Sgt. York casings to be given to museums

I got an email from Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Mastriano, whose discovery of the site in France where Sgt. Alvin York and his men captured four German officers and 128 men and marched them back across the lines was reported around the world. The Colonel writes:

“I am pleased to formally announce that 21 of the 21 .45 Colt ACPs that SGT York fired were found in October 2006. The spot matches the 1919 post war photo and is congruent with both American and German testimony/records. The find was where the German archival data led us. There is no doubt that we found the “York spot.” It was an honor to stand on this hollowed ground – where York earned his Medal of Honor. It was quite a moving experience to actually hold the cartridges that were once in his hands. I am humbled that God has blessed us so. It was incredibly hard work – but it was well worth it.

“The discovery does not end the work. The group is working closely with the mayor of Châtel Chéhéry, Roland Destenay, to create a Sergeant York historic trail to ensure everyone has a chance to walk in the steps of Alvin York to ensure that his legacy is honored. As to the artifacts, the group will donate portions to the mayor of Châtel Chéhéry, the York family and various American museums.”

I hope that some of the 21 casings will go to the York museum at the Sergeant Alvin York Gristmill And Park in Pall Mall Tennessee and to the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.

The Colonel further writes: “In addition to the Colt ACPs, we also found four of the .45 slugs he fired. They were in a row along the exact area where German LT Endriss led the bayonet attack against him. I am pleased to confirm that the archeological evidence is consistent with the York story and puts to an end recent second guessing and revisionist theories to the contrary.

“The mayor of Châtel Chéhéry walked through the area and was shown the artifacts – and he is in agreement with us that the spot was found and that the search is over. He has already agreed to our plan to build a historic trail retracing York’s steps. I have a tentative agreement from three Boy Scout troops to help in this endeavor to start work in the spring.

“It is a great day for the York legacy.” Indeed.

More photos after the break.


Photo credits: Kory O’Keefe


The place where York’s heroics took place.


Photo credits Kory O’Keefe

48 Responses to Sgt. York casings to be given to museums

  1. serr8d says:

    I’ve posted a blog entry on Sgt. York, and included the entire post from Lt. Colonel Mastriano.

    Fascinating topic, and worth the research and exposure.

  2. Martin Galle says:

    To Lt. Col. Doug Mastriano

    Just came back from the phantastic inauguration of the Memorial at the Sgt. York Trail.

    Great Job, well done, really a lot of work that went into the preservation of the memory of Sgt York.

    I can really recommend the page of the Sgt. York project:

    All the best for you.

    Martins Battlefield Tours
    Email: MartinGalle@Omaha-Beach.Org

  3. History1917 says:

    What no one is telling the readers is that there was another group who conducted research at Chatel Chehery and found the actual site of the York incident.

    LTC Mastriano has distorted history with his version of the York incident and it seems that the US Army Center of Military History (CMH) is playing a role in suppressing the research of the group from Tennessee led by Dr. Tom Nolan. In the fall issue of Army History both the reports of Dr. Nolan and LTC Mastriano were going to be published so a scholarly discussion would follow and shed light on the actual events. CMH has only now, at the last minute, said they are not going to publish Dr. Nolan’s report due to “lack of reader interest”. In the meantime they are preparing for the fall issue that will feature LTC Mastriano’s article.

    LTC Mastriano has actually found the hill that was in the center of the attack of the 2nd Battalion 328th Infantry. The actual York site is in the ravine southwest of Hill 223 exactly as reported by ALL of the US Army witnesses and official history of the 82nd Division.

    LTC Mastriano has relied solely on faulty and incorrect German reports of the battle and has ignored the primary US sources that give very specific details to the true location of the York incident. He confuses the reader by filling his report with useless information about his team, military acronyms and current military doctrine. There is no “real” substance to his report that indicates anything about the location of the York incident. He lists a lot of references and alludes to finding critical information in the German archives about the location of the fight, but does not actually show anything that makes any sense in his report. The questions he asks are his questions so, of course he can answer yews to all.

    If LTC Mastriano is correct then I think he should be required to demonstrate why all of the relevant US testimony about the specific location of the fight is incorrect. For his theory to be true he would have to discount the following: The 82nd Division History, the maps and accompanying testimony of MAJ Buxton and York’s Company Commander CPT Danforth, 2/328th INF Battalion Commander MAJ Tillman, all of the living patrol members testimonies, the graves registration blanks that give the coordinates to the graves of the patrol members killed in the fight and those are to list just a few.

    LTC Mastriano will counter this argument by asking “how many hours did the other group spend in the German archives?” Sorry, but that is not good enough.

    LTC Mastriano’s claim is based on two things; he believes his location is the only place possible for York to have captured soldiers from the various German units who were in this area and that he found 21 or more .45 cartridges in the same spot. Both of these criteria are irrelevant and a thorough reading of ALL of the evidence will demonstrate that LTC Mastriano is actually reporting about the center of the Battalion attack that day.

    Please contact Dr. Nolan or his group’s web site for details of how to access Dr. Nolan’s dissertation on this subject. There you will find the true circumstances and location of the York incident.

    • theabnranger says:

      The Mastriano claim seems better supported, from the exchanges on this site. If the Nolan investigation did not also check German sources, then it seems surely result in incomplete analysis. At least, Nolan and company should review German archives to demonstrate as well as Mastriano why German records also support his view. If maps carefully show the location of York’s prisoner unit locations, and if records show that those units were only co-located at that point and time, then those facts cannot be disregarded by responsible investigators.

  4. 4Truth says:

    I must reply to the claim above – the Mastriano team has a convincing argument – which everyone has accepted… expect a few. Decide for yourself – below is an excerpt from

    How can we know for certain?

    Our investigation was initiated in the archives, researching every detail of the York story from both the German and American perspective. This resulted in the most comprehensive view of the York story. The German archives proved central, with the German maps and documents putting SYDE where York’s actions earned the Medal of Honor. In fact – there is only one possible area in the entire Argonne Forest where this event could have happened. In over four-years of war, there was no other location in the Argonne Forest where the 120. Württembergische Landwehr Regiment, 125. Württembergische Landwehr Regiment, 210. Prussian Reserve Regiment served together. This narrowed down the search area considerably.

    The Four Pillars of military research

    We applied a rigid academic discipline to our investigation. The following outlines our research methodology, screening criteria and basis for our findings.
    Our research methodology is centered upon four pillars of historical analysis:

    1. Primary source research in seven German and five American archives and the fusion of over 300 primary source records.

    2. Classic military intelligence terrain analysis, based upon Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB).

    3. Classic military doctrinal templating (German and American 1917-1918 tactical doctrine).

    4. The physical artifact evidence.

    By fusing these with battlefield archeology, eye-witness accounts and terrain analysis, SYDE discovered the exact York spot.

    The four-pillars that led to the discovery:

    I. Exhaustive research of the American and German archives: The key to the discovery was the German archives, which provided the missing piece of the puzzle (as to where to search) with over 200 unit reports and eye-witness accounts (in addition to the US Archival data). This is the mortal flaw in the rival group’s assertion. They did not spend one day in any German archive and launched into field research with only half of the story. This deprived them of over 200 primary source battle logs, chronicles, maps and eye-witness accounts. Failure to use the German archives creates fatal data gaps that no amount of geospatial technology can overcome. Without accurate data, you will end up in the wrong location.

    Interestingly, the Germans actually had a more accurate picture of events in October 1918 – as they were on the defensive and had well-document deployments, which described the terrain in important detail. This data was fused with the important American archival data ensured that our investigation would be on target. For instance, several key German participants referred to a trench near the meadow where the fight took place. Any expedition must have a trench near their proclaimed York Spot. There is only ONE trench in the ravine and meadow (adjacent to our discovery), this should be near the York spot.

    II. Classic military terrain analysis: We also applied Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB). Understanding how the Germans used terrain is a key aspect of the search for the York Spot. After four-years of continuous warfare, the German Army was a master of using every terrain feature possible to bolster their defense. As General Pershing stated:

    The Germans made every use of the favorable terrain to oppose our advance by cross and enfilading artillery fire, especially from the bluffs on the eastern edge of the Argonne Forest and the heights east of the Meuse. His light guns and the extensive use of machine guns along his lines of defense, in the hands of well trained troops, were a serious obstacle.

    With an understanding of the disposition of the belligerents on 8 October 1918 one can add meat the bones, by terrain analysis and intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB).

    III. Classic military doctrinal templating – Analysis of doctrinal templating Played an important part in our investigation. We approached this by using contemporary German 1917-1918 doctrine. A school trained military theoretician helped with this portion of the process. This put a perspective on the German and US operations that occurred, in consideration of the terrain and weather as outlined above in the IPB process and considerably narrowed down where the York feat could have occurred. This was an area of particular strength for our team as it was composed of officers from four different armies.

    IV. The physical artifact evidence – this should compliment the IPB, military doctrine and terrain to confirm or deny the correct location. The artifacts should be located in specific areas, in particular conditions that correspond to the York story. This is exactly what we uncovered in our field research, artifacts in a specific pattern and condition that tells the York story without leaps of faith or lengthy explanations. This is another challenge faced by the rival York research group. At their claimed location, they uncovered hundreds of unfired French Chauchat rounds. Although this was used by the AEF, none of the 17 Americans involved in the York feat carried this weapon.

