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Shawnee County Casualties in WWI

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Brief composition & history of the 3rd (Marne) Division in US training & in France
3rd Division Insignia

The 3rd Division, Regular Army, was organized in November 1917 with headquarters at Camp Greene, North Carolina. The Regular Army units, of which the division was composed, were at various camps all over the country including Leavenworth in Kansas. The elements of the division were never concentrated at one station before their departure for France.

The composition of the 3rd Division (authorized strength - 991 officers and 27,114 men) was constituted as follows:

  • 5th Infantry Brigade
    • 4th Infantry Regiment
    • 7th Infantry Regiment
    • 8th Machine-Gun Battalion
  • 6th Infantry Brigade
    • 30th Infantry Regiment
    • 38th Infantry Regiment
    • 9th Machine-Gun Battalion
  • 3rd Field Artillery Brigade
    • 10th Field Artillery Regiment (75-mm guns)
    • 18th Field Artillery Regiment (155-mm guns)
    • 76th Field Artillery Regiment (75-mm howitzers)
    • 3rd Trench-Mortar Battery
  • Divisional Troops
    • 7th Machine-Gun Battalion
    • 5th Field Signal Battalion  
    • 6th Engineer Regiment
    • Headquarters Troop Trains

The 6th Engineers preceded the division to France, sailing from Hoboken, New Jersey, December 4-5, 1917. They landed at Brest and St. Nazaire, December 21-22. On March 7 the balance of the division began to move to the ports of embarkation of Halifax, Hoboken, Newport News and New York. From March 14 to April 30, the division sailed. Following its arrival in France, most of the 3d Division moved to the Châteauvillain and Coëtquidan areas for training.

On March 21, 1918 the Germans launched the first of their several great offensives by which they hoped to win the war before the American army could take the field in force. While these German offensives failed to accomplish their purpose, they strained the Allies to the limit of their reserves and made it necessary to send American divisions to different parts of the front for immediate service with the British and French armies.
On May 27, the Germans attacked between Berry-au-Bac, approximately 17 kilometers northwest of Reims, and the Oise River. The attack came as a complete surprise. The Germans broke through the French lines, crossed the Aisne, Vesle and Ourcq Rivers, and drove rapidly to the Marne. Upon reaching the Marne River, they used that stream to protect their southern flank, and turned westward toward Paris. The action against this offensive is known as the Aisne Defensive.

It was under these circumstances that the 3d Division was placed at the disposal of the French for the purpose of holding the crossings of the Marne at Château-Thierry.

The following paragraphs, in italic, are a synopsis of the service of the 3d Division in the Aisne Defensive, Château-Thierry Sector, Champagne-Marne Defensive, Aisne-Marne Offensive and the Vesle Sector:
Elements of the 3d Division entered the line at Château-Thierry on May 31, and, operating with the French Sixth Army, assisted in holding the crossings of the Marne River and at widely separated points east and west of Château-Thierry.
Elements of the division west of Château-Thierry attacked on June 6 - 8 and made gains on the southern slopes of Hill 204. The 3d Division took command of a defensive sector along the Marne River east of Château-Thierry on June 6. By July 14 the division held a 10-kilometer front along the Marne.
On July 15 the Germans launched another offensive, the western flank of which crossed the Marne River near Mézy and Varennes and entered the sector of the 7th Infantry of the 3d Division. The attempts of two German divisions to pierce the front of the 3d Division were defeated.  The enemy subsequently withdrew to the north bank of the Marne during the night. The 111th Infantry, 28th Division, was attached to the 3d Division and on July 16 advanced to the high ground between Crézancy and Fossoy. On July 17th the line was reestablished along the Marne River west of Mézy. Owing to the successful Aisne-Marne counteroffensive launched southwest of Soissons on July 18 by American and French troops, the Germans abandoned the gains made in the July 15 attack south of the Marne and east of the sector of the 3d Division, and withdrew to the north bank during the night of July 19-20. On July 19 they had decided to evacuate the Marne salient. This evacuation commenced on the night of July 20-21. Fighting continued through the end of July and during this time the enemy withdrew to the line of the Ourcq River.
The 3d Division was relieved on this line by the 32d Division during the night of July 29-30, and assembled as reserve of the French XXXVIII Corps in the vicinity of Château-Thierry. From Château-Thierry, the division moved by stages to the St. Mihiel region as part of the concentration of the American First Army for the St. Mihiel Offensive.

Total Division losses, including attached units, (wounded, died from wounds and killed in action) for the defensive actions in Champagne beginning on May 31 and the Aisne-Marne action between July 18 and Aug 13 were 7,271 of all ranks.

On July 24, while the Aisne-Marne offensive was still in progress, a strategic offensive plan was agreed upon by the Allies which included a mission for an American army. The immediate purpose of this plan was to reduce the various Western Front salients which interfered with regular railroad communications. One of these was the St. Mihiel salient. It was originally planned that the attack on the St. Mihiel salient would be exploited to the fullest extent. On September 2, however, it was decided that the First Army would launch the more ambitious Meuse-Argonne Offensive later in the month. The St. Mihiel Offensive, therefore, was limited to clearing the salient only so far as was necessary to insure the safety of the later operation.

The following paragraphs, in italic, are a synopsis of the service of the 3d Division in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives:
When the St. Mihiel Offensive opened on September 12, the 3d Division was in reserve and when the success of the operation was assured, the division moved to the Meuse-Argonne region.
The 3rd Division relieved the 79th Division in the vicinity of Nantillois during the evening of September 30. The division attacked on October 4 and advanced about 1,500 meters. Attacks between October 5 and October 8 failed to make any substantial progress, but on October 9 the front line was advanced another 1,500 meters to the northern edge of Bois de Cunel.
By October 11 the right of the division advanced to positions about 400 meters south of Cunel. On October 12 and 13 it relieved the forward elements of the 4th and 5th Divisions in Bois de Forêt and east and south of Cunel. On October 14 the division attacked in the direction of Cléry-le-Grand and there was a further gain of about 500 meters on the 15th. The troops in Bois de la Pultière were relieved by the 5th Division on the 17th and 18th.
On October 18 the 3d Division took over the zone of the 4th Division to its right. Clairs Chênes wood was captured on October 20. By the 22nd the Bois de Forêt was completely occupied and on October 23 the line was advanced to positions about 1 kilometer southwest of Cléry-le-Grand, where it remained until October 26. The 3d Division was relieved by the 5th Division during the night of October 26-27.

Total Division losses, including attached units, (wounded, died from wounds and killed in action) for the Meuse-Argonne Offensive action between Sept 26th and Nov 1st were 7,940 of all ranks.

Following the Armistice the division, as part of the Army of Occupation, began to move via Luxemburg to the district of Mayen, 30 kilometers west of Coblenz, in Germany arriving on December 12. On August 5 the division moved to Brest in preparation for return to the United States. Sailings were begun on August 10 and the last elements arrived in the United States on August 28.

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