Appendix C: Section Reviews, Service in France, continued


SSU 578


Among the Sections with the finest record at the Front with the United States troops was the group of men who were recruited at Stanford University. These men assembled at the Ferry Building in San Francisco and were sworn in by Lt. William F. Jones, M.C. They entrained for Allentown, arriving there about June 21, 1917. Their barracks was in the sheep stables. The Section was a leader in the drilling reviews and took part in many of the famous hikes. The Section was part of the third overseas contingent under the leadership of Major Metcalfe. When Lt. Jones of the Medical Corps was transferred, the Section was led by Lt. E. E. Bell, A.A.S.

The Section sailed on January 9, 1918 on the S.S. Carmania and landed in Liverpool, England, January 24, 1918. After a period of quarantine for spinal meningitis in England, they went to France and were assigned to several American divisions.

1. 2nd Div. 6th Marines- First Battle in Belleau Woods, June 6 - 7.

2. Worked at Evacuation Hospital #7 - Coulommiers.

3. 2nd Div.--- Second Battle Belleau Woods offensive, June 21.

4. 2nd Div.--- Storming F. Vaux, July 1 - 3.

5. 28 Div. 109th Inf.---Battle of Grapied Woods, July 10, including capture of Courmont.

6. Worked at Evacuation Hospital #6, Chateau Thierry.

7. With 77th Div.-Battles north and south of Vesle River from 14th August - 17th October.

8. With 78th Div. - Argonne Forest offensive, Oct. 18-27.

9. Defensive Sector to Nov. 11.

The Section was assigned to rehabilitation work in and around Chateau-Thierry following the Armistice.

With Section 502, Section 578 was cited for extraordinary work with the 6th Marines with both Lieutenants guiding their ambulances to the front lines under heavy machine gun fire. Section 578 had eight ambulances put out of commission by shell fire with 2 men killed and 12 men wounded. Cited in orders of 2nd U.S. Division and in the book, "Wade In Sanitary," by Richard Derby, the Section and Lt. Berl are mentioned for their bravery.

Section 578 was cited in Divisional Orders by Major General Robert Alexander, U.S.A., Commanding, 77th Division, for their courageous work under heavy fire at Blanzy and Merval, and in evacuations from the aid stations at Ville Savoy and the caves south of the Ville.

When relieved for the return to the United States some of the men took discharges in France to continue studies in the universities in Paris About 35% of the Section embarked on the S.S. H. R. Mallory.


SSU 580


This was a New York City section and when asked for the name of the sponsor, the reply came back, "Uncle Sam!" They were assembled by Dr. Lloyd F. Allen at the 80th St. office of the U.S. Army Recruiting Station and ordered to report to the Concentration Camp at Allentown, Pa. They arrived on June 21, 1917, and were billeted in the Grandstand, with the designation of Section 80, later to become 580. They drilled, hiked, were inspected hundreds of times, finally joining Major Metcalfe's contingent. They sailed on January 9, 1918 on the S.S. Carmania and landed first in Liverpool, went to Winchester, England for a couple of weeks, then over to Le Havre, France. We must assume they went to St. Nazaire to assemble their Ford ambulances, although some sections did go direct to Ferrières Base Camp.

Records show them attached to the French 13th Inf. Div. and they took part in the following engagements: Aisne defensive, May 27-June 5, 1918; Champagne-Marne defensive, July 15-18, 1918; Meuse-Argonne offensive, September 26 -October 16; Oise-Aisne offensive; October 28-November 11, 1918. They went with their Division in the Army of Occupation in Luxembourg. When Lt. Allen left to join the 42nd U.S. Division, Lt. James W. D. Seymour took command. Lt. Seymour was a former member of the American Field Service.

In the Orders No. 10.887, dated October 25, 1918, General Headquarters, French Armies of the North and Northeast, awarded the Section the Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, with the following citation: "Under command of Lt. Lloyd Allen, this Section displayed rare courage, coolness, and devotion to the wounded. During the severe battles of July 15 and 16, 1918, it won the admiration of all by its abnegation and absolute contempt for danger."

Section 580 lists casualties of one died from wounds, two wounded and two taken prisoner. Individual awards of the Croix de Guerre were made to fifteen men of the Section. The Section was relieved in late April 1919, and sailed for home on May 7, 1919, on the Battleship Rhode Island. They landed in Boston and were discharged at Camp Devens, Mass, on May 19, 1919.


SSU 581

It is regrettable that no report was received from any members of this section after repeated letters were mailed and not returned. We do know of the existence of Section 581, originally from Scranton, Pa., and their presence in France is confirmed by our reply from the French Chef du Service Historique de L' Armée, showing that they were assigned to the 181st French Infantry Division from July 1918 to November 1918. The engagements of this Division were not detailed.


