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166ème régiment d'infanterie US - 1918 (2) Texte en langue anglaise

Ohio in the Rainbow
Official story of the 166th infantry
R.M. Cheseldine, Ex-Captain 166th Infantry
Ed. Columbus 1924

Trucks from Division Headquarters began to move and at 3 o'clock Sunday morning, February 16, Headquarters, Machine Gun Co. and the ist Battalion marched from Perrogney to Langres and boarded a "side door Pullman" train. Supply Company, 2nd and 3rd Battalions followed on succeeding days.
The route to the front ran through Chamont, Neufchateau, Toul and Nancy through Luneville to St. Clement, a small village 12 kilometers east of Luneville. Here all elements detrained and went into billets in the towns of Moyen, Vallois, Benamenil and Domjevin, all within easy marching distance of the front line trenches.
Evidence of active combat was on every side. At Luneville while the train waited for a few moments the troops were treated to the sight of a German plane high above the city dodging an anti-aircraft barrage from below. Again at St. Clement the same thing occurred. Heinie was evidently finding out about the new arrivals.
There was a wonderful thrill about it all. It meant that we were about to get into it. The test was just ahead. Had all the training been worth while or was it wasted? Was the Rainbow anything but a name?
February 20th Headquarters moved out of St. Clement and moved forward to Domjevin. Along that seven mile route strange sights greeted the men. The art of camouflage, which had been but a myth to Americans, now became a reality. Deep in the woods a tree on close inspection became an observation tower. Nearing Domjevin the road appeared to have been cut through a hill, but when the cut was reached there was only a camouflage screen of wire and grass covering a great battery of French heavy artillery. Shell holes were plentiful. Dumps of war material were hidden in deep woods.
Domjevin was a mere shell of a town, with scarcely a house intact. Dugouts and stone shelters were popular types of architecture, and the only inhabitants were French and Italian soldiers.
The battle front at this point ran practically parallel to the Lorraine frontier, which was about 12 kilometers northeast of Domjevin. This part of the front was in the sub-sector St. Clement of the Luneville sector; the particular front to be taken over was known as the C- R. (center of resistance) Rognelle and consisted of a system of trenches and boyaus with a frontage of about 1 l/2 kilometers. The front line was about 500 meters from Blemery, a small shell torn village lying about 2 kilometers to the east of Domjevin, with a chain of small hills running between the two places.
There were some sad hearts in the outfit as final preparations were made to enter the trenches for the first time, because many familiar faces were missing from the ranks of company commanders. Officers commanding in the unit were: Colonel Hough, Lt. Col. Florence, Majors Allen, Houser and Henderson. Hdqrs. Co. Volka, Supply, Koeppel; Machine Gun, Houk. Co. A, Sampson, B, Lt. Jones; Company C, Breed, D, Geran. The 2nd Battalion had lost Captains Newlove and Lindsay. Co. E, Lt. Doellinger; Co. F, Lt. Stevenson; Co. G, Caldwell; Co. H, Bailey. The 3rd Battalion had the same complement of Captains Haubrich, Hardway, Kindler and Peck.
The 166th was attached to the 60th French Infantry, the famous "ace of hearts" Regiment, and formed with them a part of the 7th Corps of the 8th French Army. They were to act as chaperons, as it were, in the initial test and instruct in the intricacies of trench warfare. They proved to be most capable instructors and our pleasant relations with them greatly increased our admiration for the veteran wearers of the "horizon blue."
On Washington's birthday, Colonel Hough entertained the Colonel of the 60th, Col. de Pirrey, and his staff, at dinner and the following poem written by Lt. George B. Low, Hdqrs. Company, which appeared on the menu card, so fittingly describes the fraternal spirit between the French and Americans that it is worth repeating here:
Sons of France we come to help you,
Your LaFayette pointed the way,
When he came to the call of Washington,
To our land in the olden day.
We bring with us a new army,
Not trained, but willing to fight,
For a cause that we know is just and true,
Where right must conquor might.
The "Ace of Hearts" you represent,
At the top of the pack you play,
While we, as the lowly "Deuce of Hearts"
Are looking for the way.
While never the "Ace" we may equal,
The thing we will strive to do,
Is to be the "King" just under the "Ace",
And nearly the equal of you.
That dinner will long be remembered by those who were fortunate enough to be present as guests and by those who were lucky enough and possessed of sufficient nerve to stick around where the sights and sounds could be seen and heard. One group of junior officers had dinner in a room adjoining the "Banquet room" where "Red", the Colonel's orderly presided. As a reminder of the "dear departed days" it is well to mention that no French banquet can be complete without the wine, and Red presided over the banquet supply. One observer reports that Red tenderly caressed each bottle that left the room to grace the banquet table, and jealously counted those remaining to see if any would be left for him.
This Washington's Birthday celebration marked the last link in the chain from home to the trenches. That day orders were received to put one battalion in the front line on the night of February 22nd. The 1st Battalion was selected as the first of the 166th Infantry to actually take over a trench sector. The 3rd Battalion was in support in Benaineuil with the 2nd in reserve in Moyen and Vallois. Supply Co. held forth in Laronxe, which was a village separated from St. Clement only by a railroad track, while elements of the Machine Gun and Headquarters company accompanied the 1st Battalion in the trenches.
The war officially began for the 166th Infantry on Washington's Birthday, 1918.

