The History of New York State
Book XI, Chapter 8, Part 5

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

Heroism was common among the men of the 27th Division in that time of test. Their endeavor was well-nigh superhuman. The Americans put such zest into their effort that nothing could heave stopped them--nothing but death. They reached their objectives, although for a while, owing to the checking of the English 17th division, on the left flank, the 107th was caught in a murderous bombardment, and might have had a retreat had not the Irish Division next day straightened the line. The 30th American division, on the right, also reached their objectives. But to reach--to merely reach--objectives did not satisfy the impetuous young men from New York. The 108th Regiment, after a terrible day of fighting, received, at 5:30 p.m., an order which read; "Objective reached. Rest." Their answer was; "Rest, Hell! Give us a barrage." They received it, and forged onward until they had passed through the Hindenburg Line. Many of the men were not satisfied even then, for a paragraph in Colonel Jennings' report reads: "The 108th was ordered at 6:30 p.m., to go back in reserve, many members of the 108th, in the confusion and enthusiasm of the occasion, fought on with the Australians for two or three days." One writer testifies to the morale of the American soldiers in that test as follows:

They are almost light-hearted concerning the obstacles confronting them. With the opening of the attack, they had enough fighting to satisfy the most belligerent among the, but they fought and fought and fought, leading elements going on with the Australians when they continued the drive. General Monash in his book describes this the following language: "Very considerable numbers of American soldiers had become mixed up with the Australian battalions, and in heir eagerness had gone forward with them, regardless of the particular roles or objectives which had originally been assigned to them. It was found to be a matter of some difficulty to induce these men to withdraw from the fighting and to rejoin their own units, so keen were they to continue the advance."

General Monash, commanding the Australians, did not hesitate to state his opinion of the American division with which his command had cooperated. He wrote:

Now that the fuller details of the work done by the 27th and the 30th American divisions have become available, the splendid gallantry and devotion of these troops in theses operations have won the admiration of their Australian comrades. The tasks set were formidable, but the American troops overcame all obstacles and contributed in a very high degree to the ultimate capture of the whole tunnel system.

In transmitting this communication, the corps commanders added his own opinion. He desired to make known to Major-General O'Ryan of the 27th American Division "his appreciation of the splendid fighting qualities" of that division. He said: "It is undoubtedly due to the troops

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of this corps that the line s broken and the operations now going on made possible. The unflinching determination of those men, their gallantry in battle and the results accomplished are an example for the future. They will have their place in history and must always be a source of pride to our people."

Congratulations came from General Pershing, who wished the 27th to know :his appreciation of the magnificent qualities which ad enabled them, against powerful resistance, to advance more than ten mile and to take more then 6,000 prisoners since September 27th." Field-Marshal Haig, the British commander-in-chief, also spoke of the "very valuable and gallant service rendered by the 27th and 30th divisions," in their operations with the Fourth British Army. He said that they "displayed an energy, a courage and determination in attack which proved irresistible." In the weeks of heavy fighting to gain that position, the Americans had, he declared, "earned the lasting esteem and admiration," of their British "comrades in arms."

They had undoubtedly shown that they were fighters worthy of their Anglo-Saxon ancestry and of American traditions. When, on the last day of September, the Australians came to relieve the supposedly exhausted 27th division, which ad broken the Hindenburg Line and had gained possession of the Canal, they found that the Americans were reluctant to take a rest. The division had lost about 4,000 in this fighting but the remainder wanted to go on. Success is the elixir of life, and, by contrary, defeat buries a man deeper. Some of the units of the 27th found themselves in German trenches with more prisoners than they themselves numbered; yet they held them in subjection while beating off repeated determined counter-attacks. it was grim but exhilarating experience. The German giant had been turned out of his castle, and was tottering. The men from New York wanted to see him fall. They had no wish to give him time to erect another such castle while they were "on the job," they preferred to see it through to the finish, for such is the way of Americans.

So it came about that very many of the men of the 27th and 30th American divisions continued to tread upon the heels of the retreating Germans long after they were officially relived by the Australians. The Germans were in a desperate plight. They were very much disorganized, for they probably had not conceived it possible that the Hindenburg Line would be pierced; and they had few reserves that they could call up, for other wild Americans were tearing through the Argonne Forest, and sweeping over ground, which the German High Command had confidently believed would be found as impassable as the St. Quentin Canal sector. To make matters worse, the fighting Marines of the 2d American division were giving the Germans near Rheims such an exciting time the relief from that quarter for the Argonne defense or to save the Canal

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system was out of the question. The onslaught of the Second division in which were many New Yorkers forced the Germans near Rheims, during the week of October 2-9, to yield positions which they had held since September, 1914.

