HISTORY OF THE U.S. SECOND CORPS
107THNEWLOGO by Matthew A. Maringola
Graphic Artist. The stylized 27 in the center of the patch also  forms the letters N.Y. in recognition of the unit's nickname, The New York Division. The seven stars are from the constellation Orion in honor of the 27th Division's commander John F. O'Ryan

 AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES WITH THE BRITISH


SECOND CORPS

On January 10, 1918, the British requested that American battalions be brought over to France for service in British divisions. England agreed not only to furnish supplies for these troops, but also to undertake to provide sufficient commercial shipping to assure the transport of the American battalions to France, without interference with our own program. The condition was that these American battalions serve in British divisions for a minimum period of four or five months. It was agreed, however, that the period of training with the British cover a period of about 10 weeks. For purposes of supervising the demonstration and training of the divisions involved, the Second Corps staff was created on March 19, 1918, without, at first, a commanding general.1, 2

Several months passed before the arrival of the divisions, during which time the corps headquarters staff made all necessary preliminary arrangements for their reception, assignment to training areas, their training, billeting, etc. In the late spring of 1918, the designated divisions, less Artillery, began to arrive and continued to do so throughout the summer, the Infantry of the following divisions constituting, at one time or another, the Second Corps: 77th, 35th, 28th, 4th, 82d, 33d, 30th, 78th, 27th, and 80th.8, 1

On arrival in France, the Artillery and part of the personnel of the sanitary trains of these divisions were diverted to various points with the American Expeditionary Forces other than in the British area. Each of the divisions in the Second Corps was assigned to a section back of the British front, and immediately began a course of training, preparatory to taking its place in line.4

About the middle of August, the 33d, 78th, and 80th Divisions, which had belonged to the Second Corps, and were in training in various localities on the British front, were withdrawn, leaving with the corps the 27th and 30th Divisions, which were attached to the British Second Army in Flanders. These two divisions, having completed their phase "B" training, as set forth in the program of training for American divisions serving with the British, were put in the line as divisions; the 30th on August 19, with the British Second Corps, and the 27th, on August 23, with the British Nineteenth Corps. The 30th Division was on the right of the Second Corps and the 27th on the left of the Nineteenth Corps, and the two divisions were side by side in what were known as the Canal and Dickebush sectors.4

Arrangements were made between our Second Corps headquarters and the headquarters of the British Second Army, whereby a new corps sector was to be formed out of the two above-named sectors, to be taken over by the Second Corps. The necessary divisional Artillery and corps troops were turned over by the British, and all the orders were issued for the passing of the command at 6 p. m. on August 30, 1918. However, at 5 p. m. on that date orders were received from British general headquarters withdrawing the Second Corps from the British Second Army, and placing it in British general headquarters reserve, in the vicinity of Doullens. Consequently, although the two divisions functioned as such in the line for about two weeks and took part in the operation in which the enemy lost Mount Kemmel and the high ground in its vicinity, the corps did not actually function in active operations in the British Second Army.4

From September 3 to September 22 the Second Corps formed part of the British general headquarters reserve. It occupied training areas in the vicinity of Doullens, with corps headquarters at Beauval. While here information was received from British general headquarters that the corps would be used later in operations then in contemplation, and the prescribed program of training was entered upon with this end in view.4

On September 20 the Second Corps was released from general headquarters reserve and was transferred to the British Fourth Army, with a view to its employment in contemplated operations against the Hindenburg line east of Peronne. The movement took place during the period of September 22-24.4

On the night of September 23-24 the 30th Division relieved the Australian 1st Division, in the line west of Bellicourt, taking over what was known as the Nauroy sector, a front of approximately 3.3 km. (2.1 miles). In the sector taken over by the 30th Division, the British had, during recent operations, captured most of the advanced trench system which ran about 910 meters (1,000 yards) west of the main Hindenburg line. The front line of the division, accordingly, occupied approximately what had been known as the Hindenburg outpost line. The division was disposed with the 59th Brigade holding the sector and the 60th Brigade in divisional reserve.4

On the night of September 24-25 the 27th Division relieved the British 18th and 74th Divisions in the line, taking over what was known as the Gouy sector, a front of approximately 4 km. (2.5 miles), connecting with the 30th Division on its right. On this front the British divisions had never succeeded in gaining the advanced defenses of the Hindenburg system. These defenses were particularly strong and comprised three very troublesome strong points, known as the Knoll, Quennemont farm, and Guillemont farm. The front line of the 27th Division occupied approximately the old British front-line trenches, which was very close to the Hindenburg outpost line. The line was taken over by the 53d Brigade; the 54th Brigade was held in divisional reserve.4

Opposite the sector occupied by the corps, the country was gently rolling and open, with a fairly well-defined ridge running from near Vendhuile at the northern limit of the sector, to Bellicourt, near the southern limit. This ridge roughly paralleled our front line at a distance of 1.76 km. (1.1 miles). Through it, longitudinally, the Cambrai—St. Quentin canal passed, by means of a deep tunnel, generally known as the Bellicourt tunnel. The main Hindenburg line, consisting of a complicated system of trenches, heavily wired, ran along this ridge, 182 to 364 meters (200 to 400 yards) west of the tunnel, which passed under the eastern slope of the ridge. The tunnel added tremendously to the natural strength of the position.4

To break this strong portion of the German line, it was necessary to utilize every available means of inflicting loss on the enemy and of breaking up his defensive arrangements. In order that the attack might be carried on by fresh troops, after the line had once been penetrated, the Australian corps was affiliated with the Second Corps, for the attack. The Second Corps, having no American artillery assigned to it, the entire operation was supported by British and Australian artillery.4

The plan of the corps attack was, briefly, to carry the bridges of the canal, if possible, and to gain objectives on the east thereof. As soon as the 30th and 27th Divisions had reached their objectives, the Australian 5th Division, on the right, and the Australian 3d Division on the left, were to pass through the 30th and 27th Divisions, respectively, and to continue the advance to a line which included the towns of Beaurevoir and Wiancourt.4