(Dedicated to the memory of 19 members of Co. E, 165th Infantry, who made the supreme sacrifice at Rouge-Bouquet, Forest of Parroy, France, March 7, 1918; read by the Chaplain at the funeral, the refrain echoing the music of taps from a distant grove.)
In the woods they call Rouge-Bouquet
There is a new made grave today,
Built by never a spade or pick,
Yet covered by earth ten meters thick.

There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh or live again
Or taste of the summer time;

For death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey -
And left them there -
Clay to Clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they sought to free,
And fled away.

Now over the grave abrupt and clear,
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear;
Go to sleep -
Go to sleep -

(Taps sounding in the distance)
There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this spot of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand,
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new come band.

St. Michael's sword darts through the air
And touches the aureols on his hair,
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons;
And Patrick, Bridget and Columbkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael's blood runs.

And up to Heaven's doorway floats,
From the woods called Rouge-Bouquet,
A delicate sound of bugle notes
That softly say:
Farewell -
Farewell -
(Taps sounding in the distance)

Comrades true,
Born anew,
Peace to you;
Your souls shall be where the heroes are,
Your memory shine like the morning star,
Brave and dear,
Shield us here -
Farewell -
Joyce Kilmer, Sgt. Inf.,
Killed in Action, July 30, 1918


We with the war ahead,
You who have held the line,
Laughing, have broken bread
And taken wine.

We cannot speak your tongue,
We cannot fully know
Things hid beneath your smile
Four years ago.

Things which have given us,
Grimly, a common debt,
Now that we take the field,
We won't forget I

Russell Lord, Corp. F. A.

