IN the preceding chapters there has often been mentioned the days that followed the Cease-Fire on all Fronts: Belgium --- France ---Italy. Nothing much was said about the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month! To many, this was a moment for celebration---but to the soldier, no better words have been or ever will be written than those we have been privileged to quote on the opposite page. This feeling relates to the position of the individual at the precise moment of the cease-fire. The ambulance driver whose section was in the thick of battle in the Argonne had work to do even at eleven o'clock on November 11. There was a feeling of relief, but no celebration for the moment. Then in the north, in Belgium, the Armistice found an ambulance working in the area of Roulers, the great railroad center. That city had come out fairly well, as had Courtrai. The Germans had occupied these rail centers as important links in their supply lines to the south. In the words of one ambulance driver of Section 509: "We were at our advanced poste at Wacken, when we heard that an Armistice had been signed. We saw a French plane fly over the little town and do a barrel roll and other stunts before landing in a field nearby. We later found out that the pilot was the son of the Mayor of Wacken. This was his way of showing his rejoicing in being able to rejoin his family. There was some celebrating by the soldiers. The civilians were too weakened by their hunger to show any extended celebration, as this had been occupied territory for so many years. We were working in the area for several days following the Armistice and as the food situation was so serious, some additional ambulance sections were sent in to help us haul provisions out to the surrounding starving towns and villages."
If you had listened then I guess you'd
In Paris it was different, as Paris always was. From a former member of the American Field Service, who later joined the United States Army Ambulance Service, we have this account of the events on November 11, 1918:
"I went downtown to do some errands in my unofficial capacity of errand boy for those not in Paris. Already people were marching about the streets, usually with a band at the head of the procession. One of these groups had halted to serenade some one in front of the Continental.
"As I came back to the office I met 'The Crab' coming out of the yard. 'Don't go in,' he said, Everyone has gone out except the non-coms and if you go in you will queer the bunch.' Accordingly we repaired to the corner cafe, where we found most of our crowd with the girls from the French offices, all apparently engaged in making Paris a safe place for the Prohibitionists. I am here to state that before we left they had made considerable progress.
"About four o'clock those of us who were in unofficial charge, decided that we had better take the truck for our return to the barracks. By the time we reached the Bastille, people began to climb into the truck---poilus, women, street urchins, everyone. When we turned into the Boulevard, we had such a load that the truck could barely crawl along. Never have I seen such crowds. If you could imagine the jam after a Harvard-Yale game multiplied by about a million, you might have some idea of what we saw down the Boulevard as far as the eye could reach. The main difference here was that both teams had won.
"Long before we reached Rue Ganneron, all of the top on the camion had been broken off . . .All law and order seemed dispensed with for two days. From the barracks, I walked to the Boulevards and then down some distance below the Opera. I stopped at a popular American bar. Men were stationed at the two entrances, to let in a certain number at a time, from two long lines. I decided that it was hardly worth while, so I walked back to a Montmartre restaurant for dinner without an apéritif. (Editor's note- What manner of man was he?)
"After dinner I walked to the Boulevards again and down to Concorde. There I found the street gamins pushing trench mortars about as if they had been toys. In front of the Opéra, the crowd had stopped a baby Peugeot containing two officers and were pushing it back and forth as one does an express wagon, to amuse two children, I saw Mme. Marthe Chenal in her famous 'Marseillaise' costume singing the national anthem. I say, I 'saw' advisedly, for from near the entrance to the Métro where I stood, not a sound of that voice which has called forth so much eloquence, could be heard.
"Just to see the long-darkened boulevards ablaze with light again was enough to intoxicate me. (And even without a drink?) People who have seen New York's Times Square on New Year's Eve, and New Orleans at Mardi Gras, declare that they were tame in comparison. On all sides one heard cries of 'Vive L'Amérique!' 'Vive L'Angleterre!' 'Vive la France!' Sometimes a procession would come along carrying an effigy of the Kaiser hung from a pole. The head was usually that of a pig. Others carried colored lanterns.
"At roll call two days later, the Captain reminded us that we were once more in the Army."
"Out of the mud and waste and desolation of the countryside and away from the gay streets of Paris and with heads hanging low with fatigue, the convoy took us through Soisson as we entered the roads toward Alsace. And what a convoy it was, from the highland of the Champagne! Never did the old "Voitures Ford" seem to run better--- and certainly never did they run faster! Our Division was headed for the area of Occupation. This took place all along the Western Front, as shown by the accompanying map. Some passed through areas they had visited before in retreat, or in an advance. "Through Vitry-le-François, Saint-Dizier, and Domremy-la-Pucelle, the birthplace of Jeanne d'Arc, with a rendezvous near Neufchâteau."
