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Report for the Chief of Staff, First Division
November 3, 1917 Sommervillers, France
German raid on sector held by 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry.
1. In addition to what was related in my report on this subject at 2:30 P.M., the following has been ascertained from a German prisoner, left in our lines from the raiding party, and from one of our wounded men I questioned.
(a) The raid was prepared in August and was not to have been held this A.M., but as American or strange helmets has been observed on the front it was decided to stage it immediately.
(b) 250 Germans participated in the actual raid and 16 batteries fired on the Aero and Artois positions. The prisoner had been in patrols up to the raiding point five different times during the past two months.
(c) The American soldier wounded by a rifle bullet told me that he was in the “doubling trench” during the bombardment with one other man; that he suddenly heard cries or yells in the front trench; that at about the same moment 3 Germans jumped down into his trench 10 feet away, the first man dropping on the floor of the trench and firing the shot that wounded him (the American soldier); that he fired back and the 3 Germans ran off in the trench; that 5 or 10 more Germans appeared on top and some threw bombs at him; that he thought the Germans were in the trenches about 20 minutes (probably five minutes, I expect); that he is confused as to what happened next. He was just recovering from an anesthetic when I questioned him and will probably be able to talk more later.
(d) As our men took over the sector about 10 P.M. in the rain and dark they had no opportunity to familiarize themselves sufficiently well with the trenches, location of dugouts, dumps of grenades, etc. The last was the most serious difficulty.
(e) The bombardment was so sudden, violent and accurate that all were dazed by the shock of the explosions and had much difficult in reaching their dugouts.
2. The men of the company not in the platoon raided seemed in very fair spirits considering their experiences. The men of the company in the rear trenches seemed unconcerned.
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I) (RG 120), Records of General Headquarters (GHQ), Adjutant General File (AG), National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Author-typed report.
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), p. 126.