Section 582

We regret that we are not able to give a complete report on this section. Our correspondent disclaims the sponsorship previously made for Section 582, namely the U.S. Rubber Company. Our information, right or wrong, is that an American Red Cross Ambulance Company No. 3 was enlisted at the University of Chicago on July 3, 1917. The company of 180 men, some students and others volunteers, were ordered to Allentown, arriving about August 21, 1917. When this unit reached the camp, it was shortly broken up into three sections, namely 555, 556 and 531. We identify these numbers with all information supplied by reports from members of this Red Cross Ambulance Unit but not with Section 582. We are told that Section 582 was broken up at Allentown in the early spring of 1918 and some of the men were assigned to Provisional Casual No. 7 and went to France in a small contingent on May 13, 1918. All efforts to unravel this Section's real identity have ended in failure. (If information is learned about this section after publication of the History, we will make every effort to cover it in future "Bulletins.")


SSU 583

Early in June, a group of students at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, enlisted in the U.S. Army as ambulance drivers. They were ordered to report to the camp in Allentown, Pa., where they arrived June 21, 1917. They were assigned Number 583, billeted in the Grandstand, and had as their commander, Lt. William J. Losh. Their promise of action in six weeks lengthened into seven months, with plenty of inspections, drilling, hikes, and Guth Station coming in between. Section 583 joined Major Metcalfe's contingent and sailed on January 9, 1918, on the S.S. Carmania. They landed at Liverpool, January 23, 1918 and went to France, February 1, 1918.

The report of assignments and engagements follows: French 165th Infantry Division, Somme defensive of Amiens; offensive action in the Montdidier-Noyon sector; defensive sector with their division in Lorraine; with the French 42nd Infantry Division, Meuse-Argonne offensive.

The Section took a rather heavy toll in severely wounded but managed to keep most of their ambulances running. They received one important Army Corps citation delivered by Marshal Petain, the Chief of all French Armies. This award was the Croix de Guerre with Palm, which read: "A remarkably well disciplined unit which could be relied upon in all circumstances. Under the energetic command of Lt. William J. Losh, it has always effected ... the rapid evacuation of wounded. It particularly distinguished itself by its courage in the attack of June 11, 1918, and that of August 10, during which eight drivers were wounded." In the records of the Section, they report one killed and thirteen wounded. The Croix de Guerre with Palm was awarded to thirteen individuals.

The Section followed their division into the Army of Occupation, with stations at Homburg, Germany, and Strasbourg in Alsace. The Section was relieved and sailed for home on May 20, 1919 on the S.S. H. R. Mallory.

One very important honor fell to Section 583, and that was the very first award of the newly established decoration for bravery made to Pvt. 1/cl. Raymond J. Schulze. Up to the time of the First World War, the U.S. Government authorized no medals for bravery except the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1918 Congress passed a bill allowing other decorations. The most coveted being the Distinguished Service Cross. The Commander in Chief of the A.E.F. was instructed to select the first award to be made from five names, immediately sent to the General. You guessed it! The first name was Ray Schulze. Of course each of the five names included men whose action on the field of battle did warrant the award. The very first D.S.C. was earned in action as follows: "Near Orvillers-Sorel (Oise), France, on August 16, 1918, when many French and American drivers had been killed or wounded during an intense bombardment on a dressing station, he (Schulze) immediately went to their assistance, receiving wounds himself, which will make him a cripple for life."

It should be noted that Pvt. 1/cl. Schulze also was decorated with the Purple Heart Medal, and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm.


SSU 584

The other half of Susquehanna University's twin contribution to the United States Army Ambulance Service was sworn into the Federal Service on June 8, 1917. Drilling for two weeks on the campus, the men entrained for Allentown, and on arrival at Camp Crane were assigned their number like any other good soldier---Section 584. This was their first calling card address--- horse cooling sheds. Later they were assigned to Betzwood, then dug-in at Guth Station, before marching on Washington from Fort Meyer across the Potomac.

On January 9, 1918, the contingent to which they were attached left Hoboken on the Carmania, an English transports. Therefore the landing, after an uneventful crossing, was naturally in England. This caused a few days delay in their arrival in France at St. Nazaire. Those who could use a wrench and screw driver, helped to put together their Ford ambulances in jig time.

The Section was commanded by two leaders---Lt. Huffer, followed by Lt. R. C. Coan, a former American Field Service man. They were in the thick of the heavy fighting with their French division, in the following engagements: June 12-July 14, Chateau-Thierry (Champagne); July 15-17, Champagne-Marne; July 18 -31, Aisne-Marne; Aug. 3-6, Aisne-Marne; Aug. 18-26, Oise-Aisne; Sept. 1 -23, Somme offensive; Sept. 26- Nov. 11, 1918, Ypres-Lys offensive.

