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    SGT York Research – Part 4

    4.) Was York’s CMOH citation embellished?

    Answer: The only part I can see that might be “embellished” is the part about the number of machine guns captured, but I would not call this ground to imply York did not deserve the award he received. Having served 20 years in the US Army myself I am very well aware of the awards process. In this case the division commander himself was present during a thorough investigation at the site a little over three months after it occurred. Awarding of the CMOH is a little different than the Army Achievement Medals I have seen thrown away like candy or the Bronze Stars given to guys for the position they held despite the fact that they never were ever really in harms way. York deserved his medal.

    5.) Did York act alone?

    Answer: Certainly not. However, there is no credible evidence that suggests any other member of the patrol did more than fire a couple shots. The real leader of the patrol was Sergeant Early, who certainly was a very brave man and capable leader for successfully leading these men to their objective on what would appear to be a suicidal mission. The platoon sergeant who sent Early and the patrol out even stated later that he thought he may ever see these men alive again. Unfortunately Sergeant Early was very seriously wounded shortly after the patrol encountered the Germans and we will never know what would have happened had he been able to continue as the leader during the fight. Early was awarded after the war with the DSC.

    6.) Is the 1941 movie an accurate portrayal of what happened that day?

    Answer: Absolutely not. The battlefield in the movie resembles a typical 1916 landscape on the Somme or Verdun when it was actually wooded country with no trenches or other dug in positions. All I say is read the 82nd Division History account of the fight and it is quick to see that the Hollywood version is very different. Of course as we all know the movie was considered at the time a propaganda film and it’s purpose was not to be historically accurate.

    7.) Was York really a coward as the “Other Sixteen” group alludes to?

    Answer: I was actually very disappointed with the video someone posted earlier in the thread from this group. I personally met two of the individuals you see in this video and they were with us during the field research last April. Up until I saw this video I had taken the group to be more objective and only concerned that their family members (survivors of the patrol) place in history had been overlooked and that they deserved some sort of recognition for their participation. This video is (in my opinion) a “York Bash”. The documents they cite are all used out of context from what they really say. I know this first hand because I have copies of them all. Out of respect for their relative’s service as members of this patrol and out of my promise to them not to share these without consent I will only summarize what they say to me. Anyone seriously interested in this should contact them personally and ask if they will share these documents with them.

    More on this in my next post……..


      8.) So what is the deal with the “Other Sixteen” group who allude to York being a coward in their video?

      Answer: I originally thought that they wanted some sort of recognition for their relatives service in WW I and as members of this historic patrol. From what I have seen in this video they have a slightly different agenda than what they talked to us about in the Argonne last April and that seems to me now that they want to make York out to be a coward or otherwise not deserving of the CMOH. Unless, of course, their relatives get equal recognition.

      Having personally read the Buxton/Merrithew letters, the Warner Brother Studios/Merrithew letters, the draft of the Boston Globe article and numerous articles and other statements this group provided me I conclude that IMHO I detect jealousy and other factors motivating the survivors than actual feelings that York was a coward. You can see in the video that one of the members says that the survivors stated after the war that York had to be ordered on the pain of death to join in the fighting. This is taken WAY out of context from the Boston Globe article draft that I read. The incident they are referring to “supposedly” happened before 8 October and it sounds something like this; “York was standing on the parapet screaming ‘why will this war not end – I want to go home” and one of the other members of the platoon telling York they will “blow his brains out” if he does not shut up. This incident, as they describe in the video, has nothing to do with the events of 8 October as they allude to and are IMHO complete fiction.

      I do not want this thread on my part to turn into a personal attack on anyone, but this group is stating what they say to be historical facts as remembered or documented by their relatives and I find these distorted or all together false as they tell it in this video.

