|Soldier of the First Division|
|One side of the hilltop of Cantigny, France|
In May 1918, just as the American Expeditionary Force was arriving in great numbers, the French faced a formidable attack by Germans. This offensive, part of huge drive by the German forces to win the war before the Americans could arrive in great numbers, was the first of many such efforts along the front lines.
The First Division, or as it is now known the First Army or Big Red One, came from the south to push the German line back toward the north.
While it is not my attempt here to describe the battle in any detail (I leave that to your own search of good military records), I will tell you that as the Americans joined the French in this hotly contested area this battle was the first fought by AEF and won by them. It is the first in which the German Army and their general staff took note of American strengths and strategies and it is the first in which the AEF's wounded were aided by the first of the medical teams to sail to France. (For a superb description of the battle, please go to this source: The First Division Museum in Wheaton, Illinois, http://www.firstdivisionmuseum.org/museum/online/toward_the_front/battle_of_cantigny/default.aspx
|One road atop the hill village of Cantigny.|
Notice the blue sign!
|The Avenue of the First Division, U.S.A.|
|Valley to south of Cantigny, peaceful today and a farm.|
The destroyed village of Cantigny exemplifies the devastation of these campaigns on the people who lived here.
|USA, Army photo, Public Domain|
Commemorating the effort of the First Division is this bronze statue of an AEF soldier. An explanation of the battle is accompanied by a map. Please do download the picture to enlarge the type and read the explanation of the battle.
|Description of battle.|
|You can view easily the American eagles here on the sides of this monument.|
|Another view of the monument.|
At one end of this grove atop the hill is this cross and the memorial flowers.
As we left the village to have lunch in Montdidier and to return to our B&B in Compiegne, we spotted this monument. At first, thinking it a French memorial, we passed it. Every French town has one or more of these obelisks to those of their own countrymen who fought and died in La Grande Guerre. But we thought we spotted an eagle on top of the memorial and so we our drove back to great reward! Here is another memorial to the First Division and their heroic efforts in the Spring Offensive of 1918.
|Memorial to First Division in Battle of Cantigny, south of the hill town.|
|AEF Map, Public domain|