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"Truman's Battery"
At 0420 hours, September 26, 1918, the ground of France shook as 2,700 guns began to fire the artillery preparation for what was to be final offensive of the first great war of the 20th century. America had entered the First World War in 1917, almost three years after it began. Allied and enemy troops were exhausted by the years of bloodletting and American troops were seen by the British and French as the way to end the War. A future president of the United States became embroiled in the conflict. Harry S. Truman had joined the Missouri National Guard in 1905 as an enlisted man and was discharged as a corporal after two enlistments. He rejoined the Guard after the declaration of war in 1917, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 129th Field Artillery Regiment, a unit in the 35th Division of the Kansas and Missouri National Guards. The 35th Division was sent to France May, 1918. After advanced training and acclimatization of the troops to trench warfare, the division, with its artillery, was assigned to take part in the Argonne offensive, the combat debut of the U.S. First Army. As the time ticked off to begin the massive preparation that would herald the offensive, Captain Truman stood by the guns of Battery D, 129th Field Artillery. Truman had addressed his men earlier that he would, "...rather be right here than be President of the United States." When the order to commence firing was given, the guns spewed round after round of 75 millimeter shells at the German positions. The fire was so rapid that wet blankets had to be wrapped around the gun barrels for ten minutes each hour to cool them off. After the barrage was completed, Captain Truman said that "...it was quiet as a church," although he could hear the rattle of machine guns firing in the distance. The 35th Division gained over six kilometers of ground on the 26th of September. Truman and his men would continue to provide support to the 35th Division until the war was over. The courage, dedication and self-sacrifice of Battery D is still present today in the members of the 129th Field Artillery (Truman's own), Missouri National Guard.
Copyright Notice

Images of these paintings may also be used for educational purposes with an appropriate permission statement, such as: "[name of painting], a National Guard Heritage Painting by [name of artist], courtesy the National Guard Bureau." The U.S. Government retains all copyrights to these paintings. No commercial use is authorized without prior approval.