    The Condition of the Battlefield – Today:

    There is enough battlefield litter (remnants of war) for someone to fabricate a story that they found the “York Spot.” To avoid this pitfall, one must study the German & US archives and understand German 1918 military tactics (and use of terrain). From these, criteria were developed to confirm the York location.

    Detailed Screening Criteria to Confirm or Deny the York Spot

    To verify the find, the physical artifact evidence had to compliment the IPB, military doctrine and terrain by passing the test of a series of screening criterion with 100% accuracy. Our site passed all the criteria. The complete list included:

    There must be a “yes” to all of these points to be at the correct location of York’s action:

    a. Does it agree with historical facts about German units involved and unit defense locations?

    b. Does the location make sense historically?

    c. Is the location consistent with contemporary German and American tactics techniques & procedures (TTPs)?

    d. Is it along the combined flanks of the German 125 and 120 Regiments?

    e. Does the terrain match the February 1919 photographs taken during BG Lindsey’s investigation of SGT York’s combat action on 8 October 1918?

    f. Is it supported by battlefield archeology?

    g. Is it close to the 1/120 regiment battlefront and within the 1/120th sector?

    h. Is it logical from a tactical military perspective?

    i. Does it agree with written German and American testimony?

    j. Is it located where the machine guns are in the fight – engaging Americans in the valley?

    k. Is it on terrain that dramatically impacted the outcome of the battle (decisive terrain)?

    l. Does it agree with the battle progression/sequence as recorded by the 2nd Landwehr Division and the battle sequence as recorded by all of the American and German units involved in the action?

    m. Is the location positioned where the German machine gunners were able to observe both the action of the American 328th Infantry Regiment trapped in the valley and the meadow where York attacked the 120th?

    n. Is it close to a trench (York’s and Vollmer’s testimony)?

    o. Is it near two roads that head east – out of the Argonne (York’s testimony)?

    p. Is it close to Vollmer’s headquarters?

    q. Is it located where both the 120th and 125th would suffer sufficient damage that would cause the line of the German 2nd Landwehr Division (Württembergische) to collapse?

    1. Does it agree with historical facts about German units involved and unit defense locations? Yes.
    York took prisoners from the following four German units:
    1. 120. Württembergische Landwehr Regiment
    2. 125. Württembergische Landwehr Regiment
    3. 210. Prussian Reserve Regiment
    4. 7. Bayern Mineur Kompanie

    The location where York earned the Medal of Honor must be where prisoners can be taken from each of the units mentioned above. In particular, the specific location must be along the 120th and 125th regimental borders. It was here that the 120th’s Vollmer received the 210th Prussian soldiers and where he and the 210th were captured. It was also here that the 125th flanking machine guns wheeled about to engage the 17 Americans.

    The German archives show that there is only one location in the entire Western Front where these units served together. This is depicted on the graphic above. This is precisely at the location where we found evidence of York’s exploits.

    2. The location must agree with German defensive locations. Yes.
    The German unit dispositions described in the archives is precise. Research in the battle chronicles of twenty military units verified that the SYDE discovery is accurate. The discovery agrees with German doctrine, is logical from a military perspective and in conformity with period TTPs. The Germans deployed many of their forces around Humserberg, the key terrain, which provides excellent observation, has good fields of fire, makes use of key terrain, employs natural obstacles and has two axis of advance to support the planned German counterattack. This is why the 120th and 125th Landwehr Regiments were positioned here.

    3. Is it along the flank of the German 125th and 120th Regiments? Yes.
    The German Division Commander, General Adolf Franke, designated the southern edge of Humserberg as the border between the 120th and 125th Landwehr Regiments. This regimental border is important as York had to be near it; otherwise he could not have captured soldiers from the 125th. Our discovery is within 20 meters of this border.

    The report of the 120th Regiment states the following:

    The flank of 6th Company reported an enemy surprise attack. Next, the remnant of 4th Company and personnel from the 210th Regiment were caught by this surprise attack, where Lieutenant Endriss was killed. The company was shattered or was captured. Also First Lieutenant Vollmer ended up in the enemy’s hands. Now the situation was worse. Bad news followed more bad news from Chatel to the Schöne Aussicht a large enemy column moved towards the Schliesstal Mulda and the Boulassonbachs [up the valley into the Argonne]. By this, we knew that the enemy was moving against the North-South Road.

    4. Is supported by battlefield archeology? Yes.
    As in the craft of military intelligence, it easy to be seduced into a hasty conclusion based on the discovery of a surprise indicator or artifact that appears to support your estimate of the enemy situation or, in this case, the location of York’s fire fight. The fact of the matter is that a large battle occurred in the entire ravine as part of a flanking operation to relieve the nearby “Lost Battalion.” Subsequently there are thousands of military artifacts scattered throughout the area. To that end the location and type of military artifacts uncovered in the ravine must be consistent. The SYDE team conducted nearly forty days of intensive battlefield archeology to locate and verify York’s actions of 8 October 1918. With each passing day additional relevant battlefield artifacts were uncovered that told the York story.

    In the meadow, we found evidence of a German battalion headquarters, large quantities of live German ammunition and emblems of both the (German) Prussian and Württemberg armies. These were from soldiers of the 120th Württemberg and Prussian 210th Regiments, whom the 17 Americans surprised and captured without a fight.

    On the hill above the meadow, hundreds of shell casings and cartridges from a German machine gun and rifle positions were recovered, in addition to pieces of German equipment and belt clasps. These were from the soldiers of the 125th Württemberg Regiment who attempted to fight off the 17 Americans, but were eventually forced to surrender (after York eliminated the German soldiers in this machine gun position).

    The breakthrough occurred in October 2006 after we found four shot (spent) US .45 caliber bullets. The four slugs were in a line over a 20-meter area, near the mouth of the only trench in the vicinity. The trench was the position from which German Lieutenant Endriss led the doomed bayonet attack against York and is the single most important enduring man-made terrain feature in the area. German buttons were also uncovered in the area, indicating that some of these slugs may have hit their mark. Just twenty meters below this, we uncovered the 21 Colt .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) shell casings fired by York.

    Shortly after the discovery of the twenty-one .45 ACP cartridges, SYDE uncovered the location where York used his Enfield 30.06 rifle to eliminate the German machine gun. The battlefield records state that York “charged” the 125th machine gun. Just above where York’s .45 cartridges were recovered is a position that outflanks both the German machine gun and supporting infantry positions. It is likened as the base of a “V.” During this battle, the Germans used two sunken roads as trenches to engage the Americans below. From this position of the base of a “V,” York literally swept two German lines that silenced the machine gun and killed approximately 20 Germans.

    The battlefield archeology recovered by SYDE describes the York story in total. The artifacts in the meadow show that the Germans there surrendered without resistance. In the midst of the various German discoveries, there were American 30.06 cartridges and shell casings found, showing that among the German prisoners, there were American soldiers. Further up the hill, and near the trench where we recovered the Colt ACP shell casings (from York), there were a considerable number of buttons and miscellaneous pieces of German equipment that are likely to have come off those York shot during the German bayonet attack. Finally, on the hill, the German machine gun and rifle positions contained numerous shell casings, some cartridges and buttons/equipment pieces. The Germans here fought and then surrendered. Finally, York’s rifle position was discovered; the spot from which he eliminated the 125th MG position.

    5. Does it agree with written German and American testimony? Yes. (see report)

    6. Does it agree with the battle progression/sequence as recorded by the 2nd Landwehr Division? Yes. Portions of two American and four German regiments fought here 7-9 October. It is imperative to understand who fought where/when, to avoid recovering artifacts from different units and different battles. The SYDE spot is in conformity with the activities of all German and American units fighting here in October 1918.

    7. Is the location of the German machine guns positioned to observe both the actions of the American 2/328th Infantry trapped in the valley and the meadow where York attacked the 120th? Yes.
    “While we were capturing the headquarters, the German machine gunners on the hill done seed us and let us have it.” Alvin York’s diary The German machine gun position uncovered by SYDE has line of sight to both the meadow and the valley where York’s battalion was trapped and was in a position to engage the Americans at max range to influence the battle in the valley (east) and can be used against York in the meadow (south).

    8. Is it close to a trench (York’s and Vollmer’s testimony)?

    “In the middle of the fight, a German officer and five men done jumped out of a trench and charged me with fixed bayonets.” Alvin York’s diary

    This is one of the most important aspects of the written testimony. Both sides discuss a trench from which the bayonet charge was led against York. The only trenches that existed in this battle were border lines dug in the 1600s. There is ONLY one trench in the entire valley and meadow. This trench is where German Lieutenant Endriss led the doomed bayonet attack against York and is the most important enduring man-made feature in the area. Merely twenty meters below this, the twenty-one Colt .45 ACP casings fired by York were found.

    The archeological evidence and documentation compiled by SYDE constitute proof that the location of SGT York’s fire fight has been located. The discovery is in conformity with the American and German units, terrain analysis, IPB, eye-witness accounts, battlefield archeology, is logical from a military perspective and in conformity with period TTPs. Finally, the 5,000 plus artifacts collected by SYDE tells the entire York story as recoded in both the US and German archives. The key to the discovery was the German archives, a source that all other York researchers failed to use.

