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Lost Battalion

 Finding the Lost Battalion

"We are along the road parallel 276.4..."


On the evening of October 2nd, 1918 Major Charles W. Whittlesey, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 308th Infantry Regiment, 77th Division, led nearly 700 men under his command into the narrow Charlevaux Ravine deep in the Argonne Forest of northeastern France. Units operating on his right and left flanks failed to keep up, leaving his unit out ahead of the main American line.

That night, German troops slipped in behind his unit, breaking his liaison link to the rear and surrounding the Americans ensconced there in the ravine.

Five days later, the Major led 194 survivors out of the ravine... and into history.


Welcome to the US WW1 Centennial Commission's tribute to the famous 'Lost Battalion'!

My name is Robert J. Laplander, and I am the worlds leading historian on the Lost Battalion. For over 20 years, along with my wife Trinie, I have researched and explored the story of the Lost Battalion, the men that formed it, and their commander, Charles W. Whittlesey, building the largest collection of Lost Battalion information in the world. That research resulted in my book Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America's Famous WW1 Epic. An updated, 100th anniversary edition of the book was released this year to commemorate the centenary of America's entry into The Great War. (To order the book and see a special deal for YOU to help build the National WW1 Monument in Washington D.C. click the link under the contents box on this page.) Here on these web pages you will find more information from my research collection dealing with 'my boys'. I hope you enjoy the time you spend here and encourage you to stop back often as this will be an ever evolving site, with more information added on a regular basis. If you have questions, comments or something to contribute, please do not hesitate to contact me. There are few things I love more than talking Lost Battalion with someone! Send me your email and I will also make sure you are on the Lost Battalion information ring, where you will receive news on updates to the site and other information concerning the 77th Liberty Warriors of that bygone era.

Now, go start exploring the world of the Lost Battalion!

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Epic in the Argonne : The Story of the Lost Battalion

Pocket Far RightOn the evening of 2 October 1918, Major Charles W. Whittlesey led nearly 700 men under his command into the narrow, muddy, Charlevaux Ravine, deep in the heart of the Argonne Forest of Northeastern France. That night, the Germans surrounded the ravine; cutting off the force ensconced there nearly a kilometer ahead of their main line. Five days later, 194 survivors walked out of the ravine and into history...

Few events of the U.S. participation in the First World War have captured the popular imagination quite as strongly as that of the episode of the "Lost Battalion." Arguably the most over-reported story of the war, the legend of that epic event lives on to this day as a tale of valor and torment, courage and terror, determination and death. Few, however, know the true story of what really happened to those men during those five terrible days in early October 1918, and fewer still are aware that the forces concerned were actually trapped twice, or that the U.S. Army Air Service played a part in the event as well.

When the AEF launched its massive offensive into the Meuse-Argonne on 26 September 1918, holding the far left flank of that enormous drive was the 77th Division, originally raised from the streets of New York City but by then peppered with inexperienced replacements from the Midwest after a summer of brutal combat. Charged with attacking through the dense Foret d'Argonne, the 77th slammed forward that morning into a fog shrouded, broken battlefield – and fragmented. The atrocious attack conditions fractured the individual units of the division, and it was two days before commanders were able to begin to tie the loose ends of their commands together again. Fortunately for the doughboys, the Germans in the forest were not prepared for an attack on the scale launched by the AEF, and their lack of readiness proved to be the one saving grace for the 77th. By day two of the offensive, orders had been issued by the German High Command for all units in the Argonne to fall back into pre-prepared positions along the Gieselher Stellung (the first of three successive German main lines in the area) and maintain their defense there.

The unit holding the far left of the 77th's battle line was the 308th Infantry Regiment, which had its 1st Battalion forward in the attack, with its 2nd Battalion in support 500 meters behind. We join the battle there...

1st pocketThe "Small Pocket"
By the evening of the second day of the offensive into the Meuse-Argonne district, the attack into the Argonne Forest itself was slowing considerably under a blanket of exhaustion, bad weather, and combat stress. There, the 77th Division faced stiff resistance from a successive series of German emplacements, entrenchments, and thick barbed wire belts buried within the forest brush; in addition, they were being hammered almost continuously by heavy machine-gun and artillery fire. Nevertheless, as the doughboys pressed their attacks relentlessly forward, the Germans began an ordered retreat back to the prepared positions of the Giselher Stellung main line deep in the forest, leaving small rear guard units behind armed mainly with light machine-guns to cover the withdrawal of the main body.

During the course of the drive forward, on the afternoon of 28 September 1918, Major Charles W. Whittlesey, the Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion/308th Infantry Regiment/154th Infantry Brigade/77th Division, and the 2nd Battalion/308th Infantry Commander, Major Kenneth P. Budd, broke through that German rear guard line and advanced, under competent and direct orders, across a wide hill known as "l'Homme Mort." (1) Battling over the top by the late afternoon, the little force of around 400 men took up a squared position along the wooded northern slope of the hill, dug in, and settled down in the rain swept, dark forest for the night. The position measured no more than 300 meters square but was well outposted. Liaison parties sent out on the flanks discovered that the majority of the 2nd Battalion/308th Infantry had failed to keep up on the right and that the liaison unit meant to connect the 77th with the French on the left, the 368th Infantry Regiment, had also failed to keep up – as had been the case since the beginning of the battle. (2) With no flank support for at least 400 meters in either direction, and only a thin line of runner posts connecting them with the main line behind, the little force was an island of khaki in a sea of field gray. Nevertheless, Major's Whittlesey and Budd, following their orders to the letter, established a Post de Command in a captured German bunker (see illustration above) and waited for the morning, when they were confident that their flanks would catch up. Pigeon messages were sent back to 308th Regimental Headquarters alerting them to the situation and a carrying party was sent out to fetch ammunition, food and water; all of which the American force was very short of. By 2100 hrs all was quiet in what would later become known as the "Small Pocket."

Moulin de lHomme Mort 2During the night, however, elements of the German 122nd Infantry Regiment/2nd Landwehr Division – the rear guard force covering the general withdrawal in the area – slipped in behind l'Homme Mort and the small American force thereon, and severed the runner line, eliminating at least three runner posts in the process. Unaware of the actual strength of the force that had penetrated their line, but believing it to be considerable, IR122 set up machine-gun posts behind the American bivouac and called for assistance. Elements of the 254th Infantry Regiment/76th Reserve Division, newly arrived to the area and brigaded to the west of IR122, responded and brought more machine-guns. Quietly then, throughout the rainy night, German machine-gun teams and snipers moved into position around the doughboy perimeter line and waited. (Photo above of l'Homme Mort Mill.)

When the carrying party had not returned with supplies by the morning of 29 September, and with stray doughboys coming over the hill stating that the runner line had apparently been cut during the night, Major Whittlesey decided to send out a scout party to investigate. Within a short time, messages back from that party confirmed the facts concerning the runner line. By that time however, the small U.S. force was already under attack by machine-guns, snipers, and at least one light trench mortar, taking fire from all four points of the compass. Another scout party went out and brought in a mortally wounded German officer who, just before he succumbed to his wounds, informed Major's Whittlesey and Budd that worse lay yet ahead for them in the forest. It was mid-morning by this time, and the flanks had not yet caught up. Realizing then that Regimental Headquarters might not be aware of the rapidly deteriorating situation, and with supplies and ammunition about gone and the German fire from all sides growing heavier, Major Whittlesey decided to send out his Battalion Adjutant, Lieutenant Arthur McKeogh, to try to break through the German cordon to the rear and lead up a rescue force. Lieutenant McKeogh took two enlisted men with him and set off through the thick brush. In the distance, they could hear their comrades on the main line battling desperately to drive the line forward.

By nightfall, all food was exhausted in the Small Pocket. A small stream at the bottom of the hill was under fire from a Station Tafeltal at lHomme Mortparticularly expert German sniper, and thus water was unobtainable as well. Thankfully, the number of wounded the force had taken during the previous 24 hours had been low. Nevertheless, the terrible weather and rough combat conditions in the battle through the thick forest thus far had left few of the doughboys in anything like a healthy state. German combat patrols 'nibbled' the doughboy perimeter well into the night but so far no serious attack had been mounted, although the doughboys were sure it would come. In order to prevent any panic, Major's Whittlesey and Budd kept the truth of the predicament from their men, telling only the few officers under them of the situation. Nevertheless, word leaked out. Soon nearly everyone knew what was happening and the tension on l'Homme Mort that night was intense as sporadic rifle and machine-gun fire continued.

Just after dawn that morning of 30 September, outposts of the Small Pocket were surprised by a small squad of doughboys coming through the trees up the hill, dragging several German prisoners and a captured German machine-gun. They were a scout party sent out from the main line to locate the bivouac of the 1st Battalion/308th. Lieutenant McKeogh and his two cohorts had, after several harrowing adventures, made it back through the lines earlier that morning and informed 308th Regimental Headquarters of the situation. (3) The incoming squad had run into only one enemy machine-gun crew, whom they captured, and it now appeared that the Germans were in full retreat. Major Whittlesey sent the squad back down the way they had come, along with several of his own men to reestablish the runner line, and soon supplies were coming up the hill and wounded were being carried back down it. By 1700 hrs that evening, the main line had battled up to the l'Homme Mort position, covering Major Whittlesey's flanks, and all was well again. It had been a very close call, the lesson of which would not be lost on Major Whittlesey.

The next day, 1 October 1918, the 308th received orders to continue their attack forward, up a nasty slice of ravine charlevaux mill 1916buried deep within the forest known as the "Ravin d'Argonne." Two kilometers ahead, the north/south running Ravin d'Argonne terminated, emptying into the east/west running Charlevaux Ravine. Major Whittlesey's orders were to drive straight up the Ravin d'Argonne, cross the Charlevaux Ravine, and take up a position along the east/west running Binarville-La Viergette Road, which cut across the northern slope of the Charlevaux. There he was to form solid flank liaison with French forces to his left (at the Charlevaux Mill, see picture at left), and the 307th Infantry Regiment to his right, consolidate the position, and await further instructions for a coordinated attack. (4) Orders handed down by the 77th's Division Commander, Major-General Robert Alexander, heretofore had been to "advance without regard to flanks." These were now amended to also include the addition "...or losses." The ground ahead was to be taken at all costs, and there was to be no relinquishing of taken ground without permission from the Commanding General himself.

The 308th slammed forward, with bloody results, up the Ravin d'Argonne for all of 1 October. Casualties were very heavy and by the end of the day, they had advanced barely a kilometer. Late that afternoon the Brigade Commander, Brigadier-General Evan Johnson, sent Major Whittlesey a new attack plan, designed to bypass much of the resistance he faced at the outlet of the Ravin d'Argonne. (5) An attack using the new plan on the morning of 2 October failed, with further heavy casualties. That afternoon, however, Major Whittlesey and the replacement 2nd Battalion/308th Infantry Commander, Captain George G. McMurtry, tried again and managed to narrowly break through the German lines. (6) Between 1730 and 1930 hrs, they led nearly 700 men down into the Charlevaux Ravine.

Although he had argued strenuously – twice in fact – that the attack orders were likely to lead to yet another entrapment of his unit behind enemy lines, Major Whittlesey had, while again acting under well-defined and competent orders, been able to pierce the German Giselher Stellung main line and was now on to his objective. Reconnaissance revealed however that, once again, his had been the only unit to take its objective; flanking forces to the east and west had been unable to keep up with them, just as Whittlesey had earlier predicted to his Regimental Commander, Colonel Cromwell Stacey. They were therefore now in a veritable untenable position: stranded nearly a kilometer ahead of their main line and once again with no flank support whatsoever. However, the two Battalion Commanders – who understood, as before, that their orders forbade their retreat, and not yet aware of the full magnitude of their peril – ordered their men to dig in as darkness fell.

Pocket CenterThe Siege of the Lost Battalion
They dug into the northern slope of the Charlevaux hillside, between the Binarville-La Viergette roadway above and an undeveloped wagon path below running between the hill and the Charlevaux Brook (see illustration above). This is the position that over the next five days would become world famous as simply "The Pocket." They refused their flanks into a well-defined defensive perimeter stretching approximately 300 meters long by 100 meters wide following the contour of the hillside. Machine-guns covered both flanks, while liaison to the rear was, as before, maintained through a series of runner posts that stretched back to the Regimental Headquarters, now at the l'Homme Mort bunker 2 kilometers to the south. Messages sent back by Major Whittlesey along this line on the evening of 2 October alerted Regimental Headquarters to the situation in the Charlevaux Ravine, and thus elements of the 3rd Battalion/307th Infantry were dispatched to establish liaison from Major Whittlesey's right flank and extend back to the main line behind the Charlevaux position. However, only Company K of the 307th, led by Captain Nelson M. Holderman, (7) was able to proceed up to The Pocket, arriving there about 0400 hrs on the morning of 3 October. Meanwhile, believing his position still somewhat tenable on the evening of 2 October, Major Whittlesey had decided to wait until the morning of 3 October to send the connecting link from his left flank rearward to remaining elements of 2nd and 3rd Battalions/308th back on the main line and already liaisoned to French forces further to the west.

The German forces along the mainline of the Giselher Stellung along the top of Hill 198, knew that Major Whittlesey's force had taken up a position in the Charlevaux Ravine, but did not know their exact numbers or what support they might have. Yet, seeing no further reinforcement after Captain Holderman's Company K/307th came up over the night of 2-3 October, elements of IR122 and RIR254 repaired the break in the Giselher Stellung line on Hill 198 which Major Whittlesey's forces had pierced open. The Germans again slipped in behind the Americans in the early hours of the morning, and eliminated the U.S. runner line, thus cutting off the force ensconced in the Charlevaux Ravine from any support behind. Remaining elements of the runner line retreated into The Pocket to inform Major Whittlesey of this at about 1000 hrs on 3 October. About that same time, remnants of a patrol the Major had sent out earlier that morning from Company E/308th to attempt the left flank connection back to the main battle line, straggled back into the position reporting that they had been ambushed with heavy casualties. (8) Soon thereafter, the Germans began to pound The Pocket with heavy trench mortar and machine-gun fire from entrenchments to both the north and south. A strong patrol of Company K/307th sent out by Major Whittlesey late that morning to attempt a breakthrough to the southeast also failed with heavy casualties.

With the only form of communication left available to him that of carrier pigeon, Major Whittlesey kept 308th AEF Official 2Regimental Headquarters informed of the rapidly deteriorating situation as best he could, but was unable to receive orders back. Believing then that his orders to hold the position he had taken still stood, Whittlesey and his men held onto the ravine bivouac and beat off several strong German attacks during the course of the day, but took many casualties for the effort. By the evening of 3 October, the four remaining enlisted medics in The Pocket were reporting to Major Whittlesey that all medical supplies were exhausted, as was nearly all of the food supply. Water, which should have been obtainable from the Charlevaux Brook, was not accessible, due to intense German machine-gun fire. Casualties had been terrible during the day, with nearly 20% of the force killed or wounded already, including Captain McMurtry who had had a machine-gun bullet shatter one of his kneecaps.

