The Battle of Belleau Wood
Contributor: firstname.lastname@example.org Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
The battle fought in Belleau Wood (June 1918) was the first real taste of battle for the US Marines in World War One with General Pershing calling Belleau Wood the most important battle fought by US forces since the US Civil War. The Battle of Belleau Wood was part of the Allied drive east away from an axis from Amiens to Paris in what was a response to the German Spring Offensive in 1918.
During the Spring Offensive, the Germans had come dangerously close to breaking the Allied lines protecting Amiens and Paris. Ludendorff’s force was strengthened by a huge influx of experienced German soldiers who had fought in Russia. However, as a result of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1917), Russia had pulled out of World War One and Germany, therefore, could move her soldiers to the Western Front. The German push, ironically, was so successful that those at the front – Stormtroopers who had done so much damage to the Allied front line – could not be supplied and their advance slowed to a halt short of Amiens. Along the line of advance, however, the Germans had constructed heavily defended positions that while in place threatened cities such as the major rail hub at Amiens and Paris itself. One such place was Belleau Wood.
The task of clearing Belleau Wood was given to the 2nd and 3rd Divisions of the US Army. Half of the 2nd Division was made up of units of the US Marines (the 4th Marine Brigade, which comprised of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments).
To get to the woods, the Marines had to cross wheat fields and meadows. The Germans had placed their machine guns in a way that they could continuously sweep these fields with accurate and high intensity fire. The Marines had to launch six attacks on German positions in Belleau Wood that were for the most part difficult to identify in an initial attack because they were so well positioned. The wood itself was also made up of closely packed trees that made any advance difficult in the extreme.
Caught in the open fields or in the densely packed wood, French officers advised the Marines to turn back. This they refused to do. US Marine Captain Lloyd Williams said in response to this, “Retreat? Hell, we just got here.”
US Marine casualties were the highest in the Corp’s history up to that date. However, once units got into the woods, the trees that hindered a swift advance also became a source of protection. Marine snipers could pick-off German machine gun posts with some ease. Once a machine gun fired, it gave away the position of the machine gun team. General Pershing was to state that “the deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.” Even a post-battle German report stated that the Marines marksmanship was “remarkable”.
By June 26th, the Marines confirmed that they had taken the entire woods. To clear the woods in their entirety, the Marines had frequently resorted to hand-to-hand fighting with bayonets and knives. Such was the ferocity of this that the Germans gave the Marines the nickname “Teufel Hunden”, which roughly translates as “Devil Dogs”.
The success of the US Marines in clearing such a strategically important place came at a cost. Out of the 9,777 US casualties, 1,811 were fatalities. No one is quite sure about German casualties because the end of the battle at Belleau Wood corresponded with a general German withdrawal along the whole front. Over 1,600 German prisoners were taken, so it is assumed that German casualties were high.
In terms of overall casualty figures, the casualties at the Somme and Verdun dwarf the number of deaths at Belleau Wood. However, the psychological damage the defeat had on the German military cannot be underestimated. The Germans were in a very well-defended stronghold with a sweep of fire that was to prove deadly. Few in the German military hierarchy would have expected the woods to fall so quickly. Not only was the defeat of the Germans at Belleau Wood a major blow to the Germans it also proved to be a huge morale booster to the Allied forces that were still suffering from the onslaught that was the German Spring Offensive. After the battle, the French renamed Belleau Wood “Bois de la Brigade de Marine” – Wood of the Marine Brigade and the 4th Brigade was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French in recognition of their achievement.
Contributor: email@example.com Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Hugh Fackrell was born in Orderville 17 April 1891, "My beautiful red haired sweetheart baby", his mother said. Mae was born on his 20th birthday. Hugh was 6' tall and slender built. His mother said he was an easy child to raise, serious, studious, and obedient. His teenage and adult life is filled with accomplishments and recognition for service.
