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The Lost Battalion (1919)

 -  Drama | War  -  2 July 1919 (USA)
6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 49 users  
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A battalion of the U.S. Army's 77th Division penetrates deep into the Argonne Forest of France during the First World War. The battalion becomes surrounded and holds out for six long days, ... See full summary »

Director:

(as Burton King)

Writer:

(authorized adaptation by) (as Charles A. Logue)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Alexander ...
Himself (as Major General Robert Alexander)
George G. McMurtry ...
Himself (as Major George G. McMurtry)
Charles W. Whittlesey ...
Himself (as Lt. Col. Charles W. Whittlesey)
William J. Cullen ...
Himself (as Capt. William J. Cullen)
Arthur F. McKeogh ...
Himself - Adjutant to Lt. Col. Whittlesey (as Lieutenant Arthur F. McKeogh)
Augustus Kaiser ...
Himself (as Lieut. Augustus Kaiser)
Jack Hershkowitz ...
Himself (as Private Jack Hershkowitz)
Philip Cepaglia ...
Himself (as Corporal Philip Cepaglia)
Herman J. Bergasse ...
Himself (as Sergeant Herman J. Bergasse)
J.J. Munson ...
Himself (as Private J.J. Munson)
Abraham Krotoshinisky ...
Himself (as Private Abraham Krotoshinisky)
Jack McLean ...
Gaston Glass ...
Richard Merwin's Son
Marion Coakley ...
Nancy Brystal - Richard Merwin's Ward
Lieutenant Jordan ...
Himself - An Officer Friend
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Storyline

A battalion of the U.S. Army's 77th Division penetrates deep into the Argonne Forest of France during the First World War. The battalion becomes surrounded and holds out for six long days, awaiting reinforcement and rescue. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | War

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 July 1919 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As much as possible, the enactment of the events were made with the original people who survived. Actual maps and documents were used in the film, which was authorized by the U.S. Government. Some footage by the U.S. Signal Corps was also used in the film. See more »

Connections

Remade as The Lost Battalion (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Lost Battalion
17 November 2010 | by See all my reviews

The "real hero" was NOT Cher Ami. Cher Ami, although an incredible story of itself, arrived long after the damage had been done. In fact, during the First World War, pigeons took approx. 30 minutes to arrive at their roost, at which point the message was retrieved and either called in using the normal chain of command, or sent by runner to the normal chain of command. Cher Ami's message did arrive, but by the time it was acted upon the artillery barrage was being brought to an end.

The real hero's of the Lost Battalion - and this is one case where the word "hero" might truly be considered inadequate - were the men themselves. What they were put through is most likely the worst battle endured by a military grouping.

From the 2nd of October, 1918, to the 8th of October, 1918, these men were completely surrounded by the Germans and under constant attack by rifle fire,, machine gun fire, mortar attacks, and artillery.

Throughout this entire time, they had no idea if their own chain of command even knew of their condition or were attempting to get to them. There was no phone service, radio, ,or runners available to them. Pigeon service was the only way they could contact anyone, and that was only a one way direction without any assurance that the pigeon being sent actually got through.

Additionally, these men were sent out without overnight gear because General Alexander assured them that the entire AEF line would be right up there with them. They soon had no food, no water (the only available water was being watched by the Germans and any attempt to reach it usually meant the end of your life), and very little or none ammunition.

The Germans completely surrounded them, sending in everything they had, including gas attacks and flame throwers. Major Whittlesey, Captain McMurtry and Captain Holderman were exceptional, holding these men together and performing a virtual miracle in repelling each German attack. McMurtry was wounded 7 times, but refused treatment and remained on the line leading his men. Holderman was almost super-human in the things he was able to do. He was so shot up he often had to use the empty rifles as crutches, but still came out and after the Germans with each attack.

Whittlesey was the glue to held everyone together. His men often were in awe at the way he would travel up and down the line, in full view of the German snipers, the encourage them and give them hope. He never seemed to care one bit about his own safety.

This movie was released in 1919 and was huge. Whittlesey was known by virtually ever person in America at the time and was a national hero. Unfortunately, the events that took place in the ravine where the "Lost" Battalion was surrounded in never left him. Once he returned to the US, there was a downturn in the economy and there was almost no day that went by that he was not approached by former soldiers requesting money or widows and family members asking him how their husband/son/brother was killed. He never was able to get away from it and was - essentially - forced to relive (and see and hear) the horrors that took place during those 6 days.

Finally, quietly and without warning, he took passage on a steamer to Cuba at around midnight of November 26th, 1922, after being asked by yet another passenger to tell him everything about that horrible experience, Charles Whittlesey quietly climbed over the rail and slipped into the sea, never to be seen again. His demons had finally been silenced.


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