October 27 --- "Finished the long job on my car and have that satisfying feeling of work well done. In the evening we all went to the concert given by the 80th regiment. The hall was crowded and smoky; the program of cinema, songs comic and sentimental and short skits, was surprisingly good and the audience hearty and enthusiastic with calls and jokes shouted across the room. One thing I have noticed in the French army is the perfect discipline and ideal relation between officers and men. I have never seen an officer called upon to enforce his authority though he demands a lot. A soldier may remonstrate, but. he knows how far he can go. The finest part is the trust and confidence he has in his officers; he takes his troubles to him and often the latter is called upon to act as a referee in intimate domestic matters ...Our landlady is a picturesque figure in her cap and wooden shoes seated beside the huge chimney-place with a tiny fire of twigs or hobbling about on her gnarled stick doing all her own work with surprising efficiency. The door must always be open no matter how cold it is. She is almost toothless and wrinkled, but her face is pleasing and her eyes are clear and sparkling. She is quite deaf. She goes to bed at six and rises at eight. She is wise and observing, full of kindly sympathy and of humor...The French have had a wonderful advance of 2 miles on the Chemin des Dames and taken 10,000 prisoners and 200 cannon. But the position of the Italians has become perilous under an overwhelming attack on their left flank."
The Italian collapse which was well under way caused a dispatch of French troops in support and the Section was ordered to relieve a French Ambulance Unit which was to go with them. The 130th Division to which it now became attached held a sector on the Massif Moronvillier --- part of the front where Nivelle had made his fateful attack in the spring. The lines had been advanced at frightful cost from the Roman road which ran west from Rheims to Ste. Menehould, to the far side of the crests of the three peaks (in reality small hills rising from the flat plain) Comillet, Blanc and Haut --- perhaps a mile or mile and a half. The convoy moved through Châlons on the Rheims road through the villages of La Veuve and Les Grandes Loges to a temporary billet near a hospital called Camp Dilleman at Billy-le-Grand. Lt. Fabre soon found a new home much nearer to the front near an evacuation poste, La Plaine, reached by a road running through Les Petites Loges and Sept-Saulx. It had been a general's Headquarters and consisted of "rows of little houses sunk halfway in the ground covered with sandbags and sod between well-kept walks, tiny fences and even an occasional flower bed. It lies in one of the planted pine groves that alone break the monotony of the great plain that stretches south from the 'Massif Moronvillier' to Châlons and beyond---- the 'Champagne pouilleux'. Aurelius, Bill, Robby and I got one of the best houses --- 2 small rooms , one with 3 little windows and a fireplace and the other with 2 windows, a washstand and running water connected with a small reservoir outside and a closet. A back door leads out of the room into a sunken area with a shower bath whose reservoir is so arranged that it can he heated. In a tree near us is an observation post from which one can sweep the whole plain from the Towers of Rheims Cathedral to Suippes with the scarred Monts of Champagne directly north."
The Divisional Poste de Secours was located in the demolished town of Prosnes and the three regimental postes named Depalle, Petite Haie and les Bouleaux, along the Roman road where the French front lines had been. Wounded were taken from the regimental poste to a triage poste at La Plaine from which they were directed to various hospitals according to type and severity of wound, occasionally all the way to Châlons. Cars were kept at the regimental postes with reserves at Prosnes and Camp Dilleman, the advanced hospital. The American army took a mild interest in this small outpost and military drill was instigated, including guard duty at night and setting up exercises.
November 1 --- We received a notice that Lt. R----- had been demoted to Maréchal des Logis, --- this publicity being apparently part of the punishment. A great deal of aerial activity because of the glorious weather. There is an esquadrille of tricky little monoplanes near us with tremendous speed and climbing powers. The anti-craft gunners of the army are the best we have seen. Yesterday they shot down two and another thus morning. This afternoon the two saucisses just behind us were attacked and there were 4 parachutes in the air at once. At lunch the Germans, started to shell a battery of 150s across the road but did little damage. Spent a pleasant evening in front of a fire in our little toy house."
The Canal at Sept Saulx, where now is located one of Sam Chamberlain's favorite restaurants, was charming in the gorgeous fall days. "As you cross the canal over a high bridge you look down between two rows of magnificent trees in their fall splendor mirrored in the placid water. Resting idly against the bank is a huge grey canal boat contrasting but blending with its brilliant background. Autumn and spring are the seasons of smells. I remember those evening rides to Poste No. 2 through the soft air laden with fragrance of apple blossoms, and now the fresh clean odors of damp leaves, of bonfires. What is more super-charged with memories of happy childhood than the smell of burning leaves! At supper the Lieutenant established a rule that only French is to he spoken in the dining room after 5 o'clock with a fine of 2 sous for each infraction, coupled with an hour's French lesson in the evening. The mess fund grew by 1 fc 40."
November 4 --- "Went on duty at Prosnes. The poste is a well-built concrete affair heated by a small stove. There is a graveyard nearby of more than 200 soldiers --- 10 to 20 to a grave. All of whose crosses bear the same ill-storied date---April 17, 1917. Dined royally on steak and pommes de terre sautées, but henceforth we have to bring our own food. The Lieutenant wants to get our cars nearer the front line so I took him and Greenwood and Myron to see if there is a passable road. The road from Depalle on the Roman road to Prat, located in the former German lines, crossed French and German trenches --- white lines drawn across the barren chalk plain in desolate confusion. The others went on foot to reconnoiter a possible road to the front line poste de Secours of Constancelager at the foot of Mt. Haut. It grew dark in the weird silence, broken only by the faint crack of a rifle. The white lines became ghostlike; star-shells arched over the horizon; the occasional figures on the plain melted into the blue twilight. (I could see why blue was chosen for the French uniforms.) After supper I got a hurry call to Petite Haie. As I came up out of the abri I could not see a thing; it was only after minutes that I could distinguish the faint outlines of the trees. It took me some time to find my car, stumbling over the toy railroad tracks and sloughing through the mud. It seemed impossible to go without lights and even now I can't imagine how I did it. At Petite Haie there were two grave blessés both suffering from the most painful of wounds --- leg fracture. Trying to stay on the road I missed the sharp turn outside Prosnes and took the Baconnes road. The rest of the ride was a nightmare of awful mental agony. The thought of my responsibility emphasized each moment by the cries of the poor fellows in back, both fully conscious and aware, I had no doubt, of my mistake and my fatal helplessness; the innumerable questionings and the maddening stupidity or ignorance of the questioned; the final overpowering sense of relief when the blue lights of the hospital appeared. The horror of that ride will rest graven on my mind. I asked the doctor if the extra 15 minutes would have made any difference. He assured me, no. Both men died at one o'clock. Moved up from Prosnes to Prat at 3 o'clock, but it was much lighter and the ride was easy and the plain looked soft and peaceful. At Prat the rats scurried around and even over me."
November 6 --- "I was getting ready for a peaceful evening before the fire and congratulating myself on not having to go out on such a black night when I was ordered to Prosnes to replace Laughlin who had run into a wagon. To give an idea of the blackness of the night, two cars passed a third coming the opposite way on the Prosnes-La Plaine road without any of the three knowing it-"
November 7 --- "After breakfast which Robby and I cooked on our little gasoline stoves (a wonderfully wise purchase in Châlons), I got a call to les Bouleaux. The morning was clear and fresh, the hills startlingly near and the ride altogether enjoyable. Stephen Leacock says it is the absurdity or inappropriateness of things that make us laugh. He would have been pleased by the sight of a soldier perched on the edge of a trench while a comrade cut his hair --- two lone figures in the vast torn plain. The telephonist told me the slang they use over the telephone. possibly to guard against eavesdropping. An automobile is a 'bidon', a blessé 'une categorie', a dead man 'une planche'. The engineer Lieutenant who is building the new road to Constancelager asked me to try it. He has filled in the shell holes to a width of 8 mètres and intends to run a chalk line down the middle so that it can easily be followed. It was very slippery but when we get our chains we will have no difficulty. Incidentally, I noticed at Prat that the German front line was built of concrete with a raised step for riflemen and a wide passage. (This sector had been quiet from the end of the battle of the Marne until the April 1917 attack --- 2 1/2 years.) I thought this much more dangerous as there is almost no éclat sideways when a shell lands in soft earth. There is a new abri at Bouleaux to replace the hole in the trench wall. You go down 24 steps from a trench to a little box carved out of the pure white chalk, notably free of 'totos Boches' (fleas --- so called because of the little black cross on their backs) and rats, though the sound of men and wagons passing on the road overhead sounds just like the scuffling of rats."
November 8 --- Carried a priest of 130th Regiment going on permission this bright cold morning and he offered me a franc. All we need is a taxi meter. Called up to Constancelager together with reserve cars to evacuate some 20 wounded---all by the same enormous 'bombe de tranchée from a Minnenwerfer. Because we were able to get the cars to the actual front line poste instead of waiting for the blessés to be carried down the slippery road to Prat, the evacuation was completed at 9:30 P.M. instead of the estimate of 2:00 A.M. We are beginning to show something in return for the extravagant welcome we were accorded by the division. I was sent back to Prat in close support, but had a terrible time finding the abri which is some distance away. My guide got lost as we stumbled through the thick mud over and through trenches; I carrying my heavy blanket roll, occasionally getting so mired that we had to wait for a star-shell to see the way. (I noticed that the German star-shells were landing on our side of the crest.) But we finally made the poste and I received a warm welcome as the first to go on duty there. I slept on a chicken wire bunk in a row with four brancardiers --- every movement resulting in a deafening squeak. The newspapers are such dreary reading that I hate to look at them. The Italians have retreated behind the Tagliamento and the Maximalists (sic) have deposed Kerensky."
