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USA 131st Infantry Regiment, 33rd Division AEF


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#1 Charles Fair

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 09:42 PM

Hello all

I am researching the 47th Division in 1918 with regards to the learning curve. For a week in July it had a number of American troops attached from the 131st Infantry Regiment, 33rd Division AEF. This is what the 1/19th Londons War Diary says:

Millencourt 18/07/1918 Battalion in support. Quiet day. One platoon per company leave the Support Area under Capt ROBSON. This is to make room for four platoons of 20th Battalion in Left Front on account of company of 131st USA Regiment being sent to them for instruction. Casualties 1 OR (accidental)
Millencourt 19/07/1918 Battalion in support. Relieved 20th Battalion in Left Front. Relief complete by 9.15 pm. Company of 131st USA Regiment handed over by 20th Battalion. Casualties nil
Millencourt 20/07/1918 Battalion in support (less 1 company at Warloy). D Company 131st USA Regiment relieved by F Company 2nd Battalion USA Regiment. Casualties nil
Millencourt 21/07/1918 Battalion in support. One platoon of Americans attached to each company and posted to Battalion HQ. Quiet day. Casualties nil
Millencourt 22/07/1918 Battalion in support. Front line platoons of Americans relieved by Reserve line platoons. Gas projector discharge 12 midnight by Right Division. Casualties nil
Millencourt 23/07/1918 Battalion in line. F Company 2nd Battalion 131st Regiment USA troops relieved by K Company 3rd Battalion 131st USA Regiment. Relief complete 12.20 am. Fighting patrol sent out to obtain an identification. Result nil. Casualties 1 American (during relief)
Millencourt 24/07/1918 Battalion in line. Inter platoon relief of Americans. Orders for Brigade Relief received. Quiet day. Casualties 1 American (accidental)
Millencourt 25/07/1918 Relieved by 24th Battalion. Relief complete 11.20 pm. Americans also leave line. Raid at 3.45 am by 22nd Battalion London Regiment on left (2 prisoners and 1 MG). After relief Battalion returned to billets in Warloy. Casualties nil

Some companies of the 131st regiment had previously been into action at Le Hamel on 4 July when they were attached to the Australians.

I would be interested to know what the American perception of the 47th Division was. I have found the 33rd Division association website and downloaded a couple of pdfs, but these are only summaries. Are there any more detailed histories of the 131st or 33rd in existence?

I would be particularly interested in tracking down any personal accounts by men of the 131st that cover this week, whether published or not. Infantry in Battle (pub The Infantry Journal, 1934, Washington DC (see p. 162)) refers to a 'personal experience monograph' of Capt Carroll M Gale who commanded the 1st Battalion of the 131st Regiment during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Does anyone know if this was a published account, or might it exist in an archive somewhere?

Any suggestions gratefully received.

Charles

#2 Pete1052

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 10:45 PM

My step-grandfather served in the 17th London, which I believe was part of the 47th Division. According to my grandmother, he met his first Americans when they approached him when he was in a forward trench. The Americans wanted to know where they could take a bath--grandpa advised against the idea, which caused the Americans to get angry and argue with him. Grandpa told them where a creek was located, but warned them to be under cover when the daily German shelling took place, which with Teutonic precision happened at the same time of day every day. The Americans were bathing when the shelling took place and they were killed. After the war grandpa moved to Australia and later to San Francisco.

Also, the following Medal of Honor citation is from the U.S. Army Center of Military History:

ALLEX, JAKE

Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company H, 131st Infantry, 33d Division. Place and date: At Chipilly Ridge, France, 9 August 1918. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 13 July 1887, Prizren, Serbia. G.O. No.: 44, W.D., 1919. Citation: At a critical point in the action, when all the officers with his platoon had become casualties, Cpl. Allex took command of the platoon and led it forward until the advance was stopped by fire from a machine gun nest. He then advanced alone for about 30 yards in the face of intense fire and attacked the nest. With his bayonet he killed 5 of the enemy, and when it was broken, used the butt of his rifle, capturing 15 prisoners.

