OCR Interpretation

The Rio Grande rattler. ([McAllen], Hidalgo County, Tex.) 1916-1917, December 25, 1918, Image 9

Image and text provided by New York State Military History Museum

Persistent link: http://www.nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn87030234/1918-12-25/ed-1/seq-9/

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“ FOR VALOR ’ A C o m p i l a t i o n o f L e t t e r s , T e l e g r a m s a n d C o m m e n t s C o n c e r n i n g t h e P r o w e s s OF THE T w EN T Y - S e VENTH DIVISION M a n y honors have come to this Division — honors of magnitude. W h e n it was decided to brigade two American divisions with the British, the Twenty-Se­ venth was one of those selected, and the selection was made at a time when the A. E. F. had its reputation yet to make among the Allies. T o use a phrase, it put its best foot foremost, and the high tribute paid to the superior qualities of the division was understood and appreciated by officers and enlisted men alike who in training areas, in the trenches and on the field of battle upheld with pride and determination their reputation of being the highest type of American soldiers. Particular recognition of the qualities of the division — the fighting qualities — was indicated again when it was selected for a task as far reaching and dif­ ficult perhaps as any that confronted the master stra­ tegist of the W e s t e r n battle line. Preparatory to this task, the N e w York division suffered more than a thou­ sand casualties in support of the British at Kemmel Hill in taking over and holding the line that lay exposed to enemy observation, and in advancing up the heights. Mention the name, “ Dickebusch 55 or “ Scherpenberg ” to any soldiers who have fought in Flanders, and they will tell you that this was grim training for y o ung troops. But they became veterans in a day. Upon the with­ drawal of the enemy from Kemmel, the N e w York division was placed in front of the strongest section of the Hindenburg system. It tore its way through, and, later, continued the fight beyond. The cost of those terrific days of battle, the details of the operations and their effect on the war situation are matters for historians, but two points stand out like mountain peaks above the clouds. The Hindenburg line had been attacked on other occasions, and had withstood the attacks until the enemy believed it im­ pregnable. W h e n finally it was broken, the morale, the defenses, and the armies of the enemy commenced to crumble and hardly more than a month later the Kaiser abdicated. These facts give immense importance to the brilliant part the division played in striking the death blow, and the official documents mentioning- the wrork o f the division should prove of interest to a public far larger even than the intimate friends of the New Yorkers. The official British report, as published in the Lon­ don Daily Mail of Oct. 20, touches upon this subject. It reads as follows : Saturday N ight. — In the course of the last three weeks the T w e n t y - S e v e n t h and T h i r t i e t h D i v i s i o n s of the S e c o n d A m e r i c a n C o r p s , operating with the Fourth British Army, have taken part with great gal­ lantry and success in three major offensive operations, besides being engaged in a number of lesser attacks. In the course of this fighting they have displayed sol­ dierly qualities of a high order arid have materially assisted in the success of our attacks. Having fought with the utmost dash and bravery in the great attack of September 29, in which the H i n d e n ­ b u r g l i n e was broken, and having 011 this occasion captured the villages of Bellicourt and Nauroy, with a large number of prisoners, on October 8 troops of the S e c o n d A m e r i c a n C o r p s again attacked in the neighbor­ hood of Mont Brohain. In three days of successful fighting they completed an a d v a n c e o f t e n m i l e s from Maton to Saint-Souplet, overcoming determined resis­ tance and capturing several strongly-defended villages and woods. Throughout the past three days the S e c o n d A m e r i c a n C o r p s has again attacked daily, and 011 each occasion with complete success, though the enemy’s resistance has been most obstinate. Fighting their way forward from Saint-Souplet to the h i g h g r o u n d w e s t o f t h e S a m b r e c a n a l , they have broken down the enemy’s resistance at all points, beating off many counter­ attacks and realizing a f u r t h e r a d v a n c e o f n e a r l y f i v e m i l e s . More than 5 ooo prisoners and many guns have been taken by the S e c o n d A m e r i c a n C o r p s in these opera­ tions. On the same day that the above appeared in print Field Marshal Haig, in a telegram sent from British General Headquarters to General Read, commander of the 2nd American corps, said : “ I wish to express to you personally, and to all the officers and men serving under you my warm apprecia­ tion of the very valuable' and gallant services rendered by you throughout the recent operations with the 4th British Army. Called upon to attack positions of great natural strength held by a determined enemy, all ranks of the 27th and 3 oth American Divisions, under your command, displayed an energy, courage and determina­ tion in attack which proved irresistable. It does not need me to tell you that in the heavy fighting of the past three weeks you have earned the lasting esteem and admiration of your British comrades in arms whose success you have so nobly shared. ” On October 19, General Pershing, through his Chief of Staff, telegraphed toffhe 2nd Corps Commander as follows in recognition of the accomplishments of the 27th and 3 oth Divisions : “ The Commander in Chief desires you to convey to the officers and soldiers of your corps his appreciation of the magnificent qualities which have enabled them, against powerful resistance, to advance more than ten miles and to take more than six thousand prisoners since S e p t e m b e r t w e n t y - s e v e n t h . Me A n d r e w . ” W h i l e the Hindenburg system of defense was being penetrated by our troops, Lieutenant Colonel Murray, V. C., D. S. O., D.C. M.., of the 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion, made a careful survey of the field of operation. Upon his return from the battlefield he wrote the following letter to Gen. O’ Ryan : T o C o m m a n d i n g G e n e r a l , 27th D i v i s i o n : In making a personal reconnaisance of the battlefield east and northeast of D u n c a n Post on the morning ol September 3 oth, it was evident from the outset, the troops of the 27th Division had met with very heavy opposition and machine gun fire which was infilading them. There was a very large number of dead, all of

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