No American has been associated with so many phases of the war or has seen more than Capt. P.B.K. Potter, commanding officer, of the American Mission, Reserve Mallet.
Capt. Potter came to Europe in 1915, shortly after the start of the war as a member of the Hoover Relief commission. He served as a member of this commission in Belgium. Germany and France until Hoover was called hack to America to become Food Controller, after the United States dcclared war in 1917. At this time Capt. Potter went to Paris and joined the American Field Service as commander of Ambulance Section 13. He later changed to the camion service where he acted as liaison officer.
When the camion service was taken over by the American Army, Capt. Potter was commissioned captain and continued to serve as liaison officer until August 1918 when he become commanding officer of the American Mission, Reserve Mallet. The splendid success with which the Reserve has operated has been in no small measure due to Capt. Potter who first as liaison officer, and later as commanding officer has always maintained the most amicable relations between the French and Americans of the Reserve.
Lorsqu'au moment même de l'entrée en guerre des Etats-Unis, j'ai demandé à M. Piatt Andrew l'aide de l'American Field Service, pour encadrer de nouvelles sections de transport de matériel, j'étais sûr que j'obtiendrais l'acquiescement des volontaires du Service dès qu'ils sauraient que c'était là qu'ils pouvaient rendre le plus grand service à la France. Notre Service Automobile avait à ce moment un déficit en conducteurs d'autant plus inquiétant qu'il fallait, à tout prix, augmenter nos moyens de transport, pour être sûr de répondre aux besoins des Armées qui partaient à l'attaque.
Moins d'une semaine après ma demande un groupe de volontaires qui avait quitté leurs etudes en Amérique pour s'engager dans les sections sanitaires de l'A.F.S., acceptaient volontiers de devenir conducteurs de camions, sachant qu'ils allaient rencontrer de rudes difficultés, mais qu'ils seraient immédiatement utiles à la cause commune. La première section entrait en service en Mai 1917. Trois mois après, huit cents conducteurs de l'A. F.S. encadraient quatorze sections et notre Réserve de Transports Américaine était fondée.
Les services qu'elle a rendus par la suite sont connus de tous. C'est elle qui a assuré la plus grosse part des transports de munitions, au moment des attaques heureuses qui portèrent la 6e Armée sur l'Ailette. En Mars, en Mai, en Juillet, elle s'est trouvée à la place où il y avait le plus de travail à fournir, et l'a fourni. Il faut citer des faits : du 27 Mai au 9 Juin 1918, les groupements 8 et 9 ont transporté quinze mille tonnes et onze mille hommes avec un parcours moyen journalier de cent-vingt mille kilometres. On doit en conclure que dans cette période de douze jours, si grave pour nous, les conducteurs de ces groupements ont eu à peine quelques heures de repos. Depuis l'offensive de juillet, la Réserve n'a pas cessé d'apporter sans arrêt à nos troupes, jusqu'aux premières lignes, les vivres et les munitions qui leur ont permis de poursuivre leurs succès. On a pu dire, et je crois le fait vrai, que la Réserve Mallet a transporté plus d'obus que toute l'Armée Américaine en a tiré pendant la guerre.
Partout, les conducteurs américains de la Réserve se sont fait remarquer par leur endurance et leur belle attitude dans les circonstances critiques et sous le feu. De nombreuses marques d'estime l'attestent.
Au premier rang du personnel des conducteurs de la Réserve Mallet, devenus des militaires réguliers Américains, se trouvent les anciens volontaires de l'A.F.S. --- Cent-vingt d'entre eux sont devenus officiers, les autres sont, pour la plupart, sous-officiers. Tous ont tenu largement l'engagement d'honneur qu'ils avaient pris vis-à-vis de l'Armée Française comme volontaires de I'A.F.S. et ont donné l'exemple du courage et du dévouement.
Je suis heureux de leur en apporter aujourd'hui le témoignage. Je me rappellerai toujours avec fierté que je les ai eus sous mes ordres pendant la Grande Guerre, et qu'ils ont été à la hauteur de toutes les tâches qui leur ont été confiées.
At the entrance of the United States in the War I asked of Mr. A. Piatt Andrew the aid of the American Field Service to enlist new transport sections and I was sure I would obtain the consent of the volunteers of this service, when they knew that they could render the greatest service to France in the transport sections. Our Automobile service at that time was deficient in drivers, so seriously deficient in fact, that it was necessary to increase, at any price, our means of transport to enable us to meet the needs of the armies who were carrying out the attack.
Less than a week after my request a group of volunteers who had left their studies in America to enlist in the Ambulance sections of the American Field Service voluntarily agreed to become camion drivers, knowing that they would be confronted with more difficult conditions but that they would be immediately useful to the common cause. The first section entered the service in May 1917. Three months afterward 800 American Field Service drivers formed the personnel of 14 sections and our American Transport Reserve was established.
The service which they have rendered since is known to everyone. It was they who effected the greater part of the transport of munitions during the successful attack which carried the Sixth army over the Ailette. In March, in May and in July, they were found in the sectors where there was the most to be done and they did it. A few facts may be cited: from May 27 to June 9, 1918, Groupements 8 and 9 transported 15,000 tons of munitions and 11,000 men with a daily average of 120,000 kilometers in total of all the cars. One can well believe that during this period of twelve days, which was so grave for us, the drivers of these groupements had scarcely any rest. Since the offensives of July the Reserve has not ceased to carry to our troops in the front lines the food and munitions which enabled them to follow up their success. It has been said and I think it probable that the Reserve Mallet carried more shells than the entire American army fired during all the war.
Everywhere the drivers of the Reserve have distinguished themselves by their endurance and their fine bearing in critical circumstances and under fire. Numerous testimonials of appreciation which they have received testify to this.
In the first ranks of the drivers of the Reserve Mallet who became soldiers in the American regular army, will be found the former volunteers of the A.F.S. One hundred and twenty of them became officers and the others are for the most part non-commissioned officers. All have more than kept the voluntary agreement which they made with the French army as members of the A.F.S., and they have furnished an example of courage and devotion.
I am glad to attest to these facts today. I shall always remember with pride that I have had them under my orders during the Great War and that they were equal to every task that was committed to them.
Nearly two years have passed since the day in April 1917 immediately alter America's entry in the war when Commandant Doumenc, the Head of the Automobile Service of the French Army, telephoned to 21, rue Raynouard, to ask whether American volunteers could not be secured to help in the work of transporting munitions and material for his armies.
He said that at that moment the ranks of the Automobile Service were seriously depleted, that they lacked some 7,000 drivers to meet current requirements and that a large proportion of the remaining personnel consisted of old men who were scarcely fitted for the arduous and sustained effort incumbent upon them and who at the same time were greatly needed in their homes, after nearly three years absence, to cultivate their farms and to keep going the industrial life of the country.
He proposed, if we could help him with men, to turn over to an American personnel one of the great automobile reserves whose functions were to assist the armies in the regions of heavy offensive and defensive operations, and in fact he proposed to turn over a particular reserve which had already made a record of serious accomplishment in the battle of Verdun and elsewhere, under the command of an efficient and tactful officer who understood Americans and spoke their language. He said that if the American Field Service really wanted to help France it could not render a greater service than by contributing to the plan which he had outlined.
For more than two years the Field Service had been serving the French Divisions with ambulance sections conducted by American volunteers using material furnished by American donors. The number of volunteers was constantly multiplying as interest in America's participation in the war increased and as the Field Service became better and better known throughout the States. The Field Service had always responded within the limits of its modest capacity to every request that had been made upon it. Since April 1915 it had furnished an ever increasing number of ambulance sections to the French Divisions serving on the French front. In the prolonged and terrible battle of Verdun during the preceding year a very large proportion of the sanitary transport from front line posts had been performed by its sections. In the autumn of 1916 in response to a special request, two ambulance sections with double equipment had been sent to the Balkans to serve with the French armies in Albania and northern Greece.
