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Original U.S. WWI Named 315th Infantry Regiment 1903 Bayonet - Dog Tags - Book Grouping

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Boyd Clemens was born on April 1st, 1891 in Jamestown, Colorado. He enlisted in the army on May 25th, 1918 and died in 1976. The following items were his personal possessions and are included in this Great War grouping:

- Excellent Model 1903 Springfield Rifle Model 1905 Bayonet with Model 1910 Scabbard. The left of the blade is marked SA / 1909 (Springfield Arsenal) with an ordnance bomb, the obverse is marked US / 392066. The bayonet retains its full length and was not cut down during WWII. The blade is bright with crisp markings, all surfaces appear to be original, the lug locking mechanism functions correctly. The blade has a fine finish with crisp edges and features, the cutting edge is straight with very minor imperfections. The guard and pommel have dark surfaces, the wood is smooth and nicely fit to the metal, without any damage. The scabbard is canvas cover around rawhide sheath with a brass hanger, which is correct for this period. Leather is in good solid condition with no major issues. The brass hanger and rivets are in excellent shape with fine patina. The canvas covered is marked in ink BOYD CLEMENS.

- Original World War One Dog Tags read BOYD CLEMENS U.S.A with serial number 1414786 on the reverse.

- Original History of the 315th U.S. Infantry hardcover book printed in 1920.

- Copy of his draft registration card dated June 5th, 1917.

History of the 315th Infantry regiment in WWI:

For its first experience of the battle-front, the 315th Infantry was assigned to replace the French Army in the Favry sub-sector of the right half of the 79th Division's sector of the Allied line, Sector "304".  This sector was about 15 kilometers [9 miles] northwest of the great French fortress on the Meuse River, Verdun, which during the spring and summer of 1916 had been the site of the bloodiest struggles of the war, when the German Army had tried to smash the French line.  There were still human skulls and bones lying around during the night of 13 September 1918 when the 315th Regiment took up it positions.  (p. 45)

[On 12 September 12 at 6 P.M. Company "K" had marched the short distance from Haironville to the Bar-le-Duc road where a large fleet of motor trucks was waiting.  After riding nearly all night, at day-break the soldiers marched to Brocourt Woods where they rested all day.  In the evening Company "K" waded through the mud on its way to a camp in the Forêt de Hesse [Hesse Forest], just north of Dombasle, where the soldiers were quartered in their first dug-outs.  There they could hear the rumble of the big guns and speculated about when they would see "no-man's land", when one evening they marched quickly and quietly to the first line trenches on Hill "304".  The sector at this time was extremely quiet.  (p. 263)  The Company was to be relieved the third night, September 20th, but the relief was not accomplished until early on the morning of the 22nd, when because dawn was close at hand the soldiers had to rush to reach their reserve positions unobserved.  The Company was scattered about in dug-outs for two days and then went forward to a position from which it was to begin its advance in the biggest drive of the war.  (p. 264)]

"No Man's Land" in Sector 304, with Montfaucon in the distance (p. 44)

The Strength of the German Army's Position

Opposite the 315th Infantry lay one of the most formidable positions on the entire Western front: five hundred meters beyond the Regiment's most advanced posts of the outpost line, across the waste of rusted wire and shell-torn ground that marked No Man's Land, lay the German front line.  The German Army had held this position for nearly four years and within it, in the sector opposite the 315th Infantry, lay the nearly obliterated villages of Haucourt and Malancourt.  Beyond these the country rolled to the north in hills and valleys dotted with small clumps of woods and underbrush, and traversed by band after band of barbed wire entanglements.  Beyond all, far back on the northern horizon, rose the dominating heights of Montfaucon [altitude: 280 meters = 900 feet], which the German High Command had said would never be taken by the Allies.  (p. 46-47)

Strong as the German position was by nature, it had been rendered still more formidable by artificial means.  During the four years of their occupation of the French soil north and west of Verdun, the Germans had constructed and organized four successive lines of defense.  The first of these was the prolongation of the famous Hindenburg Line, which at this point lay three kilometers south of Montfaucon.  At the point opposite Sector 304, the distance between the first and last of these lines of defense was less than 18 kilometers [11 miles].  Such was the position opposite the 315th Infantry.  (p. 47)

The Favry Sub-sector was what the French would term a "très bon" sector.  The days and nights were quiet and, except for the whistle of an occasional shell, there was little to indicate that here lay the forces of great nations engaged in war.  (ibid.)

