June 1, 1918 – Full diary entry:
Half holiday today.
On guard tonight.”
If we learned anything from Robert’s time at Camp Dodge and Camp Mills, it’s that inspections are often the precursor to a move. We shall see.
Just to give a little of the larger context here – Robert, of course, didn’t know any of this. On the map below, the red star toward the left side represents the British training camp where the 35th Division was stationed. Back in March and April, the Germans had made two large advances (#1 and #2 on the map) that seemed to indicate that they wanted to seize control of the English Channel. This suggested that the new American troops were well positioned to help the British defend this front once they had been trained.
But toward the end of May, the Germans made a new advance (#3), aiming directly for Paris. This contributed to the decisions being made concerning where the 35th should be sent.
In addition to this, inspections of the 35th and other AEF divisions were suggesting that training was not going well. Not all that surprising, considering how quickly and chaotically the training program was put together.
From United States Army in the World War, 1917-1919, Training and Use with the British and French Vol. 3:
(From a June 1 report)
Five divisions (77th, 28th, 4th, 35th, and 82d) which were inspected, show that they had received little more than elementary training in the United States. This comment relates especially to open warfare. This is partially due to a filling up just before sailing. As a result of this inspection it is evident that the plans in force in the United States are not producing the desired results…
Departures from the prescribed training program and also tendencies to follow the programs and prescriptions of British commanders were found…
The training of these divisions is greatly delayed due to lack of equipment…
A large number of officers were found to be absent at British schools, thereby retarding the training of small units…
Equipment and transportation: The British have to date failed to equip the American troops in accordance with previous agreements. The deficiencies are such as to make our divisions immobile…
Until the arrangements for equipping and supplying our troops with the British are definitely arranged, without any doubt as to failure, it is believed that no more divisions should be sent to the British front. There are tactical reasons which also prompt the foregoing conclusion.
(From a June 4 memorandum)
It has been decided that the American 35th, 77th, 28th and 4th Divisions at present training in the British area are to be withdrawn before completion of their training. Instructions regarding the withdrawal of these divisions will be issued very shortly.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.