The President was supposed to go to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Monument today.
Trump cancels visit to Ainse-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in France amid bad weather that makes flying Marine One problematic. No word on how he will spend the rest of the day before a leaders’ dinner tonight.
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) November 10, 2018
I’m sure all other forms of acceptable and securable transportation were also unavailable today in France because of the inclement weather. The Ainse-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial is only 50 miles from Paris in Belleau, France. Apparently The Beast doesn’t do well when its wet…
The Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Monument commemorates:
With headstones lying in a sweeping curve, the 42.5-acre Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, sits at the foot of Belleau Wood. The cemetery contains the graves of 2,289 war dead, most of whom fought in the vicinity and in the Marne Valley in the summer of 1918. The memorial chapel sits on a hillside, decorated with sculptured and stained-glass details of wartime personnel, equipment and insignia. Inscribed on its interior wall are 1,060 names of the missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. In 1940 during World War II the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery chapel was damaged due to heavy fighting in the vicinity. All damage was repaired except for one shell hole in the chapel, left as a reminder of what took place.
Belleau Wood adjoins the cemetery and contains many vestiges of World War I. A monument at the flagpole commemorates the valor of the U.S. Marines who captured much of this ground in 1918.
Dedicated: 1937 Location: France Burials:2,289 Missing in Action: 1,060 Acres: 42.50
For those who aren’t into the history of World War I, The Battle of Belleau Wood was:
Set amidst small villages and farmland 50-odd miles north-east of Paris, Belleau Wood is as quiet now as it doubtless was before the fighting erupted there in June 1918. And that fighting was brutal.
On 30 May two other American divisions, the 2nd & 3rd*, were ordered into the area, arriving from different directions east and west. A machine gun battalion of the latter secured the south bank of the Marne at the key bridgehead of Château-Thierry as other of their number began to arrive on the scene.
But the main action of the weeks ahead would lie north-west of the town, involving men of the 2nd Division; in particular, two of their regiments, a brigade of Marines led by Pershing’s old chief of staff James Harbord. It would be their efforts to secure a woodland there that would capture headlines, helped in part by the purple prose of journalist Floyd Gibbons.
Belleau Wood was little more than a mile long and half a mile wide, yet it would cost many lives to capture and would be reported across the world.
“It was perhaps a small battle in terms of World War I,” says Professor Andrew Wiest of the University of Southern Mississippi. “But it was outsized in historic importance. It was the battle that meant that the US had arrived.”
Yet as operations go, as brave and tenacious as the soldiers were, it was poorly planned and badly commanded, certainly in its opening phases.
After adjacent areas were captured, the decision was taken to advance on the wood on the afternoon of 6 June. But little reconnaissance had been carried out as to what to expect when they got there and only scant artillery fire was laid down beforehand.
Inside, German machine gunners had taken up positions in defensive holes, behind rocky outcrops and shielded by dense undergrowth. Worse, the Marines now advanced towards them in rank formation over the exposed ground outside. They were slaughtered. By nightfall, 222 were dead and over 850 wounded.
Bloodied but focused on the task, they went again the next day. And the one after that. But little headway was being made. An intense artillery barrage now directed followed by yet another assault.
The casualties mounted, but still the German troops dug in. The fighting laboured on for three weeks, and in its final stages, foot by foot, hand to hand, it intensified in savagery.
Guns and grenades gave way to bayonets and “toad-stickers”, eight-inch triangular blades set on knuckle-handles, as the Marines slashed their way through the last of their enemy.
As the story goes, German officers, in their battle reports, referred to the Marines as Teufelshunde “Devil Dogs”; and journalist Gibbons also helped, singling out one gunnery sergeant in dispatches as “Devil Dog Dan”. Either way, the name and image stuck and went on to become a Marine mascot.
“It was the day the US Marines went from being a small force few people knew about to personifying elite status in the US military,” says Andrew Wiest. The corps had roots dating back to the American War of Independence but from Belleau, there developed much of its modern lore and myth.
More significantly, and of strategic importance, their intervention at Belleau and that of their 2nd and 3rd Division colleagues at the time in the surrounding area on the Marne put paid to the German advance, at what was a dangerous moment in the war for the Allies.
The commander of the US First Division Robert Lee Bullard declared after it: “The Marines didn’t win the war here. But they saved the Allies from defeat. Had they arrived a few hours later I think that would have been the beginning of the end. France could not have stood the loss of Paris.”
The Battle of Belleau Wood was a meat grinder. The Americans who fell there, as well as those who survived, are spoken of with reverence by both their actual descendants and those within the Profession of Arms. The US Marine Corps considers its modern history, especially of being something other than the Navy’s police force, began at Belleau Wood.
Author Alan Axelrod put it best in his book Miracle at Belleau Wood: “created … in 1775, the United States Marine Corps was born in that French forest … in 1918.”
Here’s a short video of Gen (ret) James Amos, the 35th Commandant of the US Marine Corps, at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Monument on Memorial Day 2014.
Today the President has failed to keep his honor clean…
* It is from this series of battles that the 3rd Infantry would pick up its nickname: The Rock of the Marne Division.