Campaign History of the 151e Régiment d'Infanterie - II

~ 1914 ~

  • Battle of the Marne - Part II - (9-11 September)
  • Battle of the Aisne (12-30 September)

    Battle of the Marne - Part II (9-11 September)

    9 September: Reveille is at 0400 hrs. The 3 Bat. reports it is positioned east of Corfélix and at Les Culots, in liaison with the newly arrived 233 RIR, with two companies at the northwest corners of the Bois de l'Homme, one company at the bridge crossing the Petit Morin, and another company at Les Culots.

    Around dawn, Colonel Deville is informed that the units of the 42 DI are to be relieved by elements of the 10 CA, and that it should avoid engaging the enemy in order to facilitate the relief. After being relieved, the regiment was to move about 5 km south to Lachy (south of the Lachy - Broyes Road) to make a warm meal and await for further orders. As the 151 RI is furthest from Deville’s command post, they won’t receive the order for relief until 0800hrs and the first battalion (3rd) will not be able to depart until 1000 hrs, with others following suit in piecemeal fashion. Throughout the morning and afternoon the three battalions makes their way back to Villeneuve-lès-Charleville and Lachy for rest, being relieved by the 233 RIR and 244 RIR.

    As the units of the 42 DI come together from the various points of the front, they march off together in deployed formation (in columns of four) in the direction of Linthes. By all accounts, the spectacle of the division – lead by the 10 BCP, followed by the 162 RI, 151 RI, and then the 83 BI (less the 16 BCP and 19 BCP) – marching in perfect order from the field of battle behind the general’s pennant was an impressive sight.

    At 1800 hrs, the 42 DI receives orders to launch an attack, departing from a front between Linthes and Pleurs and moving up the slope to Pleurs, directing on the Moulin de Connantre (north of Corroy) and Euvy. It will be supported on the right (south) by the 11 CA and on the left (north) by the 9th CA. The 42 DI is to attack in three columns: in the center, the 151 RI departs from the north of Linthelles via Côte 104 toward Moulin de Connantre; on the right, the 94 RI, marching first parallel to the Linthelles - Pleirs Road, on the Ferme de l’Etang to the north of Pleurs and the slopes between the Moulin de Connantre and Colombière (the hamlet northeast of Corroy); on the left, the 162 RI marching along the railroad to Côtes 104 and 108, and the destroyed windmill, in order to approach Connantre from the north. The engineers company would follow the 151 RI, with cavalry reconnoitering in front and five groups of artillery in support, along with the 8 BCP and 19 BCP in reserve.

    The 151 RI will immediately deploy for attack, with the 2 Bat. at the head, 3 Bat. in echelon to the right, 1 Bat. in echelon to the left, in a wide formation. The advance begins at 1815 hrs advancing slowly from copse to copse, running into German stragglers that must be processed as prisoners, with some resisting capture, along with hundreds of German wounded. Only nominal progress is made as darkness has now fallen. Fearing difficulties in directing troops and the possibility of running into German ambushes, the division must be halted and the units told to bivouac to the west of the Linthes - Pleurs Road. The troops are told to spread their fires out as much as possible and to eat a day's reserve rations. The battalions are resupplied with a day's reserve ration and each man receives 200 rounds of ammunition. On this wearying day the regiment had marched around 20 km to its current position.

    Battle of the Marne, French left on 9 September 1914.

    10 September: The massive counter-attack resumes at 0500 hrs. The 42 DI, in the center of the line, has for its objective the front of Lenharrée - Normée. The 9th CA is on it's left (north) and the 11th CA on it's right (south). The 42 DI is to execute the following movements in three columns as before: in the center, the 151 RI was to advance across open countryside via the Moulin de Connantre onto the Moulin de Connatray and Normée; on the left, the 162 RI via Connantre was to advance along the Fère-Champenoise - Linthes Road onto Frère-Champenoise and Normée; on the right, the 94 RI via a route north of Pleurs and Colombière on Euvy, Connantray and Lenharrée. The cavalry would scout the way. The 16 BCP, 8 BCP, and 19 BCP would follow behind the 151 RI, along with the company of engineers to ensure the crossing of the Vaure.

    The advance will progress without any incidents during the morning and afternoon. At 0615 hrs, the divisional ambulances have advanced to Connatre where they were treating 400 wounded Germans. At 0730 hrs, following the crossing of the Vaure, the heads of the left and center columns had reached the line of Cote 130 (west of the Ferme de St. Georges), Cote 112 (3 km northeast of Connantre). The 151 RI crosses over the bridge south of Connantre and by 1100 hrs, the 1st and 2 Bats. have arrived at the Fère-Champenoise - Euvy Road encountering no resistance from the enemy. 3 Bat. is reported to be to the right of these battalions but has no been able to maintain in liaison.

    The 1st and 2 Bats. halt for an hour to rest and allow the 3 Bat. to try to re-establish liaison before continuing their advance towards Villeseneux, guiding by the railroad running roughly parallel to the Fère-Champenoise - Normée Road. At 1400 hrs, on the 151's left, after passing Fère-Champenoise, the 162 RI collides with the rear guard of the German 12th Reserve Corps. German artillery positioned north of Normée showers shells down onto the 162 RI while French artillery opens up with counter-battery fire. General Grossetti orders the 162 RI, 151 RI and 94 RI, to continue to push on toward Villeseneux and Soudron but the 162 RI is held up at Normée in front of German entrenchments. Sdt. Jules Caron (3 Co., 1 Bat.) recorded the day's events:

    The ordeal of long, tiring marches begins again, we are heading towards Connantray. Following these hot days, rain now arrives, a steady rain that falls continuously. Clothes are soaked, clay sticks to the hobnailed shoes with feet and calves sore from kilometers of marching [25 km on this day alone]. The battalion crosses the vast plains of the Marne. A halt is made in the woods of Fontaine d'Ivoire. We try to take shelter under the trees, but the men are soaked right down to their underwear. Night does not bring relief to the suffering. Resupply chores for food and ammunition are painful when done in this thick and sticky mud of champagne. Each effort is painful for bodies so fatigured by several days of fighting and lack of sleep.
    Meanwhile, Cpl. Charles Salomon would have an adventure of his own starting on 10 September:
    The enemy is completely routed and for four days we pursue him. We search the woods, copses, bushes and thickets. Pine needles scratch up our faces and hands, along with the prickly brambles and thorns. But we push on in spite of everything since it's a change in direction.

