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THE UNITED STATES MARINES

Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun,
We have fought in every clime or place
Where we could take a gun—
In the snow of far-off northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job—
The United States Marines.





THE SOLDIERS WHO GO TO SEA

"If the army or the navy ever gaze on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded by United States marines."



So sing the soldiers who go to sea, commonly called the marines. The Germans after the battles of Belleau Wood and Bouresches called them "devil hounds," and the French named them the "green devils."

An English rhymester wrote to his home paper,

"You must not call them Sammies,
You should not call them Yanks.
And if you call them 'doughboys'
Loud laughter splits their flanks.
You will not call them Buddies,
And when on Kultur's track,
You need not call them forward,
You cannot call them back."



They know too that whenever trouble arises in any part of the world, they are the first to be sent to protect American interests. It is said that many of them believe the chief reason why the United States has a navy is for the purpose of carrying the marines to the points where they are needed. They are aware of the fact that marines may be landed and such landing not be considered an act of war. Therefore they look upon their service as much more important than that of the soldier.

The marine has been everywhere man has gone by land or sea or air, as one of their poets wrote:

"From the hills of Montezuma
To the gates of old Peking
He has heard the shrapnel bursting,
He has heard the Mauser's ping.
He has known Alaskan waters
And the coral roads of Guam,
He has bowed to templed idols
And to sultans made salaam."



"I am more than a sailor, for although I belong to the navy I fight on the land. I am more than a soldier, for I do all that the soldier does and at the same time I belong to the navy and go to sea." Thus the marine proves to himself that he is "it," as the soldiers and sailors would say.

"The marines get aviation, searchlight, wireless telegraph, heliograph, and other drill. They plant mines, put up telegraph and telephone lines in the field, tear down or build up bridges, sling from a ship and set up or land guns as big as 5-inch for their advance base work.

"It is a belief with marines that the corps can do anything. Right in New York City is a marine printing plant with a battery of linotypes and a row of presses. They set their own type, write their own stuff (even to the poetry), draw their own sketches, do their own photography, their own color work—everything. Every man in that plant is a marine, enlisted or commissioned. Every one has seen service somewhere outside his country."

Such a feeling of superiority, however, would soon be laughed down if it were not based upon something more than talk. The marines know this and try in every way to show that they excel the other branches. They are extremely careful of their dress, and their personal appearance, and of their conduct whether on duty or off. They try to sustain the reputation of their branch in every little way as well as in every great one.

As an illustration of this, they are not satisfied with a commonplace mascot. Soldiers and sailors, and marines too, must have a mascot. A cat, a dog, a goat, a parrot, a monkey, a pig, a lion cub, or a bear are among the commonest and most popular of mascots. Therefore the marines would usually disdain any one of these. If any of them should happen to be accepted as a mascot, there would be some wonderful story to explain why it was the most remarkable monkey, goat, or lion cub that ever lived.

A large and hideous snake, a young kangaroo, or an anteater are mascots more to the liking of the marines. They must have something like themselves, exclusive and distinguished. The anteater that one body of marines adopted when they were landed at Vera Cruz proved a very interesting and original mascot, and also that anteaters were not always exactly as they are described in school textbooks, for this anteater disdained to eat ants and greedily devoured anything from the food of the marines that they would give him, or that he could steal—bread, meat, pie, doughnuts, or eggs.

A writer telling about this anteater mascot says he was taught several tricks, one of which was to put out with his forepaws every lighted cigarette dropped near him and then to tear it into little pieces. Heywood Broun, the writer, goes on to say, "The marine who dropped a hundred franc note by mistake just in front of Jimmy says that teaching tricks to anteaters is all foolishness."
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that road only one organization was advancing, the United States marines.

At last, their destination reached early on the morning of June 2, they disembarked, stiff and tired after a journey of more than seventy-two miles, but as they formed their lines and marched onward in the direction of the line they were to hold they were determined and cheerful. That evening the first field message from the Fourth Brigade to Major General Omar Bundy, commanding the 2d Division, went forward:—

Second Battalion, 6th Marines, in line from Le Thiolet through Clarembauts Woods to Triangle to Lucy. Instructed to hold line. First Battalion, 6th marines, going into line from Lucy through Hill 142. Third Battalion in support at La Voie du Châtel, which is also the post command of the 6th Marines. Sixth Machine Gun Battalion distributed at line.


Meanwhile the 5th Regiment was moving into line, machine guns were advancing, and the artillery taking its position. That night the men and officers of the marines slept in the open, many of them in a field that was green with unharvested wheat, awaiting the time when they should be summoned to battle. The next day at 5 o'clock, the afternoon of June 2, began the battle of Château-Thierry, with the Americans holding the line against the most vicious wedge of the German advance.

The advance of the Germans was across a wheat field, driving at Hill 165 and advancing in smooth columns. The United States marines, trained to keen observation upon the rifle range, nearly every one of them wearing a marksman's medal or better, that of the sharpshooter or expert rifleman, did not wait for those gray-clad hordes to advance nearer.

