Yet another great Yankee Division photo for my collection; this shot shows a 104th Infantry Regiment soldier wearing his unit designation on his cap. He is also sporting the United States National Guard collar disc. What a great image! He is proudly wearing his French fourragère on his left shoulder. The 104th Infantry Regiment was one of a small handful of WWI US units to be awarded the fourragère for gallantry. Please read the article below for more info!
A 1918 article in the Springfield, MA newspaper The Republican
Enemy Storm Troops Hurled Back By Impetuous Yankees Regiment Reveals Its Valor and Fighting Qualities in the Fierce Combats of Bois Brule.
By AMICO J. BARONE
Apremont!The name spells horror and glory for the 104th. In April 1918, the troops from Springfield, Massachusetts achieved a distinction never before won by American troops in the entire history of our armed forces. So valorously did they conduct themselves in the Bois Brule, a wood close to Apermont, that the French Government decorated the colors of the regiment with the Croix de Guerre. It was the first time such an honor had ever come to an American unit. In addition the regimental commander and 116 other officers and men had the bronze cross with its red and green ribbon pinned on their breasts. The regimental citation read: “For greatest fighting spirit and self-sacrifice during action of April10, 12 and 13, 1918. Suffering from heavy bombardments, and attack by very strong German Forces, the regiment succeeded in preventing their dangerous advance, and with greatest energy reconquered, at the point of bayonet, the few ruined trenches which had to be abandoned at the first onset, at the same tome making prisoners”. In a general order issued a few days after the Bois Brule engagements, the French general Passaga declared: “During this fight the American troops gave proof not only of their splendid courage, which we know, but also of a brotherhood in arms which was absolute and ever present. With such men as these the cause of liberty is sure to triumph.”
Continued below: The First American Croix de Guerre to be awarded to an entire regiment. This Medal was also given to Captain George Roberts, and the bronze frame was specially cast with the infantry tools of the day around the frame. The frame mold was broke and never reproduced to be one of a kind. The picture is Colonel George A. Roberts, Commander of the 104th Infantry Westfield Massachusetts.
Continued: Bois Brule was in La Reine sector on the southeasterly face of the St. Mihiel salient, a rough and ragged terrain where virtually all the tactical advantage lay with the enemy. In 1914 the sector had seen violent fighting, but as the war of attrition developed, it became moderately quiet with a sort of tacit understanding between the opposing forces to permit the situation to remain unchanged. The town of Apremont, whose name will be forever linked up with the 104th Regiment, lay outside the Allied lines. In the distance, grim and desolate Mont Sec loomed up as a splendid vantage point from which the enemy could observe the American positions. Difficult Spot to Defend.
The 26th Division took over the sector the first of April, the left of the line being assigned to the 104th. On the immediate left of the Western Massachusetts outfit was the 10th Colonial French Division. The regiments sub sector in the Bois Brule formed an awkward, narrow salient, hard to defend. The trenches were in poor condition, there was inadequate protection against shelling, and the marshy land made trench drainage difficult. The third battalion of the 104th, under command of Capt. George A. Roberts of Springfield, MA., immediately went into the forward position. The battalion commander, noting the small salient extending out and realizing how simple it would be for the enemy to pinch in on it and make prisoners of the men holding the position, asked and received permission to straighten out the line. K Co., under the command of First Lieutenant George Hosmer of Springfield, MA., performed this operation successfully. For some unaccountable reason, the French had persisted in maintaining the small and unimportant salient and had often lost prisoners to the enemy who would come over and successfully pinch it out. During the first three of four days the outfit held the sector, it was subjected to a harassing enemy fire. On April 5 the shelling grew in intensity and for the following four days the area was severely pounded by the enemy artillery. Evidently, an action was impending and the Germans were bent on shaking the moral of the troops by the concentration of shells.
Early on the morning of the 10th, the enemy blasting became particularly severe. The huge projectiles from the German minenwerfers came thundering down on the positions held by the third Battalion, shattering trenches and subjecting the men to terrific punishment. Capt. Roberts sent back word that help was needed to evacuate the wounded and suggested that the bandsmen be used as stretcher bearers. The suggestion was acted upon and the valiant work these men did under fire won for several of their number decorations from the French and American Governments. .As the dawn crept over Bois Brule on April 10, the enemy troops made their appearance on the front held by the 3rd Battalion – a hillcrest. They came on relentlessly, but that assault wave of storm troops failed to dislodge the men of Western Massachusetts. It was a severe test of arms in which much technique of warfare was forgotten by the green Yanks who nevertheless battled vigorously and effectively to beat back the veteran enemy.
