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Summary of Information, No. 250, January 11, 1919. General gave permission to advance the foremost regiment of the 123d Division to the crossroad 2 kilometers southwest of Prény and to send the rest of the Division forward to La Grange en Haye Farm. It was also necessary to act independently in the case of the 255th Division which was not assigned to the Army Detachment until 5.40 a. m. on the day of battle. On September 11 this division, in conjunction with the Gorz Group, was made to withdraw its main line of resistance to the Venchéres Position. The enemy's infantry attacked at 6 a. m. At 4.20 a. m. it was reported to the Army Group, in reply to an inquiry, that the evacuation would not be begun as there were no compelling reasons for such action at that time. The events which took place after the attack had begun, showed, however, that the lightly held southern front was not capable of sustaining the attack of greatly superior forces. The two weak divisions could not make the necessary distribution in depth on their 22 kilometer front and were unable to stop the attack of an enemy from four to five times as strong. The Gorz Group reported at 10.25 a.m. that rearward movements had been observed in Sector H. In order to restore the situation in the sector of the 77th Reserve Division and to prevent the outflanking of the left wing of the 10th Division one regiment of the divisions in reserve, namely, the 31st and 123d (which were moving forward), was placed at the disposal of these divisions. Already at 11.15 a. m. it was reported that the enemy had broken through the 77th Reserve Division and appeared to have taken Viévelle, that the Gorz Group therefore—inasmuch as it could not establish immediate telephone communication with the Higher Command—had already issued orders on its own responsibility (10.45 and 11 a. m.) that the 31st and 123d Divisions should execute a simultaneous attack against the left flank of the advancing enemy, the former through Thiaucourt, the latter in the direction of Viévelle. Meanwhile the Combres Group in Sectors B and D and the Mihiel Group in Sector F had been attacked and were engaged in heavy fighting. The report of the Gorz Group at 11.50 a. m. read: <
>. At the time of this report the enemy had, therefore, already advanced to within 1 kilometer of the main line of resistance of the < > position. Furthermore, the left wing of the 10th Division had undoubtedly been outflanked and driven back by the 6 kilometer penetration near Thiaucourt. There was not only the danger of a break-through at the vital point in the < > position, but also a serious threat at the line of retreat of the Mihiel Group which was still in the salient. The situation required an immediate decision. If the troops in the St. Mihiel sector were to be saved from capture there could no longer be the slightest delay in ordering the withdrawal of the front to the < > position. Army Headquarters therefore issued the following order to the Mihiel Group at noon: < > At 12.10 p.m. the Combres Group reported that the enemy had taken St. Rémy, had penetrated sectors B III and D I and was advancing. At the same time the Gorz Group reported that deeply echeloned columns were advancing upon Nonsard. The correctness of the decision which had been made was hereby shown. The 10th Division was being driven back without having any reserves at its disposal. The entire withdrawal to the < > position was therefore endangered. As reports up to 1 p.m. showed that Maizerais, Essey, Envezin, and the entire plateau on the right bank of the Meuse were in the enemy's hands, the Combres Group was ordered to make possible the greatly endangered retreat of the Mihiel Group by holding at all costs the line Combres Heights-Herbeuville Heights-line of artillery protection. Beney, too, was taken by the enemy early in the afternoon. It is due only to the energetic stand of the Combres Group, to the splendid leadership and conduct of the Mihiel Group, and to the timely decision made by the Army Command upon its own responsibility that the Mihiel Group was able to make the 30 kilometer flank march with heavy rear-guard fighting and the loss of only 1,100 men and three guns (with burst in bore) and was able to reach the < > position next morning, after having been joined by the Assault Regiment and the 88th Division. Two flank detachments of the 5th Ldw. Division and the failure of the Americans to recognize their tactically favorable position prevented the latter from bringing catastrophe to Army Detachment < >. At the same time the attacks of the 31st and 123d Infantry Divisions, even though they gained but little ground, prevented the penetration of the < > position northeast of Thiaucourt. The Commanding General (Signed) FUCHS. Lieutenant General -3-
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