Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, August 31, 2023

There Really Was a World War One U-Boat on Lake Michigan, and It’s Still There!

The UC-97 Under Way

By James  Patton

Back in the 1970s,  I was at a party in Oak Park, Illinois, conversing with urbane, well-educated persons who confidently told me that the U-boat at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry was captured on Lake Michigan!

Now, even then I knew that this wasn’t true. I would have called it an urban legend, but the term hadn’t become popular yet. 

The submarine on display is the World War II U-505, captured in the North Atlantic in 1944, acquired by the museum in the 1950s and towed to Chicago via the St. Lawrence River and the Welland Canal.  

However, I later learned that there was another U-boat on the Great Lakes, which today lies on the bottom of Lake Michigan. 

In 1992 a research vessel owned by A&T Recovery, salvagers working for the Naval History and Heritage Command, were searching the South Chippewa Basin of Lake Michigan for more of the 142 Navy aircraft lost during World War II flight training, when their sonar detected an unfamiliar object. Cameras lowered to the site revealed the stern of a submarine. 

How did a sub up there? The Armistice required the Germans to surrender their entire navy, so the 176 seaworthy U-boats went to the British port of Harwich. Although some of them had been sabotaged, and others poorly maintained, they represented a high level of technology, significantly better than that of any other navy.

Accordingly, the British agreed to allow Allied nations to take some of the U-boats to study their technology, requiring that they later be destroyed by sinking them in deep water. The British pushed hard at postwar treaty conferences to ban submarines, but no other naval power supported them.

Initially, the U.S. Navy had little interest in the U-boats. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral William Benson, believed that they might be outlawed anyway, and he, among others, did not believe that submarine warfare had a future. There was also an arrogant belief that U.S. submarines were superior to the German; in two respects they were—underwater speed and habitability. However, the U-boats, were superior weapons of war—having better periscopes, better torpedoes, more reliable engines, and especially the ability to submerge far more quickly than any other submarine.

Nevertheless, the senior U.S. submarine officer, Captain Thomas Hart, convinced the Victory Loan bond drive leaders that displaying U-boats would be a great help to the campaign in the spring of 1919. Public curiosity had already been whetted by displays of German artillery—what German weapon could excite the public like the dastardly submarines that had led us to war? 

U.S. Navy Officers Inspecting U-117
in Philadelphia

So the U.S. Navy sent crews to bring six of the U-boats to the United States. First, the Navy sailed UB-88, UC-97, U-117 and UB-148 in company with the tender USS Bushnell (AS-2), via a longer and safer trans-Atlantic route via the Azores and Bermuda. The U-111 was delayed by mechanical issues and took the direct course across the stormy north Atlantic alone, without wireless, and a dodgy power plant. Nevertheless, she got to New York first for the kick-off of the drive. U-140 came over still later.

UC-97 stayed around New York City (which included a bizarre re-enactment of the Lusitania sinking); UC-97 was said to have sunk seven ships, but in reality she was completed too late to participate in the war. The other subs visited eastern ports, attracting many thousands of visitors.

After the successful bond drive it was decided to use the U-boats as a recruiting tool. The Navy needed more sailors as ships authorized in the 1916 and 1917 expansion programs began to come on line. So “adventure, see the world, and learn high-technology” became the slogans. 

In May 1919, UB-88 embarked on an epic recruiting voyage, visiting numerous ports down the East Coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi River as far as Memphis, then through the Panama Canal to the West Coast.  Meanwhile, UC-97 sailed via the St. Lawrence River and the Welland Canal to become the first submarine on the Great Lakes.

U-97 Visiting Toronto

During most of UC-97’s time on the lakes her skipper was by Lieutenant Charles A. Lockwood. His career ambitions survived a diplomatic spat between Canada and the United States. While visiting Canadian ports and transiting the Welland Canal, Lockwood had refused to fly the Union Jack (Canada didn’t have an official flag until 1965), the protocol for a merchant ship. Rather, Lockwood flew the U.S. flag over the Imperial German Naval flag, identifying a captured naval ship, which resulted in angry protests by the Canadians. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels insisted that UC-97 was a commissioned U.S. Navy vessel, so flying the Union Jack was inappropriate. As a vice-admiral, Lockwood would later be in charge of all U.S. submarines in the Pacific during World War II. 

Since UB-88 and UC-97 were small coastal mine-laying submarines, they were not designed for long voyages. It was the huge crowds (as many as 5,000 in a day) and added stops due to political pressure that caused UC-97 to fall behind schedule and cancel the Lake Superior leg so as to finish in Chicago in August 1919. Nevertheless, the voyage was considered successful. Within a year, UC-97 was a derelict moored on the Chicago River.

All of the six U-boats had been stripped of everything useful for study of German technology. In compliance with the Armistice, UB-88 was sunk on 3 January 1921 by the USS Wickes (DD-75), commanded by then-Commander William F. “Bull” Halsey. In June and July 1921 three of the U-boats (U-117, U-140 and U-148) were sunk as part of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell’s demonstrations of sinking ships with aircraft. U-111 sank while under tow, and as a hazard to navigation, she had to be raised, towed to deep water and scuttled on 31 August 1922.

UC-97 was in no condition to go very far, so she was towed into Lake Michigan on 7 June 1921 and used as a target by the auxiliary USS Wilmette (IX-29), formerly the Eastland, which had capsized in July 1915, killing 844—the worst death toll from a single ship accident in Great Lakes history.

The first shot was fired by Gunner’s Mate J. O. Sabin, who had been credited with firing the first U.S. Navy shot in the Atlantic during World War I. The last shot was fired by Gunner’s Mate A. H. Anderson, who had fired the first torpedo at a U-boat during the war. After being hit by 13 4-inch rounds (out of 18 fired) UC-97 sank.

Visiting Rochester, NY


Out of sight, out of mind. The UC-97 was forgotten so completely that researchers in the 1960s looking for evidence of a U-boat on the Great Lakes were initially met by total incredulity, even by the U.S. Navy Historical Center. Searches for UC-97 in those days were unsuccessful and she was reputed to be one of the Great Lakes’ most elusive shipwrecks. Then she was found.

There’s another chapter to the story of submarines on Lake Michigan. During World War II 28 were built by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. in Wisconsin. These boats went on to destroy 488,918 tons of Japanese shipping. How did the Navy get them to the ocean? This time they didn’t use the Welland Canal.

Source: The Naval History and Heritage Command

Additional Recommendation: The Great Navy Birds of Lake Michigan explores an archeological aspect of the military heritage of the  Great Lakes.  Over the past 35 years, a small team of explorers have surveyed the southern basin of Lake Michigan in search of World War II U.S. Navy aircraft. The aircraft were lost during mishaps that occurred during an almost forgotten naval project which had trained thousands of aircraft carrier pilots between the years of 1942 through 1945. Because the explorers became so proficient at locating and recovering the aircraft, the Director of the National Naval Aviation Museum engaged them in an effort to rescue dozens of aircraft for presentation to the American public. It was due to the efforts of these researchers that the resting place of UC-97 was finally located.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The Great War and the Making of the Modern World

By Jeremy Black
Bloomsbury Academic, 2021
Robert Warwick, Reviewer

In this well-researched volume the author describes with great detail and thoroughness the painful and costly lessons all participants needed to learn in order to conduct warfare in the modern world.

