A Machine Gunner In France header 

Reviewing A Machine-Gunner In France 

By David Retherford
via The Strategy Bridge web site 

In A Machine-Gunner In France, Captain Ward Schrantz has written a detailed account of his personal experiences during a 22-month deployment covering his mobilization in the United States, his combat involvement on The Western Front, and his demobilization back to the United States during the First World War. Schrantz’s memoir was written with the goal of leaving a record of Company A, 128th Machine Gun Battalion (MGB), 35th Infantry Division’s involvement in the First World War.

A Machine Gunner in France coverEditor Jeffrey L. Patrick should be commended for compiling Schrantz’s unfinished memoir and adding research material from archival sources, newspapers, and other memoirs to produce a well-rounded account of the 128th MGB. Schrantz’s account was executed with minute details that highlight the sacrifices and hardships endured by the soldiers of Company A, and a general reader with limited knowledge of the 35th Infantry Division’s role in the First World War may not benefit as much from the elaborate detail left by Schrantz or the archival work added by Patrick. But this is ultimately a book about one soldier before, during, and after the First World War.

Captain Schrantz served as the company commander of A CO, 128th MGB, 35th Infantry Division, a National Guard unit before and during the First World War. Along with most of the soldiers serving with him, Schrantz was born and raised in Carthage, Missouri, and began his military career in 1909.[1] When the United States declared war on Germany, Schrantz was voted to the rank of Captain, a position he maintained throughout the war.

Readers looking for a detailed account of the 35th Infantry Division’s involvement during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive will only find Schrantz’s personal viewpoint as a company commander, not a strategic view of the campaign. Schrantz purposely refrained from discussing the failures of the 35th Infantry Division. Academic researchers looking for supporting material, however, will find beneficial research material that warrants reading.

Academic researchers or general readers looking for a story about military camp life will find precise and specific detail in Schrantz’s book. Nearly one-third of the book deals with mobilization and troop movements prior to the unit entering the trenches. Readers interested in the weather faced by the soldiers at Camp Doniphan, Oklahoma, will find a detailed account of the living conditions faced by the 128th.[2] Army camp life and cultural observation with troop movements were well documented.

A few major observations made in the book warrant a detailed review. The first was the lack of clear internal communications within the units of the 35th Division. Second, the contemptuous relationship between officers and medical officers. And third, machine gun equipment layout.

Read the entire article on the Strategy Bridge web site here:


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