We were here to help in whatever way we could. The motto which headed all of our circulars was "Tous et tout pour la France". Here was a new request for help, a new opportunity for service. Only one reply was possible. We would do what we could to meet the need that Commandant Doumenc had formulated.
The following week a fresh contingent arrived from America, a group of volunteers recruited at Cornell as an ambulance section. The situation was explained to them and to a man they agreed to put aside their original intention and respond to the new call. A few days later, May 8, 1917, the Cornell Unit embarked for the hastily organized training camp at Dommiers near Soissons, and the Mallet Reserve as a Franco-american unit serving with the French army was born.
The fact that the Reserve Mallet was directly dependant upon French G. Q. G. for orders, explains its participation in all the following major operations recognized by G.H.Q. and in addition the Chemin des Dames and Cambrai offensive
French Offensive of Chemin des Dames throughout Summer of 1917, culminating in Battle of Malmaison Oct. 23, 1917.
Cambrai Offensive of British, November 25 to Dec. 2.
Somme Defensive, Mar. 21, to Apr, 6.
Aisne Defensive, (Chemin des Dames and Northeast of Reims) May 27, to June 5.
Montdidier-Noyon Defensive, June to June 13.
Champagne Marne Defensive, July 15 to July 8. Aisne Marne Offensive, July 18 to Aug. 6.
For Groupement 8.
Somme Offensive, August. 8 to Sept. 9.
Oise-Aisne Offensive, Sept. 10 to Oct. 11.
Somme Offensive, Oct. 12 to Nov. 11.
For Groupement 9.
Somme Offensive, Augt. 8 to Sept. 17.
Oise-Aise Offensive, Sept. 18 to Sept. 29.
Meuse Argonne Offensive, Oct. 1 to Nov. 11.
A week later a group arrived from Andover Academy and followed their example; the third week a unit from Dartmouth, then in quick succession, units from the University of California, from Marietta College, from Princeton and Yale, from Tufts College and from other American centers. Within two months the Franco-American T. M. Service was an assured success. During the spring and summer of 1917 more than 800 American Field Service volunteers entered this Service. A new training camp was opened at Chavigny (near Longpont). The new volunteer recruits quickly took over the three T. M. groups in Jouaignes and soon thereafter took over part of the groups at Soissons. They were already carrying most of the ammunition and trench material from the railheads on the Soissons Fismes road to the Chemin des Dames front when the American army consented to adopt the Service, enlist the volunteer drivers, give commissions to the volunteer officers, and continue the formation as an official American adjunct of the French Army.
It is well that the story should be known of the beginning of this unique organisation of Americans which was destined to render such valiant service to the French armies in most of the great battles of the last two years of the war. As volunteers they played an important rôle in the victory of the Chemin des Dames and their successors rendered essential help in the great battles of Picardy, the Somme, Soissons, Villers-Cotterets, the Marne and Champagne, which achieved the final defeat of the Huns.
Except for the volunteers of the spring and summer of 1917, the Mallet Reserve as an American factor in the French army would in all probability never have existed. To the old T.M. volunteers therefore, from Cornell, Andover, Dartmouth, Marietta, Tufts. Princeton, Yale and other American universities be the honor that is their due. Their work was often hard and fraught with difficulties. It sometimes seemed to its participants inglorious and uninspiring, though never to those who observed them toiling through crowded traffic and endless clouds of dust. But like pioneers in unexplored regions they blazed the way for their successors, and like other pioneers they built better than they knew, for as the pages that follow abundantly show, they helped substantially in blazing the way towards victory.
Note : It may be added here that three hundred of these men who served with the French from May 8, 1917, when the Cornell section came out, to October, throughout the battle of the Chemin des Dames, enlisted in the American Army October 1, 1917. They were placed under the command of Col. Gordon Robinson and as regular American soldiers continued to serve with the French. Later the plan of sending over new contingents of troops from the United States to be placed in the Mallet Reserve for training purposes, was partly carried out.
The 407th, 408th, and 409th Trains joined the Reserve in February and March, 1918, but unfortunately for training plans the German offensive began March 21. The three trains and the remaining American Field service men were thus left to form a contingent of about 1,300 men in the French service and training plans were laid aside in the face of graver problems. From the Somme and the Oise in March to the Vesle and the Meuse in November they supplied the French with shells and were in eight of the eleven major offensives mentioned in American general orders.
A shoulder patch of green and yellow, green shield and yellow corde chasse, stands for about 1,300 Americans under the command of Capt. P.B.K. Potter, known as American Mission Reserve Mallet.
Really, there is much more to it than that. These 1,300 Americans are amalgamated with about 3,500 Frenchmen and they all drive Pierce Arrow camions. The entire organization used to be commanded by Commandant Mallet. They hauled shells troops and munitions.
Commandant Mallet was C.O. of the entire organization Frenchmen and Americans as far as executing transport orders were concerned. But as regards the American part Capt. Potter commands in all matters relating to administration, discipline, pay, camp regulation, etc. It's a sort of divided command because of the two nationalities represented. Orders for work came through the French D.S.A.
Originally in the old Field Service days there were sixteen sections of the Americans, and they were grouped under T. M. 133, T. M. 184, T.M. 526, T.M. 397, etc.; but since the American army régime they are no longer sections, but companies. There are twenty-four such companies and the peculiar thing about the Reserve is that each of these companies has an American designation such as Company so and so, and also a French designation, such as T. M. so and so.
Now, these companies are divided into six Groupes, known as Groupe Browning, Groupe Ordway, Groupe Wilcox, Groupe Lamade, Groupe Robinson, and Groupe Vincent, because Lieutenants R. A. Browning, Donald Ordway, Roy. C. Wilcox, G. R. Lamade, and F. O. Robinson, all old Field Service men, and Lt. Vincent, who used to command Chavigny farm, are their C.O.'s. Three groupes make up Groupement 8, commanded by a French officer with Lt. Dows Dunham as adjutant; three others make up Groupement 9, where Lt. G. B. Struby is adjutant. Over these two groupements is Commandant Mallet's headquarters, or that of his successor, Capt. Pavillon, and Capt. Potters headquarters, known as the American Mission. Sec. Lt. G. L. Herrick is adjutant at headquarters Sec. Lt. H. J. Harper, personnel adjutant. Sec. Lt. C. N. Shaffer is Supply and Disbursing Officer, and Capt. W. S. Frost is Surgeon.
Sec. Lt. S. M. Loring is adjutant in Groupe Ordway; Sec. Lt. Arthur Payne, Leroy Krusi, F. S. Andrews, and Leonard Prince, command the four companies.
Sec. Lt. John I. Kautz is adjutant in Groupe Robinson; Sec. Lt Donald Percy, First Lts. William Bown, William Olmsted, and Robert Blank command the four companies.
First Lt. Richmond Ordway is adjutant in Groupe Wilcox; First Lt. Thayer, and Sec. Lts. John B. Mackinlay, and Nicholas C. Leidgen command the companies.
In Groupe Vincent Sec. Lt. John Barker is adjutant and Sec. Lts. Raymond Young, Earl D. Prudden. Clayton C. Grandy, and Leland Wells, command the companies.