This report from a member of Section 636 is so typical of the period of "Occupation," that it should bring memories to many.
"Then over the undulations of the lower Vosges, to Darnay, where we waited during several cold days while the Division was organized for the march. Then convoy again to Remiremont, set like a ruby in the emerald valley of the Upper Moselle; and long grades toward the crest of the Vosges, the watershed separating the Rhine from streams flowing down into France . . . . The crest is reached at the Col de Bussang. The tunnel under the mountain marks the frontier.
"What a view as we emerged on the other side! We are in country conquered by the French in the early days of the war . . . . In the range of mountains across the valley before us is the famous Hartmannsweilerkopf, captured and held by the French after a terrible struggle . . . . A stop is made at Wesserling, one of the beautiful resort towns, then on down the valley through Saint-Amarin and along the Thur River into Thann, with its noted church decorated with so many strange medieval figures and inscriptions. Although close behind the lines, Thann has not been shelled much.
"After passing Thann, we are out of the mountains. . . into the low valley of the Upper Rhine. Passing through Cernay, or Sennheim as the Germans called it, we arrive at Soultz, the first populated town we have reached in the part of Alsace held by the Germans. The town is decorated with Alsatian and Allied flags. Here and there is an American flag---homemade. The stripes vary in any direction and the stars in number, but the sentiment was there.
"The people run out into streets and stare curiously. We are besieged by children, and have the curious sensation of hearing the whole of the conversation about us being carried on in German. 'Amerikaner! Amerikaner!' they cry. The children are most of them wearing old Boche fatigue caps and other cast-off articles of German military clothing . . . . We listen to tales of the German revolution during the period after the Armistice; the taming of haughty officers; the manipulations of the 'Soldatenrat;' the march back toward the Fatherland with hands playing the 'Marseillaise,' and soldiers shouting 'The war is gained for the German people'!"
We reported the capture of an ambulance man from Section 502 in an earlier chapter, and now we read where this section moved up with their Division to Strasbourg, which was one of the prisoner-of-war exchange points, and here they saw their section-mate standing on a corner. He wore a French beret, a blue coat and khaki pants. When the Germans found that this man was an electrician, he was treated well and given many jobs to do. He was picked-up about January 1 or 2, 1919.
For a report on the Armistice on the Italian Front, we do not have any official declarations for quotation. It would appear that the rout of the Austrian forces precipitated the Central Powers suing for a cease-fire. Word leaked out through many rumors, and this incident which we mentioned in the preceding chapter, did reach the Front line troops.
Events such as this, which have come from a report sent in by an ambulance driver, do happen, even under the very best plans laid for secrecy and military security. We quote from a letter describing how it happened:
"Those of us who had been on day and night duty near the top of Mt. Grappa, and through the beginning of the last big drive, to the time the Austrians decided to leave for Vienna, were relieved of that duty and assigned to various posts where there was not much activity. The night of November 3rd, I drew a Medical Station out on the plain, arriving just in time to sit in on the evening bull session before turning in for the night. There were some Italian, German, Austrian, and Hungarian wounded in the building, as this was a combination receiving and dispatching area. Shortly after nine p.m., a Red Cross officer came running into the room where we were. He seemed very excited and blurted out 'The Armistice will be on at 4 p.m. tomorrow.' As soon as we had recovered, there was a chorus of--- 'How do you know?' He said more calmly, 'I know the telegraph operator. We were sitting in his station talking and listening for the keys to bring in any message for operations. Suddenly he stopped talking and listened to a message coming over the wire--- a message for General Lombardy, announcing that an Armistice would take effect at 4 p.m. the next day. I do not read telegraph key code and wondered why he was so excited and then he turned to me and burst forth---'It said the Armistice is coming, the Armistice is coming at 4 p.m. tomorrow,' and kept repeating it over and over. The Italians in the room were very hostile and critical of his remarks, while the others smiled but had nothing to say, as far as I could understand.
"The next morning, I reported back to the base at Borso and told the incident to our Commanding Officer. He was amazed and hurried out of the office. On returning, our Captain said the Italian Colonel was furious and wanted to have me put under arrest. However, all I had done was report what I heard. That afternoon I was again assigned to the Medical Station at the foot of the Teleferica in Borso. Shortly after 1 o'clock, out came the Colonel and his staff and I really got a bawling out. Then the Colonel slowed down when I suggested it was nearing 4 o'clock and why not wait and see. At that hour, the Colonel again showed up with his staff, and with much excited talk went away with no word to me. That night the valley was filled with great bonfires!"