The records are not too complete following the Armistice. The Section did serve in the Flanders sector on rehabilitation work, spending some time in the cities of Lille and Dunkirk, delivering food to many villages and the starving towns, which had been occupied for nearly four years by the German troops.

The Section was called into Brest in April, and sailed on May 6, 1919 on the Battleship Rhode Island, landing in Boston. After a stop at Camp Devens, they transferred to Camp Dix, New Jersey, and were discharged May 27, 1919. Section 584 furnished some men for the very successful USAAS show, "Let's Go!" which played to packed houses in theatres all over France.


SSU 63/585

Recruited in New Haven, Conn. on the Yale University campus, as a unit for American Field Service duty, they were not mustered in until June 11, 1917, and were ordered to report to the camp at Allentown. The men arrived at the Fairgrounds on June 22, 1917, were assigned Section 85 (later 585), and billeted in the horse cooling stalls. They had as their commander, Lt. Wharton and later Lt. John R. Abbot, a former member of the American Field Service. This section had a good record at Allentown and were selected for the first contingent to leave for France with Colonel Percy L. Jones. They sailed with Captain F. S. Whitney (later Lt. Col.) in command, on August 6, 1917, on the S.S. San Jacinto. They arrived in France August 21, 1917, and it is not clear whether they went direct to the Base Camp at Sandricourt or to St. Nazaire to assemble their ambulances.

We do know that Section 585 was one of the first sections to go to the Front, where they replaced one of the volunteer Norton-Harjes Units No. 63. This was on October 9, 19l7, where they were attached to the 165th French Infantry Division at Genicourt in the Verdun sector. Their records show a transfer to the 128th French Infantry Division in the Vosges sector (les Loups du Bois le Prêtre). Engagements then followed in this order, all with the 128th Division; Aisne; Oise-Aisne sector; Ypres-Lys sector; Army of Occupation with the French (area not given).

Section 585 received an Army Corps citation from the French, and a Croix de Guerre award with Gilt Star from their division. This award covered the efficient work done under very dangerous conditions, during the period of August 17 to 24, 1918. They had picked up wounded from areas near where the men had fallen, and assisted in evacuating wounded from neighboring divisions.

This may account for the award of one individual DSC, as well as a total of 31 individual awards of the French Croix de Guerre. The Section suffered the loss of 5 men wounded, and 4 evacuated temporarily from effects of gas.

Following their relief in the Occupation territory, the Section embarked for home April 12, 1919 on the Great Northern.


SSU 586


The preamble to this section's review said, "that the memories of the period of World War I could be recalled more clearly than could the events that took place last week." Your historian wonders whether this comment referred to the recent "happenings" on the Berkeley campus!

Section 586 was organized at the University of California in Berkeley, California, in the spring of 1917, and ordered to report to the training camp at Allentown, Pa. They left the west coast in late June, and the men found the heat of the eastern mid-summer an added hazard. They found the Fairgrounds not yet in shape for an army encampment, especially when they were assigned to billets in the horse stalls. They saw fireflies (lightning bugs to the Easterners) for the first time, mixed margarine with yellow coloring matter as part of their K.P. duty, were drilled incessantly, taught how to carry stretchers (something they never did in France), enjoyed the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Anewalt---a generous Allentown couple, . . . griped like any other Army outfit, and supposedly because of their high efficiency rating, left after a few weeks for France.

The Section left Allentown on August 6, 1917 and sailed on the S.S. San Jacinto, formerly a banana boat, hurriedly fitted with bunks and leftover tarantulas. Their first commanding officer was Lt. Edwards, who was succeeded by Lt. A. B. Kinsolving, II. They landed at St. Nazaire, and as far as it is possible to determine, the Section went directly to Sandricourt where they received the assignment to the French 19th Infantry Division.


Section 590


Section 590 went with the Third U.S. Army as part of the Army of occupation and were stationed at Coblenz, Germany. They were relieved in April 1919, to return to Brest, and embarked on the Koningen der Nederlander, which landed at Newport News; Va. To review the section commanders, they were listed as Captains Dowd and Woolverton, and Contingent Commander was Major McCurdy.

Although no record is given regarding activities of the section at Allentown and overseas, we do remember that Michigan won the track meet on July 4, 1917, and that there were some Michigan men on the USAAC football team. We must assume therefore that 590 contributed some of these athletes. In the "Let's Go!" show in France, the Section had some men, we know, in the orchestra.


SSU 62/591

June 23, 1917 was the big day in the life of the Michigan University sponsored ambulance units. On that day, Companies A, B and C were called to report at the Michigan Union at Ann Arbor and prepare to leave for a quick stop-over in Allentown, on their way to France. They marched in columns of four down State Street to the special cars at the New York Central depot. Michigan University's President Hutchins, their professors, Dean Effinger, many students, and of course members of their families, were on hand to wish them well and good luck. As we will discover in the reviews of the three sections representing Michigan, only Section 591 was to have the "good luck" of going to France early. A wonderful report of the trip and arrival at Allentown was sent for the history of this section, but space and fairness limits our review.