Living the life of a soldier in the trenches is living a life apart from the world. Pictures of trench life fail to tell half of the story and repeated descriptions from men who were there are inadequate to bring to the civilian mind any clear cut picture. The new soldiers of America thought they understood all about trenches and trench warfare when the call to go in came to them in February, 1918, but the difference between training behind the lines and the real thing was the difference between day and night.
On February 22, 1918, the 1st Battalion pushed its way through the mud from Domjevin through Blemery to the trenches and quietly relieved a battalion of French troops. A, C and D companies were in the front line with B company in reserve at Battalion Headquarters, in Blemery.
Gun flashes intermittently lighted the darkness as the men ploughed through the sticky mud. In the distance the rattle of a machine gun broke the stillness of night and occasionally a rocket or flare broke high in the air above the German trenches. But it was quiet in that sector in spite of these slight evidences of war.
The St. Clement sector was considered a quiet sector and was used as a rest sector by both sides, but to the 166th Infantry, new to the actual game of war, it seemed lively every night.
In the inky blackness wire posts looked like Germans and many an unoffending stick of wood was made the target of a shower of rifle bullets and hand grenades. Many flares were sent up, another habit of the beginner. As the nervousness wore off, however, these symptoms disappeared and things settled down to the tedium of trench warfare which, as our English Allies so aptly said, is "damned dull, damned damp and damned dangerous".
Life in those days was anything but pleasant. The trenches in this sector were old and out of repair. The water and mud was knee deep in places and in many places "duck boards" or trench walks were conspicous by their absence. The dugouts were poor and inadequate in number and swarmed with rats and vermin.
It is surprising how quickly soldiers can accommodate themselves to the conditions under which they must live, and in a very short time the men of Ohio were veterans at the trench game. Patrols were sent out almost every night and such activity was the real romance of war to the Americans. From three to ten or more men under an officer would slip out of the trenches in the dead of night and move through the wire into No Man's Land. There for an hour or two they would roam the disputed territory sometimes with the mission of taking prisoners, sometimes to be prepared to combat a hostile patrol which showed intention of coming through the American wire. It was in a sense Indian warfare at which Americans excelled.
On the night of March 1-2 the ist Battalion was relieved by the 3rd and that same night the first man of our regiment and of the Rainbow Division to make the supreme sacrifice for the cause of freedom, "went west". Private Dyer J. Bird, Co. D, of Broadway, Union County, Ohio, was killed by a rifle or machine gun bullet as he was coming out of the trenches.
The funeral of Private Bird was held a few days later in Domjevin in the open space before regimental Headquarters. Major General Charles T. Menoher, commanding the 42nd Division, with Colonel Douglas MacArthur, Chief of Staff and members of the General Staff, together with high officers of the French Army attended the services and marched with the body of mourners to the little cemetery on the hill back of the village, where the casket, flag covered, was lowered into its grave. Heads were uncovered as Chaplain Halliday spoke the final words of prayer and all saluted as the soft tones of "Taps" paid the last measure of military devotion to one who had kept his "rendezvous with death."
What had been a quiet sector became "everything else but" about one week after the Rainbow Division went in. On the night of March 4 the i67th Infantry (Alabama) sent out a patrol and bagged two prisoners, said to be the first captured by Americans operating alone. Then on the morning of March 5 the Boche attempted a raid on the sector held by the Iowa men, the 168th Infantry. Running true to Yank form the men from the "tall corn state" smashed Heinie where it hurt and sent him back to his own trenches, a sadder but wiser man. Germany realized with bitter certainty that Von Tirpitz and his subs had failed to keep America on her own side of the Atlantic.
The ist Battalion had pioneered the way in the tumbledown trenches for the rest of the 166th. Dugouts had been made somewhat more habitable, yet there was still need for pumps to keep the water from getting more than knee deep in places, and one battalion never could exterminate all the rats in a week. The ist spent a miserable week learning how to snipe, how to distinguish a post from a German at night, and how to keep under cover when Boche planes were up. The 3rd Battalion came in in time to hold the trenches for the first big operation in which the regiment took part.
On the night of March 9 a patrol of 45 men, selected from all companies and led by Lieutenant Caleb B. Lear, D. Co., made a "go and come" raid on the German trenches in conjunction with a French raiding party on the left. The raid was carefully planned and included an hour's artillery preparation with participation by the Stokes Mortars and 37 m.m. guns and a machine gun barage. The regiment had been under fire for over a week and had grown used to the noise of shelling from American batteries, but the artillery bombardment which preceded this raid was the first concentrated fire the outfit had ever witnessed. A description of the bombardment from the viewpoint of an observer at Domjevin is given here because it paints a fairly accurate picture from behind the trenches. This officer had come to Colonel Hough's quarters on the night of the show to be where things could be seen and heard. He says: "Last night was a corker. I'm going to tell you a bit of it because it's a cinch that Old Fritz knows all about it by this time and what he learns from this letter won't add a bit to his store of military information."
"Yesterday afternoon I rode over to Regimental Headquarters which is a short distance 'behind the scenes,' and sat down to wait for the show which had been secretly advertised to begin about dusk. The main idea was to Strafe Heinie a bit - kick up enough of a row to permit a leisurely inspection of his living quarters by a few interested personages of French and American descent as 'twere."
"While we were in the Colonel's room in came Irvin S. Cobb and Martin Green, correspondents from Division Headquarters. It was my first meeting with Cobb and I surely did enjoy him before the evening was over. He just can't help being funny and in spite of the serious side of the performance we witnessed, he had us laughing half the time."
"To resume - the Colonel, Lt. Colonel and French officers left us before supper to go to a special point of observation. After we ate, we went outside and hunted up a high point of ground and planted ourselves for the show. It wasn't long in starting. The orchestra tuned up slowly, assisted by their directors - three aeroplanes, who acted as spotters. At the zero hour, the special time set for any military action to start, the orchestra began the overture!"
"Such a tune as they did play! Each instrument had a special solo and then at a signal from the direction overhead, all Hell literally broke loose! There were guns everywhere it seemed. Places on hillsides that in daytime resembled only green spots, clumps of trees or hay stacks, became furnaces pouring forth tons of white hot metal - great steel monsters belched forth from innocent valleys and sent shrieking through the air to the Boche lines over the hill, shell after shell so accurately timed that with four guns to a battery firing it was impossible to tell when the last one fired and the first one began."
"From where we stood when darkness came, it was like standing in the center of an enormous diamond ring, which sparkled from a hundred facets as the pale moon overhead sent its beams down on the glimmering surface. After a few seconds, one became bewildered in trying to focus eyes and attention on every spot at once. The noise was terrific, the reports blended into one perfect roar, so close were the explosives, one after another. At a distance they said it sounded like the rattle of one monster machine gun instead of the single shots from hundreds of cannon."
"Oh, it was wonderful! Words can't describe it - one must see and experience it to appreciate it. Its purpose and the result must be left untold. It is enough to know that it happened. For forty minutes it continued and then died away except for the occasional gasp from one or another battery that sounded like the dying cough of an automobile engine before it stops."
"And then the peace of night, a perfect spring night, settled down and the red glares burned out and the Hell-holes became again bushes, trees and stacks of hay. The moon shone as brightly as before, but somehow it was now dark, when before it had been light enough to read without artificial light. The night was colder it seemed, though the thermometer had not varied, yet a few moments before the heat had seemed intense. We men were all the same, yet each seemed different and voices that we had heard often and knew seemed strangely different - some soft and deep and sad, others high-pitched and shrill and nervous. Things were the same, but still so different."