The main attack was to be preceded by a preliminary operation for the purpose of advancing the line of departure to the outpost line of the Hindenburg defenses. The 30th Division, upon its entry into line, had partially occupied the outpost position, but the 27th Division was still to the west of it.5

The objective was the rearmost trench of the Hindenburg outpost line, to gain which would require an advance of about 1,100 yards from the line already occupied by the 27th Division.5

The advance started at 5.30 a. m. September 27. There was hard fighting, which lasted all day. The Infantry seemed to have advanced in places to the objective, but the strong points at the Knoll and Guillemont and Quennemont farms were not taken, and German counterattacks forced the withdrawal of those fragments that had reached the objective, except on the extreme right, where groups held on and were connected with the left flank of the 30th Division. The fighting died down during the afternoon and evening, and during the night the 27th Division front line was established at approximately the position it occupied prior to September 27.5

In preparation for the main operation, each division, on the night of September 27-28, relieved the brigade in line by the brigade which had been in reserve.4 The main attack started at 5.50 a. m. September 29. The morning was very foggy. This fog, mixed with the smoke of the barrage, made it extremely difficult to see more than a few feet in any direction. Almost from the start, the Infantry and tanks experienced great difficulty in maintaining direction and contact. In the right division sector of the Second Corps, the advance was made against heavy resistance, without serious mishap. On the afternoon of September 29, the 30th Division, being approximately on its objective, the Australian 5th Division passed through it, as had been planned. At this time, the 117th Infantry, on the right, was approximately on its objective, facing southeast, and in touch with the British 46th Division, to the right. The 120th Infantry was in Nauroy. In the left division sector, grave difficulties were encountered from the start. Apparently expecting the attack in this sector, the enemy pushed out strong parties through the underground passages, communication trenches, and ravines, and succeeded in getting considerable forces on our side of the barrage line. The advance was opposed by heavy machine-gun fire along the whole front. The right of the line in this sector succeeded in getting forward to the edge of Bony, in the main Hindenburg line. Along other parts of the line elements pressed forward, in spite of the heavy opposition, and detached groups reached their objectives at various points throughout its extent. Quennemont farm and various other strong points held out. Elements which had passed through the main point of resistance thus found themselves between two fires. The Australian 3d Division, which had been designated to pass through the 27th Division, assisted and supported that division through the latter part of the advance.4

From October 1 to 5 the Australian corps improved the position obtained as the result of the attack on the Hindenburg line, and advanced to a line running from Montbrehain northwest to Beaurevoir. On the night of October 5-6 the Second Corps relieved the Australian corps, which was then withdrawn to a back area, and the command of the corps sector passed to the commanding general, American Second Corps, at 9 a. m., October 6.4

On October 8, at 5.15 a. m., an attack was launched along the entire army front, with the object, as far as concerned the Second Corps, of capturing Brancourt and Premont and advancing the line a distance of about 5.5 km. (3.44 miles).4 The 30th Division attacked; the 27th Division was corps reserve.

The fighting was severe, but the normal objective was gained by 10 a. m. and the contingent objective by evening. The progress of the British divisions on the flanks was slower than that of the 30th, whose task thus was rendered more difficult by flank fire.5

The success of the day’s work may be ascribed in part to the fact that the Germans had already decided upon a general retreat on this front and were fighting merely a rear-guard action.5

On October 9, at 5.20 a. m., the attack was resumed, and in the afternoon the towns of Busigny and Becquigny were captured.4

On October 10, at 5.30 a. m., the attack began again, to secure the Selle River and the high ground beyond. The country at this point was thickly scattered with villages, farms, and woods, and the enemy took full advantage by its very effective use of machine guns. The 119th Infantry, however, captured Escaufort and St. Souplet, and with the British, St. Benin, in the face of heavy fire.4 The 120th Infantry took Vaux-Andigny, but the British Ninth Corps on its right got only as far as the west edge of the Bois de Riquerval. The 120th, being then exposed to fire from the south and southeast, was compelled to refuse its right along the railway south of Vaux, and was unable to reach its objective, the village of Molain and the Selle River.5

On the following day the attack proceeded. Stubborn resistance was still encountered, as during the day before, but on the right, the town of La Haie Menneresse was taken by assault, and the line advanced there about 910 meters (1,000 yards). The left sector remained stationary. On the night of October 11-12 the 30th Division, which had been continuously attacking since October 7, and had advanced over 13.6 km. (8.5 miles) on a 6.3-km. (3.9-mile) front, was relieved by the 27th Division. The 30th Division was withdrawn to the vicinity of Premont and Butry Wood, where it remained in support for five days.4

On the night of October 15-16 the 30th Division took over the right half of the sector from the 27th Division,4 on a line that was practically the same as that turned over by it five days earlier. These five days had been utilized by the corps in consolidating the strength of captured territory, over which it had advanced, and in preparing for the next attack, which was scheduled by the British Fourth Army to open on October 17.4

On October 17 the British Fourth Army attacked along its whole front. The Second Corps attacked with the 27th and 30th Divisions in line, the attack beginning at 5.20 a. m. Vigorous resistance, assisted by the natural defenses of the terrain, was met from the start. Part of the line of departure of the 27th Division ran through the partly destroyed village of St. Souplet, where even unimpeded progress would have been slow. The attacking troops, therefore, fell behind their barrage and suffered for lack of its assistance in clearing the machine-gun nest on the ridge just beyond. A thick fog made observation very poor during the morning. When the advance regiments of the 27th Division reached the line just west of Le Cateau—Arbre Guernon road, they were too far in front of both flank divisions to permit continuing on until these came up. Consequently the division halted on this line. After capturing the villages of St. Martin Riviere and Molain, the progress of the 30th Division was very slow. The task of the 30th Division was made particularly difficult due to the necessity of forming a defensive flank to maintain touch with the British division on its right, which was experiencing the same difficulty still farther to its right. As a result of the day’s fighting, the line was advanced 3.6 km. (2.2 miles).4