November 14 --- "Greenwood says there is to be a coup-de-main by a battalion of the 101st Regiment tomorrow. Our little houses are so comfortable that we can exist comfortably in any sort of weather; but the brilliant fall days are almost over and the air carries a warning of snow. I think often of the happy afternoons spent at Soldiers Field, playing soccer and, though I realized the beauty and charm of the life I was leading, I am sure that henceforth everything will take on a fuller, richer meaning. Life is so full and so rich that I marvel at my former blindness. Tonight I feel I could do anything and yet I sit here in luxury while other poor fellows are waiting for the morn when they are going to risk their lives --- for what? What does it matter if the Germans win? We will forget it tomorrow. . .But, No! I know why it matters and I feel I am not doing enough. Bill and I are going to Constancelager to carry away some of those brave fellows who are waiting now, thinking. . .
The coup-de-main was postponed a day because of a German attack on Mt. Blanc."
November 16 --- "We started out exactly as yesterday, but just as I backed my car into the shelter at Prat --- it happened. Innumerable flashes darted out from the gloom and shells screamed overhead; the rattling clatter of machine guns echoed among the hills; signal rockets and star-shells lit the scene eerily. Now the German batteries were replying and there were rows of cruel flashes along the crest of Mt. Haut and in the air. There were streaks of crimson in the southeast sky over the dead plain and birds sang. It seemed unreal. I wondered who was working the thunder machine in the wings. But the whine of machine gun bullets over our heads remind us of the reality. After an hour and a half the firing ceased. In the clear morning the ordinary life began again. A burrico laden with bidons tinkled its musical way along the piste; files of territorials appeared with picks on their shoulders. The coup-de-main was an absolute failure. When they reached the enemy trench it was empty and they were fired on from shell holes. They left two dead in the wire and 20 were wounded. The soldiers are quite discontented about the whole affair, which they consider badly managed from start to finish. They say it was too light that the enemy was only too well aware of the French intentions; that the artillery started too soon and, lastly, that several shells hit the French trenches. I carried two terrible head cases... Last night was a bad night for the section. Lanny ran into a truck, Nate into a tree, and three other cars broke down en route."
Cold weather brought problems apart from the difficulty of starting the cars which was considerable. Each car was required to carry three small metal hot water bottles for the feet of the wounded and one large one, hopefully, to warm up the whole interior, which were to be exchanged for full ones at the poste. The cars were designed to carry three stretcher cases --- two on the floor and one on the bars that were let down from the sides. Alternatively, there were two small benches that could take the place of the bars and accommodate four seated cases; a fifth could sit beside the driver. When the four bottles, the driver's blanket roll and the packs of the wounded were added, it was a considerable load and required careful packing. As it got colder, another bidon was added into which the radiator could be drained if the pitcock, hidden underneath the radiator, could be located in the dark and forced open . . . Through bitter experience, the drivers learned to close it after draining.
November 10 --- "On duty at Constancelager. The second line trench runs half way up the south slope of Mont Haut, parallel to the summit. Along this are located the battalion P.C. and the poste de secours. Numerous machine guns are placed to sweep the Monts. The company kitchens are down the hill where we keep our cars. At one point along the crest of Mont Haut the French front lines are visible where the Germans hold a small salient which projects almost to the crest. There was intermittent shelling on both sides all day. The Germans use Minnenwerfers to great effect. At 3 o'clock I carried a badly wounded who, with two others, was in an abri struck by one of these. One was killed and the third wounded. I was struck by the careless way in which an inventory was made of the dead man's effects; to me it was such a sacred, touching office. The Colonel of the 101st spoke pleasantly with me with the graciousness of a truly great man. He had a fine looking negro as a bodyservant. The brancardiers laugh and joke like a crowd of school boys. One of them had put a gas mask on a poste out in front of the trench with a German hat on top: it was startlingly realistic."
November 21 --- Two trips from Dilleman to Châlons in the rain, the second at 11:00 P.M. The road was dark on account of the rain and my blue-masked lights went out. From the H.O.E. they sent me across town to another hospital. I was exhausted and pretty well annoyed to find that my 'grave couché' was an extremely light gas case who calmly awoke from his comfortable sleep and walked out of the car. I stopped at the American canteen at the station --- a marvelous place with hundreds of brancards for the soldiers to sleep on; arranged in groups according to destination so they may be awakened in time for their train; with reading room, shower baths and a huge réfectoire where simple, extraordinarily cheap food was served with the efficiency of a modern American quick lunch place. The rooms were cleverly lit and decorated and the kitchen was a model establishment. But the chief attractions were the pleasant American women in charge. The contrast between the ordinary life of a city with its stores and cobblestones and trolley cars, and the front, only an hour distant, strikes me forcibly every time I go into Châlons!"
November 23 --- "Had a trip into Châlons with Wrangen. We stayed to dinner at the Haute Mère-Dieu. What a luxury to eat off a while table cloth with china and napkins and thick soup! It was 8:30 before we finished and the ride home in the brilliant moonlight was delightful."
November 24 --- "A glorious windy day with gray clouds scudding low and bright sunlight over everything. I went to St. Hilaire after lunch and sang and yelled all the way from pure joy of living."
November 26 --- "We were given a gas mask test with tear gas, first breathing in till the tears ran and then putting on the masks to show how well they worked. Went out to get wood among the batteries across the road, chopping up the trees that had been cut down by yesterday's bombardment. The afternoon was remarkably clear; but it hailed violently at supper time. . . The English have made a wonderful advance at Cambrai."
November 27 --- "First snow of the season! More wood cutting with new shell holes since yesterday. Cleaned my car and worked on the motor which has been running badly."
November 29 --- Thanksgiving. Wrangen and I decorated the dining room with fir boughs. I can't begin to describe the feast. The beginnings are lost in the mazes of mince pie, nuts, dates, chocolate mousse that marked the end, but I remember hazily a remarkable pot-au-feu ---pickled pigs feet, vegetable compote and --- wonder of wonders --- those marvelous turkeys. I think we had cheese too. It was a remarkably homelike, cheery fête, surrounding us with such an atmosphere of peace and contentment that the hideous presence of war was relegated to the extreme background. M. l'Aumonier-Divisionnaire was our chief guest, his kindly presence adding much; and there were speeches, friendly, warm speeches to cheer the heart. I shall never forget my first Thanksgiving away from home."
December 2 --- "Sunday --- Awoke at 8 o'clock to find a broad beam of sunlight across the foot of my bed. What a glorious day! Clear, limitless blue overhead, sunlight on the green firs, a wind bringing an airlike wine that starts the blood tingling. What a wonderful thing to be alive! Was ever green so brilliant or blue so deep? From the observation tower the whole city of Rheims was clearly visible."
December 3 --- "The road to Haie Claire is the worst --- six to eight inches of mud frozen in deep ruts. I drained and swaddled my Lizzie and followed my guide through a maze of trenches that were part of the former Boche first line. They are so narrow and deep that wounded can be carried only in 'brancards de tranchées' --- a sort of steamer chair arrangement carried on the shoulders of two men. The poste is amazing --- a staircase cut out of the pure chalk with full headroom. A door at the foot opened into a good-sized room with a fire crackling on a hearth in the opposite wall, throwing ruddy reflections on the white walls. The médecin chef lounged on a bench with his slippered feet on the hearth. From another room came the sound of a flute and men's voices in chorus."
December brought a spell of fine crisp days with the temperature dropping to zero and the cars became mulish. Then came rains that turned the roads alternately sticky and greasy. The sudden changes of temperature produced mists that made night driving an abomination. Cars had to be washed endlessly in the icy water of the canal at Sept Saulx. The occasional artillery duels included gas and the masks came into use for the first time, increasing the difficulty of driving and producing frequent accidents from cars wandering off the roads.
December 17 --- "Snow! We woke to a world absolutely transformed. Snow on the little huts and trees and glistening on the ground. On account of the danger of aeroplane pictures of tracks in the snow, we have to cross open places in a single track. . Went to Haie Claire after supper, glorying in the fresh exhilaration of the ride over the crisp hard road. The snow made it easy to see the way. The plain was soft in the starlight, though the wind was bitter. It caught one of the French star shells and blew it back almost as far as Haie Claire."
December 21 --- "15° fahrenheit! Coming back with the Lieut. from Dillerman my right rear wheel dropped off --- broken axle. The Lieut. came back with a gang from LaPlaine and took charge with such enthusiasm that when 'Kentucky' finally rested in the sick ward at the Atelier, two of its mudguards were broken, one lamp bent, paint scratched, the back cross-beam broken and the hind door ripped off --plus twisted truss rods and broken brake bands. Went on guard from 9-10. The night was cold and still and so was I. Just before 10 a shell came in a few hundred yards away and I was startled into dropping my rifle. Some sentry! Several more landed among the huts during the night."
December 23 --- "My 19th birthday. Fine ride out to Bordeaux in the moonlight. Drank hot pinard with a bunch of brancardiers going on permission. One who had been transferred from the infantry a month before said, 'Ceux qui n'ont pas été dans les premiers lignes et surtout dans les petites postes, connaient pas la misère de la guerre'."
December 24 --- "I noticed a body lying on a stretcher with a blanket over its face and the legs torn to pieces. He lay there --- while the sun shone and tomorrow is Christmas! . . . We had a Christmas eve party with a tree and presents. Lt. Fabre said our true celebration would be in our hearts; that tonight we would think of our parents as they were thinking of us: that tonight we would pray."
December 27 --- "A shell nearly ruined several of the fellows gathering wood at Thuizy . . . It took me 2 hours to get my car started this morning. It is no fun taking an engine to pieces in this weather! More snow."
