Navigation bar
  Home View PDF document Start Previous page
 33 of 68 
Next page End 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38  

attained such accuracy that a direct bit was scored on the light shelter in the Bois de Bantheville,
which served as Colonel Price’s post of command.  Indeed, there were twenty-six casualties that
night in headquarters detachment alone.  Another shell touched off the regiment’s pile of
pyrotechnics in a dump near headquarters and sent a shower of colored lights into the air.  The
spectacle was viewed for miles, and soon runners were everywhere attempting to learn the
meaning of the confusion of signals.  One of the flares set off was the one to announce that the
corps’ objective had been reached, and more than one officer along the line was puzzled at its
appearance, for there still remained hours before the men were to go over the top. 
But at 3:30 the American artillery began replying to the German guns, and from that time
until 5:30 a thunderous duel took place, the German fire gradually lessening under the accurate
firing of the friendly pieces.  That not nearly all of the German guns were out of action
distressingly soon came to light, for when the first men sprang up at 5:30 o’clock and pushed
resolutely forward they were met with terrific machine gun fire, most of it seeming to come from
the direction of Grand Carre farm, although within the next few minutes enemy rapid-firers
appeared to open fire from every place in front.  It was by reducing the guns on the farm and
capturing that area that the second platoon of Company K made an enviable record and richly
merited the division citation subsequently given each member of the platoon by the commanding
general.  When the entire line was held up by the fire of these guns Sergeant Frank B. Loescher
led his platoon against the nest, and with rifles, rifle grenades and hand grenades silenced every
gun.  In one dugout alone his platoon captured seventy Germans.  Fourteen machine guns in all
were taken and two larger pieces – 77’s – fell in the doughty men of K company.  The guns had
been missed by the barrage and had exacted fearful toll.  The citation, which mentions all the
men of the second platoon by name and directs the company as a whole be commended,
declares, in part, of Sergeant Loescher, “In the initial phase of the attack Sergeant Loescher was
wounded, having been shot through the arm, but he continued to lead his platoon and soon
placed it in the flank of the farm.” For this splendid work Sergeant Loescher received, in addition
to the division citation, the Distinguished Service Cross. 
Company K was not alone in daring accomplishments, however.  The men of Company I,
some of whom were even in advance of the leading elements of K company, took fifty prisoners
in a half-completed dugout.  In front of these Germans when they stood with appraised arms lay
the body of a German officer.  He had been killed by a shot through the back, apparently the
victim of his own men because he refused to surrender them.  This was the first actual evidence
of a reef in the discipline of the German army and was speedily reported to higher commanders. 
Here, too, had been opportunity for the trench mortar platoon of Headquarters company
to get into action, and Lieutenant Preston G. Northrup was not slow to take the advantage.  The
mortars were brought into the first line and from them a heavy fire directed against the positions
on the farm, greatly assisting in the destruction of the German defenses.
With the greatest obstacles removed from their path by the occupancy of the farm the
men of Companies I and K who had escaped the pouring fire swarmed on to the intermediate
objective, where a halt was made in accordance with orders and a hurried check of strength
taken.  Lieutenants Wiley Murray and John Sieber of Company I and James H. Crosby and
Wallace A. Belstrom of Company M had been wounded, Lieutenant Murray succumbing to his
Previous page Top Next page