The next day, 4 October, the surrounded force again repelled repeated German attacks in the morning and continued to absorb German trench mortar fire. Hand grenades were now exhausted, and ammunition was beginning to run low. Meanwhile, to the south, what remained of the 308th Infantry, along with elements of the 307th, launched repeated attacks to affect a breakthrough of the German line in order to reach Major Whittlesey's surrounded force – all to no avail. That afternoon elements of the 152nd Field Artillery Brigade made plans to attempt to fire a "barrage of protection" around The Pocket in support of the ground attacks, in order to draw German troops away from it. However, due to an error in map coordinates (which was not Major Whittlesey's fault, as is often thought), at least one battery of artillery mistakenly fired directly onto the American position in the ravine instead of around it. With German mortar and machine-gun fire keeping the beleaguered U.S. troops corralled into their narrow position, the Americans had no choice but to endure. At 1500 hrs, after half an hour of continuing U.S. barrage, Major Whittlesey released his last carrier pigeon, named "Cher Ami," with a plea to lift the fire:

We are along the road parallel 276.4
Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us.
For heaven's sake stop it.

Whittlesey, Major 308

Twenty-two minutes later, Cher Ami arrived at Mobile Pigeon Loft #9 with the message, though he was missing an eye, a leg, and had been shot through the breast and wing. The artillery, however, had already discovered their error by that time through other means and had begun to lift their fire. Nevertheless, the damage in The Pocket had tragically been done: some 80 men had been wounded during the barrage (including one of the four remaining medics), while approximately 30 had been killed. Additionally, a group of men from Company E had been captured during a German attack that slammed into the position immediately following the barrage. Among them were two officers, Lieutenants James Leak and Victor Harrington who, under questioning, would be largely successful in fooling the German commanders of RIR254 into believing that the American force in the ravine was nearly twice the size that it actually was.

AEF Official 4As 5 October dawned, the force in The Pocket was rapidly weakening. With no food or water available and the strain of combat weighing heavily on them since 26 September, few of Major Whittlesey's men had the strength left to bury their dead, and therefore bodies littered the hillside. Without any supplies available to the three remaining medics, and forced to remain out in the chilling and rainy elements, the wounded were in a terrible state and beginning to succumb to infection and gangrene. Repeated German attacks were again fended off throughout the day, while to the south could be heard the desperate sounds of battle, as the remainder of the 154th Infantry Brigade continued to attempt to penetrate the Giselher Stellung and break through to the Charlevaux Ravine.

Also that day, DeHavilland DH-4 aircraft of the 50th Aero (Observation) Squadron appeared over the ravine, flying low and slow, in an effort to positively locate Major Whittlesey's exact position in order to attempt an aerial resupply. This would be the first such large-scale endeavor in history. (9) Their efforts to locate Major Whittlesey's men were largely unsuccessful, however. They were far too well dug in to the heavily wooded, brush-covered hillside to be seen. If they could be seen from the air, then they could also be seen by the German on the high ground around them. This meant that the 50th was up against a tough stump; they had to attempt an air drop – an operation which had never been done before – to resupply a group of men whose exact position could not be positively confirmed.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, newspapers were already reporting the plight of what they were popularly calling "The Lost Battalion." The name was a gross exaggeration of the facts – Major Whittlesey's men were not "lost" in the sense that no one knew where they were; in fact, nothing was further from the truth. The term "lost," in fact, was in reference to their apparently hopeless situation. Nor were they a single battalion, but instead a composite unit of four different battalions. Major Whittlesey's command in the ravine actually consisted of portions of Companies A, B and C of the 1st Bn/308th; E, G, and H of the 2nd Bn/308th; approximately one platoon each from Companies C and D of the 306th Machine Gun Bn (with nine heavy Hotchkiss weapons); and Company K of the 3rd Bn/307th Infantry. Additionally, there were also several men in the Charlevaux from Companies D and F/308th, as well as from the 3rd Bn/308th and the 302nd Ammunition Train. Though there has never been any official U.S. Army record of exactly who or how many men were actually in The Pocket between 2 and 7 October 1918, the most accurate list to date positively places 694 men and officers as originally entering the ravine on 2 October. (10) Yet, whatever their numbers, the fact remains that by sunrise of 6 October 1918 – just as the plight of these men was making headlines back home – the casualty total in The Pocket was approaching 70%.

That morning of 6 October, as Major Whittlesey's men fought off the first of several attacks which would be launched against them that day (including one late that afternoon that incorporated flamethrowers), the first of several relay AEF Official 5flights made by the 50th Aero Squadron in an attempt to resupply The Pocket from the air was begun. None of these attempts would prove to be successful however, with the squadron losing three aircraft that day to enemy ground fire. From the air, the featureless and heavily fog-enshrouded forest landscape of the Argonne made pinpointing The Pocket beyond difficult, and therefore all of the dropped packages fell into enemy hands. However, during their first flight of the day, Lieutenants Harold E. Goettler (pilot) and Erwin R. Bleckley (observer) believed they had seen signs of Major Whittlesey's men through the ground fog. Though their normally assigned DH-4 #2 had been so severely shot up on that flight so as to be of no use for the remainder of the day, they borrowed DH-4 #6 that afternoon from fellow pilot, 1/Lt. Floyd Pickrell. They then set out on yet another extremely dangerous, low level mission to obtain a precise location of the Lost Battalion. Their plan was to record on their map "hot spots" from where ground fire was coming and thereby pinpoint the exact correct position through process of elimination. During that second flight, however, Lt. Goettler was shot in the head from ground fire, and in the ensuing crash Lt. Bleckley sustained massive internal injuries and died in an ambulance on the way to a field hospital. Though the resupply efforts would continue, nothing dropped from the air would ever reach Major Whittlesey's beleaguered men.

However, the 50th Aero Squadron's efforts would have another, unanticipated effect on the episode then playing out in the Charlevaux Ravine. About 1000 hrs of 7 October, nine men slipped away from the left flank of The Pocket – without orders – to try to locate one of the airplane packages dropped the previous afternoon that they believed to be close at hand. Not far off the flank, German machine-gunners ambushed them, and five of the party were killed outright, while the four remaining wounded were taken prisoner. One man, Private Lowell Hollingshead of Mt. Sterling Ohio, had received only a slight knee wound, and was therefore taken before the German intelligence officer of RIR254, Ltn. Heinrich 'Fritz' Prinz. Prinz requested that Hollingshead take a letter back to Major Whittlesey, suggesting the surrender of the remaining forces in the ravine. (11) After some debate, Private Hollingshead agreed to do so and he was duly released along the wagon road at the bottom of The Pocket with the letter. Private Hollingshead presented the letter to Major Whittlesey and Captain McMurtry at about 1600 hrs that afternoon, whereupon legend holds that the Major, upon reading the missive, turned to the German lines and yelled that they could all "Go to hell!" In truth, Major Whittlesey said nothing of the sort, but instead ordered his men to prepare for an attack he was sure would come once the letter was left unanswered. Orders were also passed that all white airplane signal ground panels (which were hardly anything close to white anymore) be gathered in, lest they be mistaken for a sign of surrender. Once word of the German surrender request had passed along to the men on the hillside, however, they began to shout back to the Germans of their own accord what they thought of the ultimatum – and in no uncertain, or none too polite, terms! (12)

The final German attack hit the beleaguered command shortly after 1700 hrs that afternoon, coming from all points of the compass, and lasted for over an hour and a half. Once again, as they had in the final attack of 6 October, the Germans brought flamethrowers to bear against The Pocket, but they were all driven off and killed, again as they had been the day before. Nevertheless, the attack was the fiercest to date and virtually exhausted both Major Whittlesey's men and their meager remaining supply of ammunition. However, attacks launched farther along the German main line to the east by American forces had had a telling effect that day, and the German line was again in full retreat by the time the final attack against The Pocket ground to a halt that evening. With their last effort to eradicate The Pocket repulsed, and under intense pressure from the 307th Infantry and what remained of the 308th (attacking to the south and southeast), the German forces surrounding the Charlevaux Ravine abruptly withdrew from the area just before 1900 hrs. Shortly thereafter, relief finally broke through to Major Whittlesey's position in the form of Company B/307th Infantry. The epic in the Charlevaux Ravine was over. Major Whittlesey and his men had stood their ground and held out, against incredible odds.

The price had been high however. Of the 694 officers and men that went into the Charlevaux Ravine on the evening of 2 October, only 194 were able to walk out on the afternoon of 8 October – a casualty rate (killed, wounded/sick, or missing/POW) of nearly 72%. Of the 20 officers that originally entered The Pocket, only four were able to walk out. For their efforts in the ravine in holding their ground, as well as holding the beleaguered command together under incredibly difficult circumstances, Major Whittlesey, Captain McMurtry, and Captain Holderman were each bestowed the Medal of Honor. Major Whittlesey was also immediately promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain McMurtry was promoted to Major. Additionally, two enlisted men that had been fighting to affect the breakthrough to The Pocket were each also presented the Medal of Honor, as were Lieutenants Goettler and Bleckley of the 50th Aero Squadron. Thus, there were seven Medals of Honor awarded for this one five-day event – more than would be given out for any single modern combat event until the famous U.S. Army Air Forces raid on the Ploesti oil fields in 1943. For many years afterwards, the event in the Charlevaux Ravine, and the tales that grew up around it, would make the Lost Battalion one of the most popular war stories of American participation in the First World War. General John J. Pershing, overall commander of all American forces in France, labeled the episode as one of the three most outstanding events of the war, and Charles Whittlesey one of its three most outstanding soldiers.

And so, Charles Whittlesey and his men found themselves heroes upon their return home. Yet, that was a distinction which ill suited Whittlesey, and he tried hard to avoid it; something which proved to be all but impossible. His fame as the first man of the war to receive the Medal of Honor, as well as illnesses related to his gassing during the war and a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, followed him constantly. Therefore, in 1921, after three years of almost nonstop publicity over the event, failing health, and unending psychic torment, Whittlesey booked passage on a vacation steamer to Cuba, telling no one of his plans. At about 2330 hrs on the night of 26 November 1921, the first night of the voyage, Charles Whittlesey stood up from the table in the ship's saloon that he had been sharing with a fellow passenger, politely excused himself, strode out the door into the darkness beyond, and leapt over the side of the ship.

His body was never found.Charles Whittlesey

1) Charles White Whittlesey was born 20 January 1881 in Florence, Wisconsin. When he was 10 years old, his family moved out east, where his father was from, and settled in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Charles attended Williams College and Harvard Law School, before going into practice in New York City. Politically, he was a died in the wool Socialist and a pacifist, but he was also a strong patriot and to that end he enrolled in General Leonard Wood's 1916 Plattsburg Officer's Training Program. When the U.S. went to war in 1917, he was called up for a refresher course and following that, at Camp Upton, on Long Island, he was made Commanding Officer of Headquarters Company/308th. In France, during the summer of 1918, he was advanced to Regimental Operations Officer for the 308th, but never actually saw combat on the front lines himself, though he was severely gassed behind the lines (an episode which he never reported and that would later contribute to his death). Just two weeks before the drive into the Argonne Forest, he was promoted to Major and placed in command of the 1st Bn/308th, partly because the attrition rate among officers in the regiment had been so high that summer and he was next in line. Therefore, his first actual combat assignment where he would lead troops into battle was the largest and most difficult offensive of the war. His 1st Bn was made the point of the 308th's drive, and his regiment was almost a third untested and largely untrained replacements when they stepped off into the forest that morning of 26 September. He himself was a very sick man, due to the gassing he had undergone, without treatment, the month before.

Kenneth Pepperell Budd was a Harvard Business School graduate and a successful New York businessman when he too went to Plattsburg in 1916. After retraining in 1917, he was offered a Battalion Commander's job straight out of the course (in August, 1917), so astute had he been during his training. He turned down the offer, but by January of 1918 he was thrust into the job with the rank of Major anyway. He was placed in command of 2nd Bn and led them all through combat that summer, being heavily gassed and wounded once in the process. Taking his battalion into the Argonne as support behind Major Whittlesey, he was more than likely already suffering some degree of combat exhaustion as he led his men into battle once again. This may explain (in part) his lack of sound judgment on 28 September, when he joined his Battalion Headquarters Detachment to Major Whittlesey's during the advance up l'Homme Mort and left the majority of his battalion – still spread out along the main line just east of Whittlesey's advance path – leaderless and unguided in the midst of a stiff fight.

2) The 368th Infantry was an African-American unit, sent to fight with the French without proper training, equipment, and support. They were in no way adequately prepared for combat, let alone a tricky liaison mission such as they were charged with off Whittlesey's left flank. Without proper artillery support, on 26 September they were met by stiff German resistance and shattered, falling back to the jump-off line three times. Officers had to drive the men back to battle at gun point. On 27 September, they fell back behind the jump-off line. By 28 September, some companies of the regiment had managed to advance, but nowhere near far enough to cover Whittlesey's left flank.

3) Lieutenant Arthur McKeogh, Pvt. John Monson, and Pvt. Jack Herschkowitz would each receive the D.S.C. for their adventures that night. Monson died in 1920, an alcoholic; McKeogh became the first Lost Battalion historian, but died in 1923; Herschkowitz lived into the early 1980's.

4) The objective was never the actual Charlevaux Mill itself, despite popular myth.

5) The attack plan specified that Company's D and F of the 308th would be left back on the main line on the west side of the ravine attacking Hill 205, a major point of resistance holding them up in the area. Meanwhile, Whittlesey took the reminder of the 1st and 2nd Bn's on a flanking mission around the hill, to the east side of the ravine and over the ridgeline there called Hill 198. Then, once on the objective, he was to send two of his companies back over Hill 198 to connect up with D and F and complete a solid line off his left flank back to the main line.

6) Ken Budd had been relieved of command of the 2nd Bn immediately following the Small Pocket episode and was sent to Staff School at Langres. In truth, his orders for Langres had arrived just before the jump-off into the Argonne, and since there wasn't anyone to take his place at the head of 2nd Bn at that 11th hour, the order was shelved until something could be figured out. Obviously, his abandonment of his battalion of leadership at such an inopportune moment as on 28 September must have had some effect on the decision, because by then the 308th was even shorter of officers than at the start of the battle.

George Gibson McMurtry Jr. was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. His father was an immigrant Irishman who had come to America without a penny and had virtually built the town of Vandergrift, Pensylvania, to serve the tin mills he built and there. George Jr. grew up then with a healthy respect for the common man, while having a silver spoon in his hand. He went to Harvard Business School and interrupted his studies in 1898 to go to Cuba with his family friend, Theodore Roosevelt, in the 'Rough Riders', serving in Troop D under Captain R.B. Huston. When he returned home again, he studied hard enough to still graduate with his class in 1899. By 1910 he was a millionaire on Wall Street and well respected by all who knew him. A Plattsburg graduate, almost all the officers in the 308th knew him and he was probably the most well liked officer in the entire regiment during the war.