The supreme effort of the 27th Division had a most important effect upon the whole front. If the 106th had not sacrificed themselves, on September 27th, and swept past the terrible thousand yards of outworks, the general attack scheduled fro two days later would not have been possible. The 30th American division could not have advanced, and the whole operation, as planned, may have been nullified. What a superhuman effort it was! And what torrents of blood were shed. The advance was made only because irresistible youth was in the shafts of the chariot. As a British officer remarked, as he viewed the American dead over the area of the advance" "The only thing can stop a Yank. . . . is death." Brigadier-General Albert H. Blanding, who commanded the 53d Brigade of the 47th division, declared that of the 7,000 men that he commanded on September 27th, only 2,800 were still in the ranks on October 1st, at the end of the fighting. "No Regulars, no Marines, no American soldiers of any kind," he said, " ever showed greater bravery or faced death more willingly than your New York guardsmen did." To him "it seemed inconceivable that we could break through," but, he added with pride, "we did, and after we got through the miracle seemed even greater. We took Bellecourt and started for the Canal du Bord. Here among the defenses of the Germans was a clever camouflage tunnel containing thousands of machine-gun nests and other death-traps. It was a 'mop-up' job, and anyone could see that it called for the greatest sacrifice and bravery." According to the calculation of German military scientists, nothing could live when within range of these thousands of fire-devils, each pitting death-missiles at a the rate of hundred in a minute. But the men of the 27th division charged them, and "mopped them up,' although in doing so they left a thousand of their own brave men bleeding on the field in one day, September 29th.

The onslaught of the Second American Corps had bee so savage and through that during the first days of October, the Australians who occupied the line while the 27th and 30th American division were resting, just beyond shell-fire, had a comparatively quiet time. Calm--the calm of exhaustion--had succeeded the storm, so that there was little change of front during the brief rest period of the American Corps. On October 5th, however, the New York guardsmen were told that they were soon to relieve the Australians. On October 9th, the 30th division moved into front-line position, and the 27th went up in support. Soon storms again raged at the front. Facing the Americans, the Germans stepped backward. They fought desperately, but the movement was inevitably backward. On October 10th, the Americans had reached the westerly out-

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skirts of Vaux Andigny, La Haie Menneresse and St. Souplet. They encountered desperate resistance from the westerly bank of the Le Selle River, and the high embankment on the easterly side of the river was also in the hands of the German machine-gunners. On October 11th, at night, the 27th division relieved the 30th. the New York guardsmen occupied a line 11,000 yards in length, and by daring raids made it seem to the enemy that two, perhaps three, divisions were in line, instead of only a sadly weakened one. It was an exciting time for the commanders of the 27th. Fortunately, their long and abnormally active, but fearfully think, line was shortened on the 14th. although able to muster only one-third of their normal strength, the infantry regiments of New York had maintained an active offensive over a line normally apportioned to two or more divisions; and not until too late did the Germans gain an inkling of the true situation. The opportunity of breaking through the American line passed on the 14th when the 6th British division took over part of it.

On the 14th, the 27th staged an audacious unusual daylight raid. To the Germans it seemed to be developing into a general attack, but all that the Allies wanted was information. The raid was conceived by General O'Ryan, and entrusted to a squad of the 108th Regiment. A divisional barrage protected the men as they left the lines. According to plan, the barrage lifted for rive minutes, during which the American raiders entered the enemy line, took their prisoners and returned. When the barrage again fell they were safe. As a matter of fact, not a man was killed, but much valuable information was gained from the prisoners. It was found that before the 27th Division at that time were the 204th and 243d German Infantry Division, the 24th Infantry and the 15th Rifle Division, also the 3d Naval Division.

In the redistribution of Allied troops, for the impending general attack, the 27th American division was found to have shrunk appallingly. A month before, the division had numbered 12,000 riflemen; not the four regiments could muster a rifle strength of only 2,377. But all were fighters, and General O'Ryan did not fail to add to their numbers the strength that the will to conquer gives. The Germans were fast becoming shrouded by the certainty of defeat; the Americans knew that they were winning. So the plans for a general attack on the night of the 14th-15th were calmly pursued. The attack was made, the battle of Jonc-de-Mar ridge developing quite satisfactorily. "The river was crossed by wading with little difficulty, except that some of the men got into water deep enough to get their gas masks, which we re replaced. The advance was successful, but of course at considerable loss of men. Many prisoners were taken. The 107th Infantry, again reduced in numbers, found difficulty in getting through the gas and shellfire in the area traversed in support of the 105th. On its way to its battle station, the 106th had to cross a trench system which was in

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obscurity because of the mist and smoke. While this regiment was mixed up with these trenches excellent work was done by Colonel Franklin W. Ward, Lieutenant-Colonel John M. True, and Captain Murray Taylor in straightening out units and reorganizing the advance. Amid heavy shell-fire and much gas these officers moved about with great energy and by personal supervision got the regiment across the river in its own sector."