In Groupe Lamade Sec. Lt. William Bristol, A. M. Cowan, Wendell P. Harper, and Robert J. McClintock command the four companies, and in Groupe Browning, Sec. Lt. J. G. Smith is adjutant, and Sec. Lts. Buford Clark, Raymond G. Urban, Thomas Carothers, and Arthur Terry command the companies. First Lts. L. C. Presson, and Richard R. Nevitte, of the Medical corps, and First Lt. L. R. King of the Dental Corps, are attached to the various groupes. Only eight officers are not Field Service men.
There you have the Mallet Reserve,---directly dependant on French G.Q.G., through the French D.S.A. Somewhat complicated you say, but it's really not complicated at all, just adoption of French motor transport organization with a few American changes, and anyway the French found that the organization worked well, and that's why they gave it so much work to do.
The Reserve Mallet has been isolated with the French during all its career, and the sight of American troops has been unusual.
Rapid shifting of troops was one of the most important points of strategy developed after the command of all the allied armies was unified under Marchal Foch.
In this respect Reserve Mallet lent an invaluable aid. Between April 11, 1918 and November 11, 1918, the camions of the Reserve transported 180,000 troops, carrying them from reserve positions to the edge of the battle.
On such convoys the drivers fastened seats along the sides of their camions so that 25 passengers and their equipment could be hauled and they were off to transport anything from a company to a division. Sometimes they took them up to lie in reserve as in the Cambrai offensive in 1917. And sometimes they took them up, as in the fighting last March at Noyon and unloaded them into action. One groupe of the Reserve Mallet stopped with their passengers along a roadside so that troops could run into the skirmish line and start firing. Mallet camions hauled the marines and the 26th division to Château-Thierry in July.
They carried French shock troops to Montdidier when the French began the Somme offensive in August 1918 and they carried troops into the Champagne battle in the continuous fighting that raged from September to November. They also hauled Czecho-Slovak and Italian troops. In addition they carried refugees, and wounded soldiers back from first aid posts. Altogether the Reserve Mallet from March 21 to November 11, served with seven different French armies the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Tenth.
When a sudden pressure on the line created an immediate demand for guns the drivers of the Reserve Mallet were sure to get an order to crank up. Guns had to be hauled in camions to get them to the point of action in time.
Such orders generally came in about midnight. Off the drivers packed and after yanking a couple of batteries out of the line at such and such a place they trundled back to the new storm center.
The men of the Reserve can tell you how they unloaded their guns up behind Ham and Guiscard and Noyon last March, when the British Fifth Army was retreating, and how the French gunners whirled them around into emplacements and began firing at the boche before the drivers could get out of reach of enemy shells. Many a hole was plugged last March by the timely arrival of guns hurried up in the Mallet camions. One whole groupement of the Reserve narrowly escaped capture. The camions passed fifteen kilometers beyond bridges at which British soldiers were stationed under orders to blow them up at a minute's notice.
It took the Reserve Mallet drivers just three minutes and 55 seconds to get a cannon from the ground to the floor of a truck and have it solidly blocked with the drivers seated and the engine turning over, in practice loading held at Soissons March 15, a few days before the German offensive of March 21.
Balmy days of camion drivers in the American Field Service will always be remembered as terminating on that day when the famous "get into the American Army or get out of France doctrine" was annunciated at Jouaignes.
For a week it had been rumored that the United States was to take over the transport division of the Field Service and speculation had run high through the camps as to the outcome.
The usual ten o'clock reveille had been voluntarily set ahead three hours that morning when it was heralded through the camps of Jouaignes and Soissons that a mass meeting would be held and opportunity given for enlistment.
Then came the speech, a superlative in emphasis and dramatic unappeal.
The effect upon these "Musical comedy costumed camion drivers" as they were referred to was next to marvelous. French officers present applied their handkerchiefs assiduously to their perspiring foreheads while their faces bore a "comprend pas" expression. They failed to understand why such harsh words had been applied to the American drivers, the French war cross and above all the Y.M.C.A.
Chagrined and crestfallen the men filed from the meeting and at once the streets of Jouaignes and Soissons closely resembled those seething debates of the Virginia legislature when Patrick Henry and other Americans took their stand for Liberty.
Boys who had come eager to enlist, walked away still members of the American Field Service. Days passed and enlistments did not come in as they should. The Highness who now occupied a place behind the recruiting desk failed to understand why his oratorical powers had failed to persuade.
It was not until Colonel Gordon Robinson made a visit to the camps a week later and with his direct personal appeal smoothed over the rough edges that the boys remained in France.
Those who joined the American army were hustled to Soissons. Those who remained in the Field Service were segregated in Jouaignes until their release was secured from the French.
Everyone at Soissons agreed that getting used to Army discipline after the "lap of luxury" Field Service days was the hardest part of the war. Thirty times a month the men deserted the army at night and as many times they enlisted in the morning when reveille blew. They took advantages of all the privileges of a private, that is, they griped, and swore and cursed out the top sergeant when he wasn't around.
Improvement was gradual but sure, thanks to the diplomatic and politic ways that Colonel Robinson employed in handling this outfit.
The Chemin-des-Dames offensive was quickly over and the men settled down to routine camp life which was broken in November by the English drive on Cambrai when the Reserve rushed 66.000 troops to Peronne in a memorable seventy-two hour convoy. Numerous minor engagements were entered into, such as countless Battles of Paris, the defense of Cognac, and Pinard Run. There were casualties to be sure, but only such as might be expected from strenuous encounters.
Friday was the busiest day of the week, for one would work all day shining shoes, hunting enough water for a wash, brushing clothes and cleaning a rifle that Saturday inspection might be passed. Then, behold the tragedy of it all, when kitchen police was the reward for working so hard that one neglected to shave. Such were the vicissitudes of the Winter, and it was with joy that the 107th, 408th and 409th supply trains were welcomed for then formal inspections came only one fourth as often.
Ten weeks of work on the dugout was celebrated March 21st, with its completion and at the same time we bade farewell forever to the stonepile with the commencement of the Somme offensive and the evacuation of Soissons as a camp. To every American Soissonion, both dug out and stone pile will always be remembered as the things that kept them in trim for the strenuous bouts at the "Hole in the Wall", Lion Rouge, and Croix d'Or.
Three defensives, the Aisne, the Montdidier-Noyon and the Champagne-Marne, followed each other in quick succession and without lapse of time until July 18, 1918 when the tables were turned and the camions started toward the German border in a series of four offensives commencing with that of the Aisne. Marne, and ending with the Somme and the subsequent signing of the armistice. In this interval, the Reserve participated in another Somme offensive as well as the Oise-Aisne attack, making a remarkable total of eight operations since the beginning of the war.
The concluding chapter of the history will be written when the Statue of Liberty is again sighted in New-York Harbor and the lights of Broadway shine brighter and appear whiter than ever before. Until then, the Reserve is a continued story and like all good stories something is expected to happen in the next instalment.
No history of Motor Transport will be complete which fails to mention Chavigny Farms and Longpont. To the Reserve Mallet and its members, Chavigny is of especial historical interest and importance, for it was here that the first Americans to enter the Reserve came in May 1917 and received their training. This was a month before the A.E.F. had landed forces in France.
Chavigny, to the French Army was a unique experiment attempted on the basis of the good work done by the American Field Service Ambulance Sections. Longpont and Chavigny to the American drivers will always be associated with learning to drill in French and to eat bread. and coffee for breakfast trait real hardships in the early days.
The 101st Train, 26th Division and the 116th Train, 40th Division were also trained here.
Boche and Allied artillery have reduced to ruins the farmhouse and the courtyard would now prove more recalcitrant to drilling than it did in former days when wagons, camions and even stone walls had to be circumvented.
Chavigny and Longpont, partially ruined and destroyed by the Revolution, were completely razed when the Boche recrossed the Chemin des Dames in May and July 1918.
