m a r k e r i c k s o n p a i n t i n g s Frank Severin Erickson Ernest Julius Erickson Andrew Anders Sebran Erickson American Expeditionary Force 1918 - 1919 Out West & North Dakota
My grandfather, Frank Severin Erickson (308th Infantry - Company H) standing along with other surviving soldiers of the 77th Division. Known as "The Lost Battalion," this photograph was taken in the outskirts of the Argonne Forest in France on October 8th, 1918 just as they escaped out of the pocket. The commander, Major Charles Whittlesey of the 1st Battalion 308th Infantry Regiment can be seen standing on the far left.
The well known “Lost Battalion” of World War I was comprised of nine companies of the 77th Infantry Division. In the Argonne forest in early October of 1918, the division advanced toward the German line, believing themselves to be supported by French forces on their right flank. However, the French advance was stalled, and the division found itself surrounded by the Germans and cut off. For six days the division sustained heavy casualties, but held it's ground. At one point the men were bombarded by American artillery, and only ceased when a carrier pigeon got through to the main lines. The message read, “We are along the road parallel 276.4."
For Heavens sake stop it.”
When the division was initially created in World War I, almost all of its recruits were drafted from NYC, and many of the men initially came from different areas of the country. Like my grandfather Frank coming from North Dakota, there were quite a few from the Great Plains states represented in the 77th.
The division was nicknamed the “Liberty Division,” sometimes referred to as the Statue of Liberty Division. Both of these are reflected by the image of the Statue of Liberty on the unit’s arm patch you can see in all three photos.
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