Devil Dogs Chronicle: Voices of the 4th Marine Brigade
in World War I
in World War I
Edited by George B. Clark
University Press of Kansas, 2013
|Marine Recruits 1918 – "First to Fight"|
And so the main portion of George Clark's narrative begins. Devil Dogs Chronicle is an anthology of letters, remembrances, and diaries, with commentary by Clark thrown in from time to time. The Marines really made their name at Belleau Wood and arguably this unit is one of the most written about in the AEF. Because of the wealth of materials on the brigade, the author obviously thought it was best to let the men speak for themselves. This proved to be an excellent decision by and large, as most of these men were fantastic writers.
After a brief overview of the Marine Brigade's exploits in the Great War, Clark throws us right back into boot camp. Much to my surprise, this section was probably my favorite. There are some truly hilarious descriptions of the raw recruits at Paris Island. We follow new marine officers in their training shortly thereafter. This is where we meet Second Lieutenant James MacBrayer Sellers, who is probably the most described of all the men in the book. As one would expect, the journey to and arrival in France, combat, occupation, homecoming, and then a wrap-up on what happened to everyone after the war are also included.
The chapter on Belleau Wood is by far the longest (at nearly 80 pages), but every battle the Brigade was involved in gets special attention. The descriptions of combat themselves are often riveting. However, I wish Clark had included more commentary in these chapters as I had a hard time with what exactly was happening on the ground. Sometimes books that just focus on what divisions and corps are doing can be incredibly dry, but here I needed more of that to ground me in what was going on. The maps that were included were insufficient to be able to figure out where one regiment was versus the other, what one battalion was doing, or where the companies were spread out on the field.
|Marines at Belleau Wood After the Battle|