Like all other large companies of volunteer ambulance drivers, upon arrival at Camp Crane, this one was split into three sections, 589, 590 and 591. With no thought of disrespect, each man was given a cot and a blanket and sent to the sheep herders stalls along the rear fence of the Fairgrounds. Some elected the grove of trees, but the usual summer night downpour spoiled that plan.

Section 591 heeded the rumor that attention to drills would send sections off to France early, but drilling had nothing to do with their selection as part of Colonel Percy L. Jones' first contingent. A part of Captain Chaudron's Battalion, they had as commanders, Lt. R. V. Ellis and Lt. Robert Milbank. This contingent was set to leave at one time, namely August 6, 1911, but for some reason part of the twenty sections did not go on board the S.S. Baltic until August 23, 1917. They went to Halifax Harbor to pick up a convoy, and sailed from Halifax, September 5, for Liverpool, England. The rest of the contingent had left Hoboken on August 7, 1917 on the S.S. San Jacinto and the S.S. Antilles.

Section 591 arrived in France, September 17, and went by train to St. Nazaire. On Oct. 6, 1917, the Section went by train to the base station in the Avocourt sector. On October 13, 1917, they were attached to the French 4th Infantry Division and took over the Norton-Harjes Unit No. 62. This unit had Fiat ambulances which of course was a switch from their training with Fords. The Division remained in this rather quiet sector until March 11, 1918. Then they moved to the Verdun Front, relieving Section 504. On April 4, 1918, the Section was detached from the French 4th Division and placed in reserve at Camp Frety. It was at this time that the Section changed their Fiat cars for Ford ambulances. On May 2, 1918, Section 591 was assigned to the French 29th Division, which held the Verdun Front from Hill 304 to Fort de Tavannes. On August 22, 1918, they went with their division into the Oise-Aisne offensive, north of Soissons, where very heavy fighting took place during the first three weeks. The Division captured a series of villages, including Moulin de Lauffaux and Allemant. The Section worked here until October 6, 1918, when they were given a period of rest.

On November 2, 1918, the Section again entered the Oise-Aisne offensive at Chery, north of Laon. The German retreat was faster at this time, but the Section had difficulty with mined roads and destroyed bridges. At the time of the Armistice, they were beyond Vervins on the road to Fourmies, east of La Capelle.

Following the Armistice, the Section, though still attached to the 29th Div., did some rehabilitation work in Northern France, until March 10, 1919. They were then ordered to join their Division in the Army of Occupation at Soberheim. On the 17th of March, Section 591 was relieved and started for home, through Ferrières and then to Brest. They sailed on the Great Northern and went first to Camp Dix, and on to Camp Custer for discharge April 29, 1919.

Section 591 reported two died and four wounded. The Section was cited with the Croix de Guerre with Two Silver Stars, for courage in their work, September 3 to 18, 1918, and September 22 to September 24, 1918.

Again we can add that this Michigan Section contributed athletes for track team on July 4, 1917 in Allentown, and members for the "Let's Go!" show in France.


SSU 59/592


When the call came for volunteer ambulance drivers, New York University recruited enough men to form three sections. However, they were assembled as one group on the campus at University Heights in the Bronx, early in June. In addition to the university students and alumni, the company consisted of a fine group from downtown New York--- movie extras, cab drivers, and some good auto mechanics. They were instructed to report to the training camp at Allentown, Pa., and arrived by train on June 30, 1917. Their first billets were in the "refurbished" cow sheds. They had as their first commander, Lt. Chester Whitney, who later joined the staff of Colonel Jones, and went in rapid steps to Captain, Major, Lt. Colonel and Colonel. The company was assigned three section numbers 92, 93 and 94, later to be known as 592, 593 and 594.

Section 592 made a good name on the parade grounds in drilling and other regulations, so with Lt. Roscoe Mauser commanding, they were selected for the first contingent and sailed with Colonel Percy L. Jones, Chief of Service, on the S.S. San Jacinto, August 7, 1917. They had a real submarine scrap off Belle Isle, but continued on course to St. Nazaire, landing August 22, 1917. After a few weeks of stevedore work, the knocked-down Ford ambulances arrived and the crates dumped on the beaches. They were assembled where they were found and God help you if you dropped a cotter pin in the sand.

On September 30, Section 592 left in convoy overland for the base camp at Sandricourt. After eight days there, they were ordered to the Front and on October 7, 1917, they relieved a Norton-Harjes Unit SSU 59. Section 592 took over the Fiat ambulances and joined the French 17th Infantry Division at Baccarat. The first assignments were at postes at Rambervillers, Montigny, Herbeville, Ogevillers and Badonviller. This was considered a defensive sector in the Lorraine.