January 2 --- "Another coup de main this afternoon with, unfortunately, the same results. No prisoners and six wounded. The barrage was terrific and terrible."
He and Nate Farwell went off to Paris on permission on January 3. They stayed at the Grand Hôtel and dined at Poccardi's and at l'Ecrivesse. Despite warnings of snow blockade of the main line they embarked for Nice at the Gare de Lyons at 9:00 P.M. arriving at Lyons at 10:00 A.M. where they were turned out. They hired a cab and toured the city and had a memorable meal at a small restaurant on the Soâne under the steep wooded slope dotted with villas. They were the sole guests in front of a cheerful fire. After a long cold wait a crowded train arrived into which they fought their way and stood, unable to move hand or foot, until they arrived at Marseille at 6:30 A.M. --- ten hours. After a few hours sleep they caught the 3:30 train due to arrive at Nice at 11:00 P.M. which finally staggered in at 6 o'clock in the morning.
It was an exciting week; first view of palms; a trip to Monte Carlo (not allowed into the gaming rooms); walks in the old town of Nice including the flamboyant cemetery where lie Garibaldi and Gambetta, and rides into the hills behind. They luxuriated in the Hôtel Ruhl et des Anglais on the promenade and did the night spots with a couple of friendly Australians. . . It took them two nights and a day and a half to get back to Paris with a stop-off of a few hours in Avignon. Their money having run out, they fed themselves at station canteens.
They found the Section on repos at Jalons-les-Vignes about 14 Km from Châlons on the Epernay road. The boys were cantoned in a room over a stable in double deck bunks and set up their kitchen in a café a few blocks away- The weather was mild, the canals and rivers overflown and the mud hip deep. They all bought wooden shoes. There was considerable sickness among the soldiers and 2 cars were kept on duty making tours of little villages --- Conde, Aigny, Vraux, Juvigny, Tours, Cherville, through barely passable roads. Cars were overhauled.
January 26 --- "Reviews of the 1st Battalion of the 130th Regiment by Col. Rousseau. A Lieutenant received the Legion of Honor for having led a raiding party that killed 12 Boches, blew up 3 abris and took 3 prisoners About 50 soldiers received croix de guerre. . . The French landscape is remarkable in that it takes only a few minutes of sunlight --- be it spring: winter, summer or fall --- to turn the most dismal outlook into a smiling and happy land."
February 3 --- 'Took a malade to Châlons. He brought his cousin along and they insisted that I 'bois un coup' with them at the latter's farm. They forced two glasses of an excellent Burgundy on me and, though it tasted mild, it made me dizzy. Had lunch at the Hôtel du Renard and afterwards went into the Cathedral for half an hour... Went right through Jalons on the way back."
February 8 --- "Walked to the aviation field at Matougues and inspected a new bomber, the Briger. It has a 300 HP Renault motor and is the fastest in the world at 4,000 meters. It carries 32 bombs and 2 incendiaries. There were a good many machines on the field including Spads, Nieuports and English Sopworths, supporting the rumors we have heard of a widespread allied bombing offensive."
February 12 --- "A big feed and vaudeville stunts to celebrate Lincoln's birthday, Mardigras and the 10 months anniversary of the Section."
February 17 --- "I have been giving English lessons to the médecin chef and two lieutenants on Col. Rousseau's staff and they invited me to Sunday lunch. The Colonel sat me at his right hand and had me served first. He is a great gentleman." (with whom contact was maintained for many years after the war.)
February 19 --- "Celebrated the anniversary of our departure from America with a big party. Decorated the dining room with greens, borrowed tablecloths, silver (?) and glassware from Madame, and imported 8 pieces from the 130th band. Had Col. Rousseau and some of his staff and the American and French lieutenants from Sections 3, 14 and 17 as guests. Col. Rousseau made a wonderful speech full of generous appreciation of our work and presented croix de guerre to Lt. Greenwood and Nate Farwell."
March came in with a heavy snow and then turned sunny and warm.
March 8 --- "Received word that we are going into the Casque and Teton section to the right of where we were. Ted Curtis (Major General Curtis in World War II) came over from his esquadrille which is the first American unit to get to the front. They are using Nieuports, but he said that though they are very fast, they shake to pieces too easily. He tells us that Earl Osborn is not expected to recover from consumption following his wound."
March 10 --- "Moved to our new quarters at Camp Châlons near Mourmelon; two stone barracks with five entries each, roughly making 30 large rooms --- some for three or four men. Bill and Bus Bailey, Robby and I have drawn a front room with a southern exposure . . . Myron took several of us out to learn the roads and the postes. The weather was glorious. Poste M-4 is a hive of industry. Beyond, the fields are honeycombed with freshly-dug trenches and new wire --- acres of it laid in lines 50 ft. wide which criss-crossed each other in apparent confusion. Baconnes, a tiny cluster of houses, has hardly been touched. Halfway to Prosnes is the GBD Central poste --- Sapinière, a pine grove with cagnas similar to those at La Plaine. At Prosnes we stopped at our old poste where the one shell had landed beside the sunken window and killed or stunned all of the 18 occupants so that not one escaped. The chemicals exploded and set fire to the interior. Constantine Farm, where we keep two cars as at Sapinière, is located in a sort of sand dune on the crossroads of the Roman road and the route to Depalle. To the right on the Roman road is the final poste --- Moscou. It consists of several abris driven under the road and connected by tunnels. In back is a huge genie park hidden (?) in a straggly patch of woods. It is a thriving place, full of life and bustle. Col. Rousseau has his poste here. Directly in front is Mt. Teton --- to the left Mt. Casque and to the right Mt. Sans-Nom. The Mountains Cornillet Blanc and Haut are, of course, to the left. The 101st Regiment holds the left of the secteur; the 130th the middle; and the 124th, the right. A new road has been made from the Roman road through the pine woods to Sapinière. Despite the batteries that lined it, we could not shake off the impression that we were taking a peaceful Sunday afternoon drive through the park."
March 11 at Moscou --- 'Another perfect. glorious, exhilarating day! At noon five small shells came in around the road and the parc,. I imagine the Boche saucisse saw the staff car that stood out on the road all morning. Returned to Sapinière after taking 3 malades to Petit Mourmelon. We have a strong, large dugout to ourselves with tables, chairs and a stove --- very comfortable. An esquadrille of 18 French avions passed over us toward the lines."
March 12 at Sapinière --- "A fierce barrage started at 5:30 A.M. to the right of our secteur and on the batteries along the new road continuing all morning. At two I got a call from these batteries. The road was filled with shell holes. mostly little ones made by gas shells. There was a strong odor of gas. Luckily. we had just been issued our new masks. The sergeant at the artillery poste told me that these masks (which look just like the Boche ones) contain a wonderful new combination of chemicals that protect against all kinds of gas, including the new type the French are using. He said the infantry had not been issued the mask since they don't want the Boche to get hold of it. Just as I started off with 6 intoxiqués. the shelling began again. My car was a horrid mess when they got out ...Went up in the observation tower on my return to Sapinière. A frightful German barrage was falling all along the Mounts. Over half the section was called up and we ran all night and evacuated practically all of Capt. Odin's battery. (I carried him myself), all of the staff of the 124th, including the Colonel and countless intoxiqués from other batteries. Got into bed at 7:30 A.M. but had to roll again at 8:00. Had my first meal in 24 hours at 11:30."
March 13 --- "A Boche swooped down on the saucisse near us at Mourmelon-le-Petit. The observer jumped just in time as it burst into flame. Meantime, the observers in the other two balloons had jumped. The Boche turned and fired at the nearest, missed, circled and fired again, but had to give it up as machine guns and 75's were popping like mad. A fine day with a huge red sunset. At nine we had an air raid."
The March 15 ---"The 130th made a coup-de-main and took 28 prisoners. We expected to be called out, but the poste cars were able to take care of the blessés. Another saucisse shot down. The section is building its own roads now to avoid points liable to be shelled. Twelve of us worked all afternoon on a 3 Km piste from Moscou to the battery road a Km from Sapinière. It runs down an aisle of the pine woods and then across fields. We chopped the double row of stumps to pieces and covered them with crushed chalk from a nearby communication trench. After sinking an axe into a tough wet stump, I decided we were up against a stiff proposition. But by 7 we had eliminated 300 stumps by actual count. It was pleasant, hard work with birds singing and clear blue strips of sky above us. Occasional shells sang over our heads. We piled into the truck and sang lustily all the way back."
March 16 --- "Another hard day on the road with splendid progress in spite of the heat. A shy, delicately beautiful sunset. The new moon is growing."
March 18 --- "We were paid off. Half the fellows owed their pay to the others, so they only caught a glimpse of the money. Went into Châlons and dined at Hôtel Renard with Myron, Turrill and Anderson. Rode home in the moonlight. A wonderful sensation to ride with eyes closed not having to worry about driving."
March 20 --- "We worked all day in the rain carrying the road across the fields, filling in shell holes and ruts, bridging ditches. We were in plain sight of Boche saucisses if they had been up."
March 21 --- "Now on duty at triage at Mourmelon-le-Petit, a very comfortable assignment with beds, good food and good company. At 2 A.M. there started the most terrific bombardment on the lines that I have ever heard. Hartwell came in from Moscou this morning with a car full of holes. He said he was caught by the shelling on the Roman road returning from a trip last night and got out into a trench just in time. The bombardment continued all day. It looks as though this might be the beginning of the big attack . . . Lay in bed listening to a piano being played beautifully in the next room. Over the clear notes came the boom of the guns. Had a trip to Châlons in the bright moonlight, arriving at the hospital just as an air raid started. Anti-aircraft guns boomed and echoed, machine guns crackled, bombs crashed, searchlight fingers probed. The noise was overwhelming."
