Appendix 5: A Brief History of the 11th Marines
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE 11th MARINES
By Second Lieutenant Robert Emmet, USM CR
Historical Branch, G-3 Division
Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps
Washington, D. C. 20380
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
WASHINGTON, D. C. 20380
"A Brief History of the 11th Marines" is a concise narrative of the activities of that regiment since its initial organization 50 years ago. Official records and appropriate historical works were used in compiling this chronicle, which is published for the information of those interested in the history of those events in which the 11th Marines participated.
R. G. OWENS, JR.
Major General, U. S. Marine Corps
Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3
Reviewed and approved: 11 October 1968
Activation of the 11th Marines and World War I
The 11th Marines, now an artillery regiment of the 1st Marine Division, traces its origin back to World War I. On 20 August 1917, Lieutenant Colonel George Van Orden reported to Quantico, Virginia for duty with the Mobile Artillery Force, which was at that time being reorganized into a brigade of two light artillery regiments, one of which he was to command. On 3 January 1918, with Van Orden as commanding officer, the 11th Regiment was activated at Marine Barracks, Quantico. The units of the 11th included a Headquarters Detachment and three battalions. Most of the original enlisted strength of the 11th consisted of recruits just out of boot camp, but some experience was supplied to the regiment when it was decided that all reenlisted men, not already assigned to other organizations at Quantico, should be placed in the 11th. These were mostly men who had been in the Marines in the past, returned to civilian life, and signed on again when the United States went to war. These experienced Marines gave the 11th an "esprit de corps" that it otherwise would not have had and which benefited immeasurably its training performance. The veterans helped the inexperienced recruits, and as a result the 11th was fairly well squared-away at Quantico.
The 11th Regiment, as an outgrowth of the Mobile Artillery Force, was originally meant to be an artillery regiment, but it did not remain that way for long. More infantrymen were needed in France, and the 5th Marine Brigade was formed. The 4th Marine Brigade had already been organized and seen extensive combat in France. Lieutenant Colonel Van Orden went to Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D. C. to request that the 11th Regiment be converted to infantry. His plea coincided with a request by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, to the Commandant of the Marine Corps to send an additional infantry regiment to France. In anticipation of being switched to infantry, the 11th underwent intensive infantry training throughout the summer of 1918 at Quantico. On 5 September 1918, the 11th Regiment was officially designated an infantry regiment, and it joined the 5th Marine Brigade, which included the 13th Regiment and the 5th Machine Gun Battalion.
On 28 September, Van Orden received orders stating that the regiment was to leave Quantico for its port of embarkation for France. The 11th went to France in two sections, the first of which, consisting of Regimental Headquarters and 1/11, boarded the USS DEKALB in Philadelphia on 29 September, landed at Brest, France on 13 October, and arrived at Tours, France on 30 October. The second section, consisting of 2/11 and 3/11, did not leave Quantico until 14 October. It embarked aboard the USS VON STEUBEN and the USS AGAMEMNON at Hoboken, New Jersey, arrived at Brest on 25 October, and entered Tours on 2 November. The 11th had been at Tours for nine days when, on 11 November, the armistice was signed. The Marines of the 11th saw no combat, and they were dispersed to cities like Le Havre, Marseilles, and Tours to take care of administrative duties. The officers of the 11th undertook jobs as regulating officers, entertainment officers, police officers, and district athletic officers. The enlisted Marines drew MP duty, or they were clerks, or they did whatever labor was asked of them. In early July 1919, the 11th returned to Camp Potanegan at Brest, and, on 29 July, it embarked aboard the USS ORIZABA for home. It disembarked at Hampton Roads, Virginia on 6 August and was deactivated there on 11 August.
COMMANDING OFFICERS, 11th MARINES
LtCol George Van Orden, 3 Jan 1918 - 31 Jul1918
Col George Van Orden, 1Aug1918 - 11Aug1919
REGIMENT DEACTIVATED 11AUG 1919
Honors for the 11th Marine:
WORLD WAR I VICTORY STREAMER WITH MALTESE CROSS
(AEF Service, 15 Oct-11Nov1918)
Note: The regiment was reactivated at an artillery regiment at a later date and served in the South Pacific in World Warn in Korea, and in Vietnam. It had a number of unit citations for these conflicts. For actions in Korea, two of its soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor, albeit posthumously. The history of the 11th Marines as given here concludes with the Tet offensive of 1968.