The positions of the various companies were changed on the night of September 18th, and it was also at this time that the Regiment first became aware of unusual activity in its sector.  First a group of French marines began the construction of large gun emplacements along the Dombasle-Montzeville Road.  A day or two later, batteries of heavy howitzers took up position one by one in the vicinity of Esnes, a ruined village on the right edge of the Regimental sector.  Still later, batteries of French 75-millimeter [3-inch] guns arrived just behind the line of resistance, and then it was settled beyond all question of doubt that an attack on a large scale was impending.  (p. 47-49)

Were Green Troops to lead the Attack?

With this fact assured, speculation became rife as to whether or not the 315th Infantry would be included in the assaulting forces.  Old-timers in the ranks scoffed at the idea of green troops being sent against positions such as those lying opposite the Regiment, and the majority of the Regiment was of the opinion that the initial attack, at least, would be made by some of the more tried and seasoned divisions.  But finally the question was settled: on the 23rd, orders were received that the attack would be made on September 26th, and that the 79th Division would form part of the attacking line as a shock division.  The 313th and 314th Infantries were to initiate the attack in the Divisional sector, which was to he narrowed to half its original width.  The 315th and 316th Infantries were to act as a support, the 315th Infantry following the 314th.  For the attack, the front of the Regimental sector was to be diminished to include only that held by the battalion on the right, at that time the Third Battalion.  (p. 49, 51)

315th Infantry, Company positions on 26 September 1918 at 5 A.M.
(Map based on p. 50)

The plan of action, as outlined in Brigade orders, was that the 315th Infantry should support the attack of the 314th Infantry at a distance of 1,000 meters, advancing with two battalions in line and one in support, the latter to serve as a Brigade reserve.  To carry out this plan, the First Battalion was placed on the left of the Third Battalion in the Regimental attack sector.  (p. 51)

After the necessary changes of position had been accomplished, the Regiment was disposed in support of the 314th Infantry as follows:  The First Battalion occupied the front line on the left half of the Regimental sector; Company "C" in trench Delacroix, Companies "D", "A" and "B" along the Boyau Tournefiere.  The Third Battalion was posted on the front line on the right half of the Regimental sector; Company "I" in trench Cant, Companies "K" and "L" in Boyau de la Cannebiere and Boyau des Zouaves, Company "M" in trench Raoul Duval.  The last-named company was detailed as Regimental reserve.  The Second Battalion had taken position, with Companies "E", "H" and "G" just south of the road opposite P. C. Cannebiere, and Company "F" immediately behind the center of the First and Third Battalions to act as "moppers-up".  (ibid.)

The Allied Bombardment

At eleven o'clock on the night of September 25th, a deep boom far behind the American lines announced the beginning of the six-hour Allied barrage.  Massed between the Meuse and the western edge of the Argonne, were three thousand pieces of artillery gathered from all parts of the Western front.  There was an average of one gun for every eight meters of front, and, at certain points in the line where stiff opposition was expected, the average interval was much less.  Opposite Montfaucon, in the sector occupied by the 315th Infantry, the artillery was literally lined up hub to hub.  (p. 51-52)

To those who witnessed the artillery barrage the hills guarding Verdun and the country to the west seemed rimmed with flame.  The air was filled with the whistling of passing shells, and above all rose the thunder of the guns.  Close at hand was the sharp, staccato of the French 75-millimeter [3-inch] guns, farther back the roar of the six- and nine-inch howitzers, while, in the distant rear, hills and valleys reverberated to the deep boom of the huge naval guns along the Dombasle road.  (p. 52)

Two hours after midnight the fire of the artillery seemed to double in intensity, and the metallic whiz of shells overhead merged into a continuous scream.  The batteries had changed to drum-fire.  It was the final barrage before the attack, and for three hours a deluge of steel and flame was sent down upon the German positions ahead.  (ibid.)

