MARINES ADVANCE UNDER FIRE
“At 8:30 we jumped off with a line of tanks in the lead. For two ‘kilos’ the four lines of Marines were as straight as a die, and their advance over the open plain in the bright sunlight was a picture I shall never forget. The fire got hotter and hotter, men fell, bullets sung, shells whizzed-banged and the dust of battle got thick.
“Lieut. Overton was hit by a big piece of shell and fell. Afterwards I heard he was hit in the heart. He was buried that night and the pin found, which he had asked to have sent to his wife.
“A man near me was cut in two. Others when hit would stand, it seemed, an hour, then fall in a heap. I yelled to Wilmer that each gun in the barrage worked from right to left, then a rabbit ran ahead and I watched him, wondering if he would get hit. Good rabbit—it took my mind off the carnage.
“About sixty Germans jumped up out of a trench and tried to surrender, but their machine guns opened up, we fired back, they ran and our left company after them. That made a gap that had to be filled, so Sibley advanced one of his to do the job, then a shell lit in a machine gun crew of ours and cleaned it out completely.
“At 10:30 we dug in—the attack just died out, I found a hole or old trench and when I was flat on my back I got some protection Holcomb was next me; Wilmer some way off. We then tried to get reports. Two companies we never could get in touch with. Lloyd came in and reported he was holding some trenches near a mill with six men.
“Gates, with his trousers blown off, said he had sixteen men of various companies; another officer on the right reported he had and could see some forty men, all told. That, with the headquarters, was all we could find out about the battalion of nearly 800. Of the twenty company officers who went in, three came out, and one, Cates, was slightly wounded.
THE SHELLS COME FAST
“From then on to about 8 p. m. life was a chance and mighty uncomfortable. It was hot as a furnace, no water, and they had our range to a ‘T.’ Three men lying in a shallow trench near me were blown to bits.
“You could hear men calling for help in the wheat fields. Their cries would get weaker and weaker and die out. The German planes were thick in the air; they were in groups of from three to twenty. They would look us over and then we would get a pounding.
“We had a machine gun officer with us, and at 6 o’clock a runner came up and reported that Sumner was killed. He commanded the machine gun company with us. He was hit early in the fight, by a bullet, I hear. At the start he remarked: ’This looks easy; they do not seem to have much art.’
“Well, we just lay there all through the hot afternoon.