September 13, 1918 – Full diary entry:
“Friday the 13th surely has been lucky for us. Amex troops captured 12000 Germans last night and today.
Still camped in the bush, anxious to see action.”
As usual, Chaplain Edwards paints the picture with wit and insight in From Doniphan to Verdun:
We had marched through the rain all night and were supposed to be hidden from the Germans in the forest. The French troops marched cheerfully by day, but evidently their horizon blue uniforms were invisible to the Germans. They used lights whenever necessary, while we stumbled in the dark, and built fires to cook their food while we ate comed-willy cold. We were never able to fathom the secret of the low visibility of the French, but if this whole regiment does not turn out to be burglars it will not be because they lack experience in doing their work at night and creeping stealthily in and out of all sorts of places in utter silence and complete darkness. During the day the thunder of the guns on the St. Mihiel salient, Mont-Sec, was clearly audible, and the frequent heavy smoke clouds were evidence that the Boche was retiring leaving behind his usual trail of ruin and destruction.
This article from Business Insider does a spectacular job of summarizing this battle and its importance. I really recommend reading it and I will only quote a few highlights. St.-Mihiel marks the origin of the term “D-Day”:
[T]he earliest known use of the term dates back to World War One. The U.S. Army Center of Military History identifies this distinct origin: “In Field Order Number 9, First Army, American Expeditionary Forces, dated September 7, 1918: ‘The First Army will attack at H hour on D day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel Salient.’”
[M]ore than half a million American troops attacked a 30-mile-wide German position that jutted 15 miles into Allied lines, known as the St. Mihiel salient. Known today as the Battle of St. Mihiel, it was the first independent American offensive of the war and the single largest American military undertaking up to that point.
“The salient was practically a great field fortress,” wrote the commander of the American army in France, General John Pershing. “It had, however, the characteristic weakness of all salients in that it could be attacked from both flanks in converging operations. Out heaviest blow was to be from the south where there were no great natural features to overcome, while the secondary attack was to come from the west and join the main drive in the heart of the salient.”
The successful offensive resulted in 7,000 casualties on the Allied side, far below the expected number of 50,000. The Americans captured 16,000 prisoners and 450 enemy guns.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.