Kansas Collection Books
Contributed by Pam Rietsch and transcribed and produced by Connie Snyder



CHAPTER XXIX. (cont.)

THE STORY OF HEADQUARTERS COMPANY

(Page 208 Cont.)

INTELLIGENCE SECTION AND SOME INFORMATION

   In the beginning--which in this instance refers to the 353rd Infantry training period at Camp Funston, Kansas--the Intelligence Section was without form and void, and, to continue the paraphrase, darkness reigned upon the face of the Regimental Intelligence Section. If anyone had knowledge of such work, that knowledge, in accordance with strict injunctions, was kept strictly "SECRET."

   Lieut. Clyde H. Biggs, while Assistant Adjutant of the Regiment attended the Divisional School of Intelligence and received such instruction as was to be had. Toward the end of April, 1918, Sergeant Noll and Corporal Quinn were selected as the nucleus of what afterwards developed into the Regimental Intelligence Section. These men gained a slight inkling as to the nature and function of an Intelligence Section from a lecture given by Lieut-Col. Kilbourne, then Divisional Intelligence Officer. Several maneuvers, in which the Regimental Intelligence Section took part at that time, were fundamentally liaison problems.

   And thus we found ourselves in the training area at Manois, France, in the early days of July, 1918, still unorganized and still hazy as to the part we were to play in the actions before us. However, during this period of uncertainty, the personnel grew by the addition of Pvts. Irving T. Snyder as French interpreter, Jos. F. Shafer and Jos. L. Moss as mapmen, Pvt. George Baerg as German interpreter, and Pvts. George H. Ansdell and Irvin Dir as observer and typist, respectively. And the third week in July was profitably spent in Andelot, France, at the 4th Army Corps Intelligence School. Here we learned our mission and spent a week of intensive training under the able leadership of Maj. A. M. Johnson, whose wonderful enthusiasm inspired the men to put forth their utmost effort.

   The course included lectures and practical map work (reading co-ordinates held a prominent place), the location and construction of observation posts, landscape sketching, identification of prisoners, camouflage, scouting and patroling, and a sketchy lecture on airplane photography-all crowded into one short week. Moreover, two terrain problems, one covering a period of twenty-four consecutive hours, kept the pupils on their toes. The fact that Major Johnson selected a report submitted by the Intelligence Section of the 353rd Infantry as a model for Intelligence and Operations reports shows the application of the men of this regiment. One thing impressed throughout the course was the importance of keeping information absolutely SECRET. Experience proved this admonition,


The Story of Headquarters Company      209

in part, a mistake, as too rigid adherence frequently brought more harmful than beneficial results in actual operations.

   On our return to the regimental training area, we pursued the course as outlined two weeks longer; and the early part of Augtist, 1918, found us on our way to the front where our Division relieved the 82nd Division in the Lucey Sector. Shortly before leaving Manois, Lieutenant Biggs was appointed Regimental Adjutant; Lieut. Carl G. Eades, Second Battalion Scout Officer, took his place and remained the Regimental Intelligence Officer until the demobilization of the Regiment.

View of Trenches North of Chauvan and Hagemont Woods in the Distance. First Regimental O.P.

   We were indebted to the officers and men of the 326th Infantry, whom we relieved, for much valuable assistance in the conduct of our O. P. (observation post), in keeping files and battle maps, in submitting reports, and much more which they had learned from actual experience. Our section was now divided. Sergeants Noll and Snyder, and Privates Shaffer and Moss remained in the Intelligence Office in Manonville; Corporal Quinn, Privates Baerg, Dir and Ansdell took charge of the O. P. of the 326th Infantry in Hocquemont Woods. This O. P. was located on a platform in a tree. But the view of the enemy terrain opposite our sector was very limited. Nevertheless, a few days occupancy gave the observers a good grasp of their duty. The First Division, occupying the sector to our right had its O. P. in the same vicinity. Both groups of observers used the same dugouts. When off duty, the First Division observers re-


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galed our men with wild tales of their experience at Chateau-Thierry and other active fronts. Environment as well as practice helped us rapidly on toward professional observation.