#3 4thGordons

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 12:15 AM

I have several histories of the 33rd "Prairie" Division (sometimes referred to as the Gold Cross Division because of their sign - a yellow cross on a black background)

I have:
"The Story of the 33rd Division" a 32page pamphlet reprinting the Chicago Daily News reports on the division from the front.
"The History of the 33rd Division AEF" F L Huidekoper Illinois State Historical Soc. 1921. This is a 3 volume work - I only have Vol II at home which concentrates on the 33rd Division and is @700pages long. I think it includes the operational orders for the period you are interested in although this volume does not deal with the 131st but it does have about 60pages on the action at Hamel on July 4th 1918 and another secton dealing with Gressaire Wood (Aug 9th). I have access to the other volumes but do not own them.
"Illinois in the World War" States Publication Society 1920 which is 650 pages long (again one volume of several - I only have this one) but it has 105 pages on the 131st Inf.

I might be able to find out if there was a 131st unit history written - I'll check. I will also contact the IL Historical society as if there is a copy they will likely have it.

EDIT EDIT I just checked there is, it is: The 131st U. S. Infantry [First Infantry Illinois National Guard] in the World War: Narrative - Operations - Statistics Sanborn, Colonel Joseph B. There are 4 copies on Abebooks but they are expensive - about $150-200 (75 to 100 pounds!) EDIT EDIT


If any of these would be of use I would be happy to scan sections in - although the whole 700 pages might be a stretch!
let me know.
there is also a 33rd Div collection in the Nat. Guard Museum here in Springfield and the new National WWI Museum in Kanasas city has a pretty good collection of unit histories and their archivist (Johnathan Casey) was very helpful.

I have been gathering material on the 33rd div. as my new "local" unit meaning to do something with it for some time so I would be happy to help if I can. PM me if interested in copies etc
Cheers
Chris

#4 4thGordons

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 12:31 AM

Just a follow up:

I thought I recognized Allex's name - he won the Congressional Medal of Honor, here is his picture along with Thomas Pope also 131st and also a CMH winner. Citations below





Chris

#5 4thGordons

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 12:39 AM

One last thing.
Map of operations on the Somme.


let me know if of interest and I will do a systematic search however a quick look through shows there are combat reports and operational orders for the actions on the Somme and there are quite a few mentions of british units (10th Londons)
Most of these are official or semi official.
I have access to a number of letters but I think most of them are from the 130Inf.

#6 Pete1052

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 05:17 AM

The official Australian history of the Great War contains chapters on the planning of the battle of Hamel and on the battle itself. Both chapters contain a considerable amount of information on the 131st U.S. Infantry's participation in the battle. The Australian Imperial Force in France during the Allied Offensive, 1918 by C.E.W. Bean can be found online by clicking here.

According to that official history:

From the moment when the Australians met the American forces they fraternised with a natural freedom hitherto seen only when they mingled with other dominion soldiers or with the Scots. Some wiseacres, acquainted with both peoples, had prophesied exciting times when the Americans would march in announcing that they had come to "win the war"; the Diggers expected something of this, and their hair rose to meet it, but they found no trace of it. From the time of the first visits paid by American officers to the front in 1917, their British and dominion comrades noted precisely the opposite quality--the modesty and restraint of their talk.

#7 Ron

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 07:14 AM

The 2nd Battalion of the 131st American Regiment was attached to the 'Poplars' in July 1918 who later replaced the 1st Battalion in line. See pages 146 to 148 of my book on the Poplars (17th Londons) available from the East London History Society.
Ron

#8 Pete1052

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 07:45 AM

Thanks for that piece of information, Ron. It appears to connect my grandfather's anecdote to the 131st U.S. Infantry, which is the type of information Charles is seeking. Unfortunately none of grandfather's war stories came down to me associated with any particular date or place. He died when I was a teenager, before I could ask him any serious questions about the war.

#9 charlesmessenger

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 10:10 AM

Charles

I possess the history of the 131st Regiment entitled The 131st Regiment in the Great War and compiled by its commander Colonel Joseph B Sanborn. It was privately published in Chicago in 1919 and includes first hand accounts, among them that by Capt Gale on the 10th October 1918 attack, as well as all written orders received and operational messages. It only mentions the attachment to 47th Division in passing. If there is anything you would like from it please let me know. I managed to get my copy through AbeBooks for the book on Amiens which I am writing.