    No longer able to move, I fell asleep in the middle of road but after half an hour I woke up because of the cold. It wasn't a good spot. I then saw a tree in the middle of the field so I went under it and lay there on a nice pile of straw. I was soon awakened again by cannon fire, the batteries thundering away dully and seemed to respond to each other. I thought I was in the middle of enemy lines and wondered what I was going to do. Soon I saw some cavalrymen. Whose were they? German Uhlans? No, they were just some brave French Hussars. I asked them for some information having now lost the regiment. I went with the 125th Line [Regiment] whose garrison was Poitiers.

    I stay with the 125th and was attached to the 6th Company. The adjutant commanding the company was the president of the military circle. He immediately assigned me to a squad to get supplies and move forward. He's a brave adjutant, well proven, and he's also a holy man. I got to know several seminarians and in particular a future Brother. Once again I listened to the most beautiful praises of Mr. Escalère; they were alas his funeral orations.

    The 151 would proceed on alone, leaving the 1 Bat. in place at Fontaine d'Ivoire, as the 2nd and 3 Bats. pass close by Lenharrée before pushing on towards Villeseneux. Guiding by compass with the help of the moonlight the battalions creep forward. Bodies lie strewn all about from earlier fighting. German prisoners and material continue to be taken but pockets of resistance occasionally open fire on the regiment.

    The battalions pass through the Bois du Mont (about 3 km southwest of Villeseneux), preceded by the advance-guard and cavalry scouts on either side. At 2300 hrs, the advanced guard exists the woods about 1 km from the village and as they come into a clearing, German machine-guns and field artillery open up on them. German troops throw themselves on the point of the advance-guard, who, fixing bayonets, take the survivors prisoner. At the same time, concentrically from the edges of the clearing and from both sides of the Normée - Villeseneux Road, machine-gun fire erupts on the first elements of the column. The scouts had failed to detect them.

    The regiment's officers attempt to push their sections to close with the enemy, but confusion and disarray abound. Having no contact with the other units of the division and realizing just how precarious his position was, Colonel Deville orders for the retreat to be sounded. The 2nd and 3 Bats. fall back into the Bois du Mont. Fortunately from what could be discerned in the darkness, the losses weren't severe, though considerable disorder remained with the battalions dispersed throughout the woods in isolated groups. This withdrawal bears unexpected fruit though, as the movement of the regiment compels the German units to expedite their own retreat.

    Colonel Deville orders the two battalions back to Lenharrée where they bivouac for the night. From the Linthes Station to the Moulin de Connantray, the 1 Bat. had covered 22-23 km. 2nd and 3 Bats. having left from the same point and reaching Villeseneux before pulling back to Lenharrée had marched at least 31 km and possibly up to 38 km.

    Movement of the 151 RI on 10 Sept. 1914. The regiment advance across open country in tandem with the other units of the 42 DI. 1 Bat. remains at Connantray as 2nd and 3 Bats advance in the darkness toward Villeseneux. Here they are met with a storm of machine-gun and artillery fire (German rear-guard) and the battalions retreat to the Bois du Mont before falling back on Connantray for the night.

    11 September: During the night, Captain Hameline with his company (5th), and Captain Eugene Segonne (regimental staff), were isolated from the main body of the regiment with elements of the 3 Bat. advance-guard. Collecting up about twenty-five men from various companies who had become lost in the woods, they were soon joined by a reserve lieutenant of the 11th Co. (unknown). The three officers will lead this small group as it searched for the regiment in the darkness. Realizing the hopelessness of the task, Captain Hameline decides to wait for daylight. After allowing the men to rest for two hours, at 0500 hrs the captains take advantage of his position to monitor Villeseneux from the northern edge of the Bois du Mont and copses between the Lenharrée - Villeseneux Road to the east and the Normée - Châlons Road to the west. The surveillance will continue until 0900 hrs.

    Around 0700 hrs, the group ambushes a convoy of eight ammunition wagons on the road at the fork of the Clamanges Road (2 km southwest of Villeseneux), exchanging shots with the convoy escort. Passing a part of the night at the Le Mont stream, the group was able to connect with the 65 RI (11th CA) as it was marching to the Sourdelle. Finally around 1000 hrs, it returned back to the northern edge of the Bois du Mont where it collides with a German infantry section that was preceded by a cyclist. The German section disperses when it is fired upon by the isolated group. Shortly after, the group moves up to Villeseneux to ascertain whether it was occupied. They discover that the village is almost entirely deserted but filled with piles of cartridges, boots and equipment of all kinds. Soon after a platoon of the 10 BCC arrives and occupied the village with Hameline's group. During the course of these operations, the group suffers nine wounded (including Lieut. Villemet - 8th Co.) and one killed.

