This black-and-white silent film was produced by the United States Army Signal Corps, and recalls the the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, also known as the Battle of the Argonne Forest. It was a major part of the final Allied offensive of World War I that stretched along the entire Western Front. It was fought in France from September 26, 1918, until the Armistice of November 11, 1918. The narrative is told via standard title cards, and begins with an explanation at mark 00:12 that the German position in northern France depended on two main railroads, with a southern line in Sedan being one the main objective of the battle. (American troops began their strike toward Sedan on September 26, 1918). In “sunny France,” we see scenes of servicemen on the move through puddles of rain water and across fields, and at mark 01:47 come to “the beginning of a 47 day battle” and scenes of anti-aircraft guns and artillery fire. Men are shown “waiting for the zero hour” starting at mark 03:44, and when it does, a title card at mark 04:23 reminds the viewer it was “the first war to make night as hideous as day.” Tanks roll and soldiers march on in scenes shot in the open countryside, while at mark 06:46 a title card tells us that “the enemy’s artillery on our flanks in the Argonne and on the heights East of the Meuse shelled every point where our troops had to pass” and that in the Argonne Forest “enemy machine gun nests delayed our progress.” At Montfaucon, troops faced strong German resistance, we are told at mark 08:50. (The 79th Infantry Division eventually captured Montfaucon but only after having been thwarted in an earlier attempt). By mark 11:15, we see General John J. Pershing, who led the American Expeditionary Forces during WWI. A title card quotes Pershing: “The battle was prosecuted with an aggressive and heroic spirit of courage and fortitude which demanded eventual success despite all obstacles.” Scenes of celebratory soldiers and German prisoners of war follow, as Pershing is again shown at mark 13:11, awarding medals to some of his troops … “the soft side of ‘Black Jack’” a title card announces.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com