On the 18th a late start was made because of the necessity of maintaining contact with the divisions on the right. The terrain was especially difficult, containing the strong positions of Ribeauville, Ecaillon, and Mazinghien. The first two of these towns were captured before nightfall; and after an advance of about 1.3 km. (1,500 yards), halted in a position encircling the town of Mazinghien. On the morning of October 19 the 30th Division made a determined attack at 5.30 a. m., and took the town of Mazinghien by assault, pressing vigorously on to La Haie Tonnoile farm, a distance of nearly 2.7 km. (2.1 miles). The objective for this day’s attack was the high ground overlooking Sambre a l’Oise canal, and by night the west slope of this ridge had been reached all along the divisional front.4

Meanwhile the 27th Division had pushed out strong patrols, behind which the line advanced slowly to the next ridge. Here the strong point of Jonquieres was captured at 10 a. m., giving the 27th Division complete command of the high ground, while patrols advanced across the St. Maurice River. The ridge beyond, behind which lay Le Catillon, was strongly fortified by machine guns. This was the situation by nightfall, October 19. The commanding ground overlooking Catillon and the Sambre canal had been reached and a pause on this part of the front was ordered, pending movements on other parts. Both the 27th and 30th Divisions had been strongly attacking, with but little rest, since September 29. Their losses had been heavy, and no replacements had been received. The army commander therefore gave instructions for the withdrawal of the corps for a period of rest, refitting, and assimilating of replacements which were then en route. This period was to last from two to three weeks. The 30th Division was relieved on the night of October 19-20, and the 27th Division on the night of October 20-21, the corps sector being taken over by the British Ninth and Thirteenth Corps.4

MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES

Upon the arrival of each division surgeon in the corps area, the corps surgeon immediately met him and gave him the training schedule which previously had been prepared. Arrangements had already been made with the director general, medical services, British Expeditionary Forces in France, for the assignment of an officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps to the staff of each American division, as liaison officer, and when the divisions arrived, these officers reported and subsequently assisted in many ways.5

The corps surgeon had the following officers on his staff: One consultant in surgery, one consultant in medicine, and an assistant in charge of clerical work and the office force.5

Complete records were kept of the medical, dental, and veterinary officers, with a station list. Frequent reports of venereal diseases and sick and wounded reports were required, and copies of correspondence originating in and passing through the corps surgeon’s office were filed. In addition, reports and returns were required by the chief surgeon, American Expeditionary Forces, as well as certain reports and returns to the director general, medical services, British Expeditionary Forces in England. The latter were simple in nature and few in number.5

After the arrival in France of the divisions constituting the Second Corps, the first and most important duty of the corps surgeon was completion of the training of divisional medical officers and of the enlisted men of the sanitary units and detachments. The program of training for American divisions serving with the British, issued by General Headquarters, American Expeditionary Forces, was strictly adhered to. Prior to the arrival of the 77th Division, the first division to report to the Second corps, preliminary arrangements had been made, after a conference with the director general, medical services, British Expeditionary Forces. These included the detail of British officers to the divisions which have been mentioned, and provision was made that two British field ambulances be assigned to each division, especially for training purposes, but also to be used in caring for and transporting sick and wounded during the training period. These replaced the division stationary trains which were diverted elsewhere.5

During the summer of 1918 the Medical Department of the Second Corps entered energetically into work intended to render its personnel thoroughly familiar with conditions on the British section of the Western Front. This, the final stage of their training, consisted of daily drills; demonstrations of sanitary arrangements in the field and in the trenches; frequent conferences of division medical officers; "talks" by experienced American and British medical officers concerning the various problems confronting sanitary troops on the Western Front. The lectures and practical demonstrations covered especially prevailing diseases and their prevention, including trench fever and trench foot, the application of splints, treatment of gassed cases, methods employed for transporting the wounded, and selection and operation of lines of evacuation, treatment of water for drinking purposes, and kindred subjects. This course was followed by visits to the front, both by medical officers and enlisted men. British and American officers and men worked in perfect harmony to secure the best possible results from the training and to complete it at as early a date as possible. At this time, the duties of the corps surgeon consisted mainly of frequent visits to divisional areas, general supervision of sanitary conditions, conferences with the division medical officers, and oversight of the records and reports required.5

Upon arrival of an American division in the British area, all our Medical Department material and equipment, except the personal equipment of officers and men, was turned in for storage, and British equipment and medical supplies were issued in its stead. These supplies were obtained from the nearest British field medical supply depot, on requisition approved by the division surgeon.5

All Medical Department transportation was also furnished by the British. In some instances, this transportation, especially the motor ambulances, was found to be old, worn, and unserviceable, as most of it had been in constant use for a long time. During the training period, however, it answered the purpose.5

Some complaint was made by the personnel of American divisions, soon after their arrival, concerning rations furnished by the British. In point of fact, complaints were due probably to the change from living in well-constructed cantonments in the United States, where there were excellent cooking arrangements and a generous ration, to field conditions and a ration figured down to the lowest point to meet actual requirements. After becoming adjusted to the new conditions and having coffee substituted for tea (which was at first furnished by the British) no further complaints were received, and the men showed by their appearance that the ration supply was ample and suitable.5

THE 27TH DIVISION

During June, 1918, the 27th Division (less Artillery and most of its train), was attached for training to British troops in Belgium. On July 9, after having been attached to the British Nineteenth Corps, the division was assigned to the defense of the east Poperinghe line, the second line of defense in the Dickebush and Scherpenberg sectors, on a front of approximately 3.6 km. (2.2 miles). At that time, enemy forces operating in Flanders comprised a group of armies which it was known were to attack to the north part of the Lys salient, in the vicinity of Mount Kemmel, for the purpose of driving through to the sea, gaining the channel ports, and cutting the allied army in two.6

The position of the division was under direct observation from Mount Kemmel, and casualties were caused almost daily by enemy shell fire. While holding the line, troops of the division continued the training required by General Headquarters, American Expeditionary Forces. The division was assigned to the American Second Corps, but at this time the only control exercised by the Second Corps was in training and instruction.6