7) Nelson Miles Holderman was a replacement officer from the 7th Infantry, California National Guard. In combat, Holderman was in his element and was without doubt the best officer in the Charlevaux Ravine. He took seven separate wounds during the event in the Charlevaux, some of them serious, but within a year was little worse for the wear.

8) Among these casualties was one of the five medics up with the force in the Charlevaux, who had volunteered to go back for much needed supplies and was captured by the Germans during the ambush.

9) Each of the attacking divisions involved in the offensive had an observation squadron attached to it for aerial liaison duty. For the most part they performed their work admirably. The biggest difficulties seemed to involve activities over the Argonne Forest and the Bois d'Septsarges.

10) Lost Battalion historian and author Robert J. Laplander has spent considerable time over the last 20 years compiling a list of those definitely known to have been in the Charlevaux Ravine and believes that the number may actually be slightly higher. However, no further proof has yet been found to include any from the 'possibles' list.

11) Prinz had lived in Seattle for 12 years before the war, working for a German tungsten mining outfit, and by that stage of the war knew Germany had no chance at winning. His offer for Whittlesey to surrender was an honest one and made with the thought of both saving the lives of the remaining Americans in the ravine, as well as saving the honor of RIR254, whose only blemish was not having been able to eject the Americans from that ravine.

12) Later, when asked about this portion of the event Whittlesey – ever the master of understatement – would laconically reply, "The men swore a good deal."

Lost Battalion historian and author Robert J. Laplander has studied the experiences of Charles Whittlesey and his men for over 20 years. For a full, definitive accounting of the actions of the Lost Battalion in the Argonne Forest, please read his book Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legend of America’s Famous WW1 Epic. Mr. Laplander also runs Doughboy MIA on the US WW1 Centennial Commission website. He lives in Waterford, Wisconsin with his wife, Trinie, their three children, and a tall, skinny dog. For more information, please visit: www.findingthelostbattalion.com

End Game

On the overcast, misty morning of November 12th, 1918 – the first morning of peace in Europe in four years and four months – Corporal Roy Holtz of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, an AEF dispatch rider and motor scout, became the first American to cross the Rhine River and onto German soil, riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. A short time later, Cpl. Holtz’s commanding officer, Major Frederick W. Hackett of Champlain New York, lead the first American contingent of U.S. Army occupation forces across the river, giving the German populace an initial glimpse of what would soon become a familiar sight – the American Doughboy. In the days to come, a veritable herd of brethren to these first troops followed as the AEF set up the newly formed 3rd Army for occupation duty, which quickly established headquarters in the city that Cpl. Holtz had motored through that first, blessed day – Coblenz, on the Rhine River.

All through the month of November and into December, troops of the 1st and 3rd German Armies streamed across the bridgehead and through the town as well, surrendering their arms and stores before being discharged from service by the American Bridgehead Commission (by then the controlling governmental power for the district). Only then were they allowed to return to their homes. It was a strange atmosphere, notable for the lack of general triumph elicited by the victors, as well as a certain measure of pride still maintained by the vanquished troops, who believed in their hearts that the war had been lost not on the battlefield, but in the political offices far behind the front. As such, the occupying army allowed the retreating German divisions the honor of parading their troops and regimental colors one last time in farewell before disbanding.

It was a hollow honor.

Interestingly, the last division to appear on final parade in occupied Coblenz was the 76th Reserve Division from Hesse; the same division that had fought so magnificently against the American 77th Division during the Argonne Drive, and the one that had been largely responsible for bottling Major Whittlesey’s men up in the Charlevaux Ravine that previous October. Their final parade came on the morning of December 11th, after which they marched off toward their homes in what would later be described as “good order”. And of the two officers of the 76th RD left behind to hand over their division’s stores to the American Bridgehead Commission, one of those that had been chosen was none other than Lt. Fritz Heinrich Prinz...

After the failure of the 254th Infantry Regiment to dislodge Major Whittlesey’s men from the Charlevaux Ravine before their ordered retreat from that area, Lt. Prinz had found little in the rapidly diminishing German cause to believe in. Though he fought on with his division right up until the end, he was well aware – most particularly following the events in the Charlevaux Ravine – that it was only a matter of time before the bitter end came. When it finally did, on that gray December afternoon, AEF reporter Wilber Forrest, who had arrived in Coblenz on December 8th looking for something to write about (along with 900 men of the 39thInfantry/4th Division) was there to see it. Forrest, whose dispatches had been among the first to report Major Whittlesey’s earlier predicament on l’Homme Mort that would eventually become known as the ‘Small Pocket’, found Lt. Prinz to be:

“...a dapper little Prussian officer who looked as if he had just jumped out of a bandbox; a pleasant person, courteous and anxious to please. He spoke faultless English and, thus accomplished, had been chosen as interpreter (by) the American Bridgehead Commission. Lieutenant Prinz was the man who wrote the note to (Lt. Col.) Whittlesey demanding the surrender of the remnants of the “Lost Battalion”. He expressed great admiration for Whittlesey and his heroic command. He said he hoped someday to meet the American officer, but did not confirm the popular story of the manner in which Whittlesey was said to have replied to his note...” 

Forrest made special note of that last fact, and some weeks later would make his way back to 77th Division PC at Chateau Villain to “check the truth about the Lost Battalion”, as he put it, and thus help perpetuate one of the many legends that sprang from the episode in the Charlevaux Ravine.

Another figure that found himself there to interview Lt. Prinz was a tall, quiet American officer that had been detailed to the General Staff of the American Bridgehead Commission and arrived in Coblenz only on December 5th. Colonel Clarence S. Sherrill had ended the war as Divisional Chief of Staff of the 77th “Metropolitan” Division, and had been involved to no small degree in the orders that came from General Alexander’s PC during the Charlevaux incident. Now, much to his surprise, he found himself face to face with the very man that had composed the now famous ‘surrender letter’. Though there meeting was little more than a minor footnote to what had fast become one of the most famous stories of the war, it was nevertheless an epic footnote, to be sure. In a report that he wrote on Christmas Day, 1918, to General Alexander, Col. Sherrill had this, in part, to say about the extraordinary meeting he had with Lt. Prinz:

“(Lt. Prinz) informed me that he was in command of a platoon (sic) of the German forces which were between Major Whittlesey and the remainder of the 154th Brigade. He also was the officer who transmitted to Major Whittlesey the note urging him to surrender to avoid further useless sacrifice of life. I questioned Lt. Prinz to give the German view of our men, and he expressed himself as being a great admirer of our division for its gallant offensive operation, and especially was loud in praise of Major Whittlesey and his gallant detachment. He stated that the Germans felt that it was absolutely suicidal for the American detachment to persist in its defense, and it was for that reason that he sent the message requesting the surrender... Lieutenant Prinz, previous to the war, had been for six years the representative of a German tungsten company in Spokane (Washington), and expressed his desire to return to America after the war, saying that he intended to look up Colonel Whittlesey for the purpose of expressing to him his personal admiration for this gallant conduct... (He) said one of the most discouraging things (the Germans) encountered was the absolute lack of “nerves” shown by the American troops, as opposed to the shaken nerves of the German, who were absolutely worn out by the prolonged service at the front. He said our men seemed to be absolutely devoid of any such things as “nerves” at that time, and this buoyancy had a very depressing effect on his men.” 

After his duty had finished at Coblenz, Fritz Prinz returned to his hometown of Stettin, up on the coast, where his wife, Auguste, was waiting for him. He had served honorably as an officer in the war since early 1915, been wounded twice, and had seen action on the Russian, Romanian, and Western (France) fronts. In the immediate post war years, he went back into the mining business that had been his trade before the war and within a few short years wound up as manager of a large coal mine just outside of Kassel. In December of 1926, he realized his ambition to return to the United States on a business visit. By then, however, Charles Whittlesey was already dead, and as the old German campaigner later wrote, “I saw and heard nothing of the comrades of the Lost Battalion. I went into a bookshop in New York, but even they could not tell me anything about a book or history of the Lost Battalion.” Since he had no idea how to get hold of Lowell Hollingshead, he was not able to meet up with him either, something that truly disappointed him. And by the time that Hollingshead had heard, by sheer chance from a newspaper reporter, that Prinz was in the country and looking for him, it was too late and Prinz had already sailed for home. Holly, for his part, later told Tom Johnson, co-author of the 1938 book The Lost Battalion, that he would have “walked all day” to have seen Prinz again.

Nevertheless, Prinz and Hollingshead later on did exchange a few infrequent letters, in the 1930’s, mostly exchanging family pleasantries and rarely mentioning the incident in the Charlevaux Ravine. By that time, both men had families and had tried to put the war behind them. Prinz had two sons; one was serving in the German army and another as a private in a Nazi public works program. The last letter Hollingshead had from Prinz was dated May 19th, 1939. Then, four months later, Hitler kicked off World War Two, with his invasion of Poland, and all correspondence between the two men stopped, apparently for good.

In late 1962, Lowell Hollingshead enlisted the aid of the Columbus Dispatch, a local newspaper that was preparing to follow the old campaigner on a return to France, 44 years after his adventure in the Charlevaux, to help him try and locate Prinz before they went over. They, in turn, contacted the Hamburg branch of Bernsen’s International Press Service (a private news service then based in New York City). Holly was then disappointed to learn that the last administrative record of Prinz and his wife that could be found had them listed as living in the town of Paderborn, Germany – which had been completely flattened during the Allied strategic bombing campaign toward the end of the Second World War. Their youngest son, Gunther, had been killed on the Russian Front. No trace of the older son, George Hans, was ever found.

Theodore Bernsen, president of the press service, rather neatly summed it all up in the last line of his report, sent to Hollingshead on December 4th, 1962:

“This then, is the end of the story.”

Finding the Lost Battalion: Roster of Men Known To Have Been in the Charlevaux Ravine Between 1900 HRS 02OCT1918 and 1930 HRS 07OCT1918

20170227 214937There never was a complete and total list of who was or was not in the Charlevaux Ravine between the evenings of October 2nd and October 7th, 1918. Therefore family legend, miscommunication, misunderstanding of unit designation and just plain subterfuge has led there to be considerable speculation on the subject. During the 1920’s and 1930’s it was a rather glamorous thing to have been a member of the Lost Battalion and some who were not actually in the Charlevaux Ravine but were in the 77th Division and in the area at the time, and sometimes those just seeking attention, were not above stretching the truth a bit and laying claim to the distinction (including the gangster Al Capone). In fact, had every man who made the claim, or whose family did years later, actually been in the ravine, it would have been more akin to a lost division rather than the degraded battalion strength unit that it was!

What follows is the culmination of 20 years’ worth of research into the question of who actually was in the Lost Battalion and who was not. Dozens of sources were consulted for the creation of this list and it represents what may be considered to be the most accurate accounting possible.

KEY: W=Wounded; KIA=Killed in Action; POW=Prisoner of War; S=Sickness; DOW=Died of Wounds. (Note: Sickness includes those simply too weak to walk out of the Pocket. Though frequently unspecified, most often the cause was influenza.)

