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Remembered Today:

Soissons 1918


Robert Dunlop

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(ISBN 0 89096 893 4)

This book represents the culmination of years of research into the contributions of the AEF 1st and 2nd Divisions to the Second Battle of the Marne. There is also considerable information on the French units of XX Corps that participated in the same attack towards the German supply route out of Soissons. It marked the end of the German Spring offensives.

The introduction gives a brief overview of the war to July 1918. The first chapter then provides details about the American Army in 1918. This is set in the historical context of the previous campaigns in the Phillipines and Mexico. The authors examine the development of military doctrine and then the practical difficulties of training and equipping the AEF in France.

The rest of the book is devoted to the battle. Each day is covered in minute detail. There is a strong emphasis throughout the book on command and control details. In addition to the descriptions of the fighting, the authors have included information about what divisional, brigade, regimental and even some company commanders were doing in the battle. The authors, who are American, criticize the

failures of command and control that occurred. This was a refreshing change from the usual 'Americans won the war - they were superior to the other armies who had never worked out how to fight properly' that appears in many American histories. There is a map of the various communications systems used by 65th Brigade, which was very helpful in illustrating what communications systems were used and where they were used on the battlefield.

Other highlights of the book included the details of German responses to the attacks. Several maps illustrate the dispositions of German troops in different locations and phases of the battle. There is also a lot of information about the French forces. The Moroccans offered advice to their neighbours about how to attack. This was ignored. Consequently, the Americans did not try to understand the tempo of the French attack. This led to problems as flanks became

exposed. The use of tanks is covered but in less detail sadly. The poor co-ordination with artillery is highlighted.

The breadth and depth of this book is impressive. Mostly, the information is well structured and organized. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for the authors to stray across the structure. It does not happen often but there are occasions when the authors jump ahead or revert from a brigade to a corps focus for example.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand more about infantry tactics and command & control, especially in the AEF, during the late war period.

Robert

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Agree Robert. US Branch WFA will visit this battlefield next year during a two week trip and I recommended this to guide Tony Noyes for this section.

And it is good to get away from the US can do no wrong, US won the war attitude.

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Good idea. It would be really valuable in the preparation for such a visit. I am off there next month.

Robert

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Paul,

It has some interesting first-hand accounts/letters on it. The French group involved are all WW1 minded like us!

Aye

Malcolm

In Memory of

James Cunningham

First Sergeant, U.S. Army

8th Machine Gun Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division

Entered the Service from: New Jersey

Died: September 16, 1918

Buried at: Plot A Row 13 Grave 15

St. Mihiel American Cemetery

Thiaucourt, France

survived 2nd Marne, remembered on the War Memorial, Crieff, Perthshire.

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