MEUSE ARGONNE

MEUSE ARGONNE
26 SEPTEMBRE - 11 NOVEMBRE / SEPTEMBER 26TH - NOVEMBER 11ST 1918

 

 

 

 

 

 

L'offensive Meuse-Argonne fut la dernière attaque de la Première Guerre mondiale. Ce fut également la plus grande opération et victoire de l'American Expeditionary Force (AEF) dans cette guerre. L'offensive se déroula dans le secteur de Verdun, immédiatement au nord et nord-ouest de la ville, entre le 26 septembre et le 11 novembre 1918. Cette opération poussa l'armée allemande à la défaite finale et à la signature de l'armistice du 11 novembre qui mit fin aux hostilités.

 

Forces en présence

Les forces de l'United States Army consistaient en 10 divisions de la Première armée américaine commandée par le général John J. Pershing jusqu'au 16 octobre puis par le lieutenant-général Hunter Liggett. La logistique était planifiée et dirigée par le colonel George Marshall. Les forces allemandes consistaient approximativement en 40 divisions de l'armée du Prince héritier et général Max Carl von Gallwitz, dont la plus grande force la Ve armée de Gallwitz était commandée par le général Georg von der Marwitz.

Première phase : 26 septembre au 3 octobre (Bataille de Champagne et d’Argonne)

La première armée du corps expéditionnaire américain du général John Pershing lance ce qui deviendra la bataille de l'Argonne, au nord deVerdun. C'est l'une des batailles prévues par le maréchal français Ferdinand Foch afin que les Allemands abandonnent leurs défenses sur la ligne Hindenburg et finissent par capituler.

 
Attaque du 369e régiment d'infanterie américain durant l'offensive Meuse-Argonnenote 1.
 
Drapeau de la 157e division d'infanterie américaine, dite « Red Hand Division », « division Main Rougenote 2 ».

La première armée de John Pershing, comptant un million d'hommes environ, répartis en trois corps, tient un front de 27 kilomètres de Forges à la Meuse jusque dans la forêt d'Argonne.

À gauche de la première armée américaine se tient la 4e armée française du général français Henri Gouraud.

Les forces américaines font face au groupe d'armée du général allemand Max von Gallwitz, tandis que les Français affrontent le groupe d'armée du prince royal de Prusse Frédéric-Guillaume. Les Américains et les Français déploient 37 divisions, alors que les Allemands n'en disposent que de 24. Ils tiennent trois lignes de défenses fortifiées sur un terrain difficile.

Bataille de Montfaucon

L'attaque est lancée à 5 h 25 le 26 septembre et les forces américaines gagnent rapidement du terrain, avançant de 5 kilomètres environ dès le premier jour de l'offensive. La progression des Français est moins spectaculaire mais Gouraud cueille 7 000 prisonniers. Le 27, les attaques reprennent : les Allemands dépêchent des renforts dans le secteur et ralentissent l'avancée des troupes alliées. L'armée Gouraud emporte le plateau de Grateuil et fait 3 000 prisonniers ; la 1rearmée américaine enlève Montfaucon, en deux jours, elle ramasse 8 000 prisonniers et 100 canons. Mais, mal ravitaillés, embouteillés dans la forêt d'Argonne, très éprouvés par les bombardements, les corps américains n'avancent plus guère, et il en est de même de l'armée Gouraud. Le 30, l'offensive est arrêtée ; elle n'a pas donné tous les résultats qu'on attendait d'elle. À la fin de la bataille, le 3 octobre, deux des trois lignes de défense allemandes seulement sont tombées dans le secteur français.