  5. Rodge Dowson says:

    Viewing the information from both sides, I feel that LTC Mastriano and his group have made incorrect calculations and that Dr. Nolan’s group has the weight of research facts firmly in their corner. Is a shame that both groups could not have worked together and I am aware that this offer was made to the Mastrinao group. It is a disgrace that such meticulous and thorough research and effort from Dr. Nolan and his team has been disregarded – those of us who have any knowledge of this action and the work of Dr. Nolan know that the correct site has been defined by him and his team alone.

    R J Dowson – U.K.

  6. Historian1918 says:

    Dear RJ – You are the more deceived – the French asked Mastriano and Nolan to come together in 2007. Here is the exchange. The French requested Mastriano to coordinate this – which he asked not to do – but the yprevailed upon him

    Sent: Friday, December 22, 2006 9:13 AM
    To: ‘Tom Nolan’

    Subject: Resolving the location of the York Medal of Honor

    Dear Mr. Nolan, The leaders of the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition (SYDE) met with Mr.Yves Desfossés (conservateur régional de l’archéologie) on Wednesday. Webriefed him on our findings on where Alvin C. York earned the Medal of Honor. The back and forth debate (although interesting) between the two groups has put the Mayor in an awkward position and is counter-productive.Emailing and phone calls to resolve this will not work. We all need to meetat Châtel Chéhéry to find a resolution.
    Can you meet us in April, 2007 to walk the ground and go over the facts?
    As I may be deployed again in support of the war on terror in Afghanistan the summer and fall are not possible. We owe it to our French colleagues to meet as soon as possible to resolve the debate. Mr. Desfossés said that he will call you to coordinate a specific date in April.
    I look forward to hearing from you and wish you and your family a blessed Christmas. Respectfully,LTC Mastriano


    To: Mastriano, Douglas; Michael Kelly;
    Subject: RE: Resolving the location of the York Medal of Honor FINAL

    Doug: I don’t think you understand the purpose of my research… I am under no obligation to spend my time and money to meet with you t odiscuss a matter that is not subject to negotiation. If you haveconclusions that differ from mine it is your responsibility to adequatelydocument and present them to the same organization. I feel that anyinterpretive development at the site is best left to local and regionalFrench organizations that are familiar with regional heritage tourism andeconomic development issues.

    Tom NolanDirector, Laboratory for Spatial TechnologyDepartment of Geosciences


  7. History1917 says:

    4Truth has simply copied and pasted the SYDE report her end wasted a lot of valuable space. My question to him is; where is all of this US documentation he mentions? I have read the report at least 25 times and I find none of the US testimony given by the surviving participants or any of York’s chain of command. All I continue to read is the same thing that all boils down to an assumption that only this one spot is where these units could have been. Where is the proof? And, even if a map or something indicates they were there, does it mean they stayed there throughout the entire fight. From what I have read in the German reports is that the Germans were very confused and in the middle of a retreat and were not sure what was happening to them, after all one Lt. even had to take a pistol out to get the men of the 210th Prussian Reserve Infantry to move. Does not sound like a well organized outfit that had command over the situation. Also, the 21, 22 or is it 23 cartridge casings now? are they relevant. From my knowledge Nolan also found a number of .45 casings and so did many others searching in various parts of this valley and surrounding hills. York was not the only one with a .45 that day.

    Bottom line, the SYDE, in my opinion, has deliberately distorted history for reasons not fully understood by me, but it is very interesting to note that the SYDE spends more time talking about themselves, religion and the Boy Scouts than they do SGT York or worse still…… they do not even mention the other patrol members killed that day. For good reason, since that might bring the graves registration blanks into question. These blanks are in the National Archives and have the grid coordinates to the graves of those killed. Funny thing that they should plot in the area Nolan was searching.

    The next step is to have a look in the German archives myself and see what ground breaking report is in there that would so completely discredit all of the US testimony, the official investigation into this matter led by the 82nd Division and the graves registration blanks. My guess is that there is nothing to be found there that can discredit all of the primary US resources. The important German resource that cannot be overlooked is there official investigation into this incident, but unfortunately it really does not make much sense to me.

    Just like the post above, the SYDE likes to waste a lot of space with useless information that have nothing to do with the location of the York fight. Just take a look at their references, the list the same reference over and over, yet the report contains none of the vital information that would reveal anything to support their claim.

    This matter will be eventually heard, more and more people are starting to take a look and see the gross error that has been made by prematurely putting the trail and monument in at the wrong spot. I will bet that one day, hopefully not too long from now, a lot of those who supported and endorsed the SYDE will be changing their tune. I think that if they do not they will one day run the risk of being labeled as what they themselves have called others; “Revisionists”. There is probably a better word to describe this, but the bottom line is that the SYDE has duped the French authorities, certain individuals in the US Army, the American Battle Monuments Commission and the US Army Center of Military History into believing their claim. My guess is that most of these people and agencies have never really read all of the evidence with the exception of that provided by the SYDE.

    It is time for Dr. Nolan and LTC Mastriano to sit on the side lines and let someone else present these arguments in a way that will analyze both side in an objective manner. My money will not be on the SYDE.

  8. 4 Truth says:

    Nolan refused to meet with Mastriano and the French – I think he feared that his doctoral theory would have been refuted.

  9. 4 Truth says:


    Tom Nolan flatly REFUSED to meet with the other team – see the below often quoted email from him:

    From: Tom Nolan
    Sent: Tuesday, January 09, 2007 7:24:15 PM

    RE: Resolving the location of the York Medal of Honor FINAL Auto forwarded by a Rule

    …I am under no obligation to spend my time and money to meet with LTC Mastriano to discuss a matter that is not subject to negotiation. …I feel that any
    interpretive development at the site is best left to local and regional French organizations that are familiar with regional heritage tourism and economic development issues.

    Tom Nolan
    Director, Laboratory for Spatial Technology

    Well – the French organizaitons and regional authorities made the decision (as Mr. Nolan stated) and it sounds like some are having trouble with accepting that… Mostly Bartlett’s Tours who had their eye on making money off of Nolan et. all…

  10. AEF Man says:

    Here is a good article from the other side.

    The claim by Michael Birdwell and Tom Nolan that they found the spot where York earned the Medal of Honor is 100% wrong. Their declaration is not supported by battlefield archeology, German archival data, military doctrine or terrain analysis and most importantly, the Germans that York fought / captured were never there. There is NO possible way that Alvin York earned the Medal of Honor in the location where they claim. It is impossible.

    The biggest obstacle that Birdwell and Nolan face is that they did not spend a single day in the German archives, where the most important York related documents are. They are missing at least 100 essential documents. Because of this, they went into the Argonne with only half of the story and ended up in the wrong valley, finding artifacts from a different battle, a battle that York, and the Germans he fought, did not participate in.

    This claim is rife with numerous other problems and is not helped by the simple fact that the core of their team has no military experience. A trained military eye can see that their claim is not logical from a tactical point of view. The Germans that York captured were never there.

    The site could not be the spot for the simple reason that the Germans York captured – were NEVER there. The empirical/hard evidence confirms this – that York fought and captured soldiers from the German 125th and 120th Württemberg Regiments and the 210th Prussian. There is only one spot in the entire Argonne Forest where these three units overlapped – and it is actually 600 meters away from the Birdwell/ Nolan claim.

    The location where they say the York spot is the flank of the German 122nd Regiment. York captured NO 122nd soldiers and he never fought there. What Birdwell uncovered is a different fight altogether that transpired as the German right flank collapsed AS A RESULT of York’s actions – several hours later.

    The picture does not add upIn January 1919, just three after York performed his heroic deed, the 82nd Infantry Division conducted a formal investigation into the York story in order to see if he deserved the Medal of Honor. As part of the investigation, photographs were taken. The spot selected by Birdwell / Nolan does not look like the 1919 photos at all. Further evidence that they are in the wrong place. Finding the right York spot

    So, what about the York spot – where is it? A group of military officers, veterans, researchers, family members and battlefield archeologists, calling themselves The Sergeant York Discovery Expedition (SYDE), came together to solve this mystery. After years of painstaking research and nearly 40 days searching in the Argonne Forest near Châtel Chéhéry, France – the exact location where Alvin York fought off the determined attacks of the German Imperial Army was discovered with 100% certainty. The search began in the archives – over 700 hours researching every detail of the York story in the German and American archives.

    This proved crucial and put my group in the general area of where York earned the Medal of Honor. In fact – there is only one possible 100-meter area in the entire Argonne Forest where this event could have happened. It was in this area that we began nearly 1,000 man-hours of physical searching for evidence of York’s Medal of Honor. Each day of investigation uncovered a piece of the York story. The biggest find occurred on Saturday 21 October 2006, when nineteen of the twenty-one .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) cartridges fired by York were discovered. This was the final piece of the puzzle that was needed to designate the “York spot.” It was here that York fought off a German bayonet attack led by Lieutenant Fritz Endriss and forced the final surrender of the right flank of the 125th Württemberg Landwehr Regiment. The fact that York fired at least 21 Colt .45 ACPs is recorded in the History of the 82nd Division A.E.F., published in 1919, which states; “[York] fired… three complete clips from his automatic pistol.” These clips contained seven rounds each. The recovered .45 cartridges were spread over a ten-foot wide area and were between 2-4 inches deep in the Argonne earth. A few days later, we recovered the twentieth and twenty-first cartridges (#20 in front of the mayors of Châtel Chéhéry and Fléville). The bottom line, the search for the York spot is over. Although finding the .45 finds was the “piece de résistance,” we also unearthed thousands of other pieces of evidence that tell the York story.