"Let us resist to the extreme limit of our force and even above this limit and we shall have merited well of our countries":
"For France! "---"For America! "----" Forward"! With these simple stirring words of the French decision the drivers of the Reserve Mallet were sent into the battle fields about Noyon, Ham, and Guiscard, last March.
A glance at the figures of their work from this time until the armistice was signed will tell the story of the terrible fatigue of driving for three or four days without sleep or rest, of the almost unendurable strain, of the dangers, the hardships in lack of rations, billets, and clothing, which it was impossible to get at times.
These figures show that about six million shells were hauled by the Reserve alone from June 6th, 1918 to November 11th 1918. But in other respects the Reserve played a large part. In the hauling of tanks it was a pioneer, and its experience was used in the preparation of instructions in the form of a bulletin of the M.T.C. to all outfits of the A.E.F.
Furthermore in the rapid shifting of troops upon which a large part of the final allied success depended, the Reserve was called upon continuously.
It helped to unify the movements of the armies of six nations making them effective as a striking force under a single commander, and at the same time kept them supplied with munitions of war. From its inception it has been within the range of German guns.
The whole Reserve can now look back to those months between March and November and feel glad that they are past, and yet feel a solemn pride that they were able to bear up under the pressure and do more than asked of them.
Carrying out an important action on the Tahure plateau south of Vouziers led to the necessity of hauling tanks weighing approximately seven tons in the five camions of the Reserve Mallet, October 1, 1918. Incidentally a precedent was established, and the experience of the Reserve was made the basis of a bulletin of instructions on tank transportation sent out to all organizations of the A. E. F.
Many officers said it could not be done. But French G.Q.G. ordered the tanks hauled to a point from which they could go into action; Commandant Doumenc passed it along to the Americans in the Reserve Mallet, and Commandant Mallet passed it along to Groupe Lamade.
From Port à Binson the convoy hustled through Châlons to Somme Suippes on September 30 and next morning the tanks came into a railroad spur outside of town. Four by four timbers were laid across the track in front of the first car and upon this platform the first truck was backed. Thirty four were loaded that afternoon and the convoy started up the Tahure plateau. It was just beyond here at the Medeah farm that the Huns were holding so fiercely, menacing the American advance on the right toward Vouziers, and the French advance on the left, toward Rethel.
It was midnight when unloading was started. There was a lively artillery bombardment going on, and airplanes were busy. But what was worse, the roads were narrow and they were jammed with traffic. The tanks were finally unloaded only after the Americans decided to take a chance and employ flash lights in guiding the tanks down the narrow runways. The next day the tanks took Medeah farm.
The convoy was successful and three weeks later the Mallet Reserve was given a second job carrying 225 tanks from Reims 30 kilometers north to Lor. It was here that Lieut. G. L. Edwards, Jr., was killed by shell fire during enemy bombardement of the unloading.
A few days later the communique said, "our chars d'assaut made it possible for our infantry to break the enemy's line and go through for seven kilometers."
It took 623, 541, 035 rifle and machine gun bullets and more than 3,500,800 shells including shrapnel, high explosive and gas to help the A. E. F. end hostilities, according to figures of the Ordnance Department. It took also 74,000,000. 45 caliber cartridges for automatic pistols. --- Stars and Stripes, Jan. 31.
Some insight into the amount of work done by the Americans of the Reserve Mallet in connection with the French armies may be gained by a comparison of these figures with the record of shells hauled to the French guns in the Mallet camions. While the A. E. F. artillery used three and a half million shells altogether, the Reserve between June 6, 1918 and Nov. 11, 1918 hauled over 6,000,000 shells of all varieties In addition they hauled 23,488 tons of infantry ammunition.
The greater part of these six million shells were of course Seventy-Fives and One-Fifty-Fives. During the period mentioned they hauled 4,490,428 Seventy-Fives and 1,173,130 One-Fifty-Fives.
In preparation for the Franco-Americain offensive of July 18, they hauled 946,963 .75 mm shells; 45, 195, 105mm shells; 211,830 .155 mm shells; and 20,700 .120 mm shells.
When the French began their rapid advance through Montdidier and Saint-Quentin the Reserve Mallet drivers between Sept. 25 and Nov. 11, hauled 1,715,437 .75 mm shells ; 68,441 .105 mms; 415,083, .155 mm; 17,200, 120 mm; l.255, .210 mm; besides 6,762 tons of infantry ammunition.
Records for long hauls, long hours and fatigues were made several times but the members of Company 363, Groupe Wilcox broke all previously established in the Reserve when during the month of August the company's camions rolled 669 hours out the 744 hours in the month. So continuous were the orders that it was found necessary to allow each man an alternate day of rest after a day of work. Thus while the men got a rest the camions got no release from toil. A driver came into camp filled up his gas tank and was dropping asleep on the first straw pile when his driving partner was ordered to crank up the truck and be ready to roll again.
We have not tried them all yet but we've got a notion that Nimes would be the best leave area in France. The C. O. commanding it is Colonel Goodfellow.
If the war had not ended when it did several members of the Reserve Mallet would probably have been transferred to the camouflage department.
These prospective members came to the attention of the camouflage branch by their invention of the practice of taking a sheaf of wheat, placing it on their backs and lying down in the middle of a field when Fritz was dropping bombs last summer.
Blues hanging all around, and you can't dispel them.
Whene'er you start to feel like this, don't forget to tell
The C. O. called me over to his desk "Look here," he said, "I can't get any information about when we are going home. Now, I want some definite information, so I want you to go out to the groupes. Some of the men out there know by this time I am sure what is going to become of us."
So 1 started out. As Groupe Browning was only three kilometers distance at Bazeilles, I went there first. I was on my way to the mess shack to interview the kitchen police first on the subject when I met Jerry.
"Listen, Jerry," I said, ''when are we going to go home ?"
He eyed me suspiciously for a bit and then he said:
"I'm going to let you in on the real dope if you keep it quiet. We are going home the last of March. I've just got a letter from a cousin of mine who is on the General Staff and he says he's been handling papers about the Reserve Mallet going home. It's a sure thing, but keep it mum."
"Thanks, " I replied and started for Groupe Vincent. I questioned several men but they all said they did not wish to be quoted. Then I saw Roth. At my question he was enthusiastic.
"It's absolutely sure, no question of it" he told me.
"We'll be on the water by May 1. I'll tell you why I know", he confided. "When I was on permission I was in Marseilles and one of the sergeants that works in the dock office told me they had passage booked for us for May 1. He showed me a book that proved it. Make some bets and write and tell your folks you're coming."
I thanked Roth. And I must confess that I was feeling very cheerful. The prospects were certainly bright. Then I started for Boulzicourt to see Groupe Lamade. Going down the street I saw a sign, "Bureau de Compagnie B" so I entered and saw Ken Dowley there at work.
"Well, Ken," I said sort of casually, so he wouldn't suspect that I was really seeking forbidden information, "when are we going to sail ?"
"Sail ?" he echoed, looking disgusted, "we aren't going to sail. Imagine the Mallet Reserve having such luck as that. Don't you know we're booked for a year in the S O.S. I got the dope straight. One of the officers who was up here last week for inspection and reorganization told me confidentially that was the purpose of the visit to get us ready for service back in the S.O.S."
"But, it can't be so," I said, "because over in Vincent and Browning, they have indisputable evidence that we are going home."
"Don't be chasing any rainbows like that ", said Ken, " I'm tell you, its a year in the S.O.S. for us."
Somewhat discomfited I set out for Le Chesne, to see Groupe Robinson and who should I see but Vic De Potter coming out of the kitchen with both pieces of his messkit loaded with food.