   Finding our staff of observers insufficient for the arduous work in hand, we obtained three more men from the battalions; Privates Buhler, Scott, and Bleistein, from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalion Scouts, respectively. In addition to being a good observer, Private Buhler soon proved his value as a chef for the outfit. Even war could not make the American doughboy forget his appetite, and particularly his love for "hot cakes." Shelling was intermittent, at times quite heavy. Nevertheless, the doughty doughboy would have his hot cakes, provided he had the necessary ingredients, and providing a shell didn't upset his improvised cook stove.

   Reconnaissance revealed a much more advantageous O. P. in the town of Lironville, near the center of our regimental sector, to which we moved about the middle of August. This O. P. was located in the attic of a two-story building, the only one left in the town which offered a bit of protection from the elements. But it provided a good view of our own sector, also a splendid view of the terrain occupied by the Germans. Our view embraced on the extreme right, Regnieville, a mere shell of a town lying out in "No Man's Land;" continuing to the left, Remenauville, or what was left of it, within the German lines; directly opposite our sector, the Promenade des Moines, a high stretch of open ground overlooking "No Man's Land" on the front slope of which was located Ansoncourt Farm. The predominating features of the terrain, within the German lines, were dense forests hedging the Promenade des Moines; Mort Mare Woods on the left, and directly on the German front; Euvezin Woods to the rear of the Mort Mare Woods; the Haie l' Eveque Woods about two kilometers to the rear of the German front lines opposite the center of our sector; and to the north of Remenauville, the du Four Woods. The ruins of Remenauville and Regnieville, the three jagged lines of German trenches with protecting strands of barbed wire, the shell holes which dotted the surface, and the shattered trees lining the Metz Road, all combined to form a picture which measured up well to our preconceived ideas of a "real front." This splendid view of enemy terrain brought many distinguished visitors. Among others were Major General Wright, commanding the 89th Division, Senator Wm. H. Thompson of Kansas, and Major General LeJeune, commanding the Second Division.

   The O. P. in Lironville was equipped with a mounted, prismatic, high-power telescope of French manufacture, mounted maps showing our area, the German trenches and the area eight kilometers in their rear. Sleeping and mess arrangements were on the ground floor of the building, with a dugout close by. A field telephone in the O. P. made possible hourly reports of activities, together with immediate report of any unusual movement or action within the German lines, directly to the Intelligence Office in Manonville.


The Story of Headquarters Company      211

   One day, the vigilant eye of one of the observers noted activity in a tree in the edge of the La Haie l'Eveque Woods about two kilometers behind the enemy's front lines. A Boche observer was making little effort to hide his work; he suffered accordingly. Information was transmitted through the office of Lieutenant Dahmke, in command of the one-pounder platoon. At the second shot, two Boche tumbled hurriedly out of a wrecked post in this tree. Later one of the observers picked up a party of Germans wending their way forward through the communicating trenches in the vicinity of Remenauville. They were without equipment, except rifles; their steady movement towards the front line trench at dusk meant but one thing--a raiding party. This information promptly transmitted to the artillery resulted in the rout of their party before they had a chance to get into action.

Flashlight Scene of Dugout in Lironville.

   While the men in the O. P. were securing the necessary information, the men in the somewhat less hazardous, but no less interesting post in the intelligence office in Manonville, were steadily occupied. Delays in reports caused the office force considerable embarrassment and brought forth a sharp reprimand from Colonel Reeves, then in command of the 177th Brigade. This matter was soon remedied when Lieutenant Eades secured permission to use one of the motorcycle orderlies each morning to bring in the necessary data from the front.


