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Old 09-30-2016, 09:37 AM
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An incident at the battle of st. Mihiel ww1


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AN INCIDENT AT THE BATTLE OF ST. MIHIEL

My Father’s Unit, the Third Ohio Machinegun Battalion, was at St. Mihiel in September 12-15, 1918. The attack was made by 550,000 US Troops and 48,000 French Troops (14 Divisions) under the command of General John Pershing. They faced 10 Divisions of German Troops. There were 7000 casualties on the Allied side and 7500 casualties among the German Forces.

The attack was made by the Allies and rainy weather made it impossible for the artillery and needed supplies to keep up with the Infantry Units. The Germans were dug in with Artillery support. When the attack was stalled at the German lines, there was a German Artillery Observer Post at a farmhouse, 2400 yards from the American lines. They were directing deadly German artillery fire against our Infantry. The usual procedure would be to use Artillery to destroy it but the Artillery was far behind the Infantry Units. Machineguns could also be used in this situation but there was not an abundance of belted ammunition available for the task. The answer to this problem was the use of long range musketry. These techniques were developed by the British Army during the Zulu Wars of the 1870’s. This is why you see rear sights on older military rifles that adjust as far as 2800 yards. The 1903 Springfield is one of these rifles with long range Musketry capabilities. Even the 1873 Springfield .45-70’s sights adjust to over 1400 yards.

The Unit commanders called up 500 Infantrymen with 1903 rifles and had them set their sights at 2400 yards. Each was given two bandoleers of ammunition (100 rounds) and ordered to get into the prone position and deliberately fire both bandoleers at the farmhouse. Fifty Thousand rounds of 150 gr .30-’06 bullets were launched at the farmhouse. This produces a beaten zone of about 75 yards long and 75 yards wide on the target selected. If you are in a trench there is a very shallow protection zone at the front of the trench due to the extreme trajectory of a bullet fired from 2400 yards. There has to be a hollowed out area below the edge of the trench to afford any protection.

When my Father’s Unit arrived at the farmhouse they observed nearly complete destruction of the area. There were many dead Germans, destroyed communications equipment and the farmhouse was no longer habitable. The menace of the observer post was eliminated. I think it shows American ingenuity and adaptability in solving problems that come up in Battle situations.

A similar situation occurred during the Korean War. I had a friend named Sergeant Major George Carrier. He was a Marine at the Chozen Reservoir. He was one of about 400 Marines armed with M1 Garand Rifles and faced with a Chinese Infantry Unit that was forming to attack his unit. The Officers estimated the Chinese were 800 yards from their position and they ordered the Marines to set their sights at 800 yards and rapid fire into the Chinese troops. They were also instructed to try and pick individual targets. After 10 minutes of firing the Chinese had to retire from the field. George Carrier was the Southwest Gun Club’s Chief Executive Officer from 1980-2000. He served in the Marines from 1936-1956. He was a China Marine and fought on Guadalcanal and other battles in the South Pacific. He was a true Southern Gentleman and Patriot. May he rest in peace.
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