Jeremy Black states that the initial mindset and cultural expectation were that success in the field depended on spirited resolve and manly action fueled by patriotism and medieval notions of chivalry. The command staffs were slow to adapt to changing developments even though examples of these new techniques had been used before the outbreak of the war in 1914. For example, trench warfare and barbed wire were features of the Balkan Wars, but the Allies were of the opinion that they had nothing to learn from those theatres. The favored tactic of a frontal assault followed by a breakthrough died hard. The author stresses that it was not just the inherent advantage of defense that led to repeated failures but also the shortcomings in organization, supply, training, and, especially, communications. There was no effective wireless until 1917.

The Gallipoli campaign is a case in point. The author makes the observation that regardless of the value of the strategic objectives, the British had nowhere near the administrative and organizational skills necessary for such a complex enterprise. Advance intelligence of the terrain and enemy positions was lacking, as was experience in beach landing against a hostile shore. It was not until World War II that those techniques were perfected.

The author's interests extend to social and political turmoil throughout the world at the time. To the disappointment of the German High Command, there were no widespread uprisings in the colonial possessions of the European powers, although by 1917 new governments appeared in Cuba, Portugal, Greece, and Spain.

As the war proceeded through 1917 and continued in 1918, the improvements in fighting qualities acquired by the Allies versus the Germans brought about final victory. The Allies had made great advances in industrial production, weaponry, and innovative tactics, and thus the British and French outfought the enemy. But, the author notes, this fact was overshadowed in postwar history by the dramatic narrative of error and apparent futility that characterized the early years of the war.

For historians and researchers the commonplace explanation of the eventual outcome of the war is the collapse of the home front. In the German view especially, the stab-in-the-back theory prevails. Hitler's Germany owed much to a paranoid reading of the earlier conflict. In the U.S., the retrospective view was different. The author states that “…America's dominant narrative from the World War became one in which a failure to sustain the Great War commitment by acting as part of the League of Nations in the 1920s, or [to respond] to German expansion in the 1930s, helped cause the Second World War, and must not be repeated.”

Black makes excellent use of his extensive scholarship to trace the influences that the Great War had on nations and their later entry into the modern world. His clear insights and wide-ranging observations of The Great War and the Making of the Modern World are rewarding to anyone interested in this period are the impact it has had on subsequent history.

Robert Warwick

Monday, August 28, 2023

How Falkenhayn’s Verdun Strategy Turned Into M.A.A. (Mutual Assured Attrition)

By Barton J. Turner

Falkenhayn’s sole intent, to “…bleed France white,” was not shared by his subordinate commanders in the 5th Army, the formation selected to carry out the task. Crown Prince Wilhelm, overall commander of the 5th Army, was “uncomfortable” with Falkenhayn’s determination to “bleed” the French army.  Both the Crown Prince and the 5th Army’s Chief of Staff, Constantin Schmidt von Knobelsdorf, attempted to distance themselves in later years from the knowledge of Falkenhayn’s true attritional intent behind Verdun. Yet, in both their writings, they acknowledged that Falkenhayn had used the term “exsanguination” [draining blood] throughout the planning process, and was adamant about the concept as being central to his strategy. While it is clear that top military officials in the 5th Army understood Falkenhayn’s intended purpose, they nonetheless re-prioritised objectives, which ultimately contravened the strategic value of the operation. These commanders disregarded the Falkenhayn’s intent, because his strategy ran contrary to the established thinking within the German military.  

For decades, German Chiefs of Staff had planned for and relied upon the principle of fighting a short war, based upon a strategy of annihilation, where a clear victor was decided in one or two decisive battles. However, due to the  industrialisation of warfare during the First World War, a new strategy of attrition was taking hold out of necessity. The German army failed in this new era of warfare by maintaining its theory of seeking and engaging in a decisive victory. Further, Falkenhayn’s subordinate commanders found it difficult to accept a battle without clearly defined territorial objectives, which is why they developed their own objectives.

The battle began on 21 February 1916 with a massive bombardment, fired from over 1200 artillery pieces, and Falkenhayn ordered patrols to survey what was left of the French after the bombardment had concluded. Instead, 5th Army officers exacerbated German casualties by sending their men to capture territory, again disregarding the intended process. General von Zwehl, commander of the Westphalian Reserve Corps, “disregarded these orders” and sent forward his entire force. In fact, upon hearing of Zwehl’s advance that evening, Knobelsdorf “removed all limits” imposed by Falkenhayn on the 5th Army with respect to their advance

Reflecting in his postwar memoirs, Falkenhayn had envisioned that the German troops at Verdun would be “… free to accelerate or draw out [their] offensive, to intensify it or break it off from time to time, as suits her purpose.” Movement of this nature was crucial to "sell" the trap to the French, and to encourage their continued attacks. This deception was so important to the entire operation that Falkenhayn kept the purpose of the battle vague, only sharing the truth with top military commanders. If the French realised the true purpose behind the battle, surely they would not have entered the trap at all. Falkenhayn determined that the soldiers would play their part better if they honestly thought they were sent to capture Verdun.

Due to the General Staff’s secrecy and the disregard for the intent by their corps commanders, troops were manoeuvred in the real sense, rather than for deception. The 5th Army was aiming to occupy territory and change the battle lines, forgoing their role as bait, and proceeding with actual conquest. Importantly, Falkenhayn believed the capture of Verdun itself to be irrelevant. The only objective was to lure in and kill French troops. While introducing the scheme to the Kaiser, Falkenhayn reported that in the off chance that France did not commit troops to the battle, Germany would simply take Verdun, thereby inflicting an enormous moral defeat upon the French, and providing reasons for celebration in Germany. However, as the French were intent upon defending the line, Falkenhayn had no intention of actually capturing Verdun, because attempting to do so threatened to ensnare his own troops in the trap. In an attempt to curb potential losses and ensure his strategy of attrition was being followed, Falkenhayn had ordered that “…all plans of attack, redeployment and eventually withdrawal” had to be sent through him for approval.

Despite this, on 4 March, the Crown Prince ordered his 5th Army to capture the city of Verdun, at which point they suffered “intensive shelling” from French artillery and failed to reach even the outskirts of the city. This is further proof that Falkenhayn’s subordinates continued to disregard his intent, as well as his orders. If they had been committed to following his strategic plan, they would have withdrawn in order to lure more French soldiers to within range of the waiting German artillery.