Adams, Charles F.    PVT    K/307   W – GSW
Adams, Charles I.   PVT   K/307   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Ahlstedt, Rueben H.   PFC   G/308   W – right thigh
Albis, Stanislaus   PVT   B/308   W – right leg
Altiera, Samuel A.   PVT   K/307   Sick
Amatetti, Bart   PVT   B/308   Sick
Anastasia, Anthony   PVT   /308   W – left leg
Anderson, Carl A.   PVT   K/307   W – DOW 1/24/19
Anderson, Gus   PVT   K/307   KIA
Anderson, Herman G.   SGT   A/308   W – face
Anderson, Joseph A.   PVT   D/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Andrews, Paul F.   PFC   G/308   KIA
Armstrong, William W.   PFC   C/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Arnold, Harold V.   PFC   F/308   KIA
Baker, David H.   PVT   B/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Baker, Edward   PVT   K/307   W – right thigh
Bakker, Richard W.   PVT   E/308   KIA
Baldwin, Frederick W.   SGT   E/308
Baldwin, Joseph K.   CPL   C/308
Baldwin, Walter J.   CPL   HQ/308
Bang, John   PVT   K/307   KIA
Baskin, Louis   PVT   C/308   Sick (severe constipation)
Becker, Gustav A.   PVT   C/306 MGB   KIA
Becker, Martin   CPL   D/306 MGB   KIA
Bedrna, Louis W.   PVT   HQ/308
Beebe, Leonard   PVT   K/307   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Beeson, Leonard R.   PVT   K/307   W – right shoulder
Begley, William A.   PFC   G/308   KIA
Bejnarowicz, Joseph   CPL   C/308
Bell, Morris C.   PVT   HQ/308
Bendheim, Lionel   SGT   C/308   W – both legs
Benson, Arthur E.   PVT   C/308
Bent, Elmer E.   PVT   H/308
Benthagen, George M.   PVT   G/308   KIA
Berg, Louis   PVT   K/307
Berkowitz, Max   PVT   E/308   POW
Berlev, Floyd   PVT   K/307   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Beske, Arthur A.   PVT   B/308   KIA
Bickers, Everett   PVT   C/308   W – GSW
Bickmore, Harold   PVT   B/308
Bivalace, Giovanni   PVT   K/307   W – GSW
Blackburn, Raymond   SGT   C/308
Blanchard, Alonzo D.   CPL   K/307
Bland, Charles J.   PVT   E/308   KIA
Blevins, George   PVT   G/308
Blomseth, Ludwig   PVT   G/308   W – burned
Blowers, Bert L.   PVT   K/307   W – DOW 12/18/18
Boden, John   CPL   G/308   KIA
Bolvig, Eiler V.   CPL   H/308   KIA
Bonaventura, Pistoria   PFC   B/308   W – left leg
Botelle, George W.   PVT   C/308   W – head
Bowden, John   PVT   H/308   W – left leg, left foot
Bradford, Robert F.   CPL   K/307
Bradshaw, Stanley O.   PVT   B/308   W – left shoulder
Bragg, James M.   PVT   Med. (G)/308   Sick
Brennan, George H.   PVT   D/306 MGB
Brennan, Harold   PVT   E/308
Brennen, Thomas J.   CPL   C/308   W – GSW
Brew, William F.   PVT   K/307   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Brice, James E.   PVT   E/308   Sick
Bringham, Victor L.   PVT   K/307   W – left thigh
Brinkoma, Ralph   PVT   K/307   W – left shoulder
Brody, Irving   PVT   B/308   W – left leg
Bronson, Emery   PVT   B/308   W – right leg, right hand
Bronstein, Benjamin   PVT   E/308   POW/DOW
Brown, Clifford R.   PVT   C/308
Brown, Edwin C.   SGT   H/308   W – right arm
Brown, Gilbert E.   PVT   K/307   W – DOW 10/15/18
Bruton, James   PVT   G/308   KIA
Bueskins, Herbert   PVT   K/307   W – left arm
Buhler, Frederick   2LT   G/308   W – shrapnel, GSW
Burns, William C.   PVT   H/308
Buth, Henry O.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Cadieux, Henry J.   PVT   B/308   W – head
Caldwell, Lewis B.   PVT   H/308
Callahan, William   SGT   E/308
Cappiello, Savino   PVT   C/308   Sick
Carnebucci, Catino   PFC   C/308   KIA
Carroll, James B.   1st SGT   K/307
Cassidy, Henry C.   PVT   C/308   W – left shoulder
Castrogiovanne, Samuel   PVT   C/308   KIA
Cathcart, Joseph E.   PVT   H/308
Cavallo, Thomas   PVT   H/308   KIA
Cavanaugh, William M.   PVT   HQ/308   W – broken shoulder
Cella, Innocenzo   PVT   A/308   Sick
Cepaglia, Philip   PVT   C/308
Chamberlain, James   CPL   K/307
Chambers, Joseph H.   PVT   H/308   W – neck
Charlesworth, Percy W.   PVT   C/308   W – left leg
Chavelle, Charles H.   PFC   B/308   W – left arm
Chin, Henry   PVT   H/308   KIA
Chiswell, George H.   PVT   E/308   W – right wrist, head
Christ, Charles F.   PVT   K/307
Christensen, Hans W.   PVT   K/307
Christenson, Phillip   PVT   K/307   W – chest, right side
Christian, Robert E.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Christopher, Joseph J.   PVT   K/307   W – DOW 10/28/18
Chupp, Ammon   PVT   I/308   W – left knee
Church, Roscoe G.   PVT   K/307   KIA
Clark, Raymond O.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Clarke, Nathan   PVT   D/306 MGB   KIA
Clay, Thomas H.   PVT   H/308   W – shrapnel, GSW
Clemons, Melvin E.   PVT   G/308
Coatney, Arthur F.   PVT   H/308   W – right thigh
Coe, Richard R.  PVT   H/308   W – left arm
Cohen, Morris   PVT   D/306 MGB   W – right shoulder
Colan, James   CPL   G/308   W – back
Colasacco, John   SGT   C/308   Sick
Cole, Harvey R.   PVT   K/307   KIA
Collins, John   PVT   A/308   W – left knee
Condon, James T.   PVT   C/308   Sick
Conneally, John   PVT   G/308
Connelly, John   PVT   E/308   W – right foot
Connelly, Timothy   PVT   K/307
Conrad, James M.   PVT   D/306 MGB   KIA
Copsey, Albert V.   CPL   B/308
Cornell, Charles B.   CPL   H/308
Cornell, Henry C.   PVT   C/306 MGB   W – left ear, neck
Covert, Parley J.   PVT   E/308   POW
Crosby, John A.   PVT   C/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Crotly, Martin J.   PVT   D/306 MGB   W – left hip
Crouse, William P.   PVT   K/307   KIA
Cullen, William J.   1LT   H/308
Cummings, Roy   PVT   H/308
Cunningham, Niles F.   PVT   C/308   Sick
Curley, Edward T.   PVT   C/308   W – left side
Dahlgren, Gust A.   PVT   G/308   W – shrapnel (slight)
D'Amato, Patrick   PVT   C/308
Damcott, John F.  PFC   C/308   KIA
Damon, Harold P.   PVT   H/308
Daomi, Patrick   PVT   E/308   KIA
Dayo, Harrison   PVT   HQ/308
Deaderick, Osro   PVT   G/308
Deahan, James A.   SGT   K/307
Delsasso, John L.   PVT   E/308   W – DOW 10/20/18
Delgrosso, Frank   PFC   G/308   W – head
Delmont, John   PVT   H/308   Sick
Delserone, John   PVT   H/308   W – shrapnel (slight)
Devanney, Patrick   PVT   E/308   W – DOW 10/11/18
DeWitt, Roy   PVT   E/308   KIA
Diesel, Louis   PFC   D/306 MGB   KIA
Dimmick, Frank C.   PVT   D/306 MGB   KIA
DiGiacomo, Frank   PVT   G/308   W – nose
Dingledine, Elliot N.   PVT   D/306 MGB   DOW 10/9/18
Dodd, Robert   PVT   H/308   W – right shoulder & leg
Doherty, Arthur A.   CPL   E/308   W – shrapnel
Domrose, Walter L.   PVT   E/308   MIA
Donato, Thomas F.   PVT   D/308
Dorr, Donald E.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Downs, Lee H.   PFC   C/308   Sick
Drake, Herbert M.   PVT   H/308
Duffy, George W.   CPL   B/308   W – sprained ankle
Dunham, Ralph O.   PVT   F/308
Dunnigan, Thomas   PVT   F/308
Duryea, Cecil L.   PVT   H/308   POW (W)
Dyrdal, Joseph B.   PVT   B/308   KIA
Eager, Sherman W.   2LT   G/308
Edlund, Herman D.   PVT   G/308
Edwards, Lyle J.   PVT   H/308
Eggleston, George   PVT   D/306 MGB
Eichorn, John   PVT   HQ/308   W – left foot
Eifert, Otto   PVT   E/308   POW
Elkin, Gabriel   PVT   H/308
Ellbogen, Martin   PVT   F/308   W – left shoulder
Elliott, Frederick   PVT   G/308   W – GSW
Engen, Conrad   PVT   H/308   W – GSW
Englander, George M.   BGLR   G/308   W – right leg
Erdahl, Olaf   PVT   H/308
Ericson, Alfred E.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Erickson, Arthur   PVT   G/308
Erickson, Frank G. S.   PVT   H/308
Erickson, Henry   PVT   A/308   W – right thigh
Esch, Hubert V.   PVT   C/308
Estes, Frank R.   PVT   H/308
Euteneuer, Albert A.   PVT   K/307   W - GSW
Evans, Peter   PVT   B/308   W – face
Evermann, Frederick   PVT   B/308
Fairbanks, Truman P.   PVT   G/308   W – both legs, left hand
Fare, John   PVT   K/307   W – right leg
Farncomb, Harvey M.   PVT   D/308   W – left ankle
Fassett, Ancel E.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Feeney, Francis   PVT   B/308
Fein, Arthur E.   PVT   K/307   W – back, right arm
Felton, James P.   PVT   K/307   W – left arm
Feuerlicht, Samuel   PVT   C/308   W – DOW 10/14/18
Fitzgerald, Peter A.   PVT   G/308   W – right leg, left hand
Flack, Earl A.   PVT   H/308
Flaming, Henry P.   PVT   H/308
Flower, Leo A.   PVT   C/306 MG   Sick
Flynn, John T.   PVT   B/308   Sick
Flynn, Raymond E.   PVT   E/308   Sick (severe diarrhea)
Fortunato, Joseph C.   MECH   C/308
Foss, Sidney J.   PVT   K/307
Francis, William E.   PVT   H/308   W – left wrist
Freeman, Harold   SGT   G/308   W – right shoulder
Friel, Joseph   PVT   A/308   KIA
Frink, Charles W.   PVT   C/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Gaedeke, Benjamin F.   SGT MJR   HQ/308   W – DOW 10/9/18
Gafanowitz, Robert   PFC   G/308   W – right arm
Gallagher, Dennis A.   PVT   G/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Gallob, Hyman   PFC   B/308   KIA
Gaupset, Sigaurd   PVT   H/308   W – right leg
Gavin, George M.   PVT   B/308   KIA
Geanekos, Angel   PVT   B/308
Gehris, John D.   PFC   Med (G)/308   W – shrapnel, concussion
Gibbons, Peter   PVT   K/307
Gibson, Charles A.   PVT   K/307   Sick
Gibson, Frederick   PVT   B/308   KIA
Gibson, Herbert B.   PVT   H/308   W – forearms
Giefer, Joseph   PVT   D/308   W – head, hands
Giganti, Joseph A.   PVT   C/308   Sick (severe constipation)
Gilkey, Ralph   PVT   HQ/308   W – shrapnel (slight)
Gill, Thomas H.   PVT   K/307
Gillece, Bernard   CPL   E/308
Gilley, George N.   CPL   K/307
Gitchell, Leonard C.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Gladd, David E.   PFC   C/308   KIA
Glenn, Leonard N.   PVT   B/308   W – GSW
Goldberg, Irving R.   CPL   E/308   POW
Goldhorn, Henry W.   PVT   H/308   Sick
Graham, Robert J.   SGT   D/306 MGB   KIA
Greally, Michael J.   SGT   G/308   KIA
Green, Bert M.   CPL   K/307   Sick
Greenfield, Barney   PVT   B/308   Sick
Greenwald, Irving W.   PFC   E/308   W – GSW right leg
Griffin, Maurice V.   1LT   H/308   W – left shoulder
Griswold, Lester   PVT   C/308   W – left eye
Gross, Herbert   PVT   E/308
Grossberg, Percy   PVT   G/308
Gudis, Peter C.   CPL   E/308
Habeck, Frank   PFC   E/308   W – GSW left side
Hagerman, Mark C.   SGT   G/308
Halligan, William C.   PVT   B/308   MIA
Hamilton, John R.   PVT   HQ/308
Hammond, Raymond E.   PVT   B/308
Hansen, Hans S.   PVT   HQ/308
Hanson, Theodore   PVT   H/308   KIA
Hanson, Walter   PVT   B/308
Harkleroad, Lee C.   PVT   C/306 MGB   W – shrapnel, GSW
Harlin, Albert D.   PVT   D/308
Harrington, Victor A.   2LT   E/308   POW (W)
Harris, Thomas   PVT   B/308
Hatch, Boyd S.   CPL   K/307
Hatcher, Otto R.   PVT   C/308
Hauck, George E.   SGT   D/306 MGB
Havens, George E.   PFC   E/308   KIA
Hazen, Louis N.   PVT   C/308   W – left shoulder, left foot
Healey, Jeremiah   SGT   G/308   W – right leg
Hearty, James B.   PVT   B/308   W – right wrist
Hecker, Arthur J.   PVT   H/308
Held, Jacob   CPL   C/308
Hendrickson, Alfred   PVT   K/307   W – DOW 10/19/18
Hepworth, Clyde   PVT   H/308   Sick (rheumatism)
Hermsdorf, Harold J.   SGT   B/308
Heuer, Joseph P.   2LT   K/307
Hicks, Arthur   PVT   K/307   W – left leg
Hicks, Stacy M.   PVT   C/308   POW
Hiduck, Anthony   PVT   A/308   W – head
Hildenbrand, Carl   PVT   B/308   KIA
Hinchman, John A.   CPL   C/308   KIA
Hintz, Clyde A.   PVT   B/308
Hission, William   PVT   C/308
Hoadley, George   PVT   K/307
Hoff, Henry   PVT   D/308
Hofstetter, Benjamin J.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Hogue, Frank D.   PVT   K/307   Sick (severe diarrhea)
Holbert, Edward   PVT   H/308
Holden, Wyatt L.   PVT   C/308
Holderman, Nelson M.   CAPT   K/307   W – shrapnel/GSW(multi)
Holen, George G.   PVT   D/308
Holliday, William M.   PVT   B/308   KIA
Hollingshead, Lowell R.   PVT   H/308   POW (W)
Holt, James M.   PVT   D/306 MGB
Holt, John   PVT   B/308   W – DOW 10/13/18
Holzer, William   PVT   G/308   W – left leg
Honas, Stephan M.   PVT   B/308   W – right leg
Hott, John E.   PVT   E/308   POW
Hoven, Sylvester   PVT   B/308   KIA
Hudlow, Rubin   PVT   A/308   W – left hand
Huff, George   PVT   K/307
Huntington, Lloyd A.   PVT   H/308   W – left arm
Hurd, Ervin C.   PVT   E/308   KIA
Hyde, Richard W.   PVT   E/308   KIA
Ilardo, James P.   PVT   H/308   POW (W)
Iltz, Henry   PVT   C/306 MGB   Sick
Indiana, Dominick   PVT   C/308
Ingraham, Theodore W.   PVT   F/308   POW
Iraci, Alfio   PVT   E/308   KIA
Irvin, James   PVT   C/308
Jacob, William   SGT   C/308
Jacobson, Charles   PVT   E/308
Jacoby, Leo J.   PVT   C/308
Jammaron, Victor   PVT   I/308   W – right arm
Jeffries, Charles B.   PVT   D/305 FA   MIA
Jepson, Earl F.   PVT   B/308   KIA
John, Ralph E.   PVT   A/308
Johnson, Charles A.   PVT   K/307   KIA
Johnson, Edward   PVT   G/308   KIA
Johnson, Frank L.   PVT   D/308   KIA
Johnson, Louis N.   PFC   C/306 MGB   W – DOW 10/12/18
Johnson, Maurice E.   SGT   D/306 MGB
Johnson, Raymond   PVT   C/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Johnson, William F.   PVT   K/307   W – shrapnel, GSW
Johnson, William H.   PVT   A/308   KIA
Jolly, Samuel   PVT   H/308   KIA
Jones, Arthur H.   PFC   B/308   MIA
Jones, David O.   PVT   K/307   W – left arm
Jorgenson, Arthur F.   PVT   F/308
Jorgenson, Herbert   PVT   G/308   W – right arm
Joyce, Joseph   PVT   H/308   W – neck
Judd, Roland P.   PVT   A/308   KIA
Kaempfer, Albert O.   PVT   K/307   W – right arm
Kandel, Benjamin   PVT   E/308   KIA
Kaplan, Harold   1st SGT   E/308   POW (W)
Karalunas, John   PVT   K/307   W – left arm, chest
Karpinsky, Frank   PVT   B/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Kaspirovitch, Jacob   PVT   E/308   W – GSW left side, hip
Kaufman, Emil   PVT   C/308
Keegan, James A.   PVT   B/308   Sick (influenza)
Keenan, Joseph C.   CPL   D/306 MGB
Keene, Earl A.   PVT   I/308   KIA
Keeney, Jesse   PVT   C/306 MGB
Keim, George   PVT   C/308
Kellog, Ernest L.   PVT   E/308   KIA
Kelly, Joseph D.   PVT   D/306 MGB   W – left leg
Kelly, Kennedy K.   PVT   A/308   KIA
Kelly, Michael A.   PVT   E/308
Kelmel, William   PVT   K/307
Kennedy, Edward A.   PVT   D/306 MGB   W – multiple
Kennedy, Frank   PVT   D/308   W – shrapnel, GSW
Kennedy, Joseph C.   CPL   G/308
Kiernan, Joseph   PVT   E/308   Sick
King, Joseph R.   PVT   C/308   POW (W)
Kirchner, Gerard   SGT   H/308
Klein, Irving   CPL   A/308   W – left elbow
Knabe, William H.   PFC   K/307   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Knapp, John   PVT   E/308   KIA
Knauss, Daniel M.   PVT   H/308
Knettel, John J.   PVT   K/307
Knifsund, Otto M.   PVT   C/308
Knott, Carlton V.   PVT   B/308   KIA