Lt. J. J. Holliday. Chaplain. 165th Inf.. rendering last rite over body of Pvt. D. J. Bird, Co. D. 166th Inf., from Broadway, Ohio, first American soldier of 42nd Div. killed in St. Clement sector. This soldier was killed at a listening post by a German raiding party. He saw the Germans come out of the trench and after hurling two hand grenades in their midst, he turned to warn his comrades, when he received the fatal bullet. As he fell his comrades heard him call: "The Germans are coming in the form of a wedge. Boys, I'm dying." Domjevin, France, March 3, 1918

"Why? We had all seen Death, that strangest of all experiences, actually manufactured before our eyes! And each one's thoughts were turned to that unseen place 'over the hill' where Death we had seen new-born, stalked in all its ghostly majesty. Fritz had been strafed."
"As we turned to go back to the town, Cobb stopped and pointed to the spot where we had been standing. We looked and each knew what he meant. Our point of observation had been just outside the wall of a little cemetery, and there standing out clear against the skyline was a cross. Following so closely after that awful spectacle, the sight of that cross was uncanny. The Chaplain was with us and he whispered, 'Just inside that wall and beneath that cross, lies the first boy of the Division to die for France'."
"We got almost back to town before anyone spoke again. Then a few shots were fired far to our left and somewhere a German battery sent over a shell or two which burst far down the valley. Green stopped and turning to his partner Cobb, he said, 'Fritz seems to be coming to visit us. Now if he comes any nearer, Mrs. Green's boy is going down that road. Will you accompany me'? 'No,' replied Cobb, 'Most emphatically, no! If Mrs. Green's boy is going down that road he will be accompanied by no one, but Mrs. Cobb's son will precede him!'
"That broke the strain and from then on Cobb simply exuded humor until we left to come home about nine o'clock. It was a great night and one I never will forget for it was my first of the kind.
"Another Boche shell whined over toward the little party and struck in the valley beyond the town. Cobb, anxiously listening to its flight said, 'All this confirms your preaching, Chaplain. I don't like those things coming this way at all. I agree that it is more blessed to give than to receive'."
The raid itself was a success. However, so intense had been the artillery fire on the German positions that the arrival of the Americans came after the Boche had deserted his position. No prisoners were taken but identification was established and the patrol returned without casualty. As a result of this action twenty-three of the officers and men of the party were decorated with the French Croix de Guerre.
Irvin Cobb remained several days with the regiment and left many a humorous incident to brighten up the later days of work and worry. In the Saturday Evening Post of May 18, 1918, appeared an article by him entitled, "All American - out to them wires," which tells of the raid just described and of other incidents of his stay in the sector of the 166th Infantry. In explanation of the choice of the title for his story Mr. Cobb says that during the tour of the trenches he was under guidance of an "infantry captain - a man of German birth and German name, born in Cologne and brought to America as a child." (This man was Captain Robert Haubrich, Co. I, 166th Infantry.) The tour included a trip to the most advanced listening post where Cobb was given a chance to peer across into the German lines. Two soldiers manned the position.
"Is this your first close-up at No Man's Land ?" asked the Captain of Cobb.
"Before I could answer," continues Cobb, "one of the privates put in, 'It might a-been No Man's Land onct, Cap'n, but from now on it's goin' to be all American clear out to them furtherest wires yonder'."
"So that was how and when I found the title for this article * * * * That night just after dusk forty-five of our boys went over the top at the very point we had visited, and next morning, true enough, and for quite a while after that, No Man's Land was "All American clear out to them furthest wires."
Perhaps in retaliation for what they considered undue activity and inexcusable curiosity, the Boche on March 13, fur days after the big raid, subjected Domjevin to a heavy helling which lasted about one-half hour. Two Frenchmen ere killed and four wounded, while two men of the 166th were slightly wounded. The French officers hesitated about returning the fire saying that the shelling of the town was probably unintentional on the Germans' part. "Red" Wyatt, the regimental philosopher rendered his verdict of the incident. "That gunner over there is either drunk or a new beginner," he said, as he nervously counted the "arrivals."
Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, a resident of Cleveland, Ohio, paid the regiment a rather hasty visit on the morning of March 19. He was inspecting all the American forces for the President and came with great pleasure to see those of his own state in action. He was treated to a bit of retaliatory fire by the Boche on an American battery just outside of Domjevin, inspected the troops at Benemaiul and then hurried on his way.
This first period under fire was a test of training methods, an examination in the subjects taught in the United States and the back areas of France. The combat troops proved their efficiency and the Medical Detachment showed its worth in operations near Blemery, but the Supply Company, working alone and on a job about which no text books were written passed its examinations with equal credit.
C. C. Lyon, Columbus, Ohio, special correspondent for the Newspaper Enterprise Association, in an article in the "Stars and Stripes," the official newspaper of the A. E. F. which printed its first edition on February 8, 1918, says:
"You've got to take your hats off to the boys who drive the mule teams up to the front * * * They travel those roads night after night regardless of how many shells the Germans throw at them."
George Pattullo, in the Saturday Evening Post of April 20, 1918 speaks his mind in this fashion:
"And right here I want to say, Hats off to the mule skinners and the boys who drive the ammunition-and-supply wagons! Day and night they are at it. Night after night they move along roads that are sometimes a yawning tomb, to carry food and stuff to the men in the trenches. No matter how savage the bombardment, soldiers must eat; the fiercer
the fighting the greater the need for ammunition * * * Of all work done in the face of the enemy, to my mind that of the transport men at the front is the most hazardous."
These quotations from professional observers are given here to show you, readers, what was thought of the frontline supply game in the days when the 166th Infantry was undergoing its baptism of fire. Under Captain O. O. Koeppel the Supply Company developed an organization in the early days of the war that made it the pride of the regiment. Each battalion had its wagon trains under an assistant wagonmaster, the regimental train under Wagonmaster Sheean and Stable Sergeant Red Waggoman. Each battalion in the line had a supply company officer at Battalion Headquarters.
Every night the ration train came up to Blemery under its corporal. Every night the Boche shelled the hilly road from Domjevin to Blemery. With mathematical precision he put his shells, so many minutes apart on that road. Between shells, with the skill of a train despatcher, the corporals sent out one wagon. A shell - a wagon - a shell - a wagon - and so on until all had cleared. Never was a wagon struck on that road and supplies were regularly received at company kitchens.
On the night of March 11-12 the 2nd Battalion relieved the 3rd in the trenches and for ten days held the line. The usual procedure of patrols was kept up and the nervousness of inexperience worn off. On the night of the relief, at 2:45 o'clock a buck of F Company at one side of a U shaped trench looked out and saw a fence post across the little salient. He blazed away. 2:45 1/4 o'clock, 14 G. Company bucks on the other side of the U saw the gun flashes from F. Company, ducked and blazed away.
This duel kept up until the artillery, sure of an early morning raid, cut loose with a barrage. This was a distinctly American war conducted, probably to Heinie's amusement until daylight brought the information that should have been forthcoming the night before - that F and G Companies held opposite sides of the U-shaped trench. Luckily no one was hurt.
Ten days to the Battalion was the prescribed dose for the first trick and on the night of March 21 the 2nd Battalion gave way to the French and came out of the trenches during a very severe bombardment that extended well into the support positions. It was with great difficulty that the rolling stock was brought out of the area that night because of the shell-torn roads.
Thirty days in the trenches had brought to the regiment casualities of six killed and fourteen wounded.
The night of the 21st the regiment billeted in St. Clement and the next day started back to Hainville and Damas-aux-Bois to await orders. Colonel Hough waited at Domjevin to turn over the sector to the French on March 21. Red Wyatt was with him. Red wanted to be on his way, because Heinie, angry at the activity of the Americans during their thirty-day stay in his rest area, was shelling every town he could reach, even dropping shrapnel over Luneville, Division Headquarters. Domjevin was getting its share. Finally Red could contain himself no longer. The Colonel had stepped from the house and stood by his car, talking to a French officer. A shell cracked over the church.
Clutching the Colonel's arm Red pushed him toward the waiting automobile.
"Hell, Colonel, let's get a move on. You've been here for a month an' you've been pretty reasonable. Don't make a damn fool of yourself the last day and get us both killed. Get a move on and do your visiting some other time."