The artillery fire also was of great aid in stemming that first tide. Thus for the moment the 3rd Battalion had checked the attack on the night of the 11th despite heavy enemy shelling, the second Battalion came in to relieve the 3rd which had held the position for 10 days. On the 12th the enemy came over again with renewed energy. This time the French on the American’s left fell back, exposing the left flank of the Yanks. But the Americans rose to this emergency and by a vigorous counter-attack, driving back remnants of enemy groups.
Gives Credit To Men By the 13th the affair of Bois Brule was over and the 104th had conclusively demonstrated that it could withstand the attack of seasoned troops. The men had revealed courage and resourcefulness and the officers had shown real leadership under trying conditions. A day or two later Capt. Roberts was promoted to the rank of major for the splendid manner in which he had handled his battalion. An incident characteristic of his modesty occurred at that time. The divisional commander, Gen. Edwards drove up to battalion headquarters and seeing Capt. Roberts he called him over to congratulate him. Capt. Roberts said: “The credit belongs to the men of the battalion, General, not to me.” The General answered: “You would say that.” On April 28, the regiment was lined up at Bocq, not far from where it had demonstrated its mettle, and there Gen. Passaga decorated the colors of the outfit and scores of men and officers with the Croix de Guerre. His voice trembling with emotion, the French officer pinned the red and green ribbons to the 104th colors, saying: “I am proud to decorate the flag of a regiment which has shown such fortitude and courage.”
Capt. Roberts was among those decorated with the French cross. He was also recommended for the American Distinguished Serviced Cross. Later, in the Bouconville sector, he was slightly wounded and in July he was transferred to provost marshal duty in Lanon.
39 thoughts on “WWI 104th Infantry Regiment, 26th Yankee Division Portrait Photo – Wearing French Fourragere Cord”
That cord looks like the french horn….we wore it in the Third Infantry Division. It’s basically an award given to units by the French military who displayed significant valor in combat. Our division earned their horn from combat near the Marne river in WW1
According to the official records, it was the 30th Infantry Regiment of the American 3d Division that received the Croix de Guere Fourregere for their sacrifice and gallantry on the Jaulgonne peninsula at the Battle of the Marne, July 15-17, 1918. Despite heavy losses from artillery, the greatly numbered soldiers of the 30thIR repulsed 25 counter attacks driving the German Stormtroopers back across the Marne River. The 30th Infantry Regiment was the Rock of the Marne.
Yes, the 30th Infantry Regiment was decorated with the CDG for gallantry in July of 1918. The 104th received the same honors in April of the same year.
I have an original manuscript of the complete “Record of Company ‘M’, 104th Infantry” from formation to the return home. It seems to be written by an unnamed soldier who was there. I do not have his name, but I was wondering if there was usually someone in the Company who was assigned the task of documenting the Company’s movements and battles.
Very exciting! To answer your question regarding the unit history compilation for the company level: yes, there was a movement right after the war to write down and compile stories and photos. From other examples I have in my collection, it was normally done by one or two guys who either volunteered or were appointed the position. Sometimes they were done while still overseas, and sometimes they were done while back home in the States. It may be possible that your relative was the one chosen to put it all together. Have you seen printed versions of the history, or is this unpublished?
Thanks for responding. My Great Uncle may have put it together since I have the original typed manuscript, but he is referred to by name in it. I am thinking of scanning into a word document and publishing it on Amazon Kindle Publishing, but I don’t know what to put down for the author. Maybe “Author: Unknown Soldier” and prepared for publishing or edited by me? I also have several Yankee Division badges and Medals. My Great Uncle received the Distinguished Service Cross (which I do not have) for his actions at Belleau Wood and was Cited twice for bravery during the 2nd Battle of the Marne and the attack North of Verdun (I have those Citations). It is a very interesting document with a lot of detail. Have you heard of Capt. James H. McDade and the famous “RAT TAT TAT, TO THE REAR” incident?
Does anyone know what the “O’Grady game” was that might have been played by WWI soldiers?
Hello, I am looking for info on my Grandmother’s husband, his name was John Louis Heydt, and I know he was a sgt major in the 104th, and have a record of his death on Nov 9th 1918, but that’s about it. Is there anything else that you might have like a picture or some record of him in this group? Thanks! Susan
Great Picture! My research was only for Company M’s activities and there is no mention of Sgt. Major Heydt. It is a shame that he died 2 days before the Armistice. You have probably already tried this, but the Dept of the Amy (Online) should have a record of his company and prisoner details. Then you could google those things. I am sure someone in his company and/or prison camp documented the experience.