On August 23 the division relieved the British 6th Division in the front line of the Dickebush sector, on a front of 3.1 km. (1.9 miles) at Dickebush Lake. From here, on August 31, the division attacked in the Ypres-Lys operation, and on that date and the following two days advanced its line about 1.8 km. (1.1 miles).6

On the night of September 2-3 the division turned over its new line to the British 41st Division, and on the 3d it moved to the Winnezeele area. It was transferred from the British Second Army to the British Third Army; and on September 4-5 entrained for an area near Doullens. On September 4 division headquarters was established at Beauquesne, and the division was billeted for training in the surrounding area, being transferred from the British Third Army to British General Headquarters reserve. Here the division remained until September 22.7

On September 23-24 the division moved by rail and by road from the Beauquesne training area to the vicinity of Tincourt, having been transferred from the British General Headquarters reserve to the British Fourth Army. On the night of September 24-25 it relieved the British 18th and 74th Divisions in the front line. The line taken over ran generally north and south on the east of Ronssoy, and extended from the vicinity of Le Tombois farm to Malakoff farm. The support line was approximately a north and south line through the eastern outskirts of Ronssoy.7

The line taken over faced, at about 910 meters (1,000 yards), the outer defenses of the main Hindenburg system, to the west of Bellicourt tunnel, the division holding a 4-km. (2.5-mile) front.7

The enemy held several strong points and outposts close to our line and had repulsed previous attempts to take them. The main features of this outer line were its strong positions situated on the high ground opposite the division’s right sector and left, called, respectively, Quennemont farm, Guillemont farm, and the Knoll. From this outer line the terrain sloped down toward the main Hindenburg line, about 1.3 km. (1,500 yards) to the east, rising again at Bony, which was included in the enemy defensive system.7

An attack on the main Hindenburg line being contemplated, it was decided by the commander of the British Fourth Army that a preliminary operation was necessary in order to occupy the outer line of defenses, including the Knoll, and Guillemont and Quennemont farms, from which to launch the main attack. The line taken over by the 30th Division on the right was farther advanced than was that of the 27th, and included much of the outer lines of defenses. The line held by the British 12th Division on the left dropped back in a northwesterly direction, giving the 27th little support, and leaving Vendhuile (strongly occupied) free to threaten the left of any advance made by the 27th.7

On September 27 the division, 53d Brigade in line, attacked in the preliminary operation, its objective being the rearmost trenches of the outer line of the Hindenburg system, at a distance of about 1 km. (1,100 yards) from the line occupied by our troops. Throughout the day there were attacks and counterattacks, and on the night of September 27-28, when the 54th Brigade relieved the 53d Brigade, in the front line, the position taken over was practically the old front line held previous to September 27.7

On September 28 preparations were made for the main attack to take place on the following day. On the 29th, the 54th Brigade advanced. On the extreme left, opposition was met with from the start, the enemy holding outposts quite close to our line. The right regiment advanced during the day, an average depth of about 2 km. (1.2 miles). On the left, the troops advanced to a position on a line just east of the Knoll. The division line, on the evening of September 29, was approximately as follows: From the Knoll south to the west of Guillemont farm, thence southeastwardly to the Hindenburg line, and along this line to the division limits.7

On September 30 the troops of the division in the rear line remained in support during the day in the same position as that occupied on the evening of September 29. Under an arrangement with the Australian 3d Division, which had taken over the front line on the night of September 29-30, those portions of the 27th Division which were on the front lines moved forward with the Australian division and continued the attack during the 30th, completing the capture of the Hindenburg line in the right regimental sector, capturing the Hindenburg line in the left regimental sector, and capturing Bony, the possession of which place was not completely gained until the following day.7

Upon its relief from the lines, the 27th Division moved to the Peronne area. On the right of October 11-12 the 54th Infantry Brigade relieved units of the 30th Division in the front line. The 53d Infantry Brigade moved up, in support, to camps west and northwest of Busigny. The line taken over from the 30th Division was about 7,800 meters (8,500 yards) long, on the west bank of the Selle, extending from the village of St. Benin on the north to the south of St. Souplet, thence extending westward somewhat to and around the eastern outskirts of Vaux-Andigny. On the night of October 14-15 the division front was reduced to about 7.7 km. (4.7 miles), the British 6th Division taking over a portion of the line on the south, and the British 50th Division a portion of the line on the north. Preparatory to an offensive operation to commence on October 17 this line was still further reduced on the night of October 15-16, the 30th Division taking over that portion which extended southwardly from just north of St. Martin-Riviere. The 53d Infantry Brigade relieved the 54th Infantry Brigade on the southern part of the division sector. This placed the Infantry brigades of the division on the front side by side, each holding a frontage of about 1,820 meters (2,000 yards). The enemy was holding a line on the east bank of the Selle River as far south as St. Souplet.6, 7, 8

On October 17 the division, as a part of the American Second Corps, and in connection with the general British advance, attacked in the direction of Catillon. There was a very heavy fog in the morning of the attack, and this, combined with the smoke from the barrage, rendered it impossible to see except for very short distances. The advance was difficult from the start, both on account of the difficulty of observation and the terrain, which had to be covered immediately troops moved forward. The village of Arbre de Guise (Guernon), Advantage farm, the line of the main highway, Joncq de Mer ridge, Baudival farm, and many points along the ridges and railway embankments were found to be strongly held by the enemy with machine-gun nests and infantry. At nightfall, the left of the line was approximately along the ridge 227 meters (250 yards) west of Le Cateau—Wassigny road. In the right brigade sector the line was continued forward which reached the road north of Advantage farm, and passed along to and around the eastern outskirts of Arbre de Guise to the boundary of the divisional sector, where it connected up with the 30th Division.7, 8

On October 18 the troops advanced at 5.30 a. m. In the right brigade sector the troops met with enemy machine-gun fire from many hedges along the ridge about 455 meters (500 yards) east of the departure line, and enfilade fire from the sector of the division on the right. This delayed the attack on the right, but in the afternoon the line was advanced to the ridge east of Arbre de Guise. In the left brigade sector no serious resistance was encountered until the line Joncq de Mer farm—La Roue farm was reached.7