212      Regimental History 353rd Infantry

   To give an idea of the variety and number of reports received and transmitted by the Intelligence Office, the following schedule will no doubt prove interesting:

FROMTOSUBJECTTIMEHOW SENTREMARKS
Regtl. O. P. & 
Bn. O. P's
R. I. O.O. P. Report8:30 dailyRunnerWritten.
Bn. C. O.'s &
Div. Engrs.
R. I. O.Work Reports8:30 dailyRunnerWritten.
Rgtl. Surgeon  R. I. O.Losses in Men8:30 dailyRunnerWritten--Evacuated sick and wounded. Deaths.
Rgtl. O. P.R. I. O.Situation ReportHourly--dailyPhone 
R. I. O.Brig. I. O.Situation ReportHourly--dailyPhone 
Regtl. O. P. &
Bn. O. P.'s
R. I. O.Situation Report7:30 & 14:20--
daily
Phone 
R. I. O.G-2 Div.Situation Report7:30 & 14:20--
daily
Phone 
R. I. O.Brig. I. O.I. & O. Report12:00 dailyRgtl. Couriercopies for Div., Brig., Rgtl. C. O.; Artillery, Rgt. on L. & R.
R. I. O.Brig. I. O.Report on PatrolsImmediately on
return of patrols
PhoneCondensed facts--coded.
R. I. O.Brig. I. O.Patrol Report12:00 dailyRgtl. CourierWritten--copies for Div. & Brig & tracing showing route of patrol.
R. I. O.Bn. & M. G. C. O.'sI. & O. Report
Copies
P. M. dailyRunners 
R. I. O.Brig. I. O.German Occupation Report18:00 SundaysRgtl. CourierShowing new work, emplacements, etc., within enemy lines. Positions & identity of opposing forces rec'd from prisoners, patrols, etc.
R. I. O.G-2: Div.,
 thru Brig. I. O.
Plan Navette14th & 28th of each monthCourierTracing showing new work, trenches, wire, emplacements. etc., within our sector.
R. I. O.Brig. I. O.Prisoners of War ReportWhen prisoners come thru Rgtl. Intel. OfficeWith guard 



The Story of Headquarters Company      213

   The map men indicated on a battle map every conceivable item of military information from the location of automatic rifle posts to artillery positions, from buzzer lines to supply dumps. In addition to our own dispositions, this map included locations of emplacements, points of origin of machine gun and rifle fire, new works, etc. within the enemy's lines. Moreover, these busy map men arranged aeroplane photographs of enemy terrain opposite our sector into complete photographs, and marked them according to scale. These photographs they compared with previous sets of photographs to see if the enemy had any new works or paths in his area. We had heard much of the wiliness and cunning of our foe, so we watched and noted his every movement.

   The map question became more and more acute. Everybody wanted, or rather demanded, maps. Memoranda in numbers to Division G-2 called for maps. All that came were immediately distributed as widely as possible and permissible. The men were not allowed to take them into the front line positions. Maps were trench property, but each company repeated requests for maps. Finally receipts were secured but what became of the maps will always be a mystery.

   Then, too, German prisoners taken in our sector were brought to our office for interview. Numbers found on their shoulder straps, and their pay-books containing original assignment, transfers, evacuation to hospitals, etc., supplied valuable information concerning organizations opposite our sector. Our first prisoners were German deserters who had sickened of the war and were convinced that Germany was beaten. They caused some excitement at first, but this class of prisoners became quite common. The Prussians, bona fide prisoners, taken when the Germans attempted raids on our positions, aroused far greater interest.

   Rumors of a "drive" were in the air, but we had no idea of its proximity until about September 9th. At that time the quiet routine changed. Things began to stir; roads were one mass of moving cannon, tanks, supply trains; the Marines of the Second Division mingled with us; Officers of the Tank Service and of the First Gas Regiment frequented our office to secure data. Every day brought new preparations for the conflict. On September 10th, the Second Division took over part of our sector. Our regiment moved slightly to the left and occupied a smaller sector; reports followed that we were to be withdrawn. A new rush of field orders and conferences convinced us that we were to be a front line division in a major operation. Marine officers took over quarters at Manonville and the 353rd Infantry Headquarters withdrew to Minorville. On September 11th, less than 36 hours before "H" Hour of "D" Day, a map was turned over to the Intelligence Section, for exact copies. This map defined the regimental sector for the offensive--a strip about one and one-half kilometers wide, leading due north for three kilometers, then turning slightly to the northwest, including Ansoncourt Farm, a portion of the promenade des Moines, the Mort Mare


