Thank you to Tom Tyson, Jr. who give us this text from Joe Hourigan
In the appendix of "Father Duffy's Story" Private John Tyson of Company F is listed among the wounded from the Battle of the Ourcq River. This was the offensive portion of the Second Battle of the Marne and the same action in which Joyce Kilmer was killed. He would have received his wound sometime between July 25 and August 3, 1918. His company commander would have been Captain Michael A. Kelly, later promoted to major. His battalion (2nd battalion) commander was Major Alexander E. Anderson. Anderson was one of the officers depicted in the movie, "The Fighting 69th" and attained the rank of Brigadier General by the start of WWII. Col. Frank McCoy, a regular Army officer was in command of the 165th (69th) at that time. The fight was in the Champagne region of France.
The 42nd Division was placed under the command of a very famous one-armed fighting French General, Gen. Henri Gourand (IVth French Army), and rushed into the line to help stem the last all out German offensive of the war. Their orders were, "No man shall look back; no man shall retreat." Company F would have been heavily involved in this fight and expected to receive the brunt of the German advance. In fact, Father Duffy was at Captain Kelly's command post when the German Barrage started. For 2 days, July 15th and 16th, they defended their trenches against an enemy which had never before been stopped without at least taking some territory. The French did not know if the Americans could or would fight. But fight they did. Stop the Germans they did. No man looked back and no man retreated.
The trench fighting ended with a success full counter attach by French Colonial troops. The Allies prepared to turn from the defense to the offence. The 42nd Division's portion of this offensive (end of July, in the VIth French Army) was to cross and the Ourcq River, a shallow tributary of the Marne and to take the heights on the other side. Remnants of the elite 4th Prussian Guards, commanded by Prince Eitel Friedrich, the Kaiser's son, were established in prepared defensive positions. The hills on the eastern side of the Ourcq offered excellent fields of overlapping fire against the attackers. The 42nd's original orders were to attack without preparatory barrage and without small arms fire, using only their bayonets. The thinking behind this was to obtain the element of surprise. The Alabama and Ohio Regiments waded in first and took their objectives by cold steel alone but were eventually drive back by counter attacks. Before the 69th was to cross the Ourcq, Col. Douglas MacArthur (Yes, that Douglas MacArthur) took command of the Division Infantry. The 69th's object was the farm house at Muercy Farm and the summit of the heights beyond. The Irish of the 69th called it Murphy's farm and the river the O'Rourke.
The fighting to cross the river and take the farm was hard. Machine gun nests on the opposite sides covered all approaches and Artillery had the entire valley registered to create a hellish killing field. Each of the regiment's three battalions in turn took the offensives and their share of casualties. The Second Battalion's turn came on the second day of combat, Sunday July 28. Company F's first objective to take a small bridge near the town of Sergy defended by a machine gun crew. Companies E & F advanced and took the bridge with little resistances but the quick advance left Company F's right flank exposed. The artillery and machine gun resistance beyond made it clear to all officers involved that further advance without artillery support would have been suicide.
Meurcy Farm was taken after three days hard fighting and lost again when German reinforcements counter attacked. The heights were never taken until the Germans began their retreat. Al thought the 69th failed to take and hold their assigned objectives, the Regiment was still proud of this battle.
They advanced 18 miles against well established defensive postions manned by the best troops the Germans could offer. Much of the advance was without artillery support and often with exposed flanks. Eventually the Third Battalion took the lead position of the allied advance to maintain contact with the retreating enemy.
Father Duffy gives the details of this battle in his book, mentioned above and he often mentions Company F and Capt. Kelly. It was published in 1919 and is out of print but copies can be found in used book stores.
Thank you to Joe !
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