Belleau Wood…Marine Corps Hallowed Ground
I’ve had a number of readers ask…is Blogging what you do full time? Not currently, but maybe someday!!! Currently, I am BLESSED to work closely with two non-profits serving Veterans and First-Responders: Sons of the Flag and The Bird’s Eye View Project. Each deserves a post all on its own, so I won’t go into detail today, but through these organizations, I have worked alongside, and on behalf of, many United States Marines. My own husband, Will, is a United States Marine Veteran. Will joined the Reserves in 1978, and is continues to honor the Marines as an avid collector of early Marine Corps art, ephemera, battle flags, and weapons. A battle important to the Marine Corps, was fought in the wheat fields of Chateau-Thierry, France, and in the Battle of Belleau Wood, and thanks to the assistance of French Affairs, we spent an entire day soaking up this important piece of Marine Corps history!
According to MilitaryTimes.com, “America’s initial entry into World War I… was more promise than power. Military experts on both sides of the Atlantic knew the U.S. had very few experienced combat troops at its disposal…In this battlefield, where machine guns, artillery and chemical warfare were capable of killing 10,000 men in a day, the Marines totaled less than 15,000 men…America was now at war, and the Marines would be called upon. Congress approved 31,000 additional Marines, and to rapidly increase the Corps’ fighting strength, Gen. George Barnett, commandant of the Marine Corps, successfully orchestrated a nationwide recruiting campaign to enlist and commission the best of America’s volunteers. What happened at Belleau Wood was nothing short of ferocious — a close-range pitched battle, through dense woods, where troops of both sides were desperate to advance the line and succeed the mission. Machine-gun fire, poison gas, mortars, grenades and bayonet counterattacks all were inflicted with hellish delivery.”
According to many historians, The Battle of Belleau Wood was a battle that catapulted the Marine Corps to worldwide prominence. And it was a battle that helped turn the tide of “The Great War” (as WWI was then
known) in favor of the Allies. It was also here that the Marine Corps’ “Devil Dog” nickname was supposedly born. As the story goes, German officers, in their battle reports, referred to the Marines as “Teufel Hunden” (German for “Devil Dogs”) as a result of the ferocity with which the Marines fought, and the name stuck. (MarineParents.com) Our tour guide walked us through every aspect of the three-week battle, complete with maps, a walk through Belleau Wood, and a visit to the Chateau-Thierry American Monument designed by Paul Philippe Cret. On its west facade are sculptured figures representing the United States and France. On its east facade is a map showing American military operations that took place in the region and an orientation table pointing out the significant battle sites.
We also visited the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery containing the graves of over two-thousand American troops, most of whom died in 1918 during the Battle of Belleau Wood. For those of us fortunate enough not to have personally experienced war, seeing the rows and rows of crosses marking those who gave their lives for our Freedom is a particularly humbling experience!
Chateau-Thierry is a short 30 minute train ride from Paris, and for those of you who are visiting Paris, and can’t make the longer trip to Normandy, visiting Belleau Wood is a wonderful day-trip way to glimpse an important part of American history, and hallowed ground for United States Marines. Semper Fi!
For more information about planning the perfect trip to France, click here! xoxo
THANK YOU for your service, and for making the Ultimate Sacrifice!