Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Lost Battalion (World War I)

During my research I found that my great grandfather Joseph Switkowski was part of the 77th Division of the US Army in World War I. He was an engineer in the 302 Battalion A company. One this I discovered about the 77th's time in France is the Battle of Argonne Forest it was also know as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  It lasted from September to the end of the war,  As an engineer his job was to build bridges, dig trenches, and provide communications for the rest of the division.  My great grandfather was wounded on November 1, 1918, 10 days before the war ended. 

The engineers were attached to the different battalions within the 77th to provide support during the war effort.  Luckily for Joseph he was not attached to the 308th.  On October 8, 1918 the US made a push through the Argonne Forest with the French supporting the left Flank.  In the Center of the line was the 308.  The French faltered and communication to the 308 was cut.  They never received the new orders to fall back.  The last order they had was to take an old Mill and wait for supplies.  

They made it to the mill.  The French were back in their trenches and the US forces on the right fell back leaving the 308 cut off and surrounded; "roughly 554 men, isolated by German forces during World War I after an American attack in the Argonne Forest in October 1918. Roughly 197 were killed in action and approximately 150 missing or taken prisoner before 194 remaining men were rescued. They were led by MajorCharles White Whittlesey." 

They held on for 6 days until the US forces were able to locate them and bring them out.  Fresh troops and supplies arrived to hold the line.

There have been movies made about the men of the 308.  I was able to watch one released in 2001 recently hoping to see what my great grandfather may have gone through.  There is another filmed in 1919 that starred the actual members of the the 308, that I would like to see some day.

I watched the 2001 version.  A good film that wasn't overly Hollywood and showed how horrible war can be.  





* Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Battalion_(World_War_I)
* Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Battalion_(2001_film)
* Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Battalion_(1919_film)
* Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0287535/?ref_=nv_sr_1
* Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0010386/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2