The MA National Guard archives and museum on Salisbury Street in Worcester would be an excellent place to look…
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I am in possession of a copy of the mural painted by Richard Andrew. My late father in law served in the 104th infantry, 26th division in WW1. The only information I ever was told regarding this framed copy was that they were the first division to be decorated on foreign soil and he was there. Can anyone give me more information on this? I would like to pass this on to his great grandchildren.
Send me an email and I will see what I can find out for you.
The fight at Apremont was the first one of any size in which Americans had been involved. The Twenty-Sixth Division at this time was a part of the Thirty-Second Corps of the French Army commanded by General Passaga. The French were so pleased with the result at Apremont that one hundred and seventeen men of the 104th were awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Regimental Colors were decorated with it. Thus the 104th has the distinction of being the first Regiment of the American Army to have its colors decorated by a foreign power. To receive these honors, an appropriate ceremony and review were arranged for the Regiment.
INSERTED PICTURE OF CEREMONY COULD NOT BE PASTED. EMAIL ME IF YOU WANT IT.
General Passaga Decorates the Yankee Division Colors with the Croix de Guerre, April 28th, 1918
Thank you for your response. Yes, I would like to see the picture.
Jacqueline, I don’t have your email address, and I don’t know how to find it on this website. You may call me at 6264827780.
e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Russ – I would also like a copy of the ceremony picture if you would. My Grandfather served in the 104th and was in the battle. My email is email@example.com. Thanks.
My Grandfather, Robert Wm Dick, was in Co. M 104th Infantry, WW1. Born 1898 Scotland – immigrated in 1906 died in Lancaster PA in 1966. Any info is greatly appreciated. Thank you!
My grand uncle, John E. COURTNEY, was in the battle of Apremont, 104th regiment.
He was cited for bravery in rescuing soldiers from the battlefield. I would appreciate a copy of the picture or how to get one. I am going to the Apremont park in Westfield, MA next month and am totally blown away at what I am finding.Thanks
Charles Judge e.m. firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello Russ – Mass National Guard Museum in Worcester was very helpful with a record for my grandfather John R MacDonald (McDonald) of the 104th MG Company. He died in Allston MA in 1943 after falling down an airshaft. Do you have any further info on him? I do know that a reporter from Springfield Ma wrote a book on the 104th and supposedly listed all members, but cannot remember the title, but do know there is a copy at Merrimack Valley Library Consortium in North Andover.
Peter MacDonald – Baldwinsville NY
Hi Peter. I was just doing some web searching to try and find out more about my GGF Charles Coffin Gurley. From the few records I have, I know he served in the 104th MG Co. Did you ever locate that book which listed all the members? I’m originally from New England (New Hampshire), but I now live in Oregon now, otherwise I would try and track down that book myself. Here is a little bit about Charles.
Michael Gurley — Salem, OR
I know a fellow who may have a copy. Want me to look into it for you?
I found the following, but am not sure if it is the same book that you are referencing.
Pictorial History of the Twenty-sixth Division, United States Army: with Official Government Pictures Made by United States Signal Corps Unit Under Command of Captain Edwin H. Cooper
The entire book is scanned and available for download as four separate PDFs. In the fourth “piece” on page 51/85 is a full company portrait of the MG Co. I’m scouring the faces, trying to see if I can make a visual match with the photos I have of my GGF. Charles Gurley is also listed on page 82/86, but similar to another document that I have, his middle initial is mistakenly shown as “E” instead of “C”.
I have yet to look through the entire book, but it is an AMAZING pictorial collection.
There is no rush on time. My research is long-term and been ongoing for several years. If it’s not too much trouble for you, any leads and/or information would be appreciated.
By the way, I DO have a hard copy of the book “Those Eighteen Months” by Stillman F. Westbrook. He was the commanding officer of the 104th MG Co. My plan is to eventually transcribe the entire thing and see about making if available in some sort of research repository. If anyone has any interest in this particular book and has specific questions, I’d be happy to provide you with info contained in it.
I bought my copy from Griffin Books a few years back. David may still have one more copy. You can email him a email@example.com, or try the link below. There is a library copy at San Jose State University that I saw some time ago as well, but it is a reference copy only. You GGF is listed as Charles E Gurley (probably a typo). Wonderful to think that your GGF may have known my GF, or evne possibly shared a foxhole together.
The Regiment A History of the 104th U.S. Infantry, A.E.F. 1917-1919
Fifield, James H.
Published by 104th Infantry Association, Springfield, MA, 1946
Thanks for the link to the Pictorial History… I scanned the panoramic pic of the MG company about two years back at Lawrence Mass Public Library. This is a much better copy.
