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. A.



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 couldn't fight.

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 gap.

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 up.

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 fight".

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 6th,1918.

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.

A pause 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 began.

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 offensive began.

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 seemed everywhere.

But sturdily 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 3.30.

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 dead.
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.

A 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 Marne.

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 people.

Liquid fire, poison gas, traitorous acts, chained machine gunners and other atrocities were tried to stop the victorious French and Americans.

It 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 clean.

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.

The 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.

To the 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 wall.

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 the Huns.

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!

In the 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.

The Division 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 Aisne.

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!"

Splendid citations from Headquarters showed that the work accomplished by the Keystone Division was known and appreciated.

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 world 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.

At St.Mihiel, General Pershing's 1st Army had astounded the world by the brilliant coupe at that almost impregnable salient. What next?

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 was moving.

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 words.

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.

Into this 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.

They 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 mile front.

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 Argonne.

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.

To 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 endurance.

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 vein.

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 work.

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.

The boasted 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 Sedan.

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!

Of 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 divisions.

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.

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