Friday, June 01, 2018

On this day in 1918: Battle of Belleau Wood begins

The American Expeditionary Force played a key role in the month-long Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I, which began on this date in 1918.

Early in the battle a French colonel ordered an American Marine captain, Lloyd W. Williams, to retreat. He replied, “Retreat? Hell! We just got here.”

And they didn't. But nine days later Williams was killed in action.

Later in the battle another Marine, two-time Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dan Daly, urged on his man with these equally immortal words, "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?"

As for the enemy, the Germans in that battle supposedly referred to the Marines as "Teufelshunde," that is, devil dogs.

Over in Des Plaines, Illinois, where I work, Senne Wood was renamed Belleau Woods in honor of the battle. I took the photograph of the monument, which is on the corner of Ballard and Rand, appropriately enough on Memorial Day.

Back to France.

After the Allied victory Belleau Wood was renamed "Bois de la Brigade de Marine" ("Wood of the Marine Brigade").

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