View Full Version : A Letter describing Battle of Belleau Wood

06-26-02, 05:39 PM
A Letter Describing
the Battle for Belleau Wood
by Lieutenant H.R. Long USMC,
6th Machine Gun Battalion,
published in The Adirondack Enterprise,
August 23, 1918

The Adirondack Enterprise is privileged in this issue to publish excerpts from letters written by First Lieutenant L.R. Long of the Marines and a brother of Dr. Esmond R. Long, member of the staff of the Saranac Lake Laboratory. He is intelligence officer for the only battalion of machine gunners in the marines. Nothing that the marines have written in letters and nothing that the staff correspondents of newspapers circulated in this section have said of the spectacular onslaught of the "devil dogs" at Chateau Thierry ~~ the blow that smashed the Huns at the gates of Paris and marked clearly and decisively the turning point in the war ~~ can surpass the graphic pen picture that this versatile writer and gallant soldier has sketched for his relatives.

The brilliant story of Bouresches, where the Marines struck and (one or two lines illegible) ... story of Belleau Wood, where the invincible Americans walked unfalteringly through a (another line illegible) ... finding themselves uncovered, rushed forth with the craven cry of "Kamerad;" the story of Hill 142 where the Marines pressed forward to their objective and triumphed against odds ~~ these are the stories that will fill the brightest pages of the history of America's part in the war and these are the stories from which the following extracts are taken, written as they could only be by one who has passed through it all and by one whose facile pen could blend so perfectly the lights and the shadows, the horrors and the glories.

The Turning Point

"I know you don't like to think about the war at all, but I want to tell you just a few things. I think we are at the turning point, or almost, and the whole business will come to an end 'toot sweet' as we Amex force people say. The American soldiers are magnificent and there is no resisting them. In one last attack, night before last, we met with almost no opposition. They picked up and ran ~~ those who did not surrender. Our bag in this operation, in which we took a town and quite a bit of ground, was over 400 men and officers."

The German Drive Smashed

"I wish you could have been along the first few days of the battle in this particular section. Of course, you have read of how, after the Boche bursted through at Soissons and came galloping south and West for 35 kilometers, the Marines stopped 'em at Bouresches and Bois de Belleau. It had trench warfare beaten to astand-still. We were 'way up northeast of Paris, getting organized and screwed up again after two months in the line at Verdun, when the news came that the Germans had broken through west of Rheims and were coming on double for Paris.

With only a few hours preparation we were hustled on trucks (It took about 200,000,000,000 of them, it seemed like) early in the morning, and tore across country for a whole day. All afternoon our long line of camions passed refugees and refugees (hundreds of them ~~ it was pathetic beyond all words). Farm wagons, baby carriages, wheel barrows, crying kiddies in tired womens' arms, old men, resigned and fatalistic sort of looking, laughing girls riding on hay wagons, holding on to cows and horses, women, bird cages and bundles in their arms, bravely trudging along westward ~ Katini, the women of France are the bravest people in the world, ~ and the French troops going and coming."

Mowed Germans Like Hay

"Late that night we halted beside the road. To the North and East the sky was red with the light of the burning villages, and guns too far off yet to be heard flashed like fire-flies. We flopped beside the road, deliriously tired and jolted up (these springless camions were hell on wheels), and a Boche plane buzzed by overhead and dropped two or three bombs through the dark at us. Every one was too tired to take any notice. We were off again in the morning and soon had to abandon the camions and deply our brigade in line. Our machine guns, by battalion, were on the designated brigade front, in battery, long before the infantry got into action! A few isolated French units were still among the marines 'till next morning, but when the Germans (held up by night) attacked about 8 a.m. there was nothing but a line of marines to stop them,~ a pretty thin line at that,~ but Jiminy Greaser, they attacked in mass formation and wemowed 'em down like hay. They came over tyhe top of theridge and down into the valley and the town of Bouresdches in a regular stream ~~ long thick lines of slow-moving grey ~~ right through bursting 75 shell, and into a belt ofmachine gun fire ~ about 720,00,000,000 of 'em, I should say roughly. The marines never budged an inch, and what Germans reached us were easily disposed of. They kept coming too, for two or three days, and believe me, it was some strenuous time."



06-26-02, 05:44 PM
A Letter Describing <br />
the Battle for Belleau Wood <br />
by Lieutenant H.R. Long USMC, <br />
6th Machine Gun Battalion, <br />
published in The Adirondack Enterprise, <br />
August 23, 1918 <br />
<br />
Crack Hun Divisions...

03-18-04, 11:02 AM
Bring back Up.......