<– Part 205 – June 23, 1918 | Part 206 – June 30, 1918 | Part 207 – July 7, 1918

On June 26, the US Marines at Belleau Woods finally captured the woods after six attacks, and in turn fought off 5 divisions of German counter-attackers, often reduced to bayonets and hand-to-hand fighting. The Marine commander’s report of the victory said simply, “Woods now U.S. Marine Corps entirely.” The Marines suffered 9,800 casualties, including 1,800 killed; German losses are unknown other than 1,600 prisoners. They have received high praise from the other Allied powers, including receiving the French Croix de guerre and praise from the Germans for their “vigorous, confident, skilled marksmen.”

In Persia, Armenian forces have attacked several Ottoman-held cities, but have been repulsed at each attempt.

<– Part 204 – June 16, 1918 | Part 205 – June 23, 1918 | Part 206 – June 30, 1918

Italian forces after the battle

At the Piave, Italian forces counter-attacked the weakened Austro-Hungarian flanks on June 19, further crushing the lines in that area. Westward, Austro-Hungarian forces continue assaulting the Italian lines, despite suffering heavy casualties ever time. On June 20, Emperor Karl, who had taken personal command of the forces, ordered their retreat; by the 23, the Italians had retaken all territory south of the river. Despite encouragement by the other Allied powers to press the advantage, the Italian general recognized that his strength on defense would become a weakness on the attack, as the Austro-Hungarian failure had shown.

In the Caucasus, the German Expedition continues advancing with the Turks’ Islamic Army of the Caucasus towards northwestern Persia.


<– Part 203 – June 9, 1918 | Part 204 – June 16, 1918 | Part 205 – June 23, 1918

Italian machine gun position near Cand, awaiting the expected Austro-Hungarian attack.

The morning of June 10 saw the US Marines at Belleau Wood advance north into the forest, facing intense opposition, while another battalion attack from the west the early morning of June 11. This battalion, advancing along the wrong axis, was caught in interlocking machine gun fire, but was able to roll the Germans’ southern trench. One German private, seeing three-quarters of his company wiped out, remarked, “We have Americans opposite us who are terribly reckless fellows.” The Americans have resorted to much hand-to-hand and bayonet combat.

At Matz, on June 11, the German Spring Offensive’s latest thrust was crushed by a sudden French counter-attack, catching them by surprise (as it had no preceding artillery bombardment). The German attack was called off the following day, despite advancing 10 miles along a 23-mile front. The Allies suffered 35,000 casualties to the Germans’ 35,000.

Another Czech government in Russia was formed on June 13, the Provisional Siberian Government, at Omsk.

In Italy, the past few months have seen innovations on both sides, and the Austro-Hungarians prepared to launch an attack across the entire front at the Piave River on June 15. However, the Italians, having learned the exact time of the Austrian attack, launched a huge artillery bombardment on the packed enemy trenches 30 minutes before the jumping off. Despite, this, Austrian forces on the Adriatic coast crossed the Piave and secured a bridgehead 5 miles deep and 15 miles wide, before being pushed back towards the river. Subsequent Italian artillery destroyed the bridges on Piave, leaving the Austrians isolated. This, coupled with the easy targets for Italian riflemen, led the Austrians to attempt to flee back across the river – a river so swollen with flooding that an estimated 20,000 Austro-Hungarians drowned attempting to swim back. Just west of this, Austrian forces towards Vicenza made some advances, but also were halted by Italian resistance, losing 40,000 in that sector. The Austrian attack seems doomed to fail.

The German Caucasus Expedition arrived at Tiflis, Georgia, June 10, holding a military parade, and rallying recently-released German prisoners from Russia, with colonists who had settled the area in the mid-19th century. The Turks responsed with an attack on Vorontsovka, with the Germans threatening a complete withdrawal of their forces from the empire. The Ottoman force in Persia defeated Armenian resistance near Dilman June 15, though the overall Turkish thrust must now shift from north to northeast.

<– Part 202 – June 2, 1918 | Part 203 – June 9, 1918 | Part 204 – June 16, 1918

Belleau Wood, June 6

Ernest A. Janson

A US tanker, the Herbert L. Pratt, was damaged by a mine laid by U-151, on June 3.

With the Ottoman forces still within striking range of their capital, the Treaty of Batum was signed June 4 between the Turks and the First Republic of Armenia, Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Georgia. The Ottomans received several areas of free passage, allowing railroads to be built between strategic areas. Germany, meanwhile, has dispatched an Expedition to the Caucasus to secure oil wells from falling into the hands of either Russia or the Turks.

Germans forces were within 35 miles of Paris on June 3, but fatigue, lack of reinforcements, and supply issues forced them to halt their advance June 6, having suffered 130,000 casualties to the Allies’ 127,000. On June 9, yet another massive offensive, “Gneisenau,” was launched at Matz, but the Allies were ready, having learned of it from German prisoners. The Germans, nonetheless, show signs of rapid advancement in the south.