In the evening, the swell of the sound of cheering could be heard for many miles along the Piave Valley. There also fails to appear any formal plan of occupation, and our only report is that story, related in the preceding chapter, covering the mad dash across the Friuli-Venezia to Monfalcone, and the northern tip of the Gulf of Venice, to occupy the cities of Trieste and Gorizia. The Italians, of course, always claimed this area a part of their country and therefore would not represent an Army of Occupation, in the same sense as the Armies which moved into Germany. The only story of any significance, covering a march into occupied Italian territory, comes from a section in the Ambulance Service. It was well written account appearing first in the "Ambulance Service News," in a humorous vein.
"Robert Louis Stevenson, in his wildest romancing, never had anything to equal the adventures of three ambulance men and a Red Cross lieutenant who followed the Austrian Army in its retreat up the Brenta Valley. They joined in the triumphant parade which King Vittorio Emanuele III made into Trento, which had been under Austrian rule for 40 years.
"When the flight of the Austrian Army was in progress, the United States Army Ambulance Service men were entitled to leaves, according to the Italian Army regulations. However, before these orders were received, these three ambulance men obtained a 24 hour pass and decided they would like to visit the occupied city of Trento, where the Brenta River joined with the Adige River.
"According to their story, the first 24 hours were the most unpleasant, as they traveled on empty stomachs and slept the night on shutters, with one overcoat between them for covering. After leaving Bassano del Grappo, the first town they hit was Chismon, where they explored an Austrian ammunition dump, which had been further augmented by passing Austrian troops who had unloaded their tin hats, knives, rifles, and bayonets. From Chismon, they managed to inveigle an Italian staff officer into taking them part way. When they were unloaded by the officer, they attached themselves to a regiment whose commander assured them that he did not know whether he was going into battle or into billet. The trio assured the officer that either one suited them, just so long as they reached Trento. You can imagine their surprise when the next town they hit was labeled Borgo, instead of the capital city.
"Nothing daunted next morning, they tore themselves loose from their shutters and started off breakfastless for Trento, which they were sure was just around the next bend in the valley. However the next bend produced the town of Pergine-Valsugana. It had its good point, in that they were able to lunch at a Dutch Inn on food left behind by some Austrian officers, the day before. The meal cost them their bank roll but not their enthusiasm about reaching Trento. The party had now added another member, in the person of a Red Cross Lieutenant, whose ideas on the location of Trento were even more vague than those of the ambulance men.
"From Pergine things began to look up. On this road they passed through what was left to prove two armies had gone before. The evidence consisted of 'broken down camions , . a rich field of trophies. These 'trophies' included four horses, rather the worse for wear and tear, but still fit for further service. Into Trento went the four horsemen, tired, weary, and hungry. Being American, they headed for what appeared to be the best and largest hotel in the city. The King, however, had beat them to it and reserved the whole thing for himself and his retinue, so that they were obliged to go to the next best, where they were told only officers were allowed to register. After a conference it was agreed that three of them should be officers and the fourth an orderly. Coins were tossed to decide who should be the orderly. The interest in this little flip of the coin was great, for the loser had to sleep in the stable with the horses. The issue settled, the winners took their rooms.
"Learning of the Royal pageant the next day and remembering their parading in Allentown, the four wandering Americans declared themselves 'in' on the celebration and fell in line aboard their seagoing horses just behind the King. All along the line of march there was loud cheering. The King, of course, thought it was in his honor, but the four Americans were serious in their declaration that much of it was for them.
"In the meantime, back at the Section base all was intense. The overdue ambulance men were envisioned mangled on some mountain side, blown to hits by some 'souvenir,' when in rode the three missing men. What to do with the horses was their chief problem, but the Italian Army graciously accepted their gift. The Commanding Officer of their Section awarded the men for their bravery- --and absence without leave--- in the form of 30 days on the wood pile, along with the usual sanitary chores. Needless to say, the whole story did not come out until their period of punishment had ended."
Without any confirmation, our research has disclosed that some men who had taken part in "Good-Bye Bill" impersonated officers after the Contingent had left for Italy, and when it was found that they disobeyed the order to leave their "officer" uniforms behind, they were transferred from their section and denied the awarding of the Italian War Cross. Some indicated this a severe reprimand!
One of the destroyers of soldier morale is inactivity, and early in his experience with the men of the Ambulance Service, Colonel Persons had already surrounded himself with officers who were equipped to keep the men out of trouble. His main help in this respect was his Executive Officer, Lt. Col. C.P. Franklin. Even before the fighting at the Front had come to an end, Col. Franklin had set the wheels in motion by calling together the men from each section who had made up the Jazz Band in the Kernell-Fechheimer show, "Good-Bye Bill." These men had in most eases brought along their instruments, and in fact had entertained with the Oberlin College Octette on board the "Joe Green." There certainly was no dearth of talent in the whole Italian Contingent. The Mechanics Detachment had a "Barbershop Quartet." (Some said better at singing than at fixing GMCs) which were booked for entertainment in many towns and hamlets throughout Italy, and came to fame even in the Genoa Opera House. This quartet was made up of Stanley Bates, tenor; Myles Standish, lead; Ralph Smith, baritone; and Clarence Bates, bass.