"The 2d Battalion of the 106th Infantry in its advance had come under heavy machine-gun fire just outside the divisional boundary on the south. The fire from this place proved sufficiently attractive to this battalion to cause it immediately to attack the place with such dash that with the aid of four tanks the position was quickly gained and mopped up. After this distraction they moved on." If not in due course, then ultimately the battalions of the 106th infantry gained their objective and there awaited orders. It seems that the whole offensive line was advanced in this engagement. but there was still much hard fighting ahead. On October 17th the units were reorganized , and on the 18th the advance was resumed with the 27th division, as usual, at the point of the wedge, and St. Souplet as the objective.

When one reads of some of the minor incidents of that engagement, one ceased to wonder why the advent of the American brought such gloom to the Germans and such cheer to the French and British. Every American soldier was a potential commander. Let us cite one instance of the St. Souplet fighting. As the day wore on, company I of the 108th Regiment found itself without a leader. An officer was assigned to it without delay, but as he studied his maps to get his bearings the line moved out. In the absence of the officer, Private George A Eberle stepped out of the ranks and assumed command. He took the company "over the top." A machine-gun bullet did not stop him, and he refused to leave the field when a rifle bullet pierced his side. But he dropped mortally wounded before the objective was reached. Nevertheless, another private was at hand to take the company foreword to tits objective.

A somewhat similar story might perhaps be told of many other companies, reduced almost the size of squads as they passed through the tornado of artillery, machine-gun and rifle fire, and into the miasma of poison gases. Seven days and seven nights of almost continuous fighting in the Le Selle River sector took a heavy toll from the ranks of the 27th. there were sixty-seven casualties among the officers and 1,426 among the men. Not one American was taken prisoner by the Germans, although there must have been many instances where idolater American groups were very much outnumbered by their adversaries; but, during this week of terrible fighting, the 27th Division captured, and held as prisoners, about 1,550 Germans. If the new York guardsmen of the 27th had seen no more fight than this awful week, they could have returned to their home State conscious that they were veterans. On their last day, Octo-

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ber 22d, in the front-line, it was found that "there was but 850 effective rifles left in the 27th division." In his "History of the Twenty-seventh Division," Major-General O'Ryan graphically depicts the battered state of his command when relieved. He writes:

The conduct of the officers and men of the division throughout the trying period of Le Selle River operations was magnificent. Always there was loyal response to the demands made upon them, and at times toward the end of the operations, it must have seemed to the men of the infantry regiments particularly that they were being pushed beyond the limit of human endurance. On the morning of the relief, the division commander and one or two of the staff saw the survivors of the 54th Brigade go through St. Souplet in their march to the rear. Some of the men were apparently asleep as they walked. They were covered with mud, and many of them were bleeding from cuts and minor injuries. At first glance, they seemed to be in a semi-stupor, but everywhere individual men, upon seeing an inspecting party, made a supreme effort, if only by a glance, to indicate that their spirit still survived. It is natural for every commander of troops that have behaved well in war to feel a pride in the conduct and record of men he has commanded under the extraordinary and trying conditions of active operations. Nevertheless, making due allowances for this natural feeling, it is the deliberate opinion of the writer that no general officer in war ever commanded more intelligent, determined, better disciplined and loyal military organizations than those which made up the 27th Division during the period of the World War.