March 22 --- "Hartwell came in with some more holes. He is having a frightful time. Constantine is thick with gas and Sapinière was heavily shelled. The bombardment continues and there are rumors that the Boches have attacked . . My rear axle broke coming out of La Veuve hospital. I telephoned for help. Andy arrived with the camionnette and a new axle assembly which we bolted and cotter pinned into place in about 10 minutes to the astonishment and admiration of a crowd of poilus. To our surprise, when I put my foot on the low pedal of that strange transmission box, the car started gaily back up the hill. Someone had blundered in assembling the new axle. Determined to avoid public humiliation after all the praise we had graciously accepted, I put my foot on the reverse and crept around the corner where I hid behind some camions 'til Andy could attach a rope and tow me home."
March 23 --- "Hartwell finally got it but, fortunately, not seriously. He had just left Moscou at 4 A.M. with a grave couché when a shell burst in front. He was hit with splinters 3 places in the left and 2 places in the right leg and one through his helmet just scratching his scalp. He got out, carried the couché unaided to a trench and hopped back to the poste. The Constantine cars could not find their way to Moscou 'til morning because of a heavy cloud of gas. Everyone is enthusiastic over Hartwell's bravery ...We completed the piste yesterday, but the boys had a narrow escape as a shell landed among them. A bright hot day that has brought out buds and blossoms and even leaves. The papers tell of a huge German attack against the British."
March 24 --- "The German attack seems to be meeting with only moderate success and hopes run high. The bombardment of Paris is too preposterous and incredible a thing to dream of!" (This was Big Bertha.)
March 26 --- "A clear, crisp morning, wonderfully bracing. Sky full of soft, fat clouds moving swiftly across the blue. Never was the white of the chalk embankments running beside the endless trenches so pure; the pine trees so green; or the hills so startlingly bare and yellow in the sunlight. Distances were annihilated. We worked on a new piste cutting off Baconnes. From the rise we could see the tiny village at our feet and beyond, Mourmelon and the towers of Châlons rising above the purple horizon.
March 27 --- "Had a trip to Châlons. They say the Boches dropped papers saying they would destroy the city in 12 days. Already in 5 nights they have gone a long way toward fulfilling their frightful promise. It is awful to see the terror of the civilians. The railroad station is swamped with struggling mobs trying to flee; vans are loading and I saw pitiful little family groups pushing carts or wheelbarrows. We found Lucy's photographic shop a wreck and she in tears. . . No trains from Paris for two days and no papers. The rumors we hear are very disturbing. We met long trains of men and wagons and guns on the road mostly moving out. Evidently the French are sending reinforcements north."
March 28 --- "The division to our right (Section 18) is being withdrawn with our 101st and 130th moving over in its place and the division to our left (Section 14) filling in against the 124th. They say one division in 3 is being withdrawn as Headquarters has learned that the Boche have already moved away 4 divisions and a great deal of artillery. Our new postes include a reserve one at M-4 --- a long row of well built dug-outs. The first front poste is Village Gascon where Section 18 had 4 cars blown up. Thousands of shells have been thrown around here in the last few weeks. It is only a step to the Roman road and 2 Km to the right is Bois Sacré. Halfway down are 2 75's on the right hand side with their muzzles on a level with it. We went rather carefully at this point. The 3rd poste, Ham is about a Km north of the Roman road --- a former German poste before Nivelle's attack last year. The road only goes as far as the foot of Mt Sans Nom. The boyau to the GBD is in an awful state; I cannot imagine how blessés can be carried in it. The poste is on the crest with a full view of German lines and the roads behind with black specks moving on them --- probably ambulances. There was no one in sight. My guide had gone. I climbed down steep steps into a black passage that felt dirty, up 2 steps through another passage on hands and knees as it was only 3 ft, high, up some more steps into a room and, finally, into the open air again. I saw no one and there was no light. Some poste de secours! . . . The newspapers have arrived. Noyon, Mondidier lost --- the Boches still advancing. French reinforcements rushing up. Evidently, both sides are risking all on this battle. I am sure it means the speedy finishing of the war, but which way?
March 31, Easter --- "M-4 is as perfect as any poste I have had the pleasure of occupying. We have a room with 4 bunks and the use of another with a fireplace and electric light that the chef-du-poste uses as a dining room. Went to Mass at 9 o'clock at the GBD. It was the first time I have ever been to a Catholic Mass and I was disgusted at all the rigmarole. But the sight of the reverent group of blue-clad men in the deep abri lighted only by candles on the improvised altar was profoundly religious and inspiring... It rained off and on and coming back from Bois Sacré I saw a brilliant double rainbow that so entranced me that I ran into a big shell-hole half filled with water. Passed a saucisse truck chasing its balloon that had broken loose. The pharmaciens orderly is an Algerian named Ricoll, a hard worker and serious-minded. He does extra work and sends all he earns to his wife. The others kid him a lot and call him 'Bicko' which is Arabic for Arab, but he gives as good as they send. Sometimes the pharmacien speaks to him in broken English, whereupon Ricoll replies in Arabic. A huge caterpillar tractor went by towing two big 155 mm guns through the mud. Moving out --- to the Somme, I suppose. After dinner we sat around and smoked and joked until 9. ---A wonderful evening. In the daytime I am ready for all kinds of excitement, but at night I love peace."
April 2 --- "We are now building a piste from M-4 to Bois Sacré giving us another alternative route avoiding the main road... Sergeant Sansonetti is a small fierce-looking Corsican with huge mustaches. He was a prisoner of war for 3 years and has interesting stories about it. He was well treated. A lovely gold and rose sunset; not a gun or star shell marred the peaceful quiet; birds twittered as they wheeled and darted; katydids chirped in the grass."
April 4 --- "Worked long and hard on the Village Gascon piste as the saucisses were up and we were shelled on the other one. We were helped by soldiers from a punishment camp, one of whom was a young aviator who got 15 days for looping the loop too near the ground."
April 8 --- "Into Châlons to the motor park. They had a rush order from the English front and sent off 371 cars in a week. Were told that we will probably go to the Somme. Châlons has overcome its first hysterics and is almost normal again. Two English esquadrilles are stationed nearby, nicknamed 'Travelling Circuses'."
April 9 --- "At the Somme both sides seem to he holding off for a bit to get their breath. By a general French order all sections going to the Somme will leave trailers and personal baggage behind and live out of the cars."
April 10 --- "Visited the front line beyond Ham. The trenches are almost dished and the Boche lines have been evacuated to a distance of 700 yds. The region between is patrolled by both sides at night. The 130th is planning a coup de main by lying in 'wait' for one of the German patrols."
April 11 --- "A balmy day of dazzling sunshine brought confused memories and longings. I thought of Dombasle with a great wave of longing." (sic!)
April 12 --- "After an early supper I was standing on the road above the abris at Moscou, admiring the clarity with which the hills stood out and speculating on the cause of so many Boche 'drachens' being up. When a jet black cloud of smoke burst into being overhead and a sharp crack rang in my ears, I ducked into the abri. The shelling continued for a while and then for some unknown reason shifted to a bare, uninhabited space between Depalle and Prat. At sunset we all joined in a rat hunt surrounding a likely spot like a heap of tiles, poking them out so that we could lay them low with sticks. A sensational sunset --- long streamers of cloud brushed with lavender and trimmed with pink against a clear golden glow. A row of trees with lacy branches and the pointed ruins of the ferme de Moscou were sharply black. The lavender faded. The gold turned sea-green, the stars came into being. From the woods behind came the sweet clear call of a thrush; katydids chirped in the grass. The trees swayed slightly in the evening breeze. The rat hunt was over for the night... The brancardiers are expecting gas and the double window and doors were put on. Phew!"
April 14 --- "This morning the Boches sent over the lines several little balloons with propaganda sheets attached. It was an attack on England as the real enemy of the world in place of Germany. Mostly articles, poems and cartoons from prewar editions of French and English papers. It harped on all the ancient race hatred, going back to Joan of Arc and Waterloo with great stress on England's colonial enterprises and her cruelty to the natives. It is the psychological time while the French are a bit sore at the English for falling back, but as far as effect goes, it is a joke."
April 15 --- "The section got a citation for its recent work --- and a very good one at that --- but it is only to the order of the division. Since the corps d'armée citation was refused, they gave us five individual divisional citations of which I am to get one as being among 'les plus anciens'.
April 18 --- 'Great ceremony at General Tetin's Headquarters. A company from the 101st with band. We were drawn up at attention while the band played the Marseillaise. The General and be-medalled staff, including the médecin divisionnaire, the Colonel commanding the artillery and Col. Rousseau of the 130th reviewed us --- Snipe Young, Bill Bailey and I being the color guard. The flag was decorated and then the General pinned on the individual croix. Besides us five, there were about 20 French soldiers. He asked me how long I had been in France. 'Quatorze mois, mon lieu --- Général.' 'Ah, ça c'est très bien. Et vouz avez été dans la section tout le temps?' ' 'Oui, mon Général.' 'Je suis très content de vous donner cette décoration et je vous félicite.' The General came over to our cantonment later and I had to make a little speech of thanks which Fabre and L'Aumonier helped me put together. Then there was champagne and cakes and handshaking all around."
April 20 - "A quiet day at Bois Sacré. The Brancardiers are all old friends from Prosnes and Les Bouleaux and insist that we eat with them. They make a lot of special dishes themselves and they are a jolly, hilarious crowd, particularly the red beard, M. Cancel with his rich rolling patois of his 'payée, Foix. It is curious to live in an abri as one loses all sense of time. There is nothing to indicate whether it is noon or midnight outside and we don't really much care which (unless we have to roll!). There are fully developed defense lines just in front of the poste with grenade and rifle platforms and listening postes; even a printed list of instructions for its defense as a front line. Went over to the battery of 75's to watch a 'tir de reprisie' with high explosive and then gas. They let me pull the lanyard."
