As you enter the grounds, the reception office is to your left. This group of buildings houses the museum staff and an administration office. There are four other buildings: the near corner pavilion on the left holds the Anne Morgan living room and, upstairs, the graphic arts archives and work room. The far corner pavilion on the left is currently closed, pending refurbishing for the proper display of the museum's historical collections. The near corner pavilion on the right houses the library on the first floor and the archives on the second. The far corner pavilion to the right is the Florence Gould Pavilion. The manicured grounds themselves include an arboretum to the right, composed of American trees, and two American gardens to the left, behind Houdon's statue of George Washington and the flag poles.
To the west of the museum grounds, past the American gardens, stands a row of magnificent poplars ---reminiscent of the trees in Waldo Peirce's painting, Aux Morts--- facing a stone wall. Set up against the wall is the memorial to A. Piatt Andrew, founder of the American Field Service.
This memorial is the work of American sculptor Walker Hancock who was present on the day of its unveiling at Blérancourt, September 11, 1938. There is a duplicate at AFS Headquarters, New York.
Andrew is portrayed bare-headed, wearing his Field Service jacket. Behind and above him, on either side, are a series of three bas-reliefs, descriptive of the Field Service work at the front. The bas-reliefs on the left hand side from top to bottom represent: first, wounded being loaded into a Field Service car, Field Service cars in convoy, a wounded French soldier being helped to the seat beside an American driver. On the right side they show French stretcher-bearers loading a car; cars in convoy; and French soldiers fraternizing with a Field Service man over a "quart of pinard".
||PIATT ANDREW, 1873-1936.
He created the American Field Service. He directed its activities in France. When peace came he said the Field Service volunteers themselves gained far more than the wounded poilus from the work which they performed in serving with the armies of France. They enjoyed a privilege the memory of which will remain not only a cherished heritage but a living influence.
Who was A. Piatt Andrew?
Stephen Galatti, who had known him best and who succeeded him as director of the American Field Service, wrote:
Not long ago I stood in Doc's garden at Gloucester and looked at the pine tree, now grown tall and firm, which he had brought back as a tiny sprig in 1915. Taken from a small corner of Alsace Reconquise, it had meant to him then the symbol of freedom of two great provinces. His conviction of what the civilization of France meant to the world had made him want to throw all his energies to help her in her hour of need. I felt so happy that he must have often passed by here and realized that he had so gallantly and effectively played an unusual part in these great events.
I like also to remember that in giving his energy and his intellect, his constant courage and tenacity, he also gave so many others this opportunity. And I am sure it is fitting here to recall a few incidents which stand out as of vital moment and which directly affected all of us.
A "Biographical Sketch," taken from the National Cyclopedia of American Biography, and modified by Andrew's sister, Helen Patch, reads:
Col. Andrew was one of the first Americans to take an active part in the World War. Going to France in December 1914, he secured from the French Army authorization for American volunteer ambulance units to serve with the French divisions at the front, and with American volunteers as drivers, and with cars purchased from American donations, he built up an organization known as the American Field Service, which, before any American troops had arrived in France, had thirty-four ambulance sections and twelve camion sections serving with the French troops in France and in the Balkans. This organization took part in every great battle in which French troops were engaged in 1915, 1916 and 1917, and with its personnel of more than 2,400 young Americans, formed the most considerable organized representation which the United States had on the battle front during the first three years of the war.
After the entry of the United States in the war, Col. Andrew turned over to the American Army the efficient organization which he had developed, and was commissioned Major, and subsequently Lieutenant-Colonel in that Army. His period of service with the French and American armies covered more than four and a half years. He was decorated by the French Army with the Croix de Guerre, and the Legion of Honor, and by the United States with the Distinguished Service Medal.
In the Autumn of 1921, Col. Andrew was elected to Congress to fill an unexpired vacancy from the Sixth Massachusetts District. To this position he was reelected the following year (1922) by a majority of 26,000...
Abram Piatt Andrew, Jr., economist, was born in La Porte, Ind., Feb. 12, 1873, son of Abram Piatt and Helen Merrill Andrew. He is of Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch and English descent, although each of his ancestral lines settled in America in pre-Revolutionary times. He is descended from James Andrew, probably from Scotland, who was a resident of Raritan, N. J., in 1732, and whose wife was Catherine Livingston, and the line descends through their son John, who married Rachel Chamberlain; their son James, who married Catherine Piatt, and their son, Abram Piatt, who married Viola Armstrong and who was the grandfather of our subject. This Abram Piatt Andrew moved to Indiana in 1818, and for certain government contracting work was paid in land grants, the city of La Porte standing today as a monument to his foresight and constructive ability. His son, Abram Piatt Andrew, the father of the economist, was commander of the 21st Indiana battery in the Civil War, and is a man of wide influence.
