On September 19, 1917, the Section was officially taken over by the A.E.F. and given the number 632. We were cantoned in Villers-Marmery at the time, serving in the Champagne district in the sector of the Marquises Farm. Our postes were Wez, Prosnes, Maisonnette, La Cloche, and Cuisine.
From November 29 to January 1, 1918, came our first repos, near Châlons-sur-Marne. Chepy, Marson, and Jâlons were villages in which we lived. During this repos the Section was cited by the Division.
We were then assigned to the same front in the Champagne, but in the adjoining sector of the Mounts. Constancelager, Petite Haie, Bouleaux, Haie Claire, Prosnes, and Constantine Farm, were the postes, and our base first La Plaine, then the village of Sept-Saulx.
Allan H. Muhr was our first Lieutenant, Jefferson B. Fletcher, of Columbia University, taking his place in November. About March, 1918, another Lieutenant, Elliott H. Lee, from Princeton, took charge and was with us until le fin de la guerre. Émile Baudouy was our French officer from the time of the Section's formation, March 1, 1917, until September, 1918.
We remained in the sector of the Mounts until June 30, 1918, when we headed toward the Marne with our Division, the Eighth. Before the battle on the 15th we were quartered in Pierry, Vinay, and then Le Breuil. Our postes during the battle were Tincourt, uilly, Festigny, Saint-Martin, Chatillon, Vandières, Dormans, Damery, and Port-à-Binson.
After four days of heavy fighting, when we lost about eighty-two per cent of our Division, we retired to Courcelles. The ranks were soon refilled and August found us again on our way to the Champagne, in the sector of the Mounts again, serving postes at Prosnes, Sapinière, Baconnes, Farman, Constantine Farm, Bouleaux, and La Plaine. Mourmelon was the village of our Cantonment.
Then came the big advance, September 26, 1918, when we moved forward some 110 kilometres, from Mourmelon to Charleville-Mézières. Our line of advance, covering six weeks, took us through Naurouy, Aussonce, Neuflize, Tagnon, Rethel, to Charleville, which town was the, Headquarters of the German General Armies and where the former Kaiser and Crown Prince lived for four years. Our postes from here were Mézières, Saint-Laurent, Ville-sur-Lumes, Lumes, Prix, Nouzon, and Romery.
The section remained in Charleville from the day of its recapture on November 10 to March 7, 1919. hen we headed for home via Paris and Base Camp.
Section Fifteen was enlisted in the United States Army at Jouy-en-Argonne as Section Six-Thirty-Three. About November 1, 1917, it moved to La Plaine, in the region of the "Mounts" in the Champagne district. During this winter period there was no particular action along the front, the principal thing of interest being speculation as to when and where the Germans would pull their much-heralded "kolossal" offensive. On January 15, 1918, the Section went en repos in this district, coming back again to the lines at Mourmelon-le-Grand, in the same region, but a different sector.
Section Fifteen, after the army took it over, almost qualifies for the title of the "One Sector Section." It remained here in the Champagne, in this immediate neighborhood, sometimes shifting to one or the other of the near-by "Mounts" sectors, but never going far away, until July 20. From the 15th of March until the 1st of April its Division experienced a number of small but annoying diversion attacks, usually accompanied by gas. At these times there were fairly heavy evacuations from Prosnes, Ferme de Moscou, and Constantine. The Section was cited in April for its work during these gas attacks.
During Ludendorff's famous "Friedenstürm" offensive in the Champagne, from July 15 to July 17, the work of the Section was very heavy. The main part of the action here stopped abruptly after the counter-attack of July 18 on the Soissons-Château-Thierry front. For its work during this defensive the Section was cited to the Order of the Army.
Finally, on October 5, the Section moved to the front near Suippes, in the Champagne. It took part in General Gouraud's attack here, advancing steadily with its Division to and across the Aisne at Vouziers, and was still going forward when the Armistice stopped operations. For its work in this last attack it was again cited.
After the Armistice it remained for some time at Montigny, moving on to Charleville, Brussels, and finally taking up a more or less permanent position at Grevenbroich, Germany. It was ordered in to Base Camp on the 27th of February, 1919, and sailed from Brest for home during the first week in April.
From November 4 until December 19, Section Sixteen (U.S. 634) continued work in the Verdun sector, being cantoned at Houdainville, and having postes at Citerne Marceau, La Source, and Poste d'Alsace (Carrière Sud). It was here that the car driven by Kendall was hit by shrapnel, and Kendall injured, but not seriously. Following this came repos at Triaucourt. From the 19th until the 24th of January, the Section was attached to the 3d Division and worked Hill 304 in the Mort Homme sector. Its cantonment was Jubécourt, and the postes were Esnes and Montzéville.
On January 25 began a repos at Ligny-en-Barrois. On February 18, however, the Section returned to the front with its old Division, serving in the Bois d'Avocourt sector until April 2. The cantonment was Rarécourt; the postes were P4 and P2, Formont and Avocourt. During the height of the Somme defensive the 3d Division took part in holding a sector near La Faloise from April 28 until August 11. It was in this town that the Section was cantoned. It was later shelled out of the town, and camped in the woods. Bombing was frequent. The Section served postes at Ainval and Thory, and was cited for its work here. The 3d Division took part in the opening of the allied offensive, when the British and French attacked in liaison. The Section's cantonment was at La Faloise, and the postes Thory, Brache, Aubvillers, and Sauvillers.
The Section then moved to the Saint-Mihiel region, being held as a reserve for the American forces at Vanault-les-Dames. It then proceeded to take part in the Champagne-Argonne offensive, being attached to the 53d French Division. It was in this sector from October 15 to October 31. The 53d Division was made up of two French regiments and two regiments of Czecho-Slovaks, former Austrian soldiers, and volunteers now for the French cause. They were fine fighters and suffered very heavy losses. The Section's cantonment during this time was in a field near Bourcq, and the postes were Vrizy, Grivy, and Condé-lèz-Vouziers. During the latter part of this offensive in the Champagne, the Section cantonment was at Jonchery-sur-Vesle, with postes at Pévy and Hermonville.