The reason Falkenhayn was continually undermined was because the German officer corps was brought up on the teachings of Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen, who focused upon strategies of massed breakthrough, encirclement manoeuvres, and decisive victories.  Falkenhayn was not a disciple of these Schlieffen strategies, having only served a short time under the former Chief of the Imperial German General Staff. This contributed to the officer corps’ view of Falkenhayn as an outsider and untrustworthy. Wilhelm Heye, an officer in the German General Staff and supporter of Falkenhayn, wrote, how “…immediately obvious even to us young General Staff officers that he lacked the schooling in operations taught by the genial Schlieffen.” Heye concluded that he was not astonished that Falkenhayn’s operational methods at Verdun found “little acceptance” from the subordinate commanders.

Falkenhayn’s plan for wearing down the French through Verdun rested upon the "miscalculation" that France’s war efforts were near the point of collapse, and that they could be “coaxed to the bargaining table. The French were facing manpower shortages and had “suffered enormous losses,” both realities of which Falkenhayn viewed as the further weakening of their resolve. In his postwar memoirs, he recounted that “…the strain on France [had] almost reached the breaking point” and that his strategy would be the element to push them past it. He was further convinced of France’s decline by virtue of German intelligence reports. In August 1915, one such report stated that, due to the amount of French casualties during the war to that point, the French Government “…will be faced with the question of whether, despite all outside help, the ending of resistance is a more fitting path for the future of the nation.” Reports such as this fueled Falkenhayn’s decision that France would give up after losing thousands more soldiers, so much so that only nine divisions were allotted to the 5th German Army at the beginning of the battle.

This would have been more than enough to execute the feint that Falkenhayn intended but not enough to conduct an actual assault upon a fortified position such as Verdun. In order to "compel" the French to give up, the Falkenhayn relied upon the devastating fire power of the artillery. An enormous amount of artillery and ammunition was massed prior to the battle, the Germans having fired around a million projectiles alone in the initial bombardment, leaving virtually nothing standing within the kill zone.  Falkenhayn did not allocate extra divisions due to his reasoning that the artillery would inflict the wounds, while the troops lured more French into the trap. Had a lengthy and drawn-out resistance been forecast, more troops would have been necessary at the beginning of the battle. The French army, shaken from the initial bombardment, did, in fact, offer limited resistance in a few areas. As the battle raged on in the following months, Falkenhayn merely observed the dogged French resistance as a dramatic last-ditch effort that would surely succumb to German military might.

He had surmised, erroneously, that the will of France would not “slowly and visibly bend” but would rather “snap” all at once. To him, these “most strenuous acts of resistance” were the “last gasps” of the dying French state. This “last gasp,” as viewed by Falkenhayn, turned out to be extremely dangerous and costly to Germany. By assuming that every renewed resistance was at the apex of the French tipping point, German soldiers were repeatedly thrown into the "mill" with the assurance that they were on the verge of victory. Unfortunately for these soldiers, who were being chewed up by this purposeful battle of attrition, France was far from being at the tipping point. In fact, their soldiers were rallying together and strengthening their resolve to fight. They were quite aware they were taking many casualties, but Falkenhayn was right when he picked Verdun as a French symbol that the nation would strive to retain. Once the battle was set in motion, the kill zones created to destroy French forces sucked German soldiers in as well. The planned and purposeful destruction of troops at Verdun had worked, but, unfortunately for the German forces, they would end up suffering almost as much as the French. 

“Ironically [however], despite the symbolic nature of the city, defending Verdun itself made little-to-no strategic sense.” After the Germans began their attack, Marshal Joseph Joffre, the commander-in-chief of all French forces on the Western Front, initially proposed that the city be abandoned, so that better defensive positions could be built on favourable terrain and could thus hold the Germans in place. In fact, the forts around Verdun were viewed as relics of the past. Joffre went as far as having dozens of artillery pieces and more than a hundred thousand projectiles removed from around Verdun in 1915 for use elsewhere on the Western Front. When the local commander, General Frédéric-Georges Herr, voiced his concern over the removals, Joffre replied that the strongholds no longer had a role to play and that Verdun must “…under no circumstances be defended for itself.”

Source:  Excerpted from "Intent upon Destruction: German Strategy at Verdun, 1916," Canadian Military Journal, Spring 2019

Sunday, August 27, 2023

August 1915: The Naval Battle of the Gulf of Riga

Russian Destroyer Novik Successfully Engages Enemy Destroyers, E-99 and E-100

The Battle of the Gulf of Riga was an August 1915 naval operation of the German High Seas Fleet against the Russian Baltic Fleet in the Gulf of Riga off the Baltic Sea. The operation's objective was to destroy the Russian naval forces in the Gulf and facilitate the fall of Riga to the German Army by allowing the landing of troops to outflank Russian defenses. Ultimately, however, the German fleet failed to achieve its objective and was forced to return to its bases. Riga remained in Russian hands until a remarkable amphibious assault (Operation Albion) allowed the capture of the Baltic islands and the German Army captured the city of Riga.


Russia's aging Baltic Fleet consisted of five pre-dreadnoughts with four dreadnoughts under construction, six old armoured cruisers, four light or protected cruisers, destroyers, torpedo boats, and a few small submarines.

Although the German forces allocated to Baltic operations were few in number, the Imperial German Navy with its 15 dreadnoughts, five battlecruisers and other modern ships, and the ability to transfer at ease between the North Sea and Baltic via the Kiel Canal, was more than a match for the Russians.

For nearly a decade, therefore, the Russian General Staff had set the Navy the objective of defending the Russian coastline and preventing any landings aimed at capturing Petrograd. A major plank in this strategy was the laying of offensive minefields off the Russian and German coasts. These claimed many victims.

The  German Naval Attack on the Gulf of Riga

As the Germans advanced east and north into Russia, a strong naval force (Vice Adm Schmidt) complete with battleships stood ready on the 8th to break into the Gulf of Riga to destroy Russian naval forces and shipping and to lay mines. First, the minefields of the Irben Straits had to be cleared. Supporting them were eight dreadnoughts, three battlecruisers, light cruisers, and destroyers of the High Sea Fleet under the command of Vice Adm Hipper. The minefields proved a tough obstacle, and after German minesweeping torpedo-boats T-52 and T-58  were sunk by mines, the first attack was broken off.

Russian Battleship Slava

The second attempt was made on the 16th. A third German minesweeper  T-46  was also mined, but further Russian attempts to interfere with minesweeping were stopped when the old battleship Slava was driven off by German dreadnoughts Posen and Nassau, accompanied by three light cruisers and two destroyers. The main support force—the remaining six dreadnoughts and three battlecruisers—stayed in the Baltic. On the night of the 16th/17th, German destroyers V-99 and V-100 broke through the Irben Strait to look for the Slava. In a running battle with Russian destroyers, German V-99  was hit by Novik's gunfire, mined twice, and with severe battle damage and 21 men dead, scuttled on the morning of the 17th.

During the day of the 17th, as minesweeping continued, the Russian battleship Slava was hit three times by shells from dreadnoughts Posen and Nassau, and withdrew into Moon Sound. The Germans eventually cleared a passage through the dense minefields, and on the 19th, passed into the Gulf of Riga to attack Russian shipping. Late that night, a German large torpedo boat, S-31,  was mined and sunk within the Gulf of Riga off the island of Runö.