Section 592 left the base at Baccarat on January 6, 1918 and went to Nancy. Here they were put under the command of Lt. William Smith. Loafed for two months en repos, and were detached from the French 17th Division and attached to the 14th French Division of shock troops. They went with them to Luneville, March 6, 1918, and assisted in the training of the 42nd Rainbow Division, U.S. Army.

We assume that at the Parc on the outskirts of Nancy, the Section had turned in their Fiat ambulances and received Ford ambulances. On April 6, 1918, they moved north by train, their Ford ambulances on railroad flat cars and moved constantly from Clermont to Amiens, while being held in reserve. They then made the move north through St. Omer to Belgium, ending up at Mt. Kemmel, near Ypres. There was continual bombardment and work around the clock all during May 1918, their division attacking, withdrawing, and then counter attacking. The division was relieved May 29, and had suffered casualties amounting to 60%. The section was considered lucky, with only a few evacuated for shell shock and gas effects.

Section 592 moved south while their division was being rebuilt. On July 16, they passed through Epernay to the Mountain of Reims, and went into action at Nanteuil. The French infantry met the Boche and fought them with their packs on. With Garibaldi's pick troops on their right and the 51st Division of the Black Watch on their left, it was not surprising to have an ambulance return to the triage with wounded representing Italy, France, Scotland and Germany, with its Yankee driver. Lt. Leroy Harding had replaced Lt. Smith when the Section left Belgium, and commanded the Section to the end. In August, they had a rest, but entered the lines again in September, west of the American armies above Chalon, and followed the retreating Germans to the Meuse River, until the victorious day of November 11, 1918.

Section 592 records show casualties of four wounded. Fifteen individual members of the Section were awarded the French Croix de Guerre for bravery under fire. As Section 592 was one of the first to enter the front lines, it was relieved early in 1919, and returned to the United States on the President Grant, arriving home on April 2, 1919.


SSU 21/594

This section was recruited as part of the larger group of students and friends from New York University. They assembled on the campus at University Heights in the Bronx, for their departure for the camp at Allentown, Pa., around June 20, 1917. On arrival at the Fairgrounds, they were assigned to the horse cooling stables at the fence next to the cemetery. It is strange how that spot stands out in the memory of so many of the reviewers of section history. Following several days, this group of volunteers was split into three sections and assigned Numbers 592, 593 and 594.

Section 594 had as their commanders, Lt. Max Cowett, and later Lt. Rice. They joined Major (later Colonel) Chester Whitney's Battalion and were selected for the first contingent to go over with Colonel Percy L. Jones, M.C., on the S.S. San Jacinto. They sailed on August 6, 1917, and landed at St. Nazaire, August 20, 1917. The Section became part of the 6th French Army, commanded by Marshal Petain, and relieved a Norton-Harjes Unit No. 21, with the 133rd French Infantry Division. Section 594 was involved in the defensive action on the Marne in the German drive on Paris. Before that, their records show engagements in the Oise-Aisne sector, the Champagne-Marne sector, and in the Somme sector.

Section 594 received a citation of the French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star for courageous action of the entire unit under command of Lt. Rice, in the combats from August 9 to August 21, 1918. The casualty list shows one killed and one taken prisoner. There were several individual awards of the Croix de Guerre.

The Section did some rehabilitation work in the occupied territory in Belgium, following, the Armistice. Our information came from a member of the Section, who at a later date was assigned to Paris, to work on the scenery for the Kernell-Fechheimer show, "Let's Go!" We regret that the records of the Section's return to the United States was not given.


Sections 595 and 597

It is with much regret that no contacts were made available to your historian for these two sections. In checking all research material, nothing could be found covering information on their activities. These Sections were originally listed as being from Williams College (595) and New York City (597). In an old record book covering members, by section numbers, only a few names appear under 595, and just two names under 597, one of these being Ernest Hemingway.

We must again acknowledge our sincere disappointment in failure to obtain reviews from all sections found listed in some record or another, covering ambulance units from Allentown, or early volunteer companies.


SSU 598


Assembled on the campus of Purdue University, at West Lafayette, Indiana, this Section was ordered to the concentration camp at the Fairgrounds, Allentown, Pa., on June 21, 1917. On arrival, they were assigned to the sheep barns. The commanders are listed as Lt. James Foley, Lt. C. C. Elliott, and Lt. C. C. Battershell, the last named being a former member of the American Field Service. The section took part in many of the extra-curricular activities, inside and outside of the camp grounds. They had a "go" at trench warfare at Guth Station, and returned to better but just as cold barracks at Camp Crane.

Section 598 became a part of Major Metcalfe's contingent and sailed on the S.S. Carmania, January 9, 1918. They landed in Liverpool, and worked their way through Winchester to Southampton, to Le Havre, and then to a base camp. Their original assignment was with the 59th French Infantry Division, and records show they also served the famous 33rd French Division.