April 27 --- "The division to our right made a coup de main last night and captured 11 Germans and 6 machine guns without any casualties. Gave my usual English lesson at the staff. A whole regiment, the 142nd, returned from the Somme. They had only 4 days of actual fighting, but their losses were very great. They were laughing and joking in relief from the strain they had been under. Sergeant Sansonnetti, the fiery little Corsican with handle bar mustaches celebrated his 30th birthday at the sous-officiers mess and we had a hilarious party!"
May 1 --- "The world is smiling and happy. It does not seem possible that men can be suffering and dying in this pleasant land. I look out the window and see the thick green foliage of the chestnut trees, the soft, grey-white and dull red of the barracks; I hear the familiar homely sounds, men talking, the creak of the pump, the splash of water as someone washes his car. The sun is bright and hot. It is all so peaceful. Had a long talk with some of the staff after supper. Lt. Schoumaker told of 2 Germans, newly arrived from the eastern front, who deserted to the 124th Regiment this morning. They came across in broad daylight shot at by both the French and the Boches."
May 5 --- "Red Clark got lost in the maze of trenches at Ham and wound up at a listening poste where he was collared as a spy. They brought him back to the battalion commander under guard who thought it was a great joke. The poste de secours at Ham is an old Boche abri. You go down half a dozen steps into the main room. From one corner a narrow steep black flight of steps plunges into the bowels of the earth. You follow hesitatingly. The steps are of unequal size, making the descent tricky and adding zest to the adventure, especially if one is of an imaginative turn of mind and remembers David Balfour's experience in his uncle's tower. The steps give on a narrow wooden corridor running at right angles, off which open several small chambers. One of these is yours. In it are 2 wooden bunks with good pine boards to lie on and a small table. The air is close and at times fetid. The heavy atmosphere has a curious effect in that it makes one sleepy and, at the same time, prevents sleep. At one point I felt I was suffocating and had to climb up into the open to get a breath of fresh air."
May 6 --- The army is suffering from an epidemic of grippe and the doctors are disturbed as this is the first time it has broken out in the trenches. In the 101st, 10 to 20 are being evacuated every day. After supper I carried 4 malades to M-4. Returned to Ham. I went up on the little mound behind the abri and looked down into the valley. A star-shell flickered over the trenches and a machine gun barked once or twice, starting echoes that crackled all around the slopes. Then all was quiet save for the scurrying of rats and the chirp of insects. The clean fresh pungent odor of damp earth hung on the still air."
May 12 --- "The YMCA is installing a cinema at M-4. And at Village Gascon is a marvelous Foyer de Soldat. It is a huge room carved out of the heart of the earth, filled with tables and brilliantly lit by electric lamps. The air is heavy with smoke; glasses clink; men are playing dominoes checkers, chess, manille and bridge or reading or just talking. It is just like any country café in the war zone."
May 13 was a day of horror at the poste of Ham --- "A company of engineers of the 1st and 21st Engineer regiments, specially trained for over a month, launched a gas attack using for the first time the new French gas. They went out beyond the wire and, in spite of some protests on account of the trickiness of the wind, opened the tanks of gas that they carried. Two minutes later the fickle wind veered around to the north (the Boche have always been lucky in being able to employ the steady north wind in gas attacks) and blew back the gas. The tanks, once opened, could not be closed and the men found themselves enveloped in a dense cloud of gas. They put on their masks, of course, but in 5 minutes these were impregnated. Some were overcome at once and unable to find the entrances in the wire; others gained the trench, but succumbed soon after."
At Ham --- "I found indescribable confusion --- crowds of stretcher bearers, long rows of brancards bearing writhing, tortured men, and harassed doctors. Three couchés were ready to go. As they were putting them in my car the Aumonier spoke quickly and softly to the poor fellows. To my consternation, I realized he was giving them last rites. I drove as I have never driven before. At Forman one of the men was dead. A slight froth had gathered at his mouth and nostrils; his eyes were glazed and his skin was ghastly. The others were very far gone . . . By nightfall 27 out of the 42 we had carried were dead in addition to 54 who died outright in the trenches... What a frightful thing to be responsible for all this."
May 14 --- "As I approached Village Gascon in the afternoon, I heard an explosion, but thought it was a départ. I drove in carelessly and put my car in the shelter. Before I could get out a shell landed over to the left and the spent éclat rattled against the side of the shelter. I hopped out of the car and started down the boyau when another came breezing in and burst beside the trench about 15 feet, covering me with dirt and stones. The bombardment lasted half an hour longer, causing much swearing among the musicians as it was 'l'heure de la soupe'."
May 15 --- "The sun shone bright and hot; the sky was blue; birds sang lustily; the trees and grass were richly green as I drove out of Village Gascon. The whole world seemed to crow like a contented fat little baby... I went for a walk in the cool of the evening. The air was heavy with the fragrance of lilac, of chestnut blossoms, of cherry trees dainty in pink and white, and with the sweet indescribable odor of brown earth warmed by the sun."
May 17 --- "At my usual English lesson at the staff with Capt. Terre, he told me some interesting things about the German attack. He said that the enemy made a strategical mistake in not creating more of a diversion in other secteurs. The bluff in our region was the most serious, yet to a man of experience the whole scheme was pretty evident. Not for one minute was the staff seriously concerned over the threatened attack. Consequently, when the high command learned of a big attack on the British front, they sent all available reserves there immediately which was a considerable surprise to the Boche."
May 19 --- "We have been having a spell of really hot weather. The Protestant Chaplain of the Corps d' Armée held a service for us in English. In the afternoon we played baseball with Section 14. Sat around under the trees after supper and sang. There was a lovely white crescent of new moon."
May 23 --- "The 124th made a disastrous coup de main this morning. In return for the capture of one mitrailleuse they lost eight dead and twelve wounded."
May 27 --- '"Kentucky' my ambulance has received a new number 78361. I painted out 509 sadly. Read Gulliver's Travels and The Rise of the Dutch Republic. I found the former a storehouse of humor and satire that I had not dreamed of the first time I read it. The big naval guns at Louvercy fired last night for several hours, rattling our window panes. . . We have had rumors that we were to be relieved by the 28th Division, but this evening brought news of a new German attack between Rheims and Soissons (with indifferent success) and now we hear that the 28th is to be sent in reserve to the front of the new battle."
May 28 --- " Last night at Village Gascon was one of the worst I have ever spent. The Boches shelled Village Gascon, M-4, and Bois Sacré throughout the night with fairly large shells and. for some reason, it got so on my nerves that even the smallest sound would make me shrivel up with anticipation of the explosion to come. The firing came from the east near Auberive so the shells bound for M-4 and the batteries passed over our heads with such a loud whistle that they seemed about to land on top of us. I had been talking with Colétar. the cycliste. about the strength of abris and he had related several gruesome yet horribly fascinating stories of freak shells that destroyed impregnable abris. As the abri we sleep in is far from impregnable, I had food for thought After a night like this there was something incredible about coming out into a bright sunlit world whose peace was unmarred by any martial sounds."
May 29 --- "We were shelled again last night. but somehow it didn't bother me and I slept peacefully. Éclat went through the window of the Aumonier's abri, but did no harm. After supper our regular evening's entertainment started up with a bombardment of M-4 which I had to pass later on with a blessé. I managed to duck by between shells, but then they began coming in by two's and three's. The night was clear and bright. When I got back to Village Gascon, the brancardier said they had been heavily shelled and one had blown up a grenade depot. . . There is bad news of the situation between Rheims and Soissons. Near Fimes the Boches have crossed the Vesle and hold almost all the valley of the Aisne. Things are pretty serious for the Allies."
May 30 --- "A terrific bombardment started at 1:30 last night and we all thought an attack was imminent, but we emerged this morning into a cool, sunny world, silent save for the cheerful chirping of the birds. Went down to look at the wrecked grenade depot where a squad was collecting the scattered grenades. I climbed down in the trench with them and took a picture. As I started to walk away there was an explosion; some of the soldiers were climbing out of the trench, but one stood in a cloud of smoke looking in dazed fashion at blood streaming from his hand. I got a stretcher and we carried him to the poste. Fortunately, he was not dangerously hit . . . Hazy Brown had a terrible experience at Bois Sacré. Yesterday evening he and three of the musiciens (who double as brancardiers) were getting up a game of bridge and two of them went out of the poste to get the cards. A stray shell came in, killed one and seriously wounded the other. . . Disquieting rumors. Soissons has been taken and Château-Thierry approached. The Châlons-Paris railroad has been cut at Dormans between Epernay and Château-Thierry. All that can stop the Huns now is a second battle of the Marne. Shelling all over the area all night."
May 31 --- "The 8th Division on our left has been pulled out and our reserve battalions moved into their secteur. Nate, Robby and I went up to Prosnes to take over our old postes and arrived in the midst of a considerable bombardment. The Prosnes abri has been rebuilt since the tragedy and is lighted by electricity!"
June 1 --- "Prosnes is a very different place from our cold, frozen recollections. It is considerably more destroyed --- almost obliterated --- but now the boyaux are overgrown with grass and flowers in all colors and arched over in places with green. A regular Lover's Lane. Bees drone among the flowers and flies chase each other in the sunlight. The bare hills stand out --- white and scarred --- but, somehow, not discordant."
