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Book Review
US Marine vs German Soldier
US Marine vs German Soldier Belleau Wood 1918
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
Historicus Forma

US Marine vs German Soldier
Belleau Wood 1918
is a new book from Osprey Publishing LTD.. Part of their series Combat, it is the 32nd subject int he series. Authored by Gregg Adams and illustrated by Steve Noon, the 80-page softcover book is catalogued as Osprey's Short code CBT 32 and with ISBN 9781472825599. It is also available in PDF and ePub formats.

Osprey Combat series feature split-screen artwork and strategic and tactical maps to convey the action from both sides. The series compares and contrasts the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing forces. As Osprey presents the book:

    After the US declaration of war on Germany, hundreds of thousands of American troops flooded into France and were thrust into the front line. Among them was the US Marine Corps' 4th Marine Brigade whose first major action was the battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918, fighting elements of Germany's 10th, 28th, and 237th Infantry divisions. Volunteers to a man, the newly arrived Marines faced experienced but war-weary German conscripts whose doctrine had been honed by nearly four years of conflict on the Western Front. During the fighting, the Germans are alleged to have given the nickname "Devil Dogs” to the Marines, and Belleau Wood has become enshrined in the Corps' heritage.

    Employing first-hand accounts and specially commissioned artwork, this book investigates three different actions that shaped the course of the bitter battle for Belleau Wood, revealing the interplay of doctrine, tactics, technology, leadership, and human endeavour on the brutal battlefields of World War I.

While writing this review, it was 100 years ago to this day that the second assault on Belleau Wood began.

US Marine vs German Soldier Belleau Wood 1918 is told through 80 pages with 10 chapters and sections:
    The Opposing Sides
      * Role, organization, and tactics
      * Firepower
      * Gas warfare
      * Leadership and communications
      * Logistics and morale
    BREAKING INTO BELLEAU WOOD, June 11-12, 1918
    SECURING BELLEAU WOOD, June 23-25, 1918
    Unit Organizations

Inside the title page is a key to military symbols.

Author Adams presents a good overview of information that I found easy to follow. Both concise and occasionally comprehensive, the text comprises his presentation of the events as well as quotes from participants, America and German.
    The Germans could not have desired better targets; such a spectacle was entirely unfamiliar to them...

    I took my platoon through two thousand yards of hostile woods under heavy fire, capturing some prisoners along the way. I was caught under heavy machine gun fire from points fifty yards to my left and directly in the rear...

A narrative includes dispatch reports fromparticular commanders to HQ, by times, about the progress of the fight.

In Introduction he presents an overview of the war across Europe and the successes of the 1918 German Michael and Blücher offensives, calamities which pushed the Allies back and brought the British and French high commands to the verge of despondency. The Germans outran their supply lines and scored Pyrrhic victories but did not administer the coup de grâce. The crisis influenced the American commander General Pershing to release U.S. troops to fight with the French, and resulted in the Battle of Belleau Wood.

The Opposing Sides features 18 pages explaining the the aforementioned qualities of the Marines (USMC, United States Marine Corps) and Imperial German Army (Deutsches Heer). It presents how the armies were organized (USMC along the French model) and discusses weapons, trucks verses horses for logistics, number of machine guns and other crew-served weapons per unit, unit effectiveness ratings, and many other characteristics.

Supported with that background, the three battles are presented in 45 detailed pages. Shaded call-out boxes profile two Belleau Wood commanders, Sergeant Daniel Daly (twice awarded the Medal of Honor) and Major Hans Bischoff. Major Bischoff was an experienced bush fighter from Germany's African colonies, perfectly experienced for the primeval tangle of Belleau Wood. More quotes invoke the ferocity of the fighting;
    I candidly admit that the thought of leading a bayonet charge... Rushing machine guns with the bayonet was something I could do without... I was carried along with the excitement. Down into a ravine - our momentum carrying us halfway up the opposite side. The hot blast of guns beat against our faces, grenades curving over our heads, underbrush and men dying clogging our feet, We pounded across a road, crashed into some thickets bordering the clearing and stood, wold eyed and panting. The Boche had slipped into the underbrush and run. And streaming through the woods were the scattered remnants of our battalion, hot in pursuit...

This text features a great deal of quotes from participants, far more than conveyed with my few examples. It brings the first-hand accounts of the battle to the reader in a sobering way.

Finally, the strengths and weaknesses, and future experiences of the combatants is examined in Analysis and Aftermath. Like a generation later, Germany thought Americans would not have the stomach for fighting, but afterwards issued intelligence assessment that Americans were "dangerous savages" that would not back down even with terrible casualties. The Marines showed the same individual small unit initiative that the German army cultivated, and quickly adapted. France's high command told Gen. Pershing that the sight of Americans fighting so well by their side greatly improved morale.

Like a generation later, the first major American clash against the Germans was a brutal baptism for the U.S. forces, but they learned, learned well, quickly, and subsequently began to beat their opponents at their own game.

Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
Osprey fortifies their books with extensive galleries of photographs. While this book features mainly black-and-white exposures from WWI, it also features color photos of items from museums and collections:

    * 7.92mm Mauser Gewehr 98
    * Maschinengewehr 08 (MG08) German heavy machine gun
    * M1903 Springfield .30-caliber rifle
    * French Chauchat automatic rifle


      1. Marine rifleman, 3/5th Marines, Belleau Wood, June 25, 1918: front and back illustration featuring 10 items of weapons, dress and equipment.

      2. German infantryman, Infanterie-Reiment 347, Belleau Wood, June 25, 1918: front and back illustration featuring 10 items of weapons, dress and equipment.

      3. Split-view: The ambush of the 84th Company as seen from USMC and German vantage points; Marines advance up hill across an open wheat field into German machine gun and rifle fire.

      4. The 2/5th Marines' attack, June 11: across a misty field Marines advance to what becomes a successful break-in of the German positions.


      i. The Blücher Offensive, May 27-June 26, 1918: keyed to 8 actions.

      ii. The 4th Marine Brigade's first attack, June 6, 1918: keyed to 8 events. Included is Battlefield Environment, a description of Belleau Wood including a photograph of the woods after the battle, looking up from the lower open ground the Marines advanced over.

      iii. Breaking into Belleau Wood, June 11-12, 1918: keyed to 7 events and including a photograph from inside the woods of the ganglion of tress, shrubs, vines, rocks, and other growth.

      iv. Securing Belleau Wood, June 23-25, 1918: 13 events/actions are keyed. A photo shows a German fortification.

US Marine vs German Soldier Belleau Wood 1918 is, in my opinion, a valuable book about First World War American Marine combat in particular, and Great War combat in general.

Modelers should find a lot of inspiration for modeling these subjects, as well as diorama ideas. Historians of WWI should also be pleased with the book. The excellent text is detailed including a great amount of first-hand stories. It is enhanced with excellent photograph and illustration support. I feel that my knowledge and understanding of the American experience of WWI is improved.

I have no complains worth mentioning and happily recommend this book.

Please remember to mention to Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on Historicus Forma.

Highs: Detailed text including a great amount of first-hand stories. Excellent photograph and illustration support.
Lows: Nothing to mention.
Verdict: Modelers should find a lot of inspiration for modeling these subjects, as well as diorama ideas. Historians of WWI should also be pleased with the book.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472825599
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jun 12, 2018

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.



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