Standin' up here on the fire-tep,
Lookin' ahead in the mist,
With a tin hat over your ivory
And a rifle clutched in your fist;
Waitin' and watchin' and wond'rin'
If the Hun's comin' over tonight -
Say, ain't the things you think of
Enough to give you a fright?

When will the war be over?
When will the gang break through?
What will the U. S. look like?
What will there be to do?
Where will the Boches be then?
Who will have married Nell?
When's that relief a-comin' up?
Gee! But this thinkin's Hell !
Hudson Hawley, Pvt. M. G. Bn. 1918.
In the April 1, 1918 issue of the Reveille appeared the following article by Colonel Ben W. Hough: "Well done! That phrase of approbation epitomizes the message that the Commanding Officer of the 166th Regiment of the vanguard of the American Expeditionary Forces desires to express to his men as they emerge from a period of training and testing. * * *
"The Croix de Guerre, which the French Government has seen fit to present to your Commanding Officer, is not for personal fortitude. It represents regimental accomplishment. It is a reward for the Buceye units' courageous action and calm conduct under enemy fire that was daily increased to work against our morale. The war cross belongs to every man in the regiment."

Secretary of War Newton D. Baker with Major James A. Sampson, inspecting troops of 166th Infantry, Benamenil, France, March, 1918.