    These include American 30.06 shell casings, 250 German machine gun shell casings, 100 live German rifle rounds – most in five round clips, several Württemberg and Prussian buttons, 25 German equipment buttons / loops, pieces of German belts / web-gear and evidence of a German battalion HQ building.

    The evidence is overwhelming. The battlefield archeology and the German and American first hand sources confirm that York did what he was awarded the Medal of Honor for. This will silence the revisionists and perpetuate the York legacy for another generation. In the meantime, we are working closely with the local French officials and the American Battlefield Monuments Commission to create a historic trail to ensure that what the great Patriot York did is not forgotten or subjected to unwarranted second-guessing in the future.

    Finally – in order to pass the test – the York spot must have an affirmative on the following screening criteria – a NO to any of these means that the site is wrong.

    *Does it agree with historical facts about German units involved and unit defense locations?
    *Is it along the right flank of the German 125 and 120 Regiments?
    *Does the terrain match photographs taken in 1919?
    *Is it supported by battlefield archeology?
    *Is it close to the 1/120 regiment battlefront? *Is it logical from a tactical military perspective?
    *Does it agrees with written German and American testimony?
    *Is it located where the machine guns are in the fight – engaging Americans in the valley?
    *Is it on terrain that dramatically impacted the outcome of the battle (decisive terrain)?
    *Does it agree with the battle progression/sequence as recorded by the 2nd Landwehr Division?
    *Is it close to a trench (York’s and Vollmer’s testimony)?
    *Is it near two roads that head east – out of the Argonne?
    *Is it close to Vollmer’s HQ? Sadly for the Birdwell / Nolan team – they have a resounding NO on most of the above. However, what we found is an unambiguous/resounding yes to all of these.

    I am 100% confidant of this as there is little room for error when you measure our hard evidence. This is a slam-dunk. In the end, the search for the York spot is not about Birdwell, or Mastriano. It is about the truth and honoring the legacy of Alvin York. The search for the historically accurate York spot ended in October.

    Questions for Kelly, Nolan –
    The 1919 82nd Infantry Division History states that York fired three complete clips from his Colt .45 for a total of 21 cartridges. Why didn’t you find the 21 cartridges, but Mastriano did?
    Both the German eyewitnesses and the Germans mention a trench from which German Lieutenant Endriss led a bayonet attack against York. Where is this trench?
    What do you think about the trench near the location Mastriano found near the 21 Colt .45 cartridges?
    After York captured the 132 German soldiers, the German center/right flank collapsed, the 2nd Landwehr Division’s commander, General Franke, ordered the 122 Landwehr Regiment forward to cover the retreat of the 2nd and 3rd battalion. How do you explain that the spot you claim, as York’s was where the 122nd fought and York captured NO 122nd soldiers?
    In 1919, the 82nd Infantry Division conducted an investigation of York’s actions. The photos that were taken of where York earned the Medal of Honor do not match your site. How do you explain this?
    How can you make a 100% claim of certainty when you have not visited the German archives in Potsdam, Stuttgart, Ulm, Munich or Freiburg when these are the only places where you can find vital York related documents (that has information on where the German units were)?
    There is a problem with your claim in that it is not at the spot where the Germans that York fought/captured (the 120th, 125th, and 210th Regiments). Why do you think you are correct when the battlefield you searched is the location of the 122nd German Regiment (a regiment from which York captured NO German soldiers)? The majority of the prisoners that York captured came from the 120th, 125th and 210th regiment. The only place where these all served together is 600 meters away on the hill called Humserberg the center hill) from your claimed spot. How do you explain this?
    Many of the artifacts that you are displaying are the fat French light Chauchat machine gun (called the sho-sho by the Americans) bullets. None of the 16 Americans with York on 8 October 1918 did not have this weapon. Does your find actually disprove your supposition, especially as your York spot contained a lot of these bullets?

  11. History1917 says:

    Doctoral theory or not, this is way beyond that now.

    The subject now is that there is that a monument has been installed at what many feel is the wrong spot. There also seems to be an attempt by a certain few to suppress any other view other than yours (The SYDE). This is not a conspiracy theory, just a case of “oops! we may have made a mistake, maybe if we stall long enough, make enough noise and install as many signs, monuments and the like the other side will shut up”.

    Most of those I have talked who object to the current situation probably would never have really cared about this debate in the first place if it were not for the fact that a monument went in at the wrong spot. Also there has been too much publicity about this one particular view and it not only distorts history, but also seems to bring more attention to those involved, the Boy Scouts and other things that really have nothing to do with SGT York’s military exploits that day. In addition, just my opinion, if it were me I would have at least mentioned the other patrol members by name especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

    As far as the professionals I have talked to, they ALL cannot imagine why the US testimony and reports have been totally ignored by the SYDE. They all agree that the German reports are too inaccurate, confusing and contradict each other to be used as the primary resource for describing this fight. In the end most of the Germans never really agreed that this incident occurred since it was not only a major embarrassment to themselves and the German officer corps, but they really had no idea what was happening to them in the first place. They thought another large US force had turned their already fragile and intermittent line of defense.

    Other comments from several archaeologists and historians is that the content of the SYDE report is not something one would expect to read in a serious archaeological or historical report. It is not an objective report, it does not explore all of the primary resources and it is written in an arrogant manner designed to throw off those who really do not understand much about archaeology and military history. However, it does appeal to a military audience who is more interested in supporting their own against a bunch of civilian scientists especially if this audience never took the time to even read the 82nd Division history and look at a map while they read it.

    One comment I particularly am found of: “What they did (the SYDE) is not archaeology and can be considered a relic hunt at best”.

    Squabbling about who had permission to search and who did not, whether it was done for a doctorate or personal gain is not really important anymore. Especially irrelevant is anything concerning the French authorities signing off on one particular group or the other. Their motivation is not spurred by a search for the truth. I will guarantee you that very few of the French “authorities” have read anything other than what the SYDE has provided. Once again, who made the bigger splash? Who brought more attention to this small village? Who, currently, stands a better chance of improving something locally by bringing in a few more tourists? Of course, the SYDE, therefore the French are interested in what the SYDE has to say. If Dr. Nolan did not make enough noise and a bigger splash in the media, organize big ceremonies, plant monuments and so on then that is his prerogative. The fact remains that this has all been done by the SYDE, but unfortunately at the wrong spot and probably for the wrong reasons.

    Just like with other debates in history it is time for someone else to pick up this debate and explore ALL of the primary resources.

    In the end the truth will come out. It is not hidden in some secret German archive as the SYDE alludes to, it is found in many documented US resources found in our National Archives for all to see and read.

    For the SYDE report to be correct then ALL of the US documentation must be false and/or inaccurate and the SYDE should be able to explain why other than by simply saying the troops York captured were never there. I do not believe that the SYDE can defend this. I do believe, however, that it will be easy to dispute the German testimony that the SYDE so heavily relies on.

    Time to hit the archives!

  12. Sol says:

    For the record

    Over 40 million casualties

    20 million military and civilian deaths

    60 million European soldiers were mobilized from 1914 to 1918

    AND we will fight over a few yards becasue we did not get our way… I want my blankey – waaaaaaaaaa…

    Would mikey like a lolli?

    Give me a break – and you all need a real job!

  13. History1917 says:

    Tthe SYDE destroyed more than 25 square meters of the battlefield by bulldozing a place to install a monument honoring SGT York at the site of the main attack of 2/328th Infantry, so I think the “few yards” are worth fighting for.

    Let me put this in a way that all of those SYDE supporters will undertand:

    The German soldiers that fought here (at the SYDE site) did not even know who SGT York was because he was never there.

    Actually I would like my blankey, loli and whiney now if you please……. I think that is the best answer I will get from the SYDE to the questions I have repeatedly asked about why the SYDE feels ALL of the US reports describing in great detail the location of the York fight are incorrect.

    Maybe the CMH will eventually be interested in hearing the case again once the German archival evidence is actually presented which the SYDE refuses to do.

    See you in the German archives!

    I think I will start with Stuttgart since I imagine anything related to the 120th, 122nd and 125th will be found there and should be considered relevant since these are the regiments we hear so much about in the SYDE report and rebuttals. Let me post images on this blog and I will show all what I find – unlike our SYDE friends.

  14. what is real says:

    I went to the dedication ceremony on 4 October and since have been following this story. Now it seems to have turned into a Kindergarten debate. I believed the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition after attending the ceremony and trail dedication, but now it looks like there is another side of the story that needs to be examined. It is kind of sad to think that not all the information was gathered to come up with the right conclusion.

    I just found the link to Dr. Nolan’s dissertation so I will be pouring over it tonight. At first glance it looks like Dr. Nolan has written his report in way that a report should be written. It is very professional and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to find out about the truth.

    I also find it strange that the Anonymous writer, who I assume represents the Discovery Expedition, does not answer the questions about the A.E.F reports found in our archives. I would have thought that our reports would be much better since we are the ones who won this battle and war. When I first read Mr. Mastriano’s report I assumed from what he said that all of our information had been lost. Now it looks like that is was never lost, only safely stored in our archives until now. It sure would have been nice if he would have had some more faith into our (US) record keeping. I will read the two reports and comment more on this.

