A Pawn on a Chessboard

July 24, 1918 – Full diary entry:

“Nothing to do today.

I wonder why they took us from Monchaux and the Flanders front and sent us here. Perhaps I shall know some day. 

B Co. is to lose Capt. Oliver tomorrow.

Wrote to Nora.”


Fundamentally, the plan for the 140th was to relieve elements of the French 7th Army in the trenches, just east of their current location at Camp Boussat.

But I can’t blame Robert for being confused about how the 140th Infantry – and the whole 35th Division, for that matter – had been moved around France. It seems to me like a logistics nightmare, as the American and French commanders tried to figure out how to move divisions around. Sometimes a division was needed in a particular place, sometimes they just needed to get a division out of the way, and overall there continued to be disagreements between the Americans and French over keeping American divisions under French command vs. forming larger American army units.

It’s also entirely possible that the 35th, consisting of National Guardsmen and new draftees, was seen as less valuable to the Allies’ efforts compared to regular army divisions. They may have become an afterthought at times.

From United States Army in the World War, 1917-1919, Training and Use of American Units With the British and French, Volume 3:

Based upon the foregoing, the following are the movements which should be made as a result of the July 21 agreement. 

(a) The 32d Division to the First Army (Chateau-Thierry region). 

(b) The 89th Division to relieve the 82d Division and the latter division to go
to the First Army (Chateau-Thierry region). The artillery of the 82d Division to go directly to the Chateau -Thierry region. 

(c) The 26th Division to be held in the First Army Reserve in the Chateau-Thierry region until after arrival of the 82d Division and then to go to the Toul-Nancy region in reserve. 

(d) The 1st and 2d Divisions to go to sectors in the Toul-Nancy region but, except for the artillery, to be relieved, and withdrawn for rest and reconstitution by the 90th and 92d Divisions as soon as those divisions are ready. 

(e) The 3d Division to go to reserve in the Toul and Nancy region after the
arrival in the Chateau-Thierry region of the artillery of the 4th and 28th Divisions. 

(f) The destination of the 5th, 35th, and 29th Divisions to be deferred until
the time of their relief by French divisions.


All of those really specific plans for other divisions, and the poor 35th gets “we’ll figure out where to send them later.”

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Where was Robert today? See the timeline.

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