Synopses & Reviews
"When America declared war in 1917, I was a few months past eighteen years of age and just finishing my first year in college. By the time I was to reenter in the fall for the second year, war activities were [under way] on a large scale. Men were going into some branch of the service on all sides. I felt that my family should do their bit in uniform, and my age designated me as the most appropriate one." This Texas AandM College student was Carl Andrew Brannen; these are his memoirs of a time when boys became men and your country became your life.
Over There: A Marine in the Great War takes the reader on an almost two-year journey through his world as a young soldier in the war. Based on Brannen's memoirs recorded in the 1930s and photographs he took with a German camera as a soldier, this book describes day-to-day obstacles he and his fellow soldiers faced during Marine Corps training, movement to France, and mortal combat.
"As I jumped for protection into a ditch nearby, a fusillade of bullets caught me below the heart on the left side, through one lens of the field glasses, and against my bandoleer of ammunition. The best I remember, ten bullets in my own belt exploded, but they had deflected the enemy bullets, saving my life."
Brannen, though wounded in battle and in the hospital for three weeks, went on with 80th Company through the Meuse-Argonne campaign to the armistice on November 11. He pulled his months of
duty in the occupation of the Rhineland and, at its end, earned a place in the Composite Regiment of men selected to represent the American Expeditionary Forces in the many ceremonial events of 1919.
Complemented with a unique set of photographs by the author's son that retrace his father's military campaigns, Over There is a highly personal account, presented from an enlisted man's perspective of the battle fronts of Belleau Woods in the Chand#226;teau-Thierry sector, Soissons, Pont-a-Mousson, St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont Ridge, and the Meuse-Argonne battle.
As a first hand commentary and a social document of life in the trenches during World War I, it is a useful contribution to military history. Brannen's personal accounts will touch and fascinate all those interested in World War I.
"It does not take long to tell the difference in the sound of the explosion of a gas, shrapnel, or high explosive shell," Carl Andrew Brannen said of his introduction to trench warfare. As that nineteen-year-old marine from Texas had quickly learned, the first big war of the twentieth century promised new horrors on the battlefield. In this intense journey through the beginnings of modern war, C. A. Brannen's memoirs and battlefield snapshots are complemented with a unique set of contemporary and retrospective photographs. Seventy-five years after World War I, the author's son retraced his father's footsteps across France. The photographs he took on those erstwhile battlegrounds evoke the ghosts of the past and allow father and son to march together through the battlefronts of Belleau Woods in the Chateau-Thierry sector, Soissons, Pont-a-Mousson, St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont Ridge, and the Meuse-Argonne battle. J. P. Brannen's afterword to Over There is a moving tribute to his family's veterans. Over There describes the day-to-day obstacles Brannen and his fellow marines faced during training, troop movement to France, and mortal combat. Brannen served in every major action of the 4th Marine Brigade, which saw more fighting than any other American unit. Serving as rifle grenadiers at St. Mihiel, he and a companion broke up a German attack in an action largely ignored in published accounts of the battle. Although he was wounded at Blanc Mont, Brannen was able to continue on with the 80th Company through the Meuse-Argonne campaign to the armistice. He served in the occupation of the Rhineland and, at its end, earned a place in Pershing's Honor Guard. The Brannens' story should fascinate all those interested in World War I and touch the hearts of other families who have been touched by war. With the added scholarship of the late military historian Rolfe L. Hillman Jr., and of Peter F. Owen, a Marine Corps officer, Over There also is a valuable contribution to the military history of World War I. The late carl andrew brannen was a student at Texas A&M when he joined the marines. After the war, he earned two degrees in history and had a long career as a schoolteacher and administrator. J. P. Brannen is a retired scientist in Cedar Crest, New Mexico.
About the Author
The late Col. Rolfe L. Hillman, a military historian, served in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1972Peter F. Owen, an active duty Captain in the Marine Corps, has written an article on the 79th Company of Marines in June, 1918. He is currently working on a single volume of history of the 4th Marine Brigade in the Great WarJ. P. Brannen, the author's son, has written numerous articles in mathematical sciences and has been a guest scientist in Switzerland. A SIAM national lecturer, he currently lives in New Mexico.