His son was educated at the Lawrenceville (N. J.) school, at Princeton University (1893) and at Harvard University (1895-97), receiving the degree of A. M. and Ph.D. from the latter in 1900. He also studied at the universities of Halle, Berlin and Paris in 1898-99. In 1900 he was made instructor in the department of economics at Harvard University and three years later he became assistant professor of economics, a position he occupied until 1909. While at Harvard he served as assistant editor of the "Quarterly Journal of Economics." He was also for several years a member of the athletic committee, and was particularly active in the affairs of the Cercle Francais, an organization devoted to the propagation of interest in French literature. Through this association he was honored in 1906 by the minister of public instruction in France with the title of "Officier d'Académie."
Mr. Andrew predicted the panic of 1907 in an article published in the New York "Journal of Commerce" on Jan. 1, 1907. In 1908, when the National Monetary Commission was organized to devise a plan of permanent relief from such financial collapses as had afflicted the United States during the preceding year, Mr. Andrew was engaged to assist the commission in its researches, and, having been granted two years' leave of absence from Harvard University, he visited London, Berlin, Paris and other important financial centers of Europe to collect information concerning foreign banking systems. Upon his return he edited the commission's publications, which comprise more than a score of volumes and constitute the most comprehensive library dealing with the world's banking that has ever been published. He also had a large share in framing the bill and report of the National Monetary Commission.
In August, 1909, Pres. Taft appointed him director of the mint, and during the year of his administration the organization of the several mints and assay offices was radically overhauled and the number of employees reduced by more than 530 from a total of 1,300, thereby accomplishing an annual saving of more than $320,000. In June of the following year he became first assistant secretary of the treasury, resigning in July, 1912.
Mr. Andrew's writings have covered many phases of financial questions. Among those which have attracted wide attention were his arraignment of the policies of Secretary Shaw in his "The Treasury and the Banks under Secretary Shaw" and his "The United States Treasury and the Money Market," issued at the time of the retirement of the former secretary of the treasury in 1907, both of which were pleas for an absolute divorce of the Treasury from "the Street." Several of his studies concern the currency questions of Oriental countries, notably "Currency Problems of the Last Decade in British India" in the "Quarterly Journal of Economics" for August 1901, and "The End of the Mexican Dollar" in the same journal in May, 1904. Other articles treat of different aspects of panics, such as "The Influence of the Crops upon Business," "Hoarding in the Panic of 1907" and "Substitutes for Cash in the Crisis of 1907," the latter describing more than 200 substitutes for money used at that time. He has contributed articles upon other economic subjects to the Yale Review, the North American Review, the Review of Reviews, etc.
In a 1993 evaluative report of the Piatt Andrew Collection at Andrew's home in Red Roof, Gloucester, Mass, Blérancourt curator Véronique Wiesinger wrote:
Born in La Porte, Indiana, in 1873, the son of a banker. [...] beginning with his adolescence, he preserved and filed away the traces of his life (schoolbooks, programs, a variety of souvenirs) and whatever bore witness to his intellectual development which he observed during the first part of his life with an almost scientific curiosity. [...] By the same token, he collected souvenir items of the events which marked his spiritual and mental development: the Chicago World Fair, for example; Harvard and the discovery of Boston social life ; World War I, of course, for which his collectionitis would reach a paroxysm.
In fact, A.P.A. held his collection of objects and souvenirs of W.W.I, which he made during and after the War, in quasi sacred respect.[...] Before his death, A.P.A. wished to give his collection of war souvenirs to a public institution, a fact which is apparently confirmed in his will. [...]
In 1936, the "Pavilion of American Volunteers" (today the Florence Gould Pavilion) was in fact under construction and many were those who were busy gathering up souvenirs to fill it, including Lucy de Maine, a secretary at AFS for which she had worked during the war days in France. The letter of condolence which she wrote to Helen Patch on June 3, 1936 alluded to Blérancourt : "What a pity that [A.P.A.] could not have lived long enough to have seen the Field Service Museum, which meant so much to him, become a reality. For those of us who will in all probability have a part in the carrying out of his plans, it has become a high duty to try to make the Museum not only a fitting memorial to the American Field Service, but a personal memorial to Colonel Andrew." In even more direct a manner, on June 9, 1936, William DeFord Bigelow, Stephen Galatti's right hand man, wrote in his letter of condolence to Helen Patch : "Both Steve [Galatti] and I know what Doc's [=A.P.A.'s] wishes and ideas were regarding the proposed Field Service Memorial in France and last Fall spent a week-end with him going over the various collections of our service that he had in his house with the idea of getting them together and sending them over to France when the time came. When you feel like it please don't hesitate to send for me to do anything I can to help carry out any of Doc's wishes or plans."