He was not the only commander who though well of the New York guardsmen. In an official British report of the operations of the Fourth British Army is the following:

In the course of the last three weeks, the 27th and 20 Divisions of the Second American Corps, operating with the Fourth British Army, have taken part with great gallantry and success in three major offensive operations, besides being engaged in a number of lesser attacks. In the course of this fighting they have displayed soldierly qualities of a high order and have materially assisted in the success of our attacks. Having fought with the utmost dash and bravery in the great attack of September 29, in which the Hindenburg Line was broken, and having, on that occasion captured the villages of Bellicourt and Mauroy, with a large number of prisoners, on October 8 the troops of the Second American Corps again attacked in the neighborhood of Montbrehain. In three days of successful fighting they completed an advance of ten miles from Maton to St. Souplet, overcoming determined resistance and capturing several strongly defended villages and woods. During the last three days, the Second American Corps has again attacked daily, and on each occasion with complete success, though the enemy's resistance has again been obstinate. Fighting their way forward from St. Souplet to the high ground west of the Sambre Canal, they have broken the enemy's resistance at all points, beating off many counter-attacks and realizing a further advantage of nearly five miles. Over 5,000 prisoners and many guns have been taken by the Second American Corps.

General Rawlinson, commander of the Fourth British Army, in a telegram of commendation of the 2d American Corps as they came out of the front line for a well-earned period of rest, congratulated them "upon their prowess" and unity of purpose. He admired "the efficiency with which the staff work of the Second American Corps" was carried out "in this their first experience as a fighting Corps in the line of battle." In his opinion, the "outstanding feature of their recent victories" was "the sur-

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prising gallantry and self-sacrifice of the regimental officers and men." Well might he have thought so, for some of the regimental companies lost almost all of the original officers, and the ranks had shrunk almost to peace-time size/ A Month later, when peace actually did come, it was found that more than 5,000 men of the 27th division were in hospitals, many of them so seriously wounded or gassed that they had been sent to the larger base hospitals in England.

The 27th Division saw no more active fighting. They were resting, and training for further service, at Corble, when the armistice was signed. On Sunday November 10th, Major-General O'Ryan reviewed his scarred command. It was an impressive occasion. The review, indeed was in honor of the dead of the division; and as the ranks assembled it was seen how short the line had become. Thousand would never parade again. Of those who were of the original companies and were still in the ranks there were few who did not have upon their sleeve the honor mark of fullest service--the wound chevron. These men had passed through the jaws of death; yet, strange as it may seem, they were almost depressed next day when news reached them of the signing of the Armistice. "Why the hell don't you celebrate?" yelled a jubilant Australian, who came boisterously down the street with a comrade-in-arms, both bedecked in the Tricolor of France, and both sure that the war had been won by the Allies. But there were many of the war-worn members of the 27th Division who experienced grave misgivings that the winning has not been carried far enough. They were almost on the threshold of Germany,. They would have preferred to have fought on into Germany, so that the Teutons, in their homeland, might be made to feel hardships such as they had inflicted upon the homefolk of France--helpless war-tossed noncombatants--during the four years of war. Still, such was not to be the destiny of the world. The World War was over, and the future course and thought of the nations of the world, in regard to war, was to be left to the future. The great lesson which it was hoped would have been well learned by militaristic nations was to be cut short of its closing emphatic example.

The 27th division, commanded throughout by Major-General J. F. O'Ryan consisted of the 53rd and 54th brigades of Infantry, and the 52nd Brigade of Field Artillery. The 53d Brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General Alfred W. Bjornstad, was made up of the 105 and 106th regiments of Infantry, and the 105th Machine Gun Battalion. The 54th Brigade, under Brigadier-General Palmer E. Pierce, consisted of the 107th and 108th regiments of Infantry, and the 106th Machine Gun Battalion. The 52nd Brigade of Field Artillery, under Brigadier-General George A. Wingate, embraced the 104th, 105th , and 106th regiments of Artillery and the 102nd Trench Mortar Battery. In addition, the 102d Regiment of Engineers, commanded by Brigadier-General Cornelius Van-

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derbilt, belong to the 27th Division, as did the 1202d Battalion of the Signal Corp. the Division units were the Headquarters Troop, and the 104th Machine Gun Battalion. General O'Ryan's chief-of-staff was Lieutenant-colonel Stanley H. Ford. The Adjutant-General of the division was Lieutenant-Colonel Frank W. Ward. Brigadier-General Charles I. Debevoise commanded the 107th Infantry in the operations against the Hindenburg Line and in the subsequent fighting on Le Selle River, and with his promotion to Brigadier-General, he took over the command of the 53rd Infantry Brigade.

The main operations in which the 27th division has part were as follows:

Minor action of East Poperinghe line in Flanders, July 9 to August 20. The division advanced after a battle of two days' duration, "mopping up" the machine gun nests to the river, in conjunction with the British third and Ninth Corps. Opposing them were the Germans 204th, 243d and 24th Infantry Division, and the 15th Rifle Battalion.

Minor action of the Dickebush sector, Belgium, August 21 to 30.

