Page 3722


which had been filled out with raw

recruits. Even the French class of 1918

had a year of training before they were

sent to the trenches, and many of the

men of the First Division had not been

in the service even that long when they

were finally sent to the firing line.

The subject of when the division would

go to the front was, of course, a matter

of endless discussion among the men and

officers. Finally General Joffre, the victor

of the Marne, visited the training camp

and looked over the men. Then there

was a sort of dress rehearsal in which the

division served for three days in practice

trenches under conditions much like the

real thing. Finally word came to move.

The troops made the journey on trains

and presently reached a quiet sector in

Lorraine not far from Nancy. The plan

was for our battalions to be placed three

at a time between French battalions,

while every American battery was to be

paired off with a French battery. Thus,

even at the front, our men remained

under French tutorage, and, for the time

being, not even a patrol could be sent

out without French orders.

On the night of October 22,

the artillery moved up to the

front. Naturally the batteries

were eager for the honor of

firing the first shot on land

against the enemy. Early

next morning, without going

into position or even selecting

a target, some men of Battery C of the Sixth Artillery

discharged a shell "in the general direction of Berlin." The

shot was fired by a red-headed

gunner from South Bend,

Indiana, who gained much

notoriety at home by the exploit. The first shell case was

sent to President Wilson and

was forwarded to West Point

as a relic. It was not of

American make, but a French

75. The next day, the French

shelled the German battery

position, which they had located by sound. The enemy

vigorously replied, and some

of the shells fell close to the

Americans, who joined in the


On the night of October 23,

which happened to be rainy

and chilly, the battalions

which were to occupy the

trenches first moved forward. The men

received an enthusiastic reception from

the French troops that they relieved.

Every American was shaken by the

hand, some were hugged, some were kissed

on both cheeks in true Gallic style. The

next morning under dripping clouds the

men got their first view of the German

lines and also had a very substantial taste

of mud.