Tuesday, August 11, 2009
4th Machine Gun Battalion
4th Machine Gun Battalion
The following is a summary of notes made by my grandfather James Madison Pearson in early 1918 prior to major action:
The 4th Machine Gun Battalion was organized at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, W.R. Mills Commanding. Captain White commanded Company C. Other officers included 1st. Lt. Hilton, 2nd Lt. Edward Hines, Jopsen, Vail, and Everett.
After sailing from the United States, via Liverpool and Winchester, England, arrived in Le Harve, France January 11, 1918. Left the same date and arrived in Bourmont, France January 14, 1918. Marched to Graffigny-Chemin for billeting. The battalion stayed in training until March when the battalion name was changed to 2 Co. (?) and company C was changed to company B. The battalion was placed in reserve at St. Michel at what was called Camp Gibralter. The Battalion remained there about a week. Company B was sent to Troyen (Troyes). Headquarters Company was sent to Bois de Gauffier.
Lt. Hines went to the hospital, Base 15 at Chaumont, and died in April of 1918.
Subsequent to my grandfather’s deployment near Graffigny-Chemin, serious action began in the spring of 1918.
With the advantage of 50 German Divisions released by the collapse of the Russian Empire on Germany’s Eastern Front, the Germans launched a Spring Offensive on the Western Front hoping to defeat the Allies before the mobilization of the American Forces. There were four coordinated German attacks against the British and French Forces in the north, witgh the goal of reaching French ports and end British resupply of material and soldiers. Along the Marne, the Germans achieved success.
“Victory seemed near for the Germans, who had captured just over 50,000 Allied soldiers and well over 800 guns by 30 May 1918. But after having advanced within 56 km of Paris on 3 June, the German armies were beset by numerous problems, including supply shortages, fatigue, lack of reserves and many casualties along with counter-attacks by and stiff resistance from newly arrived American divisions, who engaged them in the Battles of Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood.”
Hoping to capitalize on this success, the Germans launched an offensive further south in what was called the “Second Battle of the Marne”.
“The 2nd Infantry Division drew its first blood in the nightmare landscape of the Battle of Belleau Wood and contributed to shattering the four-year-old stalemate on the battlefield during the Château-Thierry campaign that followed. On July 28, 1918, Major General Lejeune assumed command of the 2nd Infantry Division and remained in that capacity until August 1919, when the unit was demobilized.
The division went on to win hard-fought victories at Soissons and Blanc Mont. Finally the Indianhead Division participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive which spelled the end of any German hope for victory. On November 11, 1918 the Armistice was declared, and the 2nd Infantry Division marched into Germany, where it performed occupation duties until April 1919. 2nd Infantry Division returned to U. S. in July 1919.
The 2nd Infantry Division was three times awarded the French Croix de Guerre for gallantry under fire at Belleau Wood, Soissons, and Blanc Mont.”
Second, 2nd Division (Regulars and Marines)
Nickname: Indian Head Division
9th, 23rd Infantry (Inf.)
12th, 15th, 17th Artillery (Art.)
4th, 5th, 6th Machine Gun (M. G.)
2nd Engineers (Eng.)
5th, 6th Marines
Generals Commanding: Omar Bundy, J. G. Harbord, J. A. LeJeune.
Engaged: Bouresches, Belleau Wood, Chateau Thierry, St. Mihiel, Argonne, Rhine.