214      Regimental History 353rd Infantry

Woods, the d'Euvezin Woods, and the Dean Vallon Woods, the town of Bouillonville, and continued through Xammes. This map bore such obvious phrases as "The Jumping-off Line," "H" Hour," "First Objective," "H plus 45," "Second Objective," and some nine kilometers distant from our "Jumping-off Line," the Army Objective. Then we knew positively that something great was imminent!

   In the meantime, the observers were busy. Under the leadership of Sergeant Snyder, the observers reported to the advanced P. C. in the Boyou Fouche on September 11th. During the afternoon these men established on O. P. in an abandoned listening post of the first line trench and made telephonic connections with the advanced P. C. The remaining members of the section, Sergeant Noll, Corporal Quinn, and Private Moss moved up to the advanced P. C. with Lieutenant Eades after dark. Moss handled the telephone. At practically the last minute, before leaving the rear P. C., an order detailed Sergeant Snyder to an A. E. F. Officers' Training Camp. After some hesitation and debate, Sergeant Snyder left the group of observers to attend the training camp, and Private Scott was placed in command of the observers. Everything was set for our first offensive. We were about to be put to our first real test.

   "H" Hour was 5:00 o'clock and at 4:30 Colonel Reeves gave the word, "Over the top for us." Out of our P. C. we moved north through the mud and slime of a connecting trench. Waiting troops leaned against the sides to let us pass. In a few minutes Colonel Reeves; Lieutenant-Colonel Boschen; Captain Biggs, the operation officer; Lieutenant Benning, signal officer; and Lieutenant Eades and Sergeant Noll, runners, signalmen attached to the Regimental Headquarters, found themselves on the parapet of our front line trench with nothing but the wire between them and "No Man's Land." The assault battalion was moving forward through the wire. Colonel Reeves held a hurried conference with staff officers, and in the confusion, Lieutenant Eades and Sergeant Noll became separated from the staff group and advanced alone through the wire directly on the heels of the assault battalion. It was still dark and raining. The Allied guns were belching forth in all their fury but the German artillery had by no means been silenced. The rat-tat-tat and sputter of countless machine guns added to the medley, and the heavens were bright with the frantic pyrotechnic signals of the surprised Boche. Gloomy old Mort Mare Woods was alive with bursting star-shells and thermite dripping from the trees.

   After the first temporary hold-up by machine gun nests, the advance was rapid. Signalmen found it impossible to run wire fast enough to keep up connection between the assaulting waves and the Regimental P. C. In fact, the intrepidity of our Colonel made it unnecessary. He gained information first hand. Soon prisoners were coming back in groups of fifteen to twenty and thirty. Men of the Intelligence Section cut the shoulder straps from their blouses, collected "sold buchs," secured strength of their forces, and dispatched the information to Brigade Headquarters. Many of the


The Story of Headquarters Company      215

prisoners were utilized in carrying wounded to the first aid stations. Runners kept up communication with the assault battalion. Never did the general intelligence of the men show itself to such good advantage. Everyone of them was on the job.

   Then the fourth objective was reached; Colonel Reeves established a P. C. in a draw south of Bouillonville, while the Third Battalion advanced to the Fifth Objective, which included the town of Bouillonville. Here the Intelligence Section was kept busy checking up the six hundred or more prisoners, including the Town Major and his entire staff taken in Bouillonville. The prisoners were of various types--some, officers especially, were still arrogant; others were meek and subdued; still others were in a jovial mood, no doubt due to what they considered their deliverance. They did not look underfed by any means, and some few were under the influence of liquor. The sight of them dispelled all rumor of food shortage among the German troops. But they were a beaten lot and ready to give up the losing fight.