The Section, after the close of the Champagne-Argonne-Meuse offensive on November 1, entrained for the Vosges, where its Division was due to take part in the coming Franco-American Metz-Lorraine drive. The Section convoyed to Vittel, the famous peace-time watering-place. It was here when the Armistice was signed. It soon took part in the advance of the French Army of Occupation, going into Lorraine by way of Metz and Thionville. During its stay in Germany it was cantoned at Saarbrücken, Saint-Ingbert, Kaiserslautern, and Kirchheimbolander. It was at this town that it was relieved on March 7, 1919, by S.S.U. 619, and, leaving its cars there, proceeded to the U.S.A.A.S. Base Camp, en route for l'Amérique.
From September 21, 1917, with a gradually changing personnel, Section Six-Thirty-Five was stationed at Mourmelon-le-Grand. Through the bitter winter of 1917 the Section's Division, the 97th, was continuously in the lines. There were frequent coups de main and the constant threat, expressed in leaflets dropped by Boche avions. By January 20 no attack had occurred and the Section moved back, just as a thaw set in which disrupted most traffic, and went en repos at Grandeville, near Mailly. Here the 97th Division as such went out of existence. The artillery, génie, Algerian cavalry, and medical corps of the old Division remained, but to them were added three regiments of cuirassiers --- the 5th, 8th, and 12th --- and the Division was renamed the 2 D.C.P. of the 2 C.C.P. (Corps de Cavalerie à Pieds). Sudden orders started the Section with its Division on a rush for the Somme. The convoy set out on March 27, over jammed and muddy roads, with stops at Juvigny and Breteuil, and finally reached its cantonment at Oresmaux. For two weeks the Division fought, and after terrific losses, succeeded in stopping the German advance. It just escaped capture en masse at one time, and on several other occasions individuals found themselves between the lines only to make almost miraculous escapes.
The Section later received a Corps d'Armée citation for its work.
April 13 the Division moved back, with short rests at Campdeville and Pernant, until on May 7 it was again in line, this time in the supposedly repos sector west of Soissons. The Section was quartered in abri grottoes above the Aisne at Fontenoy. Activity began to increase about the 25th, then suddenly on May 27 the violent Boche attack began. Our base was moved back to the Ferme l'Epine, but we lived by our cars and continued to serve the postes until the Germans took the villages. On the 30th we worked from Vic-sur-Aisne evacuating the wounded from Morsain, through which the French streamed in retreat. Orders sent us across the Aisne before night because the French expected to have to destroy all the bridges before the next day. There was a terrifying sense of desperation and hopelessness in the air, even when on June 1 the enemy seemed at least temporarily halted just north of Vic. Our Division came "out" and we settled at Ferme l'Epine, where the Foreign Legion too was quartered. Again unexpectedly the Germans attacked on June 12 with a vicious barrage. In our Valsery poste, two men were wounded and one killed. In the haste of retreat, the French first line was established along the road on the hillside back of Chateau Valsery, where were three of our cars and half a dozen of our men. They were between the lines in the valley swept by machine-gun fire, but completely cleared the poste of wounded and got back to the Section unhurt. Then on the 15th we started for Beauvais, going en repos at Bonlier
June 28, part of the Section entrained on flatcars for an unknown destination, and next day the remainder set out by road with the R.V.F. After a slow three-days convoy we were settled at Hargéville, near Bar-le-Duc. For two days we were attached to the 117th Division and worked with it north of Les Islettes in the Argonne; then our old Division recalled us, and we hurried to Génicourt, taking up poste service immediately.
On September 8 we left Génicourt, moving back to Ravigny Hospital on the Souilly road. The 26th Division had now relieved us, and both divisions were attached to a colonial corps serving with the First American Army. On the 11th we moved up to Troyon on the Meuse Canal. Next day our Division attacked in conjunction with the Americans, taking 2800 prisoners. The advance was greater than had been expected, and on the 16th we shifted our base up to Deuxnouds.
September 20, on one of their nightly air raids, the Boches picked Deuxnouds as their objective, dropping eleven bombs directly behind our line of ambulances, ruining eight of them. One man was killed and four wounded. Starting for Nancy on the 23d, our orders were changed when we reached Commercy and we headed toward the Argonne, going to Dommartin-la-Planchette, west of Sainte-Ménéhould.
Beginning November 2, when we were suddenly ordered to Ripont, which was merely a name, the village having been absolutely wiped away, we advanced steadily, arriving on the 9th at Hagniville. On November 10 the Division went into line, and during the evening took Mézières and Charleville across the river. The attack planed for the following morning was arrested by the news of the Armistice. Next day we moved into some large and comfortable barracks in Mézières, where we remained until the 17th, when our advance into Belgium began. After passing through Saint-Hubert, we stopped at Drinkelange, where we lived for two weeks in a frame building, with only occasional trips carrying malades to Bastogne. On December 11 we started into Germany, crossing the line at Dasburg, and spending our first night in Daleiden. We continued through Neuerburg, Bitburg, Schweich, and Simmern, reaching the Rhine on December 23. Christmas we spent in Salzig, then two days later went down the Rhine to Mayence. Our Division relieved a Moroccan division in holding the bridgehead.
February 14, a new section relieved us, and leaving them our cars, we took train for Metz, then shifted to the Paris express. After one day in Paris, we began the first lap of our homeward journey.
Section Eighteen remained stationed at the evacuation hospital at La Veuve, near Chalons-sur-Marne in the Champagne, from the last of October until January 20, 1918. Meanwhile it underwent great transformation. The personnel for the most part changed, the places of the retiring members being taken by men of old Section Seventy. With its militarization, the Section became officially Section Six-Thirty-Six of the U.S.A. Ambulance Service. It was then attached to the 87 D.I. and went in January, 1918, to Mourmelon-le-Grand, in the Champagne in the "region of the Mounts," where the Division went into line. The work was light, on the whole, except for a few rather severe but short attacks by the Germans during March, the purpose of which was to camouflage the intended attack on Amiens. The Section remained here until April 2, when it started en convoi for the Somme front.
