|San Juan Record
|No Copyright - United States (NoC-US)
|Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
|General Pershing's Story of the A. E. F.
|San Juan Record
general ener fils is ht all 11 II qt north I 1 america I 1 by th story of the th e A E 0 F fad served world dini rights R r a production product lon in whole acl or in part prohibited B by gen johnf dovw J pershing service CHAPTER continued it was wag a source of real regret to roe me not to command the first division in person and this coupled with the fact that its entry into the battle was wn of considerable moment led me to speak a word of confidence and e encouragement n co ura gement when the officers about in all were assembled in the grounds of the chateau occupied as division headquarters cley formed a rare group these splendid looking men hardened by the strenuous work of the fall and by two months in winter trenches fairly radiated the spirit of courage and gave promise that amer ica beffort sef fort would prove her sons sona the equals of their forefathers the first division saw its first major offensive some six weeks later a brilliant counterattack at Canti guy la the allens amiens sector wanted the A E F united that afternoon I 1 motored to sarcus to see aee general foch and sound him out regarding the prospects of uniting our divisions in a sector of our own ibold him that the secretary of war when in france had expressed an earnest desire to hasten the formation of an american army and that this was wa also the wish of the president it was my opinion I 1 said that early action would be of great importance in stimulating the morale of our troops and of our people now that the first division was to go into line the people at home would expect soon boon to bear that an american army was engaged on its own front I 1 suggested the possibility that the corps might be assembled near the first dl wislon as an a beginning general foch agreed in principle to the suggestion but was uncertain when the other divisions could be spared pared which 1 I of course fully appreciated precia ted fie pointed out thit that the enemy was very aggressive and referred to the severe attack against the british on the lys between lens and ypres cypres which began on the atil ath and was still in progress but i looking beyond I 1 insisted that the awen ty sixth and Forty second divisions might be withdrawn at any time from quiet sectors to be followed by the second and the thirty second and also the third a few days later I 1 pointed out that this force of six divisions including the first would equal twelve french divisions and gave it as my opinion that it would be better to use this american group for active operations than to detain the units in quiet sectors and send french divisions to the battle front my understanding after this discussion was very definite that the plan would soon be carried out leaving the exact time mae and place to bedA be determined it was immaterial to me just where it should occur the point being to get it done hard fighting on the lys ly the german offensive on the lys was another formidable efforts to break the british line the attack was made to the north and south of Arment Armenti leres eres on a front of 24 miles by 27 german divisions the exhausted british though they fought with most commendable courage and skill were forced again to yield with henvy heavy losses to themselves and the portuguese consisting of two divisions who were several leeral french divisions were hurried to the lys front but it was a week after the attack began before they were v ere put into the line they then relieved british divisions af atthe the famous kerimel Keni inel hill only to be surprised and defeated themselves april 23 25 much to their chagrin the battle was practically ended by the last of the month with it a gain by the germans of ten or eleven miles and the capture of important territory from the british but with failure to take hazebrouck CHAPTER it was always stimulating to ones morale to visit the headquarters of the canadians where one soon baug caught lit the fine spirit of that superb body I 1 made such a visit in the file spring of 1918 1018 find and talked with their corps commander gen sir arthur currle currie his chief of staff major general weber his chief of engineers major general lindsay and others and had ten tea with ft ath them the alertness and confidence of these neighbors of ours and the excellent record they had made and were still making gave us as much gratification as though they had been our 0 own n I 1 remember this visit with much pleasure and reca recall the prediction of the canadians that americans would soon play an important part in the war general currle currie deplored the tact fact that the british had so easily given up daele ridge which the year before lie he had been told must be taken at all costs and for which the canadians made the tremendous sacrifice of casualties calls call at british Q G H Q at the invitation imitation of sir douglas halg haig british camander cu cian mander iander in thief alef I 1 went to the british general headquarters s april ril 10 20 to discuss the training of our troops with the british and study op orations in progress pro gres i we were always made welcome at british headquarters it so happened that on the day of our arrival lord derby who had just been relieved as minister of war by lord milner was thera en route to parts paris as british ambassador during dinner the con vers atlon ran along freely as though we were members of the official family at length lord derby and sir douglas drifted to the subject of british politicians politician it would betray no confidence to say that there was considerable criticism of some who held prominent places the coalition government came in for its share because of its attitude toward the military high command I 1 took advantage of the opportunity while on the british front to visit the Norda ques area to in inspect hect the advance elements of the seventy sev anth division one of the divisions selected for training with the british we took luncheon with brig gen evan al johnson then temporarily in command and his staff officers ile he praised the soldierly qualities of the men but said they were very much behind in their training makes agreement with haig at sir douglas headquarters he and I 1 reached an understanding as to the training and administration of our troops that were to be temporarily with the british in the first place mace they were to be allocated by regiments to british skeleton d under such a schedule as might be agreed upon the training staffs of british divisions were to be at the disposal of these regiments especially for instruction in the use of the rifle and machine gun and the handling of gas after that and with the approval of their american division com coin f mander the regiments were to be ritta attached clied to a british division in line so each of the three battalions of the regiment would have the opportunity t to 0 serve with one of the three brigades brit in each british division battalions were to be commanded by their own officers as a part of the british brigade while the staff of the american regiment was to be attached to that of the brigade in the next stage the american regiments their three battalions united under ihil the regimental commander were to act as h a brigade in a british division the final stage s would find the four american regiments of each division united as such under its own officers the artillery being british until the arrival of its own artillery brigade in currying carrying out this scheme the tendency fit at first was for british officers actually to assume command of our units in training our officers in most cases permitted this to be done until it was checked by my orders that american units must be commanded in training by the officers and noncommissioned officers who are to command them in battle and that american troops would in all cases be commanded in battle only by