To go on with the story of the American talent in Italy, we quote from a folder received, "The Società Italiana di Fonolipia dedicate this catalogue of Italo-American propaganda Programme to the United States Ambulance Service with the Italian Army, as a mark of gratitude for the kind and valuable assistance obtained through the courtesy of Colonel E. E. Persons and Lt. Colonel C. P. Franklin, Chairman of the Entertainment Committee." This company, with headquarters in Milano, put out a special collection of records containing 20 numbers by the Oberlin College Octette, and 6 numbers by the Octette with the Italian 7th Infantry Regiment Band. The leader of the Octette was Valentine W. Gerrish. In this same collection of records there were 18 numbers by the American Jazz Band (U.S. Army Ambulance Service), whose director was Charles W. Hamp.
We have an on-the-spot account of this famous Jazz Band: "A Lt. Van Doren (who With Meadows was commissioned while aboard the Giuseppe Verdi) at the suggestion of Sergeant Hamp, who was at Headquarters in Mantova, propositioned Lt. Colonel Franklin to recall the men in the Jazz Band from their various sections, and after equipping them and rehearsing in Milano, to make a tour of Italy as guests of the State Department, just to let the Italians know there were American soldiers in Italy. The Consul at Como engineered this with the State Department. Some of the fellows were reluctant to leave their sections, and this character (Van Doren), who acted as liaison, had to use his best salesmanship on one in particular. All of this took time.
"The problem of finances arose--- who was going to foot the bill? This was solved in Treviso where in the company of a London Daily Mail reporter named White, an American reporter named Hemingway, we met a YMCA secretary named Pepin from Detroit. Pepin called his headquarters in Paris, France, and secured permission to spend 20,000 Lire for our expenses.
"We arrived in Milano on that fateful day, November 11, 1918, and the people were mad with joy. None of us had a button on our tunics when we, in the wee small hours, finally made it to our hotel. We augmented our equipment in Milano as some of us played more than one instrument. We rehearsed some more and then played in the hospitals for convalescents in the area around Lago Como and several very large charity bazaars in Milano. Our own ambulance sections were first on the official tour. Every section was visited and some had moved up pretty close to Trieste.
"We then had our only chance to see Venice on this trip, and we played 'Down in Honky Town,' going under the Rialto Bridge in two big gondolas tied together. Thus we fulfilled a vow made on the old Giuseppe Verdi long months before. Then back to Milano for some recordings for the Società Italiana di Fonolipia. It was on one of these trips into Milano that the band was invited to the home of La Contessa Jeannette dal Verme, where we played, danced, and drank through a very pleasant evening. I can't remember the names of the guests at the dance, but I do know one was a princess; and we all took a turn with her.
"Our tour then took us to Turino, Firenze, (with a side trip for some to Pisa), on to Rome where that lovable couple, Ambassador Page and his beautiful wife, took us under their wings and saw that every wish of ours was satisfied. And so on to Napoli. In all these places we played to the convalescents, the poor, the, opulent, young, old, and the nobility. The only one we missed was the Pope! This was a new experience for the Italian people with American dance and jazz music, and although many did not understand the words of the songs, they loved their rhythms, the humor, and the lonesomeness of a blues tune.
"We crossed over to the Adriatic Coast--- where the most memorable stop was at Foggia, a U.S. Naval Air Contingent, who had had no mail since they moved in there in August of 1917, and seemed to be forgotten men. The Italian Tour ended with our playing at Rimini, Ravenna and Bologna.
"Mr. Pepin was so enthusiastic with the reception we had received, and Colonel Franklin who joined us for the Florence and Rome part of the trip, was so immensely pleased, that Pepin, with Franklin's blessing, began to look around for other worlds to conquer. So on December 21, 1918, the United States Army Ambulance Service Jazz Band, Detached, arrived at the Gare de Lyon in Paris. Our headquarters was the YMCA in Paris, and with that as a hub, we became the spokes to reach out to all points where there were American troops, except the Riviera. About April 1919, we suet at St. Aignan and were discharged from the army and joined the YMCA at $166.00 per month and expenses, and traveled far and wide to nearly every country, playing in hospitals and at state functions. We had had enough by August and returned to the States as civilians."
