International Herald Tribune

1918: Pigeons, Aviators and Lorry Drivers Help Stop Enemy

By The International Herald Tribune

(Associated Press despatch. Special telegram to The Herald.)

WITH THE FIGHTING ARMIES, Thursday — One of the principal elements which worked toward bringing the German offensive to a halt was the splendid cooperation of the transport and information services. In Champagne lorry drivers passed four days and nights without a moment’s rest hurrying troops from one section to another, wherever they were most needed, conveying tens of thousands of men often under heavy fire.

The Allied aviation, whether bombarding, observation or battle planes, kept constant mastery of the air. The aviators left no peace to the attacking columns, supplied constant information to the French Staff regarding the enemy’s movements, spotted concentrations of German troops, thus enabling the artillery to disperse and destroy them, and themselves effectively participated in the actual fighting with machine-guns and aerial torpedoes.

The role of the carrier-pigeons proved most important in the Champagne fighting, where French advance-posts were often cut off from the main body and possessed only this means of communication.

The birds brought in constant messages keeping the Staff informed concerning the German movements. In one instance, a pigeon brought a request that the French artillery open fire on a position occupied by French troops which the Germans were surrounding in dense masses. The gunners complied, mowing lanes in the German waves. Their wonderful accuracy of aim spared their comrades, many of whom were afterwards able to make their way back.

Carrier-pigeons were deployed in efforts to halt a German offensive in World War I.

The admittedly enormous losses suffered by the Germans during the crossing of the Marne must have been fully equalled in the Champagne sector, where their assaulting waves hurled themselves vainly against deep barriers of barbed-wire under the fire of hundreds of machine-guns.

At noon on Monday, when the Germans were bringing forward reserve divisions in the neighborhood of the Moronvilliers range of hills, the French gunners got the exact range with telling effect. When the smoke cleared from the crest heaps of dead and wounded men and horses were plainly visible on the hill slopes.

Some of the assaulting divisions were so battered that they had to be withdrawn while the fight was still in progress.

The Germans gathered about 50 of their best divisions along the battle-front, but not all have been engaged, and they still possess sufficient strength to make another effort here or elsewhere.

— The New York Herald, European Edition, July 19, 1918

Let’s block ads! (Why?)