The Turning Of The Tide
: Winning A Cause World War Stories
A division of marines and other American troops were rushed to the
front as a desperate measure to try and stop a gap where flesh and
blood, even when animated by French heroism, seemed incapable of
further resistance. They came in trucks, in cattle cars, by any
conceivable kind of conveyance, crowded together like sardines. They
had had little food, and less sleep, for days.
When they arrived, the situ
tion had become such that the French
command advised, indeed ordered, them to retire. But they and their
brave general would not hear of it. They disembarked almost upon the
field of battle and rushed forward, with little care for orthodox
battle order, without awaiting the arrival of their artillery, which
had been unable to keep up with their rapid passage to that front.
They stormed ahead, right through the midst of a retreating French
division, yelling like wild Indians, ardent, young, irresistible in
their fury of battle. Some of the Frenchmen called out a well-meant
warning: Don't go in this direction. There are the boches with
machine guns. They shouted back:
That's where we want to go. That's where we have come three thousand
miles to go. And they did go, into the very teeth of the deadly
machine guns. In defiance of all precedent they stormed, with rifle
and bayonet in frontal attack, against massed machine guns.
They threw themselves upon the victory-flushed Huns to whom this
unconventional kind of fierce onset came as a complete and
disconcerting surprise. They fought like demons, with utterly reckless
bravery. They paid the price, alas! in heavy losses, but for what they
paid they took compensation in over-full measure.
They formed of themselves a spearhead at the point nearest Paris,
against which the enemy's onslaught shattered itself and broke. They
stopped the Hun, they beat him back, they broke the spell of his
advance. They started victory on its march.
A new and unspent and mighty force had come into the fray. And the Hun
knew it to his cost and the French knew it to their unbounded joy. The
French turned. Side by side the Americans and the French stood, and on
that part of the front the Germans never advanced another inch from
that day. They held for a while, and then set in the beginning of the
I was in Paris when the news of the American achievement reached the
population. They knew full well what it meant. The danger was still
present, but the crisis was over. The boche could not break through.
He could and would be stopped and ultimately thrown back, out of
France, out of Belgium, across the Rhine and beyond!
The aid for which the sorely beset people of France had been praying,
had arrived. The Americans had come, young, strong, daring, eager to
fight, capable of standing up against and stopping and beating back
German shock troops specially selected and trained, and spurred on by
the belief in their own irresistibility and the exhaustion of their
opponents. The full wave of the hideous instruments of warfare which
the devilish ingenuity of the Germans had invented, liquid fire,
monstrous shells, various kinds of gases including the horrible mustard
gas, had struck the Americans squarely and fully, and they had stood
and fought on and won.
The French, so calm in their trials, so restrained in their own
victories, gave full vent to their joy and enthusiasm at the splendid
fighting and success of the Americans. The talk of them was everywhere
in Paris. Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers already in
France, thousands coming upon every steamer, millions more to come if
needed--and they had shown the great stuff they were made of! All
gloom vanished, overnight. The full magnificence of the French
fighting morale shone out again--both behind the lines and at the
front. Ils ne passeront pas! On les aura. 
And the Bolshevik-Socialists, Boloists, weak-kneed pacifists, and that
whole noisome tribe slunk back into their holes and corners and hiding
places, and never emerged again.
And, as the people of Paris and the poilus at the front correctly
interpreted the meaning of that battle in those early days of June, so
did the supreme military genius of Marshal Foch interpret it. He knew
what the new great fighting force could do which had come under his
orders, and he knew what he meant to do and could do with it. It is an
eloquent fact that when six weeks later he struck his great master
stroke which was to lead ultimately to the utter defeat and collapse of
the enemy, American troops formed the larger portion of an attacking
force which, being thrown against a particularly vital position, was
meant to deal and did deal the most staggering blow to the enemy; and
other American troops were allotted the place which from the paramount
responsibility attaching to it, may be termed the place of honor, in
the center of the line, in immediate defense of the approaches to Paris.
They made good there--officers and men alike. They made good
everywhere, from Cantigny to Sedan. They made good on land, on the
seas, and in the air; worthy comrades of the war-seasoned heroes of
France and Great Britain, worthy defenders of American honor, eager
artisans of American glory. When for the first time the American army
went into action as a separate unit under the direct command of its
great chief, General Pershing, Marshal Foch allotted them ten days for
the accomplishment of the task set for them, i.e., the ejection of the
German army from the strongly fortified St. Mihiel salient, which the
enemy had held for four years. They did it in thirty hours, and made a
complete and perfect job of it.
I have had the privilege of seeing these splendid boys of ours, in all
situations and circumstances, from their camps in America to the front
in France--the boys and their equally splendid leaders. The sacred
inspiration of what I have thus seen will stay with me to my last day.
I confess I find it hard to speak of them without a catch in my throat
and moisture in my eyes. I see them before me now in the fair land of
France--brave, strong, ardent; keen and quick-witted; kindly and clean
and modest and wholly free from boasting; good-humored and
good-natured; willingly submissive to unaccustomed discipline;
uncomplainingly enduring all manner of hardships and discomforts;
utterly contemptuous of danger, daring to a fault, holding life cheap
for the honor and glory of America. What true American can think of
them or picture them without having his heart overflow with grateful
and affectionate pride?
As I observed our army over there, I felt that in them, in the mass
of them, representing as they do all sections and callings of America,
there had returned the ancient spirit of knighthood. I measure my
words. I am not exaggerating. If I had to find one single word with
which to characterize our boys, I should select the adjective
A French officer who commanded a body of French troops, fighting
fiercely and almost hopelessly in Belleau Wood near Chateau-Thierry
(since then officially designated by the French Government as the Wood
of the Marine Brigade), told me that when they had arrived almost at
the point of total exhaustion, suddenly the Americans appeared rushing
to the rescue. One of the American officers hurried up to him, saluted
and said in execrably pronounced French just six words:
Vous--fatigues, vous--partir, notre job. You--tired, you--get away,
our job. And right nobly did they do their job!
 They shall not pass! We will get them.
Almost every soldier who goes into battle leaves a letter to be read in
the event of his death. Sturgis (Spud) Pishon, a former famous
college athlete, serving in the American air forces in Italy, before
his fatal flight wrote this letter, so full of the strength and
simplicity of a great soldier:
What little I have to give to my country I give without reservation.
If there ever was a righteous cause it is ours, and I am proud to have
worked and died for it.
Pray God this war will be over soon and that it will be the last war.
I leave you with a smile on my lips and a heart full of love for you
all. God bless you and keep you.