   At seven p. m. the Regimental party advanced through Bouillonville, Colonel Reeves gave hurried instructions to the Commanders of the First and Second Battalions regarding the dispositions on the Army Line, and then stopped with his party for a short rest at an abandoned supply dump above Thiacourt. However, we soon set out to see that the lines were properly established. We moved forward through several lines of troops "digging in," continued forward through two strands of trip wire in the inky darkness. It was a wonderful sight to see great bonfires flaring over in the German lines; vast quantities of stores were being hurriedly destroyed to prevent capture by the Americans. As far as the eye could see, these fires were burning at approximately three kilometer intervals. Figures of German soldiers were plainly silhouetted against the blaze. Our men were not where we expected to find them. We continued to the right, only to find ourselves in front of the positions being prepared by the Marines "out in No Man's Land!" Luck alone prevented our being fired upon. We finally located some men of our First Battalion but it was useless to try to get them straightened out. Dawn was approaching, so we returned to Bouillonville. Here the Regimental P. C. and Intelligence Office was established.

   In the evening of September 13th, the Regimental observers established an O. P. on the high ground south of Xammes. An abandoned German commissary in Xammes furnished bread, honey, butter, jam, gold-tipped cigarettes, and cigars; well-kept German gardens in the vicinity supplied a variety of vegetables; a boche bar provided beer, wine, and "schnapps." The reaction of the "dry" Kansans to the liquid components of the new rations was astounding. While watching enemy movements, the observers lived off of the fat of the land.

   The men in the Intelligence office were busy during these days. Bouillonville contained the headquarters of various German infan-


216      Regimental History 353rd Infantry

try, sanitary and artillery units. Search of these offices disclosed innumerable maps, charts, orders, and reports of great value. And in the least expected place--the upstairs office of a German dental surgeon, carefully tucked away in the lower drawer of a cabinet--were found maps showing the German lines of resistance in the rear of the portion of the famous Hindenburg Line which we were then facing. Artillery codes, the German method of reading maps, and a complete copy of the German orders of withdrawal in case of attack in the St. Mihiel sector were among our booty. Here we had German Intelligence in our very hands. After noting information of value to our sector, all was sent to Division Headquarters.

   On September 20th, the 353rd Infantry took over the sector to the left, and on September 21, the Regimental P. C. and Intelligence office moved to Beney. Our offices were above ground. The town was being continually shelled, but the work had, perforce, to go on. Posting maps and preparing reports, while shells dropped in the back yard not three feet from the house or in the street directly in front of the window, sprinkling glass over everything and everyone, proved to be a real task. Occasionally the shelling became so heavy that our force sought shelter in the wine cellar under the building. This cellar was a shelter in a mental rather than a physical sense--a sort of fool's paradise. What a direct hit would have meant to the runners, signalmen and intelligence personnel who made it their home cannot be expressed.

   While here a French soldier was brought in by the M. P.'s under Corporal Laslett for examination. He had been prowling around in a badly shelled house, clutching a piece of woman's clothing and weeping bitterly. Our one thought was that he was a spy! Close interrogation, however, disclosed his attachment to a nearby French artillery unit. On arrival in that vicinity, he had secured a pass from his commander to visit Beney. Here had been his home before the German onslaught of 1914. He had been called to service. The enemy occupied the area and in four years he had had no word from his wife left behind. Now he found only traces of her clothing and his home was in ruins. When his pass had been carefully examined, he was allowed to return to his organization. Thus we came in close contact with one of the minor tragedies of the war.

