Osprey's US Marine vs German Soldier 1918


Gregg Adams


Osprey Publishing


$20.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 80 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-4728-2559-8

I recently finished reading about Blanc Mont in Osprey's Campaign series, which featured the operations of the USMC during that series of battles. So I thought it would be nice to read about their first introduction into major combat at Belleau Wood. Unlike the previous book, this is in their duel series which compares two adversaries; usually highlighting them in a specific event or series of events. For this one it is the German soldier of mid 1918 against the USMC.

The Marines of 1918 were not unaccustomed to battle having fought in a number of trouble spots earlier in the century. However, they had never fought in trench warfare. The Marines were just not trained for that sort of fighting. However, Belleau Wood would fit more into their standard training as it was not specifically trench warfare, but close combat. Like all American combat troops of the time, the Marines spent some time in the quieter areas of the front to get used to how things were done in Western Europe.

On the other side of the line, the Germans had put all their hopes into defeating the French and British with a series of offenses that had been fairly successful during the earlier part of the war. It was their desire to put an end to things in their favor by reaching Paris before the mass of fresh troops from the US came into the fight. The German army at this point was highly experienced, and while there were always replacements, for the most part, the Marines would be facing veterans. These veteran troops felt that the Americans would be incapable of performing in what was a new type of warfare.

Initially, the Marines, using French equipment, which they generally did not like, moved against the Germans in waves across open fields and were decimated by German machine gunners. Apparently the General in charge did not think that the woods were heavily defended. He was wrong. This did little to change the German opinion of American troops. Following this, the Marines returned to the small unit tactics they had used  before and progress started to be made.

It was no way easy going as the German defense was tenacious, but slowly the Germans began to realize that the Marines were not going to be the easy to defeat foes they originally considered them. In fact, they were just the opposite. This sort of thing was not good for German morale and that played a part in the outcome of the campaign.

Every one of Osprey's different series of books has a specific format and this one follows the standard as do the others. It looks into the training, tactics and leadership of both sides. It also compares the equipment used by them and to things like logistics, communications and morale. But the real focus of the book is on how they fight. It makes for a great read and also covers an interesting part of the war. Well worth reading and a book that I can quite easily recommend to you.

December 2018

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