Campaign History of the 151e Régiment d'Infanterie - XXIV
~ 1917 ~
Recuperation and Training Americans (15 September - 30 December)
15-25 September: The 2 Bat. (save, 6 Co. and 2 MG Co.), the CHR, and the regimental staff are transported to Maxey-sur-Vaise. The day after, 6 Co. and 2 MG Co. rejoin their battalions at Maxey. On 17 Sept., the regiment sets up in its billets. Médecin-Major Judet de la Combe returns after being previously evacuated. On the morning of 19 Sept., each battalion performs a prise d’armes and croix de guerre are awarded. On 22 Sept., the regiment is transported in trucks to the area around Neufchâteau (Vosges), with the regimental staff and 1 Bat. taken to St. Blin, the 2 Bat. at Vesaignes-sous-Lafauche, and 3 Bat. at Manois.
26 September: Commander-in-Chief General Pétain arrives at St. Blin to decorate soldiers of the 151. All regimental officers are presented to the general along with four men chosen among those having obtained multiple citations. Pétain awarded the Croix de la Légion d’Honneur to Sgt. Maurice Caillet (class of 1916) of the 1 MG Co. for his actions on 8 Sept. 1917, when he and his gun crew were encircled by a large German force, which Caillet held off using grenades and his revolver. He went on to take 30 prisoners including 2 German officers, as well as an enemy machine-gun. Even after being seriously wounded, Caillet continued to advance and refused to allow himself to be evacuated. Previously cited three times. General Pétain also awarded the Médaille Militaire to Adjudant-Chef Aleandre of the CHR, Adjudant Goëb of 11 Co., and brancardier Hénon of 6 Co.
27-30 September: On 28 Sept., a period of training and instruction begins. Capt. Ste. Croix returns after being previously evacuated and takes command of 7 Co. On 30 Sept., Lieut. Caudal returns after being previously evacuated and takes command of 5 Co. A large portion of the troop is given furlough at this time.
1 October - 7 November: The entire effective that still remains behind after the departure of the furloughmen is formed into four companies in one battalion to participate in a defile with American troops at Neufchâteau. A warm welcome is given to the regiment, which defiles in perfect order and impeccable dress. On 6 October, the regiment commences a new period of specialist training, including grenade throwing, VB rifle grenade launchers, fusil-mitrailleuse (automatic-rifle), Stokes mortar, and 37 mm cannon. This training will continue until the first week of November, serving not just instill the latest military weaponry and tactics but also in preparation for the regiment’s upcoming special mission: the training of newly arrived American troops. On 3 October, a detachment of reinforcements of 600 troops arrives from the Divisional Depot comprised of:
On 8 October, a detachment of reinforcements of 2 coporaux and 49 men arrives from the Centre d’Instruction Divisionaire (CID). At the same time, the following officers arrived with the reinforcements:
Lieut. Le Tollec – previously wounded, assigned to 37 mm gun platoon.
Lieut. Auriac – assigned to 3 Co.
Lieut. Michel – assigned to 10 Co.
Sous-Lieut. Métais – assigned to 9 Co.
Sous-Lieut. Beldame – assigned to 9 Co.
Sous-Lieut. Noël – assigned to 11 Co.
Sous-Lieut. Cabillié – assigned to 1 MG Co.
Sous-Lieut. Pluvinage coming from the 267 RI is assigned to 6 Co.
Capt. Vignes coming from the Centre d’Instruction Physique at Jouville is made Adjudant-Major of 2 Bat.
Sous-Lieut. Gunot (11 Co.) is put at the disposition of the air service.
During this period, a series of promotions are made. Sgt-Major Brum, Aspirant Gatin, Adjs. Fontaine and Sevin are brevetted as sous-lieutenants. Sous-Lieuts. Dressaire, Nicot, Cabillic, Spaenlé, Duclos, Roger, and Chiarelli are promoted to lieutenant. Lieuts. Adam, Correaux, Baillat, and Doumax [sp?], Lecointe, Dusmenil, and Choisie are promoted to their rank definitively. Lieuts. Cauredon is promoted to capitaine. Lieut. de Mondion is promoted to the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur on 19 October, while Sous-Lieut. L’Huillier is promoted to the same rank on 5 November.
On 15 October, the 151 is reviewed by Maréchal Joffre and the American General John Pershing as it marches through the western entrance of Saint Blin. On 29 October, a detachment of reinforcements of 9 sergents, 10 caporaux and 165 men arrives from the Centre d’Instruction Divisionaire (CID). Another detachment of 1 sergent and 52 men arrives on 4 November. On 7 November, the regiment receives orders to make preparations to depart their billets the next day.