   The 29th of September found us moving back to La Marche, hoping for a much-needed rest, but only to ascertain that we were taking over the sector to the left, from which the 42nd (Rainbow) Division was being withdrawn. This was the St. Benoit subsector. We established our O. P. on an abandoned German machine gun platform set about twenty feet high in a clump of bushes a short distance from Sebastapol Farm. The observers housed themselves in the freight depot just south of the Beney-St. Benoit Road on the railway connecting Pannes and Dommartin. But with two car loads of abandoned German grenades and about fifty 9.7's at our door and Fritz dropping shells in the immediate vicinity every few minutes, the place was uncomfortable, so we moved to the main


The Story of Headquarters Company      217

station, some hundred yards distance. Weather conditions during our occupancy of this sector made observation poor.

   The Intelligence Office moved with the advanced regimental P. C. to the "cave" or cellars of what two weeks previous had been an imposing chateau--the Chateau of the Count de Luynes at St. Benoit. At this time it was a dreary looking heap of ruins. To add to our discomfort, it was officially reported that the Germans had mined these cellars! Inspectors traced down suspicious looking wires, but these usually ended in an innocent electric bulb. A great many holes drilled in the various arches ready for loading with explosives were found. But if the place was mined, none of these exploded while we occupied the chateau.

   Rumors of relief were again in the air. Finally on the night of October 7th, a regimental staff of the 37th Division appeared. Several hours were consumed in explaining details of conditions within the sector, turning over maps and reports to their Intelligence Officer. About midnight, we withdrew, arriving at daybreak in Corneiville.

   For the first time in over two months we had a chance to relax beyond range of shell fire, but hourly situation reports to Brigade Headquarters continued as in the line. Arrangements were being made for baths, but our rest was short and the baths failed to materialize. The following morning orders came to embuss immediately for the Argonne-Meuse front. March routes were posted on maps, equipment packed, and shortly after noon we were proceeding in French trucks to Recicourt, west of Verdun. After dusk we were again within sound of the big guns, within sight of their flashes over the hills to the north. At Recicourt, we left the trucks and spent the remainder of the night hiking over the hill to Brocourt. Here we continued to rest for three days, getting baths, and as far as possible, removing the stains of two months continuous service on the front from our uniforms and equipment.

   On Sunday, October 13th, (our regiment had without question acquired the habit of moving on what is known as the "day of rest") we started our hike northward, through mud and water, under full packs, for many a weary kilometer. At midnight, we arrived in the Bois de Chehmenin, two kilometers southwest of Montfaucon, where we lay on the wet ground. Notwithstanding the discomforts of roots and stones for mattresses, we slept from sheer weariness. Before noon of the following day we moved; this time Ecles Fontaine was our objective. We were now in the Fifth Corps Reserve. Five busy days we posted and distributed maps of our new sector. During the last two days we were under orders to move on one hour's notice. The Regimental P. C. and Intelligence Office were located in the ruins of a farmhouse. The enlisted personnel occupied the upper floor under a roof through which the rain poured as through a sieve.

   On October 19th, the 353rd Infantry with the First Battalion in the lead and the Third in support (the Second was in Brigade Re-


218      Regimental History 353rd Infantry

serve), relieved a regiment of the 32nd Division in the sector just west of Romagne and Bantheville, comprising almost the whole of the Bantheville Woods and Chauvignon. The relief was accomplished in record time and gained the special commendation of Major General Haan, commanding the 32nd Division and General Summerall, commanding the 5th Corps. The 32nd Division reported the Bantheville Woods entirely cleared of the enemy. Developments, however, showed the enemy had either not been entirely driven from the northern edge of the woods or had filtered back into the woods in sufficient numbers to make this sector untenable by our troops.

   On October 22nd, the 353rd Infantry received orders to mop up Bantheville Woods. This task was originally assigned to another Infantry Brigade but had not been accomplished. The First Battalion with the Third Battalion in support was selected to do this work. The enemy continued to shell the terrain with H. E.'s, shrapnel, and gas. Several very active Austrian 88's or "whizz-bangs" kept on grouping their shots in characteristic fashion at the outset. Two of the observers, Sergeant Scott and Private Buhler, (the other five men remained on Hill 270) moved forward to a high point which afforded a good view of the terrain to the north. Here they met Captain Leigh, commanding "B" Company, and gave him his location. Intense shelling soon made observation from this point impossible. They waded through gassed areas, dodging "whizz-bangs", H. E., and shrapnel, until they found the other men. The group then reported to Captain Barnett, the commander of the First Battalion, who sent the information of the advance by runner, to the advance Regimental P. C.

