Spring 2003 Great War Reenactment AAR (after-action report)
I just attended the Great War Association's National Spring Tactical Event at the Caesar Krauss Great War Memorial Site in Newville, PA on the 11-13 of April 2003. This was to be my third reenactment at the site.
April 11 1918
Upon arriving at 1700 hours at the Neuville Sector of the front on April 11, 1918, the 151ème Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne and the 8ème Batallion Chasseurs a Pied relieved the 69ème Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne. Lt. Manchu (Matt Williamson) assigned all the members of the 151ème to the different sections of the firing trench to which we to defend, I was placed on the far left of our lines by the 8ème BCP Hotchkiss MG bunker. At 1800 hours the Central Powers opened up a hail of MG and rifle fire towards the Allied lines signaling the end of the All Quiet on the Western Front, so we responded back with our own hail of fire. As night was falling and after eating a grand meal consisting of a vegetable soup, a cooked meat, bread, cheese and pinard the Central Powers had decided to make an grand assault on our section of the lines and right towards my section of the trench. I fired as rapidly all 10 rounds in my Fusil d'Infanterie Mle.1886/M93 dit "Lebel" and then retreated as fast as I could down the communications trench towards the secondary trench line. The Germans had destroyed the 8ème BCP Hotchkiss MG bunker with grenades thus putting it out of action. The Germans advanced up the communications trench but were being held back by our rifle fire, but they kept coming in waves so we pulled back to an area where we could regroup and refight for our trenches. We then fought our way back towards our firing trenches and eventually cleared the Germans from our trenches and they decided to pull back towards their lines. I understood this happened all along the Allied lines. After we had refreshed ourselves the Lt. decided that it was time for us to make a small raid on the German lines with the intention of either capturing prisoners or any battle plans so I decided to take my Revolver d'Ordonnance Mle.1892 on this raid as it would be much more useful in close combat than my rifle. As we exited our trenches the La Légion Russe gave us some covering fire as we made our way across No Mans Land, but the German Maxim MG's opened up with a hail of murderous fire upon us but I was able to get to a crater in the far end of the German area with a fellow poilu where we waited for the MG fire to die down. As the fire subsided we made our way towards and into the German trenches and started very slowly working our way around when a grenade landed right next to me and thus I was killed dying for the Glory of France.
After being "resurrected" I went back on guard duty at my section of the lines and every once in a while I would see some Germans making their way across No Mans Land and I would fire upon them letting them know I had seen them. A couple of members of La Légion Russe decided to venture out into the area to sneak upon the raiding Germans and were successful in eliminating some of them. I eventually also went out into the area and did a little reconnaissance of my own in which I also got a German myself. After a period I decided to return back to our trenches and it was time to return to the reserve lines for some well deserved rest.
April 12 1918
Upon arriving back into my section of the firing trench at 0600 hours it was beginning to get get light outside where I could see across the field and at the German positions were it seemed as if they also had a goodnights rest and I happened to spot a couple of Germans waving at me so I waved back letting them know we still were in our lines. I then ate my breakfast of eggs, bacon, bread and pinard which was truly excellent. Allied High Command had decided through the night that all Allied units were to make a huge Grand Offensive Assault on the the Central Powers lines with the clear idea of the "Grand Breakthrough" we have been striving for throughout this miserable war. It was to be preceded by a large artillery and mortar barrage followed up by the attack with the use of Mustard Gas. At 0730 the artillery and mortars opened up on the German lines and then as it ceased the gas was released followed by the blowing of the whistles signaling the time to Go Over The Top. As we exited our trenches all the German Maxim MG opened up on us laying that murderous hail of fire upon us. The 8ème BCP Mitrailleuse Hotchkiss Mle.1914 MG was jamming due to bad ammunition and therefore could not give us any covering fire, it was therefore abandoned and the crew joined us for the attack. I ran as fast as I could from shell hole to shell hole to avoid exposing myself to the gunfire but I could only get as far the cemetery that is at the end of our area of No Mans Land. I threw a couple grenades towards the German lines but to no effect. All up and down the lines the Allies were having trouble penetrating the Central Powers lines so Allied Command decided to call off the attack. As I made my way back to our trenches I noticed that the Americans had taken a beating in the attack. We replenished ourselves with some pinard and cheese and then stood guard for a possible German counter-attack. As expected the Germans did do a counter-attack but the main thrust was weighted towards the British/Australian section of the lines and we were able to repel the Germans who advance towards us. After the last German attack Chasseur Brett Johnson and myself decided to venture out into No Mans Land for a little reconnaissance to see if we could find a hole in the German lines but all we did was draw a little sporadic rifle fire towards ourselves. The 151ème Tromblon V.B.(Viven-Bessières) went into action launching grenades towards the German positions scoring some direct hits and the Germans retaliated with their own grenades but it seemed the were not as effective as ours had been. After being out in No Mans Land for awhile we decided to come back in for a rest and lunch.