British Submarine E-1

Earlier on the 19th, out in the Baltic west of Dago, the covering German battlecruiser Moltke was torpedoed in the bow and slightly damaged by British submarine E-1 (Lt-Cdr Laurence) in her first success with the Baltic flotilla. By the 21st, with too many ships sunk and damaged, the Germans called off the attacks, and Riga was saved from bombardment from the sea. The city did not fall to the Germans for another two years.

Sources: The Wartime Memories Project;

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Remembering a Veteran: Pvt. Ove Emanuel Mortensen, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines

Ove Mortensen, USMC

By Mark Mortensen  (Grandson) 

Through my biography George W. Hamilton, USMC: America’s Greatest World War I Hero (McFarland Publishing, July 2011), I have established many wonderful friendships. They were intrigued and full of praise for Hamilton, but generally their first question centered around why I wrote the book. The answer was obvious to me. It all stemmed from my grandfather, Pvt. Ove Emanuel Mortensen USMC (1890–1980), the Mortensen family patriarch. As a sharpshooter, he was a replacement for the dead and wounded at Belleau Wood and Soissons serving in Marine Corps combat infantry 66th Company from St. Mihiel to Blanc Mont and, finally, the Meuse Argonne at the time of the Armistice. Because he never “dropped out” or received a Purple Heart, he always was engaged in fighting along the way. 

Ove (White Star) with Fellow Marines of the 66th Company

Ove was my personal hero, and I admired his remarkable life, being born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and single for a third of his life, while married for two thirds. He returned home from the Occupation of Germany in 1919, got married to Jeanette Lipphardt in 1920 at age 30, and in 1921 my father was born, the first of three children. For the next 30 years he earned his living as an accountant and purchaser mostly around his hometown of Winchester.  In 1950 he and my grandmother moved to Cape Cod. 

As early as I can remember, Ove introduced me to a mysterious fraternity-style handshake that was formed with an interlocking grip and pressure point. No one else in the family knew of this, but this was always our secret method of greeting each other and departing. The only fraternity he was ever associated with was the Marine Corps. When I was age 27, I visited Ove lying on his death bed. I formed the fraternity handshake to say farewell, and while he was applying as much pressure as he could, he talked of the importance of the pressure point.

Ove's Damaged Helmet

I’m not sure where this puzzle piece fits, but since age five, the severely dented WWI helmet of my grandfather, Pvt. Ove Mortensen, USMC, remained in my large wooden box along with my baseball glove, bat, balls, and an assortment of toys. I viewed it almost every day, sometimes right side up and other days like an upside-down turtle, always knowing it wasn’t a toy. Patrick Mooney, former Head of Guest Services, Quantico Marine Corps Museum, believed the rivet on the top popped out with shrapnel, while the rear indentation was likely from a machine gun bullet. It was obvious he was very active in Marine Corps infantry combat. When Ove passed away in 1980, I knew someday I would learn more about his past.

Around 1990 I was at the Winchester, Mass. library to seek information on my grandfather's past.  I was amazed to find this letter started my research and my subsequent friendship with author and Marine historian George B. Clark.


Letter from: OVE EMANUEL MORTENSEN (born 1890 Denmark, resident Winchester, Mass.),  66th Company, 5th Marine Regiment

29 November 1918

It’s all over now, but honestly, I never expected to be living at this stage of the game and I guess every one that ever had one of Heinie’s sea bags thrown at him felt the same was as I did. However, here I am, and to the extent of not having even been scratched, got a little gas at Champagne and was hit in the same battle by a bit of casing, but all that resulted from that, was a black and blue spot on my left side about the size of one’s fist. For the first moments I thought I passed into eternity, but only the good die young. Seemed as though the machine gun bullets had a happy faculty of buzzing all around me and the fellows have often told me that in the heat of battle one hardly feels when he is hit, but to make sure I some times felt myself over and looked for blood marks until I could be convinced that I was still intact. You know I often said “No soft job for mine”, but I have changed my mind since then.

Modern warfare is more than a junketing party. Instead of having to wait until we came in close contact with the enemy before we could fight as in those Roman days, we used to get shelled at 18 kilos, with what we called sea bags, 6” to 10” shells.

Not very pleasant things to hear traveling through the air. Fellows used to say they sounded like a Ford with a loose rim, but I’ll take a ride in the Ford anytime as a preference. I have a lots of experiences to tell about “bon” and “par bon” places, but this letter is just to give you a little of my three months in France now that the lid is off, the more exciting things will have to wait until I see you personally in order to make the experiences effective. I have to tell things, which the Censor even now would not allow.

I was sworn in on June 9, 1918. August 17th our Replacement Co. landed in Brest, France. We came over on the German Cruiser, “Von Steuben”, the Crown Prince owned. It was a fine boat, mounted with 18 guns. Our trip was the best ever. It took us nine days to make the trip from N.Y. The betting was 20 to 1 that we wouldn’t arrive, because it was the last of three boats they wanted to get, but we didn’t even sight a “U”. At Brest, we went to a rest camp, one of Napoleon’s old training quarters to rest a week, but it proved to be a week of hard labor at the docks. Here we were furnished with the necessary articles of war and the dope was that we would train for a month or two in Modern Warfare behind the lines within hearing distance of the big guns, and gradually work up to the front. This is what really happened. From Brest, we were piled into box cars, jammed so that we had to take turns at sitting and standing. We rode for two days and three nights, canned tomatoes, “Monkey Meat”, and bread being our rations three times a day and once or twice we stopped for hot coffee. We finally landed in the outskirts of the Metz Sector and to our surprise we hiked all night, joining our several companies in the early morning somewhere behind the battle line. 

The next day we spent in preparation for the coming battle. That night we spent in the woods already for the Boche. At 1 o’clock midnight Uncle Sam’s big naval guns started thundering their messages to Kaiser Bill’s forces. This was where the Boche learned something about an American barrage and American efficiency. The 5th and 6th Reg. of Marines, the 9th and 23 rd infantry make up the 2nd Division, all regulars and enlisted men. A Division that has been cited more than any other American Division in France. We were backed by the famous Rainbow Div. the 42 nd , the 89 th and several others.

At the dawn of the day we started over. We expected a lot of resistance, but I guess Heinie thought all hell had broken loose when our barrage opened up and those that were captured were very happy. They were standing with arms uplifted, officers and men alike ready to be taken captive. It all proved to be a walk-away. We were on this front nine days. From there we went to Champagne, where we fought under the French. Here we took the famous Blanc Mont in the Argonne Woods, a regular beehive of machine guns. We were here for ten days, “Par bon sector”, but always victorious. 

Then, the last and final drive, also purely American. We routed Heinie out of France and they are still running. Soon we’ll have them all over on the other side of the Rhine. This last barrage was terrible. We covered 29 Kilos in two days, chased the Heinies in motor trucks and made them so thankful that they who escaped celebrated even more than we did when the armistice was signed.

