Welcome, Sons of Pennsylvania,
Proud we are to grasp each hand,
Bid you wassail by our hearthfires,
You who ruled in No Man's Land!
Victors of Fismettes and Sergy,
Apremont,Varennnes and Aisne,
Men of Iron, Sons of Pennsylvania,
Welcome, welcome home again!
Proud, yet fearful we have watched you,
Read your deeds with anxious eyes,
Wept for them who fell in glory,
Underneath the shell swept skies.
Trembled for you, bravely smiling,
In the maw of hurt and hate,
Grimly trekking ever onward,
Glad to break a lance with fate!
You were fearless in the battle,
You were masters of the Huns!
Not a field in France but glories,
In the deeds of Pensy's Sons!
Not an act but bears fair witness,
Not a move but proved you true,
To the mother state that bore you,
To the Red, the White, the Blue!
By the rude graves on the hillsides;
By the light of angry guns,
By the roads that led to Paris,
Barring pathway to the huns;
By the Marne, the Oureq, the Argonne;
By the fields you won so well;
All the world learned to respect you,
Sons of Pennsy gave them Hell!
Where the fighting raged the fiercest;
Where the hurt fields writhed in pain,
Where the deep woods hid their terrors;
Where the death seythe cleft the grain,
Where the red-voiced night took umbrage;
Where the seared Hun quit his lair;
Where Old Glory waved the tallest,
Men of Iron conquered there!
Fought and conquered-Now comeing home,
Pennsylvania gives her hand,
Pledges jobs and love a'plenty,
Men who ruled in no mans land.
Victors of Fismettes and Sergy,
Apremont, Varennes and Aisne,
Men of Iron, Sons of Pennsy,
Welcome, welcome home again.
Written by: 1st Lt. C. L. JORDAN, U. S.
~~~THE MARNE PART 1~~~
While the world held its breath as the
grey-green waves rolled towards the Channel Ports in that
anxious month of March 1918, the men of
the Iron Division chafed angrily at their forced
inactivity at Camp Hancock, Augusta. Trained as
the National Guard of Pennsylvania; seasoned by
work on the border; instructed in trench fighting for
nearly a year - they were fit to f1ght, they
wanted to fight, and they cussed because the
Then it came - the
overseas order. Breathless with eagerness, they
left for France on the heels of the record drive
towards Amiens. From a French port where they
landed on May 18th, they were ordered to a post
graduation course with the British.
From their training area. the men of the 28th
could hear the mighty rumble of guns as Jerry
broke thru the French lines on the Chemise des
Demes and thrust his vanguard across the Marne.
It was a time when every soldier longed to be "up there";
When the glorious offer of General
Pershing to Marshall Foch filled every American
with a desire to show the world that "America's
All" was "the all" that was needed to fill the
It was weary waiting for the
eager Pennsylvanians - the infantry - 109th,
110th, 111th, and 112th regiments, were camped
just north of Paris, awaiting orders to move
forward. The artillery,107th, 108th and 109th
Regiments, were still training in southern
France. The ammunitions and supply trains had not yet come
When the chance to fight did come, it would be
necessary brigaded with the French. That made little
difference tho, as ll
the Keystone boys wanted was the "privilege to
The first honors fell to two
platoons composed of lads from Pittsburgh. It was a
volunteer job to help the French take Hill 204. on July
If this action was
chosen as a test of the mettle of the
Pennsylvanians, it was proof positive that they
were ready for the big test. Shoulder to shoulder with
their French comrades, the boys from
Pittsburgh plunged forward up the hill, taking it easily.
The short words of commendation from the
French commanders were eloquent of the impression the two
platoons had made.
But it was not until July 14th,
the famous French
Independence Day,(Bastille Day) that the Division moved
into action. They were to support the
French troops then holding the line.
Their section ran from Chezy, on the east; by
Vaux and a little beyond Chateau Thierry on the
west. The 103rd Engineers were furthest east,
then in order came the 109th, 110th and 111th.
The 112th was not sent in at that place.
had settled over the front.The third
great German drive had been halted. America's
first fighting divisions had won the salutes of
the world by their gallant work at Belleau Wood,
Vaux, Chatetu Thierry and the Marne. The great
morter genius of the Allies was calmly waiting
for the last effort of the Hun to reach Paris.
United under one leader, the Allied line
presented a solid front from Flanders to the
Vosges. The final Hun drive was doomed before it
Four companies only (L and M
of the 109th and B and C of the 110th) of the
Iron Division were on the actual firing line at
12.30 on the morning of July 15th when the great
As tho he realized
that this was his last chance, the enemy threw
over the mightiest barrage ever seen on the
Western front. The entire battle zone for miles
behind the lines was torn with a volcano of
explosives. The scream and the shriek of shells
manning their guns in spite of the terrific hail
of death, the Allied batteries poured confusion
into the attacking waves. For the first time, the Hun's
carefully planned schedule was delayed.
