The battle fought in Belleau Wood (June 1918) was the first real taste of battle for the US Marines in World War One with General Pershing calling Belleau Wood the most important battle fought by US forces since the US Civil War. The Battle of Belleau Wood was part of the Allied drive east away from an axis from Amiens to Paris in what was a response to the German Spring Offensive in 1918.

US Marine casualties were the highest in the Corp’s history up to that date. General Pershing was to state that “the deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.” Even a post-battle German report stated that the Marines marksmanship was “remarkable”.

By June 26th, the Marines confirmed that they had taken the entire woods. To clear the woods in their entirety, the Marines had frequently resorted to hand-to-hand fighting with bayonets and knives. Such was the ferocity of this that the Germans gave the Marines the nickname “Teufel Hunden”, which roughly translates as “Devil Dogs”.

Not only was the defeat of the Germans at Belleau Wood a major blow to the Germans it also proved to be a huge morale booster to the Allied forces that were still suffering from the onslaught that was the German Spring Offensive. After the battle, the French renamed Belleau Wood “Bois de la Brigade de Marine” – Wood of the Marine Brigade and the 4th Brigade was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French in recognition of their achievement by the French in recognition of their achievement.

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