During the night October 18-19 the line moved forward across the Joncq de Mer valley and seized the river west of the St. Maurice valley with very little resistance except from La Jonquiere farm, and because of it, the troops entrenched on the eastern crest of the Jonquiere farm ridge, where it remained in position during October 20. On the latter date arrangements were made for the relief of the division, and on the night of October 20-21 the British 6th Division marched in and relieved the 27th, after which the 27th Division moved to the vicinity of St. Souplet and Busigny. During October 21, 22, 23 the division marched back to the Roisel and Tincourt areas, where, on October 23-24, the troops entrained for the Corbie area.7

MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES

While the division was encamped in the Somme area, it turned in all medical property not carried by the personnel individually, and gradually received corresponding British equipment in its stead. This included water carts, with sterilizing apparatus, in whose use attendants were instructed by the 2/2 East Lancashire Field Ambulance of the British 66th Division. In the British service the field ambulance comprised a field hospital and an ambulance company combined. The divisional medical service was soon reinforced by another British unit, viz, 2/1 East Lancashire Field Ambulance, and for instruction American medical officers were assigned to both these organizations. For the same purpose, British officers gave lectures daily to all medical officers of the 27th Division, and a few of the latter were assigned to field ambulances serving the battle line.9 During the time from July 9 to July 31 the 2/2 East Lancashire Field Ambulance established a main dressing station (equivalent to our field hospital) at Trappistes Ferme and a smaller collection station at Oudezeele, and collected all the sick and wounded from this area, transporting the mild cases to the division rest station operated by the 2/1 East Lancashire Field Ambulance at Arneke and more serious ones to casualty clearing station, Canadian No. 2, and ambulance clearing station, Australian No. 1, at Esquelbeck. These organizations were British analogues of our evacuation hospitals.10 The division was under shell fire here, and a number of battle casualties occurred. On July 31 Field Hospitals No. 105 and No. 106 and Ambulance Company No. 106 of the 102d Sanitary Train joined the division, the first of the divisional medical units to rejoin in France. Field Hospital No. 105 was stationed at Oudezeele, Field Hospital No. 106 at Arneke, and Ambulance Company No. 106 at Trappistes Ferme.10

On August 20, in anticipation of occupation of a sector of the battle line by the 27th Division, the 2/2 East Lancashire Field Ambulance and Field Hospital No. 105 were ordered to take over the main dressing station at Remy siding, then operated by the 17th Field Ambulance, of the 6th British Division, while the 2/1 Field Ambulance, in the forward area, took over advance dressing stations at Long Barn (right flank) and at St. Dunstan (left flank). This relief was to be completed August 23-24.11 The personnel of the latter unit was supplemented by Ambulance Companies No. 106 and No. 107, which had reported to the division August 22, and by the bearer section of 2/2 East Lancashire Field Ambulance. A collecting station for slightly wounded was organized at Burre barn, whence casualties were evacuated on a 1-meter railway to the main dressing station at Remy siding. At Trappistes Ferme, Field Hospital No. 106 operated a sick collecting post during the interval August 24 to September 3, receiving sick from all units not in the front line. It held the minor cases, but sent others to the casualty clearing stations at Esquelbeck.11

The advance dressing station at Long Barn occupied shell-proof elephant shelters, reinforced with sandbags. This station received patients by hand or wheel stretcher carry from nine regimental and battalion aid posts and evacuated by motor ambulance to the main dressing station at Remy siding—a distance of 7 km. (4.3 miles). The total number treated at this post was 335 Americans and 89 British.11

The advance dressing station at St. Dunstan occupied two reinforced elephant shelters and one dugout, all constructed in old buildings. The 221 patients received at this station from two battalion aid posts were evacuated over a 12-km. (7.1-mile) route to the main dressing station at Remy siding.12

On August 27 the entire medical, surgical, and ordnance equipment of the 2/1 and the 2/2 East Lancashire Field Ambulances were ordered by the Second British Army transferred to the 102d Sanitary Train, and the British organizations were relieved from the 27th Division.12

The transport so taken over by 102d Sanitary Train consisted of 4 Ford, 9 Daimler, and 6 horse-drawn ambulances; their condition was such that under constant use they were unable to stand the strain. By September 2 the ambulances frequently had to be sent to the shop for repairs, and at times only 7 or 8 of them were in commission. From August 24 to September 30 the sanitary train was reinforced by three ambulances from a neighboring British unit. During this period two ambulances were damaged by shell fire.12

After the relief of the 2/1 and 2/2 East Lancashire Field Ambulances the ambulance company personnel of the forward area consisted of 9 officers and 168 men of Ambulance Companies No. 106 and No. 107.12

The British 133d Field Ambulance, which reported for duty with the division on August 20, 1918, operated the divisional rest station at Arneke until, on September 1, it was relieved from this duty, then taking over the divisional rest station at Hilhoek from the British 16th Field Ambulance of the 6th Division.13

On August 31, on the advance of the 27th Division to York road, and on subsequent advances of September 1 and 2, the advanced dressing stations were held in their original positions at Long Barn and St. Dunstan, while advanced car posts were pushed up the Ouderdom-Vierstraat and Hallebast-Vijverhoek road. A car post was established behind a brick house in the outskirts of St. Hubert-Ushoek, some 364 meters (400 yards) from Hallebast Corners and about 1.8 km. (1.1 miles) from the advance dressing station. Ambulances were stationed here until a sufficient number of cases to warrant their removal were assembled at a collecting post established 1.2 km. (0.74 mile) forward, when a motor ambulance was speeded over the dangerous area to the collecting post. The American Red Cross was constantly in touch with the forward area, its division representative establishing a depot of supplies at the main dressing station at Remy siding and issuing to each battalion aid post a primus stove, cocoa, sugar, milk, cigarettes, tobacco, and extra blankets.13