    As for the person commenting on whining etc. I want to say this ……….. Little things do matter. Why else do people put head stones in the cemetery? According to him the exact location does not matter as long as it is in the general area… I wonder how his folks feel about that………..

  15. Humpty Dumpty says:

    From what I see and read about the SYDE it seems that well intentioned or not they followed little acceptable practice and trampled around like a whole bunch of relic hunters. The professional approach from the other Dr. Nolan team seems very impressive – all the primary sources should be gathered and cross referenced by an independent body asap before any more the French countryside gets bulldozed in the wrong locations!

  16. History1917 says:

    Humpty Dumpty is right. Get all of the resources together and cross reference this ASAP. I am afraid that getting anything productive or meaningful from the SYDE will be impossivle.

    Look at where they SYDE has gone in the other blog. Instead of answering relevant questions they are now claiming that the others faked the evidence!

  17. DR. GEBAUER says:

    From extensive experience with a project such as this (Bataan Peninsula:2000,2003-4, and 2007), and approaching both teams results objectively, I have to side with LTC Mastriano. Although I am void of military experience, the extensive use of period maps, unit histories, battle orders, et cetera, are the most favored method. Terrain features change ever so slowly on inland masses. Spacial geology/archeology on a battlefield works best with “who was shooting at who with what from where”. The SYDE artifacts, whether recovered by profesional archeologists, amateurs, volunteers, or convicts for that matter is far more substantial vis-a-vis the terrain features. Reading American military post war histories of WWI, no one can convince me that Battalion and Brigade Commanders (WWI average age 59 and 63 respectively) “walked” the battlefields in 1919 for their Unit confirm actions and events. Time and money will confirm this, by any individual walking (NOT TOURING) any given battlefield with a comprehensive (Not armchair General) knowledge of the events that occured there. Think of George C Scott in “Patton”, in the North Africa scene: I’ve been here before”…..That is the mindset one must adopt. LTC Mastriano accomplished this. Dr. Nolan did not.

    My profession is full of high tech aparatus, ground penetrating radar, etc. HOWEVER……..a $ 100 metal detector will allow you to locate Japanese skeletel remains on Saipan, determine who was armed with what and where, etc. However, the terrain must match the purported actions that occurred there. nothing less. It’s been done in the past and will continue in the future. It’s not the intent to offend any party, but Dr. Nolan wrote a great term paper. You need a good deal of capital to dispute it, unless you reside in Europe. Thesis:”No”.

    In closing, I understand there were monetary considerations and business deals on the part of Dr. Nolan’s staff or associates. Can anyone confirm of deny this with certainty? To my friends out there, it is not my intent to offend anyone. There is no fraud, only disagreement. My personal kudos to LTC Mastriano. His approach was on target. His results a success.

    Best regards to all on this BLOG

  18. History1917 says:

    My dear doctor, or can I call you Ernst? Because with your conclusions after your analysis of these two reports makes me really doubt the Dr. portion of your title. It is very interesting to see how your position changes on this issue from blog to blog. If you notice my does not and I still ask the same questions that continue to remain unanswered from our SYDE friends.

    The way I see it you are in no position to comment on anything relating to this issue and should probably have stayed on Bataan looking for Japanese skeletons. Why don’t you provide us with a web link to your Bataan exploits because we sure cannot find anything.

    Your new argument that the American commanders were too old to physically go back to the battlefields in 1919 is as absurd. What was General Lindsey doing in Feb. 1919? Did they roll him over to where York fought in a wheelchair?

    Next, if you think that studying battle orders, unit histories and maps are favored method of looking for something like the York fight then why did all of your SYDE friends not even mention the detailed written history and maps found in the US archives? Instead they (you) relied on inaccurate, contradicting and incoherent German accounts. As I stated in the other blog the Germans were in the process of getting their butts kicked and were conducting a withdrawal in force….a retreat. I also really like your comparison in the other blog about German record keeping abilities to how well they documented the Holocaust.

    Mentioning Patton’s moment in North Africa, more classic SYDE BS and taking others words out of context…..again. If I recall Patton was making a joke about being reincarnated from someone who participated in the Roman siege of Carthage. You say that LTC Mastriano had that mindset and Dr. Nolan did not. Well that explains part of why the SYDE is so wrong. If I understand you correctly you are saying that LTC Mastriano thinks he was there on 8 October 1918. So who does LTC Mastriano think he was during the fight on 8 October 1918? York himself?

    Man, you guys are desperate!

    And, the terrain changing again, this time not in mans memory of terrain altered by the effects of combat, this time you hint at that volcanic eruption I talked about in the other blog.

    Finally one thing you say does make sense; the terrain must match the purported actions that occurred there. So, I say again. …. 2/328 Infantry was being fired on by machine guns on the right flank on the Champrocher Ridge, in the center from the hill located northwest of Hill 223 (SYDE Hill) and on the left from the hill located DIRECTLY southwest of Hill 223/ This hill directly southwest of Hill 223 is the hill the patrol was sent to silence the machine guns threatening their left flank. The fight took place on the western slope of this same hill – NOT the eastern slope of the hill that was the center of the 2/328 attack. Why do you and your SYDE friends still not get it….you are wrong!

    And in closing you hint at monetary considerations again. Is there a law that prohibits people from selling books or offering battlefield tours? If so I need to see that one.

    This reminds me of a fish flopping around on the bank knowing that its end is near. It is only a matter of time and the true story will be heard and the SYDE version will be “relegated to a footnote in history”.

  19. DR. GEBAUER says:

    I sense nothing but bitterness and rancor from History 1917. It’s obvious as well that you have minimal knowledge of map reading and analysis per se, nor profesional level archival research experience. I sense a bookworm…a percieved pedigreed academic., manicured nails, with lip balm and and a newspaper as your “kit”. Notwithstanding,You may want to contact some of Mastriano’s colleagues for primary sources, or Mastriano himself. You can also do the same with Dr.Nolan, as I feel that it would present the balanced picture. Also, read some of the early biographies on York. Work hard and make that trip to France a reality.

    I care not for Commemorative Trails, Busts, Trail Markers, English owned Bed & Breakfasts, or Village Tourism. Books, Tour Guides etc. The French do, for that matter. Both Nolan and Mastriano are welcomed to “Cash In”.

    In closing, I wish you no ill will. And as point of fact, the Japanese pay very well for the bones of their warriors. No exploits involved or heroics, no books to be written. Simply a contractual arrangement. And here is a bit of a hint to my identity. On a certain website there is mention of WWII exhumation of German Wehrmacht dead for eventual relocation to formal , yet to be established cemetaries. My team. And I am in the photo. Also, I am astounded that you are in denial on German records of the Holocaust. How do you think the Swiss Accounts settlement of a decade plus ago was tracked down? Spend some spare time on this subject. That was my indication of the fact that your emotions had got the best of you.
    Best Regards,

    As a postscript, please shed some definitive light and facts, with exact sources, on General Lindsay’s, et al “return to the scene “of York’s achievements in 1919. Also, if you have ever read extensively the primary sources on a battle or battlefield, and then visited it with the intent of walking through the engagement sequentially, you will understand the logic of the term “mindset”that you use.

  20. History1917 says:

    According to this article our good Dr. Gebauer died in 1968, but at least he was a Great War veteran and served in Verdun. I guess it is remotly possible that he knew some of the SYDE team in 1918 since he alludes to reincarnation in his last argument.

    Dr. Ernst Gebauer

    Ernst Gebauer wurde am 04. April 1873 als Sohn eines Pfarrers in Legde / Westprignitz geboren.

    Sein Medizinstudium absolvierte er an der Universität Halle. 1900 kam er nach Wittenberge.
    Hier nahm er ein Angebot des Magistrats wahr und trat 1902 die Stelle des städtischen Kommunalarztes an, fand ein breites Betätigungsfeld und erwarb sich in jahrzehntelanger Arbeit viel Achtung und Vertrauen.
    Von 1912 bis 1914 übte Dr. Gebauer in Wittenberge die Funktion des Stadtverordneten-Vorstehers aus.
    Während des Ersten Weltkriegs diente er als Stabsarzt in einem Neuruppiner Infanterie-Regiment.
    1917 geriet der Arzt vor Verdun in französische Kriegsgefangenschaft.

    Ab 1921 konnte er wieder praktizieren und genoß als Hausarzt das Vertrauen mehrerer Wittenberger Familiengenerationen.

    Dr. Gebauer praktizierte bis ins hohe Alter und verstarb am 08. Januar 1968.

  21. DR. GEBAUER says:

    1. Wrong Gebauer, although I was named after him. No relation. As an aside, I was wrong on the number of York .45 ACP magazines expended-three not four. It was in Point 4- a typo. The gist of the matter is unless you take the time to visit the battlefield, you will never know.

    2. Perhaps contacting York’s living relatives for their view might ease the anxiety of all. Mastriano has my vote, along with the German, French, and American military votes as well. I tossed the duelling sites and results around with the staff-Dr. Nolan got one vote out of eight. Five of them feel “History 1917” is Dr.Nolan’s “Nom d’Plume”. I cannot help but wonder………….

    3. And “walking the battlefield”as a mindset can be compared to a Traffic Accident Investigation Team. It is a Reconstruction of Events, certainly not proven by Dr. Nolan.