   Meanwhile, Lieutenant Eades decided upon a location on the northern slope of Hill 288 on the Romagne-Sommerance Road. From this post a good view was obtained of our sector in the Bantheville Woods, also of the Barricourt Woods to the north of our sector, Hazois Woods and the towns of Bayonville-et-Chennery, Landreville and Landres-et-St.-Georges. The observers had dugouts on the rear slope of the hill and were on duty day and night, checking up enemy movements and spotting his artillery and machine gun emplacements. Coded messages were forwarded to Colonel Reeves as per sample:

"From Lansing (the code name of the O. P.) Date: 25th October, 1918; Hour 14:25; To: Ideal 6 (Regtl. Intel. Officer). 15 hours, 10 trucks, 9 guns and caissons, two teams each, and one ambulance moving southeast on road out of Banonville," or "21:ooh, flash of cannon at point 01.8-88.2 (co-ordinates)"

   Immediately our supporting artillery would get busy on the new targets.

   The work in the office continued night and day. Quinn was busy on location and situation maps, posting the battle map, mak-


The Story of Headquarters Company      219

ing maps for Lieutenant Hewitt, the Regimental gas officer, and tracing the daily patrol route. Sergeant Noll consolidated the reports from the regimental and battalion O. P.'s for the daily Intelligence and Operations reports, made out the Patrol reports, prepared receipts for the vast numbers of maps being distributed throughout the Regiment, coded and decoded messages. Lieutenant Eades made daily trips to check up the work in each of the four O. P.'s. This was a busy season and everybody had to go to his limit and still "carry on."

   Shelling continued incessantly. The location of the Regimental P. C. at the cross-roads made it a point of special interest to enemy artillerymen. One night something struck near the base of our concrete pilibox that shook the entire structure. Luckily, it was a dud, but from the force of the impact and the resulting agitation of our P. C. we all agreed that it must have been at least a "210." Nevertheless work continued as usual. Increased activity was now taking place within the German lines. About the 23rd of October, there was a corresponding increase of activity in the rear of our position. Cannon were being massed both to the east and west--in places, hub to hub. Traffic on the road leading out of Romagne passed directly in back of our P. C. Movements were not confined to the hours of the night and heavy shelling of this area resulted. Enemy aeroplanes became unusually active, and apparently operated without fear. Not only did they come for observation but planes used their machine guns for direct fire upon our troops. Alvin Severin, Lieutenant Eades' orderly, met his death by this direct fire from aeroplanes while seated at the mouth of his funk hole a hundred meters distant from the P. C.

   On October 26th, operation orders covering an advance and maps designating our sector and our objectives were received. Copies were immediately prepared. Captain Turner and the pioneers of Headquarters Company had built an advanced P. C. for Colonel Reeves and his staff in the northwestern edge of the Bantheville Woods, about one-half kilometer south of our front lines. Everything was in readiness, but at the last moment, orders changed and we sat tight until the night of October 31st.

   At 20:30 hours, October 31st, Colonel Reeves; Captain Masseck, operations officer; Captain Turner, commanding headquarters company; Lieutenant Ball, liaison officer; Lieutenant Hewitt, gas officer; Lieutenant Eades, signalmen, runners and the Intelligence section went forward to the advanced P. C. The observers remained at their O. P. until the following morning. The hours of waiting for the big show to begin were nerve-racking. At 10:00 o'clock there was an hour's bombardment of the German positions and then, except for intermittent shelling, all was quiet. At 3:30 o'clock in the morning of November 1st, guns of every caliber pounded away; mingled with the din and roar was the rattle and clatter of countless machine guns. The enemy was prompt with his counter artillery. There we lay, listening to the shells bursting


