hundred days offensive

“Hell Fighters” from Harlem by H. Charles McBarron

The segregated 369th Infantry Regiment, “Harlem Hellfighters”, go into action during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. The institutional racism of the US military saw the 369th put under French command, where, equipped with French arms and uniforms, they were treated with considerably more fairness than they had been by the US.

(National Guard)

Wonder Woman Review

I was questioning whether or not to do this, but on the advice of @byzantinefox and @bantarleton, I’ve decided to make a post addressing the events portrayed in the film. I’m not a film critic or scholar (my wondertrev buddy @twoquickdeaths could probably say more about those aspects of it than I could), but I am a history major with a great interest in the First World War. Hence, I will be addressing the events of the film, their historical context, and the way they are portrayed. WARNING: Spoilers below!

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Battle traffic seen at Grevillers on 25 August 1918, following the village’s capture by the British 37th Division and the New Zealand Division at the start of the Hundred Days Offensive, a few days earlier. Mark V tanks of the 10th Battalion the Tank Corps and British and New Zealand infantry going forward. Also seen are captured German 4.2 inch guns etc.

Lieutenant Rupert Frederick Arding Downes MC addressing his platoon from B Company, 29th Battalion, near Warfusee, France, in August 1918.

I came across an interesting statistic today. According to Monash in The Australian Victories if France in 1918, the losses of the five Australian divisions that made up the Australian Corps during the Hundred Days Offensive was 21,243. During this time the corps had undertaken constant offensive operations, pushed the 2nd German Army back a distance of 37 miles and liberated over 100 towns and villages. 

This success had a dreadful cost though. The Australian Corps was only in the line for 60 of the 100 days and their losses were consequently higher than in any other two month period of the War. Daily losses, or what the army refers to as wastage, averaged out to 70 men per division per day. Quite a high number given the low strength of the divisions at the time, but as Monash himself wrote. “Even during periods of sedentary trench warfare the losses averaged 40 per division per day.”

The Highest Possible Courage by John D. Shaw

“Second Lieutenant Erwin R. Bleckley, a field artilleryman from the Kansas National Guard, was an aerial observer attached to the Air Service’s 50th Aero Squadron. Bleckley and other Guardsmen had volunteered as individuals for aviation duty during the war. He and other members of the 50th Aero Squadron had been assigned to locate and resupply the 1st Battalion, 308th Infantry, 77th Division. That “Lost Battalion” had been completely cut off and pinned down in a deep ravine by German forces on October 3, 1918, while advancing in the Argonne Forest as part of General John J. Pershing’s Meuse-Argonne offensive with 600,000 troops of the American Expeditionary Force. 

“Having failed to locate the “doughboys” on their first mission of the day, Bleckley and his pilot, First Lieutenant Harold E. Goettler, had volunteered for a second. Flying barely above the treetops and steep ravines, they drew intense enemy fire while making serval passes over the area where they expected to find the American troops. German machine gunners fired down at the flyers from the ridges above their fragile aircraft as well as from below it. 

“Badly wounded and with their De Havilland aircraft severely damaged with at least 40 bullet holes in it, they made a forced landing near a French outpost. Goettler was dead when the French troops reached him. Bleckley died before the French could evacuate him to a medical aid station. However, his notes from the mission narrowed the search area where the trapped soldiers might be found. Each aviator received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courage and sacrifice.”

(National Guard

The Battle of Amiens Concludes

11 August 1918

The Battle of Amiens came to a close on this day in British history, 11 August 1918. The battle itself was part of the Allied Hundred Days Offensive, a campaign that played a large part in bringing World War I to an end. The battle’s effect on both sides’ morale functioned as a turning point, and ultimately, Amiens saw a large number of surrendering German forces. This led Erich Ludendorff to describe the first day of the battle as “the black day of the German Army”. Amiens was also one of the first major battles involving armoured warfare and marked the end of trench warfare on the Western Front, fighting becoming mobile once again until the armistice was signed on 11 November 1918.

The painting above is 8th August, 1918 by Will Longstaff, Australian official war artist. It depicts a scene during the Battle of Amiens. The view is towards the west, looking back towards Amiens from behind a column of German prisoners of war being led into captivity. Meanwhile horse-drawn artillery are advancing to the east.

This is a Christmas Eve Public Service Announcement. Because tomorrow we are going to see this photo constantly reblogged labeled as being part of the Christmas Truce. DON’T BELIEVE it!

This should be self-evident to even the casual observer. The Stahlhelm was not introduced until late 1915, and wasn’t widely distributed until mid-1916. Likewise, the Brodie helmet didn’t see use until late 1915. It is literally impossible for this photo to be taken in 1914.

So when it is from? The most reputable sources place it as being on Sept. 18th, 1918 during the Battle of Épehy.

(IWM)