Bataille de Somme-Py

L'offensive reprend le 3 octobre. La 4e armée de Gouraud, renforcée par la 2e D.I.U.S. (36e D.I.U.S. en support), enlève le plateau de Notre-Dame des Champs (21e DI), puis les hauteurs d'Orfeuil (73e DI) pendant que Berthelot (5e armée) emporte le massif de Saint-Thierry. Les Allemands doivent évacuer la région des Monts et battent en retraite, poursuivis par Gouraud jusqu'à l'Aisne qui entre le 12 à Vouziers. Sur la rive droite de la Meuse, l'armée américaine progresse en direction du col de Grandpré.

Bataille de Saint-Thierry

Article détaillé : Bataille de Saint-Thierry.

Seconde phase : 14 au 28 octobre

La deuxième phase de l'offensive franco-américaine de l'Argonne commence le 14, après une période de réorganisation au cours de laquelle les forces américaines engagées dans la bataille ont été divisées en deux armées : la Première sous les ordres du général Hunter Liggett et la deuxième commandée par le général Robert Lee Bullard. Le général John Pershing est commandant général des deux armées.

Dans son instruction du 11 octobre, Pétain a fixé les objectifs : Pour la 1re armée américaine, rompre la position Kriemhild en atteignant Buzancy et la falaise de Dun-Danvillers et pour la 4earmée française, manœuvrer le front allemand de l'Aisne en attaquant par l'est de Vouziers.

Bataille de Vouziers-Grandpré

Le 14 octobre, le 1er corps américain (Première armée américaine de Liggett) s'empare de Saint-Juvin, pénètre avec quelques éléments dans Grandpré et aborde la position Kriemhild en se heurtant à un véritable barrage d'armes automatiques. Pour protéger le flanc de l'attaque américaine, Gouraud réussit à s'établir avec le 38e corps en tête de pont de l'autre côté de l'Aisne, au nord de TermesMouron (Ardennes)Brécy et Olizy.

Les 16 et 17 octobre, profitant de l'avance du 38e corps français, la 1re armée américaine réoccupe Grandpré, pousse jusqu'à Champigneulle et s'efforce du 21 au 23 à déboucher deRomagne-sous-Montfaucon.

Le 18 octobre, sur le flanc de la IIIe armée allemande, le 38e corps élargit sa tête de pont et le 9e corps (134e53e et 73e divisions) réussit à franchir les prairies inondées des bords de l'Aisne et aborde les rebords de l'Argonne.

Le 23 octobre, les régiments tchécoslovaques de la 53e division enlèvent Terron pendant que les Américains progressent de part et d'autre de la Meuse, vers Bantheville et vers le bois des Caures et d'Ormont.

Les Allemands sont obligés de dépêcher des renforts depuis d'autres secteurs menacés sur le front occidental pour contrer les Français et les Américains. Chaque camp essuie de lourdes pertes lors des combats, qui s'épuisent à la fin du mois. Les troupes de Pershing ont cependant percé la troisième et dernière ligne de défense allemande.

L'offensive de l'Argonne est renouvelée au début du mois de novembre, après une période de repos et d'envoi de renforts : relève des 82e et 42e divisions durement éprouvées, augmentation des canons de campagne pour remplacer les canons lourds encombrant l'arrière.

Troisième phase : 28 octobre au 11 novembre

La troisième et dernière phase de l'offensive de l'Argonne, dirigée par les Américains, commence. La Première armée américaine sous les ordres du lieutenant-général Hunter Liggett reprend son avancée dans le nord et perce les défenses allemandes de Buzancy, ce qui permet à la 4e Armée française de traverser l'Aisne.

Article détaillé : Bataille du Chesne et de Buzancy.

La résistance allemande s'effondre et les forces américaines progressent rapidement dans la vallée de la Meuse en direction de Sedan qui tombe le 6. Bien que l'offensive progresse encore, elle prend fin à la signature de l'armistice le 11 novembre.

Pertes

 
Décoration pour les vétérans ayant participé à cette offensive.
 
Destruction à Argonne en 1920.