220      Regimental History 353rd Infantry

all about us in the woods. Not over twenty minutes from the opening of the bombardment, there was a crash at the very entrance of the funk hole occupied by the Intelligence Section. Our candle, stuck on a knife in the dirt wall, was extinguished, and the air was thick with flying particles of dirt and stone. Lieutenant Eades shouted, "Anybody hurt?" "No," came the answer. We relighted our candle when the dirt had sufficiently settled, and found all well except for a slight abrasion on Moss's chin. The piece of old blanket serving as a curtain in the small doorway was riddled. It was just possible to crawl outside over the piled up dirt, and three feet from the entrance where the packs had been left, there was nothing but a crater made by the explosion of a 150 cm. shell. Not a shred of the packs was found. "Pretty close to heaven!" was the only comment.

   At five o'clock word came that preparations for the "Jump-off" were being made. Zero hour was five-thirty. Immediately after five-thirty, Lieutenant Eades, with Bugler Frank F. Tomanek as his guide, moved out to the northern edge of the Bantheville Woods to see how the Third Battalion was succeeding in their advance. Progress was reported as very satisfactory notwithstanding the determined resistance of enemy machine gunners located in organized shell holes. A few minutes later our first prisoners arrived. They were of far higher morale than those we had taken in the St. Mihiel Offensive. Their shoulder straps bore a great array of numbers. A captured lieutenant explained that these men were replacements in the forces opposing us and that they had not been given new shoulder straps. This information proved false. These men were from different regiments--reserve troops hastily brought up in a vain attempt to hold the tottering German line.

   At five-fifty, Colonel Reeves and his party guided by Bugler Tomanek started forward. We emerged from the edge of the woods just in time to see the assault battalion going forward over the high ground some 400 meters ahead. Shells were still dropping thick about us, but the advance continued satisfactorily, and by four-thirty, we had followed the assault troops into the southern edge of Barricourt Woods, where we "dug in" for the night.

   The following morning we again moved forward, directly back of the Second Battalion's position in the northern edge of the woods. Colonel Reeves did not hesitate to expose himself to the same dangers as the men. This gave the men much greater confidence and caused them to redouble their efforts. In this position, the shelling was intense and the whir and whistle of machine gun fire sounded continuously in our ears. In the evening the Second Battalion, now in the assault, reached Tailly against determined resistance from strongly held natural positions. The men had gone forward with only desultory support from our artillery and only slightly protected with a machine gun barrage. Our prisoners by this time numbered about 600. On the morning of November 3rd, the Regimental P. C. moved to Les Tuilleries Farm. This same day, the 178th


The Story of Headquarters Company      221

Infantry Brigade leap-frogged our brigade and the 353rd Infantry became Divisional Reserve. The Regimental P. C. was established in Tailly on the 4th. The Intelligence Section occupied the village fire engine house adjoining the P. C.

   On November 7th, the P. C. and Intelligence Office moved forward to Beauclair, where offices were again established, The Regiment was still in reserve. On November 9th, it was rumored that a divisional relief would take place. Our expectations of a rest, however, were not realized. At six o'clock, the observers moved forward to Laneuville, on the west bank of the River Meuse. Directly opposite was Stenay, still held by the enemy.

   At midnight the regimental party arrived and established offices in the cellars of the chateau. There was no thought of sleep that night. Our First Battalion must cross the river, although all bridges were out, and occupy Stenay in the morning. The Second and Third Battalions were to cross the river near Ville Franche and advance with troops of the 90th Division upon Stenay from the south. Everybody was hard at it. Hourly reports were being submitted to the brigade. At 10:30 a. m., November 11th, information of the armistice was telephoned in, but we continued on the job to the last minute. Captain Eades promptly set out to deliver the armistice orders to Colonel Reeves who was following our troops on the east bank of the Meuse. By 10:55 "A" Company of the First Battalion was reported in possession of Stenay. This information was immediately dispatched to higher authorities and our days of actual warfare were over.




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