In a letter dated July 24, 1994, Piatt Andrew's great nephew, Andrew Gray, writes:
Helen Patch commissioned the bust of APA, by Walker Hancock, and donated one of the two cast in bronze to Blérancourt for the rededication in 1938 ---together with all the AFS section flags, and the bas-reliefs mounted behind the bust today. She would willingly have donated more items from Red Roof, but there was no money or initiative at Blérancourt in 1939 to display or even store them adequately.
In fact, the vocation of the Pavilion of the American Volunteers was to celebrate collective efforts, but not the outstanding individuals, like Piatt Andrew, who were the prime movers. Andrew's life before and after the Great War were no less remarkable than his role as founder and director of the American Field Service ---but his activities as economics professor, government official and congressman bore little or no relation to the museum's subject of Franco-American cooperation.
As a result, Andrew is remembered in many places, but first of all in his adopted home town of Gloucester, Massachusetts ---where the bridge connecting the Mainland to Cape Ann bears his name.
This is a marble bench under the row of poplars, opposite the Piatt Andrew Memorial. It is inscribed with the names of AFS drivers serving the French who died in the course of their volunteer ambulance service in 1914-1917 or in 1942-1945.
Late in December 1915, vicious attacks surged over Hartmannsweilerkopf. " Dick" never faltered, until during the black night of Christmas Eve, on the road up the mountain he was killed by a chance shell, "in the morning of his youth." Just before dawn a comrade found him there, dead beside his shattered ambulance, his hands still clutching the wheel, and his face wearing a smile as though he thought of the Christmas at home. He is buried at Moosch, in the valley of St. Amarin, his grave kept fresh with flowers by the village folk who knew and loved him. (AFSMem, p 2)
His term of service was to be short. Six days after joining the section, on the night of September 23, 1916, he was making his first trip to the dressing station in the little ruined town of Marre, and was being shown the road by a veteran of the section named Sanders. They had almost reached their destination, a heavily protected cellar, when a German shell struck about three yards in front of the ambulance, sending its fragments in all directions. Kelley was instantly killed and his companion seriously wounded. They were carried back in another ambulance, which was waiting at the post, to Blercourt. He was buried there with military honors, just a month from the day he had sailed from New York. (AFSMem, p 3)
In the spring of 1916, on his way back to America, he stopped over in Paris and, becoming interested in the work which the American Field Service was doing at the front, enlisted for a term of six months. Section Eight was just leaving for action, and as one of the original members of the section he served from May until September, 1916, in Champagne and around Verdun.
Late in September he volunteered for duty with Section Three in the Orient and was accepted. Barely two weeks after landing in Salonica and while waiting for the cars to be made ready, he was struck by a heavy motor car while crossing a dark street, concussion of the brain resulting, and he died the following night, Sunday, November 12th, 1916. He was buried in the French Cemetery on the outskirts of Salonica, his coffin covered with a French and an American flag. (AFSMem, pp 5-6)
"Rainy" Lines,---as he was known by his classmates at Dartmouth and Harvard, and by many of his friends in the Field Service,---died while on active duty at the front, December 23, 1916, and was buried on Christmas Day, with all military honors, in the little town of La Grange aux Bois, in the Argonne.
The immediate cause of death was cerebral meningitis following an acute attack of pneumonia. Four of his comrades in Section One acted as pallbearers; the funeral services were read by a Protestant clergyman serving with the armies as a stretcher bearer; and the interment was witnessed by his father, mother, and sister, who had been given special permission by the Ministry of War to proceed from Paris to the front; by Robert Bacon, formerly American Ambassador to France; and by A. Piatt Andrew, Inspector General of the Field Service. (AFSMem, pp 7-8)
Henry Suckley, one of the first Field Service men to reach France and participate in the work at the front, was mortally wounded on March 18, 1917, at Zemlak, Albania, while in the active discharge of his duties as Chef of Section Ten. [...]
Suckley joined the Field Service in February, 1915, and in May of the same year he went to the front with Section Three. He remained continuously with that unit, on the Alsatian, Lorraine, and Verdun fronts until September, 1916, was awarded the Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action, and appointed Sous-chef of the Section. He then made a short trip home to recruit men and collect money for the Service, and returning in November to France was put in command of Section Ten, the money for the organization and support of which had been contributed by the New York Stock Exchange.