Minor action of East Poperinghe line in Flanders, July 9 to August 20, preparing second line of defence behind Mount Kemmel, in anticipation of German attack. Constantly under artillery fire. Their adversaries were various divisions of Prince Rupprecht's army.

Minor action of the Dickebush sector, Belgium, August 21 to 30. Division moved to front line, in anticipation of same attack, which did not develop.

Major engagement of Vierstraat River, near Mt. Kennel, Belgium, August 31 to September 2. The division advanced to occupy this ridge and Mt. Kemmel, the enemy fighting desperate rear-guard actions. Twenty-seventh Division acted with the 34th British Division and the 2d British Army. Opposed to them were the German 236th, 8th and 52nd Infantry Divisions.

Major engagement of the Knoll, Guillemont Farm and Quennemont Farm, near Bony, France, September 27, 1919. This was a gallant attack by the 106th Infantry Regiment to gain the outer defences of the Hindenburgh Line, preparatory to the general attack planned for the 29th. Units of the 105th regiment was also in this desperate fighting. Opposed to them were the German 54th, 121st, and 185th Infantry divisions, the 75th Rifle division, and the 2d Guard Division.

Battle of the Hindenburg Line, September 29 and 30. The 27th American Division, after artillery preparation, launched the attack with the 3d British Corps on the left and the 30th American Division and 10th French division on the right, and the Australian Corps and 9th British Corps participating. Opposed to the American divisions were the German Second Guard Division, the 232d, 54th, 185th, 121st and 75th Infantry divisions.

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Battle of Le Selle River, near St. Souplet, October 17th, cooperating with the 3d British Corps, the 9th British Corps, and the 10th French Army. Opposing the American troops were the German 204th, 243d and 24th Infantry Division, the 3d Naval Division, and the 15 Rifle Division.

Battle of Jonc de Mer Ridge, near Arbre Guernon, October 10, 1918. Continuation of the Le Selle operations, the divisions being the same.

The 52nd Brigade of the Field Artillery of the twenty-seventh Division also took part in the all-American battle at St. Mihiel in early September. By his skillful handling of the brigade at this battle Brigadier-General Wingate won the Distinguished Service medal, the citation, explaining the award, reading:

In command of the 52nd Field Artillery Brigade, he served with marked distinction in the St. Mihiel operation, displaying military attainments of a high order. In the Meuse-Argonne offensive, he proved himself possessed of exceptional tactical ability, working with untiring energy that the infantry might have all the advantages of artillery support. With sound judgment, unusual foresight and wide comprehension of conditions and facilities available, he continued operations in hat offensive with brilliant success.

More regarding St. Mihiel will be found on another page of this review.

After the Armistice, and while the 27th division was at Corbie, the British commander-in-chief, Field Marshal Douglas Haig, again expressed his commendation of the American soldiers. He Wrote:

Now that the American 2d Corps is leaving the British zone, I wish once more to thank you and all the officers, non-commissioned officers and men under your command on behalf of both myself and all the ranks of the British armies in France and Flanders, for the very gallant and efficient service you have rendered during the period of your operation with the 4th British Army. On the 29th September you took part with great distinction in the great and critical attack which shattered the enemy's resistance in the Hindenburg Line an opened the road to final victory. the deed of the 27th and 30th American divisions, who on that day took Bellicourt and Mauroy and so gallantly sustained the desperate struggle for Bony will rank with the highest achievements of the war. They will always be remembered by the British regiments that fought besides you. since that date,, through three weeks of almost continuous fighting, you advanced from one success to another, overcoming all resistance, beating off numerous counter-attacks, and capturing several thousand prisoners and many guns. The names of Brancourt, Premont, Busigny, Vaux-Andigny, St. Souplet and Mazinghien testify to the dash and energy of your attacks. I rejoice at the success which has attended your efforts and I am proud to have had you under my command.

Higher commendations, from what may be look upon as an impartial source, could hardly be wish for. Major-General O'Ryan's own commendation of the gallant soldiers he was so proud to command may be judged by his letters of commendation sent to regimental commanders at the close of operations on October 22. To the commanding officers of the 108th Infantry, he wrote on October 22:

Now that we have inspected the captured defences of the Hindenburg Line, the magnitude of the task assigned this division in the attack of September 27-October 21 becomes

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even more apparent than it then appeared. In the main attack on September 29, the 108th Infantry held the right half of the divisional front of 4,000 yards. The attack was made against what was, probably, the most highly organized system of field defences ever constructed. That the 108th Infantry, after practically all the tanks had been put out of action, should have broken through the maze of wire that existed, and in the face of machine guns firing from every trench and nest, lodged one battalion in the main position, now seems an extraordinary feat. That this battalion, having gained the main position, should have captured prisoners equaling in number its own strength at the time, and for two days and nights have withstood bombing attacks and repeated counter-attacks supported by artillery, at the same time keeping its prisoners in subjection, is more extraordinary.