The engagements at the Front were as follows: Somme sector, March 21 to April 6, 1918; Aisne sector, May 27 to June 5, 1918; Champagne-Marne, July 15 to 18, 1918; Oise sector, August 18 to November 11, 1918. They received a French Seventh Army citation dated September 18, 1918. From the individual awards for bravery, it would appear that the Section, or at least a few ambulances, served an American Army Division, as the records show one DSC, in addition to the fifteen French Croix de Guerres. The Section had one wounded on the casualty list. We have no record of their going into the Army of Occupation, so they must have done some rehabilitation work following the Armistice, as they did not leave Brest until May 18, 1919.


Section 599


This section was recruited in New York City and ordered to report to Camp Crane in the summer of 1917. They were first assigned to the pig pens and originally numbered Section 99, which later became 599. They took part in all activities at the camp and became a part of the Italian Contingent, in the spring of 1918. They left Allentown on June 13, 1918, and sailed on the Giuseppe Verdi, landing at Genoa, Italy, June 27, 1918. After several weeks of duty at the base camp at Lido, Section 599 was selected as one of the units loaned by the Italian Government to the American Army, to help in what proved to be the final great offensives of the First and Second U.S. Armies, in the St. Mihiel salient and the Meuse-Argonne. The Section convoyed with their GMC ambulances, through the Southern Alps to a point in France, where they were given an assignment to serve the divisions taking part in the St. Mihiel offensive, September 12 to 16, 1918. The Section then moved over to the Meuse-Argonne offensive action September 26 to November 11, 1918. The movement of this offensive was so fast at times that it was impossible always to set up proper field dressing stations. It was therefore necessary for these ambulance units to work up to the first-aid posts, where the wounded were picked up and driven over roads, hardly passable, with ammunition trucks and troops going in the opposite direction. The length of the carry depended entirely on the speed with which field hospitals could be moved up. Many ambulance sections were kept busy, night and day, evacuating cases from field hospitals to base hospitals, and to hospital trains.,

Section 599 was kept busy with the wounded and sick long after the Armistice, in areas recovered or newly occupied. They were relieved in March 1919, and returned home on the S.S. Manchuria.

We do not have too many details covering Section 599, but as reported, their greatest claim to fame (aside from the business of war) was that they had as "original" members, William Kernell and Richard Fechheimer, the famous team, who wrote the music and lyrics for the USAAC shows, "Good Bye Bill" and "Let's Go!" This music in turn, inspired John Philip Sousa to compose and dedicate to this Service, the USAAC March."


Section 600


The Battle Creek, Michigan Sanitarium, early in the spring of 1917, formed an American Red Cress Ambulance Company No. 11. The unit was ordered to Allentown, Pa., in July and as was the case with all these large Red Cross units, it was split into three sections. They were originally billeted in the horse cooling stables. Section 600 of the Battle Creek unit had as their commander, Lt. K.C. Mohrhart. The Section took part in all of the Camp Crane activities, and although recruited with the understanding that they would go to France within a few weeks, they finally ended up in the Italian Contingent nearly a year later.

However, the men of all three Battle Creek Sections---600, 601 and 602--- did serve in France, but with the American Army. These sections were included in the fifteen units loaned by the Italian Government, to help in the great American Army offensive in the fall of 1918. Section 600 sailed June 13, 1918, on the Giuseppe Verdi and landed at Genoa, Italy, June 27, 1918. They helped with the assembly of their GMC ambulances and when all the equipment was ready, they were placed on flat railroad cars for the trip through the Alps to France.

Section 600 was assigned on August 20, 1918 to the 33rd American Infantry Division from Illinois. They were to become a part of the 108th Sanitary Train, and at first were in a defensive sector in Lorraine. The records show the Section followed their division in offensive attacks on Forges, Bethincourt, and Gercourt. On their left flank was the 4th U.S. Division, whose divisional surgeon spoke highly of the work of Section 600, as their operations merged. Then the Section worked in the main Meuse-Argonne offensive, September 26 to November 11, 1918. Their division was involved in counter attacks by the enemy at Troyon sur Meuse, October 25 to November 7, 1918. Their final push, which had the Germans on the run, started November 8 to November 11, 1918. It is interesting to note here, the differences in action taking place along the Meuse Front, compared with that along the Oise Front, in the period between November 7 and the Armistice hour on November 11.

Several citations were given Section 600 by their division commander. The records show one man wounded and three evacuated by gas. All sections, arriving in Italy before their transfer to France, were awarded the Italian War Ribbon.

Section 600 went with their division into the Army of Occupation in Luxembourg, and did some work at the base hospital at Commercy. They were relieved, returning to the camp at Brest, and sailed for home on the S.S. Manchuria, April 13, 1919.