"Vic," I said, "I hear you are making bets that we won't be home till September 1."
"That's right," said Vic, "I did place a bet on that and I am sure I shall win. A Y.M.C.A. man whose brother is on the shipping board told me they would not have boats for the Mallet Reserve till the middle of August, so I figure we will get home about September 1.
"You're sure of this, I suppose, Vic? "
"Absolutely sure, I made a big bet," he said.
Then I went to Groupe Ordway and entered the kitchen to get warm. Harris was busy making biscuits.
"What do you hear about going home," I began.
"Well, things looked pretty bad, but I've got the right dope now, " said Harris as he pulled a huge pan of biscuits from the oven.
"We are going to stay with the French till March 15, and then we'll turn in our trucks. If the Americans don't release us then the Captain knows Commandant Doumenc who is a friend of Marshal Petain, who is going to see Marshal Foch and have him intercede with G.Q.G. to get us out. I'm writing home now that they'll see me likely about the middle of April."
"Thanks very much, Harris, " I said.
My last visit was to Groupe Wilcox. There I met Scotty McKenzie. I didn't mince matters.
"Mac," I asked "when are we going home?"
Mac didn't say anything for a bit. Then, "I guess I can depend on you to keep quiet. Here's the dope. When I was on permission, I saw a guy that works at G.H Q. He asked me what outfit I was in and I said Mallet Reserve. "Oh," he says, you're going home the end of March. I've been handling papers every day about you'."
"Thanks, Mac," I said, "that's just what I figured." But the result of my investigation was somewhat perplexing. Sailing dates varied from one month to one year from date. Then a happy thought struck me. That night I reported to the C.D.
When do we sail ?" he asked first thing. "July 11," I replied without hesitation. "How do you get that" he asked.
"This way," I replied, "I visited all the groupes everyone was certain of their information and everyone was different, so I simply took the number of months between now and sailing time that each one gave me, divided the total number of months by six, and then added this mean number of months to the present date, and you have it, --- "Thanks," said the C.O. "July 11."
It was an afternoon in the late Fall of 1932 and the great war was nearly forgotten, when a little old man, white haired and tottering came into the office of the S.P.C.T.F.C.O.M.T.C., Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Former Commanding Officers of Motor Transport Companies.
He wore a haunted, hunted look and it was evident that he was in the last stages of autochasitis. This disease was as you know very prevalent after the war among officers who had commanded motor truck trains.
Experts declared that it was entirely a mental illusion, produced by the patient thinking that he was a victim of pursuit of every taxi driver in the city. It had its incipiency when Benny Yaphank ran down and killed his former commanding officer. At the trial it developed that Yaphank had driven a truck in the war and had been the object or disciplinary measures at various times. Benny had been sentenced to death but the lasting impression that his crime had made did much to spread the disease.
"Protection", the little man began, "Protection, is all that I ask, protection from this band of taxi drivers that have indirectly been responsible for the deaths through autochasitis of all the former transport officers in the army."
The man behind the desk gasped. "Has it gone as far as this ?" he questioned, as he pressed an electric buzzer for a clerk.
The shock was too great for upon the sound of the buzzer which closely resembled an auto horn, the little man became hysterical and fled from the room, and has never been heard of since.
May-en-Multien on the night of June 3rd, 1918 will always be remembered by the members of Groupes Ordway and Wilcox of the Mallet Reserve as one of the times that the goddess of chance was with them. Incidentally, she assisted in the outwitting of Fritz and the successful delivery of several truck loads of ammunition.
Trucks from the two groupes arriving at the park late in the afternoon found considerable aeroplane activity as well as no small amount of shelling on the part of the boches.
During a lull in operations, Lieut. Leroy Krusi who was in charge of the camions, doubled past a French section which had been waiting by the road some time and ran his trucks into the park. The shelling was intermittent and by the help of the drivers, the French corvée had succeeded in unloading the greater part of the convoy, when suddenly, the whirr of a boche plane was heard overhead and soon bombs were dropping on the ammunition dump.
It took but a few minutes to throw off the rest of the ammunition and the mad race of the camions from the park made a Roman chariot race appear tame in contrast to this leaping convoy of five-ton trucks. Ditches were cleared with ease, shell cases and other objects which might have been obstructions were hurdled with skill. In fact, the drivers lost no time in getting away from the park which by this time was in flames and with the exploding shells closely resembled a Fourth of July celebration back home.
Nine French trucks which had followed the American camions into the park were hit and entirely destroyed together with the ammunition which they carried. Ten Frenchmen were killed outright by the exploding shells while Pvt. Robert J. Bowers and Sgt. Melville Chase of the Reserve were hit by pièces of shell casing.
Make your how and met the three little war orphans which have been adopted by the men in the Reserve Mallet. Four-year-old Marie Boennec is being cared for by the Headquarters company while Marcelle Pelletier, six years old is the proud possession of Groupe Wilcox The oldest of the three is Mademoiselle Marie Gaborit, seven years old, who belongs to groupe Browning.
Sufficient money was recently raised to keep the Kiddies not only for another year but also to furnish then with new clothes and other things that they may need.
In That Little Old Buvette
In a little French street wandering from the river to the
Oh, their cognac it was yaller and their Chartreuse it was
There so often in the evenings, in that cheery atmosphere,
Oh, I'm sick if wasting money on this blasted temperance stuff
Ship me somewhere far from sodas, where the best is like the
D. W. S.
From April 1, 1918, to January 1, 1919, a total of 1,061,102 kilometers were travelled by the trucks of the Reserve making a distance of 26-1/2 times around the world.
The piece of flag shown here is a part of the white flag of truce, attached to the automobile which carried the German delegate Count von Winterfeld across the allied lines on November 8. It is now the property of First Lt. William E. Bown, of Groupe Robinson.
Lt. Bown obtained it at La Capelle, the first town in the allied lines at which the German peace delegates stopped. Lt. Bown is seen in the picture below standing in front of the German automobile with the chauffeurs who drove the delegates through the lines. The picture was taken on November 11, when Lt. Bown was in La Capelle with a convoy.
Deer Sweethart Mary,-
I haven't anything importent to do tu-day, so just as leeve rite yu a letter as not. I cud hav beegun this letter in French but then what's the yus for yu wudn't cumpri it any how, wud yu Mary? I gess yu probably don't no much French, eh Mary? Well I don't kare whether yu no French or not Mary, that's me big harted yu no.
My feet are cold tu-day and I got to thinkin that maybee yu don't luv me any mor.
We had a parti last nite and I met the Vin cousins, blank and ruge are the names. That's a French jok Mary pretty gud eh, I mad it up all my self, maybee yu wont't understan it tho. Of corse yu no Mary there ain't no such people as the Vin cousins,---that means whit and red wine in French. Pretty smart of me to think that up wasn't it Mary?
Dokters are funny peple ain't they? One of the gys had ammonia yesterday and the dok says, 'paint his liver with iodine and put him to bed'. Next day I went up to the Dok and says 'Dok I'm sick', "Don't call me Dok" says he, I'se a lootenant and the quicker yu gys fined it out the better it will be for you." Then he says, "Sargent, give this man duty."I wated around a cuple of minutes for the medisin, he says "build that fire will yu and then cleen out the ashes." Wud yu beleeve it Mary, they kept me workin all day. I finally gets sore and says "How about that dooty Sargent? " and he says. ''Yur gettin it." Dooty aint a kined of medisin at all Mary, it meens work. I dont lik doktors any more Mary, ther are tu fresh.