We had a truly excellent lunch which consisted of meat soup, bread, cheese, apple, pinard along with some talk with some of our Australian and U.S. comrades. After awhile the German decided that they wanted to make a raiding attack towards our lines so we had reman our sections to repel them cutting our eating and conversations with our guests. The Germans decided to use some gas in their attack but due to the direction of the wind it blew down the the right side of the line and was therefore ineffective. Some of the raiders managed to penetrate the trenches but with the help of the La Légion Russe we were able to repel them with very little casualties. After a bit Chasseur Johnson again went back into No Mans Land but this time he barely made it out when a German Maxim cut him down. He was severely wounded in the chest all along was moaning to his fiance and as no one wanted to venture out of the trenches to rescue him Chasseur Scott Chapman after hearing him go on and on about his love decided to put him out of his misery with a grenade.
After a bit we again made an all out attack on the German positions but this time we were going to use lots of grenades on the German MG pits to keep the Germans Maxims murderous hail of fire down. As we exited the trenches the Grenadiers worked towards the MG bunkers and kept the MG fire down enough for us to work ourselves towards the center of the German lines facing us. The Germans decided to also come out of their trenches and a fierce hand to hand and grenade battle ensued, I was eventually struck by a lucky shot in the chest.
After being "resurrected" again I once again retook my position on the line where I watched for possible German activity but for awhile it was quiet, but we could hear in the distance back towards the U.S., British, Canadian and Australian section of the lines heavy MG, rifle and mortar fire, to which we were glad not to be a part of.
As evening approached we again had another fine meal of a chicken soup, bread, cheese, fruit and wine. After eating I decide to once again venture out into No Mans Land where I was able to get to far end of of our area in a large crater where I laid low waiting for darkness. As I got dark, flares from both sides illuminated the night sky making the front glow a bright red and white I was able to see a couple of Germans in their observation post looking out into the area so I set my sights on them then opened up a hail of fire upon them. Well I must have gotten their attention but unknown to me fellow poilus had not known I was out in the area and they started throwing grenades towards my position, I tried to let them know it was me but a grenade landed directly next to me killing me instantly. As I approached my lines they finally realized they had killed a fellow poilu and we had a big laugh about it. After a bit we again went out on another trench raid this time with every grenade we had and got into a furious hand to hand combat with the Germans. Grenades were going everywhere, men were jumping on top of one another with their knives, shovels and what ever they had available to ultimately kill one another. I had this German jump into the same crater I was in and we ended up killing one another in a desperate struggle. After the battle had subsided we all eventually returned back to our lines where we regroup then headed toward the reserve lines for a well deserved rest.
April 13 1918
As the day approached and night was beginning to end we knew that we were going to be relieved soon so we made preparations of moving out of the lines by starting to pack our gear, weapons, and cleaning up the trenches of debris that we did not want to be left behind so that we could be relieved by the 369ème Régiment d'Infanterie Coloniale and 2ème Régiment de Tirailleurs Algériens, once this was completed we were relieved and started our move of the lines towards the rest camps.
This ended the Great War Association's National Spring Tactical Event of 2003
U.S. Trench Mortar in Action
A U.S. Mitrailleuse Hotchkiss Mle.1914
U.S. Doughboys in Action
Members of La Légion Russe
Australian "Digger" (He is a real Australian)
German Trench Raider
German Trench Raider Advancing
Germans in Battle Action
French in Battle Action
More Battle Action
More Battle Action
More Battle Action
This page last updated: dimanche 8 juin 2003 -- 4:27:48 AM