Immense preparations were being made by both French and British on this front to stop the supposed second German drive on Amiens.
The Germans, however, did not attack on Amiens, but on the 27th commenced their Aisne-Marne drive. During the night of May 31, the entire Division was moved in camions toward the Aisne front. We followed in convoy the next morning. Finally, on June 3, after a terrible convoy over jammed and dusty roads, we reached Largny, a few kilometers outside of Villers-Cotterets. We later took up permanent quarters in an old mill at Vez. The work was very heavy, as the Germans were still attacking, and we were in line here for thirty-eight days. From the 11th to the 14th of June, coincident with their attack in the Noyon-Montdidier sector, the Germans attacked this front heavily.
On July 12, we came out of line and went with the Division to Pont-Sainte-Maxence again, for repos. On the morning of July 15 we moved to La Fayel near by, and, on July 18, as we began to get news of the Foch counter-offensive above Soissons, moved again on a long dusty convoy to Villers-Cotterets, and thence to Retheuil. We went to work immediately, aiding Section Two, which was serving the Colonial Division, working at Saint-Pierre-Aigle. We carried many Americans during this time. The next day we moved to Vivières, and our Division went in and relieved half the 1st Division, and half the French Colonial Division. The work was extremely heavy all the time on account of the persistent attacks for Buzancy and Villemontoire. We carried many wounded from the famous Scotch Division, which contained among other units, the Black Watch and the Argyll Highlanders. Conditions were terrible. Evacuation was some thirty-five kilometers over crowded roads to Pierrefonds, a distance later shortened somewhat by the taking of assis to Villers-Cotterets. The Section was much shocked by the manner in which the American 1st Division left their dead lying unburied. The French buried them as soon as they were able.
On August 2, the Germans retreated back to the Aisne and Vesle, and the Division and Section came out of line on August 6. Then followed a speedy convoy, through Chaumont, Neufchateau, and Epinal to the Vosges, where the Division, now badly cut up, took a position some twenty-five kilometers in extent in the line between Saint-Dié and Raon-l'Etape.
We moved again on September 1, this time going to Lunéville, on the Lorraine front. The Division occupied a front of ten kilometers. We remained here until October 18, when we went near by to the famous manure-pile town of Xermanénil, and three days later started a memorable convoy to the Champagne by way of Nancy, Toul, Ligny-en-Barrois, and Bar-le-Duc, finally arriving at the little town of Dampierre-le-Chateau. We spent a week here, finally moving up, under secret orders, to a place on the old line where a town called Ripont had been, where we lived in old German dugouts. Then on to Séchault on the Sainte-Ménéhould Vouziers road, where we camped in the mud during the Franco-American Argonne-Meuse attack of November 1, and finally to Bony, in the Champagne, where we were stationed when the Armistice was signed. Contrary to our former visions of the great day, life went on about as usual. We could not believe it was all over. Even the star-shells the poilus sent up at dusk failed to make us realize it.
A few days later, we started a long convoy to the Vosges, by way of Vitry-le-François, Saint-Dizier, and Neufchateau, to Darney, where we remained a week. We then proceeded to Le Thillot and by way of the Col de Bussang into 'l'Alsace Reconquise" --- through Wesserling, Thann, and Cernay, finally arriving at Soultz, which the Germans had but recently evacuated. Thanksgiving Day was duly celebrated at the Alsatian town of Rouffach, in the inn of an old veteran of the Franco-Prussian war. We then moved down to the fortress town of Neuf-Brisach, on the Rhine, where we had a car stationed at the pontoon bridge, opposite Alt-Brisach on the bluff across the river in the province of Baden, for the handling of the sick among the returning prisoners.
In the middle of January, the Division was broken up, and we were attached to the D.S.A. in Mulhouse. We remained here until March 9, when we were ordered in to Paris, en route for home.
Section Nineteen was visited by recruiting officers September 24, 1917, while working in the sector of the Argonne between the Four-de-Paris and the Avocourt Woods. Men were enlisted on that day, although the Section did not become part of the American army until later.
On September 26, 1917, the Section went en repos at Semoigne, south of Châlons-sur-Marne, the following day moving to Montereux close by. At the commencement of the Austrian rush into Italy, our Division, the 65th, was at Camp Mailly, and it at once started for Dormans on foot, the Section following. This march took three days. Then the Division entrained for Italy and we were detached, going to Troissy en repos.
We stayed there until the middle of November, when we became attached to the 58th Division of Infantry, with whom we stayed the rest of the war. The liaison took place at Reims, where we served Clos Saint-Remy, the Fromagerie, etc., until the Division was relieved on January 17, 1918. The 58th passed through Épernay toward Châlons-sur-Marne again, the Section having one-night stands until it finally reached Noirlieu. Later it moved to Sainte-Ménehould.
On March 19, 1918, the Division and Section moved into the Butte de Mesnil sector of Champagne, where several cars were hit and the men had enough work for once.
Later the Division was relieved and sent through Châlons, through Épernay, Pierrefonds, Compiègne, to Moyenneville, where it was holding the line on both sides of Cuvilly on June 9, 1918.
The Boche attacked here on June 9, and captured among other things eight of our cars and three of our men. The Section, under orders with the whole Division, retired to Estrées-Saint-Denis, that night moving to Eraine, Saint-Remy-en-l'Eau, and finally to Valescourt on June 14
The Infantry of the 58th had been all shot to pieces, so we were given three new regiments and made an attacking division --- something we had always wanted.
On the 17th of July, we moved over to Vivières, and on the 18th the Aisne-Marne battle started. On the 19th, our G.B.D. was moved to Vertes Feuilles with postes de secours in Vierzy. Here we worked between the United States 1st and 2d Divisions.
After our Division had taken all its objectives, we were relieved on the 25th of July, returning to Saint-Remy again.
The Division went into line opposite Chevincourt, cleaned the famous Thiescourt Plateau, and took part of Noyon. We came out on September 1, going again to Estrées-Saint-Denis.