His certificate for completion of high school is very large and ornate. Not many accomplished this at that time. He advanced in the priesthood on time, showing his faithfulness. His patriarchal blessing was given him when he was only 11 years old. He was a prepared missionary when he was called to serve. Before Hugh went on a mission he worked at home. He kept good records of the animals he bought, what they cost, what kind of feed he bought and what it cost. He was a good businessman and made a profit. Hugh attended Ricks college. Most of his entries showed that "I was able to make a good weekly report". Evidently at that time they had a weekly accounting of school accomplishments. He was reprimanded once for having an "Uncle" in the room.??? In a call issued by Church President Joseph F. Smith, Hugh was called November 4th, 1910 " to attend the one year course at Ricks Academy as a preparation for labor in the field to which you may hereafter be assigned."
Hugh left 27 October 1911 to serve in the Eastern Mission under Ben E. Rich who was mission president. In president Rich's "welcome letter", he wrote, "A person should have at least $50.00 to buy supplies... and $40.00 or more for deposit in the mission office." Since wages of that day were about $2.00 per day, and today we might get about $80.00 per day, that deposit in today's dollars would be about $1600.00. That must have been quite a sacrifice for the family. He slept in strawstacks and barns a lot and ate when food was available. At 155 lbs he would not have had much reserve. Evidently they came upon an apple orchard because he said they " Ate a lot of apples since tomorrow was fast Sunday."
He was assigned to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and a family he was staying with said that was a terrible place. He said, " There are good people every where". It was rainy, smoky and gloomy he said, but there were some good people there, although most said they had their own church and did not want to listen. Hugh served valiantly in many eastern cities for thirty months, completing his honorable mission, and then returned home to Riverside about December of 1813. Hugh was called to a "Home Mission", almost as soon as he arrived home. He also homesteaded in Alridge, Idaho, probably near Firth.
Then in early 1917 the European campaign of the 1st World War began and Hugh was one of the first young men to go from Bingham County. He joined the Marines and was training at Mare Island, California, when Cyrus died. He was allowed to come home for the funeral and soon after was reassigned to Quantico, Va. From there he was shipped to France, fighting in some of the hardest fought [hand to hand combat] battles of the war. Sitting in a muddy fox hole, near the Belleau Woods, in France, fighting the German enemy, he wrote this letter to his mother. " May10, 1918. My Dear Mother; Sunday is Mother's day. Your letter aren't getting to me and mine are being returned. [censors would not release letters for mailing]. However you must know and feel I am well and getting along the best that could be expected. The Lord surely hears your prayer in my behalf. Sometimes I feel a little disgusted and downhearted, but when I get your letters and realize your love for me, it makes me ashamed of my weakness and new courage comes to me, and I feel nothing is too big an undertaking for one to try. I believe with all knowledge and assurance of your love and confidence, I could go through any danger or hardship that might come my way.
Yes, we have a mean job on our hands and it takes a man to go through it without growling and grumbling all the time, But with the help of the Lord and the love of you at home, I have just what it takes to do this. I sure love to get you encouraging letters. I wish I might tell you all about my work, but remember the time will come when I can give you the whole story. And when I think of the happy reunion in the days to come it makes life sweeter and I commence to realize what a blessing friends and loved ones are to a person.
I got a letter from Maggie Smith in Philadelphia, also others, and believe me I have been blessed with dear friends in this world. The news of home folks is interesting, but the news of you loved ones is the kind that makes me feel good.
Here are the wishes of a far off son to a loving mother. May the Lord bless you with a long, happy life, that your sweet influence may cause many more to love the right as it has me. You have always been the greatest source of strength to me, and may we in the near future be nearer each other. Remember most of all I am well and happy with your love. Accept all the love and good wishes possible for a son to his mother. Your loving son, Hugh.
In a Shelley, Idaho news article, it said, "Hugh answered the first call for volunteers, and was among the 8,000 marines who stemmed the German tide which threatened Paris and was in continuous action from the time he landed in France until he met a glorious death on the field of battle."
A dispatch from the Marine Corps, July 16, 1918, "Deeply regret to inform you that Hugh Fackrell, Marine Corps, was killed in action June twenty-four. Body will be interred abroad until end of war. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy in your great loss. Your son nobly gave his life in the service of his country." Hugh was posthumously awarded 3 medals, The Alane Battle Clasp, The defensive Sector Clasp, and Bronze Stars.
From "Families of Destiny" by Arlen Clement