The transcript below is from a copy of an original document kindly sent to me by Colin Doane, son of Sergeant Francis Doane who served as a Lewis gun squad leader in "C" Company, 107th Infantry under Lieutenant Ralph Polk Buell. It appears to be the draft of Lt. Buell's after action report. For the action described in the report Lt. Buell was recommended for the Medal of Honor. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Lt. Buell was a veteran of the Spanish- American war and in civilian life was a lawyer in New York. He went on to become a Major in the 1920's and 30's. He died in 1946.
On the 29th of September, 1918, I was in command of "C" Company, 107th Infantry, A.E.F., and was the only officer present with the Company, my platoons each commanded by a sergeant.
Pursuant to orders of the Battalion Commander, my Company was to take off at 5:50 A.M. as the left flank company of the first wave, cover a front of four hundred yards and connecting with "B" Company of our Battalion on the right. "C" Company was therefore the left flank company of the regiment and of the 2d Corps, A.E.F.
By like orders, I formed my Company for the attack as follows: 2 platoons in first line, a single line of skirmishers at intervals of about 9 yards and 2 platoons in line of combat groups in support, and at a distance of 25 yards from the first line: company headquarters in center of the company, 10 yards to the rear of first line.
The direction of attack was given as 85 degrees magnetic. The commanding officer of "B" Company was directed to have a detail march on its right flank with a compass to keep this bearing, and I was directed to have a similar detail on my left flank. "B" Company was directed to guide right, and "C" Company to guide left.
My information was that a liaison company from the 54th Brigade, B.E.F., was to advance, keeping in touch with my left and that several tanks were to advance on my left as further support. As a result of reconnaisance made by the Commanding officer of "B" Company and myself on the 28th, and a discussion of the situation, we reached the conclusion that the liaison company would not make contact with me; that the tanks might not get up; and therefore my company would sag off to the left leaving a gap between "B" and "C", and which it was particularly important to avoid, by reason of the obsticles in our front.
We accordingly agreed that his left support platoon would take care of such a gap, my right support platoon would watch my centre, which would strike the worst part of the "knoll", and my left support platoon would watch my left flank and fill in the line if it thinned out too much or form a defensive flank if necessary.
As I expected to have to go to the left to keep things moving there, I instructed my non-coms not to guide on me in any event, or to stop if I stopped, but to follow the order I had given to guide left on the general line. We jumped off the tape at zero hour and went at a fast walk to catch up with the barrage, which came down about 1, 000 yards ahead of us. After we had gone about 200 yards I ran into two Germans in a sunken road, took them prisoners and sent them to the rear. As I had to threaten to shoot one of them, who showed fight, I necessarily stopped for perhaps a minute, and then I noticed that the men in my vicinity, regardless of my instructions, were stopping too, and that the line was regulating its pace on me and this became apparent because when I started forward, they started as well. After another short advance, I stopped to look around, and the same thing happened. I then realized that in order to keep the line going ahead, I would have to lead it; so I turned over my company headquarters to the 1st Sergeant, telling him to keep them in the designated position, and went out ahead of the Company, waving them to come on. We went on in this way for several hundred yards, meeting some opposition, which quickly dissipated as we opened fire on them. We then struck a barbed wire entanglement, and, probably because I struck it in the part where it was cut up, I managed to work through more quickly than the men in my immediate vicinity, and get out perhaps thirty yards ahead of the line. We were going up a gradual rise and the ground was very rough at this point. All of a sudden I saw in front of me a trench manned by three Germans with a machine gun, perhaps forty yards away and back of them, in an angle in the trench, a group of about fifteen more Germans, with what appeared to be two machine guns. The ground between us was being heavily swept by machine gun fire from the left, and the one gun in front of me was just commencing to fire to my left.
The Germans apparently had not seen me, as there was some haze. My first impulse was to drop down, let the line come up and flank this position; but I was afraid that my men might stop if I did, all along the line, and might also mistake my motive, lose their confidence in me, and with it much of their morale. So I decided that the best thing to do was to go right at it, hoping that if I could get through the enfillading fire the Germans would be disturbed by the show of force and quit. It took me perhaps half a minute to come to this conclusion, and I started to run toward the trench. Just at this time one of my men yelled to me "Look out, Lieutenant, it's a trap"! The Germans apparently heard this, because they turned in my direction. The man with the machine gun swept it around towards me and one of his companions covered me with his rifle. Seeing that I had no chance to get the post by myself, I shouted to the man nearest me "Tell them to charge". The Germans were apparently confused and made no effort to fire until I had gotten within twenty feet of them, when they opened up on me. I did not want to shoot until I was closer, but I found I would have to, so I took a shot at the man with the rifle and put him out of action. I later saw him dead in the trench. Just at this moment I was hit in the shoulder and nearly knocked off my feet. I did not realize that I was badly hit, and tried to keep going, taking several steps and bringing me probably ten feet away from the machine gun, which was spitting all the time, but for some unknown reason was not hitting me. I tried to shoot the gunner, but had apparently exhausted the clip in my automatic, for it would not go off, and as I was vomiting blood and apparently about to go down I tried to throw my automatic at the man, hoping to put him out of business. My recollection is that just as I got my arm back I spun around and went down on my back. I do not remember anything more until I came to a few minutes later, lying there with a very vigorous fight going on over me. In a few minutes my men managed to clean the position out and went on. My first Sergeant, Signal Corporal, Runner and one or two other men were killed at this point and some six men (including myself) were wounded. There were apparently some 15 Germans killed, and I do not know how many wounded.