The quotations above were taken from letters from two members of this Jazz Band, and if they read about their travels, they will have to make allowances for the Editor's liberties in combining the two. The fact that many men have said they heard the American Jazz Band, it is well to clear up here the point that there were a total of three jazz bands within the United States Army Ambulance Service. One was a Jazz Band incorporated in the Kernell- Fechheimer show, "Good-Bye Bill," which had its run in America before the Italian Contingent left for overseas. Then the American Jazz Band was formed in Italy and was sponsored by the YMCA, but played in Italy and France while still in the ambulance service. The third Jazz Band was a part of the great Kernell-Fechheimer show produced in France, entitled, "Let's Go!" Before we tell the story of the "Let's Go!" show, we feel it is only fair to identify the men who made up the American Jazz Band:
R. C. Mustarde, violin; Doc Neale, bass viol; Pat Emerick, drums; Chuck Barlow, banjo; Norm Kennedy, banjo; Charlie Keck, viola; Charlie Paulik, violin; Art Decker, vocal; Allen Mattox, ukulele; Charlie Hamp, piano, sax, vocal and leader.
After Italy, a lovely 'Y" girl named Cornelia O'Dell joined the French tour and later married Norm Kennedy.
Of course, those who saw it and certainly those who were in the show (and many men were in both USAAC shows) seem to agree with Bill Kernell and Dick Fechheimer that "Let's Go!' was their finest. Even with tunes carried over from "Good-Bye Bill," there was a zest about the music and lyrics which could only have come with the feeling of Paris and the whole culmination of a job well done. Peace and joy had again come to the French. America had had a hand in it, though late, but not too little. Who could resist- --"Just a little touch of Paris makes the whole world smile, makes life worth while!" ... or "In the Latin Quarter, days somehow seem shorter, time rolls merrily along, .." or "When Mademoiselle Eiffel Tower chats with Miss Liberty, on through those miles of space, this world's one happy place . . ." or "For France, for France, for France, there's nothing that we would not do for France. . ." or "Somewhere in America, she's waiting for you, waiting to see your smile. . ." and the finale, "Let's Go! Everybody's happy. Let's Go! Make it good and snappy. . ." Such words put to music, which only a Bill Kernell could compose, thrilled thousands and thousands of soldiers and Frenchmen alike.
In the words of the Programme, it was "A Martial, Mirthful, Musical Barrage in Six Volleys!" And in the Programme's "Foreword," written by Colonel Percy L. Jones, M.C., Chief of the Service, he wrote, "The United States Army Ambulance Service with the French Army, recruited principally from the American colleges and universities, was practically America's advance guard on the Western Front. Throughout the eighteen months that the majority of the men have intimately mingled in pleasures and struggles with the stocky little poilus, a mutual friendship has gradually ripened into a real and undying affection. France has shown her appreciation of the devotion of all Ambulance men by decorating a very large majority of the personnel of the Service for extraordinary courage. 'Let's Go!' attempts to portray in lyrical form, some of the incidents on which this Franco-American friendship is based. But no matter how much you may enjoy and appreciate them, they can never adequately express, but merely indicate, the real feeling for their conception."
Following rehearsals outside of Paris, the show went on the road, playing to packed houses opening in Tours, a week's run at the Theatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, then visiting the concentrated troop areas such as Saint-Nazaire. Bordeaux, Nevers, Dijon. Aix le Bains, Nice, and sketches at Brest--- and on the U.S.S. St. Louis on their way home, the troupe helped to produce. "From Brest to Broadway."
Pvts. W. W. Winfield, C. C. Eberle, A. Garland, H. E. McReynolds, P. Putnam, Chalmers. Leader --- Sgt. Marvin W. Severn
Sgts. L. Ellsworth, E. J. Krick, Pvts. W. E. Dolan, R. Durney, M. Farley, M. Jacobsen, G. Petterson, E. L. Schofield, S. DeRemer, W. E. Votruba, A. B. Jones, G. H. Moyer, G. Schauffler, H. G. Schauffler, E. M. Bandel, F. Derrick, S. Kaiser, A. Jacobson.
