September 12, 1918 – Full diary entry:
“Marched all night. Could hear the artillery all night. Slept in a wood in the rain on the ground today.”
From Chaplain Edwards in From Doniphan to Verdun:
On the 11th we marched into Foret-le-Haye, where we remained for a week. We were in reserve for the St. Mihiel drive, and eager to get into it, but remained in our pup tents, wet tired and disappointed.
We could hear the barrage, which started about midnight, and see the flashes in the sky of thousands of guns.
As we marched into the woods and the tired doughboys halted, one was heard to say, “Give me more room.” When asked why, he replied “So I can get this darned billet off my back.” And for a week our billets were what we carried with us.
All of this secret movement, marching at night and hiding during the day, was about to pay off. Today was the first day of the St. Mihiel offensive, a critical victory by the Allied forces. The objective was the St. Mihiel Salient:
In military terms, a salient is a bulge, a place where the one side’s territory extends into the other’s. This triangular-shaped piece of land had been held by the Germans for years. It was especially important because it blocked communication and transportation between Nancy and Verdun.
Robert’s 35th Division was in reserve for this battle, probably south of Pont-a-Mousson near the southeastern corner of the salient. More on this battle in the coming days.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.