Rouge Bouquet

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Memorial service held by soldiers of the "Fighting 69th" for 19 men lost in the 7 March 1918 Rouge Bouquet bombardment

Rouge Bouquet is a part of the Forêt de Parroy near the French village of Baccarat that was the site of a German artillery bombardment of American trench positions on 7 March 1918 at 15:20 on the Chausailles sector of the Western Front during World War I.[1][2] The bombardment resulted in the burial of 21 men of the 165th Infantry Regiment, 42nd Rainbow Division (originally the 69th Regiment of the New York National Guard) of which only a few survived. The 22 men, including their platoon commander 1st Lieutenant John Norman, were assembled in a dugout when a German artillery shell landed on the roof of the dugout. A rescue effort by Major William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan was begun in haste attempting to dig the men but their efforts were hampered by mud-slides and continued enemy shelling.[2][3]:pp.167–171 Two men were rescued and five dead were recovered before efforts had to be halted. The voices of other men could be heard for a while, but the remaining fifteen men died before rescue efforts could resume.[3]:pp.167–171 Donovan was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his actions during the attempted rescue.[3]:pp.209–210

Poet and literary critic Joyce Kilmer, a sergeant with the regiment, wrote the 1918 poem "Rouge Bouquet" (also called "The Wood Called Rouge Bouquet" to commemorate the soldiers in his unit who died.[3]:pp.175–176 The poem was first read by Kilmer at the memorial service held on the battlefield a few days later.[3]:pp.175–176 It first appeared in print in the American serviceman's newspaper Stars and Stripes—published two weeks after Kilmer died in combat in the Second Battle of the Marne on 30 July 1918.[4][5][6]


  1. ^ National Archives and Records Administration - Washington, DC. CR Rouge Bouquet held by 2nd Btn 165th A.I.R. 7–8 March 1918, NA/RG 120: World War I Organizational Records: 42nd Division, Box 27, Folder—Rept. Of Events in CR Rouge Bouquet
  2. ^ a b Duffy, Francis Patrick. Father Duffy’s Story. (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1919), 350.
  3. ^ a b c d e Harris, Stephen L. Duffy's War: Fr. Francis Duffy, Wild Bill Donovan, and the Irish Fighting 69th in World War I (Washington, DC: Potomac Books Inc, 2007).
  4. ^ Kilmer, Joyce. "Rouge Bouquet" in Stars and Stripes (16 August 1918).
  5. ^ Mitgang, Herbert. Civilians Under Arms: The Stars and Stripes, Civil War to Korea. (SIU Press, 1959), 146-148.
  6. ^ United States Army. Army Expeditionary Force, 1917-1919. (New York: G.P. Putnam's sons, 1919), 78-80.