    Best of luck to all. Enjoy the challenge. I will return in the Spring from the next business trip. Hope some definitive answers will be posted. Perhaps History 1917 can email Dr. Nolan as to the amount of Federal Grant money expended, and who kept the toys that were purchased. If this occurred, it’s Public Record.Enjoy all of our upcoming Holidays !!

    In closing, I wish everyone well. Hope you get your answers.

  22. History1917 says:

    Very well done Dr. Gebauer! You have made an excellent attempt at diverting attention away from the questions I continue to ask. So, let’s get back to the subject at hand.

    But first, you admit you made a mistake about the magazine count …… it would seem to me that it is you who have not done your homework. In the event that you have done your homework can you explain why you and your SYDE friends refuse to mention, discuss, use as a part of your report or answer questions about the following:

    1.) Attack of 2nd Battalion, 328th Infantry, October 8, 1918 as described on page 58 – 62 in the “Official History of the 82nd Division”, specifically the part detailing the York fight starting on page 59.

    2.) The attack of the 328th Infantry on Chatel Chehery and the Decauville railroad as described on page 39 – 47 in the “History of the Tree Hundred and Twenty-eighth Regiment of Infantry”?

    3.) The map depicting the attack on Chatel Chehery and Decauville railroad located just after page 74 in “History of the Tree Hundred and Twenty-eighth Regiment of Infantry”?

    4.) Contents of the letter from Major Buxton to Captain Swindler dated July 23rd, 1929 describing the 2/328 attack west of Chatel Chehery and specifically the York fight. (Entry 310C “Thomas File”, Record Group 165, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD.)

    5.) The map that accompanied the letter mentioned above with annotations by Major Buxton and Captain Danforth depicting route the patrol took and where the York fight occurred. (Entry 310C “Thomas File”, Record Group 165, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD.)

    6.) The internment and disinterment records for Corporal Savage and Privates Dymowski, Swanson, Waering, Weiler and Wine. (Record Group 92, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD.)

    7.) A 1918 exchange between Major Buxton and Major Tillman describing 2/328 attack west of Chatel Chehery and position of the German machine guns and 77mm battery. (82nd Division Field Orders and Memos, History of Operations. 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial and Museum Archives. Fort Bragg, North Carolina.)

    8.) Aerial photograph 1370 taken on 1-10-18 by Squadron 12. (Entry 538, Record Group 120, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD)

    9.) Signal Corps photograph 49190 of the graves of four soldiers from the patrol and photograph number 49192 grave of Corporal Savage. (111-P, Box 61, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD) – These kind of sink your photographic comparison argument huh? We already know about photo number 49189 and 49191 and none of these, especially the ones of the graves, look like the SYDE site.
    10.) Account of Captain Danforth found on page 237 – 240 “Sergeant York, His Own Life Story and War Diary”

    11.) Sworn disposition given by Sergeant Parsons found on page 240 – 242 “Sergeant York, His Own Life Story and War Diary”

    12.) Sergeant Early’s own account found on page 242 – 244 “Sergeant York, His Own Life Story and War Diary”

    13.) Official affidavit of Private Beardsley found on page 244 – 247 “Sergeant York, His Own Life Story and War Diary”

    14.) The 82nd Division account of the York fight taken shortly after the fight at the division headquarters found on page 260 – 267 “Sergeant York, His Own Life Story and War Diary”

    15.) Last, but not least the words of Corporal York himself found in Skeyhill’s book and numerous other sources. I think this answers the question about General Lindsey and I quote Sergeant York: “After the armistice Brigadier General Lindsey and some other generals and colonels takened me back to the Argonne Forest and went back up to the scene of the fight with me. They measured and examined the ground and asked me a whole heap of questions. Brigadier General Lindsey asked me to take him out like I did the captured German major. And I did.”

    So, it looks look like the American did keep pretty good records. The only German reference that SPECIFICALLY mentions the York fight is “Testimony of German Officers and Men Anent Sergeant York” translated by the Army War College. (National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD)

    My problem with the SYDE report is that it fails to show any of their documentation. The best reference they actually detail is the one about the regimental boundaries being located on the southern edge of the Humserberg. That does not tell us much,

    So, here are the references, please read them and explain why all of these people, including York himself, lied and made up this story.

    Oh, but you are going to be away until spring….how convenient.

  23. Angelique says:

    A beautiful story. I am so happy that this Colonel discovered the correct site and has memorialized it. A wonderful gesture between two countries. As a History teacher, I have used his site as an encouragement for further study and research on the part of my middle school students. Our goal in October was to study the Great War, as it is virtually forgotten or discarded in the classroom these days. We focused not on Alliances or politics, but trench warfare. I was amazed at their interest !! (Teenagers love gruesome topics). One of the three-student teams actually documented much dissention among the other members of Alvin York’s group, both after the war and when the movie about him was made. Evidently the other members did far more than guard the prisoners, but York’s humble origins made for greater press at the time. Don’t quote me, but I recall the other survivors of this group did not receive medals or acknowledgement until the late 1920’s. They were also offered, and settled for, very small sums of money in exchange for their movie portrayals, when Warner Brothers made the film.

    Another student team focused on whether Sgt. York “was” the greatest American hero” of the war (the ground war). They came up with two other candidates: Major Samuel Woodfill, and First Sergeant Samuel Dreben. Both of these individuals, in their opinion, clearly exceeded Sgt. York’s exploits. I pass this along to anyone who might be interested in researching them further. From the initial student presentations on these two individuals, I am surprised that their wartime exploits are not more widely

    In closing, does anyone know where a current map of the Sgt.York feat can be obtained? Not a military map. but a USGS-type. At the conclusion of this semester, I’d like to gather up some materials, and look to encourage this topic as an annual research event. The Study Packet needs far more material. Also, are there any translated German documents that are easily accessible? If so, where?

  24. History1917 says:


    The “Colonel” did not find the correct site. That is what this blog is about. See below and I have listed the references you asked about. The first is a map that has the route the patrol took. This route was drawn by York’s former commanders who, shortly after the war walked the site with York. To my knowledge there are no USGS maps. The A.E.F. used period French maps for the most part. The second reference is the translated German account of the specific York incident. Both can be obtained from the National archives.

    The map that accompanied the letter mentioned above with annotations by Major Buxton and Captain Danforth depicting route the patrol took and where the York fight occurred. (Entry 310C “Thomas File”, Record Group 165, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD.)

    Merten, F.W. 1936. Testimony of German Officers and Men Anent Sergeant York: Entry 310 B “Thomas File” Record Group 165, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD

  25. Bob Lorenz says:

    Supposedly the 1911 Colt Sgt. York used is in a museum. Why not check the firing pin marks on the spent .45apc cases against the “supposed” 1911 Colt used by Sgt. York.
    It may solve the problem or add to the mystery.

  26. History1917 says:

    What museum is SGT York’s Colt in?

  27. History1917 says:


    Doug Mastriano (SYDE), Dr. Gebauer (SYDE), Angeligue (Presumed SYDE Member), Sol (SYDE), AEF Man (SYDE), 4 Truth (SYDE) and Historian 1918 (SYDE)

    Have you guys given up?

  28. RockySantaCruz says:

    Well, there certainly is some debate here!
    The Mastriano group….were they audited or overseen by any trained archaeology professionals? I wonder because they seem to have been pretty ‘Self’ marshalled…..did they follow any set recognised procedures. From the evidence show and documented by the other group they seem to have followed accepted practices. This memorial by the Mastriano group I have to say after having visited it recently is cheap looking and pretty awful really not quite what Sgt. York deserved in France!

  29. History1917 says:

    Very well said! I could not have said it better myself.

    The main problem with that monument is that it is at the wrong spot – SGT York was never there.

    Secondly, none of the other 16 members of the patrol are recognized except on the smaller monument known as the “Weiler” monument which, as I understand it, was allowed by Mastriano only after much protest from the family members representing the “Other Sixteen”.

    And, as a slap in the face to the “Other Sixteen”, Mastriano is quoted in a Stars and Stripes article saying that the others will be “relegated to a footnote in history”. This is a quote that was taken by Mastriano from a representative of the “Other Sixteen” while expressing their concerns to Mastriano that the “Other Sixteen” might be “relegated to a footnote in history”.

    I think that if one reads ALL that is out there about the SYDE he or she will quickly see there are several sides to this story and they do not add up to a professional, organized or scientifically conducted operation. In fact, it amounts to little more than a “relic hunt”. There are articles that suggest not only was York saved that day by Devine Intervention, but Devine Intervention also helped the Mastriano led group find the site! I guess that is why they left most of the primary resources out of their report. Despite endless lists of references it is very clear that only a few sentences from perhaps no more that 5 sources were actually used. The rest is pure imagination – or – Devine Intervention as they may prefer to call it.

  30. Joel of Pall Mall says:

    I see that the project gentlemen are basing everything on the 328 collar disk.

    The disk was planted by them! There is no way that it can be in such perfect condition – specifically as they claim it was in a marshy area (dr. nolan’s report). It cleaned up nicely at the site (everything washed off when they found it – look at the picture!)

    Furthermore – the industrial stamp colloration is also present – this would have worn off in only a few years in the ground.

    My records show that ebay did sell a G copy 328th collar disk exactly like the one this team “found” in mid 2006. Coincidence?

  31. History1918 says:

    History 1917 – your logic pattern is a bit scattered and I detect numerous fallacies in your argument rendering it foolish. The personal attacks illustrate that your believe that your position is weak. You ought to be careful in this regard in that it exposes the folly of your hypothesis. But then again – perhaps I should not write this to you – as the good book says –
    Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.