Calmly they set their sights and aimed with the same precision that they had shown upon the rifle ranges at Paris Island, Mare Island, and Quantico. Incessantly their rifles cracked, and with their fire came the support of the artillery. The machine-gun fire, incessant also, began to make its inroads upon the advancing forces. Closer and closer the shrapnel burst to its targets. Caught in a seething wave of machine-gun fire, of scattering shrapnel, of accurate rifle fire, the Germans found themselves in a position in which further advance could only mean absolute suicide. The lines hesitated. They stopped. They broke for cover, while the marines raked the woods and ravines in which they had taken refuge with machine gun and rifle to prevent them making another attempt to advance by infiltrating through.

Above, a French airplane was checking up on the artillery fire. Surprised by the fact that men should deliberately set their sights, adjust their range, and then fire deliberately at an advancing foe, each man picking his target, instead of firing merely in the direction of the enemy, the aviator signaled below "Bravo!" In the rear that word was echoed again and again. The German drive on Paris had been stopped.

For the next few days the fighting took on the character of pushing forth outposts and determining the strength of the enemy. Now, the fighting had changed. The Germans, mystified that they should have run against a stone wall of defense just when they believed that their advance would be easiest, had halted, amazed; then prepared to defend the positions they had won with all the stubbornness possible. In the black recesses of Belleau Wood the Germans had established nest after nest of machine guns. There in the jungle of matted underbrush, of vines, of heavy foliage, they had placed themselves in positions they believed impregnable. And this meant that unless they could be routed, unless they could be thrown back, the breaking of the attack of June 2 would mean nothing. There would come another drive and another. The battle of Château-Thierry was therefore not won and could not be won until Belleau Wood had been cleared of the enemy.
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It was June 6 that the attack of the American troops began against that wood and its adjacent surroundings, with the wood itself and the towns of Torcy and Bouresches forming the objectives. At 5 o'clock the attack came, and there began the tremendous sacrifices which the Marine Corps gladly suffered that the German fighters might be thrown back.

The marines fought strictly according to American methods—a rush, a halt, a rush again, in four-wave formation, the rear waves taking over the work of those who had fallen before them, passing over the bodies of their dead comrades and plunging ahead, until they, too, should be torn to bits. But behind those waves were more waves and the attack went on.

"Men fell like flies"; the expression is that of an officer writing from the field. Companies that had entered the battle 250 strong dwindled to fifty and sixty, with a sergeant in command; but the attack did not falter. At 9:45 o'clock that night Bouresches was taken by Lieutenant James F. Robertson and twenty odd men of his platoon; these soon were joined by two reënforcing platoons. Then came the enemy counter-attacks, but the marines held.

In Belleau Wood the fighting had been literally from trees to tree, stronghold to stronghold; and it was a fight which must last for weeks before its accomplishment in victory. Belleau Wood was a jungle, its every rocky formation forming a German machine-gun nest, almost impossible to reach by artillery or grenade fire. There was only one way to wipe out these nests—by the bayonet. And by this method they were wiped out, for United States marines, bare chested, shouted their battle cry of "E-e-e-e-e y-a-a-h-h-h-yip!" charged straight into the murderous fire from those guns, and won!

Out of the number that charged, in more than one instance, only one would reach the stronghold. There, with his bayonet as his only weapon, he would either kill or capture the defenders of the nest, and then swinging the gun about in its position, turn it against the remaining German positions in the forest. Such was the character of the fighting in Belleau Wood, fighting which continued until July 6, when after a short relief the invincible Americans finally were taken back to the rest billet for recuperation.

In all the history of the Marine Corps there is no such battle as that one in Belleau Wood. Fighting day and night without relief, without sleep, often without water, and for days without hot rations, the marines met and defeated the best divisions that Germany could throw into the line.

The heroism and doggedness of that battle are unparalleled. Time after time officers seeing their lines cut to pieces, seeing their men so dog tired that they even fell asleep under shell fire, hearing their wounded calling for the water that they were unable to supply, seeing men fight on after they had been wounded and until they dropped unconscious; time after time officers seeing these things, believing that the very limit of human endurance had been reached, would send back messages to their post command that their men were exhausted. But in answer to this would come the word that the lines must hold, and, if possible, those lines must attack. And the lines obeyed. Without water, without food, without rest, they went forward—and forward every time to victory. Companies had been so torn and lacerated by losses that they were hardly platoons, but they held their lines and advanced them. In more than one case companies lost every officer, leaving a sergeant and sometimes a corporal to command, and the advance continued.

After thirteen days in this inferno of fire a captured German officer told with his dying breath of a fresh division of Germans that was about to be thrown into the battle to attempt to wrest from the marines that part of the wood they had gained. The marines, who for days had been fighting only on their sheer nerve, who had been worn out from nights of sleeplessness, from lack of rations, from terrific shell and machine-gun fire, straightened their lines and prepared for the attack. It came—as the dying German officer had predicted.

