CommentaryWW1 in Perspective
According to the most conservative estimates, during the last day of the war, principally in the six hours after the armistice was signed (signed at 5:00 AM to take effect at 11AM), all sides on the western front suffered 10,944 casualties, of which 2,738 were deaths, more than the average daily casualties throughout the war. Putting these losses into perspective, in the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of Normandy, nearly twenty-six years later, the total losses were reported at 10,000 for all sides. The the total Armistice Day casualties were nearly 10 percent higher than those on D-Day. There was, however, a vast difference. The men storming the Normandy beaches were fighting for victory. Men dying on Armistice Day were fighting in a war already decided......
Throughout the four years of war, casualties on both sides on the western front alone averaged 2,250 dead and almost 5,000 wounded every day (for over 4 years and remember, this was just the western front - my comments.).....
The ground over which the bulk of the battles raged was only about eighty-five mile wide.
(from 11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour by Joseph E. Persico)
This war that was to end all wars, when viewed in light of the loss of life and the resulting small change of political boundaries (at least in Europe) seems to be the epitome of a pointless war.
Just a mule skinner. My dad tells me that he was always under the impression that Grandpa was in the Supply company because he always said he was a "mule skinner" when asked what he did in the army. Well, he was transferred to the supply company and did drive mules as he states in his letter of Dec. 17th, 1918, but all through the war, he was in Company D and he carried a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle). He saw front line action, and I believe avoided the discussion of it by saying, "I was a mule skinner."
Springfield This would be a US M1903 Caliber .30 "Spingfield", the battle rifle of the US Army in WW I. This is probably the most accurate battle rifle ever built - perhaps the German Mauser would give it close competition. See m1903.com for more info.
I read somewhere that the 166th Inf. was issued the Lee Enfield (don't remember where), and indeed in Grandpa's letter of Nov. 25, 1917, he says he wants to see what he can do with a Springfield. In the photo from Camp Mills he surely seems to be holding a 1903 Springfield. Could it be that they had been issued m1903s at Camp Mills but didn't have a chance to use them until arriving in France? Appearently grandpa did get his wish to "see what he could do" with a Springfield, as he had a sight tool for the Springfield in his effects.
Automatic Rifle I originaly believed Grandpa was issued a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR)which was developed during WW1. But further research indicates that the BAR wasn't delivered to front until perhaps Septemeber of 1918.
The AEF did use the French Chauchat automatic rifle in both the original French 8mm design and later and in much smaller quantities in a .30 caliber version built for Amercian forces. There is a photo in Ohio In The Rainbow of "Major General C.T. Menoher inspecting automatic rifle in Niodant le Rocheux, February, 1918." Their are two automatic rifles in the photo. Neither can be clearly identified as a Chauchats, but what can be seen of both is consistent with being a Chauchat. Based on that, I'm pretty certain Grandpa was using the Chauchat. It was certainly an inovative weapon, introducing the pistol grip, inline stock, and select fire capability, core characteristics of squad automatic weapons of today. It was designed to facilitate high volume/low cost manufacturing which made it by far the most plentiful automatic weapon in WWI, but also contributed to its problematic operation and general inferior quality.
Browning Automatice Rifle (BAR)
This was the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) M1918-A1. Designed by John Browning specifically for WW I. This was a very effective automatic rifle that was still being used in WW II. This fully automatic rifle provided the big advantage of having a lot of firepower and mobility. Prior to its introduction, the only American made automatic weapons the Americans had were heavy machine guns that required a crew of two or three men to effectively operate, or the inferior French weapon described above. See http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/mgun_bar.htm for more details.
4th Ohio to 166th Infantry, 42d Div. The 42nd 'Rainbow' Division was organized by combining National Guard units from 26 states and the District of Columbia. The National Gu
I've just recently learned that Ohio state route 42 was named the Rainbow Soldiers Memorial Highway in 1947 (I found a copy of the dedication program in my grandfather's effects). This is a little ironic, as I live on Ohio Rt. 42 in Mansfield.
Camp Perry Camp Perry. located just West of Sandusky, Ohio, is still in existence today. It is the home of the Ohio Air National Guard Red Horse Construction Division, and the location of the Annual CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) National Matches. See http://www.cpmr-oh.org/index.htm
Ditching (Oct. 6, 1917 letter) He said a long hike was easy compared to "ditching". He was reffering to digging ditches for drainage tiles in farm fields. It was done by hand in those days, and he did it as a side job.