The Lost Battalion
During the Meuse-Argonne offensive a battalion from the 308th infantry regiment of the American army advanced too quickly into the Argonne forest, finding itself surrounded by German forces in the Charlevaux ravines, 5 miles behind the front line. Rescued days later by the general advance of the allied forces, this unit lost almost two-thirds of its men between 2nd and 7th October 1918 (107 killed, 63 missing, 190 wounded). The precise details of this incident remained relatively vague, although it was widely romanticised and celebrated in the media immediately after the war. A four-year survey of the woods led by Brad Posey has helped to enhance our knowledge of a zone which saw just a few days of fighting. By detecting and precisely cataloguing a large number of items on the forest floor (ammunition, items of German and American military equipment), this study made it possible to better identify the precise locations of the principal engagements and to trace the progress of the American troops towards the pocket where they were ultimately surrounded, harried and almost wiped out.