Instead of throwing their pontoons across the
Marne at 1:30 they were delayed until
To the methodical German this
meant ruin. Broken, confused and astounded at the iron
resistance of the Allies in face of this
tremendous bar- rage, he finally crossed the
river, only to find a solid wall of machine guns, rifles
and bayonets. Wave after wave dashed
itself to pieces against the thin line of French
and Americans. The river was choked with
But still they came in incredible
numbers. Prolonged resistance in face of such
odds was impossible. It was necessary to fall
back to the support lines where the strength of
the defense was concentrated.
curious fate played the four companies from
Pennsylvania. The orders to fall back were never
received, and, fighting hand to hand with the
onrushing hordes,they found themselves alone and
practically surrounded. Refusing to give up and
gallantly flghting their way back, the men of the Iron
Division covered themselves with never dying glory.
History records but few
instances of greater individual bravery and more
glorious faith in tradition, than the concerted
action of these boys, unused to war, but veterans in that
soldier spirit which prefers to die
fighting rather than yield.
Practically without food or sleep, the few who
won their way back joined their buddies and the
French "Blue Devils" in the "Iron Stand" which
gave them the name of "Iron Division."
There in the
woods and wheatflelds they met the
greatest Hun offensive.suffering almost
unbelievable privations they held.
Along the entire front, Jerry found a solid
unyieldy wall. He paused, and as he paused, Foch
launched his Franco-American drive towards the
Unnerved and unprepared for
this unexpected resistance, the Huns fell back in
consternation. They resorted to every dirty trick that has
made them the hated of all
Liquid fire, poison gas,
traitorous acts, chained machine gunners and
other atrocities were tried to stop the
victorious French and Americans.
was a rude realization of bestial war that was
opened before these grandsons of them who had
fought as gentlemen in '61. But, true to their
traditions, they fought clean and won
In the first short week, the
casualties in the 28th numbered approximately
2200 out of only three infantry regiments and the 103rd
Engineers. It was necessary to give them
rest and replacements. So on July 21st, they were
withdrawn for a few days repose.
replacements consisted of few
Pennsylvanians. But they were all Yanks, full of
eager fire, brave and fit companions for the Iron Men of
the Keystone Division.
On July 26th they were
ordered north thru
Fere-en-Tardenois to engage the retreating enemy
as quickly as possible.
Americans that pursuit is still a nightmare of
tired horribleness. Every available shelter hid a
machinegun that vomited a hail of bullets. Every
town held a snarling enemy fighting with his back to the
Those of you who
pictured the Huns as fleeing In wild disorder
should have seen the 110th take the Church of
Roncheres. Here Jerry had stationed machine guns
in the belfry, on the stairs and even behind the
cross on top of the church. It was necessary to
enter the church and mount the stairs with
bayonet and grenade to dislodge the Huns in face
of a concentrated machine gun fire.
But they did it!
And at the Bois de
Grimpeltes the 109th and 110th were compelled to
Charge across the open under a murderous fire
that drove them back five times. It was only when the
artillery came up to prepare the way that
they were able to get a lodgement in the woods
and drive the Huns out.
It was the
same at Sergy. Four times they drove the crack
troops of Prussia out and four times they lost
it. But with true Yankee tenacity and with their
American dander brightened by each repulse, they
rushed in the fifth time and fairly annihilated
By this time the Iron
Division was practically complete. The 112th
Infantry had joined the fighting. The Field
Artillery was making itself hateful to Jerry. The 103rd
ammunition train was bringing the
ammunition night and day over the shelled roads
and the 103rd supply train was rushing the much
needed food forward. The 103rd Signal Battalion
had it's network of wires and laison operating -
the Division was after them in earnest!
blinding rain and area of mud, the
Iron Division drove the re- treating Huns from
the Oureq to the Verle. The 112th regiment
stormed and took Fismes, the important railroad
center of the Soissons-Rheins pocket.
then faced the mighty task of
crossing the Verke and storming Fismettes. Under
a murderous fire from the German guns on the
hills beyond, the Engineers threw a pontoon
bridge across the river and the boys dashed over
and established a bridge head. Slowly they pushed forward
into the town, cleaned Jerry out and
followed hard on his heels towards the
It is impossible to recount
the individual deeds of heroism during that great drive.
The long list of D. S. C's and Croix (le
Guerres won by the Iron men is but a slight
estimate of the far larger number of heroes who
fought and fell alone. It is enough to say that
during those days of the first real American
offensive, the Iron Division nobly took it's
stand along with the veteran divisions "and got
away with their job!"
citations from Headquarters showed that the work
accomplished by the Keystone Division was known
Tired, but happy in
the glory of wonderful achievement, the 28th was
relieved on September 10th after nearly 60 days
fighting with only the barest possible rest. From the
Marne to the Aisne, the glory of Pennsylvania is as surely
carved deep in the heart of that
hapless country, as it was in our own hearts back in the
days of 1876.