On September 24 the Section moved to La Croix Ricard, Genvry, and on to Chauny on the 27th. The Division went into line in front of Tergnier, and when our men came out en repos, several days after the Armistice, the front postes were in Belgium. The Section moved up behind the troops as follows: To Le Mont de Faux December 7; Montcornet, December 14; Aubenton, January 25, 1919; and later to Rimogne, where on March 15, 1919, we were relieved by S.S.U. 547, and proceeded to Base Camp, en route for the United States.
Our three prisoners were all returned alive, one returning to the Section December 25, 1918. The Section received a divisional citation for its work on June 9.
Section Sixty-Nine was enlisted in the U.S. Army on October 3, 1917, while the Section was stationed at Verdun and doing poste work at Bras, Vacherauville, and points farther to the front. They stayed at Verdun until October 18 when they went to Chardogne, a small town not far from Bar-le-Duc. It was in this town that they lost those members of the Section who had seen fit to join other branches of the service or those who sought the old États- Unis.
October 23 saw old Section Sixty-Nine fused with Section Twenty-Six and the old Fords of Twenty-Six replaced the Fiats of Sixty-Nine. We took over the Woevre sector and were quartered at Ancemont-sur-Meuse. We stayed in this quiet sector until November 7, when we pulled stakes and finally landed in the Champagne at Jalons about seventeen kilometres out of Chalons on the road to Épernay.
On November 28 we went into line at Villers-Marmery in front of Mont Cornillet, where we spent a quiet winter to the right of Reims. The only action we had here was from the 15th to the 21st of March, when small attacks along the line rather excited the entire front.
On April 30 we left Villers for La Cheppe, between Suippes and Chalons, where we were en repos. We left this town on May 7 with our Division which was ordered to Belgium at the moment of the British retreat. We ran in convoy to Belgium by way of Meaux and Abbéville and stopped at Ochtezeele. We stayed at Ochtezeele until the 22d of May when we went into line near Poperinghe in front of Mont Kemmel.
During June we had our postes at Reninghelst and La Clytte. After about a month and a half in Belgium we left for Esquelbecq, southeast of Dunkirk, where we stayed until July 5 when we left with our Division for the Champagne by way of Paris and Sézanne. After a day in Tours-sur-Marne we were called into the mountains of Reims, where we waited in the woods under cover until July 15 during the preparation for the second battle of the Marne.
On July 15 we went into line at Hautvillers, six kilometres north of Épernay, but this town seemed to be too close and we were moved back three kilometres to Dizy-Magenta on the 16th. It is from here that we saw part of the second battle of the Marne with our postes at Damery and Arty. After the French advance of July 18 we had postes at Châtillon-sur-Marne and Villers-sous-Châtillon.
On August 1 we left for Igny-le-Jard, fifteen kilometres south of Châtillon, where we stayed en repos until August 17. Our next work was as a reserve at Saint-Hilaire-au-Temple, near Châlons. After our repos here, lasting until August 26, we moved to Camp Dillmann, on the Châlons-Reims road, working postes at the foot of Mont Cornillet with some postes the same as during the winter of 1917-18.
On October 6 we left Camp Dillmann for Mourmelon-le-Grand, whence we went to Souain and to Sainte-Marie-à-Py, where we lived in the woods between this town and Saint-Etienne-à-Arnes until October 11, during the battle of the Arnes and subsequently the German retreat to the Aisne.
October 16 found us in Pauvres, twenty kilometres west of Vouziers, which town we left on October 21 for La Neuville, thence to Saint-Martin l'Heureux, and from there to Louvercy, where we stayed until October 23. We next stopped at Camp au Tombeaux des Sarazins, near Bouy, where we stayed until November 6 en repos. Our next move was shortly before the Armistice, when we went to Somme-Py and then to Semide and later to Vouziers, where we spent "le jour de l'Armistice. "
On November 11 we moved to Sauville and thence to Chevenges, where we stayed the remainder of the month of November until December 16. From December until the 11th of March we spent the time in Torcy-Sedan doing evacuation work for hospitals and supplying civilians with food. On March 11 we were relieved and started on the final journey to Paris en route for the United States.
Section Twenty-Seven, reorganized as Section Six-Thirty-Nine, served in Champagne, in the Suippes sector, with the 132d French Division from November, 1917, to March, 1918. In March it moved up, after the drive on Amiens, to the Somme-Oise front, being stationed at Gournay-sur-Arronde. It remained here until May, when it moved into the Montdidier sector, near Montigny and Ravenel. On July 18 it went to Bresles en repos. From the latter part of July until August 18 it worked in the Marne-Château-Thierry sectors --- Orbais, Chavenay, and Dormans. It was serving here with the 18th Division.
Leaving this front on August 18, it went to the Verdun sector, at Béveaux. On September 18 it moved again, this time to Camp Fréty, on reserve with the American army. From the latter part of September until just before the Armistice it took part in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, working near Séchaut and Monthois. It was in Nancy when the Armistice was declared. Then followed the trip with the Army of Occupation, through Alsace, Lorraine, and into Baden into the neutral zone. The towns visited were Saverne, Morzheim, Ludwigshafen-am-Rhein, and Mannheim. Then followed the trip to Base Camp. The Section received a sectional citation during the Second Battle of the Marne, in the orders of the 18th French Division.
S.S.U. Twenty-Eight was taken over by the Government September 17, 1917, at Mourmelon-le-Grand, while it was working with the 134th Division of Infantry, and was called thereafter Section Six-Forty. A week after being militarized we were relieved by S.S.U. Seventeen and went with the 134th to Damery-sur-Marne for a repos of three weeks. From Damery we went to Champigny, where we worked the postes on the northwest side of Reims and a few call postes in other parts of the city. Evacuation work was from Châlons-sur-Vesle to Bouleuse, Jonchery, Sapicourt, and Trigny. The latter part of January we moved into the city proper and had all our postes in the city.