On September 2 and 3 the sanitary train was relieved, and with the British Field Ambulance No. 133 marched to Proven, where all the organizations entrained for the Doullens area, arriving September 4. The 102d Sanitary Train, which now comprised Field Hospitals No. 105 and No. 106, and Ambulance Companies No. 106 and No. 107, was now billeted at Beauval, where the field hospitals established a division rest station for the sick returnable to duty within 14 days, sending the more serious cases to Casualty Clearing Station No. 21, several kilometers distant.14

While the division remained in this area, from September 4 to 22, its sanitary personnel participated further in intensive training. A problem covering and simulating the proposed attack on the Hindenburg line was carried out, in which the entire division participated.14

On September 25 Field Hospital No. 105 relieved the field ambulance company of the British 74th Division, which had been conducting a main dressing station at Driencourt, and Field Hospital No. 106 established itself at Longavesnes, where it converted two wooden buildings into dressing rooms and erected marquee tents as wards.14 The next day, Field Hospital No. 105 closed and moved to Villers-Faucon, where it began to receive patients at noon on the 27th. The advance dressing station was established by Ambulance Company No. 106, on the night of September 24, in some old buildings and dugouts at St. Emilie, the forward area being covered by Ambulance Companies No. 106 and No. 107, reinforced by the litter-bearer section of the 133d British Field Ambulance and 100 men of the 108th Infantry. The motor transport consisted of 3 Ford and 11 Daimler ambulances.14 The personnel of the advance dressing station was taxed to the limit of its endurance, and on the morning of the 28th was reinforced by the Australian 11th Field Ambulance.15 From this location walking wounded were carried by trucks to the corps walking wounded rail post just east of Villers-Faucon. During the main attack commenced on the 29th the motor transportation was reinforced by 10 Red Cross ambulances and an advanced car post was established at Ronsoy, whence cars were sent up to the front on the Ronsoy—Lempire—Bellicourt roads. Motor ambulances evacuated the main dressing station to the casualty clearing station at Tincourt and Doigt.15 On October 2, when the division was relieved, the sanitary train and Field Ambulance No. 133 marched to Courcelles, where they rested until October 8.16

October 10, an advance party of Field Hospital No. 106 proceeded to Montbrehain to take over the main dressing station at this point from the American 30th Division. The next day when orders were received for the 27th Division to take over the line from the American 30th Division, Field Hospital No. 105 prepared the schoolhouse at Premont for use as a main dressing station, and Field Hospital No. 106 opened an advance dressing station at Busigny. These arrangements continued until the morning of the 18th of October, when the advance through St. Souplet occurred.16 Use of a field hospital to operate the advance dressing station was due to the experience, on September 27, at St. Emilie, where it had been learned that two ambulance companies were unable to spare sufficient personnel to operate such a formation during a period when a great many casualties were arriving. Employment of a field hospital as an advance dressing station was also advantageous because this could be used later as a main dressing station if the main dressing station from the rear was "leapfrogged" beyond it.17

Ambulance Companies No. 106 and No. 107, the litter-bearer section of the British 133d Field Ambulance, with the motor and horse ambulances, evacuated the forward area. Transportation was again augmented by a loan of 10 American Red Cross ambulances.17

At the beginning of the battle of La Selle River, on October 17, the main dressing station at Premont was closed, the advanced dressing station was converted into a main dressing station, and the British 133d Field Ambulance opened an advance dressing station at Escaufourt, with the main car post at St. Souplet. This was later pushed across the river and railroad tracks to L’Arbre de Guise, and up to North Chimney and La Roue Ferme. On October 19 Field Hospital No. 105 opened an advance dressing station at St. Souplet, the British 133d Field Ambulance closing at Escaufourt.17

Evacuation of the forward area was effected promptly and completely each day by nightfall, as the nature of the terrain made it possible to push Ford ambulances up close to the rear of the advancing troops. Evacuation from the main dressing station to the casualty clearing station was very difficult, because of the long distance and the condition of the roads. The round trip, owing to the rapid advance of troops and the delay in advancing railhead and casualty clearing station, took from eight to nine hours. At first the convoy consisted of 40 ambulances from the British 37th Motor Ambulance Convoy, but upon the return of the American 30th Division, which took over half of the front line of the 27th Division on October 15-16, 20 ambulances were transferred to that organization. The ambulances remaining with the 27th Division proving inadequate, 22 were turned over to it by the corps and army. This reinforcement was adequate promptly to evacuate all the division’s casualties.17

The walking wounded were transported to the entraining point at Montbrehain, where a detail from Field Hospital No. 105 operated an entraining post. The division dental surgeon, with a detail from Field Hospital No. 105, operated a detraining point at Roisel whence the wounded were conducted across a badly torn-up field to waiting char bancs for evacuation to the casualty clearing station at Roisel, 1.5 km. (0.9 mile) distant.18

After the 27th Division was relieved by the British 6th Division and ordered to Corbie, Field Hospitals No. 106 and No. 107, which had reported for duty October 25, opened a division rest station at Fouilloy on October 26, and Field Hospital No. 105 opened a disinfesting and treatment station for scabies at Corbie. Field Hospital No. 108 had reported for duty with the division on October 15, but was held at Roisel until ordered to Corbie, October 24. Ambulance Companies No. 105 and No. 108 reported October 20, but were likewise held at Roisel until ordered to Corbie.18

THE 30TH DIVISION

On July 2, 3, and 4, 1918, the 30th Division moved to Belgium, under the British Second Army. For further training, units were brigaded with British divisions in the canal sector southwest of Ypres, from July 16 to August 17. On August 17-18 the division took over the canal sector from the British, holding its position until August 30. During the period August 31 to September 2 the division participated in the Ypres-Lys operation in the battle before Mount Kemmel. In this operation the division captured all its objectives, including Lock No. 8, Lankhof farm, and the city of Voornezeele, advancing 1,500 yards.19, 20

On September 4-5 the division was withdrawn from the canal sector and was placed in British General Headquarters reserve, with division headquarters at Roellecourt, France. While in this area, the entire division was trained in attacking in conjunction with British tanks.19

