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.
After the recapture of Mont Saint Père, the American Divisions began again their foreward progression. On the 22nd. July 1918 the 3rd U.S. Division liberated Jaulgonne, but the taking of Le Charmel was to be long and difficult, as the Germans wished to evacuate the enormous quantities of munitions and material that they had prepared for their unsuccessful offensive of the 15th. July. The capture of the castle of Charmel was particularly difficult, and the Germans held it until the 27th. July even though the 3rd. Division had been able to retake Le Charmel itself, after very hard fighting, on the 25th.
During the night of 26 - 27th. July, the Germans fell back on the Ourcq. Le Charmel became, during the next few days, the Headquarters of the 28th. and the 32nd. U.S. Divisions during the fighting that took place in crossing and pushing beyond the Ourcq.
The Germans had already well prepared defensive positions North of the river when the French and American troops engaged contact on the evening of the 27th. July. The 3rd. U.S. Division progressed along the road from Le Charmel towards Ronchères. The French division on it's left, had taken Courmant by way of Fresnes; it was replaced by the 28th. U.S. Division.
On the 28th. July, Ronchères was taken by the 3rd. Division and the 28th. Division lined up it's front with difficulty. During the fighting the German resistance was such that it was evident they wished to stick to this excellent line of defense crowned by the wood of Grimpettes, which was a key position. All further progression depended on the capture of this wood. On the 28th. then on the 29th. July it was attacked by the 3rd Division from Ronchères and by the 28th. Division from Courmont.
On the 30th. July the 3rd. Division was replaced by the 32nd. The 3rd. U.S. Division had remained in the front line since the beginning of June and had fought superbly, it's losses were 6600 killed or wounded. The same day the 28th. Division attacked twice, after a short but intense artillery preparation. After bayonet combats and with the help of the 32nd. Division, it finally captured the wood. In it's momentum the 28th. Division reached the first houses of Cierges but had to fall back to the wood where, at the fall of day, it held off a German counter-attack.
During the night of the 30th to 31st. July the 32nd. Division relieved the 28th., which had lost, in three days, 1400 killed or wounded. The front line of the 32nd. Division was widened to the left to take in the Moulin de Caranda. Opposite, on the hill-top, was the wood of Jomblets, well defended by the Germans.
On the 31st. July, at 14:00 hrs, the 32nd Division attacked, took Cierges, reached Les Jomblets but had to retreat in face of the heavy fire coming from the woods.
The 1st. August, very early in the morning, the Division took Les Jomblets and pushed on further, trying to hold on to their gains. It held off a first counter-attack after day break, but at 9 a.m. a violent counter-attack with artillery support pushed back the Americans. In the afternoon Les Jomblets was re-taken by the Americans, and held thanks to the double converging assault of two regiments.
On the 2nd. of August 1918 the 32nd. Division liberated the farm of Reddy, Chamery, Coulanges, Cohan and Dravegny.
The 42nd. Division, which had already fought in the region of the mound of Souain since the 4th. July, in the IVth. French Army (General Gouraud) and in particular during the German offensive of 15th. July, was withdrawn on the 17th. July from the IVth. Army to enter as reinforcement to the Vth. Army (General Degoutte). It took over on the 26th. July from a unit on the line of the farm of the Red Cross, 2 kms to the East of Beuvardes and Le Four à Verre, 1 km to the North-East of Beuvardes. Its line of march was to the North, towards Villers-sur-Fère, which it captured on the 27th. July.
On the 28th. it managed to establish a crossing on the North bank of the river Ourcq. Patrols reached Sergy, very strongly held by the Germans, but were unable to penetrate the village. Sergy was finally captured on the 29th. and the division continued to advance. On it's left, the wood of Colas opposite the farm of Meurcy, filled with German machine-guns, was taken, as well as Seringes. Although Seringes formed a salient in the German lines and received fire from three sides, the Germans did not succeed in re-taking it.
The 30th., despite determined efforts, no substantial gains could be obtained. The Germans, from the farm of Meurcy, attempted a counter-attack, but this was held off.
The colonel, future General, Mac Arthur was in command of the staff headquarters of the 42nd. Division, - the famous Rainbow Division. His view of this fighting and of those on his right, where the 28th. Division captured the woods of Grimpettes with considerable losses, in part because of insufficient artillery cover, was to have a consequence during the 2nd. World War. Whilst Commander in Chief in the Pacific, he shelled to a maximum his objectives before sending in his infantry.
On the 31st. of July, after intensive shelling, including the use of smoke and incendiary shells, the Bois Brulé, which was beside the current cemetery, was abandonned by the Germans. Thus the 42nd. Division was able to occupy it as well as the farm of Meurcy, and in so doing create a salient in the German lines.
The 1st. of August, in the evening, the 42nd. and 32nd. Divisions held firmly in their possession a large part of the heights to the North of the Ourcq, from Seringes to the woods of Jomblets.
These successes, and those of the 62nd. French infantry division, to the left of the 42nd. U.S. Division, led to the retreat of the Germans during the night of 1st to 2nd. August, to their following prepared positions on la Vesle, 15 kms away. The pursuit, which began on the morning of the 2nd. of August, was to neutralise the numerous machine gun nests, cleverly placed and which covering one another, were on the whole of the Ourcq-Vesle sector.
The 42nd. Division on the 2nd. of August advanced over the land of the existing cemetery, taking Nesles and crossing the forest of Nesles. The 3rd. of August, the Division having lost 6500 wounded and killed, was relieved by the 4th. U.S. Division which continued the pursuit, with the 32nd. on its right just to the Vesle.
On the 2nd. of August the 32nd. Division liberated Chamery, and discovered the recent grave of an American airman. Effectively, the 14th. July, during an air battle, the Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt, son of the ex-President of the U.S.A., Theodore Roosevelt, had been brought down near Chamery. The Germans buried him where he had fallen, marking his grave with the wheels of his plane and a cross inscribed ``Roosevelt, American airman''.
Coulonges, Cohan and Dravegny were also liberated on the 2nd. of August. Dravegny from the 4th. to 14th. August was to be the site of the staff headquarters of the 28th. Division during the fighting on the Vesle. On the left, Chéry-Chartreuve was liberated on the 3rd. August by the 4th. Division.
In the afternoon of the 4th. August, the 32nd. Division attacked towards Fismes from the heights of Saint Gilles. The town of Fismes was taken but at the cost of important losses caused by the enemy artillery and the fire from machine guns.
On the 6th August the 6th Brigade of the 3rd. U.S. Division was positioned along the Vesle, to the right of Fismes. Although worn out by it's hard fighting on the Marne, the Brigade attempted valiantly, from the 7th. to the 10th. August, to cross the Vesle but were unable to obtain a foothold on the North bank. The 11th. August the 6th. Brigade was relieved after losing, in 3 days, about 600 men.
During the night of the 6th. to 7th. August the 28th. Division relieved the 32nd., which had advanced 17 kms. in losing 3800 men since the Battle of the Ourcq River.
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