June 4 --- "The shelling continues with some big stuff. Baldwin was turning into Bois-Sacré when a shell landed under the back of his car, blowing off the back and one side and throwing it against the fence beside the piste. The brancardier fainted, but neither he nor Baldwin were touched by éclat and the running gear was uninjured... Battalions are being shifted about and all is confusion. Two battalions of the 130th were relieved by a regiment of Polish volunteers and went into action 5 hours later at Fort de la Pompelle near Rheims. Taxied for Lt. Fabre and the Aumonier. In Mourmelon. loaded my car with a ludicrous collection of Boche souvenirs --- guns, helmets, suspender buttons, shell tips, shrapnel --- for some good people who were fleeing the town and feared that if the Germans came and discovered this loot they would burn the house down . . . The town was shelled from 7 to 9 in the evening. The whole population went out in the fields and watched the shells falling on their homes, wondering if they were going to have a place to sleep. Both Mourmelons are to be evacuated for the third time. It is very sad to see these old people getting ready for another exile."
June 7 ---"Châlons has become a cosmopolitan town, full of English. Americans, Scots, Portuguese, Indians, Annamites, Colonial negroes and Italien carabiniers with their enormous Napoleonic grey chapeaux... Barbed wire and outline trenches arc springing up far behind the lines and the woods are full of big guns. It seems the French have everything necessary to repel an attack in this secteur except men. The Boche made a coup de main on the 124th last night. Result Boche --- 5 dead, several wounded: French --- 2 dead, four wounded. No prisoners."
June 11 --- "The 130th came back last night. Their losses were comparatively light (50 men per battalion, mostly wounded). They said the arrière was more dangerous than the front line. There were no trenches or dug-outs, save the old, knee-deep trenches of 1914. They spoke with admiration of the 3rd American Division at Château-Thierry. It certainly brings out every ounce of patriotism and pride to learn of the courage and loyalty of Americans."
June 18 --- "Drove 5 officers of the 130th to Châlons, including a chasseur captain with Légion d'Honneur, Croix de Guerre with 3 palms and a star and five wound stripes. Got back at lunch time and Col. Rousseau insisted I join them. A splendid meal ...Went over to the Division Staff after supper to begin English lessons again. Capt. Terre is particularly anxious to get transferred to the American Army. He was mad because the General wrote on his application that he didn't know a word of English. At 9 a terrific bombardment began in the direction of Rheims. Capt. Terre did some telephoning and said he was worried that the attack on Pompelle might spread."
June 20 --- "The papers say that the attack on Rheims was a complete failure; the military commentators say that had it succeeded it would have been followed by a general attack on the Champagne front as far as the Argonne, as Capt. Terre feared."
June 23 --- "A regiment of Moroccans now holds the secteur formerly occupied by the 101st. They have French officers and a number of soldiers and sous-officiers scattered about to maintain discipline and to interpret. Some of the Moroccans are woefully stupid and others as sharp and clever as can be --- and very amusing. . . An Arab came wandering into the poste at Ham with his left hand bloody and mangled. He said not a word as they bandaged him and they had to send out to find out what happened. He had twisted the wooden handle of an old Boche grenade and the detonator had exploded but, luckily, not the grenade. . . I sat out in front of the Ham poste in the hot afternoon in the médecin-chef's armchair, with the trenches criss-crossing the valley below me, watching huge French shells dropping on a hill behind the Boche lines and reading my Motley. I felt like a Napoleon or a Darius planning a battle from my luxurious armchair, watching the quiet trenches slumbering in the sun and the great clouds of yellow and black smoke leaping up behind. The Boche have started to shell a portion of our line. A machine gun rattles and an occasional rifle-shot rings out like the crack of a whip. Now the French are shelling a Boche aeroplane and I guess I'll go in the abri for a second. The sun is pretty hard on my eyes and, besides, a shell-casing just whizzed down close by."
June 30 --- "The glory of a perfect morning. How impossible a life that could grow tired of oft-repeated beauty. Life ascends in a spiral; one gets recurring views, but from different angles. If I thought I had reached the pinnacle of human appreciation, what would there he left to live for?"
July 1 --- The Polish volunteers are chiefly American, (the recruiting starting in St. Louis). They are possessed by a fanatical ardor --- striking two blows for freedom at once; for their beloved Poland and for the most wonderful free country in the world, America! Read William Locke' s The Red Planet, Arnold Bennett's Literary Tastes, Charles Lamb and finished the Rise of the Dutch Republic --- a splendid book."
July 4 --- "A rather uninspired celebration, but highlighted by a splendid joint dinner with Section 503. It is sad to see the old people being evacuated from Mourmelon and the villages around. I remember particularly an old couple pushing a wheelbarrow piled high with household goods and carrying heavy baskets. The air is tense with foreboding. Hospitals, as far back as Châlons, are being emptied. Divisional secteurs have been shortened and there are a great many more men and guns behind the lines. All bridges have been mined and cheveux de frise are ready to be thrown across the roads. The military critics in the papers predict that the next German attack will he here. Capt. Terre expects it within a few days, but doubts if they will try to come directly over the Monts on account of the difficulty of descending there in the face of a French artillery barrage." The attack did in fact take place over the Monts and the outcome was as Capt. Terre anticipated.
The diarist went on permission on July 6, taking trains via Origny and Romilly as the main Châlons-Paris line was cut. On the way he passed trainloads and truck convoys filled with troops and guns and ammunition. He was told that 3 army corps had been sent into Champagne, "including the unlucky 14th". There were observation balloons as far back as Paris and machine guns at every station. He went from Paris to visit his brother Dick who was now a lieutenant in the Sanitary Corps at Mehers near St. Aignan in The Touraine. He returned via the Air Corps training camp at Issoudun and had the good luck to locate all three of his pals; Harry Briggs, his neighbor and classmate at Lexington High School, and two of his Harvard roommates, Red Smith and Oz Watkins --- the latter fresh in from Foggia. Italy. On the way back to Paris he read of the long expected German attack of July 15. The communiqué suggested to him that the Monts had fallen and he was filled with alarm for the fate of the section. After a long, roundabout train trip from Paris, interrupted by the explosion of an ammunition train hit by a bomb, he reached the section in a new location at Farman --- so called because it was from this spot that Henri Farman made his historic flight to Rheims --- 26 miles in 28 minutes.
"Half the fellows were on duty and the rest were lying around on the ground in a little grove of pine trees, tired and dirty and unshaven. The story of what happened came out slowly and incoherently, but lost none of its dramatic effect. Word was received of the intended attack on the afternoon of the 14th and all batteries and units including the section were moved to previously prepared locations. At 11 P.M. the French started a counter-bombardment and at midnight a terrible roar broke out all along the front. The sky turned red. Every road, even the smallest pistes was systematically watered as far back as Châlons. (I remember that when I got up to take an early train from Issoudun on the 15th, the sky was vivid with flashes which I thought then to be heat lightning.) At 4 the drum fire on the trenches began and shortly afterwards the assault started. The Monts had been evacuated, save for a few block-houses and the main line established on the Roman road --- the front line prior to the Nivelle attack in 1917."
"The barrage moved slowly ahead of the advancing Germans reaching as far as La Plaine. It caught Bus Bailey at Constantine Farm on the Roman road; his car was blown to bits, but he and several brancardiers escaped by a boyau. Bill Bailey sat at Prosnes waiting for a shell to land on the abri or for the Germans to arrive. Suddenly. a Boche appeared in the doorway and everyone threw up his hand, crying ' Kamerad'. But he was alone and a prisoner himself. Mort Dick was trapped by the barrage near the poste Esplanade. He lay under the car 'til it moved on and he was able to get to La Plaine where he fainted. O'Brien was blown over by a shell at Sapinière that killed the man beside him. Mark Clark was wounded in the foot. The cars rolled --- those that could. John Lange ran into a shell hole and bent his front axle. Andy and Phil Robeson came up, carried an axle assembly in pieces through a trench and installed it during the worst of the bombardment. A shell knocked Lange unconscious during the job and he had to be carried to La Plaine, fed oxygen and evacuated. Everyone had reports of narrow escapes. Lt. Fabre was slightly wounded on the hand and was blown over by a shell, but kept moving around directing the work and encouraging everyone. . . Two huge marine guns moved in near us and we were ordered to pack up and move again which we did after supper in a hail storm with thunder and lightning."
July 19 "Petit Baconnes --- A barrage started up at 4 A.M. Went into the telephone exchange and listened to the conversations. Batteries would call up Headquarters to report lack of ammunition and to ask for results of their fire. The infantry regiments were in almost constant communication with Headquarters. At 5:15, the operator reported that 'the Boches are coming out of their trenches and using liquid fire!" Twelve French batteries including eight 155's were concentrated on a kilometer of trench."
July 20 --- "The German offensive has not only been checked, but is being turned into an Allied advance to a depth of 14 Km between the Aisne and Château-Thierry. La Veuve hospital was bombed last night. Seventeen killed. The division is being relieved and we will move to Vraux."
July 22 --- "The French advance continues. A miserable night at Hospital Militaire --- aeroplanes overhead, guns banging, bombs dropping until 3 A.M. and no shelter."
Vraux was a pleasant village. On July 25 "there was an impressive decoration ceremony attended not only by our Gen. Tetin, but also by the 4th Corps. Commander, Gen. Pont and Gen. Gouraud commanding our 4th Army tall, dignified and wonderfully impressive with his empty sleeve and pronounced limp. One corporal received the Legion of Honor --- a rare award to a non-officer. It began to rain as the service concluded with the playing of the Marseillaise. It was a thrilling sight --- the 3 generals and the immense crowd standing rigidly at salute --- salute to a great ideal for which men are ready to lay down their lives." On July 28 the 130th held a field meet. "All kinds of freak events --- climbing the greased pole, spearing rings from a bicycle, tug-of-war and mule races which were the funniest of all, as the animals had their own ideas about racing. We entered a team in the tug-of-war, but we all lined up on one side of the rope and at the first pull tumbled over backwards."