At Belleau Wood, the US Marines were attacked June 3 but waited until the Germans were within 100 yards to open fire, cutting down multiple waves of enemy soldiers and forcing them to retreat and try again. The Marines have repelled numerous German attacks for several days. The Allies counter-attacked June 6, and, despite failing to adequately scout, and advancing by bayonet across an open field, taking horrific casualties from German machine guns, the Marines took their target – Hill 142 – and have held it. In a counter-attack by the Germans, one Gunnery Sergeant, Ernest A. Janson, spotted 12 Germans crawling towards his position, five of whom had light machine guns. Shouting a warning to his group, he charged them, bayonetted the two officers, and forced the rest to abandon their weapons and flee. He has been nominated for two Medals of Honor – one each by the Army and Navy – making him the first Marine to receive it.

Daniel Daly

The Black Watch in trenches at Arsuf after the fighting

That evening, the Marines were ordered to take the Belleau Wood in the second phase of the attack. Again crossing through an open field, swept by machine gun fire, Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly, a two-time Medal of Honor recipient for actions in the China Relief in 1901, and the US Invasion of Haiti in 1915, shouted to his men, “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” Despite again taking heavy casualties – the most in Marine history – they took their position on the south of the wood.
By the night of June 7/8, both sides were exhausted, and attacks had failed. To break the German defense in the wood, a massive artillery bombardment on the woods devasted the forest.

On June 8, in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, British forces took two observation hills at Arsuf from the Ottomans, repelling two counter-attacks, thus providing the Allies with an observation post to see the Turkish rear, and denying the Turks the same.

In Persia, the Ottoman forces recaptured Tabriz. The rebelling Czechoslovak Legion continues occupying Russian cities, defeating Red Guards near Samara, and forming an anti-Bolshevik government there on June 8.


<– Part 201 – May 26, 1918 | Part 202 – June 2, 1918 | Part 203 – June 9, 1918

Battle of Cantigny


Soldiers of the Worcestershire Regiment on the south bank of the Aisne, May 27

The Armenians have scored a stunning victory against the Ottoman Empire. At Sardarabad, an Armenian force flanked the entrenched Turks May 27 and attacked them from the rear, forcing a full rout by May 29. This was matched with a similar Ottoman withdrawal at Abaran the same day, and a victory at Karakilisa May 28 (although Ottoman forces were able to enter the town and massacre all 4,000 inhabitants). The Armenian National Council declared the independence of the first Republic of Armenia on May 30 (retroactively dated to May 28).


German forces launched an enormous offensive at Aisne, the third of the war, on May 27, with an artillery bombardment from over 4,000 guns. The British had heavy losses, as reluctance to evacuate the target of the bombardment, the Chemin des Dames Ridge (held by Germany from 1914-1917), was captured last year in the 2nd Battle of the Aisne. The forces were ordered to huddle in the forward trenches. This was followed by a poison gas drop, and then 17 Strumtruppen divisions attacked as soon as the gas lifted. They advanced 25 miles in less than 6 hours, reaching the river Aisne, surprising rear forces, and taking another 9 miles in certain sectors by the end of the day. By May 30, they had captured 50,000 Allied soldiers, and are nearly 40 miles from Paris today.

Positions at the 2nd Battle of the Marne. Belleau Wood is in the south-west quadrant.


May 28 saw American forces’ first major battle, at Cantigny. the U.S. 28th Regiment, 1st Division launched out of their trenches at 06:45, following an hour of artillery bombardment on a small German salient, with a rolling barrage of 100 meters every 2 minutes suppressing German defenders. French forces provided much-needed air support, artillery, mortars, tanks, and flamethrowers. The American forces took their objectives within a half hour and continued to their final objective from there. A German counterattack at 8:30 was stopped, but German artillery harried them all day. A large German counterattack at 17:10 was halted by Major Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and other counterattacks the following hours and days similarly repulsed. The German salient was reduced, and the American front advanced a mile. The American suffered 1,603 casualties (199 killed) in their force of 4,000, with the Germans suffering 1,400, with another 250 captured. The Americans have proven their worth in Europe.

In Greece, the newly-formed Army of National Defense saw its first action at Skra on May 30. After a day’s artillery bombardment, Allied forces took the town from Bulgarians, and held it from that evening through May 31. The Allied suffered 2,800 casualties to the Bulgarians’ 600 killed, 2,300 POW (with wounded).

On the Western Front, the advancing Germans pierced Allied lines June 1 just to the left of the U.S. 2nd and 3rd Divisions, at Belleau Wood. It was plugged by a forced-march of U.S. Marines through the night of June 1/2, who, despite French orders to dig trenches in the rear, instead were ordered by the American General to “hold where you stand.” The Marines thus have dug shallow positions, allowing them to fight prone with fixed bayonets as needed.

June 2 – “Black Sunday” – the German sub U-151 sunk six US ships and damaged two others off the coast of New Jersey. Around a dozen sailors have died, the result of a capsized lifeboat.