THE ARGONNE -- PART II
was beside itself with joy at the success
of Marshall Foch's great counter drive. In
Flanders, the Hun was hurriedly evacuating the
country he had tramped so ruthlessly years
before. Along the Aisne, French and American
batteries were blowing his strong line along the
Chemin des Dames to bits, and a great French
drive was forcing him backward.
St.Mihiel, General Pershing's 1st Army had
astounded the world by the brilliant coupe at
that almost impregnable salient. What
Had you flown over the Verdun
front to the Argonne by day, you would have
noticed nothing. But had you stood on those broad roads at
night, you would have thought the world
As if by magic, the
peaceful woods disgorged thousands of grim lads
in khaki at dusk each night. The empty roads
became a mass of gigantic trucks, heavy guns,
light artillery, supply wagons, men and horses.
The peaceful darkness was rent with low, strained
The greatest Army America had
ever assembled was rushing Into position. One of
the strongest concentrations of artillery ever
known was lumbering up. The last morter strike of the war
was being set. The curtain hung uneasily
before the military power of Prussia.
malestorm of men unafraid, came the
Iron Division after days of forced marches across country.
They were eager with that eagerness of a brave man to
share in glory. And in each heart
was the feeling that America's supreme effort was going to
be a glorious success.
did not know where they were going. But they knew they
were,GOING TO GO!
At eleven o'clock on
the night of September 25th a single gun rang out along
the line. Shortly after the boys in khaki
were electrified by the greatest barrage they had ever
heard. "America's Million Dollar Barrage"
they called it. At 5.30 they went over towards a
broken, blistered line. Jerry's resistance was
crushed. For twenty miles the American 1st Army
moved steadily forward. To their left, the
French Army went over at the same time on a 34
On the success of this
drive depended the early decision of the war. If
the Hun could be dislodged in the Northland his
communications cut, then it was over. And equally
important it was necessary for him to weaken his
Flanders front in order to defend the
The Iron Division advanced
between the "Hickory Division" composed of boys
from Tennessee and North and South Carolina and
the 77th from New York. They took Bournielles and stormed
the stronghold of Vareness.
Flushed by success, they dashed on to Apremout
and there encountered the greatest battle in the
tough history of the Division.
detail that Argonne advance would be to tell the
story of America's most glorious achievement in
any war, Our boys met problems that could only be solved
by a rainfire almost beyond human
The little tangled shiens
of barbed bushes and thick underbrush;
innumerable clustered enemy machine guns,
crumbled "pill boxes"; pitiful little "cup holes" dug by
our boys on the hillsides where they
crouched from the hail of bullets thru cold,
biting nights; the long lines of wounded and the
more numerous number of dead-these are eloquent
spokesmen of that slow, bull-dog grip which
Pershing fastened on Jerry's jugular
Doggedly marching on, scarce
heedful of shell or hardships, so dazed they were by
shivering nights and murderous days, the Iron
Men gained Apremont at a tremendous sacrifice. To their
aching bodies, the hard drive from the
Marne was a romp compared to this thrilling
Opposed to them was the
greatest military machine in the world,
work- ing with his back to the wall. But the
machine was cracking. Time after time, the
intrepid Yanks dashed full in his snarling face.
Each time he fell back a little more.
Kriembilde and Brunnhilcle lines
were pierced, broken and captured. On through
Grandpre they fought, and on November 1st, the
last great drive broke the Hun's machine
entirely, and the Yanks romped gaily on into
The Keystone Division was not
with the last great wave that went over. After
taking Apremont at a tremendous cost, they pushed on to
Chatel Cheny and towards Grandpre. They
were relieved on October 10th after achieving a
brilliant record in this sector.
Scarcely allowing them a moment's well earned
rest, the artillary was dispatched to Belgium and the
infantry transferred to the 2nd Army A. E. F. then forming
in the Woevre Sector.
The armistice found them eager for new conquests
and anxious to add more laurels to the already
covered brow of old Penn.
On November 18th the
Division received the much coveted gold
stripe of six months service overseas. Six months - a
short span in ordinary life- but an eternity
of achievement for these men.
In them lives again
the spirit of those who suffered, and smiled at Valley
Forge; who stood firm at
Gettysburg and who conquered at Manilla. Never
did a band of untried soldiers more quickly
become proved veterans. Never did tried veterans
live up to their traditions more nobly!
individual bravery self sacrifice and
personal initiative there was a galaxy of
glorious deeds that might well fill many volumes. But it
is the unit, operating as one man, that
has fought its way into the highest niche of fame held
only by the best of America's fighting
When the toll of conquest
is taken, can Pennsylvania not refer proudly to
such names as Bois de Conde,St.Agnan, Foret de
Pere, Le Charmel, Marne, Oureq, Vesle, Roncheres, Fismes,
Fismettes, Vellers-en-Prayers, Aisne,
Argonne, Bounielles, Varennes, Moutblainville,
Apremont, Pleinehamp Farm, Le Forge,
Chatel-Chehery, Hills 223 and 224 and La Chene
Tonder and many others.