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World War I, Comanche County, Kansas


The Protection Post, February 6, 1919.

HOWARD HAZEN SAW FIERCEST OF FIGHTING

Was Wounded at Chatteau-Thierry - Saw River Run Blood

Howard Hazen, who arrived home last week from Camp Funston, having received his honorable discharge from service in the army, saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

Howard was selected for service in the fall of 1917 and left on September 18th for Camp Funston where he was a member of the All-Kansas regiment, the 353rd. After some training at Camp Funston he was transferred to the 38th Division and sent to Camp Merrit, N. J. and on the 29th of March, 1918, his company sailed for France, landing at Brest on the 7th of April. His division was transported to Culevec, several miles inland, and there drilled in all the maneuvers and work of the armies in the lines for more than a month. At Culevec they were put through the 'digging in," and every operation which they would have to undergo in the lines, and under conditions that were an exact reproduction of those in the trenches as was possible to make. Here their instructors were officers from the French and British armies who had seen service in the front lines and trenches, and when they were last started toward the front they were thoroughly prepared to meet the foe.

In telling the reporter from the Post of his experiences Howard said: We went into the front lines on the first day of June in a quiet sector in the salient south of Chatteau-Thierry. We were facing the river with the Germans directly across the little stream from us. It was no pleasant feeling at first. The Germans were close enough to us that we could almost throw a stone into their trenches. Although this sector was called a quiet one, here were frequent skirmishes between the enemy, who had a landing on our side of the river, and the allied troops, and this became more sharp when the American troops were placed in the lines. We had gone over the sea to lick the devil out of the Dutch and we were anxious to do it.

The lines were not straight but crooked, following the river, and the river was the crookedest one I had ever seen. It was a flat country and the water ran sluggishly along, apparently not flowing at all. The water in the river was always, stained with blood, and much of the time was covered with a thick green scum caused by the thousands and thousands of human bodies which were in it.

Toward the later part of June our division was moved up to Chatteau-Thierry and used as a reserve division for a while. On the 14th of July the Germans began their big attempt to break the Allied lines and then we were in the real hell of the war. The Huns came through the river in the night and when dawn broke they were ambushed all about us. The whole landscape about that part of France is covered with clumps of trees and brush scattered here and there, with stone walls in abundance. All this made beautiful scenery - the most beautiful I thought I had ever seen (but the good old U. S. A. looked better when I saw it). - but it also made good places for the Boche to hide and from behind every bush and wall they were firing at us all at once. Then everything was open warfare. Every man had to look out for himself. Hun machine gun nests were thick and their withering fire piled our fellows up in piles and we sure lost a bunch of the fellows. When we went into the fight we had a full company of 260 men and there were about 40 of us left to tell about it. We forgot we were men when we saw our pals of a few minutes before lying dead all about us. That's when a man sees red. Those machine guns shoot a volley of bullets about knee high and when they hit a man they simply cut him down and as he falls they just cut him to pieces, that's all. I had been told what to do - and I did it - until the devilish Huns got me in the hand. I wasn't in it very long, and got out of it mighty lucky, for there were a lot of American boys who died that day. I got mine when getting ready to shoot again after having reloaded my gun. They hit my hand. I can use it some now, but it is still pretty bad. The doctors say that it may get all right though, some time, if I will take good care of it.

I didn't get close enough to any of them to use my bayonet. Some of the boys did. Some of the fellows in the hottest of it simply shot at the Germans as a bunch, but they were too scattered for that to do any good. The only way was to simply pick your man and and shoot him down. Our artillery was helpless. The Germans had them spotted and put them out of commission in a short time. Without artillery we couldn't have the protection of a barrage and we were at their mercy, but they didn't get anywhere with us. They had started out that day to break through the line, but it didn't break.

They took me to the hospital and I never did get back to the lines again. I was in hospitals in different parts of France, and was in one in Paris.

After the armistice was signed I was sent home with the casuals. We set sail on the 18th of November, and I'm sure glad to be home. You have had a hard time here, but the boys who were in it over there have had a state of very hell. But it came out right and the boys are sure a tickled bunch. You are glad here it is over, but you don't know anything about how glad the boys are that it is over, but there isn't a one of them that wouldn't do it all over again if it were necessary, not one of them.


Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!

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