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Memorandum for Colonel Adelbert de Chambrun1
October 13, 1918 [Souilly], France
Necessity for Camions.2
1. There are now 11 divisions on the active battle front of this Army. These divisions have been engaged as follows:
Three (77, 4, 33) since September 25
Two (32, 3) since September 30
Three (29, 18 Fr., 26 Fr.) since October 5
One (82) since October 7
Two (42, 5) since October 12
Three divisions are in immediate reserve (78, 89 and 26)
One division (80) is moving to the rear to the THIAUCOURT area for rest and refitting.
One division (35) is relieving the 15th Fr. Division in the SOMME DIEUE sector.
Two divisions (1, 91) are in Army Reserve, resting and refitting in the VAVINCOURT and METTANCOURT areas.
One division (90) is being moved north by camion from the TOUL region to the battle front. Lack of camions necessitates this move to be made in two echelons.
2. PROSPECTIVE MOVEMENTS
Owing to the exhausted condition of the infantry and the prevalence of colds, influenza, pneumonia and dysentery, the 77th, 4th and 33d Divisions must be withdrawn from the front by October 16th.
The 32d and 3d Divisions must be withdrawn by October l9th or possibly earlier.
3. LOCAL CONDITIONS
No adequate shelter for troops exists north of the line LES ISLETTES-CLERMONT-VERDUN. The stretch of the former “No Man’s Land” and the country for five kilometers north and south of it, is a devastated region without villages or huts, and traversed by a few and very poor roads. Divisions must be carried south of this devastated region for shelter and rest. The Army Zone lies in a partial salient, which forces all movements north and south through a comparatively narrow stretch of territory. The zone from BAR le DUC north is now congested with troops (except one staging area) and sufficient shelter is not available, bivouacking being the only remedy.
Divisions moving south must be carried into the region near and south of BAR le DUC. To effect these moves by marching or by partial bussing will cause a congestion of the CHAUMONT sur AIRE-NIXEVILLE region, will delay the moves (further exhausting the troops) and will necessitate much bivouacking.
3 . CONDITION OF THE TROOPS
The new divisions which have been employed in the fighting between the ARGONNE and the MEUSE have become exhausted physically more quickly than the older divisions, owing to the inexperience of the men, officers and staffs. They must be moved out of the open into adequate shelter in order to quickly rejuvenate them. These moves must be accomplished with a minimum of physical effort and in a minimum of time if the divisions are to participate further in the present battle.
4 . SUMMARY
The local conditions described above make the employment of camions for these moves absolutely necessary. Sufficient camions to transport the foot troops of a division will be constantly required for the ensuing week and additional camions for transporting at least 10,000 men will be required for the following week, if the present battle is to be energetically driven home.
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I) (RG 120), Records of the First Army, Operations Division Reports (G-3), National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Jacques Adelbert de Pineton, Comte de Chambrun, had served since mid-1917 as General Pershing’s French aide-de-camp. An honorary American citizen as a consequence of his direct descent from the Marquis de Lafayette, he had known Marshall for some time, having been among those who met General Sibert and his staff at St. Nazaire on June 26, 1917.
2. A camion was a “truck” to the Americans and a “lorry” to the British.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 162-163.