    Meanwhile, the regiment is ready to march at 0600 hrs. It won't be until 0900 hrs when battalion (believing Villeseneux to be occupied still by the enemy) orders Colonel Deville to echelon the regiment's battalions in column and to march on Villeseneux, preceded by the 162 RI (departing Normée). The marching order is 3 Bat., 2 Bat., 1 Bat., two groups of the 46 RA. Once it reaches Villeseneux it will halt there for the day, along with the 61 RA.

    Cpl. Salomon, still with the 125 RI, would write on this day:

    We marched the whole day of September 11. In the evening, in the pouring rain, we were at a listening post in the woods as the enemy had resumed an offensive movement and was throwing shells at us. Around midnight we crossed a good part of the woods in single file. It was real fun. We held onto each other so as not to get lost. Sometimes an indiscreet branch smacked us in the face, sometimes thorns cut up our hands, small shrubs threw themselves into our legs and slowed our progress. Or our feet got tripped up on old tree stumps or in the bushes. If it was not for the presence of the enemy who we believed to be close by we would have had an amusing time in this wood -- it would have been more mirth than pity.
  • As noted previously, there is no official record in the JMO of casualties exists for the regiment at this time, though the official post-war historical for the regiment records the losses for the 6-8 September alone at 600 men and officers. It is known that Lieut. Faisan was killed, and the reserve lieutenants Martin and Willemet were wounded. In the JMO, however, there is a note that mentions that Captain Segonne (regimental staff) did make a record (hand-written on the back page of a notebook) the following losses for the regiment. The designation of "evacuated" includes exhaustion, heat stroke or illness.

    Total losses 1-12 Sept: 14 killed, 96 wounded, 31 missing, 83 evacuated = 224 in total
    1 Sept: 7 wounded, 2 missing, 3 evacuated
    2 Sept: 2 wounded, 10 missing, 6 evacuated
    3 Sept: none
    4 Sept: 1 wounded, 1 evacuated
    5 Sept: 13 wounded, 4 evacuated
    6 Sept: 2 killed, 25 wounded, 2 missing, 6 evacuated
    7 Sept: 5 wounded, 8 evacuated
    8 Sept: 3 killed, 20 wounded, 4 missing, 9 evacuated
    9 Sept: 9 wounded, 31 evacuated
    10 Sept: 1 wounded, 5 missing, 7 evacuated
    11 Sept: 2 killed, 7 wounded, 1 missing
    12 Sept: 7 killed, 6 wounded, 7 missing, 8 evacuated

    This total of course is far under the real total of killed and wounded, which must undoubtedly be much higher given the intensity of the fighting, especially on 6-7 September. It is therefore believed that the figure cited in the post-war regimental historical is more accurate, although the exact number will never be known.

    Battle of the Aisne (12-30 September)

    12-15 September: At 0330 hrs, Colonel Deville receives order from brigade notifying him that the German army is in full retreat. The 42 DI, with 9th CA on its left and 11th CA on its right, is told to march northeast to Matougues, then onto Veuve, Saint-Hilaire-au-Temple, and Vadenay. The division marches in a single column, 83 BI at the head. Because of the limited number of crossings over the Marne River, the 84 BI is rerouted to Châlons [-en-Champagne]. Halting for the day at Juvigny, the 151 and other units of the 84 BI will billet here at the alert, having covered about 35 km. In the evening, the regiment receives its rations including fresh meat.

    The next day the pursuit of the German army continues, the 42 DI advancing in a single column behind the cavalry with the itinerary of Bouy, Mourmelon-le-Grand, Aubérive [-sur-Suippe]. A battalion of the 83 BI forms the advance-guard followed by the 151 RI (in order of 3rd, 1st, 2 Bats.). At 0920 hrs, the regiment is a 1500 meters south of Bouy when word is sent out that enemy forces have been spotted north of the Vesle River. The 84 BI directs itself to the northeast in order to take Mourmelon-le-Grand by the east. The 151 RI deploys itself off of the Bouy Road. 3 Bat. is on the left and will follow a line from Bouy to Folie, 1 Bat. to the right will follow a line from Folie to Vadenay, and will be followed behind by 2 Bat., which is echeloned to the left. At 1600 hrs, the regiment was 1 km southwest of Fort Saint-Hilaire, where it makes a brief halt to make coffee. Battalion Commander Pascal reports that there are 15-16 Saxon prisoners there, all “very tired.” The 84 BI receives orders to halt here for the night in the vicinity of Mourmelon-le-Grand.

    Sdt. Jules Caron describes what he saw on 13 September:

    The 151st pursues the enemy in the Mourmelon-Auberive sector. We hear cannons, gunfire, but nothing as intense as the first days of September. We have to trample on for miles, emaciated, bewildered. The soldiers are in a morbid state which is further aggravated by a general crisis of enteritis. At every crossroads there are broken wagons, disembowled horses, and corpses that no one dreams of burying, greenish and atrociously swollen, with worms swarming eye sockets or coming out of the nose. After a precarious rest in the Mourmelon sector, where we were able to wash up, we get hair cuts!
    The advance continues on 14 September with the 42 DI prescribed the itinerary of Mourmelon, Aubérive, Dontrien, Béthiniville, Pont-Faverger, Neuville en Tourne-à-Fui, Amances, Mesnil l’Epinois, and Neuflize. The 151 steps off at 0720 hrs in the order of 1st, 2nd, 3 Bats. At 0845, the regiment deploys into combat formations facing Baconnes where fighting is underway and continues its advance. Reaching Bois 147 around 1000 hrs, the regiment progresses slowly as it attempts to maneuver around enemy artillery fire. At 1750 hrs, the 84 BI is ordered to halt for the night. 3 Bat. will be positioned in advance-posts on Côte 137 (in the woods south of Ferme de l’Espérance -- northeast of Mourmelon-le-Grand), while the 1st and 2 Bats. return Mourmelon-le-Grand to bivouac for the night and reprovision itself in rations.