His life long friend, Stanley Hill, serving in an ambulance section in front of Rheims, was severely wounded in early July and died a month later. Aeroplanes came over nearly every night. One car on the way to Châlons was blown off the road. Rain at night was greeted with cheers. On August 6 the division went back to the front line and the section returned to the Hospital Militaire near Mourmelon where they remained until September 17. The secteur was relatively quiet, but there was work for the ambulances, mainly from shelling and bombing behind the lines. There was a good deal of gas used. On one day 300 'intoxiqués' were evacuated and the diarist was convinced on one occasion that he had qualified for a wound stripe, but was disappointed to wake up next morning feeling disgustingly well. The poste of M-4 was shelled so constantly and so many cars were damaged that all but one were withdrawn. One of those terrible freak events happened at Camp Châlons one soft evening near our own cantonment. A group of soldiers were lying out on the grass between two barracks when a single small bomb fell among them. It turned the area into a slaughter house --- the most horrifying of many terrible sights; three killed and 21 wounded, some with arms or legs sliced off---The dog days arrived. The section received a citation to the order of the Army adding a palm leaf to the croix de guerre with two stars on its flag. On August 18 the flags of the regiments that took part in the July 15th battle were decorated at Châlons. It was a notable gathering --- Marshals Foch and Haig, Generals Pershing, Pétain, Gouraud. Mangin, Bertelot, Desgouttes and Weygand. September 2 was enlivened by a German plane shooting down a sausage balloon and being immediately shot down himself from the ground. On September 14 and 15 came news of the great American attack and capture of St. Mihiel and 15,000 prisoners.
September 16 --- "We go en repos to Bouzy, a little village near the base of the Châlons, Epernay, Rheims triangle. We left at 4 o'clock A.M. to avoid being seen on the road. We passed a long artillery convoy drawn up beside the road the men asleep, some huddled on stone piles by the road, others draped in fantastic attitudes over guns and limbers --- a weird sight in the grey half light as though they had all been suddenly struck dead. Bouzy is a clean, prosperous hillside town in the center of the wine country the houses and barns are large and there are deep wine cellars... Our quarters consist of a huge barn with the loft for sleeping quarters and the ground floor for a dining room."
September 25 --- "It is absolutely certain that an attack is imminent---perhaps as near as tonight. All the hospitals are being emptied."
September 27 --- "The Americans have advanced on the left bank of the Meuse, taking Mont Faucon, Malancourt. Béthincourt and many other villages as well as over 5,000 prisoners. The front of the attack extended from Verdun to Auberive. Our first secteur."
September 28 --- "Saw a convoy of 6.000 prisoners in Châlons. The most striking feature was the extreme youth of many of them. They all looked hungrily at the shop windows they passed."
September 30 ---" Bulgaria has sued for peace. Germany will have a chance to see how it's done."
October 1 ---''A glorious double rainbow. The soft, golden rays of the sun slanting across the falling raindrops glistened off the freshened green of leaf and grass. The cool earthy fragrance of the air was sweet and full of homely memories."
October 4 ---"Packed and were under way, long before dawn. Our road ran through Livry, Bouy. Suippes and, finally. Souain, after which we got into the former Boche lines. We passed prisoners, guns, camion and wagon camps and other signs of great activity. By seven o'clock we found ourselves in a wild, torn, ravaged country swarming with men, horses, trucks, guns, tanks, ambulances and huge piles of material of all kinds. We had to make a detour around an enormous mine crater (entonnoire) made by the Germans during their retreat. We found an abandoned German kitchen trailer which we promptly stripped of tools. We made temporary camp at the corner of the Souain-Tahure and Somme-Suippes roads. We carry our blanket roll and musette in our cars --- the heavier stuff having been stored at Suippes. There is a continual flow of traffic through the crossroads, including the swanky little one-man tanks and huge tractors --- the modern pageantry of war. But what a criminal waste of human energy!"
October 5 --- "'We broke camp and moved about 10 miles nearer the front. A rough road under continual repair by prisoners. Tremendous camps of horses, tanks both big and little, captured enemy guns; saucisses in profusion, the bang and crash of heavy artillery. Esquadrilles of bombers flew over us, as many as 6 in the air at once, and presently we heard the prolonged mutter of the exploding bombs --- the mobile artillery of the advancing army. Our division is already in the line and attacking. I am afraid it is not a success. There are no abris and everything is confusion. Allen's car was put out of commission by a piece of éclat through the crank case. I made trips all day and night. It was cold as the devil. We are beyond the previous war zone and the country is less shot up. It is a pleasant rolling land with pretty unexpected ravines, but still the 'Champagne pouilleux' and barren of habitation. Dead horses and Germans are frequent sights. The roads are free of shelling as the Boche fire is concentrated on the front line."
October 6 --- "Worked all day front a poste called Vallon d'Aure --- a little ravine fairly choked with guns. I have had to put cotton in my ears to endure the noise. Yesterday the division was unable to advance on account of the Boche machine gun emplacements and the casualties were high." (In fact in this tragic assault on the town of Orfeuil, the 130th Division suffered its greatest losses of the entire war.)
October 7 --- "A French observation plane was shot down in flames near me, but all three aviators jumped out in time to avoid even a slight burn. It is chilly business stamping around in the cold, damp darkness waiting for dawn. The infantry is the only branch of the army that is suffering in this offensive. I am haunted by the thought of those poor devils up front."
October 8 --- "This morning I was watching a battery of 155's firing when a great shout arose and what seemed like the whole French army rose up from unexpected places and ran toward me yelling. I was dumbfounded until I saw the cause of the disturbance--- a tiny bob-tailed rabbit that bounded past me... We moved camp again --- up to the Vallon d'Aure where our front line postes used to be. We have found a piste that enables us to bring our cars up to the regimental poste de secours 2 Km. further on, located in a poplar grove which also shelters (?) a battery of 105's . . . Cambrai has fallen and in front of Rheims the Monts also, and Nogent l'abbesse is surrounded. For the first time I can really imagine the possibility of the end of the war."
October 9 -- "The médecin chef of the 101st Regiment is 57 and wears 5 wound stripes, He is fearless and a tiger in his concern for the wounded. On this beautiful blue and gold day we were standing around watching the brancardiers going through the pockets of a dead soldier for his personal effects. The Boche were searching the sapling grove with 77's and creeping close to us. None of us dared make a move until the Captain gave the word. Finally a shell whistled over us and burst 100 ft. away. The Médecin Chef nodded and walked slowly off to his foxhole. The rest of us dove for the shallow holes we had dug. Sansonettti and I hit the same hole and my tail was still up in the air when a shell hit 10 ft. away. We sat crouched opposite each other with our heads down for over an hour and a half while the shelling lasted. Sansonetti has a comical face and, though I was far from happy, we had a good laugh at ourselves. It was odd to look up through the thin screen of gold and green leaves to the calm, blue sky.
October 11 ---"The Germans have retreated and we went up through the tiny village of Orfeuil --- just a half dozen houses, now battered to a pulp, along an east-west road. From a stone wall on the south side of the road the ground sloped down through an apple orchard to a wooded valley. It was up this slope that the 130ème had charged and the ground was littered with bodies in blue grey. Behind the stone wall was a row of shallow holes for machine guns and here the Germans lay. It was a scene out of the Civil War and terrible! There was no softening effect of time or weather on the destruction and the shell holes."
October 12 --- "The Germans have retreated behind the Aisne between Vouziers and Attigny. We made camp at a main crossroad (strangely without a village) 8 Km. and 13 Km. from these towns respectively, called Mazagran Farm. The retreat was well prepared, villages burned, telephone poles cut down, bridges blown up and ammunition dumps destroyed. The sky is hazy with the smoke of still burning villages. Hundreds of civilians are flocking into Mazagran carrying small bundles. Tears streamed down their faces as they told their pitiful stories to friendly soldiers. It is raining and it is a depressing scene."
October 13 --- "Followed the staff car in the rain and darkness through smouldering villages to a poste which I thought must be all the way to the frontier. I was loaded with assis who lifted me out of a shell hole I fell into. I lost my way twice and it took me 5 hours to get to triage ...Worked all day carrying wounded and sick from the poste at Marqueny. The roads are black with civilian refugees. This is the Dept. of the Ardennes.
The poste of the 101st is at Coegny from which we can look across the Aisne to the heights of Voncq and Terron which dominate our flat ground on this side. There was spasmodic German shelling all afternoon."
October 15 --- "The division was relieved last night and we have moved 20 Km. west to Hauviné where we have a very decent cantonment."
October 18 --- "We were ordered out of Hauviné on the grounds that it was out of our army into overcrowded Betheniville 2 Km. away. The order reached us in the evening so we had to pack and move in the dark. We were grateful for a bright moon. Went in Châlons and found the stores practically all bought out."
October 24 --- "We have had four wonderful bright, crisp fall days. The leaves are turned. The roads have sunk out of sight in mud from the recent rains, but even these glow with reflected color."
October 26 --- "Got nicked by a truck in Dontrien and just managed to creep home with a bent axle and crumbled wishbone. --- My first accident!"
