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WW I Marines
Battle Cry


This webpage came about as a result of my attempt to trace the origin and use of E-E-E-YAH-YIP as a USMC WW I Battle Cry.Its exisitence has been established, to my satisfaction, along with "Over The Top," another cry, or at least, a slogan of that time. Information as to the origin itself of the battle cry remains elusive. But, first of all, just what is a Battle Cry?

To most Marines, the term, Battle Cry, immediately brings to mind thoughts of Leon Uris' classic book by that title, and, of course, the movie. But most Marines, if they were asked, could not tell you just what that Battle Cry was. Of course, Battle Cry (both book and movie) was about WW II Marines, and deals with a spontaneous battle cry as opposed to a taught battle cry as seems to be the case in WW I. But, by using "Battle Cry" as a model, perhaps we can gain a better insight as to what we are considering here as it provides an example not readily available otherwise.

Here is an excerpt from the book, Battle Cry, 1953, Putnam.... Page 468...

(Note: Red Beach One, Saipan--the beloved "Highpockets" Huxley, 2nd Battalion CO has been killed, casualties are high and the enemy is counterattacking, and now Captain Max Shapiro, Fox Company commander lies dying also....)

"As the stunned Marines braced for the death they knew must come, Two Gun Shapiro stepped in front of them, his two pistols smoking, He turned to his Marines and over the din they heard a gristly shriek from his lips. 'Blood!' he cried. Max Shapiro sank to his knees, his pistols empty. He threw them at the enemy, 'Blood' he screamed, 'Blood!'

The men of Huxley's Whores were petrified. A legend was broken. The invincible captain, the man bullets could not touch, the man they believed was almost divine, lay there writhing in agony the same as any human being. The blood gushed from his mouth and ears and nose and he rolled over defiantly, trying to crawl to his enemy to kill them with bare hands, the same ghastly word on his lips.

Was he human after all? Did he not realize that something must be done to elevate his men to a task beyond human capabilities? Was it his God who sent him forward to sacrifice himself? Or was Max Shapiro merely a mad dog, full of a glorious madness?

Huxley's Whores rose to the heights of their dead captain. They no longer resembled human beings. Savage beyond all savagery, murderous beyond murder, they shrieked, 'BLOOD!' 'BLOOD!' ...'BLOOD!'

The enemy," who were mere mortals, fell back."

Although fiction, the scene as depicted above serves to generally define, for purposes of this webpage, something of just what is meant by the term "Battle Cry."


"Found another reference to the warcry in an article from the Chicago Tribune, but no explanation as to its origin. Have included the full article.

BJ Omanson"


"This is the Life, Appeal to Men of Brains & Brawn ~ ~ ~ Chicago, July 11, 1918

With all the pep that is implied in their war-cry 'Ee-Yah-Yip' the Marines' drive for recruits was shoved into high yesterday to procure 2600 men and 600 each month hereafter.

The usual means of corralling the prospective fighters were resorted to at the five stations in the loop, and applicants were lined up to have their scrapping qualities probed. Twenty-five excellent specimens left last night for Paris Island, S.C., to commence training.

This is the Life "There isn't any other life in the world that can touch that of the Marine for adventure, daring and chance for service, sacrifice, and heroism." said Lieut. Frederic W. Kensel of the main recruiting office. "The Marines are in the forefront in service on land and sea.

They are the pick of the men of the land, magnificent fellows, clean as whistles, with minds that work like lightning, bodies that can stand anything, and indomitable souls that will take them through hell without a whimper. "We have to turn down about 2/3 of the men who apply but the standard must be kept up. It's this almost fierce rigidity regarding the type of men that has produced the Marines making such a magnificent record in France.

High Class Men Wanted "If there are any men left in Chicago of the highest class in brain and brawn we want them for the Marines. Then they have their chance to become officers, as virtually all the officers in the Marine Corps come up from the ranks.

They know the life from the ground up and, therefore, being natural leaders, make officers men are glad to die for." Men who enlist now have a chance to see action in France by Oct 1, especially those in the signal battalion.

Recruits are sent for training from here to Paris Island S.C. The Marine officers' training camp is in Quantico, Va. Men between 18 and 21 may enlist without consent of parents or guardians. Men within draft age may enlist by getting certificates from their draft boards."
Note: The above is taken from Vol.1, No.1, Marine Corps Recruiting In The World War 1917-1918, Scuttlebutt & Small Chow Quarterly. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When the question of battle cries in the World War came to my attention recently, I decided to follow up on this by researching several good books on Marine Corps history, and specifically WW I books--for example, George B. Clark's book, Devil Dogs, Fighting Marines of World War I, 1999, Presidio Press, and US Marine Corps In World War I -1917-1918, Henry/Pavlovic, Osprey, 1999, etc.

I also consulted Internet E-Mail Discussion Lists on WW I, and Military History. These Lists are very good for researching military topics. Most Listmembers are professional historians of one kind or another, published authors, etc., all with a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of military history subjects. And the List Archives is a readymade treasure-trove of information.

Some interesting information gleaned from the above sources have revealed to me the following. That Australian units in WW I were said to have marched into battle singing, "The Wizard of Oz" and/or "South of the Border." But, others have commented that there is little truth in such reports.

That it is thought by some that there might be some connection between the famous "Rebel Yell" of Civil War days, and the E-E-E-Yah-Yip of WW I Marines. Still others make mention of the HooRah/HooRay of Union troops in the Civil War. Not overlooked, is the fact that much of our ideas on battle cries is manufactured by Hollywood, and not by actual evidence and facts.

Some of the above sources do show that examination of hundreds of WW I battle accounts by professional historians, indicate that E-E-E-YAH-YIP was used with some frequency by Marines, and had been taught during Marine Corps training. Also noted is that the Army appeared not to have any generalized battle cry.

Incidentally, it very well may be that it is open to interpretation as to whether or not a term is a battle cry or a slogan. Consider the following from Leon Uris' Battle Cry, page 3...
"At Chateau-Thierry, when allied lines were collapsing, the story goes that one of our officers yelled: 'Retreat, Hell! We just got here!' Maybe you've seen that expression in the history books along with some of our other battle cries" (But this is another story, also on my list for a webpage. -GyG)

In any case, I think we can be assured that the Marine Corps did use this battle cry--some refer to it as a "War Cry." The fact of the Marine Corps recruiting posters alone, shown on this site, would also support the above findings. "Over The Top" is also frequently mentioned in the above sources.

But, as Mr. Omanson points out, the origin itself of this term is still elusive and unknown. I would like to obtain information regarding the origin of the term, as well as its use in the Marine Corps. The fact of this website's presence on the Internet now may elicit additional information from others interested in this subject.

Note: See also, my "Origin and Evolution of OohRah," on GyG's Old Salt Marines Tavern, below.

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by R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
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