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 Post subject: Imagine
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:36 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:53 pm
Posts: 12934
Location: CT
One hundred years ago this month, the American Expeditionary Force (led by US Army General John J "Blackjack" Pershing) began arriving in France to help the Allies beat Germany. We sent about 4,000,000 troops altogether and had 110,000 killed in less than 5 months of combat (about 45,000 of those by the worldwide "Spanish Flu" pandemic of 1918).

New to combat in those years were the submarine, the machine-gun, tanks, aerial bombing, strafing, trench warfare and poison gas.

Just two regiments and two battalions of US Marines arrived at Belleau Wood, 58 miles outside of Paris, to prevent 5 German divisions from entering the city and winning the war. As the Marines rushed to the front, they were met by hundreds of fleeing French and British soldiers, whose officers ordered the Marines to "turn back, we're retreating!". The Marines responded, "Retreat hell, we just got here!" and continued charging to the front. They found themselves facing a woodline full of German machine-guns and artillery, separated by a wide wheat field. Pinned down and taking casualties, 1stSgt Dan Daly USMC (two Medals of Honor) jumped up and led the attack by calling to his men, "Come on, you SOBs, do you want to live forever"? The Marines charged across the open field into the woods with rifles, shotguns, bayonets, grenades and pistols, driving the Germans into retreat out of the woods. The Germans outnumbered the Marines by more than 12:1 but by the Marines' ferocity and tenacity, the Germans thought there were tens of thousands of them. Front-line German officers called the Marines "TeufelHunde" (Devil Dogs) and the name has stuck for 100 years. The Marines lost 1,090 men in that 25-day battle, 01-26 June, 1918.

After the battle there was much discussion about the familiar quotes. Some say the Marines yelled back to the fleeing Allies, "Retreat Hell! We just got here!" while others claim they worded it as an utterance of disappointment, "Retreat?" Aw hell, we just GOT here!".

At the wheat field 1stSgt Daly's words were unmistakable, but while some claim he was consoling his men if they must die that day, others opine he was offering them immorality for making such a reckless frontal assault into fixed machine-gun positions. Either way, they will indeed live forever for having made the charge into Belleau Wood. Army General BlackJack Pershing himself proclaimed to the newspapers that "the deadliest weapon in the world is a US Marine and his rifle".


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