Koebler, George   PFC   H/308   KIA
Koernig, George C.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Kolbe, Charles A.   PVT   C/306 MGB   W – left shoulder, back
Kornelly, Phillip   PFC   B/308   W – right leg
Kostinen, Frank J.   PVT   C/308
Kozikowski, Stanislaw   PVT   C/308
Krantz, Walter J.   PVT   C/308
Krogh, Magnus B.   PVT   B/308   W – shrapnel (slight)
Kronenberg, Max   PVT   E/308   POW
Krotoschinsky, Abraham   PVT   K/307
Kurtz, Nicholas   PVT   H/308   W – right forearm
Landers, Patrick J.   SGT   H/308
Langer, Julius   PVT   H/308
Larkin, Archibald F.   PVT   C/308
Larney, James F.   PVT   HQ/308   W – right arm, left thigh
Larson, Erik   PVT   C/308
LaSalle, Erhart   PVT   K/307
Lauder, Frank N.   PVT   C/308
Lavine, Joseph   PVT   E/308
Layman, Raymond E.   PVT   G/308
Leak, James V.   1LT   E/308   POW (W)
Lee, Bernard J.   PVT   C/308   KIA
Leflaer, Len L.   PVT   H/308
Lehmeier, Joseph   PVT   K/307   W – head
Lekan, Michael    PVT   K/307   KIA
LeMay, Adlare J.   PVT   D/308   POW (W)
Leonard, William J.   BGLR   H/308
Lesley, James E.   PVT   H/308
Lesnick, Maxwell   PVT   C/308   W – right shoulder
Lightfoot, Roy H.   PVT   H/308
Lima, Sigurd V.   PVT   G/308   KIA
Lindley, Gilbert L.   PVT   G/308   Sick (rheumatism)
Liner, Irving L.   PVT   D/308
Lipacher, Isaac   PVT   K/307   W – head
Lipasti, Frank I.   PVT   K/307   KIA
Little, Robert G.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Loendorf, Jacob   PVT   C/308   W – head, back
Loering, George C.   PVT   F/308
Lokken, Martin O.   PVT   B/308
Lonergan, James E.   PVT   D/306 MGB   W – shrapnel, GSW
Long, Marvin B.   PVT   B/308   KIA
Long, Patrick   PVT   K/307
Looker, Arthur R.   PVT   B/308   W – head
Looslie, Daniel H.   PVT   B/308   KIA
Lovell, Arthur, R.   PVT   G/308
Lowman, Cecil O.   PVT   C/308
Luckett, Henry C.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Lucy, William J.   PVT   H/308
Lukas, Michael J.   PVT   E/308
Lund, Engval   PVT   F/308   Sick (influenza)
Lynch, James A.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Lyons, Frank T.   PVT   K/307   W – shrapnel
Lyons, Thomas J.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Lysen, Chester   PVT   C/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Macali, Joseph   PVT   B/308   W – left wrist
Mace, Daniel B.   PVT   B/308   W – shrapnel, GSW
Magnusson, David   PFC   F/308   W – right foot
Mahony, Marion E.   PVT   B/308
Main, Frederick T.   SGT   C/308
Mandell, Frederick A.   PVT   C/308   W – shrapnel, GSW
Mann, Sydney C.   PVT   H/308   Sick (trench foot)
Mannion, Thomas J.   PVT   K/307   Sick
Manson, Robert   PVT   B/308   W – right hand
Marchelewski, Stephan   PVT   C/308
Marcus, Samuel   SGT   B/308   Sick (neuritis)
Marcy, Leon W.   CPL   D/306 MGB   KIA
Mares, Rito   PVT   G/308
Marion, Roy L.   PVT   C/308   W – right chest
Marshallcowitz, Saul   PVT   Med (H)/308   POW (W)
Martin, Albert E.   PVT   K/307   W – GSW both knees
Martin, Wayne W.   PVT   A/308
Martin, William H.   PVT   G/308  W – DOW 10/24/18
Martinez, Frank   PVT   G/308   KIA
Mastricola, Archibald   PVT   B/308   W – GSW
Materna, Joseph   PVT   K/307   W – shrapnel (slight)
Mathews, Andrew   PVT   H/308
Mathews, Richard W.   CPL   B/308   Sick
Mauro, Frank   PVT   H/308   W – right foot
Mayhew, George   PVT   C/308
McCabe, John   PVT   C/308
McCallion, John J.   PVT   E/308
McCauley, Jesse J.   PVT   G/308
McCoy, Bert C.   PVT   A/308   W – GSW
McElroy, Joseph A.   PVT   C/306 MGB   Sick
McFeron, Olin   PVT   C/308
McGowen, Joseph L.   PVT   C/308
McGrath, Eugene M.   PVT   C/308   MIA
McMahon, Martin   CPL   B/308   W – right hand
McMullin, William   PVT   E/308   POW
McMurtry, George G.   CAPT   HQ/308   W – left knee, back
McNearney, John A.   PVT   H/308
Mead, Joseph P.   PVT   C/308   KIA
Mears, Robert L.   PVT   C/308
Medboe, Joseph   PVT   B/308   W – right hand
Medesker, Peter L.   PVT   D/308   KIA
Mele, Michael   PVT   G/308   W – shrapnel, GSW
Meltam, Nicholas B.   PVT   A/308   Sick
Melvin, Harold J.   PVT   F/308
Mendenhall, Jesse J.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Merry, Ernest S.   CPL   E/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Meyerowitz, Tobias   PVT   K/307
Meyers, Charles   PVT   B/308   Sick
Mikulewicz, F.M.   PVT   I/308
Miller, Fernnau   PVT   H/308
Miller, Henry   MECH   H/308   KIA
Miller, Henry I.   PVT   E/308   KIA
Miller, Nathaniel   PVT   G/308   W - shrapnel
Miney, Patrick   PVT   E/308   W – GSW
Monan, Robert F.   PVT   K/307
Monk, William   PVT   C/308   W – chin, left knee
Mooney, James E.   PVT   D/308
Morem, Arnold M.   PVT   E/308   W – GSW, left side
Morris, Albert   PVT   C/308
Morris, Louis   PFC   B/308   W – left thigh
Morrow, Bert B.   SGT   C/308  Sick
Mouse, William J.   PVT   C/308
Mulvey, James J.   PVT   F/302 Am Tr.
Munson, Gustave   PVT   H/308   W – right hand
Murphy, James J.   SGT   K/307   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Murphy, John   PVT   C/308
Murray, Frederick   PVT   F/308   W – left hand
Murray, Kenneth   PVT   K/307
Murray, Thomas   PVT   K/307   W – head
Mynard, Edwin S.   SGT   D/306 MGB
Nauheim, Alfred P.   CPL   A/308   W – bayonet
Nell, John W.   PVT   G/308
Nelson, Arthur G.   PVT   H/308   W – right foot
Nelson, Olaf   CPL   H/308   Sick
Neptune, Harold B.   PVT   H/308   W – right leg
Newcom, George H.   PVT   G/308
Nies, George W.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Noon, Alfred R.   2LT   C/306 MGB   KIA
Norton, Grant S.   PFC   B/308   MIA
Novotny, Otto   PVT   F/308
O’Brien, Lewis   PVT   C/308   POW
O’Connell, James P.   CPL   D/306 MGB
O’Connell, John F.   PVT   E/308   POW
O’Conner, Patrick J.   PVT   G/308   KIA
Officer, Arthur E.   PVT   H/308
Ofstad, Gile   PVT   K/307   W – shrapnel (multiple)
O’Keefe, John J.   PVT   E/308   W – GSW, left foot
O’Keefe, Thomas C.   BGLR   D/306 MGB   KIA
Oliver, Walter T.   PVT   D/306 MGB   W – right arm
Olson, Frederick   PVT   C/308
Olson, Lars   PVT   C/308
Olstren, Andrew   PVT   K/307
Orlando, Angel   PVT   H/308   W – GSW
Osborne, Lawrence M.   SUP SGT   B/308   MIA
Ostrovsky, Isadore   PVT   H/308
Oxman, Charles   PVT   C/308
Pagliaro, Benjamin   PVT   G/308   Sick (influenza)
Pardue, Robert M.   PVT   E/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Parker, George W.   PVT   F/308
Patterson, Clarence   PVT   ?/308
Paulson, Oscar   PVT   C/308   POW
Payne, Andrew G.   PVT   C/308   W – head
Peabody, Marshall G.   2LT   D/306 MGB   KIA
Pennington, Joseph R.   PVT   E/308   W – left thigh, buttock
Perea, Enrique   PVT   H/308
Perrigo, Myron D.   PVT   G/308   W – right eye
Pesetti, Salvatore   PVT   K/307
Peters, Clarence   PVT   B/308   W – neck, face, left leg
Peterson, Emil A.   PVT   H/308   POW (W)
Peterson, Holgar   CPL   G/308   KIA
Peterson, Walter S.   PVT   B/308   W – left eye
Peterson, William L.   PVT   E/308   KIA
Petti, Alfred J.   PVT   H/308
Phelps, Harry L.   PVT   C/308   KIA
Phelps, Jacob C.   PVT   K/307   W – right leg
Phillips, Henry   PVT   E/308   POW
Pierson, John L.   PVT   K/307   W – shrapnel, GSW
Pinkstone, Charles W.   CPL   C/308   W – left foot
Pollinger, Frank J.   PVT   G/308   W – right foot
Pomeroy, Lawrence   PVT   B/308
Pool, Thomas G.   1LT   K/307   W – GSW, back
Pope, Calgere   PVT   K/307
Potter, Oscar   PVT   G/308   Sick (arthritis)
Pou, Robert E.   PVT   E/308
Powell, Josephus   PVT   H/308   W – back
Powers, William J.   PVT   HQ/308
Probst, Louis M.   MECH   E/308   Sick
Prusek, Joseph   PVT   K/307
Pugh, Charles J.   PVT   E/308
Puniskis, Joseph H.   PVT   C/308
Raidant, Silas L.   PVT   G/308   W – shrapnel
Rainwater, Carl A.   PVT   G/308
Rainwater, James B.   PVT   D/308   KIA
Rangitsch, Jacob   PVT   E/308
Rank, Lloyd   PVT   F/302 Am Tr.
Ratonda, Herman E.   PVT   D/308   W – severe gas
Ratto, Vito   PVT   E/308
Rauchle, Frank   CPL   C/306 MGB   Sick
Ray, Guy W.   PVT   C/308
Raygor, Ernest E.   PVT   E/308   KIA
Rayony, Spiro   PVT   ?/308
Rayson, Homer   PVT   G/308   KIA
Recko, Jack   PVT   H/308   POW (W)
Rector, Frank C.   CPL   D/306 MGB
Regan, William   PVT   G/308
Reid, Lauren G.   PVT   G/308   KIA
Reiger, John   PVT   B/308   W – GSW
Renda, John   PVT   H/308   W – left leg
Revnes, Maurice P.   2LT   D/306 MGB   W – left foot
Rhoads, Solomon E.   PVT   H/308
Rice, Chauncey I.   CPL   D/306 MGB
Richards, Omer   PVT   HQ/308
Richardson, ?   PVT   C/306 MGB
Richter, Morris   PVT   C/308   Sick
Ridlon, Ernest J.   PVT   G/308   W – right hand
Rissi, Bernard   PFC   G/308   KIA
Ritter, Charles   PVT   H/308   W – right thigh
Roberts, Benjamin   PFC   K/307   W – back, right leg
Roberts, Clarence   PVT   B/308
Robertson, Arch   PVT   H/308
Rochester, Nathaniel N.   PFC   E/308   KIA
Rodriquez, Alfred   PVT   ?/308
Roesch, Clarence R.   SGT MJR   HQ/308
Rogers, Harold M.   2LT   B/308   KIA
Ronan, Maurice H.   PVT   C/306 MGB
Rosby, Thornwald   PVT   K/307   W – both arms & legs, head
Rose, Sidney   PVT   E/308   W – GSW, head
Rosenberg, Samuel   PFC   H/308   W – DOW 10/12/18
Ross, Albert A.   PVT   G/308   KIA
Rossum, Haakon A.   CPL   G/308   POW (W)
Royall, Joseph   PVT   H/308
Rudolph, Aloysius J.   PVT   E/308   KIA
Rugg, Hiram M.   PVT   H/308   W – head, back
Rumsey, Wilbert F.   PVT   K/307   KIA
Ruppe, John   PVT   H/308   KIA
Ryan John F.   CPL   D/306 MGB   KIA
Sackman, Julius   SGT   D/306 MGB   W – left side, abdomen
Sadler, Thomas G.   PVT   D/305 FA   W – left leg
Sands, Lester T.   PVT   H/308
Santillo, Anthony   PVT   D/306 MGB   KIA
Santini, Guiseppe   PVT   G/308
Scanlon, John H.   PVT   D/306 MGB   W – left back, side & hip
Schaffer, Harold L.   CPL   H/308   W – face
Schanz, Joseph A.   PVT   G/308
Schenck, Gordon L.   2LT   C/308   KIA
Schettino, Lememe   PVT   K/307
Schmidt, John H.   MECH   G/308   W – left leg
Schmitt, Frederick F.   PFC   D/306 MGB   KIA
Schmitz, Joseph J.   PFC   D/306 MGB   W – right leg
Schultz, Otto J.   PVT   E/308   W – DOW 11/7/18
Schultz, William   PVT   G/308
Schwartz, Paul A.   CPL   K/307   Sick
Scialdono, Guiseppe   PVT   K/307   W – leg
Segal, Paul   PVT   B/308
Selg, Eugene   PVT   G/308
Semenuk, Harold   PVT   C/308
Senter, Henry H.   PVT   H/308   W – left knee
Shea, James E.   PFC   H/308   KIA
Shepard, Arthur H.   PVT   B/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Sica, Rocco   PVT   E/308   KIA
Simonson, Alfred   PVT   C/308   W – shrapnel, GSW
Sims, George P.  CPL   K/307
Sirota, Irving   PVT   Med (D)/308   Sick (trench foot)
Sketson, Orlander   PVT   B/308   KIA
Slingerland, James E.   PVT   G/308
Smith, Sidney   PVT   H/308   W – GSW
Sobaszkiewicz, Stanley   PVT   H/308    W – GSW
Solomon, Arthur   PVT   F/308
Spallina, Joseph   PVT   K/307   W – right hand
Speich, George F.   CPL   K/307   W – knee
Spiegel, Isidore   PVT   H/308
St.Cartier, Lucien   PFC   C/308   KIA
Stamboni, Joseph   PVT   D/306 MGB   W – shrapnel, GSW
Stanfield, John A.   PVT   H/308
Steichen, Albert N.   PVT   H/308   Sick (rheumatism)
Stenger, William   PVT   H/308
Stingle, Frank   PVT   K/307   W – face, right leg
Stoianoff, Blaze   PVT   H/308
Strickland, James R.   PVT   H/308   W – right thigh
Stringer, Edward   PVT   E/308   W – GSW, spine
Stromee, Leo A.   CAPT   C/308   W – right side, face
Stumbo, Leroy A.   PVT   K/307   W – head
Sugro, Benedetto   PVT   C/308
Sullivan, Jerry H.   PVT   E/308   POW
Summers, Albert E.   PVT   H/308
Sundby, Melvin G.   PVT   H/308   W – DOW 10/15/18
Swanbeck, Arthur   PVT   K/307   W – right arm
Swanson, Edward   PVT   H/308
Swanson, Olaf W.   PVT   E/308   KIA
Swanson, Sigurd V.   PVT   B/308   Sick
Swartz, John B.   PVT   H/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Sweeney, Bernard J.   PVT   D/306 MGB   W – left wrist
Swenson, Oscar A.   PVT   G/308   KIA
Taasaas, Andrew J.   PVT   H/308
Talbot, William R.   PVT   E/308   KIA
Tallon, Daniel B.   CPL   E/308   KIA
Teichmoeller, John G.   1LT   D/305 FA   W – severe concussion
Test, Pietro   PVT   K/307   W – right chest, shoulder
Thatcher, Lee C.   PVT   B/308
Thomas, Clifford   PVT   K/307   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Thomas, Harold H.   PVT   H/308   MIA
Thompson, Arthur A.   CPL   D/306 MGB   W – GSW
Thorbone, Roland   PVT   B/308
Thorsen, Harold   PVT   G/308   W – shrapnel (multiple)
Tiederman, Herbert   PVT   HQ/308
Todisco, Amos   1st SGT   G/308   W – right hand
Tollefson, Theodore   PVT   HQ/308   KIA
Tolley, Courtney W.   PVT   D/306 MGB
Torpey, Leslie C.   PVT   D/306 MGB
Trainor, Leo W.   2LT   C/308   W – GSW
Travers, John H.   PVT   D/306 MGB   W – DOW 10/17/18
Treadwell, Raymond   PVT   K/307   Sick
Trigani, Antonio   PVT   G/308
Tronson, Melvin C.   PVT   E/308   POW
Tucker, Jack   CPL   C/308   POW
Tuite, Martin F.   SGT   C/308
Tulchin, David   PVT   C/308
Tumm, Charles G.   CPL   H/308   KIA
Turnquist, Benjamin E.   PVT   K/307
Underhill, Lester   MECH   K/308
Untereiner, Hugo E.   PVT   H/308
Vitkus, Joseph   PVT   E/308
Vittulli, Constantine   PVT   C/308   W – stomach
Voelker, Alphonsus F.   CPL   C/308   W – GSW
Volz, Otto M.   PVT   K/307   W – face
Voorheis, John L.   PVT   C/308   Sick
Wade, Farland F.   PVT   G/308   W – head
Walker, George   PFC   Med (G)/308   W – shrapnel, back
Wallace, Dosia W.   PVT   G/308   W – left eye
Wallen, Oscar   PVT   G/308   W – GSW, back
Wallenstein, Charles   PVT   C/308   Sick
Weaver, Glenn H.   PVT   G/308   W – right arm
Weiner, Walter   PVT   F/308
Weinhold, Frederick   PVT   E/308   POW
Weinmann, George J.   PVT   F/308   W – both legs
Wenzel, Edward L.   PVT   H/308   POW
West, Harry A.   PVT   E/308   POW
Wheeler, Otto   PVT   H/308   KIA
White, Peter H.   PVT   F/308
White, Scott R.   PVT   H/308   Sick (influenza)
Whiting, Wilbur C.   CPL   H/308
Whittlesey, Charles W.   MJR   HQ/308   W – nose (unreported)
Wilber, Frederick L.   PFC   G/308   W – face
Wilhelm, Karl E.   1LT   E/308   W – right hand
Williamson, Henry J.   2LT   A/308   W – left foot
Willinger, Isadore   PVT   K/307   POW
Willis, Oscar   PVT   H/308   W – left leg
Witschen, Vincent   PVT   K/307
Witthaus, Albert R.   PVT   H/308   W – left shoulder
Wolf, Samuel   PVT   B/308
Wolfe, Earl I.   PVT   C/308
Wondowlesky, Stephen   PVT   A/308
Woods, James R.   PVT   G/308
Workman, William J.   PVT   H/308   KIA
Wornek, Ernest   PVT   G/308   W – left foot
Wright, William J.   PVT   D/306 MGB
Yoder, Robert   PVT   E/308   W – shrapnel (slight)
Zeman, Louis   PVT   H/308   KIA
Ziegenbalg, William   PVT   B/308

