Occupation Duty

By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.

WorldWarIOccupationMedalAfter the Armistice, Troops A, B, C, D, I, M, and the regimental headquarters and band, 2nd Cavalry, marched with the invading army into Germany and were stationed on the Rhine River with the American Army of Occupation, which was commanded at this time by the former regimental commander, Major General Joseph T. Dickman. The remainder of the troops stayed in France performing duties at remount stations and as military police.

The regimental headquarters and band and Troops C and D joined the Thirty-second Division on November 16 for the march into Germany, when the two troops acted as advance guard. Troop A reported to the Second Division on November 16 and was assigned duty as advance cavalry. This troop was the first of the Allied Forces to enter St. Ledger, Belgium, on November 18. Troop C acted as advance guard for the Fifth Marines, arriving at Etalle, Belgium, November 18. The First Squadron and regimental headquarters assembled at Longuyon, France, November 21. This command then marched to Contern, Luxemburg, where it remained until December 1. The march was continued from this date until the 19th, when it arrived at Coblenz, Germany, on the Rhine River.

Hardly had the regimental headquarters and band reached their destination when the started the return march. On January 18, 1919, they left Coblenz and marched to Dombasle-en-Argonne, a distance of 200 miles, where the headquarters of the regiment was established. At this station were also located the Headquarters and Supply Troops, all of which were under the Advance Section, S.O.S., in care of animals.

The First Squadron remained on duty with the Third Army in the vicinity of Coblenz on the Rhine River. After garrisoning this area until April, the four troops were assigned to duty at other places near there. Troop A went to Arzheim, six miles distant, April 23, as corps cavalry of the Third Army Corps. Troop B was assigned to duty with the Second Division April 21 and moved to Daufenbach, a distance of twenty miles, where it performed patrol duty. Later in the month it became also corps cavalry for the Third Army Corps and moved to Arzheim. Troop C was assigned to duty with the First Division on April 12 and proceed to Molsburg, a distance of twenty-eight miles, where it did patrolling. Troop D was also assigned for duty with the Second Division April 21 and marched to Honnengen, eighteen miles distant, where it patrolled that area. Troop A was brought back to Coblenz to act as escort for Lieutenant General Hunter Liggitt May 10, for General Pershing May 13, and for Marshall Foch May 16.

Troop I was at first attached to the Third Army Corps for the march to Germany. In this capacity it left Dun-sur-Meuse November 20 and marched to Louppy. After the arrival at Gonderange, Luxemburg, on the 23rd, several days were spent here in preparation for the next move. Orders came on the 29th attaching the troop to the Second Division for the remainder of the march. The duties consisted of preceding the infantry, acting as advance and left flank guard for the rest of the distance, and keeping contact with the Canadians on the left. The troop received orders to push on the Rhine River on December 8 ahead of the infantry. It arrived at Remagen after a march of twenty-eight miles, the first of the American troops to reach the Rhine. The river was crossed on the 13th and the troop marched to Neuwied for station, where it remained until January 2, 1919. On this date it moved to Ehrenbritstein, which was across the river from Coblenz. While stationed here the troop acted as escort for numerous important personages, including General Pershing, Marshal Foch, and the Secretaries of War and Navy.

After the Armistice, Troop M was chosen to march into Germany as part of the advance guard of the Third Division. One platoon was detached and made the trip with the mounted corps troops. The troop arrived at Remich, Luxemburg, November 22 and remained here until December 1. The march was continued on this date and Andernach, Germany, was reached on the 16th, where the troop took station. In January, 1919, the duties were changed to the 4th Army Corps at Hausen, where a large number of horses were cared for during the remainder of the stay in Germany.

The troops remaining in France after the Armistice were on duty generally at remount depots or as military police. For awhile some of them continued doing the same work as before the war ended. They guarded prisoners of war, continued on straggler patrol, or acted as guards on leave trains. While on duty at the School for the Care of Animals at Commercy on March 3, 1919, the barracks of Troop L burned, completely destroying the equipment, clothing, and all troop records. Although there were some changes in the stations later, during the first part of the year 1919 the troops in France were stationed as follows: Headquarters and Supply Troops at Dombasle, the Machine Gun Troop at Verdun, Troop E at Clermont, Troop F at Dun-sur-Meuse, Troop G at Grand Pre, Troop H at Rarecourt, Troop K at Mars-la-Tour, and Troop L at Commercy. At this time all were doing police and guard duty except Troop L, which was with the Second Army School for the Care of Animals.

The troops were finally made happy by the order which arrived in May, 1919, for the return home. The regiment assembled from its many posts over France and Germany at Le Mans, France, an embarkation center, during the last week of the month. The horses and equipment were left behind upon leaving their stations. After a few days here it entrained for Nantes and was assembled at this place by June 6. More preparations took place here for the trip home, and then it entrained on the 17th for St. Nazaire, where it boarded the transport Rijndam and sailed for New York June 19.

After an uneventful voyage home, the troops arrived at Hoboken, New Jersey, June 29 and entrained for Camp Mills, Long Island, New York. At this place many of the officers and enlisted men accepted their discharges and left the service. At the end of June, 1919, the strength of the regiment was fifty-four officers and 1,337 enlisted men present. While at the demobilization center, this strength was reduced to twenty-three officers and 354 enlisted men. All men other than those enlisted for the regular three-year period were discharged. The whole regiment left Camp Mills by train on July 3 and arrived at Fort Riley, Kansas, July 6. Hardly had the regiment settled at the new station when orders came July 22 to move (except Headquarters and Supply Troops) to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to perform guard duty at the Disciplinary Barracks, which was a military prison. The troops returned to Fort Riley August 16.

1 thought on “Occupation Duty”

  1. Al & Jean Lewandowski

    We recently discovered Al’s dad’s dog tag from WWI 2nd Cav Troop E, and have been fascinated with your postings – he never talked about the war and it was prior to his marriage and family – we have a picture that we imagine was taken at his camp prior to going to France – if there is anymore information on Troop E that we haven’t uncovered we would love to hear about it – thanks so much!!

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