      The German account mentioned by the American Legion representative in the video is again totally taken out of context and misrepresented. The Germans, according to them, had no reason to lie about what happened. Oh yes they did! The German officer’s corps and particularly the officers involved had a lot at stake. Imagine having to live with the thought that you ended up surrendering your command of 132 soldiers to a handful of American soldiers, half of which were wounded or dead. The German rebuttal is clearly a cover up in itself. (If you want a copy of it I can send it to you)

      I do not want to carry on and sound like I am after this group because that is not the case. I would really like to help them get a proper monument at the correct site honoring not only SGT York, but all of the members of that patrol, especially those who lost their lives that day.

      For anyone who gets the opportunity to read the documents I mentioned above it should be easy to see that the grievances of the survivors were driven and fueled by Merrithew and are based on his jealousy of York’s fame and awards as well as the money York received from Warner Brothers Studios and not on the historical distortion of the events of that day as alluded to by the relatives in the video.

      Much more to come for those who are interested………


        Keep it coming please.


          Jealousy is a terrible thing. I still cannot grasp why they all turned on York like they did. Could they all have been that jealous of him? Audie Murphy was another great hero. However, his brothers in arms did not turn on him after the war to my knowledge. This intense jealousy in York's case perplexes me.

          When you cannot trust the first hand witnesses how do you know who to trust? Can you clear these points up?

          1) Do we know for a fact that the .45 slugs were not fired by others, such as Early? He would have been armed with a .45 as well. In the chaos of battle, perhaps he forgot how many rounds he fired. It would have also been hard to keep track of who killed who in such a traumatic situation.

          2) Hitting eight men with eight rounds from a .45 would have been difficult even at a distance of less than 30 meters. York was, no doubt, handy with a rifle. However, I have a hard time seeing how anyone could have managed this feat with a .45, especially when the targets were moving and at a good distance.

          3) The Cutting family claims to have once owned the German major's luger and, supposedly, he surrendered it to Cpl. Cutting, not York. Are the Cuttings (Merrithews) lying?

          4) Why was Early awarded the DSC so long after the action? Was this to buy his silence as the panel claims?

          York was one of my childhood heroes. I do not think anyone hear wants to see his name cleared as much as me. However, I must admit I think the other sixteen were shortchanged, especially the ones who gave their lives. The men who made the ultimate sacrifice that day were true heroes in my opinion as well. Where was their monument, publicity, check from Warner Bros, etc? I am glad to hear you plan on honoring their sacrifice.

          There are only two tragedies in life: One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. - Oscar Wilde


            Brad Posey... all I can say is thank you for your presentation so far... just "outstanding"

            And I personally look forward to more of your outstanding work and opinion on this subject matter.

            Thank you for the education.

            “He who asserts must also prove.” -- Aristotle

            When you make a claim, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that claim.


              Several years ago I visted the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville where Alvin York's uniform was on display with a few other artifacts. I seem to recall a Mauser 1910 .32 pistol being on display that was identified as the pistol York took from a German officer.
              It often appears that in the German Army, the higher the rank, the smaller the pistol, so the smaller Mauser would be more in line with what a major would have been carrying instead of a Luger.
              I remember how York's uniform was so tiny waisted, looked like about a size 28. He must have been pretty thin.


                Ditto, bravo, and ... ???

                Originally posted by Killerbee View Post
                Brad Posey... all I can say is thank you for your presentation so far... just
                "outstanding" ...Jim
                Ditto that, superb info postings, bravo! In my own narrow perview I
                especially found the part about the 1941 movie accuracy very interesting,
                and that the Warner Brother Studios/Merrithew letter content being one
                of the sources of expressed "jealousy" feelings towards York. As I said
                previously, SY the movie, was on TV every Thanksgiving when I was a kid,
                making it IMO a primary reason for such passion about him in the USA.

                .......^^^ .................... some of my collection ...................... ^^^...


                  Mr Posey's superb summation of his scholarly research is great reading. It is nice to hear from an accomplished historian.
                  Thank you Sir.
                  You have a nice day. It has been paid for by veterans.