I went out as far as Luxemburg with the company, but here I had to drop out. I had just been issued new English shoes and any of the boys that have been over here will tell you what they are like. There is a young iron heap on the heel and toe of each boot, and then they are as stiff as a board. My feet had six blisters on them. These broke and my feet started to swell up so that I could hardly walk. That together with bronchitis ever since September 1st put me in a hospital for a week now, and spent Thanksgiving here and am all fixed up again with the exception of my throat, which is still hoarse.

We got a wonderful welcome in Belgium. I could cover pages telling about our receptions at various times, but I presume that you have read all about it in the papers. Now the only thing that worries us is when we are going home.


Ove and Jeanette

Following my high school graduation, I lived the summer of 1970 with my grandparents in Harwich Port on Cape Cod. During that summer, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and Ove at age 80 would live another ten years. Each morning he’d begin the day by placing the American flag outside his weathered-shingle cottage. If inclement weather came, he’d bring the flag inside, and every evening towards sunset he’d retire the flag to the living room coat closet. 

As patriotic as he was, I wondered why he did not wish to attend the weekly evening band concerts at the gazebo in Harwich center or on July 4th view the parade and nighttime fireworks in Chatham. I now realize he participated in the grand Marine Corps Victory Parade on 12 August 1919, down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC and past President Wilson’s reviewing stand. Later that evening at Quantico he heard the best patriotic concert hours before he was released from the Marine Corps. 

The Marine Goes Home

Most certainly throughout the war he witnessed his share of explosions, flares, and “bombs bursting in air.” At some point in his life his cherished 38”x7” framed panoramic photos of the entire 5th Marine Regiment outside the U.S. Capital after the parade and another similar-size photo of his 66th Company that he was so proud of, were relegated to the attic along with other memorabilia. With occasional nightmares, his desire was to put the war in the back of his mind, as he suffered shell shock (PTSD). Therefore, out of full respect only, I did not ask questions to pry into his past. Still, facing these hardships, throughout his life Ove remained physically and mentally strong, and I always thought of him as a grand Marine.


My grandmother, father, and two aunts did not have any war stories to share. Since Ove did not wish to talk of the war, I was always curious as to why he named his dog “Major” in the late 1930s when WWII was blazing in Europe. It was Major, who slept on my dad’s empty bed for several years, while my dad was serving in WWII with the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater. Around 2009 I became  convinced the dog was named to honor Major Hamilton. This was my original puzzle piece in figuring out that I was meant to write a biography of the man I came to believe was the greatest American hero of World War I—Ove's 1st Battalion commanding officer, USMC Major George W. Hamilton.

[Editor's Note: In a future article, Mark Mortensen will share with us how he came to understand that Major Hamilton is one of our nation's most outstanding warriors.]

Friday, August 25, 2023

Rushed to the Front: The Utterly Inadequate Training of the AEF

New Recruits at Chow Time

The Doughboys who went to France in 1917 and 1918 were enthusiastic, but most had training little better than their grandfathers during the American Civil War. The urgency of deploying American soldiers to Europe to bolster the Allied cause necessarily truncated the training process in the U.S. but required the Army to develop a second training program for units [that was also inadequate]  once they reached France. . .

World War I marked the Army’s first attempt at systematic individual soldier training, but the requirement to organize divisions while building training bases impeded the units’ ability to train. When the U.S. declared war on Germany in April 1917, the U.S. Army consisted of 127,588 troops scattered in small garrisons across the country.

In order to raise a mass army to fight a war on a European scale, the Army created its first system of centralized individual basic combat training. There was, however, no centralized training headquarters or organization. The system based all training at the regimental level, with the division commander responsible for all combat training preparation. The training program for divisions preparing to go to France in 1918 was more mobilization than training. Drafted men went directly to regiments, which provided rudimentary training to familiarize Soldiers with military discipline and operations. The Army provided overall training guidance for the divisions, with training topics and prescribed hours for each.


The initial mobilization plan called for a three-brigade division totaling some 25,000 troops, but the urgency of getting troops overseas quickly forced the Army to change the plan and activate only two brigades (two regiments each) per division. Regiments consisted of three battalions (three companies each) of 1,000 soldiers each. With headquarters, supply, medical, ordnance, and weapons companies, the regiment totaled 3,832 soldiers. In order to create new units quickly, existing regiments were split for new “cadre” regiments. All of this reorganization, including absorption of existing National Guard units as well as new recruits and inductees, occurred while the regiments were attempting to train their soldiers.

The 16-week basic training plan directed a total of 624 hours divided into four four-week phases. The first three phases focused on individual soldier skills and weapons training, while the final phase focused on collective combined arms and  maneuver training. This established a pattern that has remained in place in slightly altered form to the present.

The lessons the Army learned from creating a large mass army from scratch were reflected in the training plan finalized in August 1918 [by the time nearly two million Doughboys were in Europe or en route]. This [plan lays out] the basic soldier skills taught, grouped into four categories: Garrison Training, Individual Soldier Training, Lethality Training, and Collective Training. With units already deploying, the War Department developed an infantry training program based on the skills it needed soldiers to have before deployment. Garrison tasks consumed 32 percent of the time allotted for training, the largest portion of which was dedicated to drill and ceremonies at platoon, company, and battalion level. This did not indicate an overemphasis on spit and polish but rather reflects the need to inculcate a culture of discipline and working together in a large mass of individual draftees with no background in either military or team activities. 

To amplify this, nearly 40 percent of the training was spent in combined training, maneuver, and open and trench warfare. The emphasis at the time was clearly more on collective training than individual training. Small prewar budgets and lack of equipment also affected training, as target practice and musketry (Basic Rifle Marksmanship) received only 13 percent of the time allotted.

Musketry Practice

The training program required a much more structured program than many of the divisions were able to execute. For instance, the 4th Division was activated on 3 December 1917, at Camp Greene, North Carolina, outside Charlotte. No part of the division was then at Camp Greene. MG George H. Cameron arrived from California a week later. The four infantry battalions came from camps in  Gettysburg and Syracuse to form the division. While artillery and engineer units were generally at full strength with volunteers, the infantry units were greatly under strength, with no rifle company having more than 40 men. In January 1918, the War Department directed that all new volunteers be sent to the 4th Division until it was filled.

Arriving at Camp Greene during the worst winter in memory, the 4th Division was confronted with rain, cold, snow, and impassable mud. The men were able to train outside for only 16 days total during December, January, and February. The division used the time for indoor lectures and training given by British and French officers, all of whom had extensive combat experience. These officers taught the American officers and NCOs, who then taught the soldiers.

British Machine Gun Instructors

Instilling the killer instinct also proved difficult. The division Chief of Staff, COL Christian A. Bach, summed up the problem:

Many of the men drafted had never struck a blow in anger in their lives. The bayonet instilled a fighting spirit and gave them individual aggressiveness, but it was never really popular. The rifle was the national arm of the American people, and they do not take kindly to the use of cutting or thrusting weapons. But, although the men of the 4th Division had few occasions to use their bayonets in hand-to-hand fighting, the training received was of real value and had a distinct psychological effect.