Conductors --- Pvt. W. Winfield, Pvt. W. Lewis
Sgt. C. Connor, R. Pease; Corp. J. D. Moore; Mech. M. Clark, J. Smucker, W. Witt, J. Zak; Pvts. D. Bachman, J. Blynn, L. Bromfield, G. Brooks, J. Buffington, H. Colford, M. Dibelka, A. Foster, H. Fellows, J. Green, H. Huncilman, P. Hunter, H. Jewett, H. Killikelly, T. Kimes, C. Landon, R. McGinnis, C. Morgan, J. Mullin, R. Ogden, J. Sinzheimer, O. Strong, G. Thatcher, C. Thompson, B. Wicks, D. Bartholomew, F. Everitt, H. Koopman, D. Richardson, W. Johnson,
Chorus directed by Pvt. C. M. King
What could follow the show, "Let's Go!" more naturally than HOME. But the demobilization was in no way connected with the show, "Let's Go!" Your Editors of this history of the Service used this as an appropriate way to get into the subject of the next report, taken from the volumes of the "Medical Department's History in the World War." Although sometimes referred to "as rather dry reading," it does nevertheless add authenticity to matters which have often been misquoted or entirely forgotten. Quote:
"Within five months after the signing of the Armistice, over one-half of the United States Army Ambulance Service had been demobilized and plans had been made for the demobilization of the remainder. Yet the work of the sections by no means ended on November 11, 1918. As has been pointed out, many sections moved into Germany and some crossed the Rhine with the French Army of Occupation. But within a few months it was possible to call in those which had accompanied French Divisions into Germany. They were replaced by the new sections which had arrived in France late in November. Through such replacements, it was possible to arrange that all sections which had seen war service were assured of a speedy return to America. Plans were also worked out with the French so that the new sections were relieved by French "Regular Army" units late in the spring of 1919, allowing even the sections which had come over after the Armistice to return before mid-summer of that year. As for demobilization of those sections operating in France, we quote the following:
"Plans for demobilization were made so that all preparations for transport to America and for discharge were made within the ambulance service itself. The base camp proved to be a place ideally fitted for demobilization purposes, and it was there that the sections from the front were prepared for discharge. Ambulances, however, were turned over locally to the Motor Transport Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces, which corps also took over all the other transportation of the ambulance service.
"Sections, relieved of their automobile equipment, arrived at the base camp with only personal property and the section records. Here the men were put through the disinfesting process and issued standard Medical Department equipment.
"All individual records and section records were straightened out at the base camp at the same time the men were being put through the various processes prescribed for all units previous to embarkation. When the sections left the camp, they did so with a clean bill of health and with all the section funds and records attended to. Here, efficient work by sections was in great measure responsible for the smoothness with which the ambulance service's demobilization program worked out in conjunction with the embarkation system of the American Expeditionary Forces.
"On January 30, 1919, it was announced that 10 sections would be sent home in February and 20 sections each month thereafter until the whole service had been demobilized. Before the end of March, 56 sections either had gone through the base camp, homeward bound, or they were ready and awaiting transportation at Brest. Demobilization was hastened very largely because it was apparent that the sections could be prepared for going home much more quickly than had been expected. The real need for them at the front had ceased as soon as the French demobilized their temporary divisions and were thus enabled to handle their own transportation problems to a much greater extent than had previously been the case. After the middle of April, 1919, no sections remained in the field that had seen service at the front previous to the signing of the armistice. The newer sections continued to serve until May, most of them being located with the French divisions along the Rhine. The character of the work changed after the armistice, sickness being practically the sole cause for evacuation. With the lessening of the need for transportation of patients it was now possible in some cases for one ambulance section to do the work for two divisions. Withdrawal from the French Army was carefully carried out by the sections, and in no case was interruption in the transportation of patients permitted to occur.
"Many of the men who entered the Army Ambulance Service in France took advantage of a general order which permitted them to be discharged in Europe. These men, with their completed records, were sent from the base camp to the St. Aignan discharge camp. As a matter of fact, the old volunteer sections all had a limited number of their original personnel still in the service when they arrived at the base camp, and many of these men desired to stay in Europe. Relatively, more men in the United States Army Ambulance Service were affected by the order permitting discharge in Europe than was the case with any other organization of the American Expeditionary Forces.
"The first contingent to leave for America sailed from Brest on March 15, 1919. Ten sections, five of them from the first Allentown units and five more from the old volunteer service, were included in this contingent. They were those numbered: 501, 509, 546, 586, 594, 627, 629, 631, 635, and 642.
"The second returning contingent, composed of the following 10 sections, left Brest only 5 days later, on March 20: 517, 523, 539, 551, 558, 592, 593, 628, 630, and 641.
"On March 26, a contingent, composed of the following 14 sections, left the same port: 504, 510, 512, 525, 552, 553, 625, 626, 632, 633, 634, 636, 638, and 646.
"The remainder of the veteran sections sailed in contingents varying in size from 10 to 25 sections, and all were out of France before the end of April, 1919.
"Parks were called in as rapidly as the decreasing number of sections at the front permitted, and their personnel was sent back with the returning sections. The chief of service effected arrangements whereby the remaining repair parks would he disbanded at the same time their sections were released from divisions. The Chalons park was the last to be discontinued, for because of its advantageous location, it afforded excellent repair facilities to sections en route to the base camp for demobilization.