Section Ten was ordered at once to join the Army of the Orient at Salonica, and, when it was given work to do at the front, began immediately to make an enviable reputation. But Suckley, to whose influence as leader so much of its success was due, did not live to receive his share of the credit, for on March 18th there was an enemy air raid over Zemlak, where Section headquarters had been established, and he was mortally wounded by a fragment of a bomb. (AFSMem, pp 13-14)
Got up early this morning and went to the hospital with one couché and three assis. We heard the terrible news that Henry Suckley was dying. The aviator flew down the road from Zemlak and dropped four bombs. Henry fearlessly came to the door of the tent when the aeroplane was heard, and one of the bombs fell about fifteen yards from him, to the front and a little to the right. He was struck in the groin. Though terribly hurt, he was never unconscious, and was rushed to Koritza in an ambulance, where he stayed until he died the next morning. Several of the fellows were at Koritza all the time, and saw him continually during the day and night. He was conscious all the time, smoking and chatting cheerfully with the men. He kept asking why there were so many of the fellows bothering about him when they should all be up at the front doing their work. He died quietly the next morning, about nine o'clock, and was buried that afternoon with military honors. All of us at the front were unable to go to the funeral, for the work had to be carried on just the same as if he were alive, which was what he would have wished. (William D. Swan, Jr, SSU10, AFSH II/14-15)
To him falls the sad distinction of being the first American killed after our entrance into the war. Paul Osborn and his brother together joined the American Field Service with the Dartmouth unit, in May, 1917. Section Twenty-eight, of which Paul was a member, received its baptism of fire on the night of June 21st. Driving over a muddy road, near Village Gascon, Champagne, Paul came upon a comrade's machine stuck in a shell hole, and stopped to help, despite a heavy German barrage. Before the car could be extricated Paul was hit, and mortally wounded. He was hurried to the Farman hospital, near Mourmelon-le-Grand, where every effort was made to save his life, but gangrene set in and he died a few days later. Stanley Hill, a fellow member of that section, who himself died of wounds a year later, wrote of Osborn's courage and consideration in those last days "Paul was wounded on Thursday night but fought death until Tuesday morning. If anything happens to me, I pray God that I may be as noble, as courageous, and as thoughtful of others as Paul was. One of the first things he did was to ask for cigarettes--- he does not smoke himself---to give to the blessés and attendants around him. About the last thing he said was, ' I am going to fight this and win out.' Then he went to sleep, became unconscious, and died... just as if he were going to sleep." (AFSMem, p 21)
Three times he was rejected for the air service as beyond their maximum age limit of thirty-five. He then joined the Field Service. For a time he was in charge of the general office in the Passy headquarters, and after the long days' work, "Fred" found his enjoyment in the simplest ways,---sipping citronnade before a Passy cafe, or walking the winding streets, talking of the days ahead. At his own urging he was sent to the front with Section One. W. Yorke Stevenson, the commander, wrote: "Although only out with us a short time, his charming personality and quiet, unassuming manner, no less than his marked ability, had endeared him to us all." At a château near Ludes, on July 12, 1917, hardly a fortnight after reaching the Section, "Fred" was killed by a bursting bomb. He was buried at night because the village was in view of the Germans. (AFSMem, p 26)
For two weeks he toiled almost without rest on the Esnes-Montzéville roads through one of the severest ordeals an ambulance section could experience. The evening of July 15th, 1917, as he was loading wounded into his car in the village of Dombasle, near Verdun, Harmon was wounded in the right leg, when a shell struck only a few feet from his car, killing three brancardiers and severely wounding a French lieutenant. "Ham" refused to allow his wounds to be dressed until the Frenchman had been made comfortable, and the delay, with consequent loss of blood, undoubtedly lessened his own chances. He died next morning, at two o'clock, in the hospital at Ville-sur-Cousances. (AFSMem p 27)
Late in the night of July 28, 1917, Perley Raymond Hamilton sat at a little table in a corner of an abri crowded with groaning wounded, writing a hasty note to his mother by the light of a flickering candle-end. He had just received his first letter from her since he left home and he was anxious to let her know his joy in it and to assure her that all was well with him. "I am feeling fine and strong," he wrote, "and I can make up the sleep when the battle calms down a bit." It had been forty-eight hours since he had last slept, but he felt it more important to comfort his mother than to take the rest for which his whole tired body cried out. He was forced to stop, he concluded, because "I am to leave with a load of blessés in a few minutes and must have things ready for them." He sealed the letter and climbed out of the abri. Shells were falling nearby and the éclats whined past occasionally, rattling against the doorway. He cranked his car while his companion, James Gailey, assisted the loading of the wounded. And then suddenly it happened. There was a quick, terrifying shock---and blackness. Their comrades found "Ham" bowed over the steering wheel, still "on duty." (AFS Mem, p 31)
The story of "Jim" Gailey's war service is necessarily brief. Enlisting in Section Sixty-six in May, 1917, he was sent at once to the Chemin des Dames region, then a theater of some of the most intense fighting on the western front. For three weeks previous to his death, Gailey and his companions had been working day and night, carrying wounded over shell-pocked roads lighted only by occasional flashes from rockets far above the streams of moving artillery, troops, and other traffic of war.