Peter – B’ville NY (and Winthrop MA, Springfield VT, Merrimack NH,…)
Thanks for the info. I just went-ahead and ordered a copy from Abebooks.
Regarding those company pano portraits…do you know if the men were arranged in any particular order? I’m having trouble distinguishing the faces and want to narrow-down where Charles Gurley might be in the picture.
I do not know if the soldiers are arranged in any particular order in the pano pic. Nice thing is that the download of pdf file can be expanded to 400%+. My wife spotted one soldier that resembles my father, but I have never seen a picture of my grandfather so I cannot be sure. Just trusting that he is there. Given you have a pic of your GGF, you might be able to compare and spot him.
Yes, I have two photos of my GGF; one immediately before the War and one immediately after…both in uniform. They can be seen at the following website:
I should be able to go through and by process of elimination narrow the faces down to at least 2-3 likely candidates. You’re right about the quality of the digital image being very good and view-able up to about 400%. What a great find that book was!
Going to Verdun in August 2014. Any suggestions on Battle sights etc? One Maternal Great Uncle kia Sept.13 1918. Buried at Meuse/Argonne Cemetery Served in 101st 26th Yankee Div..Paternal Grandfather served in Co.E 104th ,26th Yankee Div. survived.
Hi My Great Uncle (John Robbie) immigrated to the US From Scotland Just outside Aberdeen, where he got a telegram from his parents, stating his two brothers were Killed in the Great war, on hearing this he joined the 104th Infantry Regiment, (First Sergeant) In Massachusetts, He was killed in action on the 28th of October 1918, and is buried at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery Romagne, France, When my Granny Died (His sister) I was left his photo a script of the Croix de Guerre he received with a framed print of a soldier being knighted by which it looks like the statue of liberty with a American flag as a back drop.
Hi, my great uncle was also in the 104th Yankee Division from start to return. It was very sad that our boys died right up to the last day! I can send you a copy of my Great Uncle’s manuscript that I published on Kindle if you are interested.
I am interested in some information on the 104th infantry. Any photos or documents would be appreciated. My great grand father served in the 104th YD his name was Vincenzo Lacolla. Not sure if any of the info you have mentions his name.
Thank you for your time
Where are you located?
My father was Mass NG in the 104th from May 1917 to discharge in July 1919.
Was in several different Companies was gassed and shot but recovered and was awarded the Purple Heart.He passed away in 1960. I have been in contact with the Mass NG about a 100 year centennial
tribute and recognition. With the Yankee Division being first to land in France, it should be a big deal for the Mass NG, but they are luke warm at this point.
Just wanted know if there was interest on your part in helping me pursue the 100 year anniversary?
Bruce, Great to hear from you. I am located in Alto, New Mexico. I think the 100th Anniversary is a great idea, but I have too much going on now. Keep me posted though. The Mass NG should be proud of the 104th and be fired up about it. Maybe send them the photo of that huge German canon that was captured by the 104th and now sits in the Boston Commons.
Best of luck to you.
I was in Boston last week doing more research on my father’s regiment.
I met with Brig.Gen. Len Kondratiuk of the Mass Nat Grd.in Concord.
He had pulled a lot of information on my father’s war record and was very helpful.
He said that the Mass.Nat.Grd. will be observing the 100th Anniversary of the deployment of the 26th Yankee Division on August 22,2017. The next July 2018 will be the Anniversary of the action at Belleau Wood.
Just an FYI
My husband’s great uncle Leonard L. Dalton, (rank of private) was in the 104th Infantry, 26th Division, I Company. We have only been able to find out that he died on April 10, 1918 and is buried at the St. Mihiel American Cemetery in Thiaucourt, France. It is amazing to find the article from the Springfield Republican that is quoted here and to see the photo of one of the survivors of this battle. I will be passing the information about the battle onto our family and continue to search in the other sources mentioned above!
Thanks for finding my site! Glad I was able to help. If you have a photo of him and want to see it posted here please let me know.
I did find a photo of him on the Massachusetts State Library site. Here’s a link I hope will work so you can see it. It also has many photos and information.
Clarence W. Allen- Corporal- killed in action 19 July 1918 (near Belleau Wood) Co. L. 104th Inf 26th Div.
Yet, I cannot find him at the Aisne-Marne Cemetery. I know there is a marker for him in Montague MA and a VFW Post was made in his honor, but I cannot figure out why I can’t find him in a cemetery overseas. It says (article I found) that he lived for 4-5 hours under the care of Lt. Frank a medical office in the 2nd Battalion. Can anybody help me with this research on my Clarence?