The total number listed as killed during the episode comes to 122, while the total number listed as wounded equals 242. Additionally, there are also 9 men listed as missing, 34 that were taken prisoner, 49 evacuated as sick. Added up then, this gives a total number of casualties of 456, or a casualty rate of just over 66 percent, against a total strength of 694. Yet this does not reflect those losses due to hunger, general weakness and the process of ‘weeding out’ that the four remaining officers went through just before the march out from the Charlevaux Ravine. These further detracted from Whittlesey’s remaining force, and figuring again from an original strength of 694, less the 194 that walked out of the ravine, we then get a total loss of 500. This then gives an aggregate loss of over 72 percent, or in other words, 2 out of 3 men became a casualty of some kind during the five days of the siege in the Charlevaux Ravine.

Finding the Lost Battalion: Photo Gallery

In this section over the coming weeks we will be loading up the collected images of some 200+ of the nearly 700 men confirmed to have been in the Lost Battalion, with some brief information on each. There will also be a section devoted to period photos of the area. This section will be in a constant state of expansion, so check back often!

If you have additional photos or information you'd like to share, please contact Robert Laplander via the email link found under the Contents section. 


Finding the Lost Battalion: 'Galloping Charlie', Hero of the Charlevaux Ravine

whittleseyA Brief Biography of Charles White Whittlesey

Charles Whittlesey's biography will be loaded up soon!

An Appraisal of Major Whittlesey’s Actions Against Military Doctrine of the Time

It goes without saying that Charles Whittlesey believed he was right concerning the decisions he made during the advance through the Argonne. (This, despite any doubt that may have been brought to his mind by the jealous whisperings that went on around him afterwards.) After all, he was a man who carefully considered the consequences likely to be brought about by actions he set into motion and he would have been unlikely to wantonly jeopardize either his men or his own high standards through haste. That said, it is nevertheless also true that he did made mistakes, albeit ones that he seemed to have little control over or that, to him at least, did not seem mistakes at the time but instead good, sound decisions, backed by firm reasons. And these, as we have seen, were mostly due to a general lack of leadership experience in warfare, but there were also several as well that he might not have made if his own, rigid personal value system and moral code had not been as unbending as it was. Case in point: on the morning of October 4th, when it still might have been possible to evacuate the ravine with relatively fewer casualties than at any later time after, he stayed put on the premise that they lacked any formal orders to draw back – even though it would have, by then, been virtually impossible to receive any such orders. Without his strict adherence to the last orders he received – which he continued to believe stood, right up until the end (and rightly so, it might be argued) – he might have made a deliberate move that could have relieved the situation and thus prevented four more days of suffering. Theorists might also argue however that by that time the Germans had enough machine-guns emplaced on Hill 198 and along the south side of the Charlevaux Ravine, and that the new wire up there was by then so thick, that Major Whittlesey’s men would never have gotten through. Under those circumstances, such movement then would probably have resulted in either a horrible blood bath, or a necessary mass surrender of what remained of his troops to prevent such. Perhaps. In either case, we shall never know.

Major Whittlesey can also be accused of committing the same ‘fatal’ mistake twice of not making a strong link back on a flank as he probably should have. First, to the right rear with the remainder of Major Budd’s battalion behind on the main line from up on l’Homme Mort, and second to the left rear in order to link back with Lt. Knight’s forces from up in the Charlevaux Ravine. Both times he hesitated to do so in an apparent effort to insure the safety of the lives of men he felt sure would be placed in undo harm’s way by the necessary night movement - a situation that, as had already been demonstrated, would not have sat well on Major Whittlesey’s careful moral sense. Yet on the other hand, just a short while later, he continued to send patrols out into the Charlevaux Ravine, even when many of them were simply not coming back; a strategy that seems, on the surface at least, both incredibly callous and shamefully wasteful of precious man power. The results are a dangerous contradiction.

Basically then, although it can clearly be said that Major Whittlesey had the courage, determination, drive and reasoning of a true soldier, he was also frequently ‘saddled’ with a fragile emotional, and all-too tender, conscientiousness that sometimes prevented him from being as ‘unfeeling’ as he needed to be in modern combat. While he fully realized that his command was a command at war, and as such that some of his soldiers would necessarily be expected to die, he nevertheless apparently had a very hard time coming to grips with that fact and accepting that it truly needed to be. Yet all the while we must continue to bear in mind the tremendously unusual circumstances that involved his command right from the get-go that would weigh additionally heavy on his mind, i.e.: the mostly untrained replacements. The conundrum is well demonstrated in the arguments he made with Colonel Stacey concerning the advance into the Charlevaux Ravine. The advance obviously needed to happen in order to break the Giselher line. And the right oblique movement that Brigadier General Johnson had come up with, Major Whittlesey indeed recognized

as representing a very real possibility of accomplishing that task. Yet he still rejected the plan, mainly because of the obvious ‘danger factor’ to his (then already decimated) command, if not simply on principle. ‘Ruthless’ then, was not a word to describe Charles Whittlesey in any way, shape, or form.

Yet Major Whittlesey was a successful leader of men, if not a tactician, as the results of his battalion prove. His was virtually the only battalion in the 77th during the initial period (September 26th to October 2nd) to reach its objectives nearly every day; something of a demonstration in efficiency of command and inter-battalion cooperation that reflected well on his command, as well as himself. And his command also – for the most part anyway – held on in the Charlevaux Ravine despite almost overwhelming pressure and circumstances bearing down on them not to, due largely to the example of his strong leadership skills and intense determination to uphold both honor and orders. Obviously then he did well by most standards.

But how does Major Whittlesey stack up against the army’s cold, calculating eye of the time in terms of leadership? True, he was a successful leader of men; but was he a successful commander under the parameters set by the military? To answer this as accurately and fairly as possible we must make our judgment based solely on the same guidelines that Major Whittlesey would have been reckoned against at the time. To this end I have compared his known actions against 14 summery combat principals considered then (1918) to be the ‘acme’ from which to wage war successfully. I culled these principals from a Naval Landing Force manual of the period (36) - selected only because of the thoroughness of the directives themselves - but all good combat-oriented training manuals of the time have some form of list concerning these principals and the doctrines behind them. Additionally, these principals (or at least ones very similar to them) would have been drilled into Major Whittlesey at Plattsburg. How well then does the head of the Captain’s list of his graduating section there stack up against them? See for yourself...

1) Avoid combats that offer no chance of victory or other valuable results.

Major Whittlesey was definitely not one to send men in where there would likely be no clear and meaningful result (nor pull them out once that result had been obtained either). Case in point: he resisted sending a large force back on his flanks at night twice, primarily in order to prevent them from the unnecessary danger of night ambush. He also twice settled for positions just short of, and in better defendable positions than, his actual objectives when moving on to them would likely lead to more, largely unnecessary combat. Adding to the evidence are his arguments with Colonel Stacey concerning the advance into the Charlevaux, which he believed was a truly bad idea – to say the least.

On the other hand, of course, is the value of the Charlevaux position itself, which was indeed valuable when you figure that taking up the position would necessarily mean breaking the Giselher Stellung line to do so. That single reason alone made the whole operation an absolute necessity. And his chances of victory (i.e.: breaking the line and thus reaching the objective position) were made better than average by the right oblique movement; all points which Major Whittlesey was not only aware of, but in action carried out, despite any duress it may have caused his conscience.

2) Make every effort for the success of the general plan and avoid spectacular plays that have no bearing on the general result.

Obviously Major Whittlesey made every effort, every time, to reach his objectives, which were equally obviously geared toward the success of the ‘general plan’ - the ‘big picture’ if you will - which he understood quite well. The achievements of his command throughout the entire battle plainly bear this out. In fact all too well, for had he not been so driven toward successful completion and maintenance of his orders, his command might not have remained in the Charlevaux for so long, or gotten there in the first place for that matter (note Captain Rainsford’s actions on the afternoon of the 2nd). Again, his use of the right oblique movement, despite his tepidity as to the likely final outcome, is a perfect example. And as far as ‘spectacular plays’, there were of course none, as we have seen, for that was never Major Whittlesey’s intention – although that is exactly what he was so often wrongly accused of so many times afterward.

3) Have a definite plan and carry it out vigorously. Do not vacillate.

Ever the calculating lawyer, Major Whittlesey made no plan of his own without thinking it through completely and so then he would have no reason to hesitate, which he never did. Even in the case of his orders, particularly, again, the right oblique order executed the afternoon of the 2nd, even though he did not like the ‘definite plan’, he still carried it out ‘vigorously’ to its successful conclusion. Note also his decision to send Company K back on the mid morning of the 3rd, despite the reservations of Lt. Pool.

4) Do not attempt complicated maneuvers.

Perhaps the only complicated maneuver Major Whittlesey attempted was the move against Ravin de Depot des Machines/l’Homme Mort on the afternoon of September 28th. The splitting of his and Major Budd’s battalions away from each other, moving each along either side of the Ravin Moulin de l’Homme Mort connected only by runners, to then link on the objective beyond was poorly thought out. After that fiasco failed, he again took up a simple consolidated line and rarely deviated from it – until ordered to perform the right oblique. Overall the ground favored general simplicity in any case, giving way to intricacy only on a very local level, and then only for specific purposes.

5) Keep the command in hand; avoid undue extension and dispersion.

As we have seen, this was an extremely difficult task in the tangle of the Argonne Forest, especially concerning dispersion, and one which was obviously at times impossible to maintain. It is safe to say then that Major Whittlesey performed this task about as well as anyone could under the same circumstances. Indeed he managed to follow this particular axiom very well in the Charlevaux Ravine, where he insisted (and perhaps wrongly so) in keeping everyone in tight, close formation on the hillside. This offered very little chance for wild dispersion, while providing only the most orderly extension as well as fantastic local control – his local control.

Yet he seemingly had lost some of that control during the advance to the top of Hill 198 on the afternoon of the 2nd. This is evidenced by his message back to Colonel Stacey late that afternoon just before entering the Charlevaux, in which he states he must wait to gather more troops before moving on because he “got to much in front by mistake.” Admittedly it was a difficult job to maintain good control in the denseness of the Argonne using the limited communications of the time, but that would serve as no excuse in the intensity of the battle, when all that mattered were results.

6) Study the ground and direct the advance in such a way as to take advantage of all available cover and thereby diminish losses.

As best as he could, Major Whittlesey moved his men through the Argonne and down the Ravin d’Argonne, though this principal was mostly in the hands of his company commanders following initial directions given based on orders the Major had received from 77th Division command. His placement of the command along the reverse slope of the Mont d’Charlevaux in fine use of available cover is a good study on this principal. These are lessons learned from the first, ‘Small Pocket’ though, where Major Whittlesey had dug his command in on the front slope of the hill, wide open to German shellfire save for the tree and brush cover. In all fairness, had his flanks kept up with the command however, the problem might not have been as serious, as they likely could have delved farther into the Ravin d’Argonne where the flat surface would have rendered them less obvious and thus offered a small modicum of further protection.