On the night of July 25th, Gailey, hearing of another ambulance stalled by shell holes and ruins, ran to a neighboring poste through the extremely heavy barrage and transferred the wounded from the damaged car to the hospital. For this he received his Croix de Guerre.
On the following Sunday morning, the twenty-ninth, just after dawn, Gailey and his companion, Hamilton, were loading their ambulance with wounded when a shell struck the car, killing both the American boys and two of the wounded Frenchmen.
They were buried the next day with all the honors of war. General Niessel, commander of the corps, found time despite the battle to deliver the address of tribute and farewell. (AFS Mem, pp 29-30)
His section, S. S. U. 29, left Paris on June 30, 1917, spent about three weeks in the vicinity of Bar-le-Duc, and on July 23rd started work at the front a little to the west of Verdun. It was at the poste of Montzéville on the night of August 3rd, that a shell, landing near the entrance of the dug-out, wounded him severely just as he was on the point of starting his car. He was rushed to the hospital at Fleury where he was operated on the following evening The next day he rallied sufficiently to see some of his comrades and to receive his citation and Croix de Guerre, but died about midnight.
Madame Jacquemaire, the daughter of M. Clemenceau, who was a nurse in the hospital in which he died wrote in a very touching letter to his mother: "Despite everyone's efforts, the brave child faded away in our arms without suffering. The Military Commander had given him the highest award for his bravery: the Médaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre. He contemplated these fine awards with deep joy. I am proud to have known your admirable child." (AFS Mem, p 34)
Paul Cody Bentley
SSU65, University of Chicago and Harvard, Chicago, Ill.
Bentley sailed for France on May 19, 1917, and went to the front with Section Sixty-five of the Field Service, where he exhibited ingrained qualities of faithfulness and cheerful disregard of self. The latter colors his letters. Redfield of his section said "Bentley was one of our best drivers. He never complained. He took dangers as they came without flinching. Everybody who came in contact with him admired him."
On September 11th Bentley wrote, "I am still very uncertain as to what I shall do next. But uncertainty is the main characteristic of the war. Everything is uncertain" Two days later during a gas attack, his loaded car was struck by a shell, as he drove through the barrage and Paul, in the words of his citation "he himself very badly wounded, continued to drive until his forces were expended." At the hospital he rallied bravely for a time, then grew weaker, and died on September 16th. (AFS Mem, p 36)
Just before the official demise of the old organization, the tragedy occurred which marred the happy record of the Section and must always inject a sad note into memories of an otherwise glorious summer. I refer to the death of Paul C. Bentley, who succumbed on September 16 to wounds received while on duty three days before. At the same time and by the same shell, Carson Ricks, a new member of the Section, suffered wounds which may cost him the use of one arm. Paul's brave fight after his wounds had laid him low was an inspiration and an example of quiet courage. (Louis G. Caldwell, SSU 65, AFSH II/316)
Finally, with the increase of personnel for service with the British, towards the end of March 1942, 10 volunteers for the French unit were brought down from their posts in Syria: T.S. Esten, T.O. Greenough, J.K. Hammond, W.R. Hirschberg, L.H. Krusi, S.B. Kulak, L. Semple III, A.M.P. Stratton, G. Tichenor, and C. Wood. On their arrival, Jeffereys was promoted to Sous-Chef of the section.
In Mena, Tichenor was left in hospital to recover from bronchitis. Esten, although having a bad cold, kept on with the group until three days later, when they reached Tobruk, he was admitted to the 62nd General Hospital with pneumonia and pleurisy. Tichenor later rejoined the unit in the desert, but Esten never recovered. Evacuated to Alexandria, he died on the operating table on 29 April, one lung collapsing as the other was being worked on. Esten was buried on the afternoon of 30 April at the Military Cemetery in Alexandria, with full military honors. He was the first member of the American Field Service to die in action in World War II. (Rock, p 77)
The following two drivers were killed at the battle of Bir Hakeim.
