Tuesday, October 10, 2017

When you imagine a scenic countryside


Anonymous said...

My grandfather was all along the southern red band of that map in 1917-1918.
Here's his comment at the time:
July 7, 1918 - Pvt. Irvine Carroll, 117th Trench Mortar Battery:
“We arrived in this area a few days ago. The French and Germans have been fighting here for more than three years. The ground is white like chalk and chewed up with trenches and blown out dugouts and tangles of wire. There seems to be nothing alive here except cooties, rats and us. At least it’s quiet, but the word is we’re going to have a big battle. We dig all night and are not allowed to move in the daytime, so we try to sleep, but it is some hot….

The allies massed 2,000 75mm and 155mm guns at that point in July, 1918 and fired for 48 hours continuously on July 15 and 16. The Germans likewise. Do the math on how much steel went down range just in two days, never mind the previous three years. The entire Suippes-Souain area is still closed, at least five villages obliterated, and is now a French Army artillery range.
Lt. Col. Gen. Tailgunner dick

Rodger the Real King of France said...

Great stuff Dick! Thnks

Rodger the Real King of France said...

Also, I wish I had transcripts of all your "remembrance"comments, like this, over the last 15 years. Would make a nice booklet.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Roger. Your kind words make me think twenty years of digging into Grandaddy Irvine's WW1 service was worthwhile. I gave my unit history collection, about 60 volumes, to the VMI George C. Marshall Foundation Library. I did scan them all beforehand, because they were so full of first hand recollections of the guys who were there, so I can still look up info when the need hits. They were also full of rosters, pics, maps and even weapon/manufacturing data for everything we supplied to the war effort.
Lt. Col. Gen. Tailgunner dick

Anonymous said...

A couple anecdotes from the 42nd Div:

Henry Stansbury, 117th TMB, 42nd Div - We bivouaced in a muddy field. Letzer was skipping nimbly about on top of the field kitchen when suddenly he slipped, plunging his leg knee-deep into the coffee. The Mess Sergeant quickly scooped the mud and horse dung from the top of the hot coffee, bellowing at the same time, “It’s a good thing Letzer’s foot didn’t go an inch farther or it would have ruined the coffee.” Only a few at the head of the line refused coffee.

165th Inf (Fighting 69th, an almost all Irish unit from NYC
“Do yuh remember the story about th’ wounded man next to th’ Ourcq?”
“Yuh mean Jack Finnegan?”
“Th’ same. Th’ Ourcq, yuh see, was hardly a river on American standards - more like a creek.”
“Oh if yuh spit in’t, t’was an addition.”
“That it was. Now, poor Jack had taken a nasty wound and was lyin’ near th’ Ourcq when along came th’ good Fadder.” (Father Francis Duffy, the regimental Chaplain)
“Oh he was always lookin’ for th’ wounded men.”
“Yes, he was. Well, he spies Jack and goes over to give him a drink from his canteen. Oh Jack was a man with a great thirst all right, but not for water, unless it had a stick in it. So he says to the padre,
’And what do ye have, Fadder?’
’Why, water, my boy.’
’WATER! Sure, and give it to th’ Ourcq - it needs it more than I do!’”
An interview with veterans of the 165th Infantry from ‘Make the Kaiser Dance’ – Henry Berry

The Alabamans of the 167th Infantry crossed the Ourcq River under very heavy fire to take the small town of Sergy, where German machine gunners ripped holes in the attacking ranks. Pvt. Julius Grogan was lying on the side of the hill, hit eight times. As his company started to fall back to better positions, the bleeding Grogan begged the men to carry him to safety, but they were busy trying to protect themselves and could not help him. Finally, up jumped blood-soaked Grogan hollering, “All right, dammit. I’ll take myself,” and in a hailstorm of lead, away down the hill he ran. He was not hit again.
‘Alabama’s Own’ – William H. Amerine

from 'Americans All - The Rainbow at War' - A picture appearing in the New York Times in 1918 showed the now famous Father Duffy standing on a rise along side a country road, arms spread wide like a cross, as the doughboys of the 165th Infantry marched in front and below him, heading toward battle. The caption read "Father Duffy blesses the troops as they march to battle singing Onward Christian Soldiers."
Later, one of the Irish veterans saw the picture and proclaimed, "Nah, we wuz singin' Banging on Lulu."
Lt. Col. Gen. Tailgunner dick

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