L'offensive de l'Argonne est un succès mais son prix est élevé : les Américains perdent alors plus de26 000 soldats et comptent quasiment 96 000 blessés depuis qu'elle a débuté, le 26 septembre.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, also known as the Maas-Argonne Offensive and the Battle of the Argonne Forest, was a part of the final Allied offensive of World War I that stretched along the entire Western Front. It was fought from September 26, 1918, until theArmistice on November 11, a total of 47 days. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers, and was one of a series of Allied attacks known as the Hundred Days Offensive, which brought the war to an end. The battle also cost Pershing 26,277 killed and 95,786 wounded, making it the largest and bloodiest operation of the war for the American Expeditionary Force. American losses were exacerbated by the inexperience of many of the troops and tactics used during the early phases of the operation. The Meuse-Argonne was the principal engagement of the American Expeditionary Forces during the First World War.

 

 

Overview

The logistical prelude to the Meuse attack was planned by then-Colonel George Marshall who managed to move US units to the front after the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. The big September/October Allied breakthroughs (north, centre and south) across the length of theHindenburg Line – including the Battle of the Argonne Forest – are now lumped together as part of what is generally remembered as theGrand Offensive (also known as the Hundred Days Offensive) by the Allies on the Western front. The Meuse-Argonne offensive also involved troops from France, while the rest of the Allies, including France, Britain and its dominion and imperial armies (mainly Canada, Australia and New Zealand), and Belgium contributed to major battles in other sectors across the whole front.

The French and British armies' ability to fight unbroken over the whole four years of the war in what amounted to a bloody stalemate is credited by some historians with breaking the spirit of the German army on the Western Front. The Grand Offensive, including British, French and Belgian advances in the north along with the French-American advances around the Argonne forest, is in turn credited for leading directly to the Armistice on November 11.

On September 26, the Americans began their strike towards Sedan in the south; British and Belgian divisions drove towards Ghent(Belgium) on the 27th, and then British and French armies attacked across northern France on the 28th. The scale of the overall offensive, bolstered by the fresh and eager but largely untried and inexperienced U.S. troops, signaled renewed vigor among the Allies and sharply dimmed German hopes for victory.

The Meuse-Argonne offensive, shared by the U.S. forces with the French Fourth Army on the left (as shown on the accompanying map and armistice), was the biggest operation and victory of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I. The bulk of the AEF had not gone into action until 1918. The Meuse-Argonne battle was the largest frontline commitment of troops by the U.S. Army in World War I, and also its deadliest. Command was coordinated, with some U.S. troops (e.g. the Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Division and the93rd Division) attached and serving under French command (e.g. XVII Corps during the second phase).

 
157th I.D.Red Hand flag [4] drawn by General Mariano Goybet.

The main U.S. effort of the Meuse-Argonne offensive took place in the Verdun Sector, immediately north and northwest of the town ofVerdun, between 26 September and 11 November 1918. However, far to the north, U.S. troops of the 27th and 30th divisions of the II Corps AEF fought under British command in a spearhead attack on the Hindenburg Line with 12 British and Australian divisions, and directly alongside the exhausted veteran divisions of the Australian Corps of the First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF).[5] With artillery and British tanks, the combined three-nation force, despite some early setbacks, attacked and captured their objectives (including Montbrehain village) along a six-kilometre section of the Line between Bellicourt and Vendhuille, which was centred around an underground section of the St. Quentin Canal and came to be known as theBattle of St. Quentin Canal. Although the capture of the heights above the Beaurevoir Line by October 10, marking a complete breach in the Hindenburg Line, was arguably of greater immediate significance,[6] the important U.S. contribution to the victory at the St. Quentin Canal is less well remembered in the United States than Meuse-Argonne.