About February 1 we went "out" en repos to Damery for three weeks, then came back to our old quarters in the city, and at this time we took over all the postes in the city, which we worked alone until August 17. After a couple of weeks we moved outside the city limits, where we lived in a candle factory. After the German attacks on March 1 we moved to Sacy, eight kilometres from Reims. Up to this time Reims had been quiet, and with this exception was until the Germans began their destruction in early April. This lasted about ten days, and then things were quiet until the retreat in May from the Aisne. At this time we were very busy and gave considerable help to S.S.A. Twenty on our left, whose division, the 45th Colonials, did excellent work in covering the retreat.
After a couple of days we moved into the woods on the road between Épernay and Reims, near Mont Chenot.
Our Division was in line when the attack of July 15 came, and again we were very busy. August 17 the Section was sent to Nogent-en-Bassigny to join the 91st American Division. In September we went to a position in reserve near Void, where we stayed until the Saint-Mihiel drive was over. From here we went to Parois, where we were when the attack of September 26 commenced. As the attack advanced we had postes in Véry, Cheppy, Epinonville, Eclisfontaine. After ten days in action we came down to Revigny where the Division entrained for Belgium, ten cars going by flatcar and ten over the road.
We camped two days in the English dugouts at Ypres, and then had about ten days' rest before the 91st went into action.
October 29. At this time Lieutenant Gile was relieved by Lieutenant Eno. November 4 the 91st received G.M.C.'s and we were sent to Nancy, where we were when the Armistice was signed, Lieutenant Eno now being relieved by Lieutenant Raydon. November 12 we were assigned to the 76th French Division, and started for Germany via Metz, Thionville, Sierck, Merzig, Hamburg, Alzey, Biebrich, and ended at Kriftel where we were until relieved March 15.
We received a Section Citation from the 134th D.I. for work in Reims during May and June and a letter of commendation from the Division Surgeon of the 91st.
On November 3, Section Seventy-One arrived at Belrupt late in the afternoon to take over the cars of Section Twenty-Nine. The sector, proved anything but quiet. During six weeks there we lost five cars at the abri, and one man was severely wounded. Here the Section became officially renumbered Six-Forty-One.
On December 27, the Section moved to Clermont-en-Argonne, where our Division went into line between Vauquois and the extreme left of the Bois d'Avocourt. Our hardest work in the Argonne came on the 16th of March, 1918, when one of our regiments went over in a grand coup de main.
On May 16, we left the sector, going to Epense for a short repos. It was here that we became detached from the 120th Division, which was to move a long distance. We were not long detached, however, for after one day we were sent to Rambluzin and attached to the 17th Division, which was then in line at Saint-Mihiel. During the latter part of July, after a short repos at Vavincourt, the Division was ordered into the Tenth Army. We were stationed at Vierzy, southwest of Soissons, and worked a poste from Ambrief. On August 19 we left Rétheuil for Cuise-Lamotte, from which place we expected to, work postes. But the Boches were retreating so fast that, at two in the morning on August 20, we were routed out from under haystacks, cars, etc., to roll on up the Soissons-Compiègne highway, to cross the Aisne and pass through Attichy to the "farm" in question, where we waited until 2 p.m. When we stopped our cars at the ordered point, we found ourselves --- cars, kitchen, and conducteurs --- at a reserve-line poste de secours, which, as a matter of fact, was still being used as Section Two's front poste! The battle was continuing, with the guns firing behind us, and now and then a battalion advancing in deployed order. The smoke of a Boche barrage had hardly yet cleared away. Prisoners were constantly filing back from the front. This spot was a few kilometers east of the famous village of Moulin-sous-Touvent, where such heavy fighting took place. Our new destination was Sacy, where we spent one night, moving early the next morning to the outskirts of Vic-sur-Aisne.
About dark on August 21 we moved still farther up, this time to a point on the road about one kilometer from Morsain. We parked in a field, only to be driven out by a French artillery officer, who said he was going to use that position for his battery of "105's." It was the guerre de mouvement with a vengeance. Our Division went into line here, and we immediately received a call for all available cars. We worked here for seventy-two consecutive hours. The work continued more or less steadily for two weeks, until Coucy-le-Chateau was reached, twenty-three kilometers from Vic. For our work on the 23d and 24th of August we received a sectional citation.
On the 10th of September we again moved up, this time to Vézaponin. The work was heavy and disagreeable, as it had been for the past two weeks, so it was with great relief and pleasure that we were sent hack en repos on September 19.
About the 10th of October we again moved to the front, this time to Acy, en réserve, with only the usual car or so on duty with the G.B.D. After a short time, we moved farther up, going to Jouy, on the other side of the Aune, where we spent ten days, living alongside the road and sleeping in our cars.
On October 24, we moved still farther on, going to Bucy-les-Cerny, a short distance outside of Laon. This was the beginning of the end. The Germans were holding on along the Serre River, but on November 4 the retreat started.
The cars on duty had gone on with the G.B.D. and brancardiers, and no one knew where they were. How we ever moved over roads full of mine craters and with the flimsiest improvised bridges over the streams, no one will ever know. We stopped at Marie eight hours after the victorious French infantry had taken it, and on seeing Americans for the first time, the inhabitants, four years in German servitude, went wild.
No one knew exactly where the Germans were. We could hear no guns, and the only news we could obtain was from the French civilians who had run back from their homes when the lines had passed eastward. Here for the first time in long months, carelessness was shown as to lights. In two days we moved to Harcigny, near Vervins, not far from Hirson on the Belgian border. This was a move of thirty kilometers, and still there seemed to be no trace of the retreating Germans. Rumors of an armistice had floated about, but every one had taken them with the usual grain of salt. However, on the morning of November 11 a lieutenant from the French Staff stuck his head in the door of our shack at six in the morning and officially announced that the Armistice had been signed and hostilities would cease at eleven. There was not a sound except the moving of huddled forms under their blankets. . . Everything went on as before. Nothing seemed changed. What was it? Were we all too stunned by the news to feel any real emotion, or had we become immune to such things?