  32. History1917 says:

    Personal attack, I think not. Let me quote SYDE member Kory O’Keefe in the Spring 2007 issue of “BIOLA” magazine:

    “It was God who made it possible for Alvin York to do what he did 88 years ago, and it is God who made it possible to find the evidence needed to prove York’s testimony is accurate and true.”

    You can find the article here on pages 8 and 9, it is called “Alumnus Locates ‘York Spot’ of World War I”.

    Click to access 2007-spring.pdf

    Your claim that the collar disk was planted and now saying that it is also a “copy” purchased on eBay is nothing more than your avoidance of the primary resource documents I have challenged you with on numerous occasions throughout this blog.

    While checking the primary resources you actually use in your SYDE Report I was alarmed to find that you use only a handful to support your claim. They are:

    • Somewhat “modified” version of SGT York’s Medal of Honor Citation.

    • One quote from General Pershing.

    • Several “heavily edited” quotes from SGT York’s Diary.

    • ONLY FOUR quotes from the German Archives, all of which are poorly translated and distorted excerpts taken from “Das wuerttembergische Landwehr Infanterie Regiment Nr. 120 and Nr. 125 im Weltkrieg 1914 – 1918”.

    None of these support anything you claim. I also find it amusing that your version of the route the patrol took has changed numerous times. There is the Boy Scout Meuse-Argonne Trail version, the two different versions that show up in your SYDE Report and the final, very different version that is depicted on the orientation board located in Chatel Chehery.

    So, you see, there is nothing personal here, only an examination of what has been published by you or by those who support or report on your behalf.

    If you want to discuss the “evidence” start with explaining why you did not even consider using the Buxton/Danforth – Swindler letters and accompanying maps. (Entry 310C “Thomas File”, Record Group 165, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD.)

    Maybe it’s time to call Dr. Gebauer back from his business trip.

  33. History1917 says:

    You know, I just noticed that the Boy Scouts of America Transatlantic Council site for the SYDE’s version of the Meuse Argonne Trail has been pulled or for what ever reason, does not exist anymore.

    Very interesting, but good thing that I downloaded all of the maps and interpretive trail details months ago.

    Personal attack….. I think not, it sounds more like “sui caedere” in the historical interpretaion sense.

  34. History1917 says:

    Silence from the SYDE crew…………………….
    Wonder why?

    They know that they have been searching in the wrong area without proper authorization, mainly by not requesting a proper permit from the French regional archaeologist. What about the export of French cultural property in reference to the artifacts shipment to the CMH? Did they have written authorization to export these artifacts to Germany and then aboard a tax payer funded Air Force C-17 to the US? I doubt it.

    Why did the CMH accept artifacts with no provenance? In other words, why did they accept bags of artifacts loosely identified as coming from a particular location? It is apparent that the artifact distribution maps drawn by Mastriano were created “from the hip” to tell the distorted version of the story they want people to believe.

    These artifacts will soon be displayed – (at tax payer’s expense) – in the Pentagon honoring the service of both York and Mastriano. I think folks are starting to figure this out that it is more about “M” than York and is all self serving for “M”.

    And what is with General (ret.) Zabecki and Dr. Clarke from the CMH still supporting the SYDE claims?

    Are they as ignorant as we think they are by not having a look at the detailed US accounts of this fight found in the National Archives and Records Administration?

    Have they even taken time to look at the actual German accounts of the German units involved in the German archives and see what they really have to say? I doubt it, but …. We have, and they do not say anything close to what the SYDE has to say. But, according to the SYDE and their followers, the Germans had a better understanding of a battle. This is a battle the Germans were no the loosing side from the git go.

    To these ignorant people 1918 Germans were far superior to the victorious Americans and their allies even though they were loosing every battle. Also they live in a state of denial when considering the fact that the A.E.F (especially the 82nd Division) spent a full month in 1919 covering every step of the way with officers from each battalion in order to record their history. The Germans never returned to the Argonne, not even to bury their dead. …….. hmmmm…….. Go figure…….

    It is apparent to not only me, but many others, that the SYDE boys have been illegally relic hunting in the center of the 328th Infantry attack and NOT the area where the York fight occured which is located outside of the 82nd Division sector on the left flank.

    Hey! How much to get a guided tour of the site by Doug or Kory personally? They are there just about every weekend with a group of dignitaries.

    I thought that ANY monument honoring American activity in the Great War had to be approved by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Seems this battlefield destruction project (they call a monument) organized by the SYDE received no such authorization, but, strange as it sounds, it seems that the local French residents report that ABMC grounds keepers from the Meuse Argonne Cemetery are performing regular maintenance at the site to prevent the inevitable demise of the SYDE monument of historical distortion. Without regular maintenance weather and time will eventually erode the base of this monstrosity and send it to the bottom of the slope. It was necessary to create such a large platform by the excessive removal of top soil and foliage to create enough space for the color guard and dignitaries for the 4 October, 2008 ceremony.

    Maybe someone should ask Phil Rivers, the director of the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, if this is true.

    Take a look at the plaque on the monument itself. It is covered with minute hairline fractures. In the matter of a few years water will penetrate these fractures and the wonderful work honoring York, Mastriano, O’Keefe and the Bill Rudge Ministries will be forever lost.
    No concern to Big “M”, he is about to publish the greatest distortion of all entitled: “Lions of the Argonne”.

    I wonder why, as much as Big “M” honors the German figures in this battle, he did not take the time to locate Lt. Fritz Endriss’s grave? I will give you a clue, he is buried in Buzancy.

    You guys are pathetic………

    Hey SYDE! – Watch out! – Torpedo in the water!!!

  35. History1917 says:

    Take a look at what SGT Hulka has to say:

    And here too:

    “Lghten up Francis”…. I will remember that quote if yours. Did you say “hi” to Tom and Michael last week?

  36. History1917 says:

    There has been another “discovery” that needs to be discussed here.

    Please take a look at this article:

    Initially I thought this must be some kind of a joke, but after a little more searching I found the original army press release:

    A short time later I received this email written by this man and here are a few excerpts:

    “From: Douglas Mastriano
    Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 6:39 AM
    Subject: Important SGT York discoveries from October 1918″

    “Two amazing discoveries to support the York Spot:”

    “We are pleased to announce the recovery of a significant discovery of artifacts related to where Sergeant York accomplished his amazing feat.
    So what?”

    “1. The discoveries confirm our conclusions as to where York fought on 8 OCT 1918
    2. York did what he was awarded the Medal of Honor for (silencing the detractors)
    3. One God-fearing man made the difference – an example of us today
    4. This important piece of American History is preserved for the next generation”

    “While working on the Sergeant York Historic Trail, we uncovered the personal effects and the complete identification tag of a German soldier involved in the fight against York’s battalion on 8 October 1918. The soldier of whom we speak is Gunner Wilhelm Härer.”

    “On 8 October 1918, Wilhelm Härer was assigned to German Lieutenant Paul Lipp’s portion of Humserberg. Lipp commanded the machine gun which Alvin York assaulted and destroyed. Lipp himself was captured by York. As a result of York’s actions, Wilhelm Härer’s gun crew fell back under heavy US pressure. As they withdrew, Wilhelm Härer fell in battle. He was declared missing in action.”

    “The discovery is the strongest undisputable piece evidence directly linking a specific soldier with the York spot. This is significant in that the detractors can explain away buttons, and collar disks – which hundreds of soldiers carried. However, the recovery of Wilhelm’s ID tag is harder to ignore and adds further confirmation of our work and conclusions as to where York earned the Medal of Honor. This discovery was followed by the recovery of two badly damaged US military tunics of soldiers from York’s BN – again, complimenting our earlier findings regarding the York spot.”

    After reading the article and this email I was not only disturbed, but equally surprised and amused by what this man now claims. Here are my thoughts on this “discovery”:

    1.)Since when do Boy Scouts do archaeology? Especially on a World War One battlefield? It is documented that not only high explosive was used in the valley west of Chatel Chehery on this day, but Phosgene gas as well. Being that approximately 20% or more of first world war artillery shells did not explode I am not sure if this is appropriate “work” for Boy Scouts tromping around the woods with metal detectors and shovels.

    2.)Would the French regional director of archaeology issue a permit to Boy Scouts to conduct surface metal detector archaeology? I doubt it and I bet his remarks about this discovery will be VERY exciting. Does the Center of Military History and other supporters of this man know that not only were these artifacts illegally excavated and exported from France, but the archaeology was done by Boy Scouts? They can answer for themselves when the time comes.

    3.)Now to the disturbing part; if what this man is saying is true then they found the grave of a German soldier who is still listed as missing since October 1918. I can see that a small case of artifacts were “repatriated” to the town where this soldier came from, but no mention of his remains. Instead of doing the correct thing; which would be immediately cease all excavation as soon as a suspected burial is located, notifying the local mayor’s office, the Gendarmamarie and the regional archaeologists’ office the Boy Scouts continued to “loot” as many artifacts as they could find. (The thought of Boy Scouts conducting serious archaeology paints a very comical and humorous picture in my mind, but one cannot overlook the very serious cultural, ethical and morale violations that have apparently occurred as a result of this “discovery”.)

