Kindly translated by John Roberts
Drawn freely from ``American Armies and Battlefields in Europe'', Center of Military History United States Army. 1938. Center of Military History United States Army. 1938.
The success of the attack on the morning of 27th. May 1918, between Berry-au-Bac et Anizy-le-Château was a surprise. As from their first assault the Germans captured the Chemin des Dames, at midday they were on the Aisne river which they crossed on the bridges that the French had not had time to blow up. The German success exceded their hopes, in the evening they crossed the Vesle river, and in the morning of the 29th. they captured Soissons. They advanced rapidly towards the Marne, in the direction of Paris, which the Government evacuated for Bordeaux.
To counteract this menace, reserves were despatched towards the battle front in order to seal off this breach. The 2nd. and 3rd. American divisions were put at the disposal of the French and arrived after a forced march. The motorised machine gun batallion of the 3rd. Division arrived at Château Thierry on the 31st. May and participated in the crossing of the Marne river. The infantry units of the 3rd. Division were deployed in support of the French along the south bank to the east, just to Courthièzy ten kilometers away.
The 3rd. Division having no front line experience, it's 7th. Batallion of machine guns arrived late in the evening of the 31st. May, at the moment when the Germans were entering the northern suburbs of Château Thierry, and it established itself on the south bank of the Marne. Two guns were sent as reinforcement for the French who were defending the back of the château, on the northern bank. Although they received the order to fall back, the gun teams were still there on the night of the 1st. June, when the French Engineers blew up the main bridge in order to prevent the Germans crossing. Arriving at the bridge after it's destruction, the gun teams with their French comrades had to force a passage, after close combat with the German infantry, towards the railway bridge downstream, and finally managed to cross the Marne.
The 3rd. Division participated, with the French, in the fighting which stopped definitively, on the 4th. June, the German offensive. But these latter held the North West banks of the Marne upto and including Essômes, notably Hill 204. The 6th. and 7th. of June the 10th. French Colonial Division, which comprised the 30th. U.S. Infantry Regiment (3rd. Division) launched two attacks, from Monneaux, which permitted gaining a foothold on a part of Hill 204.
Uptil the German attack of 15th. July the 3rd. Division reinforced it's positions on it's long front of 8 kms along the Marne, and sent out patrols on the north bank to obtain intelligence information.
On the eastern part of it's sector the 3rd. Division was facing Chartrèves, Mont Saint Père and Gland. The last great Germ an offensive of the 15th. July was deployed along a front of 80 kms on both sides of the Montagne de Reims. On the evening of the 14th. July, thanks to prisoners captured to the east of Reims, the allies learned that the German offensive, which had been waited for since a month, was to begin after midnight. exploiting this information with efficiency, at midnight less fifteen minutes all the guns on the south of the Marne began intensive fire which caused important losses amongst the troups massed for the attack on the river.
At 0 hour 10 on the 15th July, the German artillery opened fire, and at 2 a.m. a sharp increase in the fire of machine guns along the river announced the beginning of the assault which was made in small boats and over a floating bridge of boats. One of the 6 German regiments which attacked the 3rd. Division, that which faced Mèzy, was severely struck by the American artillery and retreated under a counter attack just to the Marne. At 5 a.m. it found itself back on the bank from where it had departed.
On the left, another German regiment, despite it's heavy losses was able to cross and establish itself on the south bank. A third regiment, after several unfruitful attempts, crossed in front of Mont Saint Père and reached the railway line at 8.45 a.m.
When the morning came the French division on the right of the U.S. 3rd. Division, on the other side of the crest of Moulins, had to cede ground. This exposed right flank was submitted to both frontal and flanking attacks. These attacks and counter attacks were numerous and the units engaged suffered a great deal.
On the rest of this front of the Marne the Germans progressed, the 15th. July, about 6 kms to the east of the sector held by the U.S. 3rd. Division. At midnight the Germans withdrew from their spearhead in front of Mont Saint Père.
The 16th. July detachments of the 3rd. Division which still held the crest of Moulins and were cut off from the other troups, were withdrawn one and a half kilometers towards the rear. The German attack, that day, was directed principaly against the French divisions to the right who, they too, counter attacked.
On the 17th. the German offensive was definitively stopped on the whole of the front and the next day began the great counter offensive of the 10th. Army to the south of Soissons, and which lead to the retreat of the German troups from the south of the Marne during the night of the 19th. July. During the night of 20th. to 21st July, the Germans retreated from Château Thierry. The Allies could now begin their pursuit.
The 21st. July a regiment of the 3rd. Division crossed the Marne near Château Thierry and occupied Mont Saint Père, permitting the rest of the Division to cross in all security. From there, in the direction of Fismes, 30 kms away, the American divisions, of whom the 3rd., were to fight from 20th. July to the 6th. August 1918, just to the Vesle river.
RETURN TO THE AMERICAN MENU