The valor of officers and men of the 108th infantry on that occasion and the determination and accomplishment of the battalion referred to will furnish regimental history for all time. As one captured German officer said: "If you can break through the tunnel sector of the Hindenburg Line it will be impossible to construct any defense to stop you."

Here we see the modern American practice of the code of Napoleon to whom nothing was impossible. He accomplished the impossible crossing the Alps, and Americans took no heed of improbabilities in determining to cross the Hindenburg Line. To men of courage, confidence and capability nothing in impossible.

Continuing his letter, Major-General O'Ryan reviewed the subsequent operations, commending the regiment for their stamina, determination, and courage during the three weeks of almost incessant marching and fighting which ended in forcing the enemy beyond the line of the Canal de la Sambre. He declared that "the valor of the officers and the men ha at all times been exceptional." He added that "in spite of the greatest hardships and the continued strain, they have maintained the highest standards of discipline and cheerful determination."

On November 26 the division began to depart from Corbie, for Le Mans, near Paris. There the division remained until late in February, when movements to Brest for embarkation began. About 13,000 went aboard the "Leviathan,' which appropriately-named troopship sailed with others on February 26. In due course, the division debarked in New York waters, and for as short time were at Camp Dix and Camp Upton. They were not immediately demobilized, for the people of New York desired first to welcome them as a whole. The parade of the 27th division through the main thoroughfares of New York City was an event that will be vividly remembered by all who saw it. The soldiers also will always carry with them happy recollections of their reception by the people of this home State on that great day. Well nigh they brace their shoulders and go forward with steady, indeed light, step in the presence of such exhilarating appreciation. The cheering was perhaps not so boisterous as when they went away to war almost two years before, but another element was now present--a sounder, quieter admiration, the solid appreciation of great things accomplished, not the cheer of great

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Things expected. There was another reason for the quieter tone of public expression. Hearts went out to the maimed. "The great number of wounded soldiers, many of them carrying crutches, others with heard and arms still bandaged, created a deep impression. There was little cheering. The crows seemed spellbound. Their emotion was too deep for cheers. The scene on this occasion will never be forgotten." States one account of the parade.

No time was lost after the parade in mustering out the men. In a day or two the majority of the 27th Division were in their own homes, going over again, in narration at their own firesides, the terrible days and nights of the summer and autumn of the previous year.

It was fitting that the last page of the history of the 27th division of the American Expeditionary Forces should contain another expression of thanks and appreciation from the men who above all was able to gauge the true value of the service rendered to the Allied cause by the guardsmen of New York. Field-Marshall Sir Douglas Haig, in a cablegram to Major-General O'Ryan, on the day of the parade in New York, said: "In the name of your comrades in the British Army, I send you and all ranks of the 27th division our heartiest greetings on your safe return. You can tell all those who today welcome you in your own homes that countless homes in Europe are the happier for what you have done and that the Old World will never forget her debt of gratitude to America." There should be, and in all probability there is, a genuine bond of fellow-feeling and appreciative understanding between those worthy scions--British and American--of Anglo-Saxon families who, facing death, disclosed to one another their true selves as they fought side by side in France for the common cause of Liberty. Many of the New York Guardsmen were decorated with British and French orders of military significance, and many of them came to exceptional notice of their own commanders, and in due course, for conspicuous gallantry, gained the coveted decorations of their own land. Major-General O'Ryan received the American Distinguished Service Medal, in addition to other decorations, American and foreign. The citation in his case stated that "he displayed qualities of skill and aggressiveness which mark him as a leader of ability"; further that "in the breach of the Hindenburg Line between St. Quentin and Cambrai the name of his division is linked with the British in adding new laurels to the Allied forced in France." This world will be well served if these sturdy young men--American and British--long remember their comrades-in-arms in France and continue the bond of goodwill, so that the most stable human element of this world--the peoples of Anglo-Saxon stock--may continue harmoniously to work for the common world cause for which they fought in France.

Authority--Major-General John F. O'Ryan's story of the 27th division has been followed for this narrative, as stated on page 1247.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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