    In my opinion, if the truth were known, they probably only found the dog tag and the other items were found on the same hill so they simply grouped them together to make the story more “sensational”. But, we must give them the benefit of doubt since they presented a case of artifacts that seem to contain the dog tag, a gas mask, what looks like a soldiers boot heel with the leather still on it, buttons and other artifacts. Again I would ask; where are the remains of this soldier? Even if they “thought” or “felt like” he might have been removed and transferred to a military cemetery after the war they are nevertheless obligated to turn the excavation work over to professional archaeologists. If even a finger bone had been found that would be enough to say this soldier has been “found”, but what apparently has happened is the artifacts were “looted” and this soldier still remains in a “missing” status. I do not think that the findings, opinions or conclusion of Boy Scout archaeology can be taken very seriously and they are not qualified for excavating a missing soldier’s presumed final or temporary resting place. But, without having the proper authorization to begin with it would be self incriminating to inform the same agencies that would have arrested them had the known what they were doing in the first place. Better to get out of France with the “loot” as quickly as possible and make the announcement on a local level, become a hero for a small German town and continue to dazzle an evidently very naïve Center of Military History.)

    4.)Ok, so we have a dog tag from a soldier that belonged to the 125th Landwehr Infantry, what does that have to do with confirming the “York Spot”. This tag was found exactly where it should be, on the hill the 125th occupied during the battle.

    This man says: “The discovery is the strongest undisputable piece evidence directly linking a specific soldier with the York spot.”

    I thought they said earlier that the 21 pistol cartridges were the most undisputable evidence linking a specific soldier to the York Spot, and in this case SGT York himself, at least according to this man’s claims.

    5.)Again we see that this man says that the 125th Landwehr was on the Humserberg and York defeated the machine guns on the Humserberg. If you look at the 1918 German 1;25,000 map sheet or the official German report about the incident you will clearly see that the Humserberg is actually located just southwest of the town of Cornay an nowhere near this hill. In the German records there are only one or two accounts that mention this hill specifically and in both cases they refer to it by using the elevation reference “153”, the map grid square number the hill is located in “1429” or simply refer to it as the hill west of the “Schlossberg” (Hill 223). The Americans called this hill “Hill 167” for the elevation reference found on the 1918 French 1;20,000 map sheet. Strange that in the American documentation and Signal Corps photographs there are many references to Hill 167 and that it was taken by the main attack of 2nd Battalion, 328th Infantry and not the SGT Early/York patrol. All American accounts show that the “York fight” took place on the western facing slope of the hill located directly southwest of Hill 223, or “Hill 2” as the Germans called it and not where this man claims to have located the exact spot with “100% certainty”.

    6.)“100% certainty”, “conclusive, the search is over” and “undisputable piece of evidence”, these are terms not often used in the archeological, historical or scientific communities, yet they are found throughout this man’s writings and articles written on his behalf. What is he afraid of? Someone else may come along and prove him wrong in the near future? Sure seem so.

  37. Angelique says:

    To All:
    School’s been out for two months during which time I took 6 Masters credits at Seton Hall. I leave the latter part of this week for two weeks in sunny France. VACATION!! I have set aside 2 days for a visit to both sites, albeit with a battlefield tour group. It is a French tour, so it should be very interesting to see their views on which location is correct. For the record, it is irrelevant to me as to which expedition has the correct location, and which one is wrong. However, I will provide this website to the French individual conducting the tour, and ask he or she for their input. I think it’s silly the way every one is labelled this or that. I can almost see that person thinking twice before entering the arena. I’m sorry to see such friction.
    Notwithstanding, does anyone have a specific question or request regarding the two disputed positions/sites?? I can ask and record answers for the discussion board. Simply post them and I will ask.
    My best,

  38. Angelique says:

    To all:
    It is October again, and time for a new class to study The Great War. I have taken extensive photos of both sites (The tour guide had a very extensive knowledge of both, and we spent approximately 3 hours at each….)I have printed this blog to display the differences of opinion, and will allow the three student teams to make their own self determination based upon facts, artifacts, photos taken, and the opinions cited here. Democracy rules, and two of the three, if not all three teams will eventually reach a determination.
    Also, you can walk the sites and stray from the trails at will. The French have no warning signs, nor due they verbally caution you about explosives.
    The Site Dispute is evidently very, very good for tourism.
    Also, three German Army Officers were on the tour and very animated at the Discovery Expedition Site, with cameras, map, compasses, GPS, etc. It appears they had been there before, as they immediately separated from the group. They appeared to know exactly what they were looking for, and compared notes for close to an hour on the return ride.

  39. History1917 says:

    “….will allow the three student teams to make their own self determination based upon facts, artifacts, photos taken….”

    I hope you had a permit from the Director of Archaeology for the Champagne-Ardennes to “take” artifacts. Otherwise you have just instructed students that it is ok to completely disregard French cultural and antiquity laws.

    I am also happy to hear that you and a group of students are now the authoratative body that has taken on the task of determining the correct site. While you were at it you should have invited the Boy Scouts and/or Girl Scouts to join in the research. From my understanding one group used Boy Scouts to conduct a good portion of the archaeology and this methodology has created quite a stir in the archaeological community.

    We really look forward to hearing what your students determine, but let me guess….. The SYDE has the right site. Correct?

  40. Angelique says:

    Hello All:
    It appears that too much is taken literally. The students themselves (remember, they’re Middle School….)glean their information from primary and secondary sources. At their level, primary sources are transcripts, affidavits, and any oral histories. Secondary sources are newspapers, books, and the Internet. The “artifacts” I refer to are photos only, of the objects gleaned from AOL websites, by both sides, along with a reason why they felt one was more credible over another. They (the student teams) offer opinions only. No one accompanied me to France-it was not a class trip. In addition, photos I took were utilized as well. We made no claim to absolute certainty. It was simply a part of the class project on the Great War.
    In closing, this fall I am initiating a project on the Battle of the Somme- far more massive than the York episode. There are many mistakes that the British made,which resulted in horrendous casualties . Finally, did anyone see the news article about the American WWI helmet (rusted/corroded) discovered at the Colonel’s location? I believe that was in December last. A French citizen discovered/uncovered it……
    I’ll check back periodically to see if there is any information worth retaining the York fight as an existing topic.
    Stay well!!

  41. History1917 says:

    Everyone interested in this debate needs to read this:

    In order to see the photos and maps you need to join the WAF and it is a FREE membership.

    The part pertaining to this matter starts on the second or third page and continues for 25+ pages. You will find everything related to this event here including copies of all of the original German and American documents.

    This is the most accurate and detailed presentation of the relevant primary resources concerning this event so far presented by either group that I have seen. Here you will find an extremely detailed interpretation of what happened that day based on archival research in both the American and German archives as well as the results of academically accepted battlefield archaeology methods and Geographic Information Sciences (GIS).

    I look forward to your thoughts on this.


  43. History 1917 says:

    Send me your email address.

    I noticed that it is the last day of May and still no “updated” report on the SYDE web site. Hmmmmm, makes you wonder……..

  44. History 1917 says:

    It appears that Wikipedia online encyclopedia has made a few changes on the Alvin C. York article in the last few days. Scroll down to the new chapter called “Site if Sergeant York’s Heroics”

    Finally Wikipedia has added information about the research of Dr. Tom Nolan from the Middle Tennessee State University. In the last three days there has been a lot of activity in Wikipedia, especially on the article “Discussion” page.

    Look at “ANSWER PART 3” here:…at_description

    And a new discussion chapter called “Controversy: Battlefield Location”…field_location

    Here is an excerpt of text from the “Controversy: Battlefield Location” discussion. It is what a retired US Army officer has to say about the controversy and Wikipedia.

    “It needs to be brought to their attention that Dr. Nolan’s work was performed under the oversight of a doctoral dissertation committee and he successfully defended his findings to the committee. His work was done with utmost intellectual and unbiased research methodology. Dr. Nolan’s info would lend more credibility to Wikipedia’s narrative than that of Colonel Mastriano.”

    “Peer reviews will start accepting Dr. Nolan’s findings since Colonel Mastriano’s writings did not meet rigorous research standards. In order to maintain their credibility, Wikipedia should emphasize Dr. Nolan’s work and treat Colonel Mastriano’s conclusion as a competing layman view of the York account.”

    “The importance of this is representatives of the French government are trying to promote the Argonne as a tourist WWI destination and have been “forced” to accept Colonel Mastriano. If Mastriano is accepted over Tom, then world wide visitors to the site are going to go away with a skewed historical account of what happened there. The French are caught in a dilemma as to finding a historically accurate solution to this issue without damaging French relations with the US Military.”

    “Wikipedia needs to understand that this is not a personality battle between Dr. Nolan and Colonel Mastriano and their respective supporters. And they need to understand that Mastriano, although first to publish, should not preempt Nolan. He could not rush his dissertation to be first. Mastriano, however, must have known about Dr. Nolan’s research and rushed his in order to get name recognition.”

  45. History 1917 says:

    Here is the link to an article published last February by the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology – South Carolina State University. The author, James Legg, participated in Dr. Nolan’s 2009 campaign of archaeology in the field at Chatel Chéhéry France where the York action occurred.

    The article, “Finding Sergeant York”, starts on Page 18. It takes a minute or two to download.

    Click to access legacy_v14n1.pdf

  46. Gonzales says:


    […]Sgt. York casings to be given to museums « Tennessee Guy[…]…

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