Section 601

This section was part of the large group of men recruited at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan for the American Red Cross Ambulance Co. No. 11. When ordered to report to the concentration camp on the Fairgrounds at Allentown, Pa., they were billeted in the horse cooling sheds. The large group had to be split up into three sections, and this unit was designated as Section 601. We regret that we were unable to obtain a detailed report, but were helped considerably by receiving an album of photographs from the son of a deceased member of the section, which did give a pictorial review of their activities at Camp Crane. The records show their commander was Lt. Mook.

We do have the War Department records that this Section did go to Italy, and was one of the fifteen units loaned to the American Army for the final offensive operations, in the fall of 1918. Sections 600, 601 and 602 stayed very much together, which was not often the case with other Red Cross ambulance companies. They all sailed with the Italian Contingent on the Giuseppe Verdi, June 13, 1918. After their arrival at Genoa, Italy, they spent some time in camp at the Lido, while assembling their GMC ambulances. They traveled through the Alps, with the ambulances on flat railroad cars, to the American Army Headquarters. They were then assigned to the First Army, to follow the divisions to which they were attached, in the offensive action on the St. Mihiel salient, September 12 to 16, 1918. They then moved over to the great Meuse-Argonne offensive on September 26 to November 11, 1918.

We are not able to determine whether Section 601 had any casualties. They followed the 3rd Army into Germany at Coblenz on the Rhine. We do know they were active with their division from November 20, 1918 until they were relieved on March 22, 1919 for the return to the United States.


Section 602

The report on this section came from a member who had been transferred into Section 602, so the early experiences related are most interesting but do not necessarily apply to the Battle Creek section activities. This does, however, point out the changes in any recruit's circumstances while at Camp Crane. In this case, there was recruited in Riverside, N.J., a Boys Brigade, who were visited by Dr. Stone of the Stoneman's Fellowship, and told about the need for ambulance drivers. This Brigade reported to the Cooper Battalion Hall in Philadelphia, and were mustered in among the very first volunteers. They were sent to Allentown, Pa., and assigned to the "back fence" area billets, which could have been the sheep stalls or hog pens. The unit was designated as Section 42 (later 542), and when all sections were increased to 45 men, the Riverside Brigade "was no more," as it was broken up and its members became part of Section 602. From this point on, they were loyal members of the Battle Creek units, and joined the Italian Contingent. They sailed on June 13, 1918 on the Giuseppe Verdi.

Section 602 followed their sister sections, 600 and 601, going to the aid of the American Army in France.

They took part in the St. Mihiel sector offensive, September 12 to 16, 1918. They then moved to the Meuse-Argonne offensive from September 26 to November 11, 1918. The Section worked around Montfaucon and Varennes. Early in April 1919, they were relieved, and sailed for home on the S.S. Manchuria, April 13, 1919.


Section 603


This was one of the sections sponsored by the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association. At the time of the entrance of our government into the war against Germany, the Tennis Association raised money through a series of exhibition matches, to send two sections to France. By the time the outfits were recruited, the war department ordered these men to the training camp at Allentown.

Section 603 was in command of Lt. Richard H. Fitzgerald. On June 13, 1918, they sailed with the Italian Contingent aboard the Giuseppe Verdi, and landed in Genoa, Italy, June 27, and the men concluded they were headed for service on the Italo-Austrian front. Preparations for this assignment were practically complete, when the personnel of the unit was reduced to 33 men. These thirty-three men under Lt. Fitzgerald left Genoa, August 13, 1918 for France, traveling through the Lower Alps to the American Army Headquarters.

Section 603 saw their first bit of service when they entered the St. Mihiel offensive, September 12, 1918, with the Fifth Division of United States Regular Infantry. For six days, they carried out the casualties of that division. The Section then moved into the Argonne on September 23, 1918 and were attached to the 89th Division, serving them throughout the entire Meuse-Argonne offensive operation.

In recognition of the fine work done by the Section, a citation in General Orders was made as follows: "Section 603 USAAS, Lt. R. H. Fitzgerald, commanding, for faithful and conscientious performance of arduous duties in the evacuation of wounded while attached to the 5th Corps, from September 23 to November 15, 1918, during the Meuse-Argonne operations."

The Section was at Lagrange au Bois Farm when the Armistice was signed, and left there a week later, going through Longwy to Luxembourg, Treves and Prum. They were relieved at Prum on March 17, 1919, and proceeded to Brest. They remained in Brest until April 19, 1919, when they went aboard the Koenig der Nederlander. The men dubbed their ship the "Neverland," as it was not until May 1, 1919, that they landed in Newport News, Virginia. They were sent to Camp Lee, and split up, some going to Camp Grant, Illinois, and others to Camp Devens, Mass., for discharge.

Section 603 had two men in the show, "Good Bye Bill," and one man on the basketball squad.