Charles M

#10 Scotty

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 07:27 PM

Hello Chris,
Any chance of e-mailing me a copy of the Somme operations map at a higher resolution? It covers an area I'm interested in. Kind regards, Scott.

#11 Charles Fair

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 11:46 PM

Hello all

Thanks for many points raised, I will respond individually tomorrow night when I have more time. Meanwhile, here is one account from one of the men in the 1/19th, stretcher-bearer Frank Dunham. This quote is taken from his book 'The Long Carry' (pub Pergamon 1963)
QUOTE
Saturday 20 July 1918
Warloy-Baillon
An American Infantry Battalion arrived, who were attached to us for train¬ing in trench warfare. Dugout accommodation being limited, most of them were obliged to sleep in the open. Many of them, experiencing their first night in the trenches, thought it would be a boast to sleep on the parados of the front line, instead of inside it, and commenced the night by doing so. A few German salvoes of shells, in the early morning, however, disturbed their slumbers, and they quickly became as wise as us, in owning that the trench was the safest and best place.
This American Infantry Battalion belonged to the 33rd American Division, and we were soon on friendly terms, their Medical Officer, Lt. Hayes, who lived with us in our dugout, being very genial and pleasant. Our own M.O., Lt. C. Rowlands, being a Yank, they had much in common, and it was interesting to listen to their conversation. In the main, the Americans just arrived in France held the opinion that they had come over to finish off the war quickly, and it was such men as our Doctor who, having seen many months of service at the front, could tell them, without giving offence, that they had much to learn about this new art of trench warfare. The Yanks were certainly well equipped, and their clothing was of excellent quality. All carried a spare set of underwear, and in several cases, they were soon ‘swapping’ their new shirts for war souvenirs from our chaps.
Lt. Hayes stayed with us only two days, when he was relieved by Lt. Bisson, another Yank doctor, who, as he put it, ‘had come up to see some of this war'. It was curious, but in a moment, one felt at home with these doctors. Although superior in rank, they treated us as one of themselves. Their first greeting, short and pithy, warmed our hearts, ‘Darned pleased to meet you, my name’s Bisson’, and we were friends. The first American to be wounded attracted much attention, for besides the stretcher-bearers, some half-dozen pals accom¬panied him to the Aid Post, all attempting to help. So much for the Yanks, for we were with them only four days.


#12 Charles Fair

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 11:55 PM

Here is the only other account that I have. This is by CSM Weaver, 1/19th Londons. It is taken from his unpblished diary which is held in the Liddle Collection, at the Library, University of Leeds.

QUOTE
17 July
Up early, after stand down inspect trenches. Line fairly quiet, Fritz seems to be behaving himself. Weather very warm and I am kept busy on working parties etc. strong rumours again that the Americans are coming in. Sort rations and post, bed late.

18 July
Hear we are to be relieved today and then take over the front line. Up early for Stand To, see to breakfasts and examine rifles etc. Go off again to Aid Post and get my knee dressed, it is rather painful now but fortunately quite clean. Hear later relief is to be tomorrow so have quiet day. Heat is terrific, and there is a shortage of issue lime juice. Rations up early, distribute them and bed fairly early.

...

