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164 US 77th Div Lost Battalion, 1918

Sale price$250.00 NZD

In October 1918, the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) were part of the allied Meuse-Argonne offensive; a major campaign designed to break the German Hindenburg Line and accelerate the end of the war. On October 2, several companies from the 77th Division (Officially the "Liberty" division, but generally called the "Metropolitan" as most of the men were from New York) advanced through the Argonne forest with the objective of securing Hill 198. The companies were from the 308th and 307th Infantry Regiments, and the 306th Machine Gun Regiment, all part of the 154th Infantry Brigade, and were commanded by Major Charles Whittlesey. After securing the objective the forces dug in, however the allies on either flank were not so successful, and the Major's men were encircled by a German counter-offensive.

For the next six days, suffering heavy losses, the men of the trapped "Lost Battalion" and the American units desperate to relieve them were engaged in an intense battle in the Argonne Forest. In the first four days of attacks the rest of the 308th Infantry Regiment lost 766 men in an effort to relive the encircled men. Food and water were scarce, and ammunition and medicines were running low. Attempts to resupply the unit from the air failed.

In an infamous incident on 4 October, the unit came under friendly fire from US Artillery. Using their last carrier pigeon, Cher Ami, Whittlesey delivered the following message:

"We are along the road parallel 276.4. our artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heavens sake stop it."

Reinforcements poured in as the AEF command attempted to rescue its trapped forces, likewise the Germans reinforced in the face of massing Amercian troops from the 1st, 28th and 82nd Divisions. Eventually the American attacks succeeded in pushing back the Germans and the pocket was relieved on 8th October.

The final casualty count of the Lost Battalion was 107 killed, 190 wounded, and 63 missing out of the 554 men who were engaged in the seige. The Medal of Honor was awarded to three of the soldiers including Major Whittlesey, who was also given a field promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.

This set depicts troops in action from the Lost Battalion, three crouching advancing, two running and one throwing a grenade. The troops have steel helmets, no packs, and have gas masks around their necks.