Section 604


This section was organized in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., by a recruiting team sent out from the camp at Allentown. They were all men from that area, although originally sponsored by the City of Wilkes-Barre. The section of 31 men arrived in Allentown in late June, some reports say June 17, others say June 29, 1917. They were given the number of 210, and assigned to "sanitized" pig pens, and later to the horse cooling sheds along the cemetery fence. The Section was built up to regulation strength, with Lt. G. Carl Seeber in command, and later became Section 604. Some men transferred to Major Metcalfe's Battalion which left for France, January 9, 1918.

We did receive a wonderful day by day chronology from October 13, 1917 to April 26, 1919, prepared by Lt. Seeber, but space limits us to pick only the "high lights" from this report. On November 15, 1917, the Section went to Wilkes-Barre to assist in the campaign for raising funds for the work of the Y.M.C.A. in camps at home and overseas. January 10, 1918, Section moved to Building 21. February 5, 1918, the temperature went to 18 below zero. Camp quarantined for measles. Lt. Seeber came down with them and was sent to hospital. March 14, 1918, Section took part in review for ex-President Taft. March 24, 1918, went to wonderful concert in Amusement Hall, where camp band-orchestra was led by John Philip Sousa. April 6, 1918, Section returned to Wilkes-Barre for big War Bond parade. May 19, 1918, review for Italian General --- the contingent presented with Italian flag. May 23, 1918, seven men in Section took Naturalization oath.

On June 13, 1918, arrived at Jersey City pier to go aboard the Giuseppe Verdi. Ship left convoy and steamed south, crossing the Atlantic Ocean alone. They stopped for coal at Gibraltar, and then moved on to Genoa, Italy, landing June 27, 1918. August 19, orders received for Section to go to France --- reduced to 32 men --when 13 from Section went into casual pool. Orders changed for Section to travel by GMC ambulances through Alps to France. On September 9, 1918, the Section reported for duty with the 5th American Army Corps. Saw action in the St. Mihiel offensive, September 12 to 16, 1918. Moved to Meuse-Argonne sector in November. The division surgeon of 42nd U.S. Division cited Section in report to Surgeon General of 5th Army Corps.

Most of the Section work was around Baulney, Grandpre and Montfaucon, where they were on November 11, 1918. On November 16, 1918, they moved to Briquenay, and in December moved to Joinville. Section 604 cars were kept busy through the winter evacuating patients from field and base hospitals.

The Section had a soccer and basketball team which played other section and army teams. In March, the Section was joined by Section 520, as their lieutenant had not returned from a leave in England, and left by train for Brest. The trip lasted from March 19 to 23, 1919. They were billeted at Camp Pontanazen, until they went on board the Manchuria which sailed on April 13, 1919. The Section landed at Hoboken, N.J., April 23, and then went to Camp Dix, where they were discharged April 26, 1919.


SSU 606


This section was part of a larger group, who had volunteered to join an American Red Cross Company to drive ambulances in France. They were assembled at Portland, Maine, and were sponsored by the Portland Athletic Club. The men were mostly from the area involving Bangor and Portland. They were mustered in early in June 1917, and sent to the Concentration Camp at Allentown, Pa., around June 12, 1917. As was the case in regard to these large groups, they were split up into three sections, namely--- 606, 607 and 608. They were billeted at different times in the pig pens, tents, and in the Grandstand. Section 606 had as their commander, Lt. Gucker. They became a part of Major Folsom's contingent, which went overseas as a special group with some Base Hospital personnel. They sailed on March 28, 1918, on the British liner Olympic. The Section landed at Brest. It is not clear whether they went to St. Nazaire to get their ambulances, or whether they used old cars such as the Panhards, driven by the French ambulance units. We do know that they were using regular Ford ambulances, as they worked in the Argonne, with the U.S. Second Division.

Section 606 was first attached to the French Army, and served a division in a quiet sector in Alsace from June 28 to July 18, 1918. Then they moved into the Aisne-Marne offensive, August 14 to September 11, 1918. They were still serving the French. Their next move was to the Champagne sector, in the offensive from October 3 to 18, 1918. They were loaned to the American Army for this and the final drive in the Meuse-Argonne, late October through November 11, 1918.

The Section was cited in the orders of the Second Division, and three individuals received awards of the Distinguished Service Cross. Section 606 had three men killed in action. There is no report on their activities following the Armistice, but they must have served in rehabilitation work, as the records show that they did not leave France until May of 1919. The record states they returned on the H. R. Mallory, and were discharged at Camp Dix, June 4, 1919.

Following the Champagne offensive, Major Richard Darby, 2nd Division Surgeon, made this citation: "To the officers and men of SSU 606, who did most efficient work, carried on with fearlessness and abandon, it is with particular pride that we express the appreciation of the men of the Second Division for the way you performed your several duties."

Appendix C, Service in France, concluded
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