"In the future there is a promise. The past has revealed short-comings of a minor nature. Increased endeavor will eliminate these. That will come as an accompaniment of time and further training. My enthusiastic commendation includes both officers and men. The former have been good leaders and the latter have ever anticipated their leadings. Surely Ohio has a right to be proud of her sons in Regiment One-six-six."
After a month under the French in Lorraine, the 42nd Division was withdrawn from the front, assembled, and started on a long hike which was to be tactical march back to the Rolamport area for further training. Before leaving St. Clement the French presented the Croix de Guerre to 23 participants in the raid of March 9, and to Colonel Hough. The Colonel's reception of this honor is told in the passage quoted above.
One day's hike took the regiment back to Hallainville, Damas-aux-Bois and Clezentine, where orders indicated that a few days would be given to rest and receiving new equipment.
On Saturday, March 23, regimental review was held and an official photograph taken by a French photographer. Sunday was Palm Sunday and Chaplain Halliday held services for the entire regiment in a large field ner Damas-aux-Bois. His address to "Ye men of O-H-I-O" was inspiring. Colonel Hough personally expressed his appreciation of the work of the regiment.
Then followed a few days of comparative rest with rumors flying thick and fast. Everyone knew of the great German offensive launched on March 21 at Cambrai. The British forces were hard pressed and French troops were being hurried from quiet sectors to the scene of activity. Rumors had it that our rest would be short.
On March 27 all doubts were set at rest when orders were received to return to the Baccarat sector. The French Vllth Corps was needed elsewhere and the 42nd Division got its opportunity to hold a sector somewhat earlier than might otherwise have been the case.
After a frantic rush to get new equipment, a mad scramble to unload baggage which was ready for shipment to Rolampont, the Division began its move to Baccarat on March 29. The first day brought the 166th Infantry to Roville-aux-Chenes. Someone has recalled the fact that certain members, perhaps all, of the band missed breakfast that day when orderd to play the regiment out of Hallainville, and developed considerable discord. It is said that it required the services of the Colonel to bring out the harmony.
No one thought of moving beyond Roville that night, yet the Powers That Be decreed that the regiment be ready to take over its sector early on the morning of March 31. To do this orders required a move at midnight of March 29, and orders were obeyed. Twenty-eight more kilometers were reeled off by 7 a. m. on the 30th, a total of 40 kilometers in 24 hours, the longest, and in some respects the hardest hike the regiment ever made.
The movement was made through Baccarat to Montigny where Headquarters was established. The other units were stationed at Merviller, Reherrey, Vaxainville, Brouville, and Gelacourt.
On Easter Sunday, March 31, the 1st Battalion under Major Rell G. Allen took over the C. R. Ancerviller in sub-sector Merviller of the Baccarat Sector, while other elements of the Rainbow took stations assigned.
Describing the area Major Wolfe in his "Short History of the Rainbow Division, says: "Thus it was that the Rainbow was the second American division to be entrusted a sector, and the first in point of time to be entrusted with an entire divisional, two brigade-in-the-line sector. From the outset, the 42nd Division had, during its occupation of the Baccarat Sector, both its infantry brigades and its artillery brigade in the line: The 84th Brigade, on the right, as it continued to be thereafter through all the division's operations, held the sub-sector of Neufmaisons, which abutted on the boundary between the VIIIth French Army commanded
by General Gerard (with whom we were) and the Vllth French Army, which was in the Vosges on our south. The 83rd Brigade, on the left, held the sub-sector of Merville, and had on its left a French division. On the south, our divisional boundary lay through dense tangled woods and skirted treacherous trails through the steep and forest country, which, in the spring that was about to break, was idyllic with its soft green woods and farm fields; the River Meurthe formed the rear line of the division. It was a front of thirteen kilometers as the crow flies, and about sixteen kilometers with all its meanderings, and one of unusual interest, containing an alternation of patches of woods and farm lands, and finally, on the south, the ravinous and forest country of the Vosges. This front had, except for the past month, been quiet ever since the Germans had overrun it in the first hours of the war and were driven back across it by the defeat that Castelnau administered to them at Grand Courronne. It did not abound with chateaux, but it did consist of numerous small towns and villages closely connected by good roads, and of the two somewhat larger towns of Badonviller and Baccarat at both of which lay factories - at the former town, devoted to the making of pottery, and at the latter, the celebrated Baccarat Glass Works. Except for this industrial work, the life of the sector in peace times was pronouncedly agricultural. The whole territory lay about fifteen kilometers west of the 1914 German frontiers. At the Baccarat Sector, the opposing lines made the sharp break to the south which appeared so marked on all maps, and, due to this fact, this sector was considered the hinge for the entire Alsatian front, and important as such. A great road leading through Baccarat to Ramberviller to Epinal, if held by the enemy, would cut the main line of supplies to Alsace, and might sever the Vosges from the rest of the front, or might give the enemy an opportunity to sweep back to the River Meurthe past Luneville and threaten the line near Nancy and Pont-a-Mousson. This sector, with its great size and the strategic significance of its front, the division took over in great earnestness as a sacred trust. In a very short time the French command was entirely convinced that the new American Division could be relied on to defend it successfully in case of attack."
The sector of the 166th Infantry was described as C. R. (Center of resistance) Ancerviller, taking its name from the village of Ancerviller on its extreme right.