"As previously stated, after the veteran sections had been released, it was found that it would be possible to demobilize the new sections, which had been utilized to replace the old ones, earlier than had been previously scheduled, so this was done. Ten of these sections were released on April 25, 10 on May 1, and the remaining 10 on May 5. This permitted the United States Army Ambulance Service to be practically out of France by the last of May, 1919."
For news of the demobilization of the Italian Contingent Sections under the command of Colonel E. E. Persons, there seems to have been clamped upon it some censorship restrictions. The Medical Department History brings their report of the sections working with the Italian and American troops to an abrupt close, with this statement already quoted in Chapter Five, and repeated in part herewith: ". . . transport . . continued uninterruptedly until late in March 1919, when the ambulance sections were withdrawn and assembled in Genoa, to sail for America." Not even in the pages of the "Ambulance Service News" could we find a date for sailing. There was a box notice on the front page of the February 20, 1919, issue of "Ambulance Service News" entitled, "How to Notify the Folks When You Sail." Quote: "A memorandum issued at Headquarters . . tells how soldiers may notify their folks when they sail . . . can have a letter mailed to his home by Mayor Reichenbach of Allentown, on the day that we sail from Italy. Your letter in an addressed envelope, having it censored by your Section Commander, except that you must put a three-cent stamp on the envelope . . . On March 1, 1919, these letters will be sent to Mayor for forwarding . . on the day of . . . sailing he will be notified by cable... Your letters must reach Mantova by March 1, 1919."
The only reason given for this procedure through censors was found in an obscure paragraph in a letter unearthed in an old Bulletin which stated: "Our evacuation from Italy was indeed a hurry-up affair. When the army learned that President Wilson would probably agree some division of territory in a way that would disappoint the Italians, we were given 10 days to assemble troops from all over Italy in Genoa for embarkation." This proved to he a wise move, as it did expedite the contingent's sailing on the Italian Liner, Duca Degli Abruzzi, on April 7, 1919. This unusual departure from Italy may account for the fact that we have been unable to turn up a farewell statement to his men by Col. Persons. But then it is also possible that the United States Army Medical Department is being ignored, which has always seemed traditional with military historians. We could find no copy of Col. Person's report referred to over and over again in the Medical Department's History.
In any event, history does show the demobilization of the Italian Contingent in marked contrast with that of the men who returned home from France. There was certainly not that freedom of choice given to many of the volunteers in the ambulance service who were anxious to remain for studies in France. Although the role of an historian is to tell only the facts, one cannot help but arrive at the opinion that there was a marked difference in the feeling between the people of France, toward the early volunteers in the Ambulance Service, and that of the Italian people toward the Ambulance Service volunteers.
A great part of this feeling is expressed in the "Farewell Statement" made by Lt. Colonel A. Piatt Andrew to the men of the United States Army Ambulance Service, as well as to all of the original early volunteers. We quote this herewith:
Paris, Nov. 11, 1918
"To the Men of the Service:
"Today, when ends the most momentous chapter in all the world's history, let us as Americans, while happy because of what we have been able to contribute to the winning of the war, be not too proud of the part we have played. Let us humbly remember that we have been in the war for only one year and seven months, while France has given all her energies, all of her resources in men and material, for more than four and a quarter years. Let us remember that this little country of France, which would be almost lost in one corner of the single state of Texas, has during the greater part of this prodigious period held in check, the most powerful, the most highly organized, the most dangerous enemy, that the world has ever known. Let us not forget that to France, primarily, the world owes its future freedom and the satisfaction of today's triumph.
"It is the particular and inestimable privilege of our Service that we have been able to serve in intimate relations with these soldiers of France, and as long as any of the men of the Service survive, the memory of these days will be cherished, when we lived and worked among the 'Overcoats of Blue' in this gentle, gallant, and indomitable country of France."
A. Piatt Andrew,
Lt. Col., U.S.A.A.S.
On March 27, 1919, through the pages of "The Radiator," the men could read the "Farewell Message" from the Chief of Service, Colonel Percy L. Jones.
Paris, 27 March 1919
"There is perhaps no moment in a man's life when he is so conscious of his love for his country as that in which he first sees its shores, after a prolonged sojourn in foreign lands. Once and for all time, Sir Walter Scott, in the 'Lay of the Last Minstrel,' gave that feeling perfect expression. Those lines beginning 'Breathes there a man with soul so dead' have passed quite beyond the ordinary purposes of literature--- have become a part of the race consciousness known to thousands who know no other poetry.