Improving weather conditions in mid-March enabled the division to conduct intensive training for some five weeks, but the unit began moving by train to Camp Mills, New York, for embarkation on 21 April 1918. The rush to get to Europe, however, forced some units to deploy even before they had done any weapons training. The 39th Infantry Regiment, and one battalion of the 58th Infantry Regiment, for instance, were not able to conduct any target practice before deployment.

The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) relied on additional combat training from the more experienced British and French armies before troops were committed to combat. The AEF General Headquarters (GHQ) established a collaborative training plan with British and French commands for newly arrived American divisions. The three-phase, 90-day process was designed to reinforce basic soldier skills, acclimate units to combat conditions, and prepare American divisions for replacing worn out Allied units at the front. The first phase included training on new weapons systems (37mm gun, mortars, machine guns, etc.) and additional time for individual marksmanship.

The 4th Division’s 7th Brigade (consisting of the 39th and 47th Infantry Regiments) was attached to the 4th French Division on 14 June 1918, to complete training, including the long-delayed rifle marksmanship training for the 39th Infantry Regiment. Bach remembered, “These men had heard the thunder of the guns at the front but had never fired a rifle.” The men also handled live grenades for the first time. The 4th Division moved into the line on 14 July.

Graduation Day Review
Next Stop: The Western Front

After this additional specialized training, American units then went into the line with British and French units to acclimate them to combat conditions. New regiments and companies, under veteran Anglo-French supervision, rotated in and out of active  frontline positions on ten-day tours during the second month. American troops defended against and conducted trench raids, familiarizing the men with combat conditions. By August 1918, the AEF was almost completely reliant on the Allies for this training. Many units did not have the opportunity to train for the full 90 days, because calls for immediate reinforcements from Allied commanders sent inexperienced and unprepared units into frontline positions against an experienced and determined enemy.

The result was more than 300,000 casualties in 11 months of fighting.

Source: "Learning the Lessons of Lethality: The Army's Cycle of Basic Combat Training, 1918-2019," U.S. Army War College                                                   

Thursday, August 24, 2023

How the UK Remembers the Great War

In 2013, the British Council and the University of Exeter asked a sample of 1,215 UK residents the question: "When you think about the First World War, what are the first three things that come to mind?" Out of their responses the interesting tag cloud below was constructed. The size of the word or phrase represents the frequency of  the response. The position of the words seems to indicate responses that tended to be given together by the same respondent. I don't think the colors are indicators, though. For instance, red is used for "Loss of Life,"black for "Waste of Life," and grey for "Death." Also keep in mind it has a strong British orientation. While Germany makes the list, France, Russia, and the other combatants don't. It contains a number of responses that surprised me, such as the great size differential of "Ypres" vs "Battle of the Somme."

Click on Image to Enlarge

Nonetheless, I believe it reflects the prevailing attitudes about the war internationally at the time—which I have labored against in my writings and publications. It would be interesting, but probably impracticable, to conduct the survey again using the same question to see if there has been any shift in these perceptions since the centennial commemorations of the war.  Probably minimal is my guess.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Map Series #20: The Fight for Belleau Wood

During the recent Centennial and afterwards, the American Battle Monuments Commission has been turning out a lot of fresh and helpful material on the American effort in the war.  One item of which that has just come to my attention is a 2019 brochure on the fighting at Belleau Wood in 1918. It includes a great campaign map (more on that to follow), plus a concise history of the fighting,  another map for a walking tour of the battlefield with information on each stop, notable participants in the battle, and additional information on other key sites in the Château-Thierry vicinity. The full pamphlet can be downloaded HERE.

Nonetheless, the "star" of the publication is this map delineating all the major actions of the three-week battle. Besides the main assault on Belleau Wood, it shows the 6 June flank attacks on Hill 142 and Bouresches, the supporting operations of the 2nd Division's 3rd Brigade, and the positions and main attacks of the German forces. I've read several works covering Belleau Wood and visited the battlefield over a dozen times, but this map clarified the conduct of the fighting there in a new way for me. It's a cartographic tour de force.

Click on Image to Enlarge

(Size: Display = 580px; Download = 1200px)

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

A Withering Fire: American Machine Gun Battalions in World War I

By George T Raach, Col, U.S. Army, Ret.
Booklocker, Inc., 2015
John D. Beatty, Reviewer

American Machine Gunners

Some books have a tendency to change one’s mind about nearly everything you thought you knew about a subject. The saying goes that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. With machine guns on the Western Front, the Germans, French, British and Americans proved that saying wrong. The late COL George T. Raach (passed during the COVID epidemic) wrote a well-researched and thoroughgoing book about that most pedestrian of late 20th Century military subjects: machine guns. Only, Raach was writing about machine guns in World War One, when these machine tools of death were new to war, and were especially new to the Americans.

The world first witnessed large-scale use of machine guns during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–5. Early in WWI, the British and French considered machine guns as novelties, while the German armies had already integrated them, albeit in small numbers. Britain and France soon caught up, and the machine gun soon had a prominent role in maintaining the stalemates in Europe. The British and later American armies justified having separate machine gun units in part because they treated them like they had light artillery. They were also a great deal more technically sophisticated than most people realized.

From the Preface of A Withering Fire onward, Rasch shows how a single machine gun, tactically, was as devastating as an artillery battery a generation earlier. A single gun could put out enough fire every minute as a platoon of bolt-action riflemen. An MG battalion, which operated as a unit only occasionally, could cover an area the size of a small town with bullets, continuously, for as long as they had ammunition. As the “essence of infantry,” machine guns in trained hands were the other half of the “marriage made in Hell” with barbed wire. Ironically, both the gas- and recoil-operated machine gun and machine-made barbed wire were 19th-century American inventions that the U.S. military practically ignored until WWI.

In “A Theory of Fire,” Raach discusses a manual that the U.S. Army War College published in April 1917, which was a detailed how-to guide for the practical, though not tactical, employment of machine guns in the Army (the Marines used it as well). One should be in awe of Raach’s analysis and discussion of a book that the War College would have to have been working on during Wilson’s prohibition of any planning for war. “One Hell of a Load” covers the sheer mass of these weapons: the lightest of them was over 200 pounds with full gear. But the gun, tripod, traversing-and-elevating mechanism (old machine gunner here) and ammunition weren’t all the crews had to handle. There were also the range finders, the height-finders, the spare parts and tools for the guns, besides the crew’s own gear, food, and the rest of the clobber that soldiers have to haul around. The ammunition alone needed for a “quiet” shift in the trenches could amount to a quarter ton.

Raach shows a certain adoration for the machine gunners, who were the most technically adept and physically fit troops on the battlefield. They had to make calculations for barrel wear and wind drift at night, in a gas mask, after carrying a couple hundred pounds of dead weight several hundred yards, implement those calculations while planning their fire missions and how it would affect the beaten zones, then fire the missions and hope that they were right. While this was going on, the gunner’s ammo carriers often had to find his next position because the enemy artillery and machine guns—or snipers—were going to zero in on the gun in just a few minutes…which was why machine gun units often suffered 50% casualties in most actions. 

