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A Slice of History

Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day, and today is the 90th anniversary of the original armistice which ended WW I. My father was an Infantry officer in the 184th Machine Gun Battalion, and was wounded shortly after the battle that followed the events described below. This article was published in the local newspaper of Ontario, California a few years later while he was a student at Chaffey Jr. College taking some special courses in Citrus growing. The Veterans Administration offered a special GI bill for disabled veterans.

We only recently discovered it along within some other memorabilia. I think it is an example of what it must have been like to be in combat in that war. My father rarely talked about his war experiences, and once said that he fervently hoped never to see America in another war. Ironically, he lived long enough to lose his youngest and most beloved son in WW II, who was reported missing in action on Okinawa. I don't think he ever recovered from that loss.



                          By Gilbert L. Taggart


There was probably no part of the recent war that made a greater impression on the American public than the reduction of the Saint Mihiel salient. Not because it was a brilliant military achievement, but because it was the first big American victory. 

To say there was anything beautiful about such an occurence may sound strange to many, but looking back on it after two years of peace the writer, who had a modest part in this action, is convinced there were some things worthy of mention.


At the time of the attack the organization to which I beonged was located near a little village called Monilly. At midnight of September 12th one of the most terrific barrages of the war was put down on the German defences. The Infantry attacked at 8 o’clock the next morning and had little trouble making their advance. 


My organization, a machine gun battalion was ordered to proceed to Vigenelles. We started about noon of the 12th and after traveling for about six hours over the shell-torn roads, and covering not more than two miles, the commanding officer decided we could make better progress by discarding our transportation and carrying the guns and ammunition. 


We started to walk, each man with a load af about 120 pounds. In a short while we passed the line which had been occupied by the Bosche 12 hours earlier, and from that time on we were in territory which had been under German control for four years.


By this time the black night of southern France had settled upon us, and a cold dreary rain had begun to fall. The territory on either side of the road was densely wooded, and, as we discovered later, full of Germans. We stumbled along throug the night and just before dawn reached the edge of the forest. 


On emerging from the forest we were on the edge of a plateau , and the plains of Metz were before us. From this point we saw what I believe was the most beautiful, as well as the most hellish sight imaginable. From our vantage point on the plateau we could see for miles, and in every direction there was a burning village. The sky was lit up as by the lights of a big city, and looking out through the rain and darkness towards those huge blazes made an indescribably beautiful picture.


the Bosche in retreat had fired those little villages for what reason only the obscure workings of the German mind can say. It was wanton destruction, and no plea of military necessity could justify it. And unless it was done to provide for our benefit, the beautiful picture mentioned above, it will have to remain one of the many outrages charged to the ex supermen.  






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