Preparing For Battle, November 10, 1918
The 91st Division was one of two American divisions supporting the French Army in Belgium as WWI came to a close. The 91st Division's action in taking Spittals Bosschen and the city of Audenarde as well as the bravery displayed by Lt. Ben Dorris in that battle were covered in an earlier post.
After taking Audenarde, French troops took over the sector as the 91st Division moved to the rear to rest and hope that the rumored end of the war was near. Beyond the battlefield in Belgium and northeastern France, the Central Powers were crumbling. The Ottoman Empire signed an armistice on October 30 and the Austro-Hungarian Empire followed suit on November 4. In Germany, sailors of the German fleet mutinied in late October and there was civilian unrest in a number of German cities. Finally, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who had ruled Germany for the last thirty years, abdicated and fled to The Netherlands the night of November 9.
The 91st Division marched back to Audenarde and beyond the morning of November 9 to replace the French who had made further advances over the last few days. The Division's orders were to attack the Germans across the Scheldt River the morning of November 11. With the division having lost a quarter of its men in less than one month of fighting, the men readied themselves the night before knowing the toll additional fighting might bring.
As final preparations were made to launch the attack the morning of November 11, division headquarters received words at 8:00 a.m. that Germany had signed the Armistice and the division should stand down. The fighting ended later that morning at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.
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