Over the Top - The Offensive Begins - 26 September 1918

At 5:30 A.M. on the morning of September 26th, the first waves of infantry swept forward, and the American Army, with nine divisions on a 25-mile front, began an offensive that ended only with the Armistice.  (p. 53)

In accordance with the plans laid down, the 315th Infantry started its advance across No Man's Land when the last elements of the 314th Infantry had passed a thousand meters beyond the jumping-off point.  On its right was the 4th Division, on its left the 313th and 316th Infantries, the 313th Infantry on the front line.  The 315th Infantry Machine Gun Company supported the First Battalion, and Company "A," of the 312th Machine Gun Battalion, supported the Third Battalion.  (ibid.)

Scarcely had the leading units of the Regiment cleared their own wire, when they plunged into a dense smoke barrage which the First Gas and Flame Regiment had put over just prior to the advance of the front line.  This smoke, combined with the mist which lay in the valley, made it extremely difficult for companies and platoons to keep touch with one another.  (ibid.)

About eight o'clock, the "put-put-put" of German machine guns could be heard in the mist ahead, as the 314th Infantry gained contact with the German machine gun nests in and around Malancourt.  (ibid.)

Although the firing ahead had been in progress for quite a time, the advance went on rapidly.  The Regiment did not come under direct fire until "I" Company, the leading company of the Third Battalion, reached the Forges Brook at the southern edge of Haucourt and the dismal swamp of the Bois de Malancourt.  Here the men of the Third Battalion were subjected to the fire of German snipers who had taken up positions in the ruins of Malancourt.  (p. 53-54)

On the left side of the Regimental sector, the First Battalion went forward without resistance until it had crossed the Forges Brook, when its advance was held up by a rain of bullets from machine guns and snipers in the Hindenburg trench, one and one-half kilometers [1 mile] north of Malancourt.  (p. 54)

At 12:30 P.M., an "S.O.S." call for assistance was received at Regimental Headquarters from 314th Infantry which requested reinforcements for its front line.  The Third Battalion was at once directed to send forward two companies.  Following the issuance of this order, however, word was received from Division Headquarters that no aid would be given the leading regiment at this time, and, in consequence, the orders for two companies to reinforce the 314th Infantry were immediately revoked.  (p. 54-55)

By three o'clock in the afternoon, the Third Battalion, despite the continuous fire of snipers from the front and flanks, had "mopped up" Malancourt and had advanced a half kilometer beyond.  But here its advance was held up by a storm of machine gun bullets, one pounder shells, minenwerfers and the fire of a 77-millimeter gun, a sacrifice piece, which was firing over the sights at the advancing troops.  (p. 55)

This fire swept in a southeasterly direction down through the draw leading into Malancourt, and came, in the main, from what were afterwards found to be specially prepared positions in the Hindenburg trench system.  (ibid.)

At three o'clock, the advance of both the First and Third Battalions had been halted by the overwhelming fire from the German trenches ahead.  The front line companies, however, made repeated attempts to advance and gradually the line edged forward.  By six o'clock on the evening of 26 September the first wave of the 315th Infantry had crawled up the hill slopes and into the Hindenburg trench.  Here the Regiment took up positions for the night; Companies "I" and "K" of the Third Battalion, east of the Malancourt-Montfaucon road; Companies "L" and "M" and the First Battalion, west of the road; the Second Battalion in a system of trenches about 400 meters south of the Third Battalion; and Regimental Headquarters one kilometer southeast of Malancourt.  (p. 55, 57)

During the day, the Regiment had lost 3 officers and 9 men killed and 31 men wounded.  61 German soldiers had been captured.  Owing to the strong resistance encountered by both the 313th and 314th Infantry, the front line of the Division at the end of the first day was considerably behind the line established by the 4th Division on the right and the 37th Division on the left.  (p. 57)

The Advance of 27 September 1918

Shortly after six o'clock on the morning of 27 September the 79th Division was reorganized into two provisional brigades, one consisting of the 313th and 316th Infantries; the other of the 314th and 315th Infantries, the regiments maintaining their same relative positions as on the preceding day.  (p. 57, 59)

