‘First Shot’ US Gun on display at West Point
On 23rd October 1917 the US Army fired its first shot in anger on the Western Front. One hundred years on and the field gun that did the shooting is on display at the US Army Military Academy Museum at West Point.
The M1897 gun (actually a French made 75mm field gun) named Bridget was part of ‘C’ Battery, 6th Field Artillery Regiment attached to the “Big Red One” of the 1st Infantry Division. The “French 75” was widely used by the U.S. Army as the M1897 and remained in service into World War II. It could fire a 12-pound shell 7,700 yards with a well-drilled six-man crew capable of firing up to 30-rounds per minute in large part to its short recoil. As such, it made a good opponent to the German 77mm gun on the other side of the wire.
Sgt Alex Arch of South Bend, 23 years old and born in Austria-Hungary, pulled the lanyard on the 75mm gun, sending its shell (the first of over 10,000 fired by Bridget in the conflict) into German positions.
On orders of General John Pershing, commander of the American forces in France, Bridget was sent back to America in 1918 to be preserved and has been in Army museums ever since.