Original U.S. WWI Named 6th Marine Regiment Croix De Guerre Award Document with Authorization Card

Item Description

Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. This is a French Croix de guerre 1914–1918 award citation for Felix B. Holcomb who served in the 6th Marine Regiment and fought in France during the Great War. The citation certificate is framed and measures 18" x 12.5". Also included is a 1920 dated USMC Croix De Guerre Award authorization card named to Felix B. Holcomb identifying as a member of the 83rd company, 6th Marine regiment. All items are offered in very good condition.

The 6th Marine Regiment was first organized at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, on 11 July 1917 under the command of Medal of Honor holder Colonel Albertus W. Catlin.

The 4th Brigade was ordered to shore up crumbling French lines near Château-Thierry in late May 1918. The 6th Marines took up positions southwest of Belleau Wood, then it was ordered to seize the town of Bouresches and to clear the southern half of Belleau Wood itself on 6 June. These attacks were the beginning of a month-long struggle that eventually became a landmark battle for the U.S. Marine Corps. Colonel Catlin was severely wounded not long after the first waves went over the top; his replacement was Lieutenant Colonel Harry Lee, who would command the regiment for the rest of the war. Gunnery Sergeant Fred W. Stockham voluntarily gave up his own gas mask to a platoonmate and was later awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for that action. Regimental dentist Weedon Osborne was also awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor. Regimental losses in this sector were 2,143 over 40 days.

The U.S. 2nd Division was attached to the French XX Corps to conduct a counterattack near Soissons in mid-July. The 6th Regiment was held in reserve when the initial assault waves went over the top on 18 July. The next day, the 6th Marine Regiment stepped off, advancing alone from Vierzy toward Tigny, but was stopped short of the objective by intense artillery and machinegun fire. Casualties were extremely heavy, estimated at 50 to 70% in most units. First Lieutenant Clifton B. Cates (a future commandant of the Marine Corps) reported only about two dozen of more than 400 men survived and added "... There is no one on my left, and only a few on my right. I will hold."

After a month-long rest, the Marines were assigned to the U.S. First Army to participate in the first "all-American" push, a double envelopment to eliminate the St. Mihiel salient. The 6th Marines was relegated to support the 3rd Brigade's attack from Limey to Thiaucourt. The push began early on 12 September, and the initial attack carried virtually all of the division's objectives before noon that day. The American attack unknowingly coincided with a German withdrawal. The sharpest action for the Regiment occurred when defending the outpost line of resistance on 15 September. Although this mission has been tagged "a piece of cake" by some historians, the 6th Marines lost more than a hundred killed and about five hundred wounded at St. Mihiel; Navy corpsman David E. Hayden earned a Medal of Honor for his heroic actions while attached to the 6th Marines defending Thiaucourt.

The 2nd Division and the US 36th Division were then loaned to the French Fourth Army for its assault on German forces that became the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge. Here the Marines successfully captured their objectives after bloody fighting, and with support from the 36th Division fought off German counterattacks until the flanking French units were able to catch up to the American advance. The 2nd and 36th Divisions then advanced and captured a German strongpoint at St. Etienne, after which the 2nd was withdrawn from the line to regroup and returned to American command.

For the actions at Belleau Wood, Soissons, and Blanc Mont, the 6th Marine Regiment was awarded the French croix de guerre three times. As a result, the regiment is authorized to wear the fourragère of the croix de guerre (seen in the unit's logo), one of only two units in the Marine Corps so honored (the other being the 5th Marine Regiment). The fourragère thereafter became part of the uniform of the unit, and all members of the modern 6th Marines are authorized to wear the fourragère while serving with the regiment.

When the armistice on 11 November 1918, ended active hostilities, the 6th Regiment was assigned to the U.S. Third Army to spearhead the Allied march from France through Belgium and Luxembourg to Coblenz, Germany. There, the regiment settled into uneventful occupation duty from December 1918 to May 1919. At that time, the regiment once again deployed for hostilities when the German representatives balked at the unexpected terms of surrender. This threat persuaded the Germans to accept to the terms, and the treaties formally ending the war were signed in June 1919. Their mission accomplished, the Marines sailed for home the following month.

The 6th Marines was deactivated at Quantico on 13 August 1919 after victoriously parading through the streets of New York City and Washington, D.C. Thomas Boyd's novel Through The Wheat. covers the activities of the 6th Marine Regiment during the First World War.
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