October 29 ---"The division has gone back into line and we have moved to Leffincourt, 2 Km. west of Mazagran. Took the Méd Divisionaire on a tour of the postes through Coulommes, Chuffilly, Coegny. Loisy and back via Grivy and Quilly. The evacuations are luckily short --- only 10 Kin, to the hospital at Pauvres. I saw the secret orders for the attack probably tomorrow. In the order 101st, 124th and 130th, the division will attack across the Aisne between Voncq and Vandy with objectives of the woods of Voncq and Chesnes --- all advance of 10 Km. The great difficulty is crossing the Aisne. The bridge at Voncq is impossible and that at Vandy, though temporarily repaired, is heavily shelled. However, the Aisne can be waded in most places. At 10 P.M. I was sent out to an artillery poste between Coegny and Loisy in the center of the secteur. It took me an hour to go 7 Km., the road was so choked with trucks and wagons. The poste turned out to be nothing but an 'équipe' of 5 men from G.B.D. sitting in a ditch by the road and knowing as little about the location of the artillery postes as I did. This suited me and though I felt my car was rather exposed I soon fell asleep in it."
November 1 --- "Nate woke me up at 3:30 A.M. to make a trip to a poste of the 130th beyond Vrizy on the river. The Boche were watering the countryside and gave me a bad hour. The American barrage started at 4 to our right and our own started an hour later while I was at Pauvres. I went back through Grivy and found the brancardiers digging holes in the ditch so I pitched in and helped them. In the midst of it, shells began to fall and for an hour and a half we crouched unhappily in die ditch trying to appear unconcerned. They were searching for the battery in some trees a few hundred yards off and find it they did for as the fire slackened, horses and wagons and men burst forth from the underbrush in great cold confusion Many of the horses had bloody, gaping wounds and across one of- time caissons was a dead man. The convoy turned off across the fields leaving one wagon in a ditch in their hurry and the dead man and 5 wounded with us. The shelling was still going on, but we loaded the blessés and I took them to the poste at Grivy and returned. After another trip, the shelling had diminished and I decided to sleep in my car."
November 3 --- "Got up at 5 to take the Méd. Div. across the Aisne by the bridge at Voncq. The Aisne flows in a flat green valley a kilometer wide between hills that are steepest on the far side. The valley is partially flooded and it is difficult to distinguish the course of the stream. The canal flows along the western or left bank between lines of poplars. The road crosses the valley on a low embankment cut by bridges over the canal and stream. A breeze blew softly across the water making diamonds in the bright sunlight and sending little waves that lapped cheerily against the embankment. The background was brilliant with fall coloring and the reds and greys of hilltop towns. But nearby were wrecked houses, black holes beside or in the road and an occasional huddled figure in the ditch.
Beside the blown bridges great bundles of withes had been thrown so that the water could flow through them. (I remember from the commentaries that this was how Caesar used to cross rivers.) Rocks had been piled on top and, with help of the engineers repairing the bridge, we managed to pass over this detour with the car being practically carried across. We zigzagged up to the deserted and badly destroyed town of Voncq and explored the countryside looking for regimental postes. At Les Alleux we ran into a front line machine gun poste and did a quick demi-tour. We had to recross the river and came back over the bridge at Vandy ---another tough crossing. We finally reached Terron between Voncq and Vandy and learned that the Boche were in full retreat and the postes were to be advanced. The Méd. Div. decided to establish an auto service on the east bank and have the wounded carried across the river by Boche prisoners. We could not cross with a load; indeed nothing motorized but our Ford ambulances could get across at all. After I returned tile Boche shelled the Vandy bridge straight down the valley from the north. At 10 P.M. I got a trip in from Vrizy. It was raining hard. Coming back, my engine froze near Quilly and I gave up and went to sleep in my car. It was the first time I failed to get back somehow to my poste and I feel guilty."
It was also his last trip under fire. On November 7 the division came out of line and the section moved 20 miles west to the town of Neuflize, "Billeted in the second story of a large brick brewery --- very comfortable with stoves. The papers report the departure from Berlin of German parlementaires. It probably means the signing of an armistice in a few days but, strange to say, no one can seem to get up any honest enthusiasm over the news. Probably our imaginations are not large enough to picture the end of the war."
November 10 --- "We keep a car at each of the regiments and 3 at triage in the woods near Pont-Faverger with evacuations to Rheims, Louvois and Epernay. Had a glorious swift ride to Rheims along splendid roads --- my first intimate glimpse of the city after months within view of it. It is terribly battered; the lanes of barbed wire in the wide quiet avenues are most incongruous. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to see the Cathedral. We rode home in the moonlight remembering the city grey and dignified under a rose and gold sky... The papers tonight say the Kaiser has abdicated and that revolution is general in Germany. Whatever elation I noticed was quiet or suppressed. However the details of the exchange of telegrams by wireless on the subject of the envoys were dramatic and also the description of the passage of the plenipotentiaries through the lines."
November 11 --- "Hostilities ceased this morning at 11 o'clock. Marshal Foch's terse order was posted at seven o'clock in front of the mairie. At last, wild, joyous enthusiasm has broken down the final barriers of caution born of 4 years of false hopes. Men yelled and shouted and sang. The strain is over. . . We had a celebration in the evening with the usual run of speeches. etc."
November 12 --- "On corvée. Changed the spring on my car in the afternoon. A blue and gold Indian summer day."
On this appropriate note the diary ends. The next day he went on permission to stay near friends of relatives at St. Dinard near St. Malo. He was driven into Rheims and entertained enthusiastically at the motor Parc. He left at one o'clock to walk across the city to the railroad station under a full moon. He was standing in the Place admiring the tortured beauty of the Cathedral behind Joan hidden in her sand bags, when he was accosted by two well-oiled French soldiers who were former inhabitants returning for the first time. Then progress to the Station was a sentimental journey, punctuated by childhood reminiscences and 'O La Las' and 'Mon Dieus' and 'figure toi, mon vieux'. As we turned the corner, the railroad station presented a scene of Saturnalia. Great bonfires had been built of beams torn from the wrecked houses. Soldiers were dancing around waving bottles. The walled champagne cellar had been broken into. His friends took him down into one and insisted he share the hospitality of the town. One staggered up the steep flights with an armful of bottles. He would knock the head off one with a rock and pour the contents over his face and wide-open mouth. At four, a train pulled in and creaked out at five with a sodden load. He looked at dirty, unshaven faces around him, ghastly in the grey dawn, as it were in a mirror.
The friends of friends were a fascinating family. Father had been a high official in India and somewhere the boy heard there had been a scandal of some sort so that he preferred not to return to England. His wife was Polish and the indiscretion may well have been hers. The American fell in love with the daughter Zosia. There were brothers and friends, including the celebrated Polish painter, Tadé Styka and there were picnics and boat rides. He had a room in a pension at Paramé and the walks home alone in the fading moonlight were full of romantic thoughts.
But the whole episode faded to a dream when he returned to the section which was now stationed at Poix-Terron, 15 Km. south of Mézières-Charleville, former Headquarters of the Crown Prince. They visited his chateau and bought photographs taken during the occupation, one proudly showing a square empty of civilians while a German band played. His thoughts turned to self-improvement in preparation for a post-war world. He read widely, wrote what he hoped was but knew was not poetry, and even took a correspondence course in Pelmanism. The cycliste of the 130th Vernhet, who became his life-long friend, recently (1968) reminded him of the notebook into which he wrote "pensées élevées --- afterwards wisely discarded.
The section moved up to Bruxelles in December passing through Givet of infamous memory. Here a plaque commemorates the massacre of the inhabitants on August 20, 1914, a preview of Ouradour in all its horrifying details.
Three weeks in Bruxelles with no work was demoralizing. The city was gay and full of night life. There was a musical show entitled "Ouf! ils sont partis!"
In January the section was reunited with the Division, strangely stationed in the British zone of occupation. The section moved through Liège and Aachen (where the only products for sale were pickles and Pebeco toothpaste) to the village of Grevenbroich, located in the dreary flat sugar beet country of Westphalia --midway between Cologne and Dusseldorf. The boys went into Cologne, ate fish from the Rhine and drank acorn coffee in the best restaurant on Cathedral Square; admired the spit and polish of the British officers and the guards at Headquarters across the place. They also noted with disdain the American flags in the buttonholes of the burghers of Cologne.
The French, to protect the morale of their troops, equipped them and the section with ample supplies of pinard for this venture into the enemy's country. The section received a huge tonneau which was barely squeezed into one ambulance. On the way back to Paris discipline completely disappeared. Tubes were run into the cask and out through holes bored in the sides. At stops, the drivers lined up was to see if you could run up like suckling pigs to a sow. Afterwards, the sport was to see if you could run up close beside the car in front and by violently turning your wheel to the left, shove your overhang into him and push him in the ditch.
It was a sorry looking bunch of cars that straggled into Versailles in February. The White truck and the kitchen trailer had been abandoned. The drivers were in nearly as poor shape as the cars and their spirits were not improved by an order that the cars had to pass a rigid inspection before the drivers could leave for repatriation. But somehow the job was done and one day the convoy drove to a great field northwest of Paris where already thousands of trucks and staff cars and ambulances were lined up in mathematically straight lines. Hoods were raised and gloved hands inspected for dirt. Of the 20 cars that left Paris, nearly two years before, only 2 were in the hands of their original drivers, the diarist and Powell Robinson.
At the personnel center outside Tours, the first taste of the life of an American army private proved uncongenial to the sheltered ambulancier who had shared the mess of French colonels. He discovered that the army was obligated to return soldiers to their place of enlistment --- in his case, Jouy-en-Argonne. Through a happy error in previous transfer of funds from home, he was well supplied for the fare home and a harassed captain gave him his discharge, including railroad fare to Jouy.
Back in Paris he dug out his old ambulance uniform and spent a happy month, riding in the Bois de Boulogne in the morning and taking in theaters, including several visits to the now famous musical "Phi-Phi" which is periodically revived and has been called the Gilbert and Sullivan opera of France.
On April 19, 1918, the S.S. Rochambeau deposited him back in America.