Battle of Belleau Wood WW1, France. March 2014
Battle of Belleau Wood WW1,north of Chateau-Thierry only 60 miles from Paris, France. March 2014
The Battle of Belleau Wood (1–26 June 1918) occurred during the German 1918 Spring Offensive in World War I, near the Marne River in France. The battle was fought between the U.S. Second (under the command of Major General Omar Bundy) and Third Divisions and an assortment of German units including elements from the 237th, 10th, 197th, 87th, and 28th Divisions. The battle has become a deep part of the lore of the United States Marine Corps.
In March 1918, with nearly 50 additional divisions freed by the Russian surrender on the Eastern Front, the German Army launched a series of attacks on the Western Front, hoping to defeat the Allies before U.S. forces could be fully deployed. A third offensive launched in May against the French between Soissons and Reims, known as the Third Battle of the Aisne, saw the Germans reach the north bank of the Marne river at Château-Thierry, 95 kilometres (59 mi) from Paris, on 27 May. On 31 May, the 3rd Division held the German advance at Château-Thierry and the German advance turned right towards Vaux and Belleau Wood.
On 1 June, Château-Thierry and Vaux fell, and German troops moved into Belleau Wood. The U.S. 2nd Division—which included a brigade of U.S. Marines—was brought up along the Paris-Metz highway. The 9th Infantry Regiment was placed between the highway and the Marne, while the 6th Marine Regiment was deployed to their left. The 5th Marines and 23rd Infantry regiments were placed in reserve.
On the evening of 1 June, German forces punched a hole in the French lines to the left of the Marines' position. In response, the U.S. reserve—consisting of the 23rd Infantry regiment, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, and an element of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion—conducted a forced march over 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) to plug the gap in the line, which they achieved by dawn. By the night of 2 June, the U.S. forc