Kindly translated by John Roberts
Translated freely from ``American Armies and Battlefields in Europe'', Center of Military History, United States Army. 1938.
Coulonges, Cohan and Dravegny were liberated by the 32nd. U.S. Division on the 2nd. August. Dravegny from the 4th. to 14th. August, became the site of the staff headquarters of the 28th. Division during the fighting on the river Vesle. On the left, Chèry-Chartreuve was liberated on the 3rd. of August by the 4th. U.S. Division.
On the afternoon of the 4th. of August, the 32nd. Division attacked towards Fismes from the heights of Saint Gilles, and the town of Fismes was taken, but at the cost of heavy losses caused by the enemy artillery and machine gun fire.
On the 5th. of August the 4th. Division fought off an attack and began an offensive to gain a foothold on the North bank of the Vesle. Several units succeeded but were finally pushed back to the Southern bank. The next day, after a four hour preparation by the artillery, the 4th. Division re-crossed the Vesle in strength, in front of Ville-Savoye and reached the main road N 31. This they were able to keep, despite strong counter-attacks, until the 8th. when the Americans retreated 500 meters to establish themselves behind the railway line.
During this time, on the 6th. of August, the 6th. Brigade of the 3rd. U.S. Division was positioned along the Vesle, to the right of Fismes. Although worn out by its hard fighting on the Marne, the Brigade attempted valiantly, from the 7th. to 10th. of August, to cross the Vesle but were unable to gain a foothold on the North bank. On the 11th. of August the 6th. Brigade was relieved. It had lost about 600 men in 3 days.
During the night of 6th. to 7th. August the 28th. Division relieved the 32nd., which had advanced 17 kms. with the loss of 3800 men since the Battle of the Ourcq river.
From the 7th. to the 9th., the 4th. Division launched several attacks near Bazoches, but the strong enemy fire prevented the construction of a bridge, and attempts to cross by swimming, which succeeded, did not provide sufficient men to permit the keeping of the ground gained. Between the 3rd. and the 12th., the date of relief by the 77th. Division, the 4th. Division had lost approximately 3500 men.
The 28th. Division tried on the 7th. August, without succeeding, to cross the Vesle and take Fismette on the North bank, to the left. The following day after an intensive artillery preparation, two attacks were launched and a part of Fismette was captured and held.
The 10th of August Fismette was completely occupied, but with the Germans wishing to retake it at any cost, violent street fighting lasted 2 weeks. Early in the morning of the 27th. of August, the Germans closed Fismette by heavy artillery shelling and attacked in strength using flame-throwers. They captured or killed all the Americans with the exception of a handful of men who escaped by swimming across the Vesle.
On the 12th. of August the 77th. Division relieved the 4th. which was to the West of Fismes. On the 13th. of August the boundaries between the divisions were modified, with the 28th. Division holding Fismes and 4kms. of the Southern bank of the Vesle, and the 77th. holding the 5kms. of the South bank to the West of Fismes.
On the 22nd. of August the Germans attacked the positions of the 77th. Division, behind the railway line, and threw the Americans back to the South bank. Early the following morning the 77th. Division counter-attacked and after fighting which lasted into the night, regained a part of the ground. The 27th of August a well prepared assault permitted the taking of Bazoches, but the village could not be held.
It was necessary to await the progress of the offensive of the 18th. of August, to the North of Soissons, which passed round the German lines, before the Germans began, slowly, to withdraw from the North bank of the Vesle and and install themselves on the river Aisne. This manouver of retreat was covered, principaly, by a network of machine gun nests.
On the 4th. of September, the American divisions began their pursuit towards the North and the 77th. Division crossed the Vesle and occupied Bazoches. The 6th. of September the 28th. Division had taken Baslieux and was stopped 1500 meters to the North, whilst the 77th. reached the South bank of the Aisne after an advance of 9 kms. The front was established on this line. On the 16th. of September these two U.S. divisions were relieved by the two Italian divisions which had fought so bravely in the valley of the river Ardre during July as part of the Vth. Army.
In the course of these operations, and the repeated efforts to cross the Vesle, as well as during the lively pursuit, the 28th. Division had lost 5300 men and the 77th. nearly 4800.
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