I guess I toled yu mary that I am with the Reserve Mallets, that's another French name Mary and we have bocoo work, that means lots of work. I heard the other day they were goin to giv us the cord la gare or something lik that Mary. I wont spek to yu Mary when I get that. Now don't feel bad for yu no I will talk to yu just the same, I was just joking and triing to cheer yu up. I guess yu no me eh, Mary?
I dated this letter in December mary and its January now, I did it to mak yu think I was answering yur letter the day I got it. I can do that easy Mary for Im over here and yur over there and yu cant tell when I am riting it. Pretty gud trick eh Mary, Im full of those things.
I got to rite to a French gurl now that I met in Paris, There are lots of poulets in Paris Mary, that, means lots of chickens and they are all tray bone, more French Mary, so I canot rite yu any mor tuday.
We had stoo for dinner and it was rotten, hoping yu are the same, I am.
While the Reserve, through its isolation from American Forces, and for other reasons lost out in getting the fourragère for which it was proposed, a considerable number of its members have been decorated with the Croix de Guerre and more have been cited for it.
Robert Lamont, old T.M. 133, was the first to receive the honor in the camion service. Lamont lost his left hand. In addition to the Croix de Guerre he got the Médaille Militaire, the highest purely military medal in the French army. In the same affair, which happened on October 7, 1917, R. T. Scully, and Henry Thompson, both of T. M. 133 were awarded Croix de Guerre. T. M. 133 received a citation, also.
Later, in June 1918, in the fighting incident to the retreat of the French armies back from the Aisne, First Lt. Frank O. Robinson, First Lt. Leroy F. Krusi. Sergeant William Frizzeli, of the Old Field Service, and Private Frederic Henneberry who joined the Reserve with the American army were decorated. The ceremony was held in Sedan December 14, 1918. Lt. George R. Lemade was cited in October and awarded the Croix de Guerre. He was a member of old T. M. 133.
A short time later Gordon C. Gillies, of the Field Service, and Sgt. J.C. Baker, James Furlong, John Zicarelli, and Paul Brown, who came to the Reserve with the American army were decorated.
First Lt. Georges L. Edwards, of the Field Service, who was killed Oct. 4, 1919 Private H. J. Kuszmaul, who was killed August 14, 1918 and Private Arthur Knockenauer, were cited for the Croix de Guerre.
Pvts Donald, Scoles and Orville H. Orcutt, of the Field Service, and Pvt. Carl Forman, and Corp. E. F. Becker, received certificates of merit from Commandant Doumenc, head of the service Automobile of the French Armies.
Some of the citations follow:
Pvt. Gordon G. Gillies "Conducteur énergique et courageux. Le 30 Juillet 1918 a fait preuve, sous un violent bombardement, du plus grand dévouement et d'un mépris absolu du danger, en relevant les conducteurs blessés d'un camion incendié et dont le chargement de munitions explosait; à prêter aide au chef du convoi pour isoler les réserves d'essence du camion, contribuant ainsi à la protection d'un dépôt de munitions".
1st Lieutenant Le Roy F. Krusi "Officier énergique. Dans la nuit du 2 au 3 Juin 1918, au cours d'un déchargement de munitions dans un dépôt violemment bombardé par les avions et partiellement en feu, a réussi grâce aux dispositions prises et à son exemple personnel à remplir complètement la mission qui lui était confiée et a ramené tout son matériel à l'arrière malgré les éclatements des bombes et les explosions des obus provoqués par l'incendie."
1st Lieutenant Frank B. Robinson "Officier plein d'entrain et de bravoure, qui c'est distingué en maintes circonstances par son initiative et son sang-froid. Le 20 Mai 1918, son convoi ayant été attaqué de jour à très faible hauteur à la mitrailleuse par 7 avions ennemis, a réussi à le sauver grâce aux habiles dispositions prises et en faisant exécuter un tir par ses conducteurs".
Conducteur Frédéric Henneberry "Dans la nuit du 2 au 3 Juin 1918, au cours d'un déchargement de munitions dans un dépôt violemment bombardé par avions et partiellement en feu a donné un bel exemple de courage et de sang-froid en prenant spontanément le volant d'un camion d'une autre unité dont le conducteur venait d'être blessé et en le ramenant en dehors de la zône dangereuse, malgré les éclatements des bombes et les explosions des obus provoqués par l'incendie".
Sergeant William Frizzel "Sous-Officier technicien, d'une activité et d'un dévouement absolu. Le 3 Mai 1918, étant serre-file d'un convoi à proximité immédiate et en vue de l'ennemi, a dépanné un camion sous un feu intense de mitrailleuses permettant à son Chef d'accomplir sa mission sans aucune perte de matériel".
Lieutenant Georges Lamade "Officier excellent, énergique et dévoué, a donné en maintes circonstances l'exemple du sang-froid et du mépris du danger, S'est particulièrement signalé les 23 et 24 Octobre 1918 en restant plusieurs heures à un carrefour bombardé par l'ennemi, pour veiller à la sécurité de son personnel et du matériel qui lui était confié. A quitte le dernier après avoir eu un de ses officiers tué à ses côtés ".
Piloting five ton camions through shell torn villages and winding in and out through forests and over deserted roads just back of the front lines, is just as simple for the members of Groupe Wilcox as it is for them to drive their trucks and taxis through the streets of New York City to remote and little known places.
They enjoy it too, and they are just as adept in locating obscure ammuntion parks and finding their way home over unknown roads as they are with their cars in the States.
Ask any of them and they will tell you that they have moved more times since their arrival in France than any other groupe in the Reserve Mallet. Eighteen times in nine months or exactly just two times a month is their record. Of course there were times when they moved as often as every day, especially when the boches were coming through at Chateau Thierry and Soissons. But for the most part the changes of camp have been more evenly distributed over the nine mouth's period.
On the return from Andechy and May-en-Multien on the night of June 3rd when the trucks were bombarded and the huge munition dumps were set on fire by airplane bombs, not a one of the drivers in Groupe Wilcox lost his way and every camion was brought home without a scar.
This is only one of the many instances of their ability to find roads which were duplicated and reduplicated time after time during the last nine months of the war.
Fall in. Right Dress. Front. Then the top sergeant began to call the roll.
Brazenly, and defiantly, and with an air of great assurance the ghosts of Bull Stories standing rigidly at attention answered to their names as they were was called.
Front Line Trench Bull, Citation Bull, Wounded Bull, Transfer Bull. Captured Souvenir Bull, Nearly Got Commissioned Bull, Shock Troops Bull, Captured Bull, Saved the Colonel's Life Bull, Service Stripe Bull, Machine Gun Bull, and so on till the last name called.
Then the Top turned to the C.O. and said, "All present and accounted for, Sir."
"At Ease, " said the C.O. of the outfit as he took command of the Company. "I want to congratulate you men," he said, "on the way you have been getting by. I've got to hand it to you. When you were back on leave you were admirable. Everyone fell. In letters you were incomparable. Your success was beyond question. Your home town papers devoted columns to you. And even members of rival outfits took their hats off to you."
"But now there's one thing I want to warn you about. You are going back home pretty soon and my advice to you is to keep quiet. In the first place you won't be heroes when you go back; there are too many just like you who have already returned and they have stolen all your glory. You are pretty good but better men than you who were in France a shorter time have already preceeded you.
"In the second place there may be a few honest men who will be there with you and they will make it embarrassing for you.
" Nevertheless, " he concluded, " I want to tell you again that I admire the way you got by. Are there any recent recruits?"
Yes, Sir,---One---Going Home Bull, " replied the Sergeant.
"Company, Attention, Dismissed, " said the C.O.
