Most people have heard the name “Devil Dogs” when reading a history book or watching the history channel, but this famous nickname is often met with confusion. Who were the Devil Dogs? What did they do? We are here to clear up this hazy part of American history. In the summer of 1918, World War I waged over seas and the United States Marine Corps was sent into Belleau Wood, a small area near the Marne River in France to hold off a German offensive that had broken through the French lines. Outgunned, outmanned and lacking adequate cover, the Marine Corps not only halted the advancing German forces, but pushed them back out of the woods. The series of encounters that followed over the coming month were then known as the Battle of Belleau Wood. A majority of the fighting during Belleau Wood consisted of hand to hand combat in which the marines were highly trained. To even enter the Marine Corps in the early 20th century, individuals had to meet certain height, weight and strength requirements. After the battle of Belleau Wood, rumors circled that several German soldiers were calling the American Marines “hell hounds.” The Marine Corps embodied this brand and have since lived in infamy as the “Devil Dogs” that saved the Allies from the brink of annihilation.
Below is a famous quote written by a German soldier following the battle: “Brave conduct…some of the wounded men carried on despite their injuries. Our men have thrown hand grenades into the clumps of men; enemy didn’t pay an attention to them. Shoot while they walk, with their rifles under their arms. Carry no hand grenades, but use knives, pistols, rifle butts and bayonets…big husky fellows, every one of them—rowdies—absolutely no military bearing.”
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