Reports had come into Regimental headquarters early that morning that conditions on the right of the Malancourt-Montfaucon road would make it impossible for troops to move forward without being subjected to heavy machine gun fire from the direction of the village of Cuisy.  Therefore the Second Battalion was ordered to take up position immediately behind the Third Battalion on the west side of the Malancourt-Montfaucon road and await further orders.  But when reconnaissance of the front line positions showed that an advance on the right of the road would not be so seriously held up as reported, the Second and Third Battalions were at once ordered to reform on the right of the road and to push forward until contact was regained with the rear elements of the 314th Infantry.  (p. 59)

At 8:30 A.M., contact was gained with the 314th Infantry.  Both regiments had now started to push ahead, but the advancing troops were already beginning to get beyond the range of their light calibre supporting artillery, and the enemy was resisting with increasing vigor.  Preparations were made for the artillery to reposition itself, but its movement was slowed by the conditions existing on the road over which it had to pass.  (p. 62)

The Esnes-Malancourt-Montfaucon Road

From the outset, on the morning of September 26th, there had been only one road available for the use of both the 4th and 79th Divisions.  This was the Esnes-Malancourt-Montfaucon Road.  But that road was now nothing but a shell-pocked waste of earth and stone, the result of the explosion of thousands of French and German shells during the fighting about Verdun in 1916.  During the first days of the American drive, the Engineers did what was possible, but a single day was not enough to build a road that could satisfy the transportation needs of two entire divisions.  (p. 62-63)

Under these circumstances, the morning of the 27th found the Esnes-Malancourt-Montfaucon Road buried under a hopeless jam of ambulances, artillery, supply trucks, and vehicles of all descriptions.  The forward movement of artillery became nearly impossible, and, as the day wore on, the advancing troops were forced to reply more and more on the momentum of their own attack.  (p. 63)

By eleven o'clock that morning, the Division front had been pushed well forward: The leading elements of the 313th Infantry were filtering through the battered ruins of Montfaucon, and the 314th Infantry had gained the southern edge of the Bois de Tuilerie.  Here, however, the latter regiment was halted by heavy sniping and machine gun fire.  As the First and Third Battalions of the 315th Infantry closed up on the line of the regiment ahead, they were ordered to hold their positions and await further orders.  The front line of the 315th Infantry then ran east and west across the Malancourt-Montfaucon Road, less than half a kilometer south of Fayel Farm, with the Third Battalion lying east of the road, the First Battalion west of the road, and the Second Battalion halted in rear of the Third.  (p. 65)

The Afternoon and Evening of 27 September 1918

During the afternoon of the 27th, the 315th Infantry held itself in readiness, close up behind the leading regiment, awaiting orders to move, while the troops ahead slowly worked their way through the Bois de Tuilerie and the valley to the east.  Finally at 7:00 P. M., the order directing the forward movement arrived, and, preceded by the light tanks, the Regiment advanced toward its next objective -- Nantillois.  (ibid.)

Division orders provided that as soon as the 314th Infantry had taken Nantillois, the 315th infantry would pass through and relieve it in the front line, the 314th falling hack in support.  (ibid.)

It had been hoped that Nantillois would he taken before dark, but the strong resistance encountered by the front line troops during the day had so delayed the advance that the occupation of the town before night set in became impossible.  (ibid.)

Nevertheless, the troops drove ahead long after darkness fell, and by ten o'clock that evening the Regimental front line had been carried to a point nearly a kilometer beyond the Montfaucon-Septsarges Road.  At that time, word was sent to the troops to dig in.  This was done by the front line battalions, the First and Third, on the line just mentioned, while the Second Battalion took up position 200 meters in rear of the front line battalions.  Regimental Headquarters was established in the Bois de Tuilerie, east of Montfaucon.  (ibid.)

The advance of September 27th had cost the Regiment the loss of 9 men killed and of 4 officers and 76 men wounded, the majority of these casualties having been sustained by the First Battalion during the early hours of the morning.  (ibid.)

Between 10 P.M. and midnight, the German Army let down a heavy, harassing artillery fire on the small plateau lying northwest of Septsarges.  This fire fell in the area occupied by the right half of the Regimental front line and caused the Third Battalion to change its position to a system of trenches just north of the Septsarges-Montfaucon Road.


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