April is the 100th anniversary of World War I. So many either never have or have forgotten the key roles played in World War I. Last week in the Jackson County Times Profiles of Courage, we outlined in chronological order the events of World War I beginning April 01, 1917. This second part of this two-part series will be the events of 1918. We hope this brings to life what our country has sacrificed so that we are the home of the free and the brave!
World War 1 has become the forgotten conflict of the 20th century. Yet its importance in shaping the nation’s destiny was immense. This is a tribute to those 2,171,560 Americans who sacrificed so much in one year on Europe’s Western Front.
U.S. Army authorizes new insignia---the wound chevron--- to be awarded to men who are wounded in action and must be treated by a medical doctor, including those gassed.
Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) is established to control the shipment of supplies to U.S. forces in Europe. Of the more than 450 cargo ships in the service, only eight will be lost due to enemy action.
U.S. forces enter the line on the Western Front, replacing the French northwest of Toul.
U.S. Army Tank Corps is created.
U.S. Army Air Service is formed. By war’s end, there are there 45 Squadrons with 740 planes and 800 pilots.
British troopship Tuscania is torpedoed and sunk by a German sub off Ireland, killing 267 of the 2,179 Doughboys aboard of the 32nd ID.
2nd Balloon Co. moves into position on the French front. The Balloon Section makes 5,866 ascents in France during the war.
First U.S. fighter Squadron, 95th Aero (Pursuit) arrives in France.
U.S. forces reinforce the French in the Chemin des Dames Sector.
First German gas attack launched against U.S. troops on the Western Front results in a 95 percent casualty rate.
German forces unsuccessfully attack U.S. 42nd “Rainbow” Div., positions near Badonvillers in the Lorraine Sector.
Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, and War Service Chevron are authorized by the War Department.
U.S. forces join the line in the Verdun Sector.
U.S. forces occupy trenches at Toul.
U.S. Marine Units enter the front line for the first time.
First U.S. aerial patrol take place over enemy lines by the newly formed 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron.
March 21-April 6
Elements of the U.S. 6th Engineers (3rd ID) and the 14th and 212th Engineers (Railway) participate. Also, the 22nd, 28th, and 17th, Aero squadrons fly missions.
In a formal Franco-American agreement, all U.S. forces ready for service are offered to be used as needed, rather than forming an independent American font.
2,000 U.S. troops reinforce the British in the Amiens Sector.
The 1st Aero Squadron is the first U.S. air squadron assigned to the front line.
Operation Georgette (Second Battle of the Lys.) 500 Americans from U.S. medical, air service, and engineer units, including the 11th and the 16th Engineers (Railway), take part in this battle in Flanders south of Ypres.
U.S. cargo ship Lake Moor is torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Scotland--- 46 die.
Battle of Seicheprey.
First sizeable battle of WW1. 26th ID (51st and 52nd Inf. Brigades) vs 3,200 Germans. Fierce fight for hill 320. 160 Germans are KIA in the Remieres Wood, France.
April 25-July 17
Cantigny Defensive Sector.
U.S.: 963 KIA and 3,006 WIA.
U.S. forces reinforce the French at Montididier.
First concentration of American troops in an active part of the Front: U.S. 1st ID takes up positions at Breteuil.
Eddie Rickenbacker, 94th pursuit Sqd., shoots down in the first of his 21-enemy aircraft and four balloons.
18th Inf., 1st ID losses 200 KIA and 600 WIA/ gassed in one night of shelling in the Picardy Sectors.
May 27-June 5
U.S. 2nd and 3rd IDs participate. Stops German advance on Paris.
Battle of Cantigny.
First U.S. Offensive action in the war. 3,150 men of the 28th Inf., 1st ID, sustain 187 KIA;636 WIA in capturing Cantigny and 200 German POWs.
Transport President Lincoln torpedoed and sunk: 26 crew members are lost and one taken prisoner.
June 6-July 14
Chateau-Theirry Defensive Sector.
3rd ID holds the bridges and then drives the Germans back across the Marne River at Jaulgonne. U.S.: 886 KIA and 3,411 WIA.
Battle of Belleau Wood.
German offensive is stopped at the height of its stride: Paris is saved. Fierce fight occurs for Hill 142. 2nd ID’s 4th Marine Bde, suffers 50 percent casualties (4,677). Total U.S.: 1,811 KIA and 7,966 WIA. Army brigade captures Vaux, and two days later Bouresches is captured. All told Germans lose 9,500 men and 1,600 POWs.
1st ID participates. Franco-American counterattack halts the German advance.
Battle of Metz.
U.S. 1st and IDs counterattack from Rubescourt to St. Maur
In its first such raid, the 96th Aero Squadron bombs the Dommary-Barancourt railroad station near Metz.
First contingent of U.S. troops arrives. Doughboys are sent to bolster Italian morale on the Austro-Hungarian front. Units eventually committed: 332nd Inf. Regt., 331st Field Hospital, American Ambulance Service, and Army/Navy aviators.
First instance of U.S. (33rd ID)- British(Australian) close cooperation: They capture Hamel and repulse three counterattacks. First real use of British tanks and machine guns as close infantry-support weapons.
3rd, 26th, 28th, 41st (artillery), 42nd IDs holds at the Marne (“Rock of the Marne”): At Mezy, 30th and 38th Regiments make heroic stand. St. Agnan, LaChapelle-Monthodon, Vierzy, and Missy-aux-Bois are recaptured. Three days later, Americans capture Priley and La Grenouillieres farm. Chateau-Theirry, Beray-le-Sec and Mont St. Pere fall next. U.S. forces capture Grimpettes Wood, Serignes-et-Nasles an Cierges and Hill 230. Total U.S.: 1,485 KIA and 5,551 WIA.
