolver as he stepped to the door of his dug out; and the third had had his head crushed in_whether by a club or a piece of shell fragment I do not know. One man was wounded by a bullet from a rifle or revolver. The man with the cut throat was found, I understand, on top of the parapet. I have not yet had an opportunity to question the wounded and I now understand that a German was wounded by the German barage and has come in to our lines, stating that the raid was planned in August and 250 volunteers called for, and that fifty participated in the raid. Every thing regarding the Germand-prisoner is new to me and as yet unchecked. Practically all the other details I found out for myself.

3. In order to get this off by the courier have written it the moment I reached Einville and it is therefore disconnected and hurried. I will make a rough sketch to enclose. I am sending with this the list of names of killed, wounded and missing. Also the orders for that center of resistance, etc. The company had just taken over the sector about ten o’clock last night and only a few of the noncommissioned officers had ever seen the trenches in day light.3

G. C. Marshall, Jr.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I) (RG 120), Records of General Headquarters (GHQ), Adjutant General File (AG), National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Author-typed report signed.

1. The headquarters indicated is that of the French Eighteenth Division at Sommervillers. The division was commanded by General Paul E. J. Bordeaux.

2. Jean Hugo (great-grandson of Victor Hugo) was Marshall’s billet-mate at Mme Jouatte’s, the interpreter and liaison officer at division headquarters, “and a very fine fellow.” (Marshall Interviews, p. 206.) Colonel Campbell King was First Division adjutant.

3. Following Marshall’s signature, the division chief of staff, Colonel Ely, wrote: “P.S. Later telephone report states that the captured German prisoner stated this attack had been planned over a month ago and 350 men were engaged in it. They did not know the Americans were there.”

Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 123-125.

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