Prelude[edit]

Opposing forces (Reims to Argonne)

The American forces initially consisted of fifteen divisions of the U.S. First Army commanded by then-General John J. Pershing until October 16, and then by Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett.[7] The logistics were planned and directed by then-Colonel George C. Marshall. The French forces next to them consisted of 31 divisions including the Fourth Army (under Henri Gouraud) and the Fifth Army (under Henri Mathias Berthelot).[8] The U.S. divisions of the AEF were oversized (12 battalions per division versus the French/British/German 9 battalions per division), being up to twice the size of other Allies' battle-depleted divisions upon arrival, but the French and other Allied divisions had been partly replenished prior to the Grand Offensive, so both the U.S. and French contributions in troops were considerable. Most of the heavy equipment (tanks, artillery, aircraft) was provided by the European Allies. For the Meuse-Argonne front alone, this represented 2,780 artillery pieces, 380 tanks and 840 planes. As the battle progressed, both the Americans and the French brought in reinforcements. Eventually, 22 American divisions would participate in the battle at one time or another, representing two full field armies.[9] Other French forces involved included the 2nd Colonial Corps, under Henri Claudel, which had also fought alongside the AEF at the Battle of Saint-Mihiel earlier in September 1918.

 
German soldiers at a water hole, May 1915.

The opposing forces were wholly German. During this period of the war, German divisions procured only 50 percent or less of their initial strength. The 117th Division, which opposed the U.S. 79th Division during the offensive's first phase, had only 3,300 men in its ranks. Morale varied among German units. For example, divisions that served on the Eastern front would have high morale, while conversely divisions that had been on the Western front had poor morale. Resistance grew to approximately 200,000–450,000 German troops from the Fifth Army of Group Gallwitz commanded by GeneralGeorg von der Marwitz. The Americans estimated that they opposed parts of 44 German divisions overall, though many fewer at any one time.

Objective

The objective was the capture of the railway hub at Sedan which would break the railway network supporting the German Army in France andFlanders.

Battle

First phase: September 26 to October 3

 
Ruined church at Montfaucon-d'Argonne. The blocky structure on the left is a German WWI observation post.

The American attack began at 5:30 a.m. on September 26 with mixed results. The V and III Corps met most of their objectives, but the 79th Divisionfailed to capture Montfaucon, the 28th "Keystone" Division was virtually ground to a halt by formidable German resistance, and the 91st "Wild West" Division was compelled to evacuate the village of Épinonville though it advanced eight kilometers. The green 37th "Buckeye" Division failed to captureMontfaucon d'Argonne. The subsequent day, September 27 most of 1st Army failed to make any gains. The 79th Division finally captured Montfaucon and the 35th "Sante Fe" Division captured the village of Baulny, Hill 218, and Charpentry, placing the division forward of adjacent units. On September 29, six extra German divisions were deployed to oppose the American attack, with the 5th Guards and 52nd Division counterattacking the 35th Division, which had run out of food and ammunition during the attack. The Germans initially made significant gains but were barely repulsed by the 35th Division's 110th Engineers, 128th Machine Gun Battalion and Harry Truman's Battery D, 129th Field Artillery. In the words of Pershing, "We were no longer engaged in a maneuver for the pinching out of a salient, but were necessarily committed, generally speaking, to a direct frontal attack against strong, hostile positions fully manned by a determined enemy."[10] The German counterattack had shattered so much of the 35th Division, a poorly led division (most of its key leaders were replaced shortly before the attack) made up of National Guard units from Missouri and Kansas, that it had to be relieved early - though remnants of the division subsequently reentered the battle.[11][12] Part of the adjacent French attack met temporary confusion when one of its generals died, however it was able to advance nine miles, penetrating deeply into the German lines, especially around Somme-Py (the Battle of Somme-Py(FrenchBataille de Somme-Py)) and northwest of Reims (the Battle of Saint-Thierry (FrenchBataille de Saint-Thierry)).[8] The initial progress of the French forces was thus faster than the two to five miles gained by the adjacent American units (however, the French units were fighting in a more open terrain, which is easier to attack).[2]

Second phase: October 4 to October 28

 
A German Hannover CL III shot down on October 4 betweenMontfaucon and Cierges.
 
