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Veterans Day

11 November 2019

Today is celebrated as Veterans Day in the United States.

Following is a typed version of a portion of the diary of Harry L. Frieman, born in Ukraine, served with the United States Army, 313th Machine Gun Company, 79th Division, in the trenches in France from 1917 through Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. These are part of the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

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Link to the rest at Veterans History Project

Non-Fiction

9 Comments to “Veterans Day”

  1. Wow. Fascinating account. Thanks

  2. Kenneth David Schultz

    Wow. Fascinating account. Thanks for posting

  3. Thank you! Don’t remember reading before about the Germans listening via wire for sounds in the dugouts they’d vacated.

    This diary certainly makes me appreciate that my time in Kaiserslautern, Germany, was spent in dry and clean (we had to clean them incessantly) barracks, and with no one shooting or shelling us. We complained anyway, of course.

  4. Very interesting account PG, especially for the events of November 11th. One can’t help but question their commander’s decision to put them so much at risk. Maybe the news hadn’t filtered through in time but my overall impression is that Pershing was – unapologetically – indifferent to his men’s lives and that this neglect caused the 3000+ American casualties on that day.

    • I’m glad you found it interesting, M.

      In today’s world, I think we may not appreciate how difficult communications were a hundred years ago, particularly on a thoroughly torn-up battlefield like Belleau Wood and the surrounding area. Pershing said that Belleau Wood was, for the US, “the biggest battle since Appomattox and the most considerable engagement American troops had ever had with a foreign enemy.”

      The US got into WWI later (April, 1917) than any other major participant and still hadn’t fully staffed and deployed its forces by late spring, 2018.

      In defense of the US, its armed forces were in no way prepared for early 20th century warfare like was happening in Europe.

      The army was very small as evidenced by the fact it took almost a year to defeat Pancho Villa and what amounted to a group of armed bandits in 2016-2017.

      Chasing what were at best, irregular troops across the Southwestern US and Northern Mexico on horseback was no preparation for facing the veterans of the German army who had three years of experience fighting in the trenches with machine guns, artillary and tanks. Weapons and tactics could not have been more different. The US sent 10,000 troops to capture Villa in Mexico and they couldn’t find him. It’s estimated that about 70 million soldiers fought in WWI.

      Additonally, after the Russians surrendered in March, 1917, and the US was formally in the war, Germany moved about 50 divisions fighting on the Russian Front to the Western Front to hit US positions before the troops, equipment and supporting infrastructure could be fully deployed.

      • PG, I agree with all your points (and in many ways the US Army’s situation was similar to that of the British a few years earlier, with a huge expansion from a very small base, though in the UK’s case the base was small as much as a result of the very heavy losses of the regulars in 1914 as from the relatively small size of the army).

        I must admit that I had been reading the History Net article on the subject in the run up to armistice day (https://www.historynet.com/world-war-i-wasted-lives-on-armistice-day.htm) and my comment was in part inspired by that article’s account of the Congressional hearings on the armistice day casualties.

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