We stayed in Harcigny until November 13, and then started our long convoy back into France, and on again into the armies of occupation. On the 12th, fifteen of us (the rest were still on duty taking care of their last blessés de la guerre) lined up as a guard of honor to our Divisional General, and watched our three French regiments, the 90th, the 355th, and 68th, march back from the lines --- their work completed forever. It was a moving sight to see the fellows in blue with whom we had worked to the end, comrades every one. Every man's heart was with them, as they filed by, and always will be as long as the memory of that day remains.
At the formation of new Section Six-Forty-Two --- Old Thirty as we still liked to call it --- Chef Richmond immediately became Lieutenant Richmond, Sous-Chef MacDougall, First-Sergeant MacDougall, and J. Oliver Beebe, Sergeant. Late November and early December were spent at Soissons, serving the Hôpital Militaire. On the 9th the Section went to Chacrise, five miles to the south of Soissons, and was attached to the 22e Division d'infanterie, which consisted of the 19th, 62d, and 118th Regiments and the 39e Régiment d'artillerie. Here were first met M. Petit, real if not nominal, head of the G.B.D. 22, and M. l'Aumonier Bossuet, the Division Priest, who could boast, but did n't, that every man in the Division was his friend. On the 19th the Section went to Juvigny, north of Soissons, where it remained until the 12th of March, serving postes in the sector between Coucy-le-Château and the Vauxaillon-Pinon region.
Leaving here the Section slowly went with the rest of the Division to Lagny, near Paris, supposedly for repos, but had scarcely encamped when at 6 P.M. on the 21st of March the alerte was received; at midnight orders to move; and at sunrise movement in the direction of the great retreat of the Somme began. Five days and five nights the Division worked, the men almost without equipment or ammunition, and it aided most effectually in the final arrest of the Hun on about the 29th. This was probably the hardest work which the Section was called upon to do, though the costs were much less than in the next retreat. The work done by the Section may be judged by the seven individual citations received by the officers and four men.
From this battle the Division went to the Aisne front, stopping en route at Vic-sur-Aisne and Braisne. The Section was stationed April 29th at uilly, just north of the Aisne, serving various postes on the Chemin des Dames. Here the Section suffered the loss of its much-loved Lieutenant Ralph Richmond, who went to take command of a parc and was replaced by Lieutenant Brady.
All day, the 26th of May, nothing went on out of the ordinary. At midnight the barrage and the gas, the most intense fire imaginable.
At five o'clock the Boches came over, and Section Six-Forty-Two, with what was left of the Division, started the second great retreat, but not until it had left four men and eight cars in the hands of the enemy. The Section retired, with the Division, through Fismes, Fère-en-Tardenois, and crossed the Marne to be relieved at Condé-en-Brie on the 31st of May, after the remaining eleven cars from the Section had taken the last of the wounded from the hospitals at Chateau-Thierry --- the last transportation in the town before its capture. At Montmirail, where we were next located, the American troops passed us, heading for Chateau-Thierry to stem the tide of invasion.
The Division was assembled at La Thillot and then went in line on the 21st in the Thann-Hartmannsweilerkopf-Col-de-Bussang sector. On September 1, convoy was made by easy stages to Brusson, near Vitry-le-François, where we waited for the expected attack in the Champagne. After the Saint-Mihiel drive, all the high officers of the Division were taken up there in twelve cars to observe the work of the Americans, which was considered to have been carried out in a most remarkable manner.
On the 26th, we were in line at Souain, and at that point took place the first real advance which the Section had enjoyed. September 26 to October 6 was spent in General Gouraud's offensive, with numerous postes served in the region of Souain, Somme-Py, Saint Clément-à-Arnes, Saint Etienne-à-Arnes, Sainte Marie-à-Py, Ville-sur-Retourne, and Le Ménil.
For services during these days, the Section was honored by a citation to the order of the Corps d'Armée. Also seven more men received individual citations from the Division. From October 27 until November 6 we went back with our Division for a continuation of the Champagne-Ardennes offensive. The Section cantonment was at Dricourt. From November 6 to 10 the Section took part in the final rapid advance of the Allies through Tourteron and Bouvellemont, toward the Meuse. November 11 found it en repos at Saint-Lambert. November 12 until the 23d it convoyed across Northern France and Belgium via Flize, Carignan, and Isel. From November 23 until December 11 it remained at Martelange, in Belgium, and from the latter date until December 27 at Redange, in Luxembourg.
On December 27 and 28 it convoyed back to France and went to Montmédy, where it remained until called in to Base Camp on February 18, 1919, preparatory to going home.
September 23, 1917, Section Thirty-One, while in Condé-en-Barrois, signed with the American Army and became S.S.U. Six-Forty-Three. October 2 it relieved S.S.U. Fifteen at Jouy-en-Argonne, serving on the left bank of the Meuse with the 14th French Division. Line postes at Hills 232, 239, Montzéville, Marre, and Chattancourt. During November five cars were detached to assist S.S.U. Thirty during the attack on Hill 344. January 4, 1918, the Section was relieved by S.S.A. Four, and Six-Forty-Three conveyed to Velaines, where it was detached from the 14th Division which continued its way to the Vosges, two armies distant. Two weeks were spent at Savonnières en repos, and then the Section proceeded to Souilly, where it did evacuation work for the Second Army for a period of three weeks.
February 2 the Section went en repos at the Bois de Ravigny. On account of the Section being quarantined for diphtheria, it was six weeks before moving to the casernes at Bévaux. Two months were spent on the right bank of the Meuse doing line work for the 20th French Division at the following postes: Carrière d'Haudromont, Berges, Nice, and several call postes. From March, 1918, until March, 1919. the Section was attached to the 20th Division. In April, 1918, Lieutenant Battershell was replaced by Samuel S. Seward. The middle of May found the Section en repos at Ligny-en-Barrois, where it stayed for six days. May 28 the 20th Division and Section Six-Forty-Three were ordered post-haste northward to stop the gap made by the Boches on Chemin des Dames. The first Division to arrive on the scene on May 29 was the 20th and it got almost as far as Ville-en-Tardenois when it had to fall back.
