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WORLD WAR I GALLERY


World War I dwarfed in size and horror any previous overseas war fought by the United States. Visitors "hear all about it" first-hand from a newsboy hawking his papers on a city street. His big news is that the U.S. Marines are now in the fight in a place called Belleau Wood. After a review of Marine battle tactics in the French countryside, visitors edge through a stand of trees and come up behind a German machine gunners' position. The Germans are dead, and the visitors are experiencing the full fury of the Marines charging across a field of wheat right at them, to include the smell of cordite and the whistle of bullets through the leaves overhead. That battle lasted three weeks and, in its first bloody day on 6 June 1918, eclipsed all the casualties the Marines had sustained in their first 143 years. It is a battle that every Marine recruit learns about in his early weeks at boot camp. In a nearby crater, surrounded by a ghostly woods, correspondent Floyd Gibbons can be found typing his report: "U.S. Marines smash Huns!"

Bringing in supplies and carrying out the wounded from the battle is a Model T truck, askew on the damaged road but still able to get to Marines in need. An 1897 French 75mm field gun sits alone in the decimated forest. At an oral history station guarded by an armed Marine who has just donned his gas mask, visitors hear Marines and corpsmen describe the hell they had just lived through. Peering through periscopes, visitors see beyond the trenches, while overhead a nimble and very responsive Thomas Morse S-4B aircraft scouts the area. The personal weapons, uniforms, accruements, and honors of those who fought on all sides are displayed throughout this busy gallery, including John A. Lejeune's M1911 pistol. The logistics of getting the "beans, bullets, and band aids" to the Marines in the field was another important story, represented by a fully restored Liberty truck on display near the exit. Their widely publicized achievements in France catapulted the U.S. Marines to renown on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

 

WORLD WAR I: 1917 1918
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National Museum of the Marine Corps
18900 Jefferson Davis Highway
Triangle, VA 22172
Toll Free: 1.877.635.1775


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Copyright© 2006. Admission to the National Museum of the Marine is FREE. Hours are 9:00 AM to 5: 00 PM every day except Christmas Day.