8-10 November: The regimental staff, CHR and 2 Bat. are transported in trucks to an area southwest of Neufchâteau to carry out the regiment’s special mission of training American troops. The staff and CHR are billeted at Gendreville and the 2 Bat. at Jainvillotte. The day after, 1 and 3 Bats. are transported in turn to their new billets. The 1 Bat. is taken to Médouville (with 1 MG Co. at Molaincourt) while 3 Bat. is taken to Saint Ouen-les-Paré. On 10 November, the battalion leaders of the instruction polygon hold a conference while the men spend the day cleaning their equipment and uniforms. Lieut. Lecointe (previously evacuated) returns to take command of 2 Co.
11-30 November First meeting with the American officers. The 2 Bat. is tasked with training the US 104th Infantry Regiment, while the 3 Bat. is tasked with training the US 5th Marines Regiment. Instruction of the American troops begins the next day and will continue uninterrupted until 30 December. The training covers the roles of the various specialists, mainly hand grenadiers, signalers, and pioneers, as well as training on the Hotchkiss machine-gun, the Chauchat fusil-mitrailleuse, and Viven-Bessières (VB) rifle grenade launcher. The 2 Bat. creates a grenadiers polygon on the plateau west of Jainviollotte. The year’s final detachment of reinforcements will arrive on 15 November, composed of 12 sergents, 21 caporaux and 12 men arrives from the Centre d’Instruction Divisionaire (CID). Sous-Lieut. Roger coming from the 267 RI is assigned to 3 MG Co.
On 16 November, the training for the 5th Marines focuses on the combat of the company, while the 104th IR continues to cover specialists exercises. The next day, 1 Bat. begins to creates a mock sector of entrenchments (replete with trenches, boyaux, and shelters) at the western entrance of Saint Ouen, which will be occupied by American troops. The 3 Co. uses the day to train Americans as the 1 MG Co. is tasked with the instruction of a machine-gun company of the US 103rd RI. On 25 November, 3 Bat. finishes its specialist instruction and combat of the company for the 5th Marines. Two days later, it will begin instruction on the combat of the battalion for their American counter-parts. On 27 and 28 November respectively, Capt. Wébanck returns after being previously evacuated and takes command of 1 MG Co., and Sous-Lieut. Pailler coming from the CID is assigned to 11 Co. Work continues on the mock sector at Saint Ouen, with pioneers from the 5th Marines and 104th IR assisting in the work.
1-31 December: On 1 December, 2 Bat. finishes its specialist instruction for the 104th IR. The next day the 3 Bat. conducts battalion maneuvers with the 5th Marines based on a plan of engagement designed by Cmdt. Le Boulanger. On 5 December, 2 Bat. begins the instruction on the combat of the company for the 104th IR and on 6, 3 Bat. conducts attack exercises with the 5th Marines. The 1 Bat. continues its work on the training polygon during the first week of December. On 7 December, Lieut. Guillot returns after being previously evacuated and takes command of 6 Co., while Sous-Lieut Beldaine is transferred to the 302 RI. On 11 December, 3 Bat. conducts attack exercises and “passage of lines” with the 5th Marines. On 15 December, the 2 Bat. finishes its instruction of the combat of the section for the 104th IR and begins the instruction of the combat of the company. The following day, 3 Bat. leads the 5th Marines through attack on an “island of resistance.”
On 21 December, the 151 along with other units of the 69 DI participated in division maneuvers and an attack on an enemy position. The 151 forms the right wing of the division. On 22 December, the normal instruction resumes. In the mock sector at Saint Ouen, 2 Co. occupies the entrenchments and is relieved at night by a company of the 5th Marines. On 26 December, 2 Bat. finishes its instruction of the combat of the company with the 104th IR and begins instruction on the combat of the battalion. On 27 December, 2 Co. again takes up the mock sector and is relieved by a company of the 5th Marines at night. From there on, a company of Americans will carry out successive reliefs every 24 hours. On 29 December, 3 Bat. finishes its instruction for the 5th Marines and on the next day, specialist training is completed.
Noted here separately are a series of promotions made during this period. In mid-November, Sous-Lieuts. J. Desmarchelier, Diévart, Dressaire, and Damon are promoted to their rank definitively. Lieut. L. Desmarchelier is promoted to his rank definitively. During the month of December, Sous-Lieuts. Adam, Auriac, Beaumont, Doumax, Caudal, Delamay, Métayer, Pluvinage, and Diévart are promoted to lieutenant definitively. Lieuts. Donsimoni, Métais, and Chiarelli (all previously breveted) are promoted to their rank definitively. Lieuts. Gautret, St. Denis, and Coudezorgues (7 Co.) are promoted to captain definitively. On 20 December, Sous-Lieut. Gelin Guy (11 Co.) is promoted to the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, and On 24 December, Cmdt. Martin is promoted to lieutenant-colonel.