Today marks the centennial of the cease fire and ending of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. Granddaddy Raymond was there. In fact... his regiment... the 167th of the famed 42nd "Rainbow" Division... was the furthermost allied unit in German territory when the Armistice was called at 11:00 AM.
The family significance of the Croix Rouge Farm also dates back 100 years and marks the spot where Raymond took part in the fiercest fighting he and his regiment encountered during the Great War. Raymond survived the Battle of the Croix Rouge Farm but 162 of his comrades were killed taking it from the Germans in July of 1918.
On July 26, 1918, the 42nd Division and the 167th Regiment regained in two consecutive battles the Croix Rouge Farm in Aisne, France.
Douglas MacArthur wrote of the battle...
July 26, 1918
“…the 167th Alabama assisted by the left flank of the 168th Iowa had stormed and captured the Croix Rouge Farm in a manner which for its gallantry I do not believe has been surpassed in military history. It was one of the few occasions on which the bayonet was decisively used.”
The Official “Rainbow” Division History says, “The capture of the Croix Rouge Farm and clearing belongs to that list of military exploits which cannot fail to excite the admiration of those who hear the tale, because of the determination and gallantry displayed.”
Historian and Author, Edward Lengel, writes...
The U.S. 42d “Rainbow” Division—the third National Guard formation to arrive at the front—was one of the more colorful units in the A.E.F.. It was an amalgam of National Guard units from twenty-six states plus the District of Columbia. Douglas MacArthur, who eventually commanded the division’s 84th Brigade, supposedly said that “The 42nd Division stretches like a Rainbow from one end of America to the other.”
The division’s four regiments all had storied histories. They were the 165th (originally New York’s Fighting 69th); the 166th (the 4th Ohio); the 167th (4th Alabama); and the 168th (3rd Iowa). Though proud of their origins, the Rainbow men believed that General Pershing and his officers disliked them because they were National Guard. They had a lot to prove.
On July 25-26, the American I Corps pulled out all three of its frontline divisions, including the American 26th and 28th, and replaced them with one: the Rainbow Division. The 84th Brigade (167th and 168th Regiments) led the attack on July 26 against German-held Croix Rouge (Red Cross) Farm, which was a well-prepared position bristling with well-sited machine guns. In their first attack, the green American troops clumped together in thick lines and took heavy casualties. They were beaten back.
Later that evening, though, the Doughboys spread out thinly and used combined arms tactics, wielding grenades, machine guns, and one-pounder light cannon as they advanced. Engaging the Germans in close quarters combat, they captured the farm. MacArthur remembered that, “we reverted to tactics I had seen so often in the Indian wars of my frontier days. Crawling forward in twos and threes against each stubborn nest of enemy guns, we closed in with the bayonet and the hand grenade. It was savage and there was no quarter asked or given.” Red Cross Farm cost over 1,000 American casualties. 162 battle deaths in the 167th alone.
A short time later, MacArthur was promoted to brigadier general and placed in command of the 84th Brigade. He later remembered his first visit to the front, writing, “I will never forget that trip. The dead were so thick in spots we tumbled over them. There must have been at least 2,000 of those sprawled bodies. . . . The stench was suffocating. Not a tree was standing. The moans and cries of wounded men sounded everywhere. Sniper bullets sung like the buzzing of a hive of angry bees.”
Enter Douglas MacArthur: the Rainbow Division at Croix Rouge Farm, 1918
Raymond Lee Humphrey (1892~1970)
167th Regiment, 42nd US Infantry (Rainbow) Division,
World War I
Activated: August 1917 (National Guard Division, the components of which were drawn from 26 States and the District of Columbia).
Overseas: November 1917.
Major Operations: Champagne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne.
Days of Combat: 264.
Casualties: Total 14,683 (KIA-2,058; WIA-12,625).
Commanders: Maj. Gen. W. A. Mann (5 September 1917), Maj. Gen. Charles T. Menoher (19 December 1917), Brig. Gen. Douglas MacArthur (10 November 1918), Maj. Gen. C. A. F. Flagler (22 November 1918).
Raymond was a proud veteran and always celebrated Armistice Day (as he always referred to it) while he was alive. Here he is pictured with a cake for such a celebration... notice the Rainbow Division rainbows. His regiment was the furthermost allied unit in German territory when the Armistice was called at 11:00 AM on the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. The honor gave his regiment head of column as they headed toward Germany. While marching into Belgium... being the first friendly liberators the Belgians saw in their county in years... the 167th regimental band struck up the tune "Dixie" as they entered the first town.