                    Brad, thanks for your insightful posts here. I would love to hear more and am especially interested in hearing about the artifacts found at the actual site.


                      Thanks again for all of the comments. I have a LOT of information to add to this so please be patient. Also, I will be adding a lot of photos and maps in the very near future – but in the last year or so I did not keep my association membership current so I will need to upgrade my account before I can add photos. Again, please be patient, there is still a lot to talk about in the meantime.

                      I would prefer to discuss the research we did in the field as well as what the historical documents tell us, but it seems there are still a lot of questions about the controversy.

                      To get started with the documentation of the fight this is the best place to start; Official History of 82nd Division American Expeditionary Forces 1917 – 1919. This is an excerpt found on pages 58 – 62 that describe the 328th Infantry’s attack that morning and the event that would later be known as the York fight.

                      Page 58 - 62
                      In the 328th Infantry, the 2nd Battalion had moved west across the Aire River with orders to pass the lines of the 1st Battalion on Hill 223 and jump off at 6 hours, October 8, 1918, with a compass direction ten degrees north of west. Their objective was the Decauville railroad, two kilometers away. The 328th Infantry Machine Gun Company and the one-pounder and trench mortar platoons, also of the 328th Infantry, were moved to Hill 223 and Chatel-Chehery for the purpose of supporting the attack. The 2nd Battalion of the 328th Infantry assaulted with E Company on the right and G Company on the left, and with F and H Companies in support respectively at six hundred meters. The record of this battalion on that day constitutes a very splendid page in the history of the division. Under steady and intense machine gun fire from the northwest and southwest, this battalion maneuvered down the long western slope of Hill 223, crossed the five hundred yards of open valley, fought its way through a kilometer of heavy woods which covered the precipitous spur protruding into the center of the valley from the west and dug in along the Corps objective, the Decauville Railroad, at 17 hours that afternoon. It had no liaison with the troops attacking to the north of Hill 180, over a kilometer away. For most of the day it was without contact with units of the 28th Division, also attacking in a westerly direction from Chatel-Chehery. By nightfall this battalion had taken some 270 prisoners and left more than one hundred dead Germans on the ground. It had captured the astonishing total of 123 machine guns, a battery of four field pieces, two trench mortars, a set of electrical field signal equipment complete, four anti-tank guns and a, quantity of German small arms and ammunition of several varieties.

                      As the result of a day spent in charging and outflanking machine gun nests and crawling across an exposed valley, the battalion had suffered about 350 casualties, of whom forty-five were killed. Among the dead was 2nd Lt. K. P. Stewart, G Company, who, when shot in the leg, continued to pull himself along, waving encouragement to his men until a second bullet crashed through his head and robbed his platoon of a very gallant leader.

                      One exploit in this day's work will always be retold in the military tradition of our country. It is entitled to a place among the famous deeds in arms of legendary or modern warfare. Early in the attack of this battalion, the progress of G Company on the left was seriously impeded by heavy machine gun fire from a hill directly south west across the valley from Hill 223. Although this territory was south of the zone of action assigned the 82nd Division, it was necessary to reduce this fire or suffer disastrous consequences.

                      A force of four non-commissioned officers and thirteen privates was sent from the left support platoon of G Company to encircle the hill and silence the enemy guns. This detachment, under Acting Sergeant Early, encircled the hill from the southeast and by a very skilful reconnaissance passed through the heavy woods on the east crest and descended to the wooded ravine on the west side of the hill. The detachment in working through the underbrush came upon a German battalion estimated to contain about 250 men, a considerable number of whom were machine gunners. Orders taken later from the pocket of the German battalion commander proved that the mission of this battalion was to launch a counter-attack against the left flank of our attack at 10 hours 30 minutes. About seventy-five Germans were crowded around their battalion commander, apparently engaged in receiving final instructions. A force of machine gunners and infantrymen, however, were lying in fox holes fifty yards away on the western slope of the hill. Other machine gun detachments were located on the north and northeast slopes of this same wooded hill.