At Bir Hakeim the Field Service had 12 cars with Kulak, McElwain, Semple, Stratton, Lt. Stuyvesant, and Tichenor as the only Americans. [...] In the action of Bir Hakeim, the American Field Service suffered 100% casualties to men and materials. Of 12 cars, 12 were lost. Of the 6 men, 2 were captured (one of them wounded), 2 were killed, and the 2 who managed to get away were both wounded. General Charles de Gaulle wrote of this record as "bearing witness to the active devotion with which the American Field Service has given of itself for Fighting France... France will not forget its friends from America who voluntarily sacrificed their lives for her." (Rock, pp. 79-84)
At 11 PM, the 4 AFS ambulances slowly drove to the southwest corner of the camp, where the engineers had been cutting a passage through the minefields, and took their places in the line waIting to drive through the opening, a zig-zag passage about 500 yards long and up to 15 yards wide at its broadest point, flanked with loose coils of barbed wire. Tichenor was followed by Semple, then by Kulak and McElwain in one car, and finally by Stratton, all cars carrying as many wounded as they would hold. [...] Semple later reported: "Our private little convoy moved on again, leaving me behind. Tichenor disappeared... while a moment later Kulak and McElwain went ahead and also disappeared." [...] Stratton completes the story: "Later someone came limping out of the blackness, and he took hold of me and we got to the truck... I landed on a pile of wounded men, who could not help but groan. I crawled over onto a pile of blankets, but thought the blankets too solid. I edged onto a toolbox, which was cold and very wet. Tichenor was lying under those blankets, but I didn't know it then. He was dead.
Tichenor had been killed immediately. His ambulance took fire and while he worked with the wounded he had been hit in the head and had fallen across the wounded men. His body lying across them had saved their lives. "One man, blinded, told me that... he had been in Tich's ambulance." Later that morning, shortly before dawn, the English buried Tichenor about 8 miles southwest of Bir Hakeim, near the rendez-vous point where the French were finally met by a British column from the north. (Rock, pp 81-83)
Stanley Blazei Kulak
ME1, FFC, Alliance Junior College, Salem, Mass.
McElwain drove his car through the minefield and then relinquished the driver's seat to Kulak. Later, McElwain reported: "We drove further on, seeking to get away from the light of blazing trucks. Suddenly I felt intense pain in the bone of my right leg, but kept looking straight ahead in order not to divert Kulak's attention from the pandemonium through which he was driving. My whole leg then began to ache and throb with pain. On glancing toward Kulak at my side, I noticed that he had slumped in his seat and that the unguided car was slowing to a stop. A shell exploded over the radiator of our car and fragments ripped through the hood of the engine. An immediate examination of Kulak revealed that he had been badly shot up from the waist down by machine-gun fire. Kulak was sinking fast and asked to be put on the desert to apply a tourniquet. I tried to lift him into my seat. He was dead weight. it was almost impossible to get his wounded legs over the shifting levers in the center of the floorboard. I finally managed it, but my leg was giving me excruciating pain. I reasoned that it would be impossible to ge him back into the car, even if I were able to get him out on the desert. It seemed better to drive till a surgeon was found. He agreed and lapsed into unconsciousness.
A star shell then broke over the car, completely lighting up our position. The Germans had spotted the car and there was no time to lose. I staggered from the car, scarcely knowing that I had a broken leg, and hobbled to the rear to stow away two duffel bags that we had placed to the right of the open driver's seat as protection. Suddenly everything went black before my eyes. I leaned against the rear of the car until my mind slowly began to work again. With great effort I was finally able to heave the duffel bags through the open window of the rear curtain and to make sure that a wounded Senegalese had handled them inside the ambulance. With considerable difficulty I was finally able to get back to the driver's seat and get the cart started. The car moved off slowly. Soon another star shell burst ahead of the car. In the instant of its flash, I caught the outline of three men with fixed bayonets."
The German officer who captured them, with the aid of three Italian soldiers, promised to send medical assistance. But it was not until next day, when they had been driven to a German dressing station, that either received a doctor's attention. By that time, late in the morning, Kulak was dead. (Rock, pp 83-84)
During the spring, the size of the Fighting French Forces was increased, and the hope that AFS could supply units for each of their contemplated three brigades was officially expressed. Major Hinrichs, a strong backer of the French, got permission to agree to supply the three sections, and the men were assigned as it became possible to spare them from the previous British commitments. However, the ambulance situation proved this time to be the stumbling block. New York had promised 19 new ambulances but simply could not get them sent overseas--- due to lack of proper shipping priority, which in turn was caused by circumstances so complicated that blame could never be assigned. With only 2 of their old Chevrolets roadworthy, they received the last sections of reserve ambulances from the Cairo Headquarters (the same "reconditioned" wrecks that 485 Company was getting at the same time) and the Chevrolets were sent to heavy workshops.
On 21 March 1943, John Hopkins Denison, Jr., just arrived at Gambut with a reconditioned ambulance to join the unit, fell ill of pneumonia. Weakened by earlier illness, which had left him unable to receive sulpha drugs, on the 27th he died. Denison ---"liked by all, sympathetic, calm, and undemonstrative... a man of good heart and good sportsmanship," W.T.C. Hannah wrote ---was buried at the Gambut Military Cemetery on the 28th, with a squad of French troops as guard and an AFS guard of honor. (Rock, p 193)
During WWI, Rubel had volunteered to serve with the AFS, arriving in September of 1917, when the service was militarized. He served in what used to be Section 13, now renamed USAAS section 631. In 1942 he rejoined the Field Service, went to North Africa with ME32 and again worked serving the French.