    Advance of the 151 RI in pursuit of German forces, 12-15 September 1914.

    On 15 September, the regiment forms up at 0700 hrs on the heights of the Ferme de Saint-Hilaire (northeast of Mourmelon-le-Grand), 1,000 meters west of the Aubérive Road. At 0835 hrs, the 84 BI is told to face to the north along a front of Aubérive to Vaudesincourt and to prepare itself to repulse an enemy counter-attack. The 1 Bat/151 RI will hold the big road in small detachments, from the Aubérive Road excluding the large rectangular woods 1.5 km to the west. The body of the 1 Bat. is to organize a center of resistance on the borders of Côte 137. One battalion of the 162 RI will hold the front of the big road from the Aubérive Road up to a point about 1.5 km to the east, where it will organize a center of resistance to limit of the camp. The rest of the 84 BI is formed up in the following way:

    One battalion of the 162 RI in the woods to the south of Côte 135; one battalion of the 151 RI (most likely 2 Bat.) in the woods to the southwest of Côte 137; 16 BCP in the woods to the southwest of Côte 135 (assuming open formations in order to diminish the effects of the German artillery fire). 3 Bat/151 RI is sent with one of the 162 RI to find water and provisions, and to clean their weapons. At 1330, instructions arrive from brigade to send a small reconnaissance party to infiltrate Aubérive to see if it is still occupied by German forces. The detachment is taken from 7th Co. under the command of Lieutenant Marchand and reports back that Aubérive is empty of the enemy, though they do come under some rifle fire.

    At 1550 hrs, division orders an attack on Aubérive with two battalions of the 151 RI with two battalions of the 162 RI in reserve. 2 Bat/151 RI will move along the axis of Mourmelon-le-Grand - Aubérive Road, supported by three machine-gun sections. 1 Bat/151 RI (to the left) will direct toward Côte 116, 1500 meters southwest of Aubérive, guiding on the 2 Bat. and protecting its left flank. 3 Bat. is to remain at rest north of Mourmelon. Upon exiting the woods to the south of the ancient Roman Roadway, the lead elements are met with a barrage of German shells near the road. With the progression impeded and night approaching, brigade orders a halt to further movement. 1st and 2 Bat. are instructed to set up advance-posts and bivouac in position near the Ferme de l’Ésperance. The regiment has advanced nearly 60 km in four days. Though there is an enemy counter-attack at 2345 hrs directed against the 114 RI to the left of the 151 RI, this is repulsed.

    16-17 September: In the late morning of 16 September, 3 Bat. relieves 2 Bat. so that it can resupply and receive rations, with the latter attracting artillery fire by its movements. The situation being too precarious to relieve the entire battalion, Deville instructs the 1 Bat. to rotate back one company at a time:

    Bread, sugar and coffee will be distributed. As it is forbidden to make fires, fresh meat will not be distributed, and you are authorized to make a meal of canned meat [the reserve ration]. As the situation develops, orders will be given later so that you may have you fresh meat. Each man can take a canteen of water to the distribution point.
    While the 21 DI progresses to the right of the Roman Roadway, supported by the 16 BCP which moves close to Aubérive, the 151 RI remains in place with orders to move out if called upon. Though there is a heavy cannonade to their front, no infantry engagement occurs. In the early evening, 1 Bat. is finally relieved by the 2 Bat. so that it too can draw on rations and bivouac for the night (on Côte 135, at the split between the road to Aubérive and Saint Hilaire), alongside 3 Bat.

    The 42 DI is put in the disposition of the 9 CA, which is ordered to attack the massif of Mont haut and Moronvilliers. The 84 BI is to rest in place until being relieved by the 11 CA and then move northwest of Baconnes. The units fall back being careful to avoid attracting enemy artillery and reassembles in a widely dispersed formation on Baconnes – Prosnes Road, 1,800 meters to the northwest of Baconnes.

    For the division’s attack on Mont haut and Moronvilliers, the 83 BI will step off from the front of Ferme de Moscou (on the Roman Roadway) to a point 1,500 meters east of the farm on the Roman Roadway. Its objectives are Bois 147, Côte 188, Côte 242 to the southwest of Moronvilliers. To the right of the 83 BI will be a brigade from the 18 DI in two columns. The 83 BI’s attack will be covered on the right by the 94 RI. Meanwhile, the 84 BI is to move into the woods south of Espérance, following the progression of the attack to the right in echelon heading in the general direction of Deux Arbres. A brigade of dragoons will guard the right flank of the 84 BI.

    At 1200 hrs, specific orders to the battalions of the 151 RI are sent out. 1 Bat. is told to shift further to the right (800 meters east of the Bois Quadrangulaire to move out of the marching line 290 RIR (18 DI). 2nd and 3 Bats. are to hold in place astride the Mourmelon – Aubérive road, in the copse neighboring Côte 137, both in line. The attack will not go off until later in the day. The 114 RI will attack at 1615 hrs and 1 Bat. is order to advance to Côte 116 by infiltration in order to protect the right flank of the 114 against a possible enemy intervention coming from Aubérive. The 1 Bat. advances up to the Roman Roadway by the intersection with the Mourmelon - Aubérive road, as the 114 RI carries its advance forward toward Aubérive. Yet it encounters entrenched German forces is unable to make any further progress.