For two days, though resisting stiffly, they were obliged to drop back until, on the night of the 30th, they crossed the Marne just to the right of Château-Thierry. The battles of Villers-Agron and of Jaulgonne are given high significance in the history of this German drive and here the Section did good work sticking with the line units and being obliged to evacuate its blessés sixty kilometres.
During the retreat Section cantonments were at Varennes, Baulne, and Celle-les-Condé. The month of June was spent working postes along the Marne from Celle-les-Condé as a headquarters. While here the 3d American Division joined the 20th French, and Six-Forty-Three did the line work for both Divisions, in the so-called halt of the German armies at Château-Thierry.
Leaving Celle-les-Condé, June 28, the Section proceeded to Dammartin, where it stayed for seven days with its Division in reserve for an expected drive at Villers-Cotterets. On the 5th of July it returned to the Marne, taking positions in the second line of defence between Château-Thierry and Dormans, the Section camping at la ferme "Les Anglais."
After driving the Germans across the Marne the 20th Division and Section Six-Forty-Three followed in active combat the ensuing retreat to the river Vesle. The advance was made through Châtillon, Ville-en-Tardenois, and finally stopped at the river, the Division holding from Fismes to Jonchery. Here the Section worked postes along the river Vesle from a cantonment at Lagery until September 1. Then the Division went en repos and the Section, making a cantonment at Châtillon, worked twenty cars a day evacuating for the Corps d'Armée. September 20, Division and Section went to the Vosges, making headquarters at Saint-Dié and Raon l'Étape. While here Section Six-Forty-Three worked for the 82d American Division as well as their own French Division.
Taking position early in November behind Baccarat for the expected drive against Metz, Armistice Day found the Section at Thaon-les-Vosges. The 20th Division made a triumphal procession on the heels of the Boches, and were the first Allies, and the men of Section Six-Forty-Three were the first Americans to reach the Rhine, arriving at Strasbourg on the dot of the permitted hour. After two weeks at Strasbourg the Section and Division moved south to Schlestadt, taking over the Rhine line, and remained here until Section Six-Forty-Three was called into Paris for demobilization on March 13, 1919. A Section Citation to the Order of the Division was received at Strasbourg, November, 1918, for work on the Marne and Vesle.
November 3, 1917, the Section, now relabeled Six-Forty-Four, took part in its first engagement under American régime, at Verdun, in the Bezonvaux sector between Forts Douaumont and Vaux. It was in the line during a period of thirty-five days, and evacuated 3040 blessés. Although we had no casualties we lost two of our cars. The Section here received its first citation.
After a ten-day repos at Combles, the Division went into the lines, again at Verdun, and captured Hill 344. We carried 4210 wounded during the ten days the Division was in the lines. On December 3 the Section went en convoi to Bar-sur-Aube, where it remained en repos for a period of two weeks. At Darney we settled down for a long cold winter. On January 21 of the new year we quit Darney, going to Custines, a small town on the Nancy front. From here we operated postes in and around Nomény.
The Section left this sector about the first of March for the front near Amiens. The Division went into the lines at Villers-Bretonneux, and the Section was cantoned directly in back of the troops, at Petit Blangy, later at Patte d'Oie, where we camped alongside of the main road between Amiens and Saint-Quentin. We again were forced to move, and this time went to the Bois de Fort Manon, where we stayed until August 2, operating postes in front of Villers-Bretonneux and to the left of that town. We then went to Wailly, and from there, after a few days' wait, to Cottenchy where the Division made a joint attack with the British on their right. The Germans were forced back to the general line of Ham, Nesle, Roye, etc. During this attack the Section took its first part in open warfare, as well as occupying reconquered territory for the first time. The Division by forced marches through Maignelay, Jonquières, and Ribécourt, went into the lines at Chiry-Ours-camp, and, attacking, captured Noyon, then advancing to La Fère. During this time the Section made their evacuations in such a manner as to receive another citation.
From there the Division advanced through the towns of Chevresis, Monceau, Parpeville, Puisieux, and thence to Hirson, in a continuation of the Aisne-Oise offensive. The Armistice was signed the day after the Section reached Hirson.
Returning to La Fère, we remained there until the latter part of December, when we started en convoi for the Vosges, preparatory to taking part in the French occupation of Germany. We stayed in Rambervillers two weeks, and then went into reconquered Alsace on February 14, 1919, stopping for a few days in the town of Sarrebourg. From there the Section convoyed to Einöd, in the Palatinate, and thence to Alsie (Hesse), Bierstadt, in Rhenish Prussia, near Wiesbaden, and to Niederhausen, where the Section was cantoned for two weeks or so; moving from there to Ober Losbach. From that place started the final convoy of the Section for Paris.
At the time of its militarization, the Section was in Clermont-en-Argonne, where it remained, getting accustomed to the army life, until Christmas Day, 1917. The month of January, 1918, was spent en repos at Andernay, and on February 6 the Section was sent to Houdainville, below Verdun. For six weeks or more we were extremely busy and had many exciting moments, serving the famous postes east of the city.
Early in April we were ordered to Sommedieue in the Woevre, where the entire spring was passed with not an overdose of thrills. On the 10th of August we started for Soissons, arriving after numberless one-night stands on the 25th. Quarters were taken up in the lowlands of the Aisne near Fontenoy. For four days and nights our infantry attacked, and we were overwhelmed with strenuous work. Our cars were on the road continuously, serving postes which constantly shifted their position, and lent a nervous uncertainty that added to the strain.
On August 29 Hess, a very fine chap, was killed by a bomb, and Naslund and Mackie were wounded. For the work done at this time the Section received a citation.
A ten-day rest and we were returned to the same sector to take part in the Aisne-Oise offensive, which was only halted by the Armistice. Descending then in convoy, we spent the winter at Forbach, in Lorraine, where our troops were on garrison duty. The Section left in March for Base Camp.
This was one of the Norton-Harjes units of volunteers, mostly from Harvard University, who had come to France at their own expense, and were organized into Section 5 of the American Red Cross Ambulance Service. They served the famous 66th Division of French Chasseurs in the summer of 1917. This division was commanded by General de Brissaud Daismillet, and consisted of the Blue Devil shock troops. The section had served the American Ambulance Hospital since the early days of the war.