In mid-April 1943, need and circumstances conspired, with a generous nudge from Captain Greenough, to get the unassigned 6 cars with 13 men to General Leclerc's brigade. [...] Captain Greenough and the 6 ambulances made the 1,500-mile trip in 4 days of constant driving. They drove so far and so fast, indeed, that they were only stopped some 10 to 15 miles north of Sousse at the edge of no-man's land by a burning truck across the road. By 6:30 PM on 15 April they had reached General Leclerc's headquarters at El Alem, 20 miles north of Kairouan, and the next day the cars were at their posts. [...] The group had a few days to rest and then from 19 to 25 April "L" Force attacked and came under heavy fire. [...]
"On the night of 27/28 April," Captain Greenough wrote, "the BIMP (Battalion d'Infanterie de la Marine et du Pacifique) took over a position from Force "L". Grima Johnson, Rubel and the MO of the BIMPs went forward in daylight to visit the position, and Rubel returned to base to bring back the medical supplies and the orderlies after dark. They were to start at 8 PM. At the last moment, Lt. Stockton decided to accompany them. They set out---Lt Stockton, Rubel, and the three orderlies---and were never seen again alive. They had taken a wrong turn, gone behind the enemy's lines, and were blown up on a mine. Ruben and Stockton were at least 4 miles off their course when the car was blown up. How this occurred it still a mystery, but from my own experience I know that it is entirely possible." (Rock, pp. 194-195)
There was hope for a while that they had only got lost and been captured, as enemy patrols were known to be operating in the area, and the full story was not pieced together until the end of the campaign. August Alexander Rubel, who had enlisted in SSU 631 in World War I, was killed by the explosion and was buried by the Germans beside the wrecked ambulance. The sole survivor of the accident, one of the BIMP orderlies, later reported that Lt. Richard Sterling Stockton had been taken to a German dressing station nearby, where he died on the operating table. (ibid)
On May 10, 1943, half the AFS stretcher-bearers left the BIMPs to help out those with the Foreign Legion which was planning an attack. [...]With the Legion's 1st Company were H.S. Bonner, J.A. Doubleday, R. Edwards and C.J. Milne IV. [...]
[Fellow driver, Porter Jarrell, reports:]At 11 PM of the 10th, both the battalions of the Legion withdrew from their positions to be replaced by the BIMPs and proceeded down into a deep wadi at the foot of the mountains to await the time of the attack. [...] There was considerable machine-gun fire, resulting in the death of one sergeant, and then began a continuous mortar barrage. For the first half hour the mortars were falling in the valley, but by 6:30 they were on the range. From then on there were continual mortar bursts in the ravine held by the 1st. It was merely a question of time before casualties must result. [...] The 1st Battalion had been suffering from the same mortar barrage as we had, but the effect was more costly. [...] Milne was sitting with a Legionnaire who had a slight shrapnel bit in his foot and was going to accompany him down the hill. Then a mortar burst beside the two of them, and the call went over for Lindsay and myself.
I took a brief look at the Legionnaire and saw that there was very little chance for him, since he had severe head and abdominal wounds. Milne seemed in good condition, considering that his left leg was badly cut by shrapnel and the foot broken at the ankle. I asked him if there were any other wounds, and he said only a small piece in his back. I applied a tourniquet, although bleeding was not too severe, gave him a grain of morphine by hypodermic, and tried to fashion a splint of newspaper and twigs for his ankle. In the meantime, Lindsay and Edwards had gotten the other casualty onto a stretcher . Mortar shells were bursting all down the ravine, and the Captain of the Battalion told us to get the hell out of there. I quickly bandaged the most severe leg wound and decided to abandon cutting his clothes to determine the exact extent of his wounds. A corporal of the Legion helped me load Milne onto the stretcher, and we started off down the ravine... [...]
By 12:30, Milne had been driven back to the GSB 1 and was under a doctor's care. His injuries proved much more severe than they had at first appeared, and, although two surgeons worked over him for three and a half hours, by mid-afternoon Caleb Jones Milne IV was dead. "Milne did the work of many men," Captain Greenough wrote, "and was ever on hand where the shell-bursts were the thickest. Perhaps the best tribute was given him by Lt. Martineau (MO of the Foreign Legion 1st Battalion) when he said 'Milne was so evidently a gentleman. He did his work better than any other probably because he was a better man than any other.'" (Rock, p 196-198)
We very much wanted to go "en repos" but preferred real work to the mediocrity we were having to put up with. So back to Cornimont we went, this time with the FFI.
