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The Story of the American Expeditionary Forces

91st Division


to the



Albert I, King of Belgium

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Quick Facts

     Where:   Twelve miles east of Ypres
Check the Location on a Map of the Western Front

     When:     October 30 - November 11, 1918

     AEF Units Participating:    US 37th and 91st Divisions assigned to the French VIth Army under the King of Belgium's Army Group.Flanders

     US Commanders:   Maj.. General Charles S. Farnsworth, 37th Division; Maj. General William H. Johnston, 91st Division..

     Opposing Forces:    German Army Group of Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria

     Memorable For:      Two AEF divisions serving as the driving force for an advance of ten miles stopping only with the Armistice

The Group of Armies of Flanders, under Albert I, King of the Belgians, rapidly became an important factor in the combined Allied operations during the Allied Victory Offensive. On September 28. it began an attack on a front of eighteen miles, extending from Kemmel Hill to Dixmude. which in three days drove the enemy back from six to nine miles all along that line. On October 2. the Germans began an extensive withdrawal south of the Lys. from Armentieres almost to Arras to shorten their lines west of Lille. On October 14. the Allied attack was renewed from Comines to Dixmude. with gains up to four miles along the entire front. This victory forced the enemy to give up his hold on the Belgian coast. The Allies entered Ostende on October 17. took Bruges on the 19th. and on the 20th extended their left to the sea at the Dutch frontier.

US Engineers Repairing Track E. of Waereghem

During the closing days of the advance of the Allies in Flanders, the American 37th and 91st Divisions joined King Albert's forces. They arrived on the nights of October 29/30 and 30/31---the 37th without artillery, and the 91st with the artillery of the American 28th Division in place of its own. They entered the line of General de Boissoudy's French Army of Belgium, south of Deynze. and took their positions with the French 128th Division between them.

Click here to see a map of the Battlefield

Their common objective was the line of the Scheldt. The first attack of these divisions, on October 31, drove the enemy back to a line through Cruyshautem Ridge. On the following day, they continued their advance six miles to the Scheldt River. The 37th Division, on the night of November 2/3, bridged the Scheldt and firmly established part of its forces on the eastern bank. Meanwhile, the 91st Division had reached Audenarde on November 1. where it found the bridge over the Scheldt destroyed and the enemy occupying a commanding position southeast of the town.

At Hotel De Ville, Audenarde

When its efforts to construct bridges failed on the night of November 2/3, it planned to cross on the bridges of the 37th Division: but. finding that the movement could not be completed before daylight it postponed the crossing to the following night. Both of these divisions were relieved on the nights of November 3/4 and 4/5 and withdrew to Thielt. On November 10. they reentered the line about where they had left it, with orders to cross the Scheldt and advance to the Dendre.

When the Armistice took effect, the American 37th and 91st Divisions were well east of the Scheldt. advancing in pursuit of the retreating Germans.

Sources and thanks: The primary source of this article is AMERICAN ARMIES AND BATTLEFIELDS IN EUROPE The photos were provided by regular contributors Ray Mentzer and Herb Stickel. MH

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