20 July (Sunday)
Up early for Stand To, then go round the line and see all is OK. We are holding a long line in small isolated posts some little distance apart and so it is a bit eerie walking along an empty front line from one post to another not knowing what is round the next traverse or if Fritz is contemplating a trench raid! However, all is quiet and the trenches are in good condition.
We assume Fritz is busy eating his breakfast and so we have ours, leaving, of course, the sentries on the look out to have theirs later.
After breakfast Captain Peppiatt tells me the Americans are coming in with us in small parties for 24 hours at a stretch and are coming for instruction and to get used to trench life.
No man’s land, between the two front lines, is very wide, about a quarter of a mile I should say and long grass in between.
Spend afternoon cleaning up trenches and finding accommodation for all these extra people and I, as acting CSM, am to look after them and show them the ropes!
In the late evening they begin to arrive in small parties. They are a Chicago battalion, a pretty lot to look at and are very bewildered and curious about everything, their first sight of the front line. They make a hell of a row and it is very lucky that no man’s land is so very wide and Fritz cannot hear them too well.
We split them up among our own men and there is a sort of mutual ‘sizing up’, some of them volunteer at once to go on sentry with our chaps. The MG section calls itself the “automatic rifle section” and then all sorts of people with strange titles appear.
Later the officer’s batman turns up with no extra kit or baggage. I asked him where his officer and his kit was to which he replied “I guess he’s trailin’ around here somewhere behind” and it seems he has to carry his own kit.
They take some little time to settle down, everything is so strange and novel, our habits and ways so different in many cases to theirs and they all want to be up and about examining all and sundry and I have to warn their NCOs about them unduly exposing themselves and to be extra careful about smoke, fires and noise.
I have a feeling those NCOs rather think we are “windy” and over cautious, whereas they are anxious to get up and on with the war. As it is now so quiet they simply cannot understand all these warnings and restrictions but they don’t know Fritz and will find out quick enough.
The sergeants (two of them) come in with me and they seem a very decent and interesting couple. Their kit and equipment is simply marvellous, everything of the highest quality, patent safety razors, field dressings in special tins, wonderful mess tins and patent cookers, knives, pistols etc. whilst their rifles seemed to be rather more complicated than ours, too many gadgets!
All are simply burning to get at Fritz and cannot understand our apparent apathy and our national “flair” for understatement completely puzzles them, when we say Ypres was rather sticky and the Somme bloody awful etc. they think we are trying to pull their legs.
Their messing arrangements are rather peculiar, instead of issuing 24 hour rations as we do, they try to issue each meal separately, a hell of a job in the line, everyone has to come to one spot for every meal, a risky proceeding in a front line trench.
They are not exactly boastful but they do give an impression of superiority, or is it inferiority on our part? No! I don’t think so! Anyhow, they are very interesting and are very eager to learn all they can about everything and listen intently to all we can teach them about trench warfare.
We sit up very late talking about the war, America and England, they really seem rather child like in some of their ideas, especially of England, which they seem to think is peopled mainly by the aristocracy who wear their full regalia on every pretext, but they do seem to have quite a high opinion of the British Army.
I go along to the Company Headquarters later to meet their officers and take down the orders etc. The American officers seem a quiet sort of man, quite friendly to us and rather remote from their own men.
As luck would have it, we have a quiet night, a few shells and an odd machine gun burst or two. The Very lights quite thrill the Americans and those on duty in the front line are allowed, as a special favour, to fire one or two. “Stand To” puzzles them but they soon fall into the idea and settle very well to our conditions.

21 July (Sunday)
Up for “Stand To” and go round the front line with the two American sergeants and all is OK. The weather is still very good and hot.
Have breakfast in which the Americans join and are somewhat amused though we are getting really well cooked food now.
Day passes in general cleaning up and trench repair work, new duck boards etc. Pay a visit to the front line with Captain Peppiatt and the American officers and sergeants. Captain Peppiatt, when we arrive at the line stresses the point that everyone in the line must be armed at all times. I feel very small as I am armed only with my stick (that I cut in Crecy forest). This fortunately seems to amuse him.
No. 10 platoon is in a very isolated post and we have to go along quite a long stretch of unmanned trench in the front line. The grass in no man’s land is quite long, but Fritz has evidently been cutting it over his side from what we can see from the trench periscope.
A patrol goes out in the evening, otherwise all quiet.

22 July
Weather still very hot and fine. “Stand To” as usual, nothing much doing but very great aerial activity. Usual routine during the day.
The Americans are relieved by another contingent from their battalion after dark but to theirs and especially our consternation Fritz sends over trench mortars, mostly little devils or “pineapple” bombs that almost reached our support line, the first time this has happened it seems, not too nice!
Rations come up and we eventually settle in all the Americans and get to bed late and dead tired.

23 July
Weather still good. “Stand To” and have an excellent breakfast and then the usual routine of inspections etc, but later many strange staff and technical ‘birds’ appear and there are very definite rumours of a ‘stunt’ coming off.
We have a very busy time indeed, providing working parties for bringing up ammunition, stores etc. and all the other battalion Lewis gunners are brought up to augment our own company gunners.
The RE are up all night putting in special projectors which are fired electrically and the medical people bring up extra supplies, a very ominous sign! The Americans are wildly excited to be in it, we do NOT share this view. A raiding party of the 23rd battalion are to do the ‘show’ on our left whilst we put up a decoy fire and stage a dummy raid, other companies helping in this.
Fritz is quiet but seems to smell something, keeps sending up Very lights because, I suppose, we are not, for fear of giving our working parties away.
A very hectic night in which few of us get any sleep at all.