The signing of the armistice brought no relief to the trucks and drivers of the Reserve Mallet. Instead they were immediately called upon to till the gap made by the destroyed railroads in northern France and Belgium. Especially did they show themselves to be the right arm of Mars in the transportation emergency that ensued. Armies and civilian population alike were dependent for their food and supplies upon motor transport.
Mallet Trucks that went to Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany with food returned with repatriated French prisoners, and refugees, while the drivers gleaned their share of shiny helmets and coveted iron crosses from the liberated territory.
Chevrons, you are growing old
But although these stripes of white
You will always, Chevrons, be
But alas, sir, and alack
Only some prefer a bar,
Tho' these service stripes of white
Major Charles French has just been assigned by G.H.Q. as Chief of the American Mission, Reserve Mallet. He arrived at the headquarters of the Reserve at Sedan some two weeks ago.
Major French is a West Point graduate and saw much service since his graduation in the Philippines. He was recalled from there when the United States entered the European war.
If anyone thinks he has a claim to publicity, let him first consult with Louis Epstein, private in Motor Truck Co, 365 of the American Mission, Mallet Reserve.
Epstein stepped from the unassuming position of buck private No. 217,264 to the columns of every daily and Sunday edition in New York City and Brooklyn.
He did this March 24, 1918 when he was left a broken down truck loaded with ammunition at Noyon. In the hodge podge that followed the hasty English retreat and the rapid Boche advance, Epstein was mistaken for a German and taken prisoner by a Frenchman who failed to understand his language. A week at prison camps, Quartier Generals and finally G.Q.G. rectified the mistake and Epstein was returned to his company.
The French are already accrediting the Eight hundred Americans who voluntarily entered the Reserve Mallet in the spring of 1917 to aid the French as camion drivers on the Chemin des Dames, as the first American belligerents. George H. Seldes, a French writer, designates them in this way.
Speaking of these first American members of the Reserve Mallet he says:
"The camion drivers had no recompense but the satisfaction that they were serving France vitally. They knew nothing but work. They drove through nights and days in mud and rain, they took the five sous a day of the French soldiers, and ate soldiers fare and never had a day of rest."
The camion men saw all the battle of the Chemin des Dames, and they suffered casualties. Section 133 received an army citation for its work under shell fire. Bob Lamont, who lost one hand, and Thompson who was injured, as well as the Section Chef, R. T. Scully, were decorated with the Croix de guerre. Lamont also got the Médaille Militaire. Scully in his report of the night described the events that took place:
"I arrived at Jouy at 11:15 p.m. and decided to unload the camions under the lee of the hill with the American drivers. I then asked Thompson, driver of the Ford, to move up a little farther. He stepped around to crank up and at this minute a shell exploded on the road to the right. A French sergeant, Lamont and myself were standing near. I asked Thompson if he were hurt and he said My leg, but am all right. Lamont then called out and I went to him and he said My left hand is gone.
"Wanting to make sure that word had been sent to the poste de secours in Vailly, I started down the road when Valentine Macy volunteered to accompany me. We had gone but a short distance from the abri when a shell fell close. Throughout the evening Macy acted with great disregard for himself. We proceeded to unload the camions having however to run into the abri seven or eight times on account of shells falling nearby. The American drivers on the trip were twelve in number. Lamont, Thompson, Macy, Wylie, Bradbury, Warren, Black, Kellett, Lindeman. Hailey, Bloom and Wilson."
Coming back to Paris after the United States had taken over the service the drivers said
"I would not go back to the camions for a million dollars, but I would not take a million for my experience."
In an issue of July, 1918, the Stars and Stripes said of the Reserve Mallet:
"In a summer when again and again the historic phrase "Franco-American" makes its appearance in the communiqués the distinction of being the most complete amalgam of the two armies belongs to that flying squadron of emergency transportation, that trundling troop of trucks, that charging company of camions, the Mallet Reserve.
"This organization consists of 700 five-ton trucks, American trucks driven over French roads, driven now by French and now by American drivers, officered by French and American officers, carrying French and American troops, French and American ammunition.
"The Mallet Reserve is so named because its commanding officer is Major Mallet of the French cavalry, and is called a reserve because it is attached to no Army Corps, but rather is held in reserve for emergency duty whenever a crisis in the war brings a crisis in transportation. This means that the interminable line of camions bearing the Mallet mark will invariably appear wherever the fight is the hottest, that the trucks and their drivers know no rest from one year's end to another.
"Thus you saw them up Cambrai way in the fall of 1917. When French troops were rushed into the gap that opened during the German drive of March 21, Mallet trucks carried them, and they were Mallet trucks that bore northward the French soldiers who made their sudden and startling appearence among the British in Flanders during theApril fighting. The American troops and ammunition that were moved with a rush to the lines of the Chateau Thierry front were transported many of them, in the home-grown camions of the Mallet Reserve.
"The trucks themselves if you examine them, tell many a story of transport under shell fire, tell of machine gunners borne to the very rim of the battle so that the gunners need only drop from the camion, run across a field and start firing.
"The personnel of the Mallet Reserve numbers 3,500. Of these 1,300 are Americans. Some of the Americans are alumni of the old American Field Service ; some of the officers began as ambulanciers with that group of volunteers which preceeded the A. E. F. Some of the Americans who drive these trucks learned the trade at the wheel of their own fast roadsters back home; some of them learned it in that company of lower East Side taxi drivers who were forever appearing in the gang fights which used to excite New York when there were no greater fights to absorb its attention.
''They live in their trucks, sleep in their trucks. They move over France like gypsies. Whenever a Groupement, Groupe, or Company, withdraws from the road into a field for a few days' rest and repair, the trucks still serve as tents.
"Time was when each truck dragged its driver's quarters behind him in the form of a trailer, but it was found that this wasted gas, so the trailers were abolished, and the drivers of the Mallet Reserve now live and move in their trucks as a turtle lives in its shell."
You can talk of your bombing and shelling,
For its mud, just mud, a sticking
and clinging to all.
When the poilus are pushing a gun to the front
For its mud, etc
A camion job isn't much of a cinch
For its mud, etc
Ask the soldiers who wave for a ride on your truck
For its mud, etc.
First Lieut. Robert A. Browning, commander of Groupe Browning, has resigned to go to Constantinople with the American Commission for Relief in the Near East. He was given an honorable discharge from the army and will serve as director of transportation with the commission.
Lt. Browning came to France in June 1917 with the Field Service and served till October 1, 1917. when he joined the army. He was commissioned it November, 1917, and was given command of a Groupe in June 1918, and was promoted to first lieutenant in October 1918.
Much as my heart rejoices in surcease
The end of war I craved ; now, also this
Decize, France, where the American Motor Transport School Number one, was established might be mistaken for Soissons by many members of the old camion service who joined the army.
For at Decize are to be found many of the old members of the classic Soissons days who were sent there during last summer to act as instructors when the school was started. What is more the school is commanded by Col. Gordon Robinson, who as Major Gordon Robinson was in command of the American Mission, Reserve Mallet at Soissons. There are about 25 men still at Decize serving as instructors, and there were more sent there who have been commissioned as officers and placed in various units of the American Army.
Capt. H. P. Kennedy, and Capt. Theodore Preble who were formerly of the Reserve are serving with Col. Robinson in Decize. Sergeant Major Thomas W. Paterson, who was transferred from the Reserve just before the Armistice was signed is in charge of the office, and then as instructors there are Paul Shields, Tom Dam, Louis Stude, Tad Robertson, Arch Robson, but the list is too long.