    At 2030 hrs Deville instructs the battalions of the 151 RI to rest in place and dig entrenchments. These battalions are permitted to consume one reserve ration meal. The 1 Bat., having already consumed its rations, is told to return to bivouac at Mourmelon again and draw on rations from the regimental train. 2 Bat. is informed it will receive fresh rations the next day and is told to send out water details to Baconnes and Mourmelon. 3 Bat. will be relieved in its advance-posts by the 65 RI at 0400 hrs and return to bivouac alongside the 1 Bat and receive fresh rations.

    Map showing area of operations for the 151 RI, 16-23 Sept. 1914.

    18-20 September: At 0515 hrs (18 September) however, Battalion Commander Monphous informs Deville that the relief battalion of the 65 RI had been unable to relieve his, as German machine-gun fire from Aubérive had forced the relief battalion to disperse. Half an hour later, brigade orders the units of the 84 BI to return to Baconnes and by 0830 hrs, the 151 RI is reassembled at the entrance to Mourmelon. Here is receives rations and cooks its soup. At 1100 hrs, the 84 BI assembles at Baconnes in the order of 16 BCP, 162 RI, 151 RI. Profiting from a lull in the afternoon, the 151 takes account of the gaps in the officer cadre in order to fill the vacancies. At 1830 hrs, the 84 BI receives attack orders. The 162 RI marches to the Mormelon – Aubérive Road, the 16 BCP towards the Ferme Saint Hilaire, and the 151 RI moves up the Baconnes – Mourmelon Road to the point where the road splits off to Aubérive and Saint Hilaire. Little progress will be made though and the battalions were told to bivouac in place. Contact could not be made with 1 Bat. however, which proceeded up to the Aubérive Road.

    Yet at 0030 hrs (19 September) the 84 BI is put on alert. The 18 DI had been pushed back by enemy attacks, reestablishing itself on its former positions. As such, the 151 RI is told to immediately establish itself on the Aubérive Road and the split of Saint Hilaire Road, and to prepare itself to repulse an attack coming from the direction of Aubérive. By 0330 hrs the reality of the situation is discovered and the position of the 18 DI exaggerated. The mission of the 9 CA remains the same: to advance north and cut the German lines of communication. At 0415 hrs, the 2nd and 3 Bats. are ordered to proceed to Mourmelon to make coffee and cook their meat. These battalions depart the town at 0800 hrs and contact is reestablished with 1 Bat, which takes up its former emplacements after getting water and making coffee. No further movements are made this day and the units of the 84 BI are told to billet in Mourmelon for the night (the 151 will billet on rue Thiers on the west side of the village). Here, provisions are distributed, and the men wash up and receive haircuts. Orders arrived from the General Dubois commanding the 9th CA to ensure that the men were well-rested. The next day the 84 BI would be relieving troops in the front line and tasked with constructing entrenchments and obstacles along the Roman Roadway.

    The next morning (20 September), the 84 BI is instructed to reassemble 2.5 km northeast of Baconnes, forming up along the Baconnes – Auberive Road in the order of 162 RI, 16 BCP, 151 RI. It will be in support of the 9 CA. The units will remain stationary all day and return to billet at Mourmelon at 1830 hrs. However, the 84 BI is told that it will relieve the 83 BI the next day on the east side of Ferme de Moscou (1.5 km northeast of Prosnes, on the Roman Roadway) in two echelons. The 151 will replace the 94 RI, while the 16 BCP and 162 RI would relieve the 8 BCP and 19 BCP the following day. The 151 RI is told to on the Prosnes Road at the edge of the woods at 0630 hrs, ready to march.

    21-23 September: New orders arrive in the morning, as the 21 CA had repulsed a strong enemy assault at Souhain and took 160 prisoners. The orders stated that the 84 BI is to remain in place with the exception of one regiment, the 151 RI, whose orders remained the same. The 151 RI is in position at 0600 hrs on the Baconnes - Prosnes Road, though it won't move out until 1000 hrs. The 1st and 2 Bats. are in place east of Ferme de Moscou by 1400 hrs; 3 Bat. won't be in place until 1900 hrs). In the afternoon, a reorganization of commanders is necessary when Colonel Trouchaud, in command of the 84 BI, is wounded in the knee by a shell-fragment. Colonel Deville assumes command of the brigade, Commander Monphous takes over as regimental commander, and Captain Dutour-Gauzé as 3 Bat. commander. Meanwhile, Captain Segonne, assistant to the regimental commander, is given command of the 8 BCP, as its commander (Clavel) had been evacuated. Captain Gastal of the 3rd Machine-gun Section would replace Segonne.

    Capt. Bernard Pierre Dutour-Gauzé (KIA 13 November 1914).

    At 1830 hrs, a large detachment from the 3 Bat. is sent to Prosnes to receive and distribute the regiment's rations. At 1900 hrs, as the 3 Bat. is getting into position, a firefight breaks out with German patrols, wounding four soldiers of the 151. In a separate incident, a heavy shell falls on a water detail from the 12 Co. killing seven and wounding two. At 2045 hrs, a violent fusillade breaks out as a German force attacks the regiments positions. This is repulsed with only light losses for the 151. Eighteen Germans are taken prisoner, 11 of whom are wounded including and officer.

  • Recorded losses for the regiment on 21 September are 7 killed and at least 6 wounded. The casualties recorded in the JMO include:
    Killed: 12 Co. - Sdts. Brillon, Bernier, Bresillion, Lognard, Parisse.
    Wounded: 12 Co. - Sdt. Dumout, Herbert, Devin. SHR - Sdts. Levy, Porcherau.
    Missing: SHR - Cpl. Barbaise.

