On Sept. 26, 1918, the Meuse-Argonne offensive was launched as part of the Allied offensive that has become known as the Hundred Days.

It was the largest U.S. offensive in history up to that date, involving some 1.2 million troops organized into two armies, 1st and 2nd, under Lt. Gen. Hunter Leggett and Lt. Gen. Robert Bullard.

Most of the American effort was centered northwest of Verdun, but two American divisions also fought alongside the British further north.

Because of the time difference between the U.S. and France, it was often possible for events that took place in the morning to be reported in that afternoon’s papers in the U.S., such as the Daily Banner.

The AP report Oct. 26 said the U.S. and French had launched an offensive east of Champagne. The next day they reported Secretary of War Newton Baker had returned from the front, where he had witnessed the opening of the drive.

But for at least the first few days, there was little reported on the American effort. Apparently, a tight lid was being kept on news from the U.S. front. Parts of the U.S. effort got bogged down early.

Casualties were heavy, although that was not initially reported. According to the Wikipedia summary of the battle, the U.S. suffered 122,063 casualties, including 26,277 dead and 95,768 wounded. The French may have lost as many as 70,000. For at least the first few days, the Banner didn’t carry any reports of the heavy casualties; that news may have been suppressed for a while.

An interesting item in the Wikipedia summary of the offensive is that an 850-man Siamese unit was there and had 19 killed. I haven’t found any other information.

By Sept. 28, the news from Europe was that the allies were attacking all along the front: The British (including troops from Canada, Australia and New Zealand) north of Ypres, British and Americans at Cambrai, the French north of the Aisne and the French and Americans northwest of Verdun.

In the few days before the Meuse-Argonne offensive, the Banner started carrying more reports out of Macedonia and Palestine. In Macedonia, the Bulgarian forces were crumbling under the pressure of the British, French and Serbian advances, and in Palestine the AP reported that Gen. Edmund Allenby had virtually wiped out the Turkish Army in Palestine, capturing 25,000 men and 260 guns.

There had been a string of clashes in September, seemingly all of them victories for the British/Arab forces.

Sept. 23, there was a photo of British troops landing in Vladivostok, but it was not clear how old the photo was.

Sept. 25, the Banner reported that the Spanish flu had appeared in 25 army camps, including Camp Sherman in Ohio, and there were at least 20,211 cases. It was not reported whether it was striking at American soldiers in Europe.

Oct. 2, Allenby’s forces entered Damascus, the AP reported, and the Turkish commander there asked for surrender terms.

Oct. 3, Allied forces were reported 25 mile south of Archangel.


Chuck Martin: 740-397-5333 or cmartin@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews




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