First Lieutenant Georges L. Edwards Jr., was killed October 24, 1918, when he was struck by a shell during a convoy in which tanks were being hauled to attack positions near Neufchatel. He met his death in a fashion worthy of the highest ideals of American soldier. Leaving his car, he went back on foot to see that all his men were out of danger. He was cited for a Croix de Guerre. Lieut. Edwards had been in service in France for more than 17 months. He joined the Reserve in May 1917 as a volunteer in the American Field Service. He enlisted in the American army in October and received his commission in January 1918. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in October, 1918.
|May 8, 1917||First Transport section left for Front.|
|July 4, 1917||Franco-American celebration of Fourth at Jouaignes.|
|Aug. 1, 1917||Buster's Birthday.|
|Oct. 1, 1917||Transport sections taken over by American Army,|
|Oct. 28, 1917||Battle of Malmaison on Chemin des Dames.|
|Nov. 21, 1917||Convoy to Montdidier in British offensive at Cambrai.|
|Feb. 3, 1918||Arrival of 408th Train from United States.|
|Feb. 7, 1918||Arrival of 407th Train from United States.|
|May 1, 1918||Buster's Birthday.|
|Mar. 25, 1918||Retreat of headquarters from Soissons.|
|Mar. 29, 1918||Arrival of 409th Train from United States.|
|May 29, 1918||Retreat from Chavigny.|
|June 15, 1918||Outbreak of "flu".|
|July 15, 1918||Permissions started.|
|Oct. 19, 1918||Battle of Champagne begins in Reims cellars.|
|Nov. 11, 1918||Armistice.|
|Nov. 28, 1918||Commandant Mallet-departs.|
|-----, ----, 1919||Left for America.|
The approximate boundaries of the territory worked over by the Reserve Mallet are:
From Versailles in northwesterly direction to Beauvais, thence to Grandvilliers, due north to Roux, northeast to Amiens (50 kilometers from English channel) northeast to Cambrai.
From Cambrai southeast to Avesnes, thence to Fourmiez (Belgium) and east including all of Luxembourg to Germany. From the North of Luxembourg border, to Treves (Germany) thence to Thionville (Alsace) and diagonally along the line of the Meuse to Verdun.
From Verdun southwest by way of St-Menehould to Chalons. From Chalons due south to Mailly, thence northwest to Montmirail southwest to Coulommiers and from there west to Versailles. This makes an area of 52,000 kilometers.
One of the Mallet drivers on his return from a lively convoy was narrating to the usual crowd of extra cooks and kitchen police around the stove the excitement and shelling he had seen.
"Some convoy, do you expect to get away with that stuff at home?" someone asked.
"Sure I'm the only one from my home town over here", he replied.
Of the approximately 800 Field Service men in the old transport service 304 enlisted in the U.S. Army when the service was taken over and of these only a little over a hundred now remain in the Reserve. All the others have been transferred to other organizations or other branches of the service. Officers who remain are
Capt. P.B.K. Potter;
1st Lieuts. William E. Bown, Robert A. Browning, Dows Dunham, Leroy F. Krusi, George R Lamade, William B. Olmsted, Donald Ordway, Richmond Ordway, Frank U. Robinson, George Struby, and Joseph W. Travis.
2nd Lieuts. W.M. Bristol, Mayo A. Darling, Horatio J. Harper, Wendel P. Harper, John I. Kautz, Robert J. McClintock, Donald W. Stewart, George L. Herrick, Lee Wood, E.A. Young Jr., Raymond M. Young, Chester N. Shaffer, Francis S.F. Andrews, Thomas A. Carothers, Albert M. Cowan, Clayton C. Grandy, Nicolas C. Leidgen, Selden M. Loring, .J.B. Mackinley, Arthur C. Payne, Donald B. Percy, L. M. Prince, Earl D. Prudden. Arthur R. Terry, Raymond G. Urban, and Roy C. Wilcox;
Enlisted men are:
Chester D. Shepard, Lyle D. Shina, Leon F. Singer, Roger W. Squire, Howard G. Stackhouse, Murray L. Stevens. David A. Reed, John Swigart, Ralph G. Taylor, George P. Tallant, Clifford H. Tinkham, Gerald E. Thomas, Owen J. Toland, Newman E. Wait, James H. Wilkinson, Robert H. Williams, Allen D. Williamson, Paul D. Woodman, Whitney B. Wright, Arthur O. Young, David Darrah, Lee T. Estabrook, Frank W. Holmes, William S. Townend, Robert C. Bray, Charles L. Brown, Bernard G. Collins. Robert C. Colwell, Herold M. Conard, Sherbourne Cook, Louis Corboy, Alan Cunningham .Jr., Ed. P Cunningham, Alexander P Dann, Kenneth C. Davenport, Kirkland H. Day, Louis S. Dean, Victor De Potter, Kenneth C. Dowley, Arthur H, Earle, Harry E. Flannagan. Norman W. Ford, W. S. Frizzell, Gordon C. Gillies, James H. Glann, Jean E. Guy, Russell J. Henderson, Coburn Herndon, Frank H. Kimber, Ira M. Kaufman, Clifford B Kirk, Frederick W. Kurth, Ralph M. Lamade, Horatic E. Locke, Reuben W. Lovering, Russell J. Lowe, Edgar K. Lowry, James M. Means, Jos. S. Moss, Francis L. Mcinty. Walker H. Mills. Norton R. Nickerson, Orville H. Orcutt, Harold W. Peffers, Donald S. Pitkin. Samuel Pruyn, Alden Rogers, John D. Sauters, Francis L. Sawyers, Donald Scoles, McNeill V. Seymour, and Allan F. Sharpe.
Commandant Mallet was Captain Mallet to most American camioneers of the old Field Service days. He has been in command of Reserve No. 3, since its inception. He was promoted from Captain to Commandant last Spring, and just before his promotion was awarded the Legion of Honor. He left the Reserve November 28, 1918, to go on a Mission to India.
DE LA RESERVE DU 25 MARS 1918
La Bataille qui se livre en ce moment va decider l'avenir du Monde. Une victoire complète est nécessaire pour assurer notre liberté et celle de nos Alliés contre la tyrannie des Empires Allemands.
Ce n'est plus une question de mois ou de semaines, c'est en quelques heures peut-être que va se jouer la partie décisive.
Résistons jusqu'à l'extrême limite de nos forces, au-delà même de cette limite et nous aurons bien mérité de nos patries.
Pour la France
The honor of being the first Americans to actually bear the Stars and Stripes to the front belongs to the first section of American Field Service men who joined the Reserve Mallet as volunteers in the French army May 8, 1917. General Pershing's expeditionary forces had not yet landed, and these few men of the first transport section of the American Field Service, later merged into the American Mission Reserve Mallet, were the only Americans in France outside the Lafayette escadrille and the foreign legion, in a belligerent service.
During the months of May, June, and July had you visited the ferme de Chavigny, where the transport sections got their training under the French, each morning you would have seen the Stars and Stripes hoisted to the staff in front of the Château while a little group of French officers, and the Americans, the vanguard of the forces to come, stood in formation and solemnly saluted.
Private Cassidy of the Reserve Mallet has just applied for a furlough to Italy to visit his parents.
Doc Pill---Because of his unlimited crust.
Harry Moore---Because he spent three days in the Bastille.
Lt. Travis---Because he kept the jug filled up.
Lee Estabrook ---Because of his affection for the French.
Louie Brock --- Because of his excellent cooking.
Sam Goland---Because he can't be beat.
Spooks Black---Because he is the sheriff of Reserve Mallet.
Lt. Nick Leidgen---Because of his boxing shows.
Jack Hornet ---Because of his popularity.
Lt. Carothers---Because of his informality.
Obey Oberndorfer---Because of his "Bull"