The WW1HA is going to the battlefields again in May.
Come with me.
The tour will begin May 25 in Brussels and go to the fortress city of Liege, where brave little Belgium’s army held up the German advance for 12 days at the beginning of the war.
The group will move on to the Vosges Mountains in Alsace, to visit the Le Linge battlefield and museum, full of artifacts. More than 2 miles of trenches and fortifications are still in place. On to Hartmannswillerkopf and its incredible views — at nearly 1,000 meters above sea level — and memorials. The American Ambulance Services worked here.
Then to Verdun, the St. Mihiel Salient, Belleau Wood, Le Hamel — where American troops fought alongside Australians on July 4, 1918 — and a full day of exploring around Ypres, concluding with the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate.
To walk where they walked, to stand on the ground they fought so hard for is incredibly humbling.
To raise a glass to them while chomping frites — the best fries/chips you will ever eat — with the possibility of chocolate croissants for breakfast is incredibly fun.
Come on. I’ll meet you in Brussels and buy you a beer.
Here, in chronological order, are the notes I posted to Facebook on the talks presented at the seminar Sept. 8-9 at the Marine Corps Career Colleges in Quantico, Va.:
I”m temporarily abandoning a book for a while. I never ever do that — with one notable exception — I usually just ditch them. Life is too short to read bad books.
But Farwell’s “Over There: The United States in the Great War, 1917-18” is really good. It’s just that I’ve gotten to the part when the 28th and 30th Divisions are about to attack on the Chemin de Dames, and I’ve realized what short shrift Farwell gives to Belleau Wood. We win that battle next Tuesday.
So now I’m all hot to read “Miracle at Belleau Wood” and any other account in my library.
Reviews to come!
In 2009, real Marines staged and filmed a re-enactment of the iconic battle as part of an exhibit at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek:
Here’s a link to the museum: http://www.usmcmuseum.com/index.asp
You can visit the museum when you attend the ww1ha’s National Seminar, “From Devil Dogs to Stosstruppen,” at Quantica, Va., in September. Here’s a link for more info:
Lovely photos from the site of the battle on Michael St. Maur Shiel’s website, Western Front Photography:
Also, here’s a post at blog History & Lore of the old World War about an unexpected memoir: “At Belleau Wood with Rifle and Sketchpad” by Louis Linn, a Marine who fought in that iconic battle and at Soissons and St. Mihiel, where he was gravely wounded.
The Battle of Belleau Wood began on this day in 1918. It’s the battle a lot of Americans know to be “the one with the wheat field.”
There was a wheat field, but more important, there was a wood full of German machine gunners.
The advancing Germans, in the last push of their third offensive, were about 50 miles east of Paris when they met American Marines at Belleau Wood. The terrible fighting went on till June 26, when the Marines officially held the woods.
From an account by Col. Frederick May Wise, commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Marines at Belleau Wood. “
“At the battle’s end … I lined the men up and looked them over. It was enough to break your heart. I had left Courcelles May 31st with nine hundred and sixty-five men and twenty six officers — the best battalion I ever saw anywhere. I had taken them, raw recruits for the most. Ten months I had trained them. I had seen them grow into Marines. Now before me stood three hundred and fifty men and six officers. Six hundred and fifteen men and nineteen officers were gone.”
The famous quote, by the way, comes from Capt. Lloyd Williams, who was killed in the fighting.
Here’s a link to a description of the battle, which was a confused mess: http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/ct_bw.htm
(The Great War Society is now part of the WW1HA.)
Here’s a book that might intrigue you, especially those of you interested in the U.S. Marines.