On the other hand, the mistake might have proved all the more disastrous had the German’s not been in the midst of a retirement...

7) Never deploy until the purpose and proper direction are known.

This, of course, could hardly be avoided. Orders came through daily and in sufficient detail to enable this. All Major Whittlesey had to do then was implement them and... well, you know how Major Whittlesey was with orders. The purpose on the 2nd was clear; break the Giselher Stellung. The direction was equally so, as it was dictated by the order for the right oblique movement. Platoon commanders or squad leaders would benefit from adherence to this dictum more so than would a battalion commander.

8) Deploy enough men only for the immediate task in hand; hold out the rest and avoid undue haste in committing them to the action.

The principal for which Major Whittlesey has drawn endless heat. Why, his detractors have asked, did he draw the 2nd battalion – which was supposed to be in support and used frontally only under the direst of circumstances – up into the main line with the 1st, thus depriving himself of immediate reserves? The answer is simple, as we have seen – he had no choice. Only men, and lots of them, was the thing that was going to push that German line. Thus he was deploying what were the amounts needed to complete the ‘task at hand’. Did he do so prematurely? Obviously he thought not, and neither did both Major Budd and Captain McMurtry, as far as is known. Only those who had never been there to experience the hell of moving through that forest against a well organized, well supported and well entrenched enemy, among his own works, thought so.

Another point, most often overlooked, are the casualty totals by that time in the battle. By the morning of October 2nd many of the companies that were out on the line had already fallen down to the 50% mark as far as effectives went. There were even men being dragged in from the ‘mop up’ battalion (the 3rd) to fill some of the more important gaps in the company, and even battalion, headquarters structures. However there was no resupply available for basic riflemen on the line, so the obvious source to replete the decimated advance battalion ranks was to simply close up the support battalion into the line as well. This was a sound solution to a difficult situation that enabled the advance to continue. I would venture a guess that many of Major Whittlesey’s detractors would have agreed, had they all the facts to hand that we do here.

9) Flanks must be protected either by reserves, fortifications, or the terrain.

Again, another sore spot in the story in regard to the Major’s actions considering his failure to complete the links back at the two critical junctures already mentioned, but most especially the second from the Charlevaux, which was part of his advance orders from General Johnson. When one considers Major Whittlesey’s extreme adherence to his orders most of the time, this seems a very strange course indeed for him to take, and one very out of character. True, it appears that he neglected these movements for what he probably believed to be good, sound military reasons, but wrong is wrong and not making the links back on his flanks was the wrong move.

Yet if we are to accept the premise that the whole advance was based on, according to the orders the advance went forward under as the battle ground on, then what choice did Major Whittlesey actually have? Not much, for according to orders, all should have been well in hand on the flanks:

“Flanks will be well cared for by our own people...”

“You are to advance, without regard to flanks or losses...”

Need I say more?

10) In a decisive action gain and maintain fire superiority.

Major Whittlesey’s command certainly did this to the best of their ability, even to the extent that the Major himself apparently had showed a replacement how to load his weapon. Therein lay perhaps the only bogie to this dictum and one that was initially out of the Major’s hands – he had been saddled with a number of replacement troops that had had no combat training. However, by the time the Charlevaux incident came about, those replacements that had managed to survive that far into the battle had by then gained what experience they needed ‘on the job’, so to speak, and could mostly be counted on to get the work done, thus easing the problem greatly. And even a simple glance at the disposition of the companies in the Pocket will show that the Major used his resources to best advantage in order to maintain fire superiority there, where the weaker companies were sandwiched in between the stronger companies, and machine-guns positioned to best effect, as were the auto-rifles. Even at the end, with little to no ammunition left, the Major still maintained a strong stance, manning efficacious outposts and interior lines, which managed to keep the enemy at bay, even during the terrifying flame-thrower attacks. Not at all a bad showing, considering the steadily deteriorating condition of his command.

11) Keep up reconnaissance.

There is no question but that Major Whittlesey kept up recon all through the Argonne advance in order to avoid surprises. (Remember that even Colonel Stacey had told General Johnson that recon - meaning Major Whittlesey’s men - had it that the Charlevaux position was “untenable”, even before the main body had advanced anywhere near up the Ravin d’Argonne far enough to know that.) In fact Major Whittlesey lost large amounts of men dead, wounded and ‘missing’ in the Charlevaux Ravine keeping up recon, even when prudence might dictate he slack off on the activity some. A double-edged sword, to be sure, yet one used out of necessity, for without recon they were operating blind. The Major was also in the habit of picking up ‘stray’ men, or groups of men (as evidenced by the inclusion of several company D and F men in the Pocket) and using them as scouts for his advance attack companies throughout the battle. While this habit did its share in adding to dispersion, it was the Major’s prerogative to employ these men in such a way if he felt the situation warranted, which he obviously did.

12) Use the reserves, but not until needed or a very favorable opportunity for its use presents itself. Keep some reserves as long as practicable.

Again, Major Whittlesey held out 2nd battalion as long as was practicable, committing them only when he was sure that nothing else but sheer numbers would be enough to achieve the objective. (Please review premise No. 8 above at this point.) By the time they reached the point that they were at on the afternoon of October 2nd, his only ‘reserves’, and these created internally between the two battalions, might be considered to be companies ‘D’ and ‘F’, which he then used as his containing force to follow up the advance of the main body. In any case, both 1st and 2nd battalion’s together by that time hardly added up to one, so what choice had he?

13) Do not hesitate to sacrifice the command if the result is worth the cost.

Perhaps the most controversial of all the principals, for not only does it well follow General Alexander’s G.O. #27 concerning no pulling back from ground taken, but it is arguably also the one principal that Major Whittlesey carried out virtually to the bitter end, and in a very literal sense. That said, in order to answer any question about this particular edict, we can again examine a question I posed at one point in Finding the Lost Battalion: “Did the order (G.O. #27) then mean that a unit was to be slaughtered, or nearly so, in compliance with the order?” Judging by this principal one must answer ‘yes’, but only if the result was deemed worth the cost. That said, whether the recipient of the order personally believed it was or not was definitely beside the point – orders said it was, and that was supposed to be enough. I would hesitate to say that Major Whittlesey personally thought the result worth the likely cost. Militarily however, there can be no doubt but that breaking the Giselher Stellung was deemed worth the cost, especially when one considers that it should have been done before the third day in the Argonne was up, let alone after seven days.

Major Whittlesey’s command was very nearly annihilated in the Charlevaux Ravine by the late evening of the 7th; one more strong German attack would have eradicated that great thorn in the Germans’ side. And a great thorn it was to the German high command too, as we have seen. Considering then that Major Whittlesey was attuned to the ‘big picture’ and what it thus meant that his command was thrust forward into the enemy’s territory, he obviously thought the sacrifice of his command worth the cost, at least in the military sense. Not that he ever fully realized the extent of damage to the enemy his remaining in that ravine eventually led to (i.e. his breaching of the enemy line, followed by other units doing so as well in order to ‘rescue’ his command, eventually leading, in part, to the complete collapse of the whole German line on the stalled left flank of the 1st Army front.) No one could have visualized what his predicament meant. Major Whittlesey then did what he did simply because those were his orders. And while we might argue that General Alexander based his controversial order in part on this particular principal, little room for argument exists over whether Major Whittlesey meant to adhere to it or not.

14) Spare the command all unnecessary hardships and exertion.

Obviously, life in the Argonne Forest during the attack was rough - rougher than anyone had imagined it would be in fact. Mostly this was due to the time frame for the first phase of the attack collapsing by, at the latest, noon of the third day, and probably as soon as the morning of the second. (The night attack of the 26th-27th should have been brought off, though only in hindsight can this be said.) Therefore food, water, and any kind of creature comforts at all were vehemently sought after, and Major Whittlesey certainly did his best to provide what he could and keep his men as rested as conditions would allow. Cases in point: his arguments with Colonel Prescott early on over whether his men would be driven beyond their reasonable limits while being used as runners; his apparent penchant for ending any given day’s heavy combat activities at sundown; and his seemingly endless search for rations. Most of all however, we see him adhering to this principal - again - when he argues with Colonel Stacey on the night of October 1st, and then again around noon of October 2nd, over whether his command should push forward into the “untenable position” within the Charlevaux Ravine in the first place, which he felt sure would lead to a repeat of the near disaster that had occurred on l’Homme Mort. A final bit of evidence is how he personally helped out with the sick and wounded all day long of the 8th. 

All in all, I think that it is plain to see that when judged by these principals Charles Whittlesey, Major, U.S. Army Reserve Corps, can be deemed to have ‘passed’ in most respects. Yes, he made mistakes, some of which, it might be argued, lead to dire consequences. Yet for a man that was not an experienced combat leader, and who had had no chance to ‘apprentice’ himself into a battalion commander under fire while serving as second in command to someone else, he administered his affairs well. One might even say better than average in some respects, for it might also be argued that even an experienced battalion commander could have done only marginally better in some aspects of the episode in the Charlevaux. Further, when one considers that only slightly over a year before the events in the Charlevaux, Whittlesey had still been just a lawyer back in New York, and less than a month before the episode he had been nothing more than a regimental staff officer, it is little short of amazing that he handled his affairs as well as he did. That he did so was a testament to both the Plattsburg system and his own fantastic personal resolve.

But what then of Charles Whittlesey, civilian lawyer and fierce pacifist, who afterwards was unable to adequately deal with the results which that success as a soldier had brought him? In considering such a question, Charles Whittlesey becomes a classic paradox. A strict taskmaster, who obeyed his received orders almost to the letter, this made him a crowning success as a soldier, the plaudits of which he had obviously earned. Yet in gaining that success, he was torn internally by having been forced to ask his men to lay their lives on the line at his command in compliance with those orders - watching them die for it and then having to live with the memory of what ‘he had done’ and be applauded for it, when internally he had not agreed with the orders based on his own beliefs and principles. Seen in that light the question then becomes could the two diametrically opposed, yet equally ardent men survive in the same conscience? In light of his eventual end, obviously not. 

Be that as it may, his record as a soldier, when left to stand on its own, more than warrants the honors he received. And yet it becomes almost impossible to separate Whittlesey the civilian from Whittlesey the soldier when one looks, as he did, at the ‘big picture’. His upbringing, social and moral conscience, political views, lack of any real solid military experience or training... all these things figured into what kind of commander he was to be, and were then reflected in the activities of the command he held sway over. In other words, paradox or not, one cannot help but see that he was the caliber of commander for whom the words “devotion to duty” were more than just words, they were a way of life – both in and out of uniform. It was a life later reflected in the men he led that had survived the Charlevaux Ravine, and then remained devoted to him long after he died. Or, in Charles Whittlesey’s own words, “the chaps you do not hear about...”

Lost Battalion - Side Story: The ‘Lost Platoon’

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Finding the Lost Battalion - Side Story: The 50th Aero Squadron’s Part

Insignia of the 50th Aero Squadronlockwoods helmet

Every division that attacked in the Meuse-Argonne offensive had an aero squadron attached to it. In the case of the 77th Division, this was the 50th Aero Squadron. The 50th traced it's roots to Kelly Field in Texas, where it was formed in August, 1917 and sailed for England in January, 1918. Their commanding officer was a tough, able young man, 1st Lt. Daniel P. Morse and the squadron was equipped with American built British DH-4 two-seater planes with the new V-12 'Liberty' engine. By September 23rd the squadron had taken up residence at an airfield near the town of Remicourt, south of the greater Argonne Forest and was making familiarization flights over their intended area of operations in borrowed French aircraft (to keep the Germans from finding out they were there until after the battle started) with the Statue of Liberty emblem painted on the lower wings to identify themselves to the 77th Division troops building up in the area below. Finding their way across the featureless green expanse of the forest proved to be a difficult prospect right from the start, and as it turned out would not get any better.

Their official designation was the 50th Aero (Observation) Squadron and, as the name implies, their primary duty was ground observation. Observation entailed primarily spotting troop and train movements behind German lines, and locating likely artillery targets and artillery emplacements. This information was then dropped at designated drop points set up by the 302nd Field Signal Battalion of the 77th Division for transmission to the appropriate unit it would interest, or 1st Army Air Observation drop points for the same use. However by far the squadrons most important duty over the great Argonne expanse would turn out to be infantry contact patrol. This was the location of the ever moving front lines by flying over the area the line was intended to be and then calling for signals from the ground troops by the use of a Klaxon horn or flares being fired off. Each headquarters unit of an infantry unit had a signaler attached to it whose job it was to carry a variety of signal panels made of cloth in various shapes and sizes. and flares in different colors and burn configurations The combination of the cloth panels laid out on the ground in certain combinations and configurations signaled to the airmen a wide variety of things: what unit the flyer was dealing with, their current location, the location of other elements of their units, supply needs, fire mission requests for the artillery., information to be communicated to Regimental or Division headquarters, etc... Much of the same information could be communicated through the use of flares of various colors, burn styles and numbers. All of the signaling configuration information was controlled by a code that was issued to all concerned before the start of the battle. In the case of the Headquarters Company/1st Battalion/308th Infantry Regiment, Major Whittlesey's signalman was Pvt. James Larney.

IMG 0098The 50th Aero kicked off their part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in the morning fog of September 26th with a pair of general observation missions to report on the progress of the offensive and its effect on the Germans. These were followed by an attempted infantry contact mission. However, all missions launched were ineffective until later in the afternoon when the ground finally came into view clearly out of the fog and powder smoke from the intense artillery. Altogether, the Squadron would fly six complete missions that first day; half of which were observational and the other half attempts at infantry contact. The squadron would continue to fly missions each day of the offensive, but their DH-4's were plagued by a series of spark plug failures, leading to a number of abandoned missions and several hairy moments for aircrews. Further difficulties arose when the infantry refused to cooperate and acknowledge requests for positional signals. It was later reported that in some cases - particularly when they were in low lying spots with the Germans occupying hills above or operating known observations points in high trees ahead and able to see the panels as well - that the infantry units did not want to give away their position and thus center themselves for enemy fire. Other units claimed they were unaware that the flares issued could be used and seen in the day, and since no airplane had ever called for signals at night they considered the flares useless. Still other units had lost or never received the current code key and had no way to answer correctly the requests from the air. In time all these issues would be corrected, but it made for many difficulties in the first weeks of the offensive.

Private Larney, however, had the current code key, as well as his full compliment of panels on the evening he walked into the Charlevaux Ravine, though he did not have any flares (they had been ruined by the ever rainy weather and hard conditions of the the offensive in the morass of the Argonne). He was also keeping a diary of the entire situation and their movements in the offensive; something strictly against orders but an activity that was engaged in by scores of soldiers at the front. His diary mentions little about the air service and their attempts to contact his unit, but it does indicate that conditions were not conducive to any sort of signalling for a variety of reasons. Once in the Charlevaux Ravine though he does indicate seeing the air service flying over their position, especially one plane that repeatedly flew over their position during the disastrous 'mistaken barrage' of October 4th, when Major Whittlesey ordered him to "get the signal panels out". This he did, but to no avail - both his panels as well as at least two men using towels to try and signal the airplane, failed.