July 18-August 6
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 26th, 28th, 32nd, and 42nd IDs, as well as 41st ID artillery and 83rd ID elements participate, totaling 250,000 Americans, U.S.: 6,992 KIA; 25,644 WIA.
Battle of Soissons.
4th Marine Brigade throws back the last German offensive of the war, sustaining 1,972 casualties in 48 hours of fierce fighting.
U.S. armored cruiser San Diego hits a mine and sinks off Fire Island, New York, with loss of six lives.
Only enemy to fire to land in America.
German submarine U-18 fires on the U.S. tug Perth Amboy off the Massachusetts coast.
Italy: Doughboys of the 332nd Inf. Regt. Arrive. Three days later, U.S. 331st field hospital lands.
Vesle Defensive Sector. U.S.: 623 KIA; 3,425 WIA.
August 8- November 11
Belgium: Somme Offensive.
27th and 30th IDs hold the East Properingh Line and fight the Battle of Vierstraat Ridge. 33rd and 80th IDs also serve in the offensive. U.S.: 3,221 KIA; 12,428 WIA.
Battle of Amiens.
U.S. and British forces capture Morlan-Count-Chipilly Ridge. U.S. 5th Div. captures Frapelle.
AEF is reorganized into the U.S. First Army.
August 18- November 11
28th, 32nd, 77th, 88th (artillery) and 93rd (370th Inf. IDs participate. U.S. 1,919 KIA; 8,248 WIA.
August 19- November 11
Belgium: Ypres-Lys Offensive.
27th, 28th (artillery), 30th, 37th, and 91st IDs drive to the Scheldt River. U.S.: 894 KIA; 3,002 WIA.
Elements of the U.S. 77th Div. capture La Cendiere Farm.
Only U.S. Calvary action of WW1.
Troops B,D,F, and H of the Provisional Sqd., 2nd Calvary (300 men) are the only American horse soldiers to come under fire--- during St. Mihiel Offensive.
St. Mihiel Offensive.
First all-American offensive on the Western front. 17 U.S. divisions (or elements of) participate --- 665,000 men. First time the tank is used by the U.S. military (1st Tank Bde.) in combat. Largest aggregation of air support in WW1 includes 600 airplanes and crews. Doughboys take the salient after a 36-hour battle. 15,000 Germans and 250 artillery pieces captured. U.S.: 1,799 KIA; 6,885 WIA.
September 15- October 5
Limay Defensive Sector.
U.S.: 466 KIA; 1,036 WIA.
Italy: Co. E, 332nd Inf. Regt., goes to the front near the Varage salient along the Piave River.
U.S. troops consolidate their Meuse heights- Moselle River line by capturing Ronvaux, Moneheulles, Pintheville, Haumont, and Hatton Chatel. Later, the line stretches from Forges on the Muese River to the center of the Argonne Forest.
September 17- November 11
Puvenell Defensive Sector. U.S. 658 KIA; 2,020 WIA
U.S. Coast Guard cutter Tampa is torpedoed and sunk in the Bristol Channel, off England; 115 American lives are lost.
September 26- November 11
Up until then, the largest U.S. field army (1st and 2nd armies) ever assembled --- more than 1.2 million men in 23 U.S. divisions (or elements of). First phase ends October 3; phase two Octover 30. Final phase first 11 days of November Sedan is captured. U.S. casualties; 26,277 KIA and 95,786 WIA in 47 days.
Frank Luke Jr. is the first U.S. pilot to earn the medal of honor: awarded posthumously for his 18 kills in 18 days.
USS Ticonderoga is sunk in the mid-Atlantic by the German U-512, killing 214 men (113 sailors; 101 soldiers).
600 Doughboys from the 306th and 307th INF. Regts. and a platoon of the 306th Machine Gun Bn. Of the 77 ID are decimated at Charles-vaux in the Argonne Forest. Only 200 remain fit for duty.
Battle of Blanc Mont.
2nd ID attacks and takes the ridge and village of Etienne after a week’s fighting. 4th marine Bde., part of division, suffers 2,538 casualties.
Stg. Alvin York, of G Co., 328th Inf., 82nd ID responsible for the deaths of nine of the 25 Germans killed and captures 132 more single handedly- in the Argonne Forest.
A “shoulder patch” is authorized for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). Divisions also create patches.
October 24- November 4
Italy: Battle of Vittorio Venteo.
U.S. 332nd Inf. Regt.’s (83rd ID) 2nd Bn. defeats Austrians at Gravo di Papdopoli on November 3rd. Armistice in Italy declared November 4--- one week earlier than France.
Final Fighting: 5th Marine Regt. crosses the Meuse River against Heavy resistance. 92nd ID combat at Bois de la Voirotte rages until the end. Last U.S. flight over enemy lines is made by the 3rd Pursuit Squadron.
Peak U.S. Troop strength overseas: 1,981,701 (Combat troops --- 1,078,222). Includes 43 infantry divisions.
Armistice ends WW1.
2,171,560 Americans serve in Europe (1.9 million see active service on the front). U.S. casualties: 53,513 combat deaths; 63,195 other deaths (mostly due to pneumonia and influenza); and 204,002 wounded in action. Of 58,000 gas casualties, 2,000 are fatal.
Last American KIA in WW1: Army Pvt. Henry Gunther, of A Co., 313th Inf. Regt., 79th Div., was KIA while charging a German machine gun nest at 1 minute after 11 a.m. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.