This position consisted of a series of six strong points running from the beautiful Bois-de-Comte on the left, across a small hill, to the village of Ancerviller, in the outskirts of which ran the trenches forming G. C.'s 5 and 6. The sector roughly formed a triangle with Montigny at the apex with a road leading to G. C. 10 in the Bois-de-Comte for one side and a narrow gauge railroad and trail running to Ancerviller for the other. The front trenches made the base with a frontage of approximately two kilometers facing the enemy.
Battalion Headquarters was in Ancerviller with the Regimental P. C. at Montigny. On April 6, Regimental Headquarters moved back to Reherrey and Battalion Headquarters to Montigny. The regiment held the left of the Division sector with the 167th and 166th on its right and the 165th in reserve at Deneuvre near Baccarat.
The serious situation developing on the north and the calm that had existed in the Baccarat sector since the new German offensive started, made it necessary to find out just what changes were being made in the opposition front. Identification had to be established in order to determine what activity might be planned in the Vosges region, and to that end .other activity on our part was subordinated to night patrols into Boche positions.
The Germans were active at night also and the inevitable
result was a series of clashes in the darkness which often brought down a barrage and a counter barrage, developing an operation that had all the appearance of a big push. By day all was apparently peaceful in the valleys but at night the wire and No Man's Land were alive with ghostly shapes.
On the night of April 7, three Germans who knew their way through the wire, entered Ancerviller and got as far as the main street before they were observed by a guard. "Red" Smith, Co. B, was on guard that night. His first knowledge of the patrol came when a voice said in English, "You're my prisoner." The feel of a gun accompanied the remark, but "Red" was inclined to dispute both the statement and the persuader.
"You're a damned fool," he shouted, and in good American fashion planted a bony fist in the Germans face. The Boche fired sending a bullet into Red's stomach. Red returned the fire from the ground, and his shots brought others of the guard. In the melee that ensued one German non-commissioned officer was killed and the others escaped. Ohio casualties were two wounded.
Each battalion of the 166th took an eight day trick in the front line. The 3rd Battalion under Major Henderson followed the 1st Battalion on April 8, and held its position until April 16, when the 2nd Battalion under Major Houser took the final period. Not a night passed without its patrol operations. One night Lt. Milton Monnett, Co. M, killed a black dog wearing a collar to which was attached a despatch case with German messages. The dog was used between the German trenches and some spy behind our lines. The circumstance together with the patrol operation described above forced the use of code signals in all messages and telephone calls and the use of a password and countersigns for all movements after night fall.
A rather unusual patrol operation was carried out by Lts. Koger and Reece of H. Co. on the night of April 20. Lt. Koger was just out of the hospital and not altogether fit. Sgt. Fuller was listed as second in command of the patrol, but Lt. Reece volunteered to go with the outfit. Lts. Koger and Reece, Sgt. Fuller and a French officer with a group penetrated the first German wire and reached the second positions. Machine gun fire was encountered and the men dropped to the ground. Sgt. Fuller was lying between Koger and Reece. After the first burst Lt. Koger heard a noise which he knew meant but one thing-the sound of swiftly flowing blood and a gasping cough which told him that Fuller had been shot. There was no chance for first aid. No man could move, but when the firing ceased the officers quickly reached the man who was dying. They picked him up and made their way through the danger zone of wire and trenches, under fire, and reached the remainder of their patrol. But Sgt. Fuller was dead. The officers carried the body back across No Man's Land to their own trenches.
Each evening Division Headquarters issued a password for the night which was given only to the guard by regimental headquarters. Anyone having necessity for passing the guards must secure the password from headquarters before venturing out, for the sentries had strict orders to pass only those qualified and to shoot on failure to receive proper answers.
It was necessary for the Supply Company to deliver rations to the front lines at night, and all ration-cart drivers were therefore given the password. Upon being challenged by a sentry the driver had to climb down from his seat, approach the sentry and give the password before being permitted to proceed. The mule skinners appreciated the necessity for this and were careful to comply.
One night the password was "Garibaldi," the name of a famous Italian patriot, and drivers were given the word and started out.
As the wagons neared the front the Boche began to shell the roads. The drivers hurried to their several kitchens, unloaded and started back as quickly as possible. The shelling increased, and the driver of a wagon hates to stay long in one place on a road where shells were cracking.
The last man out was Sam Shaw and Sam was nervous. A sentry challenged him and he dismounted, gave the word and moved on as quickly as possible. Again in a few yards he was halted and the same procedure gone through with. Sentries seemed more numerous and the shells were coming more frequently.
A third time the worried driver was forced to stop his team and give the password. He started again and urged his mules into a trot. A shell struck nearby. The mules lunged ahead. Another shell, and just then a sentry ahead called out, "Halt! Who's there?"
The exasperated mule skinner arose in his wagon and lashed at his mules. He didn't intend to be stopped again.
"Garibaldi, two mules and a ration cart. Get out of the way, you damn fool and let me go," he cried to the astonished sentry as his wagon dashed madly down the road.
After each battalion had completed its "trick in" the regiment was relieved by the 165th Infantry and dropped back to Deneuvre as Army Corps Reserve in defense of the Baccarat Sector. Regimental Headquarters, Headquarters Co., Supply Co. and 3rd Battalion less Co. I, were located in Deneuvre. I Co. was Neufmaison; A and Mg. Co's in Veney; the 2nd Battalion went to Camp Grand Voivre (Camp de Mud) and Brouville; Cos. B. C. D, in Haxo Barracks, Baccarat.


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