24 July
Up early for “Stand To” and inspect posts etc. Another fine day, early breakfast and then the procession begins, all types, shapes and sizes of Staff and Brigade officers come up to look round, American officers as well. RE busy all day.
Dinner early, then at 3.45pm the barrages open up. The Americans wildly excited and we have to hang on to them to prevent them looking or standing on the top of the trench.
Hell let loose for half an hour. A terrific barrage of all types, heavies, field guns, TMs and a heavy Vickers and Lewis MG overhead barrage.
In a few minutes our Lewis Guns start up and then, quite unexpectedly, the projectors go off in one great mass and when they burst they throw up huge fountains of a sort of golden rain, terrible stuff, right on the German line as we can see through our periscopes.
Presently Fritz begins to open up and we start getting “pineapple” TMs right on our trench, most unpleasant.
Very soon there comes the call for stretcher bearers, a couple of Americans have caught it, one of them, who is a full blooded negro, in the ankle. Our stretcher bearers come along and see to him, he is making a hell of a fuss and the stretcher bearers decide to “chance it” by getting him back over the top to the rear as it is quicker and much easier than working a loaded stretcher along a crowded trench and this frightens him even more!
Gradually the barrage eases up and we hear the raid was OK, several prisoners taken and the American officers, for whose benefit the whole thing was staged, seem quite happy over it!
Cannot hear anything about our own casualties but Fritz caught it very badly, especially from the new projectors which seem able to burn through anything.
In the evening all is quiet again and soon the trench is full and busy with various working parties and gunners removing their gear.
Late that night we are relieved and make our way back to Warloy by platoons where we bivouac in the open in ‘funk holes’. Fritz comes over by air and bombs us just as we arrive, it is a glorious moonlight night and we are also worried by the long range shelling of an observation balloon moored quite near us. Too tired to worry, just flop out in full kit and sleep.


#13 4thGordons

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 12:04 AM

QUOTE (Scotty @ Aug 12 2007, 02:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hello Chris,
Any chance of e-mailing me a copy of the Somme operations map at a higher resolution? It covers an area I'm interested in. Kind regards, Scott.


No problem - but will need an email
Tried to PM you but was refused saying you had PM disabled. Get me an email and I'll have it to you
Chris

#14 Scotty

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 03:14 AM

Thank you Chris. Apparently us lower ranks have this facility temporarily blocked. My e-mail is rutles-arthurs@optusnet.com.au Much appreciated. Regards, Scott.

#15 Charles Fair

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 10:03 PM

Apologies for not having got back sooner on this, the day job has been getting in the way this week.

Charles M - thanks for that offer - please could I trouble you for the quote about what it says re the attachment to the 47th Division? Also, does it say who the battalion and company commanders of the 131st were?

Ron - yes your book was helpful as it supports the material that I have gathered re the 19th.

Pete1052 - thanks for that anecdote, which appears consistent with the two diarists that I have quoted. I had checked Bean and had come across that quote which got me thinking about the cultural clash between the Doughboys and the Londoners.

The Doughboys and Diggers seem to have had a different relationship from that between the Tommies and the Doughboys. The two diary extracts give and idea of how the Tommies viewed the Doughboys.

What I would ideally love to find are quotes by Doughboys which give their impressions of the 47th Division. One difference that I would expect is that of physique - with the tommies commenting on the 'fine physique' of the Doughboys. Given that the BEF was scraping the bottom of the manpower barrel by this time (comments on the poor quality of drafts are common in 47th Div accounts of this period of the war) I cannot help thinking that some of the Doughboys might not have been too impressed. By my estimate, I reckon that about 2/3rds of the manpower of the 47th Divison's infantry battalions in the 100 days consisted of 18 and 19 year olds. [It will be a while before I have seen enough enlistment papers to say whether this group were in fact shorter and lighter than those of 1914/15.]

4thGordons - I'll PM you - very interested in any diaries, newspaper articles, photos etc. that might shed light on this issue.

