1916-1925: America– War and Peace

Author: British Press Report and a French Tribute  | Date: 1918

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Holding the Germans at Chateau-Thierry

ON May 31, when the Germans were already in the outskirts of Chateau-Thierry, an American machine-gun unit was hurried thither in motor lorries. Chateau-Thierry lies on both banks of the Marne, which is spanned by a big bridge. To the northward a canal runs parallel with the river and is crossed by a smaller bridge.

The Americans had scarcely reached their quarters when news was received that the Germans had broken into the northern part of Chateau-Thierry, having made their way through the gap they had driven in our lines to the left of the town and then pouring along the streets to the bridge, intending to establish themselves on the south bank and capture the town.

The American machine gunners and French colonials were thrown into Chateau-Thierry together. The Americans immediately took over the defense of the river bank, especially the approaches to the bridge. Fighting with their habitual courage and using their guns with an accuracy which won the highest encomiums from the French, they brought the enemy to a standstill.

Already wavering under the American fire, the Germans were counter-attacked by the French colonials and driven from the town. They returned to the attack the next night and under cover of darkness crept into the town along the river bank and began to work their way through the streets, toward the main bridge. At the same moment a tremendous artillery bombardment was opened upon the southern half of the town.

When within range of the machine guns the Germans advanced under the cover of clouds of thick white smoke from smoke bombs, in order to baffle the aim of the American gunners. A surprise, however, was in store for them. They were already crossing the bridge, evidently believing themselves masters of both banks, when a thunderous explosion blew the center of the bridge and a number of Germans with it into the river. Those [about 100] who reached the southern bank were captured.

In this battle in the streets, and again at night, the young American soldiers showed a courage and determination which aroused the admiration of their French colonial comrades. With their machine guns they covered the withdrawal of troops across the bridge before its destruction, and although under severe fire themselves, kept all the approaches to the bank under a rain of bullets which nullified all the subsequent efforts of the enemy to cross the river. Every attempt of the Germans to elude the vigilance of the Americans resulted in disaster.

During the last two days the enemy has renounced the occupation of the northern part of Chateau-Thierry, which the American machine guns have made untenable…. Against their casualties the Americans can set a much greater loss inflicted by their bullets on the enemy. They have borne their full part in what a French staff officer well qualified to judge described as one of the finest feats of the war.

* * * * *

Army Headquarters, June 30, 1918.

In view of the brilliant conduct of the Fourth Brigade of the Second United States Division, which in a spirited fight took Bouresches and the important strong point of Bois de Belleau, stubbornly defended by a large enemy force, the General commanding the Sixth Army orders that henceforth, in all official papers, the Bois de Belleau shall be named "Bois de la Brigade de Marine."


Commanding Sixth Army.


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Chicago: British Press Report and a French Tribute, "Holding the Germans at Chateau-Thierry," 1916-1925: America– War and Peace in America, Vol.12, Pp.90-94 Original Sources, accessed December 2, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IB2DEF7Z5347LYM.

MLA: British Press Report and a French Tribute. "Holding the Germans at Chateau-Thierry." 1916-1925: America– War and Peace, in America, Vol.12, Pp.90-94, Original Sources. 2 Dec. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IB2DEF7Z5347LYM.

Harvard: British Press Report and a French Tribute, 'Holding the Germans at Chateau-Thierry' in 1916-1925: America– War and Peace. cited in , America, Vol.12, Pp.90-94. Original Sources, retrieved 2 December 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IB2DEF7Z5347LYM.