    The 42 DI continues to maintain its positions at Ferme de Moscou up to a point 2,500 meters to the east, liaisoning with the 17 DI on the left and the 18 DI on the right. The position is to be reinforced by digging trenches and creating accessory defenses, along with rest shelters, latrines, and communication trenches laterally and to the rear. Colonel Deville says his goodbyes to the 151 RI, reluctantly leaving the regiment he had commanded for two years. Expressing his admiration of all the officers, NCOs, corporals and soldiers, and the spirit and aptitude they had always shown even in the most difficult of circumstances, he assured them that the regiment would always be in his affections.

    Pour tous, bon courage, bon espoir, bon exemple.
    Colonel Deville.
    At 1330 hrs, Commander Monphous reminds the three battalion commanders that they need only a small body of troops in the first line in surveillance. The majority of the men can be used for constructing the second and third line shelters, with a portion working while another rests. Monphous notes that General Dubois was particularly concerned with hygienic conditions, insisting that latrines be organized to the rear of each unit and that the men use these exclusively to relieve themselves. It was also critical that the dead bodies which were close to the units be buried. At 1630 hrs, brigade informs the regiment that they will be shifted further west to operate with the Moroccan Division. The troops serving in the advance-posts will be relieved starting at 1700 hrs by units of the 18 DI (84 BI would be relieved by the 35 BI, comprised of the 32 RI and 66 RI). As the relief begins a lively firefight breaks out, wounding three and causing four to go missing. Consequently, the relief is postponed until the next day.

  • Recorded losses for the regiment on 22 September are 3 wounded and four missing. The casualties recorded in the JMO include:
    Wounded: 5 Co. - Sdts. Pionat, Touchet. Medic Aux. Meyniard.
    Missing: 5 Co - Sdts. Hautefeuille, Quinet, Cressent, Boquet.

    The relief begins at 0500 hrs on 23 September, 3 Bat. followed by 1 Bat. and then 2 Bat. The itinerary for the day will be Mourmelon-le-Petit, Livry, Petites Loges, Villiers [-Marmery], Verzy, Mailly [-Champagne], Ludes, Chigny, Rilly-la-Montagne. The regiment proceeds as inconspicuously as possible back to Mourmelon-le-Petit. At 0700 hrs it forms up in column behind the engineers, with the 2 Bat. providing two companies for the rear-guard. At 1430 hrs, Commander Monphous instructs the regiment to proceed on to Ludes and then toward Bois Puisieulx. Behind the woods the regiment is to form up, 3rd and 1 Bats. In line, 2 Bat. in reserve. There is to be a general attack on the positions at Berru (east of Reims). For the evening though, the regiment is billeted at Montbré. The 151 has marched about 30 km on this day.

    The regiment's area of operations, 23-30 Sept. 1914.

    24 September: At 0500 hrs, the regiment moves behind the Romont park facing to the north. The time set for the general attack is 0700hrs. By 0645, the regiment is formed up, with the 1 Bat. on the right, 2 Bat. on the left, 3 Bat. in reserve. The advance begins at 0715 hrs, with the 1 Bat. moving in the direction of the roadway heading to a windmill 600 meter east of Petit Sillery, 2 Bat. moving toward Les Puits, Ferme Bellevue, Petit Sillery. At 1000 hrs, 2 Bat. is to the north of the railway (presumably below Puisieulx) and comes upon the trenches of Colonel Madelon’s group. Two companies from each battalion (4 Co. and 7 Co.) are reserved at the disposition of Madelon. At 1600 hrs, a general attack is made by the six remaining companies and continues into the night. During their advance, the companies come under German infantry and artillery fire and sustain light losses. 3 Bat. is sent to the Ferme d’Ésperance (2.5 km southwest of Prunay, on the Reims – Chalons Road) then to the Ferme des Marquises where it remains at the disposition of the 162 RI.

  • Recorded losses for the regiment on 24 September are 8 killed, 48 wounded, 1 missing. However a report in the regimental records put the figures at 14 killed and 60 wounded. These are sustained entirely by the 3 Co. and 4 Co. The casualties recorded in the JMO include:
    Killed: 3 Co. – Sdts. Coupet, Rotencier. 4 Co. – Tambour (drummer) Georges, Sdts. Simeon, Mangeart, Ringenbach, Duquenoy, Martin.
    Wounded: 3 Co. – Adj. Orbichon, Sgts. G_, Leroy, Guin, Cpl-four. Martin (7613), Sdts. Billard, Dumont, Dubois, Martin (01087), Carpentier, Cathelain, Mausuy, Cailleux, Monier, Dhermy, Desimeur, Martin, Charlot, Bervier, Taban, Nivelle, Pizel. 4 Co. – Adj. Le Forestier, Sgt. Lesage, Cpl-four. Plon, Cpls. Pion, Chassaing, Ferlin, Sdts. Delille, Boitelle, LeBail, Rouyer, Hasse, Drinkebyer, Cosé, Gall, Salbé, Baudum, Boorn, Gaudefroy, Plisson, Collin, Delan, Brillet, Devandome, Brancardier (stretcher-br.) Birlu, Brancardier Lobjoie.
    Missing: 3 Co. - Franchette.

    25 September: General attack retaken at 0800 hrs. Very little progression is made under intense enemy artillery and infantry fire. At the end of the day, the regiment has advanced only 200 meters. All companies are in line.