On September 17 the division was again moved farther south, with division headquarters at Herissant; and on September 22 was moved to the British Fourth Army, with division headquarters at Bois de Buire, near Tincourt, taking over a front line sector from the Australian 1st Division on the night of September 23-24.19

On September 29 the division, with the American 27th Division on the left and the British 46th Division on the right, assaulted the Hindenburg line, which at this time curved in front of the subterranean canal south of Bellicourt. The Infantry started off well from the line of departure, but had not progressed more than a few hundred yards before they began to experience difficulty in maintaining direction and contact. During the remainder of the morning the attack was carried on by more or less mixed groups which had been picked up along the whole front. Small groups of men, acting on their own initiative, would clear out troublesome machine-gun nests, or complete the capture of any trench encountered. The troops on the right, having the enemy only in their direct front to contend with, were able to make steady progress toward their objective. Troops on the left early encountered machine-gun fire from the sector on their left and were soon forced to form a defensive flank in that direction. On the afternoon of the 29th, at the time the Australian 5th Division passed through the 30th Division, the 117th Infantry, on the right, was approximately on their objective, facing southeast and in touch with the 46th Division, on their right; the 120th Infantry was in Nauroy, elements having gone beyond there and reached their objective, but having been forced to return on account of being out of touch with units on their flanks; the regiment in general occupied Le Catelet—Nauroy line. The 119th Infantry had its right on the Le Catelet—Nauroy line, but had been forced to bend its line back to the tunnel because of fire from the sector on its left. When the Australian 5th Division passed through the line held by the 30th Division, they were joined and assisted by various groups from the different regiments of the 30th Division. These groups remained with the Australian division and were withdrawn during the night September 29-30.20

On October 2, the division was moved back to the Herbecourt and Le Mesnil areas, presumably for rest and refitting. However, on October 5 it moved to the vicinity of Hargicourt and Templeux le Guerard, and on the night of October 5-6 its 59th Infantry Brigade relieved the Australian 5th Division in the line extending from Montbrehain northwest to near Beaurevoir.20

A formal attack having been ordered by the American Second Corps for October 8, the division advanced on a front of approximately 3.6 km. (2.2 miles), with two objectives, the first about 3.6 km. (2.27 miles) distant, including the town of Brancourt; and the second, about 2.2 km. (1.3 miles) beyond the first objective, including the town of Premont. By the end of the day both these towns had been captured and the line lay east of Premont.20

On October 9 the 59th Brigade attacked, its objective being about 4.5 km. (2.7 miles) distant. Having attained this, it was passed through during the afternoon by the 60th Brigade, whose objective was 1.8 km. (1.1 miles) beyond. This was attained on the afternoon of the same day.20

On October 10 the attack was renewed, the objective now being the high ground to the east of the Selle River, from St. Benin to Molain, both villages inclusive. This necessitated an advance of from 5 to 6 km. (3.1 to 3.7 miles) over very difficult terrain, including villages, farms, and woods.20 The 119th Infantry, by 12.50 p. m., had captured St. Souplet and St. Benin, the latter in conjunction with the British.

The 120th Infantry took Vaux Andigny, but the British Ninth Corps, on its right, got only as far as the west edge of the Bois de Riquerval. The 120th, being then exposed to fire from the south and southeast, was compelled to refuse its right along the railway south of Vaux, and was unable to reach its objective, the village of Molain and the Seille River.5

On October 11 the left of the line remained stationary, but on the right the town of la Haie Menneresse was taken, and the line in general was advanced about 910 meters (1,000 yards).20

On the night of October 11-12 the 30th Division was relieved by the 27th Division, and remained in support of that division until October 16.20

On the night of October 15-16, the 59th Brigade took over a portion of the line held by the 27th Division,5 the front being practically the same as that which had been turned over on the night of October 11-12. The front assigned to the 30th Division was only about 1.8 km. (1.1 miles) in extent, but included the towns of St. Martin-Riviere and Molain, both of which were strongly held; while the high ground on the east bank of the river was fortified by trenches and wire.20

On October 17 the 59th Brigade attacked, its objective being a line at about 5.4 km. (3.3 miles) in front. The Infantry and tanks moved off promptly at the prescribed time. Strong resistance was encountered, particularly from the towns above mentioned; this, together with some difficulty experienced in crossing the Selle River, made it impossible to keep up with the barrage. After losing the barrage, heavy enemy machine-gun and artillery fire rendered progress impossible without ruinous losses. The brigade therefore entrenched on a line at about 3.6 km. (2.2 miles) from the parallel of departure, and was here relieved by the 60th Brigade on the night of October 17-18.20

On October 18 the 60th Brigade attacked, its objective being the high ground commanding the Sambre canal. The terrain included in the attack presented many difficulties to an advance. The towns of Ribeauville, Ecaillon, Ribeaucourt, and Mazinghien furnished a series of natural centers of resistance, with mutual covering fire, while many hedges and woods were filled with machine-gun nests. Very stubborn resistance was encountered, especially from the above-mentioned towns; though the line was advanced some 1.8 km. (1.1 miles) on the right, it was bent back on the left above the town of Mazinghien, which offered exceptionally good opportunities for defense. This line held during the night October l8-19.20

On October 19 the attack was again made, the objective being again the high ground overlooking the Sambre canal. Again the attack met with severe resistance, especially from la Haie Tonnoile Ferme. All resistance, however, was finally overcome and the troops were practically on their objective when a halt was ordered to straighten out the division line preparatory to being relieved by the British 1st Division.

On the night of October 19-20 the relief was made, and the division moved back by easy stages to the Tincourt and Roisel areas.

On October 24 it entrained for the Guerrien training area, northeast of Amiens, where it remained until November 21.19, 20

MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES

On July 5 three field ambulances, Nos. 132, 133, 134, of the British 39th Division were attached to the 30th Division to care for its sick and wounded. Field Ambulance No. 133 was detached on August 16, 1918. The sanitary train of the division did not join until August 1, 1918, when Field Hospitals No. 118 and No. 119 and Ambulance Companies No. 118 and No. 119 reported.