The Cornimont show lasted 3 weeks, during which time there was little or no enemy action. Nevertheless, we met with a disturbing amount of pathos and ill fortune. It started to snow soon after our arrival, and it continued to do so for more than 10 days. Though our mess was warm, it was small; we were vastly overcrowded at meal-times. The food took an atrocious turn. We were billeted in several houses along the road, but the bedrooms had no stoves in them. Temperatures dropped to zero. Fuller, MacArthur, Miller, Smith, and Greenough went to the hospital with various degrees of pneumonia. C.B. Alexander and Fugitt permanently left our circle to command new sections. Mase and Mac, while plowing through a snowdrift, wandered off the road and got the car hopelessly entrenched; it took a week before a wrecker got through to pull it out with a winch. Hope and France lost all their belongings when their car struck a mine and burned to the ground. And then the terrible road accident occurred which claimed the life of Al Miller. All misfortunes converged while wind-swept snow mounted on a bleak and despicable countryside. At Cornimont we were driven into a state of real depression. (Rock, p 444)
On 9 April 1945, Aspirant Alexander left Bretten early in the morning to visit his Section's advance posts at Maulbronn and Pforzheim. With him in his jeep was the French MO, Captain Berthelot. The chief MO of the Battalion was in another jeep. They took the road from Muhlacker toward Pforzheim, a more direct road being known to be still held by the enemy. However, when the 2 jeeps entered Niefern, a machine gun opened fire on them. As they turned around in an attempt to flee, a bullet passed through Captain Berthelot's sleeve, then entered Alexander's back and pierced his left lung. The two were taken prisoner, Alexander unconscious; but only Berthelot was released after his papers had been examined. [...]
Alexander died of his wound while being evacuated by the Germans. From the doctor who had attended him, who was shortly thereafter taken prisoner, and from the civilians in the town, when it was taken a few days later, the location of his grave was learned. W.T.C. Hannah and Captain Berthelot identified the body, which was placed with proper ceremony in a military cemetery. "Energetic, courageous, persistent, direct, inspiring to his men," Commandant Coster wrote, "he was certainly and most deservedly one of the most-admired and best-liked men in the unit." (Rock, pp 454-455)
Less than two weeks later, Jack Wells Douthitt was killed in action, while with the 20th Alpine Chasseurs. Early on the morning of 21 April 1945, he was asked to take a seriously wounded man from Boblingen to Herrenberg (about 15 miles southwest of Stuttgart), over a road thought but not known for sure to be open. Fully aware of the danger, Douthitt undertook the mission. As he drove around a curve in the road, he was fired on from ahead by a bazooka. Having no time to turn, he stepped on the gas. As he came opposite the foxhole from which the first shot had come he was fired on again. He was immediately killed. The ambulance left the road, overturned, and burned, the occupants being thrown clear. (Rock, p 455)
This memorial does not include the names of those WWII AFS drivers who died in service to the British Army.
|William Keith McLarty||ME 1||Western Desert||21 July 1942|
|Arthur Paisley Foster||SSU 17, ME 8a||Western Desert||3 September 1942|
|John Fletcher Watson||ME 33||At Sea||4 December 1942|
|Randolph Clay Eaton||ME 30||Western Desert||25 March 1943|
|Curtis Charles Rodgers||ME 4||Middle East||1 May 1943|
|Vernon William Preble||ME 26||Italy||1 December 1943|
|Charles James Andrews, Jr.||ME 37||Italy||8 December 1943|
|Charles Kendrick Adams, Jr.||CM 47||At Sea||14 January 1944|
|Henry Larner||ME 16||Italy||27 January 1944|
|Alexander Randall, Jr.||CM 41||Italy||8 February 1944|
|George Edward Brannan||IB 7||Burma||5 May 1944|
|Robert Carter Bryan||ME 37||Italy||17 May 1944|
|Dawson Ellsworth||CM 76||Italy||2 June 1944|
|John Dale Cuningham||ME 32||Italy||4 June 1944|
|George Alden Ladd||IB 1||Burma||2 July 1944|
|Donald Joseph Harty||ME 32||Italy||5 July 1944|
|Thomas Lees Marshall||ME 32||Italy||9 July 1944|
|Paul Haynes Cagle||CM 63||Italy||5 September 1944|
|James Bennet Wilton, Jr.||CM 58||Italy||9 September 1944|
|Ralph Evans Boaz||IB 26||Burma||23 October 1944|
|William Tuttle Orth||IB 28||Burma||23 October 1944|
|Bruce Gilette Henderson||IB 18||Burma||15 February 1945|
|Paul Michael McKenna||IB 39||Burma||23 February 1945|
|Hilding Swenssen||ME 4, IB 11||Burma||28 February 1945|
|Gerald Riley Murphy||IB 36||Burma||20 June 1945|
|John Wilder Parkhurst||IB 12||Burma||3 July 1945|