Analysis of the role played by American troops in the Second Battle of the Marne and subsequent engagements with the Germans *
Although US troops assumed mainly a support role in this action, the battle came to be known as the beginning of the end for Germany. 85,000 US troops participated, with 12,000 casualties, gaining the praise of not only their own officers, but the French and British commanders as well. “During this time a single regiment of the 3rd Division rewrote one of the most luminous pages in our military history, it prevented the crossing at certain points on its front, while on either flank the Germans who had gained a footing pressed forward (Duffy, 2009).
Our men, firing in three sections, met the German attacks with counter-attacks at critical points and succeeded in throwing two German divisions into complete confusion, capturing 600 (Duffy, 2009).
This last quote summarizes American military involvement in World War I. In the “soup of death” that France had become, no secret weapon, technological advance, political maneuvering or mad offensive could have replaced fresh troops used in bold actions along the Allied lines. US involvement not only changed the face of the war, but helped bring it to an end on November 11, 1918 (Duffy, 2009).
* Discussion of weaponry used by soldiers in World War I, including but not limited to bayonets, flamethrowers, machine guns, pistols, mustard gas, rifles, tanks and trench mortars *
Great offensive by Germans (March-June). Americans' first important battle role at Ch^a teau-Thierry-as they and French stop German advance (June). Second Battle of the Marne (July-Aug. ) -start of Allied offensive at Amiens, St. Mihiel, etc. Battles of the Argonne and Ypres panic German leadership (Sept. -Oct. ). British offensive in Palestine (Sept. ). Germans ask for armistice (Oct. 4). British ...
The US Troops utilized many different types of weapons including the standard bayonet knife which served both as a utility tool and close combat weapon. Officers and NCOs were issued 45 caliber Colts, although some airmen had revolvers. The M-1 Garand semi-auto rifle was the most prevalent weapon. Many NCOs and squad leaders carried the Thompson SMG. The most common version (issued from 1942 on) was not like the Chicago piano from gangster movies. The forward hand grip had been removed, plus a wooden stock had been added around the barrel. This would accept either 20- or 30-round stick magazines. Early war (M1928) Thompsons also accepted 50, 100, or 200 round drum magazines. Each squad was also to have a BAR (Browning automatic rifle).
This weapon was big but was a fully automatic weapon that could lay down suppressive fire. It had some serious stopping power. In addition to this, there was the flame thrower, which saw more action in the Pacific theater. Hand grenades were another weapon issued to combat troops. Also when assaulting bunkers or other fixed emplacements, they would satchel charges .30 and .50 caliber MG teams (2-3 men: 1 firer, 1-2 loaders/carriers) might be attached to rifle platoons as needed, along with the mortar teams. As for other items, some servicemen would use enemy weapons, but most collected these (and just about anything else that was not riveted down) as trophies. *
* Discussion of the soldier’s experience, including but not limited to fighting in the trenches, the smell, boredom, lice, rats, food, common injuries, and battlefield engagement
Many former soldiers of World War 1 pronounce the experience as hell on earth. The atmosphere was a constant smell of burning flesh, dead animals, and booming artillery. Animal and human waste mixed with acrid smell of the high explosive artillery shells. Many soldiers descried the smoke as getting closer to the smoke of death. The trenches were so uncomfortable and usually partially flooded with mud and water. The trenches were also plagued with lice and rats, rats that often grew to the size of cats feasting off of the plentiful corpses that lay around().
Food was scarce and hardly appetizing drinking water often had to be transported in used fuel cans and though they were cleaned thoroughly they still tainted the water’s taste. Many soldiers suffering from shell-shock or post traumatic stress disorder were executed as cowards as the mental disorder had not yet recognized by the medical community ().
Introduction World War 1 was like nothing that had ever happened in the world before. Although it was inevitable, the horrific loss of life was pointless. Almost no-one except the politicians ruling agreed with it, which has been proven by soldier’s diaries, and most famously the football match between the British and the Germans on Christmas Day 1914. All-in-all, World War 1 resulted in a ...
In the context of World War I, leadership meant not just yelling “Follow me!” jumping out of a trench and charging across no-man’s-land while trusting your subordinates to follow you (“Army Leadership”, 2007).
A whole host of actions and inactions by leaders went into building the trust of subordinates so that they would follow you. These actions included such things as training, ensuring the health and welfare of your soldiers by making sure they were fed, they got to the medics when necessary, they had sufficient rest time, that fatigue details were apportioned fairly, that mail was distributed as soon as received, that leaders led by example, and most importantly that they were treated fairly in disciplinary matters (“Army Leadership”, 2007).
Nothing will destroy a units morale faster that if they see capricious administration of discipline. The basic, and easiest, part of assuring subordinates welfare is the provisioning “beans and bullets” in army lingo. The second and hardest part of military leadership is the training part and leading by example. Training means ensuring that your unit, of whatever size, has mastered their battlefield tasks. This often causes griping and complaints prior to actual battle and are not something soldiers appreciate until they are in actual battle. This training should be as realistic as possible and if possible, even more physically demanding than actual combat itself.
For the notional sergeant of World War I this would include ensuring that his soldiers were able to advance in open order towards the enemy trench line, clearing that trench once they got there, consolidating captured positions and either farther advancing or preparing the captured position to repel the inevitable German counterattack. Last but not least, all soldiers should be able to administer first aid and prepare their comrades for evacuation in the event they were wounded themselves. The importance of first aid and evacuation training cannot be emphasized enough because this let soldiers know that they are valued even if it is not explicitly stated. Leading by example is both the easiest and hardest thing to do. It entails such things as ensuring your men eat before you do, but also not asking them to do anything you will not do. The whole concept of leadership is being at the front, World War I was probably the last war where that had literal meaning, and leaders were actually the first over the top and showed this by leading the way. A physical example of Aristotle’s words from The Nicomachean Ethics, “we become brave by doing brave acts.” Leading the way helped ensure that your soldiers would follow.
Black soldiers were among the bravest of those fighting in the Civil War. Both free Blacks in the Union army and escaped slaves from the South rushed to fight for their freedom and they fought with distinction in many major Civil War battles. Many whites thought Blacks could not be soldiers. They were slaves. They were inferior. Many thought that if Blacks could fight in the war it would make them ...
Army Leadership. (2007).
Retrieved from http://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/pdf/R600_100.PDF Aristotle. The Nicomachean
Thompson & Bigwood, . (2006).
Winning a Cause World War Stories. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19906/19906-8.txt Duffy, M. (2009).
Primary Documents – General John J Pershing on the Second Battle of the Marne, July-August 1918. Retrieved from http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/marne2_pershing.htm