When the recruiting officer arrived to enlist all American volunteers into the U.S. Army, in October of 1917, many of the men went into other branches of the service, but the remaining number were supplemented by replacements from casuals from Allentown. Section 5 then became Section 646 under the United States Army Ambulance Service, and went on to new honors.
This was the only section to receive the French Fourragère in the colors of the Medaille Militaire. They were awarded the Croix de Guerre with Four Palms, a Gilt Star, and a Silver Star. (Section 1/625 and 57/539 were awarded the French Fourragère in the colors of the Croix de Guerre.) It took at least two Army Corps citations for bravery, for the members of a section to receive this distinctive recognition.
No details of engagements were received from members of this section. From French reports received, the Section was assigned to the 5th French Division, during the battles of July 18, 1918 to July 28, 1918, and reinforced Section 539 in evacuating the great number of wounded in an offensive engagement. Again from French records, the Section under Lt. Ervin Drake were involved in severe battles from September 26 to October 1, 1918. In an earlier French order, the Section was cited by the 6th French Army for exceptional work during an attack, October 23 to 26, 1917.
Again from French records, we find them being cited in actions with the 66th French Division's attack of July 30th, and counter-attacks of the following days.
We regret that there has been no record received from a member of the Section, regarding their activities after the Armistice, or when they returned to the United States for discharge.
Back in 1916-17, Mr. Eliot Norton handled the recruiting of volunteer ambulance drivers for the French Army, independent of the American Field Service. Section "0" was formed in France from many of these volunteers assembled at the American Ambulance Hospital at Neuilly sur Seine. It was originally assigned as this number, with Lt. George Northover as commander. In August of 1917, Section "O" was absorbed by the American Red Cross and the section number changed to "24." When the U.S. recruiting officer visited the Section, many of the original Norton-Harjes men enlisted in the United States Army Ambulance Service and were sent to the Base Camp at Sandricourt, about 40 kilometers from Paris. It was here that they formed into the Section 647, with Lt. Harry E. Anderson commanding.
In February 1918, the Section went to Fort de Vanes, near Paris, to assemble their own Model "T" Ford ambulances. They were sent to Neufchateau in the Vosges Mountains, and assigned to shuttle duty between Base Hospital 66 and other outlying hospitals, evacuating to various railheads.
In May 1918, Lt. Anderson was replaced by Lt. Leroy M. Smith, and assigned to French divisions in the Toul Sector--- Seicheprey and Givray, on August 2, 1918. They were loaned to the 26th, 82nd and 89th American Divisions, and took part in the Marbache Sector August 2 to September 11; St. Mihiel offensive Sept. 12 to 15; and Meuse-Argonne offensive Sept. 28 to Nov. 2, 1918.
Casualties were one killed and eleven men were listed as wounded or gassed. The Section received a citation in General Orders #1. Paragraph One of 82nd U.S. Division on January 13, 1919. Cited by 26th U.S. Division, May 3. 1918. Individual awards of U.S. Distinguished Service Cross were made to seven men, while two men received the French Croix de Guerre.
The Section went with the 10th French Army of Occupation to Mainz, Germany, from Nov. 1918 to March 1919. Many of the men were discharged at St. Aignan, France, to continue their activities in American Red Cross work. The balance of the Section went to St. Nazaire, and returned to the United States on the H. R. Mallory.
This section was established, following the merger of original Norton-Harjes units No. 57 and No. 58. These original units were made up of American volunteers recruited in both the United States and in France, by Messrs. Norton and Harjes, bankers, to serve with the French Army. Following the declaration of war, all American volunteer ambulance drivers were required to either enlist in the United States Army Ambulance Service, or some other branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, or return to their homes. SSU 57 was visited by the U.S. Army enlistment officers at Somme Suippes, Marne, on Oct. 1, 1917, and 12 men elected to join the USAAS. SSU 58 was likewise visited by the enlistment officers at Noyon, Oise, On Oct. 5, 1917, and 18 men elected to join the USAAS. The men of 57 joined the men of 58 at Noyon, and on or about October 5, 1917, S.S.U. 648 was established under the leadership of Lt. William Evers, formerly of N-H unit No. 7. The new section, with Lt. Blache, and later Lt. de Crepy, French liaison officers, moved from Noyon to Germaine, Oise, beyond Ham, on November 9, 1917. At this time, the Section was serving a French division which joined with the British near St. Quentin. As the British lines were extended, the French were removed and Section 648 went en repos, south of Chalon-sur-Marne, in the town of Chenier.
In March 1918. when the German offensive broke through the lines, the British and French troops were rushed to fill the gap around Montdidier. Section 648 was then sent to this front. Attached to the French 67th Infantry Division, and served with them until the end of the war. All action was in the Oise and Aisne Sectors, as part of the French 3rd Army, under General Humbert.
Just prior to the signing of the Armistice, the Headquarters of Section 648 was at Villiers-le-Sec, and some of their men witnessed the passing of the German envoys through the lines on their way to Compiegne. (Editor's note: This is the third section which has reported this unique experience.) Section 648 was cited twice in Divisional orders with the Croix de Guerre with Palm, and about 20 individual awards were made to the members of the Section for exceptional bravery.
On several occasions it was necessary, to receive replacements, and records show that a number of these men came from New York sections, having trained in Allentown. The Section suffered casualties of two killed and two wounded. This casualty report does not include the damage suffered by one man who was pinned beneath one of the crates containing two Ford chassis, as it slid off a truck. The report of this accident suggests the date and place where the Section had replaced their original Fiat ambulances. This was in January 1918 at Chenier, near Chalon-sur-Marne.
The Section served their division until relieved March 19, 1919. They turned in their ambulances at St. Ouen Parc and Romorantin, and proceeded to. the Base Camp at Ferrières. They sailed for home from Brest on April 12 on the Great Northern. Discharged at Camp Dix April 22, 1919. SSU 648 furnished three men for the USAAS show, 'Let's Go!" including the man responsible for the scenery.