The Rainbow Division in the Great War, 1917-1919

By James J. Cooke | Go to book overview

2
TRAINING FOR THE FIGHT: ROLAMPONT

Lieutenant William van Dolsen of the District of Columbia National Guard, now with the 117th Sanitary Train, was not enjoying his first weeks in France. His feet stayed wet and a newly purchased pair of rubber boots did no good. He wore two pairs of wool socks, but still his feet remained damp and cold. On arriving in France, he, like all other officers, was required to buy the Sam Browne belt (the symbol of the AEF officer) and a French-made overseas cap. Try as he would in front of a mirror, he couldn't make the cap look quite right. "It...is just like the bonnet of a Scotsman...without the ribbon. Some hat," he complained to his mother. 1

Major Ogden, the staff lawyer, was amused to find out that he was about to be issued a steel helmet. Frankly, Ogden did not think he would need such an item, and he told his wife, "I shall preserve it with jealous care to show to admiring friends. They say the thing to do is to wait til you get ready to sail for home and then hit it an awful dent in the side with an axe, so you can point out to the proud ones what an awful peril you endured at the battle of vin ordinaire."2

Martin Hogan was on his way to Vaucouleurs in a drafty 40-and-8 boxcar and was out of tobacco and money. To make matters worse, the New York doughboys had just been introduced to the standard fare of the American Western Front soldier--Corned Willie and hardtack. Corned Willie was corned beef--dry, tinned, evil-smelling and equally bad-looking. Hardtack had been a soldier's bread for generations, made of flour, water, a little salt, and a very small amount of leavening. This formed a very hard cracker, impossible to bite and difficult to moisten. Most often in training or at the front, the Corned Willie was turned into a stew called Slum (for the Irish Slumgullion stew), to which might be added some dried vegetables or whatever was handy. 3

Ettinger's company had already arrived at a small town named Naives-en- Blois, and their first drills were held in a rain that turned to snow. He and his buddies slept in a cold hayloft; the battalion commander had ordered that there

-29-

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The Rainbow Division in the Great War, 1917-1919
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • INTRODUCTION BIRTH OF THE RAINBOW 1
  • 1 - From Camp Mills to France 7
  • Notes 24
  • 2 - Training for the Fight: Rolampont 29
  • Notes 48
  • 3 - In the Trenches at Lunéville 53
  • Notes 71
  • 4 - From Baccarat to Champagne 75
  • Notes 94
  • From Champagne to the Marne 97
  • Notes 113
  • 6 - Crossing the Ourcq River 117
  • Notes 135
  • 7 - The St. Mihiel Offensive 139
  • Notes 159
  • 8 - The Meuse-Argonne Campaign 163
  • Notes 182
  • 9 - From Sedan to Belgium and Luxembourg 187
  • Notes 205
  • 10 - Rainbow on the Rhine 209
  • Notes 228
  • 11 - The End of the Rainbow 233
  • Notes 245
  • APPENDIX A ORGANIZATION OF THE 42ND DIVISION, 1917 247
  • APPENDIX B EQUIPMENT TAKEN INTO TRENCHES, FEBRUARY 1918 251
  • Bibliography 253
  • Index 261
  • About the Author 272
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