The last chapters of A Withering Fire explain all of this and more, in subject-matter detail. It’s a lively narrative, but it’s not a battle narrative. The closest Raach came to describing an entire battle was in the Prologue, which has the 7th Machine Gun Battalion of the 3rd Division moving into position at Chateau-Thierry, where it alone with its 24 Hotchkiss guns defended two bridges for two days. It’s a very technical but a highly readable narrative that does more to fill in more blanks of the mechanics of infantry combat than many other works. I highly recommended it for those who are willing to wade through its often excruciating detail and explore this little-known aspect of the Western Front from an American perspective.

John D. Beatty

Monday, August 21, 2023

Young French Students Share Their Impressions of Belleau Wood and the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery

In January 2011 the Eighth Grade Class of Marymount International School of Paris had a field trip to the  old U.S. battlefield and the adjacent cemetery.  The next day, their teacher apparently asked them to write about their impressions of their visit.  I found these published as comments at the Soldier's Mail website, which can be visited HERE.

A More Recent 8th Grade Class from Marymount
(This school has great field trips!)

On January 14, 2011 at 4:23 a.m. Alisa said:

My class and I visited the Aisne Marne American Cemetery. We learned about the different soldiers and about how the soldiers that they don’t know the names of still have a grave. We also learned about how some bodies have been found and in their chapel they put a little rosette next to the name engraved on the wall. We also went to the battlefield up the hill and saw the bomb craters and trenches. It’s an experience I will never forget…


On January 14, 2011 at 4:24 a.m. Dr. Foxy said:

I went to the Anne Marne American Cemetery yesterday and it was CRAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZYY!!! I learned so much awesome stuff from the people there. There were over 2,800 American soldiers buried there. We stood on “No-Mans Land” and learned the untold history of the American Marines. You’ll go into the trenches, and see where we fought for France. I recommend going there!

On January 14, 2011 at 4:24 a.m. Darina said:

Aisne-Marne cemetery:

Yesterday we came to the cemetery with our school, I found it really interesting how we got to see how the people fought in world war one. I really liked going to the chapel. I thought it was really interesting how we can see a lot of names on the walls, and also the cemetery part where all the crosses were. And the story about the young soldier going to war at the age of 17, who died little after. The wood were pretty interesting as well, that we saw canons that were used 100 years ago. All the American flags were really nice.

On January 14, 2011 at 4:26 a.m. Jack said:

Yesterday we visited the American cemetery in Aisne Marne. I realy enjoyed going through the battlefield and seeing the trenches, foxholes, and bomb craters. I learned that over 2800 soldiers were buried there.

On January 14, 2011 at 4:28 am Borna Wierdack said:

Dear website, yesterday my class and I went to visit the american cemetery of Aisne-Marne.We were on no-man’s land and saw the holes caused by shells,we tried to picture the war during the war.We saw the bullets in the trees and the armory which was used back then.We entered the church were we saw the list of all the names which didn’t have bodies.We were told one story about the soldier and we had to pay a moment of silence.It was a wonderful expirience.

On January 14, 2011 at 4:32 a.m. Ralph said:

Yesterday I visited the American cemetery in Aisne Marne. I learned how hard it was to be an American soldier, especially when you lied about your age just so that you can fight for your country and be a hero. I saw the german artillery that was used to kill the American army. I saw the symbols that were used to show that the soldier’s body was found recently. I saw the bomb craters and the trenches but they weren’t very deep because of the leaves that covered them. There was a lot of mud in the battlefield and a lot of trees were damaged and still trying to recover from the damage done almost a hundred years ago.

On January 14, 2011 at 4:33 a.m. Hal391 said:

Yesterday my class and I visited Aisne-Marne american cemetery. I learned a whole lot of information that interested me. I learned that jewish soldiers had their gravestones with the Star of David on top and I also started to understand why these marines and soldiers decided to go and fight. We visited each grave in silence with the class and we realised that soldiers of all ages and all ranks died and were buried with the same tombstone. We saw the ruins of the war battlefield. We saw trenches, fox holes, and bomb craters. There was also a church that had the names of over a thousand American soldiers whose bodies have not been found. This was a great tour and I can’t wait till our new field trip.

On January 14, 2011 at 4:34 a.m. Ashley said:

Yesterday I and the rest of the eighth graders went to the American cemetery which is located right next to the Belleau woods. When I went to the small chapel, I saw over 1,000 missing soldiers’ names listed on the wall and only 4 of them were found. The story of a young boy who fought at the war and died at the age of 17 was shocking and very depressing. 17-year-old isn’t that much older than my age. At the end, we had a minute of silence commemorating the bravery of the soldiers who fought and died at the war. I’d like to go there again with my family once again to tell my family the sad incident caused by World War I.

On January 14, 2011 at 4:35 a.m. Anonymous said:

Yesterday my class and I traveled to the Aisne-Marne cemetery. Although the Great War occurred almost a century ago, the thousands upon thousands of losses of American soldiers loomed heavily upon me. I learned that over 2,000 Americans rested in this very cemetery! It was a treat to be able to visit Belleau Wood, the very place where a battle occured! We visited the chapel, saw trenches, foxholes, and bomb craters, and solemnly strided through the many rows of white crosses and Star of Davids. It was quite amazing to see trees with shrapnel in them and the dent in the chapel, and the war almost came alive for everyone, I think. Although many soldiers went missing or are unknown, we will never forget the honor that they are owed by America and Europe.

On January 14, 2011 at 4:36 a.m. Nicole said:

Yesterday I visited the Aisne Marne cemetery with my class. We walked through the cemetery, visited fox holes in the forest and visited the chapel. I learnt many new things such as that there are not only Americans buried there, including Jewish Americans, one Canadian, and other Americans with different origins such as Italian. We also were able to see actual cannons with real bullet holes. I liked the fact that the Germans called the American Marines “Devil Dogs” because of the blood red look their eyes had when wearing the gas mask. In all, I really enjoyed my visit.

Belleau Wood and the Aisne-Marne Cemetery

On January 14, 2011 at 4:37 a.m. Sally said:

Yesterday the rest of the 8th grade and I (from Marymount, Paris) went to Aisne Marne American Cemetery. We had two tours, both outside and inside. Each lasted about 45 min. I learned a lot of interesting information that I wouldn’t otherwise have known. One of the many facts that I learned was that the American soldiers dug out holes in the ground (on the battlefield) called fox-holes. Sometimes the shells that exploded made fox-holes in themselves. I also learned that most of the soldiers who fought for America were actually from Europe and their families had migrated to the States. I also learned that over 1000 soldiers have not been found, but recently 4 bodies of the missing soldiers have been recovered. When we went into the chapel (that honours the missing soldiers) the walls were almost completely covered by names. The battlefield was extremely muddy, but we enjoyed it nevertheless. We saw many cannons that had been shot or exploded, as well as the shell holes in the metal of the cannons. Overall I enjoyed the visit very much!