"Members of all the American Expeditionary Forces returning home will feel the exaltation of home-coming as perhaps no group of men have ever felt it in the whole history of the world. There will be joy in the mere sight of the native land, and joy in the resumption of the old interests, the pursuit of the old ambitions, the renewal of the old acquaintances, the new enjoyment of the old friendships, and the pleasant life of the family circle.
"There will be attendant upon the situation, however, a little-suspected danger, one born in a sense at least of the very joy of return and the enthusiasm over America and things American. In the midst of the most patriotic feelings, there may be on the part of the newly-discharged soldier an unrealized tendency to fail to be constructively patriotic.
* * *
"Each member of the United States Army Ambulance Service, on demobilization, owes it to his country, to his family, to his comrades, to himself, to become an active, rather than a passive citizen---to carry over into his civil duties something of the enthusiasm and devotion, which have made the great name of this Service. He may do much as an individual. He may do more by the maintenance of touch and friendship with comrades of Army days, possessed of similar ideals and hopes . . .
"The United States Army Ambulance Service, with the French and Italian Armies, has served our country well in the great crisis of the World War. There now opens before its members equal, perhaps even greater, opportunities for service during the coming crisis of peace. There is need only of individual alertness and devotion, and of general co-operation. The second is dependent upon the first. With the proper spirit, there are no limits to the possibilities for good which may yet result from the association and comradeship of the members of the Service. . .
"On the eve of the demobilization, I again express my appreciation of your good work. With best wishes to all."
Percy L. Jones
Colonel, MC., U.S.A.A.S.
Likewise this message to the men from the American Ambassador to Italy, is made available to us through the son of Lt. Colonel Clarence P. Franklin:
Rome, March 20, 1919
"To the Americans serving in Italy:
"No one who was not here, throughout the long years of stress and struggle, will ever know what Italy herself accomplished, whether in offensive action when she overcame the impossible or in defensive when the people, enduring hardships unapproached in any other of the Allied countries, formed the reserve of her small armies, invincible whether by arms or by privation.
"It was to this people in their utmost extremity that America, under the guidance of our great President, proved her appreciation, not only of their martial spirit, but of their heroic endurance, by sending assistance in the form of relief supplies and additional hospital service with the American flag as the emblem of her sympathy and her feeling of sisterhood.
"It is a high service which you have rendered, equally to America and to Italy, and the only envy I have known during this war was the envy of the personal opportunity which you American representatives, whether in the line, in the Ambulance Service, or in those other great relief organizations like the American Red Cross, the Young Men's Christian Association, the Knights of Columbus and the Salvation Army, have had of administering to those who, at the front, in the trenches, in the cities of the plains, or in the little mountain villages---for all Italy has been the front---have formed the heroic right wing of the Allied Cause.
"Permit me to say that you have increased, if that were possible, my pride in our country to which you have so nobly consecrated your lives."
Thomas Nelson Page
The realization that General John J. Pershing knew well the important part this unique Service had played in the victories won on both the French and Italian fronts, it is most appropriate for us to bring to a close the History of the United States Army Ambulance Service with the General's "Farewell" to the men of the A.E.F.
France, February 28, 1919
"My Fellow Soldiers:
"Now that your service with the American Expeditionary Forces is about to terminate, I can not let you go without a personal word. At the call to arms, the patriotic young manhood of America eagerly responded and became the formidable army whose decisive victories testify to its efficiency and its valor. With the support of the nation firmly united to defend the cause of liberty, our army has executed the will of the people with resolute purpose. Our democracy has been tested, and the forces of autocracy have been defeated. To the glory of the citizen-soldier, our troops have faithfully fulfilled their trust, and in a succession of brilliant offensives have overcome the menace to our civilization.
"As an individual, your part in the world war has been an important one in the sum total of our achievements. Whether keeping lonely vigil in the trenches, or gallantly storming the enemy's stronghold; whether enduring monotonous drudgery at the rear, or sustaining the fighting at the front, each has bravely and efficiently played his part. By willing sacrifice of personal rights; by cheerful endurance of hardship and privation; by vigor, strength and indomitable will, made effective by thorough organization and cordial co-operation, you inspired the war-worn Allies with new life and turned the tide of threatened defeat into overwhelming victory.
"With a consecrated devotion to duty and a will to conquer, you have loyally served your country. By your exemplary conduct a standard has been established and maintained never before attained by any army. With mind and body as clean and strong as the decisive blows you delivered against the foe, you are soon to return to the pursuits of peace. In leaving the scenes of your victories, may I ask that you carry home your high ideals and continue to live as you have served- an honor to the principles for which you have fought and to the fallen comrades you leave behind.
"It is with pride in our success that I extend to you my sincere thanks for your splendid service to the army and to the nation."
John J. Pershing
Commander in Chief
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