Friday, July 04, 2014

When the Americans Turned the Tide

The Great War

The Germans were pushing toward Paris in 1918 when untested American troops helped stop them at the Marne River in a pivotal World War I battle.

JUNE 26, 2014

CHÂTEAU-THIERRY, France — Fifty miles to Paris. That was all that separated a hardened German Army from, perhaps, the end of the Great War. By early 1918, the Germans were rolling through northern France, and French commanders feared they were planning a decisive attack against the capital. First, though, they had to cross a ribbon of green water known as the Marne. And traverse a small forest known as Belleau Wood.

In their way were divisions of exhausted but experienced French and British troops, along with their new, largely untested allies from the United States. Months earlier, a war-weary Paris had welcomed the arriving American soldiers with parades and ecstatic relief, believing the Yanks would swing the war for the Allies. But French commanders were uncertain how these raw soldiers, many arriving without weapons, would fare against a German Army that had fought in bloody trenches for four years.

World War I was the first time an American army had fought in a European war, and they were being delivered to the doorstep of a slaughterhouse. Their orders at the Marne were straightforward: Hold the line. Stop them.

(More here.)


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