IntroductionThe History of the 103rd Regiment
of the 26th Division of the U.S. Army
during World War I
Table of Contents
CHAPTER IX BETTER DAYS THOUGH the title-page gives this as the story of the 103rd Regiment from August, 1917, to November, 1918, it seems fitting to conclude with a brief account of the days following the actual cessation of hostilities. By Thanksgiving, the regiment was well settled in its new area near Mentigny- le-Roi, with Regimental Headquarters and two companies of the 1st Battalion at Chauifort, the other two companies at Epinant, the 2nd Battalion at Is-en- Bassigny, and the 3rd Battalion at Sarrcy. The i\fachin&Gun Company was also at Is-en-Bassigny. Thanksgiving was properly celebrated and every effort made to have that day as happy a one as might be for the men. Almost immediately drill was taken up again, somewhat to the amusement of the natives, who, now that tho war was over, could not quite see the neces- sity for drilling, fighting mock hattlcs, and all that sort of thing as if actually going into the front again. But there was a reason for all this; no one knew exactly when the division would start overseas: it was absolutely necessary to keep the men occupied, restore their spirits, and bring hack that sort of disci- pline which troops in the rear must have if they are not to become a mob. Our men took hold in remarkably fine shape, keen rivalry was created between the companies both on the drill field and on the athletic field. The men were gradu- ally re-clothed, cleaned, and made presentable. Frequent inspections were held, and every effort was made to bring the regiment to that degree of preparedness for returning home required by Deharkation Regulations. Christmas Day, Mr. Vliilson had dinner with the Division Commander and those officers of the division who had been cited and decorated during the war. On his return to Chaumont, he passed through the Regimental area, stopping at Sarrcy and inspecting several of the billets and kitchens of our men. The Com- mader-in—Chicf, General Pershing, and numerous other high-ranking officers were in the President’s party, and all seemed pleased at conditions as they found — them. During the ri·gimcnt’s stay in this area the usual bad winter weather was en- countered, but we were fortunate in avoiding any serious amount of sickness. Supplies came in well and other than for the uncertainty and delay in the matter of leaving, the regiment’ s stay was a pleasant one. Colonel Dowell, who had taken great pains to raise discipline to a high mark in the regiment, was early in December returned to the Division Stall being suc- ceeded by Colonel Arnold. By a most unfortunate accident on the day prior to the rcgimentls departure for the Le Mans Embarkation area, Colonel Arnold died. His loss was a cause of sincere regret to us all. In the last week in January the regiment cntrained for the Le Mans area where it was, as events proved, to spend another period of waiting. Again, our men were billeted in small villages somewhat scattered in the vicinity of Ec- commoy where Division Headquarters was stationed. Regimental Headquarters was at Laigne together with the 1st Battalion and Machine·Gun Company, the 2nd Battalion and Supply Company at St. Gervais, and the Brd Battalion at Teloehe. This area proved to be a very pleasant one. For the most part our men were well quartered and comfortable. lV0rk and drill were carried for- ward, afternoons being devoted to athletics. Credit is due Chaplain Anderson, Chaplain Butzer, Mr. Baker, Mr. Woods, and Y. M. C. A. representatives, for the manner in which they furthered the athletics and entertainment of the men. Two events during this period should he mentioned: the Division review by General Pershing and the Division Athletic and Military Tournament. As to the first, it was a spectacle which the men who took part in it can never forget. Over twenty-five thousand men massed on a single field were inspected by the Commander-in—Chief and then passed in review, with bayoncts fixed, wearing their helmets and light packs. When one considers that during the war there had been times when such zt number and cvcn more had been wiped out in a single attack, something of the stupendousness of this great war comes home. Following his inspection, the Commander-in-Chief decorated o. number of offi- cers and men in the division, not a few of whom were from this regiment. 'l‘he other event, the Division 'l`ou.rnament, was held at Eccomoy in the middle of March and lasted for three days. This allair consisted of competitive military and athletic contests open to all units of thc division. Elimination contests had previously been held within the regiments of the division, so that the events of these three days were Emil. A system of scoring was of course used, and this regiment won second place in the Tournament. The Tournament was remark- ably well handled, for it involved much planning and thought to be run off smoothly. Prizes were awarded on the third day at which time Major General Summerall, formerly our Corps Commander, and Major General Hale, our Division Commander, addressed the winners and spectators. _ During our stay in this area our old Commanding 0Hicer, Colonel Hume, returned to take command of his regiment, which turned out as a body to wel- come him back. The last of March, the regiment moved to Brest where, after a short stay, it embarked on board the Anu·v·ica and Agamemnon homeward bound. As these lines are written the men find themselves in a real American camp with many of the comforts of home for the {init time in twenty months. Soon to be mustered out, they will scatter to all parts of New England and of the United States. It is hoped that as they leave, they are carrying back with them happy memories of these past months; a realization of the satisfaction of duty well done, and a feeling of loyalty to the regiment and to one another which will go through life with them. Time and space have forbidden that this story should be as long as some might wish it; to others perhaps it has proved tedious reading. The writer has endeavored to put down as many of the facts in as accurate a manner as his own personal knowledge and the assistance of officers and men, records and files ` have been able to render. Perhaps it has seemed to bc too exclusively of the man with the 1·iHo on his shoulder. This has not been the intention, for we cannot forget that without our Supply Company, without our Medical Unit, without the assistance of our Machinc—Gu.n Company, many of the things done ovcr there would have been impossible. They arc all a part of the regiment; each unit, each man knows what his bit was that added to the history of the regiment. As these men start in life over again, it is hoped that some of the suffering they have endured, some of the sacrifices they have made will be an incentive to making of the men of the 103rd Infantry at body of better American citizens.
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