328th Infantry Regiment of 82nd Infantry Division line of advance in capture of Hill 223 on October 7, 1918.

The second phase of the battle began on 4 October, during which time all of the original phase one assault divisions (the 91st, 79th, 37th and 35th) of the U.S. V Corps were replaced by the 32nd, 3rd and 1st Divisions. The 1st Division created a gap in the lines when it advanced one and a half miles against the 37th, 52nd, and 5th Guards Divisions. It was during this phase that the Lost Battalion affair occurred. The battalion was rescued due to an attack by the 28th and 82nd Divisions (the 82nd attacking soon after taking up its positions in the gap between the 28th and 1st Divisions) on October 7. The Americans launched a series of costly frontal assaults that finally broke through the main German defenses (the Kriemhilde Stellung of the Hindenburg Line) between 14–17 October (the Battle of Montfaucon (FrenchBataille de Montfaucon)). By the end of October, US troops had advanced ten miles and had finally cleared the Argonne Forest. On their left the French had advanced twenty miles, reaching the Aisne River.[2] It was during the opening of this operation, on October 8, that Corporal (later Sergeant) Alvin York made his famous capture of 132 German prisoners nearCornay.[13]

Third phase: October 28 to November 11

By October 31, the Americans had advanced 15 kilometers and had finally cleared the Argonne Forest. On their left the French had advanced 30 kilometers, reaching the River Aisne. The American forces reorganized into two armies. The First, led by General Liggett, would continue to move to the Carignan-Sedan-Mezieres Railroad. The Second Army, led by Lieutenant General Robert L. Bullard, was directed to move eastward towards Metz. The two U.S. armies faced portions of 31 German divisions during this phase. The American troops captured German defenses at Buzancy, allowing French troops to cross the River Aisne, whence they rushed forward, capturing Le Chesne (the Battle of Chesne (FrenchBataille du Chesne)).[14] In the final days, the French forces conquered the immediate objective, Sedan and its critical railroad hub (the Advance to the Meuse (FrenchPoussée vers la Meuse)), on November 6 and American forces captured surrounding hills. On November 11, news of the German armistice put a sudden end to the fighting.

Legacy

 
Destruction seen in 1920.

Although the Meuse-Argonne was one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. history, in that it left a large number of U.S. dead (over 26,000),[1] the battle is largely forgotten in the United States[citation needed], and the Argonne war cemetery is often ignored by tourists[citation needed]. The battle also hailed the debut of the Browning Automatic Rifle in combat, with both the US and France using them significantly for the first time in battle.[15]According to the American view[who?], the battle's pressure on the Germans was an important factor in their agreeing to the armistice: "Until the last, this battle had worried German commanders most; unlike other sectors of the front, here they had little space short of a vital objective that they could afford to trade for time." Historians have since begun to debate the legitimacy of this claim, with many[who?] believing that the Meuse-Argonne offensive was simply a diversion from greater Allied offensives and successes elsewhere.[16]

In an interview, Paul von Hindenburg stated, "So I must really say that the British food blockade and the American blow in the Argonne decided the war for the allies." and that "... without the American troops and despite a food blockade... the war could have ended in a sort of stalemate."[17]

ONT COMBATTU / FOUGHT

 

- ADAIR Walt Corrigan - Cherokee.

TUÉ AU COMBAT / KILLED IN ACTION
BLESSÉ / WOUNDED IN ACTION

 

 

 

MÉDAILLÉS / AWARD A MEDAL

 

OKLAHOMBI Joseph - Choctaw.

 

Ajouter un commentaire

Vous utilisez un logiciel de type AdBlock, qui bloque le service de captchas publicitaires utilisé sur ce site. Pour pouvoir envoyer votre message, désactivez Adblock.

Créer un site gratuit avec e-monsite - Signaler un contenu illicite sur ce site

×