In order to comply with the British Tables of Organization, the field hospitals and ambulance companies were combined on August 14 and designated Field Ambulances No. 118 and No. 119.21, b

On September 28 the following medical arrangements were made: Two aid posts were established in both the right and left sectors of the division, and back of these, in each sector, one ambulance loading post (collecting station). Advance dressing stations were established by the American Field Ambulance No. 119 at Jeancourt in the right sector and at Templeux le Guerard in the left. A station for walking wounded was also located at the latter point. The main dressing station was established by American Field Ambulance No. 118 and the divisional gas center by British Field Ambulance No. 132 at Marquaix. The ambulance dispatch post was located at Roisel. British Field Ambulance No. 134, in reserve, was to operate a temporary advance dressing station in the right sector. The bearer subdivisions of the American Field Ambulance No. 118 and the British Field Ambulance No. 132 were ordered to be relieved on call by the commanding officer of the American Field Ambulance No. 119, as were all ambulances and wheeled litters.21

Within one and a half hours after the barrage was let down at 5.30 a. m. the wounded began to come in rapidly, and soon the advance stations were working to full capacity. Large numbers of German prisoners were employed to bring in litter cases from the front lines. The walking wounded, after being dressed and receiving antitetanic serum, were sent by auto bus or truck to an entraining point on a light railway which carried them to within 1.6 km. (1 mile) of Tincourt, where a casualty clearing station was located. Congestion developed at the dressing stations, particularly at Jeancourt, but was overcome by obtaining additional ambulances. The casualty clearing stations nearest the field ambulances were soon filled to capacity, necessitating evacuation to others farther to the rear. Cases of abdominal and chest wounds were selected for immediate evacuation to the casualty clearing station. The average time necessary for the removal of these and other seriously wounded patients from the time their wounds were received until they reached the casualty clearing station, was approximately four and a half hours. In the 24 hours from 6 a. m. September 29 to 6 a. m. September 30, a total of 2,075 cases were evacuated, and the following day 1,265. Each medical formation replenished its supplies by informal requisition on the organization in its rear.21

On October 8 the advance dressing station was moved forward to Montbrehain and the American Field Ambulance No. 119 opened a main dressing station and degassing center at Joncourt, where American Field Ambulance No. 118 went into reserve.22 On October 9 the ambulance section of this company opened an advance dressing station at Busigny. The station for walking wounded was advanced to Bellicourt, where patients were entrained. Later the walking wounded were entrained at Joncourt. The American Field Ambulance No. 119 moved up to Montbrehain; the 132d (British) went into reserve. The walking-wounded station, conducted by the British Field Ambulance No. 134 was now advanced to Busigny.21 On October 10 a hospital for divisional sick was established at the main dressing station at Montbrehain and continued to receive patients after the division withdrew from the line on the night of October 11-12.21

When the division again reentered the line on the night of October 15-16, in the right of the Second Corps, the American Field Ambulance No. 118 established the advance dressing station at Busigny, where the British Field Ambulance No. 134 opened the post for walking wounded, evacuating by light railroad to the casualty clearing station at Templeux le Guerard. The main dressing station and gas center were established by the American Field Ambulance No. 119 at Montbrehain, and the British Field Ambulance No. 132 was in reserve.21 On October 17 the last-mentioned unit soon opened the main dressing station and gas center at Bohain, while that operated by the American Field Ambulance No. 119 cleared at Montbrehain and went into reserve at that place.21 On the 18th the American Field Ambulance No. 118 opened an advance dressing station at Molaine, and at the same time the station for walking wounded was brought forward from Busigny. The distance from the main dressing station at Bohain to the casualty clearing station at Templeux le Guerard was now so long that some difficulty occurred in clearing the former on the night of October 17-18.21 The following night the division was relieved and the sanitary train accompanied it to the Querrieu area, near Amiens. British Field Ambulances No. 132 and No. 134 were relieved from duty with the division on November 17.21

REFERENCES

(1) Report of assistant chief of staff, G-3, G. H. Q., July 2, 1919.

(2) G. O. No. 1, Second Corps, 1918.

(3) Journal of operations, Second Corps. Report of Medical Department activities, Second Corps, by Col. C. C. Collins, M. C., corps surgeon, undated. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(4) Report of operations, Second Corps, December 18, 1918.

(5) Report of Medical Department activities, Second Corps, A. E. F., by Col. C. C. Collins, M. C., corps surgeon, undated. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(6) Operations report, 27th Division, undated.

(7) Outlines of Histories of Divisions, U. S. Army, 1917-1919, prepared in the Historical Section, the Army War College. On file, Historical Section, the Army War College. 1700, (27th Division).

(8) Front line map, American battle monuments commission.

(9) Report of Medical Department activities, 27th Division, A. E. F., prepared under the direction of the division surgeon, undated, 2, 3. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(10) Ibid., 5.

(11) Ibid., 7.

(12) Ibid., 8.

(13) Ibid., 9.

(14) Ibid., 10.

(15) Ibid., 11.

(16) Ibid., 12.

(17) Ibid., 13.

(18) Ibid., 14.

(19) Outlines of Histories of Divisions, U. S. Army, 1917-1919, prepared in the Historical Section, the Army War College. On file, Historical Section, the Army War College, 1700 (30th Division).

(20) Operations reports, 30th Division, undated.

(21) War diaries, division surgeon’s office, 30th Division. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

SOURCE: THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY IN THE WORLD WAR
VOLUME VIII FIELD OPERATIONS

PREPARED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF

MAJ. GEN. M. W. IRELAND

The Surgeon General

by

COL. CHARLES LYNCH, M. C.
COL. JOSEPH H. FORD, M. C.
LIEUT. COL. FRANK W. WEED, M. C.

WASHINGTON :: GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE :: 1925

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BORROWED SOLDIERS
Americans under British Command, 1918 by Mitchell Yockelson

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