americans talks shipping in london following a suggestion by lord milner I 1 went to london april 22 1918 to consider further the shipment of american troopers at our first conference there were present lord milner billner and gen sir henry witson who had succeeded general robertson as the chief of the general staff harbord and myself the main point of difference that had developed in pl clevious evious conferences as to just how tar far the americans should be committed to serve tn in active operations was ag again a in considered I 1 stated that the main thing was to get our units trained and that while I 1 was opposed to 0 o amalgamation yet it if during the period of instruction the units with which they were serving should be attacked or if another great emergency should arise of course our men would go la in naturally the british wanted unlimited infantry tri and machine gun units but I 1 would consider nothing further than a limited extension of the six division plan during the conference a cable from lord reading to the prime minister was brought forth which stated that the president had agreed amalgamation ga mation matlon of americans americana with the british I 1 had nothing official at hand later than the presidents denra conditional approval of guint note no 18 of the supreme war council al as suggested by secretary baker so I 1 promptly said that it could not be possible that any such each concession had been made and that the classes of our troops to be shipped over and their disposition must be left to me agree on troop shipments As a result of these discussions we reached an agreement which provided tor for the shipment in may by british and american tonnage of the infantry machine gun engineer and signal troops together with the various unit headquarters of six divisions for training with the british army it was provided that any shipping in excess of the amount required for this number of troops should be utilized to transport trun sport the artillery of these divisions also that such personnel as might be required to build up corps organizations should then follow it being understood that the artillery regiments would train with the french and join their proper divisions when this was completed to meet any emergency that might require an excess of infantry after the completion of this program it was agreed that all the american and british shipping available for the transportation of troops was to be used under such arrangement as would insure immediate aid to the allies and thereafter as far as possible provide other units necessary to complete the organization of our divisions and corps it was further agreed that the combatant troops mentioned in connection with may shipments should be followed by such services of 0 supply and other contingents as we ourselves might consider necessary the shipment of a large number of these troops ab should be utilized at my discretion except that the six divisions which the british were to transport would be trained with them washington makes concession reaching beaching chaumont I 1 found that a cablegram dated april 28 26 had been received transmitting a memorandum dated april 19 that had been sent by direction of the president to the british ambassador at washington in conformity with his approval of note no 18 in this memorandum the shipment of infantry and machine gun units per mouth month for four months was conceded with the understanding that their assignment for training and use should be left to my discretion it went on to say that the united states until the situation changed had no intention of departing from as full compliance with the recommendation mend men dation atlon of the permanent military representatives as the nature of the case would permit this was the first official information I 1 had received that the administration had agreed to send any specific numbers of infantry and machine gun units to france this concession went further than it was necessary to go and much further than I 1 had expected realizing jhb complications that might arise from commitments so far in the future and the delay in forming an american army that would follow I 1 did not agree in later discussions at the all sui preme war council with all that the allies now felt justified in demanding I 1 was opposed to the action of the supreme war council in assuming the power under any circumstances to dis pose of american troops it was not in any sense a prerogative of the supreme war council there can be little doubt that lord rending reading received the distinct impression from froin president dent wilson that infantry and machine gun units would lie be sent to franco france at the rate of men per month for four Inon months tim beginning with april that the president agreed to this in principle la Is practically certain it need not be further emphasized that such a concession even though prompted by the most generous im impulse pulse could only add to the difficulties of our task of building up an army of 0 our own it Is probable that lord reading skilled advocate that lie he was did more millie mille ambassador at washington to influence the rhe administration to grant allied requests than any other individual CHAPTER I 1 left london april 25 1018 1918 and crossed to france ina in a british destroyer st rojer colonel mott was at boulogne with a request for me from general foch to come to sarcus I 1 learned then that the twenty second division at had repulsed a severe trench raid on the night of april 20 2021 21 and had suffered considerable loss arriving at general fochs focha headquarters I 1 found generals bliss harbord and already there and after dinner we entered into a general discussion about american troop shipments the conversation ran as n follows foch on march 28 you came to offer the services of american troops I 1 have a vivid recollection of the occasion As to the american divisions in what ft hat order do you think they should be employed pershing the order would be the twenty sixth forty second second tile the first had already been sent to an active front near Am allens amiens lens the regiments of the thirty second will be ba ready by may 1 foch I 1 do not think they can be used before slay may 5 but the more we put into the line the better it will be ba your seventy seventh division has arrived I 1 see what about the third and fifth pershing the infantry of the third has arrived and that of the fifth will soon follow pere hing stands firm F foch och what we need now Is infantry especially the british on account of the present crisis that Is why the supreme war council at versailles recommended that all tonnage be devoted to that purpose tor for the time being I 1 hope that america may inay send over as much infantry as possible during the next nest three months the other arms to complete your divisions can come afterward what do you think of that plan pershing I 1 cannot commit myself to such a proposition if nothing but infantry and machine gunners are brought over oer to the total of it will be october or november ll 11 before the artillery and auxiliary troops could arrive and we could not foresee the formation of an american army until next spring foch I 1 think your calculation Is rather pessimistic for we ve could begin bringing your other troops in august but without considering that point we can furnish you with artillery and its ita personnel onnel and you can have your divisions reconstituted beginning with october what would you propose in this connection pershing 1 I think we should limit the transportation of infantry to may find that the artillery and auxiliary troops should come in n june they should not arrive more tvan than a month later than the infantry under what conditions would you employ the american infantry units TO ahl CONTINUED ENGLAND LOCATION AMERICAN DIVISIONS MAY res 0 bottle Batt leline line international boy ay brux elles numerals indicate Div divisions i fe circled numerals those not in ma line e L i I 1 0 5 50 0 MILES 0 so iso