Artillery Scout

The Story of a Forward Observer with the U.S. Field Artillery in World War I

James G. Bilder

The American Doughboys of World War I are often referred to as the "Lost Generation;” however, in this book we are able to gain an intimate look at their experiences after being thrust into the center of Europe's "Great War” and enduring some of the most grueling battles in U.S. history. Len Fairfield (the author's grandfather) was an Artillery Sco
Date Published :
October 2014
Publisher :
Illustration :
16pp photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612002712
Pages : 208
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Finalist- Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award

The American Doughboys of World War I are often referred to as the “Lost Generation”; however, in this book we are able to gain an intimate look at their experiences after being thrust into the center of Europe’s “Great War” and enduring some of the most grueling battles in U.S. history.

Len Fairfield (the author’s grandfather) was an Artillery Scout, or Forward Observer, for the U.S. Army, and was a firsthand witness to the war’s carnage as he endured its countless hardships, all of which are revealed here in vivid detail. His story takes the reader from a hard life in Chicago, through conscription, rigorous training in America and France, and finally to the battles which have become synonymous with the U.S. effort in France—St. Mihiel and the Argonne Forest, the latter claiming 26,000 American lives, more than any other U.S. battle.

Fairfield, with his artillery in support of the 91st (“Wild West”) Division, was on the front lines for it all, amidst a sea of carnage caused by bullets, explosives and gas, with the occasional enemy plane swooping in to add strafing to the chaos. Entire units were decimated before gaining a yard, and then the Doughboys would find German trenches filled with dead to indicate the enemy was suffering equally.

The AEF endured a rare close-quarters visit to hell until it was sensed that the Germans were finally giving way, though fighting tooth-and-nail up to the very minute of the Armistice. This action-filled work brings the reader straight to the center of America’s costly battles in World War I, reminding us once again how great-power status often has to be earned with blood on battlefields.

About The Author

James Bilder has a BA degree in Journalism from Lewis University and a Masters in Science from Loyola University. He served as the mayor of Worth, Illinois from 1993 to 2001 and currently works in private industry, living in Chicago. His interest in military history stems not only from his grandfather Len Fairfield, but also from his father, Michael Bilder, an infantryman who was awarded the Legion of Honour, France's highest decoration, for his World War II service.


Foreword By Flint Whitlock

1. Neutral Land, A Common Man, The Makings Of Love And War
2. Arriving, Training, And Departing Camps Grant And Logan
3. The Yanks Are Coming To Be Buried Over Here
4. Camp Le Valdahon: Getting A French Education In Survival
5. Baptism By Fire
6. St. Mihiel: The Americans Enter The War In Earnest
7. The Lull Before The Storm
8. The Argonne: Let The Slaughter Commence
9. Bearding The Lion In His Den
10. In The Death Throes Of The Great War
11. Occupation, Recuperation, And Demobilization



"All in all, this book is a bit of a gem. It is a well paced easy read and you will find yourself rooting for our hero. I am glad he led a fulfilling and prolific life. Len Fairfield was a top bloke and even from this distance he deserves our thanks."

- War in History

"...a lively account of the 58th Field Artillery Brigade’s role in World War I…this role is often overlooked in war literature, so Bilder has found a new element to an incredibly crowded market... a fresh, well-researched perspective on a heavily covered subject. There is plenty to interest the military enthusiast, while the emotional angle of Bilder’s grandfather acting as the narrative’s central character works very well,..."

- All About History

"..reader will feel like a first hand witness while turning the pages.... The doughboys have been referred to as America's Lost Generation, though they are not forgotten. This book provides an intimate look at what the grueling warfare along the Western Front must have been like for them..."

- Toy Solder & Model Figure

"…moves quickly; it entertains and provides a decent overview of the life of an American Doughboy"

- San Francisco Book Review

Using the perspective of what students of literature call an "omniscient observer", Bilder recreates thoughts, conversations, and actions based upon information gleaned from the above-mentioned sources, particularly Casey's diary.... Bilder covers training methods, artillery tactics, and tools and equipment used by artillerymen plying their deadly trade. We learn about their duties, to include working with recalcitrant horses and moving mountains of ammunition crates from depots to the gun pits. Len, a dutiful if reluctant soldier, was smart and cynical, with an acerbic sense of humor... you will appreciate this book as an addition to the overall history of the experiences of the American soldier in the Great War.

- Roads to the Great War

"... a very well written and readable account of an important but often overlooked aspect of World War. It's an exemplary example of its genre and very highly recommended."

- Military Modelcraft International

"…through contacts with the sources listed, Bilder has been able to incorporate many accurate historical details, reflective of Army enlisted life before deployment, during deployment and during postwar occupation duty…

- The Journal of America’s Military Past

"The author's vivid prose style makes it seem almost as if his grandfather is telling the story himself. . . . For general readers and undergraduates interested in the personal experience of an artilleryman during the First World War and, besides military matters, in the details of working-class lives of the time.”—Michigan War Studies Review

- Michigan War Studies Review

"The additional perspective of the war is a valuable contribution as are the photographs used to illustrate the book."

- First World War Studies

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