Many thanks once again to you all,

Charles

#16 Charles Fair

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 10:19 PM

This is the relevant part from Maude's history of the 47th Division (pp 185-6):

QUOTE
The second arrival was as fortunate as the former was unlucky. It was the American Army. Parties of American Intelligence personnel had first visited us at the end of May, and later machine-gun detachments were sent up. On our return to the line, after rest in the Cavillon area, in the middle of July, the whole 33rd American Division was concentrated in the Corps area, and the 66th Brigade of this was attached to us during the following weeks, first by companies and later in complete regiments.

The appearance of these new troops, with their fine physique and frank inexperience, had a valuable moral effect on us all, and gave us a wholesome sense of being old soldiers. The writer had the good fortune to be sent for liaison to the 132nd American Regiment when they first took over a brigade sector of the Divisional front. Their keenness and their hospitality and the absence of any ill-founded 'cocksureness', are a very pleasant memory. It was in the allocation of Staff duties and in supply arrangements that they seemed to have most to learn, but whether the difficulties in these respects were due to any inherent weakness, or rather to the precise incompatibility of their organisations with ours, a more competent judge must decide. It was no surprise to hear how gallantly and well these regiments acquitted themselves in subsequent operations.


#17 Pete1052

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 10:49 PM

I think that most of what has been written on the 131st Infantry and the 33rd Division probably emphasizes their time in combat and not the training that came before it. The best one could hope for would be letters home from soldiers in the 131st that describe their training. Regarding American physical fitness, the Bean book on the Aussies states that most American casualties at Hamel resulted from infantrymen following too close to the accompanying artillery barrage. Overenthusiasm, if you will.

#18 4thGordons

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 12:38 AM

Some of the post combat reports for 33rd Div. contained in the vols I mentioned analyze the US performance and interaction with the British and Australian units. I do have a private letter which reports a US soldier's imperssion of Australian troops and reports his impression of their view of Americans (if that is not too confusing!) I will try and dig it out this evening and post it here. This individuals WAS NOT in the 131st/33rd Div however.
There is a section on the 33rd's training in the volumes I have not yet reviewed it but will.
I have photographed the relevant sections of the volumes but it is quite a big file because I photographed them at reasonable resolution to be certain they are easily readable / printable. They are currently in a .pdf file. (20mb)
I also have the complete compiliation of Chicago Trib articles ready to go.

Charles - I tried to PM this info to you but it bounced saying your box was full.

Scottie - I tried to email you on the address provided with a high res. copy of the map and it bounced could you confirm the address?

Cheers
Chris

#19 bob lembke

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 12:56 AM

QUOTE (Charles Fair @ Aug 11 2007, 05:42 PM)
I would be particularly interested in tracking down any personal accounts by men of the 131st that cover this week, whether published or not. Infantry in Battle (pub The Infantry Journal, 1934, Washington DC (see p. 162)) refers to a 'personal experience monograph' of Capt Carroll M Gale who commanded the 1st Battalion of the 131st Regiment during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Does anyone know if this was a published account, or might it exist in an archive somewhere?

Any suggestions gratefully received.

Charles


Charles;

Just ran a search in the catalog of the Library of Congress on Carroll M. Gale, and did not get a hit. The Library is the largest in the US, probably in the world, and I think that they were supposed to get two copies of every book published in the US. (Not sure here, my wife would know.) At any rate, if they do not have it, he probably never actually published anything. There of course could be a manuscript in an archive.

Bob Lembke

#20 4thGordons

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 01:22 AM

I believe a substantial part of Gale's material is included as part of in the 131st history as Charles Messenger mentioned in Msg #9. the bibliographic info for this work is:
TITLE: The 131st U. S. Infantry [First Infantry Illinois National Guard] in the World War: Narrative - Operations - Statistics AUTHOR: Sanborn, Colonel Joseph B.
Elements are also included in Huidekoper VolII
Chris

#21 4thGordons

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 02:46 AM

Here are a couple of extracts from the volumes I mentioned:

On June 4th the regiment departed for Oisement…..At Oisement the regiment was placed under command of the British for actual battle training. British “Cardres” (instructors) were attached to the unit to direct the instruction of the men. Here too the 131st had its first experience of the billeting system….on June 21st the regiment reached Pierregot in the ar zone, and was attached to the Third Corps of the Fourth British Army……pp217-218