  • Combined losses for the evening attack of 24 September and the day of 25 September come to 65 killed and 193 wounded, including three officers: MM Algaron, Sous-Lieut. Olivier, Sous-Lieut. Siusse. The figures vary slightly compared to those in regimental reports, which put the losses for 25 Sept. alone 38 killed and 103 wounded (making the combined two-day loss of 52 killed and 163 wounded).The casualties are sustained almost entirely by the 3 Co. The casualties recorded in the JMO include:
    Killed: 12 Co. – Sdt. Lablaine. 3 Co. – Sgt. Fenaux, Cap. Solari. Sdts. Dehennault, Lepetitdidier, Cardon, Cauchy, Blin, Gauthier.
    Wounded: 3 Co. – Sgt. Delwardre, Caps. Pinette, Hautier. Sdts. St. Vannes, Chenot, Fontaine, Demelle, Noiret, Rawey, Gogny, Charton, Ricros, Gauthier (7761), Crochemore, Simon, Robin, Lagny, Hénon, Maréchal, Fontaine, Fout. 12 Co. – Sdts. Godet, Bouffet. 10 Co. – Cap. Lienard, Sdt. Dellart.

    26 September: The general attack is is resumed at 0800 hrs but because of the intensity of the German artillery fire that last all day, the regiment's progression is almost nil. At 1930 hrs, the Germans launch a counter-attack but are repulse with significant losses.

  • Recorded losses for the regiment on 26 September 1914 include 12 killed, 35 wounded, and 1 missing, including Reserve Sous-Lieut. M. Dumont who is lightly wounded. However, a report in the regiment records puts the number much higher, at 38 killed and 104 wounded. The casualties recorded in the JMO include:
    Killed: 3 Co. – Sdts. Beaudeux, Cosnier, Walle, Deharbe. 6 Co. Sdt. Billy and unknown (7204).
    Wounded: 3 Co. - Sdts. Delettre, Boucly, Couchy, Derible, Buquet, Huchez, Legrand. 6 Co. Sdts. Vasseur, Oudin. 10 Co. Sgt. Blanchet, Sdts. Croissier, Cambiez, Grenier, Brun.
    Missing: 10 Co. Sdt. Gillet.

    27 September: Situation unchanged. Losses during the course of the night attack were significant. The 3 Bat. in reserve of the division bivouaced to the southeast of Puisieux after having fighting near Ferme de Marquises where it suffered 1 killed and 37 wounded, including Capitaine Willaume. At 1600 hrs the attack had still made no progress. Violent bombardment between 1500 and 1600 hrs by the German artillery. The night is quiet.

  • Combined losses for the regiment on 27 September 1914 come to 14 killed and 24 wounded. The casualties recorded in the JMO include:
    5 Co. - Killed: Adjudant Hilaire Theophile. Sgt.-Fourrier Jeannot Fourrier.

    28 September: situation unchanged. 2 Bat. falls under the command of Colonel Madelon (Zouaves). Measures are taken at night to sort out the mixing of units which has prevailed in the last few days. The companies remain in position, though local attacks continue. One of those wounded is Cpl. Charles Salomon, who had managed to rejoin the 151. Salomon was shot in the right arm while attacking an enemy trench. He also suffered an injury to his left eye from a shower of gravel projected by a shell fragment, as well as abrasions his hands that would turn into infected blisters. In the evening he is sent to Chalons and then to Rodez where he arrives late in the night. There he would remain in convalescence until December.

  • Recorded losses for the regiment on 28 September 1914 include to 1 killed and 4 wounded. Regimental records puts the figure at 6 killed and 27 wounded.

    29 September: During the night there is a lively fusillade from 2300 hrs to 0100 hrs. During the day, the 3 Bat. relieves the 2 Bat. Officers take advantage of this time to help reorder the mixed units. 1 Bat. is relieved by the zouaves.

  • Recorded losses for the regiment on 29 September 1914 include to 3 killed and 1 wounded.

    30 September: During the night there are several fusilades along the front. Starting in the morning, the regiment sends out companies to attack Sillery but no progress can be made. An entire section of the 10 Co. is almost entirely wiped out with 9 killed and 8 wounded out of 23 men). Orders are given to suspend all attacks. Sdt. Jules Caron would be wounded in this terrible attack. He records:

    German howitzers rain down intermittently...The night [29-30 September] remains "calm"...The wait seems endless. During the night a fusillade erupts along the whole front, keeping the men from sleeping.

    At dawn the troops get ready. The atmosphere is becomes heavy. We check our packs, our equipment. At 0800 hrs the order to attack is transmitted to the 151st Infantry Regiment, the assault on the small town of Sillery is imminent. But the Germans had fortified their entrenchments. The throat tightens up, the saliva dries up, then the clicking of weapons, the sliding of bayonets coming out of their scabbards. The heart feels ready to burst, no one speaks. The officer looks at his watch, and gives the signal to attack. The men rush forward, the enemy machine-guns clatter, we run breathlessly, whistling bullets drill into bodies, shells burst, destroying men, tearing flesh, causing horrible wounds.

    Before the enemy, we cram behind the first sign of any shelter, shell-hole, tree. The noise is deafening. Suddenly I feel a pain, like a lash from a whip, a warm sensation. Blood is flows, I've been wounded.

    At 1030 hrs orders are given to start up an intense fusillade across the entire front. The cannonade redoubles and drowned out the groans of the wounded bathed in their blood, calling out, waiting for help. For some a slow agony of dying alone, for others a sudden jolt followed by the stillness of death. Around 1200 hrs the attack was suspended, no progress was made. The soldiers have to dig in in the positions acquired. Some companies have been almost completely destroyed.

    Caron would recuperate from his wound and return to the relocated 151 RI depot at Quimper. He would then be assigned to the 148 RI in March 1915.

