The Battle of Belleau Wood was no normal battle. It was a visceral fight that legends were born and forged. The very fight that gave us our beloved name Teufel Hunden or Devil Dog! This name was not “given” to us. We “earned” it through blood and sweat! The Devil Dogs continued to dominate the battlefield and earn the respect of their European counterparts.
The United States of America entered the WWI on April 6th, 1917. Following the sinking of the passenger vessel Lusitania by Germany. The Germans were fighting on two fronts during WWI. They understood that a two front war was unsustainable. They swiftly defeated several of the Russian armies, inflicting high casualties. After being routed by the Germans and the threat of Bolshevism, the Russians called a cease-fire. This was just in time for Germany. Who moved over 50 Divisions to the Western Front. They called for one last “push” before the Americans could fully deploy units to the battlefield.
The German Army would push the Allied force back. In the area of Belleau Wood the Germans began to set a defense. They placed their Machine-Gun teams in the dense forest. This gave them a good field of fire over the open fields. The commander of the French 6th Army ordered a withdrawal of his forces. During this time he advised a Marine unit to do the same. To which the Capt Lloyd Williams replied, “Retreat? Hell, we just got here!”
The Battle of Belleau Wood
The Battle of Belleau Wood officially started for the Marines at June 6th, 1918. At 1700 the first waves of motivated Devil Dogs made their way across the field. GySgt Dan Daly would looked back at his Marines before the charge and say, “Come on you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever!?”
The spirit and intensity was high. Many brave Marines fell to sweeping machine-gun fire. Yet this did not dilute their tenacity! They continued, over running German machine-gun positions. Engaging in fierce hand-to-hand combat they routed the defenders in the dense forest. The Germans couldn’t believe what was happening. The Marines they said, “fought like men possessed!”
Once the forest was taken Marine sharp-shooters made short work of the German machine-gun nests across the field. Again, the Germans were very concerned about their casualties that were inflicted from such a long-range. “These were no ordinary soldiers”, the German command would say. “They are Teufel Hunden!!” (Or Devil Dogs)
Devil Dog Tradition following Belleau Wood
After Belleau Wood the 5th Marines would go on to prove themselves in the Battle of Blanc Mount and Soissons. The three Croix De Guerres that were awarded for all three battles was equated to the French Fourrage. This is still worn today by the 5th Marines.
General “Black Jack” Pershing would say that, “there is nothing in the world more dangerous than a Marine and his Rifle!” After the Battle of Belleau Wood. Marines would prove that quote correct many times in our Marine Corps history.
The Battle of Belleau Wood would turn the German Spring Offensive into a stalemate. German high command would never fully get over that crushing defeat. June 6th was not just the day the US turned the tide during WWII at the Invasion of Normandy beach. Today is the day that a rag-tag bunch of Marines turned back an entire German offensive at Belleau Wood. So to them their story deserves to be told.
So, the team at Devil Dog Shirts would like to pay homage to the our brave warrior ancestors today. To all the hard-charging Devil Dogs that came before us! God speed and Semper Fidelis Warriors!