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STRANGE as it may seem, the terrific din and awesome splendor of the four-hour cannonading had a
soothing effect on the tense nerves of these lads going into their first battle.   The German artillery reply
had been negligible, as their gunners were too busy at this moment trying to get out of the way.   So
these Texans and Oklahomans crouched in their trenches, occupied during this fateful period more by
curiosity over novel sights than by thoughts of impending action.
Promptly at five o’clock the irregular belching of the guns was replaced by the rhythmic roll of
the 75’s, shooting as though in cadence.  The barrage had begun – the signal that the supreme moment
had come!  Simultaneously, the assault troops of the four regiments climbed from the trenches and took
up their place in a continuous line that stretched across the divisional front, and formed a part of the 23-
kilometer wave of men in khaki that engulfed the entire salient.
There was no hesitating, no holding back, in all that long line as it moved uniformly across No
Man’s Land.   On the other hand, such was the impetuosity of the supporting troops that they were with
difficulty kept at their proper distance to the rear of the front wave, and restrained from joining their
comrades on the fighting line.
No one who has ever taken a look at No Mans Land on this front, and seen that twisting,
treacherous maze of wire and the hundreds of pitfalls of ancient trenches, has failed to ask how it was
possible for human beings to cross such obstacles in the face of hostile fire.   French staff officers, sent
by Marshal Foch, the Allied Generalissimo, to see this historic region in which thousands of “poilus”
had given up their lives to advance the lines a few pitiable inches, gasped in astonishment when they
heard of the facility with which American doughhoys had surmounted such seemingly unconquerable
difficulties.   In fact, this achievement will always remain one of the most amazing features of the entire
operation and the modest heroes who accomplished it, on reviewing this land of desolation, themselves
wondered just how they did it.   But it is sufficient to say that these men from the Southwest were
natives of barbed wire’s native States.
This problem of the wire was one to which the staff had given considerable thought.   For more
than a week preceding the attack patrols and working parties had been engaged nightly cutting lanes
through the thick bands of entanglements.   Owing to the fact that the 5th Division did not take over the
front on which it was to attack until nearly midnight, September 11, troops of the 357th Infantry were
required to prepare the path for that division as well as for themselves.   The men had also been
handicapped by a lack of heavy wire-cutters.   In their eagerness to supply what was needed,  G-1 office
almost created a scandal by sending to Nancy, Toul, and neighboring cities to purchase this necessary
article of hardware in the open markets.   Not until September 10 were efficient cutters received through
engineering channels.   On the day preceding the attack about 400 of these instruments per brigade were
in the hands of the men.
It might be stated that the domestic variety of wire-cutters known to almost every household in
the Southwest is only a vest-pocket addition of the “de luxe” reproduction issued on this occasion.   The
tool was equipped  with a handle about eighteen inches long.  Little did the Texas and Oklahoma
cowpunchers and stock-dealers expect, when they said
?goodbye” to the plains on their way to join the
round-up at Camp Travis, that the homely and prosaic wire-cutter would play such a big part on the
Western front.
In order that the attack might he launched a complete surprise, the original orders of the 1st
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