Quote from Lt Col Farrell of Australian 43rd Bn “ The Compnay of Americans attached (E Company 131st Infantry) did excellent work. Consideringt it wwas their first time in action they fought splendidly. Officers and men were most anxious to learn and eager for the fight. The Platoons were employed in all parts of the battalion formation, One of them being in the first wave” Even more valued than this official praise was the verdict of the Australian Soldiers beside whom the Americans fought. The men of the 131st will forever hold as their slogan the comment of their comrades in arms in that 4th of July battle that “You’ll do us Yanks, but you’re a bit rough!” (p222)

Sept 20th Chicago Daily News “How the “Dandy First” fought at Chipilly” has a journalistic account of the cooperation between Australians and the 131st – implying that the 131st carried objectives which the British had been unable to , thereby protecting the Australian flank and allowing them to advance….

There are extracts from reports by Capt James W Luke (commanding Co E 131st Inf) and CM Gale (C Coy) on pages 352-355 of Vol II of Huidekoper.

There is also a full training schedule for the period 6th July to 6th August 1918 and some supporting memos setting up the training scheme and a table detailing all the schools they attended (and how many men) between 27th June and Nov 6th 1918. (see extract below) There is also a list of officers of the 131st.

I have reread the letters I have (they are from a man KIA in the 130th Inf) and the only reference I can find to either the British or Australians is reference to attending an, “English bombing school…and I enjoyed the week by listening to lectures handling explosives and throwing and shooting grenades. Gee! They are wicked and dangerous to handle if a man is careless or afraid of them aabd still perfectly safe if one is careful and not afraid. One has 5 seconds to get rid of it” (June28th 1918) and on July 22nd reporting comments by Franklin Roosevelt who addressed the Regt. He echoes the comment reported of the 131st above. Of the Australians he writes “The Australian soldiers who are feared more by the Boche more than any other solders, said that our division was a little rough. I say that is pretty good We are fresh at the job and we believe in jumping into the Boche like one would jump on a snake” (the author of the letter was killed in an attack on 10th Nov 1918)

#22 4thGordons

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 08:39 PM

Follow up:
I just obtained a copy of Vol I of Huidekoper's History of the 33rd Division (pd 1921) and there is a 22page narrative section on "Training and Operations with the British Army" if it would be of interest

Chris

#23 Charles Fair

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 09:52 PM

Hello All - just catching up again after another week off forum. Thanks to all for contributions, esp Chris. Chris, I have sent you an email.

Pete1052 - completely agree with 'overenthusiasm' which I think is supported by the diary extracts that I posted. There was certainly a contrast between the enthusiasm/inexperience/naivety of the Doughboys with the experienced BEF veterans.

Bob, thanks for checking out the L of C re Gale.

Charles

#24 Pete1052

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 01:18 AM

It would be a shot in the dark, but consider writing open letters to publications on Illinois state history asking whether anyone has or knows of letters, diaries, or documents describing the training of the 33rd Infantry Division, Illinois National Guard, by the British army in France during the spring and summer of 1918. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has two such publications, the quarterly Journal of Illinois History and the bimonthly Historic Illinois. The point of contact is Ms. Shanta Thoele, Publications Manager, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 1 Old State Capitol Plaza, Springfield, IL 62701, email shanta.thoele@illinois.gov or telephone 217-524-6045. Try emailing her and asking whether those journals would publish letters of that nature.

#25 4thGordons

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 04:20 AM

In addition you might contact the Il Nat Guard Museum here in town. They have a pretty big archive which I have not had time (yet) to examine.
They have a website HERE
and this is their online WWI page contact information is listed on the site.
You might also try the IL State Historical Society.
I recently organized a WWI symposium at the college where I work and lots of people showed up with all sorts of things (inc. the letter I shared a section of) so this might be worthwhile.
Should anything turn up I would be happy to arrange copies/scans/photos etc to send on as I am right here.
I sent the requested docs this evening - sorry about the file size.
Chris
PS
The other place to contact would be the national WWI museum in Kansas City - their archive although young is growing rapidly and now they have "national" status they are getting lots of donations. The archivist was very helpful when I went there and in subsequent communications. They already have a good collection of unit histories. the Archivist is Mr Johnathan Casey and his contact info. is on the site linked above