On January 14, 2011 at 4:40 a.m. A.S said:

Yesterday I went to the cemetery with my grade. We visited the chapel and went through the forest. The superintendent and his colleague guided us around. When we visited the cemetery we learned that a lot of the soldiers’ identity were unknown so on their headstone was written “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God”. For Jewish soldiers their headstones were the shape of the Star of David instead of a cross. On the stained glass window of the chapel was a drawing of the symbols of the different districts. We even heard a story of a young man who thought the war was something exciting and when he realized it was the complete opposite, it was too late. I felt sorry when I thought about the thousands of other soldiers who went to war just like the young man and lost their lives when they thought they could back by Christmas alive to their family.

On January 14, 2011 at 4:45 a.m. MH said:

Yesterday, my class and I went to visit the Aisne Marne American Cemetery. We took a tour of the Belleau Wood where the battle occured. We saw the conditions in which the soldiers fought, the trenches they were in, the artillery they used and the tanks they shot bombs with, at the end of the visit of the Belleau Wood we visited the chapel were all the names of the soldiers are engraved. There are over 1000 soldiers who were not found, 4 of them were first unknown and then found. After that we saw the tombs of soldiers and also the different tombs for the jewish americans.

On January 14, 2011 at 4:47 a.m. Andres said:

Yesterday I went with my class to the Aisne Marne cemetery and I have to say that it was very impressive all the soldiers that were found and all the soldiers that are missing and in total it was 2,800 soldiers buried. What impressed me the most is that there was this one grave that belonged to a 17 years old kid and when I think about it he is 3 years older than me and instead of him playing video games like me or watching TV like me he went to war. I can’t imagine how much he suffered. What impressed me the most was that inside the chapel the whole walls were full of names of soldiers that haven’t been found and it was over 1,000 names.

On January 14, 2011 at 4:48 a.m. CH said:

We went to the Aisne Marne cemetery yesterday, 8th grade had great fun in the woods at the place with the cannons, particularly the one that had been shot. We visited the chapel and the cemetery, we sanded the tombs and had a minute of silence for one of the soldiers that died at the age of 17.

On January 14, 2011 at 7:35 a.m. B.F.F said:

With my school and I we went to the to the Aisne Marne American Cemetery. Other there I visited the forest, and the cemetery it was really interesting, because I learned that out of 100 percent 40 of the percent of the bodys were buried in the place they died. I also like visiting the chapel, and seeing the cannon. It was really educational, and interesting.

On January 14, 2011 at 7:40 a.m. K.N.B said:

At Aisne-Marne with my class, I learned that about 40% out of the families who had a family member die while fighting in WW1 wanted their children buried in Europe instead of in the States. I enjoyed walking through the battlefield of Belleau Woods and seeing where the Germans and the Americans fought.

On January 14, 2011 at 7:41 a.m. Jungbin said:

By reading this text and journals, I learned that it was very difficult for the Allies to get the land back from the Germans. Also there were lots of deaths compared to the Germans. Yesterday I went to the American Cemetery in Aisne-Marne, and saw all these crosses. It is sad that so many people had to die to get this little land.

On January 14, 2011 at 7:44 a.m. Nick said:

We went to the American WW1 cemetery in Aisne-Marne. We had a great time and learned so much about the war. I never knew it took that long for the allies to take back the area.What I found touching about the place was that we got to fold the flag and had a moment of silence for respect.

On January 14, 2011 at 7:49 a.m. Charles said:

On January 14th, my class went to Aisne-Marne to visit the American Cemetery.The chapel was very beautiful.I really like the statues of the outside wall of the chapel. Those statues show the technology for the war.There were very young soldiers.The average age for the soldiers was seventeen to twenty.In the American Cemetery there were 2,800 soldiers who died and 1,056 unknown soldiers.

On January 14, 2011 at 7:50 a.m. Margherita said:

Yesterday, January 13 2011, My class and I went to visit the Aisne-Marne American cemetery. I need to say that it was a trip that helped me picture the moment. Something that really touched me was how many tombstones there were. I always knew that there were a lot of people who died, but actually seeing it surprised me the most. Also seeing the canons all full of holes was frightening Especially when Mr.David told us that there were the soldiers behind that, it was like WOW! I really enjoyed yesterday’s field trip and I thought it was a very beautiful place.

On January 14, 2011 at 7:55 a.m. Natasha said:

On January 13th 2011,I visited the Aisne-Marne Cemetery. When I went, there were many things that I found interesting and even things that I never knew! One thing that I learnt was that some soldiers were never found and were determined to be Missing. When this occurred, their name was engraved on the Missing wall. On the other hand, some bodies were found but they were so fragile that it was impossible to identify them. On their gravestone, they were identified as Known Only to God. A very interesting person that I learnt about was a young boy. This boy and his friends really wanted to go to war, but did not pass the age limit. Therefore, they lied about their age to take part. In the end, this young boy died at 17 and said that he regretted his decision so much. I also learnt several facts during my visit. It took Germany 3 days to cover 50 kilometers, whereas it took the allies 20 days to get it back. My visit yesterday was just extraordinary and truly beautiful. It is something that was not only a physical beauty but it was the emotion and honor that the cemetery had which was just amazing.

On January 14, 2011 at 7:57 a.m. EB said:

On January 14th, the eighth grade class of Marymount Paris was fortunate enough to visit the Aisne Marne American Cemetery. When we arrived we saw a tall chapel centered in between two sections of the cemetery. The chapel was inscribed with 1,060 names of all of the soldiers that were missing and never found during World War 1. Out of those 1,060 names, only four were found. A small star was placed beside their name on the wall for the recognition of receiving their identities again. We also received a tour of Belleau Woods which is behind the cemetery. in these muddy woods, the largest number of soldiers died. There are many craters left in the ground from the various bombs and there are cannons that stand in the woods as well. It was a great and educational experience to see Aisne Marne American Cemetery.

On January 14, 2011 at 8:00 a.m. Eleonora said:

Aisne-Marne is an American cemetery where the soldiers of World War one were buried. There are a total of 2289 soldiers, although they are only 40 percent of all the soldiers. The other 60 percent were sent back to the United States.

World War 1 was the first time important technological advances were used. It was the first time where gas was used, the first time when tanks were used, and the first time when there was an air force.

Aisne-Marne is important for American marines, because the number of marines who died in Belleau Wood was more than in any other war altogether. Aisne-Marne is an amazing place where you can learn about World War 1 in a more detailed way.

On January 14, 2011 at 8:01 a.m. Cusmar Golover said:

By seeing this place and especially ‘The Belleau Wood’, I understood the importance of the place. I could imagine the events that happened in this wood, which is a sacred place for the marines. The guide even referred to the wood as a a pilgrimage place for the marines. Seeing the number of people that died for America I can’t even imagine the courage those men had.

On January 14, 2011 at 8:01 a.m. Julien said:

There were horrible effects when there was a machine gun emplacement facing an open field, soldiers would charge towards the enemy at the end of the field as fast as they could wielding a bayonet. Alot of men died quickly in a small radius. Around 2000 men were buried in Aisne Marne Cemetery, and 1000 were missing.