                      The handful of Americans, led by Corporal Early, appeared as a complete surprise to this German battalion. The large body of Germans surrounding the German battalion commander began surrendering to our men, whom the enemy supposed to be the leading element of a large American force which had enveloped their position.

                      German machine gunners on the hillside, however, quickly reversed their guns and poured a hail of bullets into the bottom of the ravine, killing six and wounding three of the American detachment. All of the noncommissioned officers were killed or seriously wounded except Corp. Alvin C. York of Pall Mall, Tenn. With Corporal York were seven privates, four of whom were mostly occupied in covering with their rifles the large group of German infantrymen who had thrown down their arms at the first surprise. A few shots were fired by the remaining three Americans, but the chief burden of initiative and achievement fell upon Corporal York.

                      Crouching close to the huddle of German prisoners, he engaged in a rapid fire action with the machine gunners and infantrymen on the hillside. The return fire struck just behind him^, due to the fact that careful shooting from the hillside was necessary by the Germans to avoid injuring their own men a few feet in front of Corporal York. The American fired all the rifle ammunition clips on the front of his belt and then three complete clips from his automatic pistol. In days past, he had won many a turkey shoot with the rifle and pistol in the Tennessee mountains, and it is believed that he wasted no ammunition on this day. Once a lieutenant on the hillside led a counter-attack of a dozen gunners and infantrymen against this extraordinary marksman, who shot the lieutenant through the stomach and killed others before the survivors took cover. German morale gave way entirely and the battalion commander surrendered his command. Corporal York placed himself between two German officers at the head of the column and distributed the seven Americans on guard along the flanks and in rear of the hastily formed column of prisoners. On his way back over the hill he picked up a considerable number of additional prisoners from the north and northeast slopes of the hill. When he reported at the Battalion P. C, Lieutenant Woods, the Battalion Adjutant, 2nd Battalion, 328th Infantry, counted the prisoners and found that they totaled three officers and 129 enlisted men. The prisoners proved to be part of the 45th Reserve Division. The three wounded Americans were brought in with the column. The six dead Americans were buried later where they had fallen. During the forenoon Lieutenant Cox passed the scene of this fight with a portion of F Company. He estimates that approximately twenty dead Germans lay on the hillside. After the armistice, Corporal York received the personal thanks of Major General Duncan, the Division Commander, Major General Summerall, Commanding 5th Corps, and General Pershing, the Commander-in-Chief. He also was given the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Croix de Guerre.



                        What I just posted is from the 82nd Division History and I think a good starting point for anyone interetsed in this event. It should answer a lot of the questions in this thread.

                        I just got home from work so I will post some more later.


                          A truly outstanding thread, the historical facts presented by Brad are superb. Many thanks for sharing this wonderful information and research Regards, Clive.


                            Awesome stuff

                            Thank you...more please....


                              In order to orient everyone and become familiar with the situation prior to the York fight here is an overview map from the American Battle Monuments Commission of the plan of attack on 7 October, 1918.

                              You can see the “Lost Battalion” on the eastern side of the Argonne. The American attack had been oriented in a northern direction until the 77th Division (Lost Battalion) attacked stalled. The plan was that on the morning of 8 October, 1918 the 28th Division and 82nd Division would attack in a westerly direction into the Argonne Forrest to sever the narrow gauge railway line (“Decauville Railway”) that supplied the Germans in the Argonne who were slowing down the 77th Division’s advance.

                              The Lost Battalion siege was over on 7 October so it is not really correct to say that the SGT York incident occurred because they were trying to relieve the Lost Battalion.
                              Attached Files


                                This map shows the area around Chatel Chehery. The place names are the ones that the American used. The Americans also used the French 1:20,000 Foret d’Argonne map sheet and we will discuss this later as well as the German map and their place names.
                                Attached Files


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