  • The losses for the regiment on 30 September 1914 come to 12 killed and 24 wounded. A regimental report made on this date put the combined losses from 25-30 September at 63 killed and 210 wounded. The casualties recorded in the JMO include:

    10 Co. - Killed: Cap. Francais, Sdts. Laiseaux, Parmetier, Payen, Delatour, Lajoy, Cochemare, Hamouy, Chapron. Wounded: Cap. Goeb, Sdts. Dubois (6961), Deltouibe, Brasseur, Dubois (076), Devaux, Pringault, Maillart (012313). 12 Co. - Killed: Cap. Hellard. Wounded: Sdts. Tierce, Charlier. 3 Co. - Wounded: Sgt. Bienaimé, Cap. Chemineau, Tambour (drummer) Breant, Sdts. Caron, Lavisse, Fetrot.

  • Thus, total losses for the regiment from 24-30 September 1914 are 446, including 115 killed.

    1-9 October: Quiet along the front with only parsimonious rifle and artillery fire, save for 1700 hrs when the German artillery becomes active. In order to allow for one division on the front to pull off the line, orders arrive to extend the regiment's sectors and relieve certain groups on the front line. A new repartitioning of forces and sectors is made with reliefs being carried out throughout the night, which includes the 151 displacing to the west. The regiment is once again placed back under the orders of Colonel Deville (84 BI). To its right are a group of zouaves, tirailleurs, and Senegalese under the orders of Lieut-Colonel Madelon, and to its left is the 83 BI.

    Citations in the orders of the regiment: Adj. Laforestier, Cap. Berthoud, Telephoniste Bombled, and two Brancardiers (stretcher-bearers) of the 4 Co.

    In the night of 1-2 October, the relief was carried out in the following order: 3 Bat. remained in place (resting along two roads) save 9 Co., which went to the (Petit Sillery) train station at the head of the bridge around 0400 hrs, after relieving the Senegalese. 2 Bat. relieved at 2100 hrs by the 94 RI alongside the Cambrai Road. 1 Bat. relieved at 0400 hrs by the battalion of Senegalese though the 3 Co. and 4 Co. were only able to relieve two companies of the 94 RI to the left of 1 Bat at 0500 hrs. By morning, the 151 has nine companies on line. 1 Co. and 2 Co. still remain at Petit Sillery.

    3 October is quiet with only some light skirmishing at night. The next several days are spent with the battalions alternating between active duty in the trenches and off-duty in reserve of the lines. On 5 October, Adj. Hilaire and Sgt. Chevallier (both of 5 Co.) killed on 25 September are cited in the orders of the division (O No. 25). Lieut. Gries rejoins the unit (assigned to 1 Bat.), followed the next day by Lieut. Tison.

    Citation in the orders of the regiment: 1 Section of the 10 Co., which had been decimated in its attack on 30 September.

    The period from the middle of September to the middle of October proved extremely trying for the regiment. Exhausting marches and near-constant fighting took their toll on the ranks. In eighteen days the regiment had suffered nearly 500 casualties. On 7 October, the order of operations for the 9 CA are rescinded. The combined CA will pass to V Army. The units are to shift to the west to the borders of Reims. The 151 will be relieved by elements of the Moroccan Division, which is carried out the following night. The JMO notes that Sgt. Charoy is awarded a medal but does not specify which one is bestowed. A request is sent to the regimental depot to send a reinforcement of 2 sergent-majors, 4 fourriers (quarter-masters), 10 sergents, 50 caporals, and 500 men, as well as all available officers. In the evening of 9 October, the battalions move up into their new positions near Cormontreuil, Champfleur, and Faubourg de Vesle. The next several days are spent with the various battalions of the regiment relieving and being relieved in the first line positions.

  • Combined losses for the regiment for 1-9 October come to 8 killed and 15 wounded. The following is a daily breakdown of the casualties:
    2 October: 1 killed (Sdt. Gérard - 7 Co.) and 1 wounded
    3 October: 1 killed and 3 wounded (incl. Sgt. Guimontheil and Sdt. Beck)
    4 October: 2 killed and 2 wounded
    5 October: 1 killed (Sdt. Fillion) and 1 wounded (Sdt. Péter) (both of 6 Co.)
    7 October: 4 wounded
    8 October: 1 (sgt.) killed and 1 wounded
    9 October: 2 killed (Sdts. David, Beauvais) and 3 wounded (Sdts. Léonard, Delaporte, Lot) (all from 7 Co.)

  • Though the post-Marne operations do not fall neatly under any one defining battle, nonetheless the period from the middle of September to the middle of October proved extremely trying for the regiment. Exhausting marches and near-constant fighting took their toll on the ranks. In eighteen days the regiment had suffered nearly 500 casualties.

    13-18 October: As part of a general attack by the V Army that begins the day before, 1 Bat/151 RI will move in support of the 162 RI by advancing to Moulin du Wrilly and St. Léonard bridge, and occupying trenches there. It is joined the next day by the 2 Bat. remaining in support at Cormontreuil. 3 Bat. reimains at Faubourg Dieu Lumiere. Another request is sent to the regimental depot asking for a 500-man reinforcement. On the same day, four officers rejoin their units: Lieut. Ritter, and Sous-Lieuts. Vincent, Antoine, and Teysserenc. Lieuts. Savary, Rosse, and Bourlais (sp?), temporarily promoted to captains on 1 October, are officially confirmed. Little movement is made for the next several days.

    On 16 October, a special request is made to the regimental depot for 6 capitaines and 10 lieutenants. The regiment is also informed that the entire 42 DI will be transferred to another sector the following night. They will be heading to Dunkirk to the Pas-de-Calais At 1400 hrs, a war counsel is held for Sdt. Renaudin, who is sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for desertion. The next day the 151 makes its preparations to leave the sector (it will be relieved by the 51 DR) and during the night, the battalions move to the rear. In the morning of 18 October, the battalions set off, passing during the day from Dizy-Magenta, to Oiry, Montchenote, Epernay, and Chouilly

    Last PageNext Page