The Argonne, as seen from a 50th Aero plane.argonne in the air
As the situation in the Charlevaux deepened, General Alexander turned toward the air service for help late on October 4th, asking Colonel Frank Lahm, Chief of Air Service for the 1st Corps, that messages be dropped into the ravine informing Major Whittlesey of the efforts being perpetrated to reach him, as well as a resupply of carrier pigeons. The mission set out the next morning, in sloppy, fog shrouded weather and resulted in complete failure; the message and basket of pigeons floated down on their little parachutes into a French position some 8 kilometers to the south of the ravine. A second effort dropped three more streamers message bags actually over the ravine - but straight into German hands outside Major Whittlesey's bivouac outpost line, though no one at the 50th would ever know of either situation. Then that night, with the attempts by ground forces to break through to Whittlesey that day a palpable failure, 77th Division HQ requested that the 50th attempt a resupply effort into the Charlevaux position with ammunition, food and medical supplies, all of which were sure to be running low. For many years it has been believed that this was the first attempted major aerial resupply in history, but in actuality the idea had already been attempted during the Mexican Border Campaign in 1916, but with largely disappointing results. However, unknowing of any of this, the supplies were ferried over to Remicourt and Lt. Morse's ground crews spent that night packing and padding boxes to be dropped the next day while his air crews were up early planning missions.

The attempts though were a complete failure, as finding the Lost Battalion in the featureless expanse of the Argonne, even if they had a good idea of where they were, was difficult at best. While the flyers of the 50th knew where the Charlevaux Ravine itself was, pinpointing the actual position in the ravine occupied by Major Whittlesey and his men was another story all together, especially in the fog draped morning. The flyers of the 50th were forced to fly lower and lower to attempt anything like accuracy; since the 'ground pounders' wouldn't lay out panels, the flyers had to try and locate individual troops if they could and identify them by uniform, and at such heights this made them virtual sitting targets for ground fire, causing some nasty moments for the planes and crews. Despite these intense efforts, the result was that not a single package dropped between October 5th and October 7th ever made it into the perimeter of the Lost Battalion's bivouac. Instead, all the supplies fell into German hands, who would open up the packages from the hills above and tauntingly call out the contents of each in excruciating detail to the starved and hurting doughboys in the ravine below...

Lt. Harold GoettlerIMG 0068
The most important flights for the 50th would be those of October 6th however. One of those morning flights was piloted by Lt. Harold 'Dad' Goettler, a likable, slightly older man from Chicago, and his equally likable young observer (also known as 'back seater') Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley, from Wichita, Kansas. They were an experienced and dependable team with the squadron, and in fact it had been 'Dad' and 'Bleck' flying over the ravine that Pvt. Larney had been trying to signal with his panels under the rain of American shells on October 4th. Now, that morning of October 6th they had been over the ravine again attempting to drop supplies and had been all shot to hell for the effort; their plane being grounded by the squadron's chief mechanic upon landing. Further missions went out that morning, but it was clear that they weren't at all sure they were on target. Again, despite calls, no ground panels were being reported.

Lt. Erwin BleckleyNew LB 0015
However, Bleckley had thought he had seen something down in that ravine on their morning mission and with that in mind he and Goettler came up with an audacious idea, which they presented to one of their fellow teams: since Bleck was the only one who had seen anything at all, and since they weren't exactly sure where the trapped unit was, why not fly over the area where Bleck reported he had made the sighting and let the Germans shoot at them, thus identifying the correct position by pin-pointing German 'hot spots' on a map, which would obviously be surrounding the unit; thus finding the Lost Battalion by process of elimination. When the other team agreed to provide 'top cover' for the mission and Lt. Morse signed off on it, Dad and Bleck (using a borrowed plane, which was already gassed and ready to go) set out just a few minutes before their cover team did. As Morse saw them off, he warned them to be as careful as possible and Bleckley, shouting to be heard over the noise of the revving engine, told him, "Don't worry lieutenant. We'll find 'em, or we won't come back!"

A few minutes later they were making passes over the ravine and Bleckley was furiously marking hot spots on his map as the big DH-4 absorbed fire. It was a mission that couldn't last - and it didn't. While no one can ever know for sure what exactly happened we do have a pretty good idea, based on the report of an eye witness on the ground and knowledge of common squadron practices at the front. The ground witness, an American Field Service ambulance driver working with the French named William Ettinger, later told that the plane only made a few passes before its flight path grew erratic, turned away from the ravine and shortly thereafter nose dived into the ground. When Ettinger and a couple pals arrived on the crash scene, they found Goettler all but decapitated my an 'explosive' German machine gun bullet and Bleckley thrown from the wreckage; alive but clearly with massive internal injuries and needing expert care if he was to live. Ettinger got him into his ambulance and set off like a rocket for the nearest hospital: 110th American Evacuation Hospital at Villers-Daucourt, but Bleckley died in the back of the ambulance before they got there. They buried him in the little cemetery behind the hospital in grave #68 and the next day another ambulance team went out and picked up Goettler's body and he was buried next to his back seater, in grave #69.

Bleckley's grave at Villers-DaucourtIMG 0058
What happened in those last moments in the air? Well, it was common practice in two seater squadrons at the front that the pilots would give their back seaters some lessons in how to fly and land the plane, just in case the pilot should be wounded or killed. The DH-4 could, and often was, rigged at the front for 'dual control gear' in the rear cockpit; amenities were attached to the controls which would give the observer enough control over the plane to guide it to safety and land it, though there were no mirroring engine controls in the rear cockpit. This was necessary as on the DH-4, the two cockpits are too far apart for the observer to reach over the pilot in order to take control of the plane. We might then safely surmise then that Bleckley had control over the DH in those last moments. Seeing Goettler was killed (and his wound would have instantly provided absolutely no possible control over the plane at all), Bleckley would no doubt have put his dual controls to use, explaining the erratic behavour of the plane and the turn out of the ravine. Then, in all likelihood following the turn Goettler's body probably fell forward, pushing the control stick forward as well, and as the rear cockpit control stick would have been linked directly to the main one, Bleckley's stick would have been yanked from his hands, sending the plane heeling over straight into the ground from about 300 feet up or so.

Believed to be Goettler and Bleckley's crashIMG 0096
Late the next day Bleckley's map and personal effects were delivered to Remicourt, but by that time another 50th crew had 'found' the Lost Battalion and that evening relieving forces had broken through to Whittlesey's location. Obviously the 50th Aero Squadron hadn't "found the Lost Battalion" - but that didn't stop the newspapers from saying it was so. And while the men of the 50th all believed in their hearts to their dying days that they had had a major hand in rescuing Whittlesey's beset force, the facts speak otherwise. That said, Goettler and Bleckley's brave and audacious attempt at firmly identifying Whittlesey's location from the air in order to help relieve their situation some was nothing short of well above and beyond the call of duty. And as such, both were eventually awarded the Medal of Honor for their selfless bravery in the air over the Charlevaux Ravine. Few deserved it more.

Today Harold Goettler lies in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Erwin Bleckley lies in France at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery at Romagne-sous-Montfaucon.


50th article

Finding the Lost Battalion: The Lost Battalion Survivors Association

Reunion stuff 0003The Lost Battalion Survivors Association was set up officially in September, 1938 though members of the Lost Battalion had been meeting unofficially for years before. The group formed originally to greet the publication of Thomas Johnson and Fletcher Pratt's new book The Lost Battalion, which many of the men who had been there in the Charlevaux Ravin had contributed to. 200 'survivors edition' copies, signed by both authors, were produced and handed out by Johnson and Pratt to those who had contributed the most. This work was considered a major triumph for the men and became THE book on the subject for decades, though many of the men were far from happy with the results. (Many considered large sections of the book to be at best a work of supposition and at worst pure B.S.) Nevertheless, James Larney (who had been Whittlesey's signalman), and Walter Baldwin (who had been in charge of Whittlesey's runners and later became 1st Battalion Sergeant-Major), together with George McMurtry formed the organization that summer and the first official meeting was held at the Hotel Shelboure in New York with the release of the book the major focal point of the meeting. Baldwin became chairman of the organization for life, Larney became secretary for life, and McMurtry underwrote the entire thing each year out of pocket (no matter the expense, no questions asked) until his death in 1958, when his estate continued the payments for another 10 years. From 1938 on, each year the organization sponsored a luncheon and drinks far into the evening at one of several fine hotels in New York and survivors from all over the country had an open invitation to attend. Baldwin and Larney, however, went to great lengths to 'vet' those men who claimed they were there in 1918 and consequently there was a strict admission policy to the group to proven survivors only and honorary members who had to be voted in. A smaller West Coast version of the organization was set up in California by Nelson Holderman as well, with Leo Stromee acting as chairman and secretary, but it was never as big or successful as the original New York version.

Luncheons followed the same format each year and were held in either late September of early October on a Saturday. Original reunion contacts 1938The hall chosen was always set up the same, with the tables being arranged in a large 'U' configuration with McMurtry at the center of the head table. In the middle of the U would be placed a stool or chair on which would be arranged a bouquet of Dahlias, sent every year by the former fiance of Marshall Peabody, one of the Lieutenants from the 306th Machine Gun Battalion who had been killed in the Pocket. The bar opened at 11:00 am and men would begin wandering in and congregating almost immediately. There was usually much camaraderie and the atmosphere was quite jolly. Most of the talk concerned families and lives since the last reunion or since the last time men had seen each other, which in some cases might not have been since war, though the war and the events in the Pocket were mentioned in conversation, (they could hardly not be). And while the reunions were popular events in the men's lives, with many who could not attend sending letters of 1958 Reuniongreeting in their stead, at no time did a reunion ever have more than 100 men attend, and it was usually the same men over and over again. Still, there was an award given out for the man who had traveled the greatest distance and a newsletter was printed afterwards that was sent out that following Christmas. Baldwin and Larney also made available a professionally printed booklet listing all the men on their 'official' list and kept up with who had passed on during that previous year. There was usually a reporter or two skulking around who was allowed in and it was almost always they who asked the questions that brought up the war in detail. However one survivor summed it up the general feeling about the old stories: "To tell you the truth," he said, "we had the subject talked to death years ago."

Just before 1:00 pm the men would gather in the hall and take their assigned reunion photo 1938 croppedseats, the blue and gold reunion ribbons pinned to their chests flashing gaily in the defused light. Then, promptly at 1:00 pm, McMurtry would rise and hold his glass aloft and everyone would fall silent. Holding his glass toward the Dahlias in the middle of the room, McMurtry's normally booming voice would soften as he would impart, "Gentlemen, to the dead of the Lost Battalion." Each man would stand and hold his glass forward and repeat the toast. All would drink, sit, and McMurtry would then speak a few words. Following that, William Cullen, former Captain of Company H/308th who had received the Distinguished Service Cross for his defense of the difficult left flank of the Pocket, would stand and bark out that the roll be called, and each man would in turn stand and state his name and old outfit. The roll called, luncheon would then be served. After the meal they would all gather in the bar again and drinks would flow late into the night. Then it would be over until next year.

reunion photo 1968The regular meetings went on for 30 years until 1968, the 50th anniversary of the events in the Charlevaux Ravine. After that, any meetings of the men were informal and held at the 77th Division clubhouse in the city, but these got fewer and farther between as time passed. Soon they just petered out all together as the old soldiers faded away - just like MacArthur had said they would...




The Lost Battalion Preservation Association

1935663 1172526034345 2189784 nI started the Lost Battalion Preservation Association in 2007 with the express purpose of erecting a 'storyboard' which would give visitors a good overview of the events in the Pocket in 1918 which I hoped to place at or near the Charlevaux Ravine in France in time for the 90th anniversary of the events there in 2008. Until that time, the only marker to the Lost Battalion was the one erected in the 1920's by the American Battle Monuments Commission along the road above the site which only gives the dates and general units involved with an arrow pointing down the hill. While it is a favorite photo spot for visitors to the Pocket, it tells nothing of the dramatic episode or the men, and with the hope of correcting that I began to contact family members of the men and other interested parties whom I had associated with during the writing of the book, and question whether they would be interested in contributing to the project. All contributions were to be private and all money gathered was to be used for the creation, purchase and shipment of the storyboard, which would feature the story in both English and French. There was no formal organization created, only a group of individuals united in a cause. For want of a better name, and to honor the original survivors association and our mission to the men, it was decided that this informal organization would be known as the Lost Battalion Preservation Association.

1923190 1054625286900 3946718 nDonations began to be collected early in 2008, and we soon learned that also in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the episode in the Charlevaux, the ABMC and the town of Binarville had commissioned a sculptor to create a new memorial for the Lost Battalion, which was to be placed at the northern foot of Hill 205, along a walking trail through that section of the Argonne and with a view of the hillside off the left flank of the Pocket. It was decided that the storyboard would make a nice addition to the new sculpture. The text of the storyboard was translated into French by Mr. Gilles Lagin (USMC) and a company in Canada commissioned to build it. When completed, our storyboard was shipped via UPS to the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, where the cemetery superintendent at the time, Mr. Phil Rivers, had it installed next to the new sculpture.

Bartlett's Battlefield Tours added a special two day stop in the Argonne on their October Western Front tour that year which enabled many of the contributors to the storyboard to be able to come to France and participate in a dedication ceremony there. The tour bus arrived at the hotel Le Tulipier in Vienne le Chateau, Argonne on the evening of October 5th, and the next morning myself, Mr. Ray Pirus (my assistant), Mr. Nolan Merryfield, Mr. Alexandre Herreman and Mr. Gilles Lagin led the entire Bartlett's group on day-long tours through that section of the Argonne and through the Charlevaux Ravine. The next day, October 7th, the tours continued and in the afternoon we held a small, private dedication ceremony at the storyboard where both Christian and Jewish prayers were said to the memories of those men who had given so much in that ravine.

1935663 1172525154323 769431 nThe next day the tour moved on, but an official dedication of the new sculpture and the storyboard was conducted by the ABMC and the Mayor of Binarville, with the guest of honor being Major-General William Terpeluk, the final General Officer commanding the 77th Regional Readiness Command, which had carried the lineage of the old 77th Division forward. (That lineage is now being carried forward today by the 77th Sustainment Brigade.) The event was well attended and we were proud to be part of the ceremony at the request of MG Terpeluk. After the ceremony, the town of Binarville hosted a wonderful dinner party under a huge tent in an open area off the left flank of the Pocket and the 2001 movie The Lost Battalion, starring Rick Schroeder and Phil McKee, was shown. The party lasted well into the evening, with plenty of regional wine and champagne flowing, and if one listened really close, I swear it was possible to hear the echoes of the LBSA in the background...


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