Tour of American World War
Today, we tour the famous June-July 1918 battlefield of Belleau Wood., a “mecca” for US Marines. The victory there by the 4th Marine Brigade arguably saved Paris and unquestionably proved to the Germans that the Americans could and would fight well. The positive morale implications of this for the Allies and the negative ones for the Germans cannot be overstated in their impact on the outcome of the war.
We’ll stop at Les Mares Farm, famous for the battle cry, “Retreat, hell, we just got here,” uttered by Marine Captain Lloyd Williams, and the stopping of the Germans by accurate, long-range rifle fire never seen by them before. It was the closest the Germans would get to Paris in 1918. Then, we’ll view Hill 142, where the first Marine attack took place early on June 6 and where the first Medal of Honor of WW I was awarded to Gunnery Sergeant Charles Hoffman; followed by a visit to Lucy-le-Bocage, Marine supply and water point, post of command, and medical aid station during the battle. We’ll also walk through Bouresches and discuss its capture; observe the famous “Wheatfield” and analyze the ill-fated attack there; spend time in Belleau Wood; and pay our respects at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. Led by expert historical guides, you’ll see posts of command, foxholes, German machine-gun positions, aid stations, and more.
A special stop will be made at the “Bulldog Fountain’ on the grounds of the stables near the ruins of the old Chateau de Belleau, destroyed during the war. Those who wish can take a drink of water, said to be among the purest in Europe and thought by some to add years to a Marine’s life.
We’ll then return to our hotel in Reims, with the evening at leisure.