Thursday, January 24, 2008
AEF Doughboy in Battle
The first experience of the American soldiers in actual warfare cane in the raids into No Man's Land, between the two lines of battle. To crawl at night up to the listening posts in front of the enemy's position in order to obtain information, to seize the occupants of the post if occasion offered, to meed and kill or capture, or at least to drive off an enemy's scouting party, to cut the enemy's wire entanglements--to do any of these things was to acquire training, to become indifferent to mud and danger, and to learn how to take care of oneself in emergencies. These nightly expeditions brought a large number of soldiers into the experience of this particular kind of warfare, the like of which had never been seen in Europe before this war began.
As the American soldiers became accustomed to night raiding their raids took on a more serious nature. They were carried out by large numbers of men and resulted frequently in encounters in which several casualties occurred. March 4 in the Lunéville sector the Germans made a strong attack on the Americans and were driven back after some sharp fighting. Their action prompted their opponents to retaliate on the 10th in three large raids planned for simultaneous delivery against points close together. After a heavy bombardment had leveled the German first line trenches the Americans went forward. They found the first line abandoned and went as far as the second line, 600 yards in the rear, before they were ordered back to their own lines. Some of these trenches, it was reported a few days later, were held permanently, thus making the action at Badonvillliers the first sustained advance of the Americans, although it was not the first fighting that may be called a battle.