At 2 o'clock on the morning of June 13 it was launched by the Germans along the whole front. Without regard for men, the enemy hurled his forces against Bouresches and the Bois de Belleau, and sought to win back what had been taken from Germany by the Americans. The orders were that these positions must be taken at all costs; that the utmost losses in men must be endured that the Bois de Belleau and Bouresches might fall again into German hands. But the depleted lines of the marines held; the men who had fought on their nerve alone for days once more showed the mettle of which they were made. With their backs to the trees and bowlders of the Bois de Belleau, with their sole shelter the scattered ruins of Bouresches, the thinning lines of the marines repelled the attack and crashed back the new division which had sought to wrest the position from them.

And so it went. Day after day, night after night, while time after time messages like the following traveled to the post command:—

Losses heavy. Difficult to get runners through. Some have never returned. Morale excellent, but troops about all in. Men exhausted.
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Exhausted, but holding on. And they continued to hold on in spite of every difficulty. Advancing their lines slowly day by day, the marines finally prepared their positions to such an extent that the last rush for the possession of the wood could be made. Then, on June 24, following a tremendous barrage, the struggle began.

The barrage literally tore the woods to pieces, but even its immensity could not wipe out all the nests that remained, the emplacements that were behind almost every clump of bushes, every jagged, rough group of bowlders. But those that remained were wiped out by the American method of the rush and the bayonet, and in the days that followed every foot of Belleau Wood was cleared of the enemy and held by the frayed lines of the Americans.

It was, therefore, with the feeling of work well done that the depleted lines of the marines were relieved in July, that they might be filled with replacements and made ready for the grand offensive in the vicinity of Soissons, July 18. And in recognition of their sacrifice and bravery this praise was forthcoming from the French:—

Army Headquarters, June 30, 1918.

In view of the brilliant conduct of the Fourth Brigade of the Second United States Division, which in a spirited fight took Bouresches and the important strong point of Bois de Belleau, stubbornly defended by a large enemy force, the General commanding the Sixth Army orders that henceforth, in all official papers, the Bois de Belleau shall be named "Bois de la Brigade de Marine."

DIVISION GENERAL DEGOUTTE,
Commanding Sixth Army.



On July 18 the marines were again called into action in the vicinity of Soissons, near Tigny and Vierzy. In the face of a murderous fire from concentrated machine guns, which contested every foot of their advance, the United States marines moved forward until the severity of their casualties necessitated that they dig in and hold the positions they had gained. Here, again, their valor called forth official praise.

Then came the battle for the St. Mihiel salient. On the night of Sept. 11 the 2d Division took over a line running from Remenauville to Limey, and on the night of Sept. 14 and the morning of Sept. 15 attacked, with two days' objectives ahead of them. Overcoming the enemy resistance, they romped through to the Rupt de Mad, a small river, crossed it on stone bridges, occupied Thiacourt, the first day's objective, scaled the heights just beyond it, pushed on to a line running from the Zammes-Joulney Ridges to the Binvaux Forest, and there rested, with the second day's objectives occupied by 2:50 o'clock of the first day. The casualties of the division were about 1000, of which 134 were killed. Of these, about half were marines. The captures in which the marines participated were 80 German officers, 3200 men, ninety-odd cannon, and vast stores.

But even further honors were to befall the fighting, landing, and building force, of which the navy is justly proud. In the early part of October it became necessary for the Allies to capture the bald, jagged ridge twenty miles due east of Rheims, known as Blanc Mont Ridge. Here the armies of Germany and the Allies had clashed more than once, and attempt after attempt had been made to wrest it from German hands. It was a keystone of the German defense, the fall of which would have a far-reaching effect upon the enemy armies. To the glory of the United States marines, let it be said, that they were again a part of that splendid 2d Division which swept forward in the attack which freed Blanc Mont Ridge from German hands, pushed its way down the slopes, and occupied the level ground just beyond, thus assuring a victory, the full import of which can best be judged by the order of General Lejeune, following the battle:—

France, Oct. 11, 1918.

Officers and Men of the 2d Division:—

It is beyond my power of expression to describe fitly my admiration for your heroism. You attacked magnificently and you seized Blanc Mont Ridge, the keystone of the arch constituting the enemy's main position. You advanced beyond the ridge, breaking the enemy's lines, and you held the ground gained with a tenacity which is unsurpassed in the annals of war.

As a direct result of your victory, the German armies east and west of Rheims are in full retreat, and by drawing on yourselves several German divisions from other parts of the front you greatly assisted the victorious advance of the Allied armies between Cambrai and St. Quentin.

Your heroism and the heroism of our comrades who died on the battlefield will live in history forever, and will be emulated by the young men of our country for generations to come.

To be able to say when this war is finished, "I belonged to the 2d Division; I fought with it at the battle of Blanc Mont Ridge," will be the highest honor that can come to any man.

JOHN A. LEJEUNE,
Major General, United States Marine Corps, Commanding.
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