World War I

The 23d Engineers in World War I

"Road Builders of the AEF"

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The 23rd Engineers improve a road near the battlefront in France

The 23rd was constituted on 15 August 1917, in the National Army by the War Department General Order 108, as the 23d Engineer Regiment (Road).  In spite of the problems faced by the War Department and the Corps of Engineers since the declaration of war in the previous April, it took just three weeks to gather a nucleus of men and activate the 23d Engineers on 5 September 1917 at Camp Meade, Maryland.  There they began their training.  Very little has been recorded of these early days of the 23d Engineers except the terse entries in Army Records.

The 23rd Engineers began deploying to France in November 1917, and served in support of various allied actions, earning for itself the title "The Road Builders of the AEF."  Based upon the written histories of other units in the same sections, we know that the 23rd Engineers contended successfully with building and maintaining highways destroyed by shell fire, areas contaminated by chemical warfare that had to be rehabilitated in order to be used by the support troops, and as in any war, the enemy of all armies, mud. 

The degree of success of the unit is measured by their nickname and earning three campaign streamers: Lorraine, Saint Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne.  

From the day of surrender of the Germany Army until June 1919, the 23rd Engineers were engaged in the standard after action (post hostilities) missions of clean up and repair.  In that month of June, the unit was returned to the United States.  The regiment, less the 2d battalion, was demobilized on 16 June 1919, at Camp Devens, Ma.  The 2d battalion was inactivated three days later at Camp Mills, NY.

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Peaceful Years

On 18 October 1927, the 23rd Engineer Regiment (General Service) was constituted in the Regular Army and allotted to the Third Corps area.  

The 23rd Engineer Regiment (Road) was reconstituted and consolidated with the 23rd Engineer Regiment (General Service) on 28 April 1932 and remained part of Third Corps.

It was in April 1934, that the 23rd Engineer Coat of Arms was approved.  The Coat of Arms is a red shield, charged with a white rock and an oak tree in green.  The shield is surmounted by a crest consisting of a red and white wreath and an alerion in white.  The rock is taken from the Arms of St. Mihiel and the tree is emblimatic of the Meuse-Argonne.  The alerion represents service in the Lorraine Defense during World War I.  The 23rd Engineer motto: "Nous Servirons de Nouveau" (We Will Serve Again) was a prophecy that was to come true seven years later.

Information taken from the following sources:

23d Engineer Battalion (Armored Division), Historical Sketch, 1958.

Message, U.S. Army Engineer Museum, Fort Leonard Wood, Subject: 23rd Engineer Battalion, 16 Jan 00.