Oscar E. Gilbert,Romain Cansiere

First to Fight

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“An amazingly detailed account of the American Expeditionary Force at Belleau Wood in 1918” from the authors of Tanks in Hell (Books Monthly).
“Retreat, hell! We just got here!” The words of Capt. Lloyd Williams at Belleau Wood in June 1918 entered United States Marine Corps legend, and the Marine brigade’s actions there—along with the censor’s failure to take out the name of the brigade in the battle reports—made the Corps famous.
The Marines went to war as part of the American Expeditionary Force, bitterly resented by the Army and Gen. Pershing. The Army tried to use them solely as labor troops and replacements, but the German spring offensive of 1918 forced the issue. The French begged Pershing to commit his partially trained men, and two untested American divisions, supported by British and French units, were thrown into the path of five German divisions. Three horrific weeks later, the Marines held the entirety of Belleau Wood. The Marines then fought in the almost-forgotten Blanc Mont Ridge Offensive in October, as well as in every well-known AEF action until the end of the war.
This book looks at all the operations of the Marine Corps in World War I, covers the activities of both ground and air units, and considers the units that supported the Marine brigade. It examines how, during the war years, the Marine Corps changed from a small organization of naval security detachments to an elite land combat force.
“The goal of revealing the thoughts and actions of individual soldiers in battle is achieved admirably here.” —The Journal of America’s Military Past
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469 printed pages
Original publication



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