Ninety-nine American volunteer ambulance drivers, including two from the Philadelphia area, have arrived in Cairo, ready to go into service with the British, according to the American Field Service.
Included in the group were Charles Shoneman, formerly of 7829 Spring Av., Elkins Park, and Harry Grieb, of McCallum St., Germantown.
Shoneman wrote a brief note to his former landlady, Mrs. Leonidas McNeir, some time ago. It was postmarked New York, but the dateline on the letter was blocked out by the censor.
"I am still unable to write much, due to censorship," he said. "I am with a bunch of boys and enjoying myself. The weather is warm and beautiful now, with cool autumn and lovely days."
Shoneman went first to Canada, and it was thought that the letter may have been written from England.
About ten young men from this area have signed up as ambulance drivers with the American Field Service in the last month. Thomas Pym Cope,[HANDWRITTEN ANNOTATION: Betty Banninger's hus---- of Ern's] architect, 2300 Architect's Building, 17th and Sansom sts., said he is taking applications from men 18 to 36 for one-year enlistments. Passage home is guaranteed.
Drivers are subject to British Army discipline, and are unpaid except a small monthly allowance for pocket money. In most cases, they are released by selective service boards, Cope said. They are required to spend up to $200 each for uniforms and equipment.
The 99 men arriving at Cairo came from 24 States. Included in the group were Leland Kyle, Belleville, N. J.; James MacGill, Simpsonville, Md., and George Tichenor, Maplewood, N. J.
Cairo, March 3---The second group of volunteer ambulance drivers of the American Field Service to arrive since the first of the year is now safely quartered in Cairo, ready for service in various parts of the Middle East. Among them is Christopher Morley, Jr.. son of the American author. The drivers were greeted with an enthusiastic reception by the British and native population.
A third contingent of more than 100 volunteer American ambulance drivers, headed by Lieut. Col. Ralph S. Richmond of Milton, have left for North Africa to aid the British Middle East armies, the American Field Service announced last night. Answering an appeal from Gen. Sir Archibald Wavell last Fall for 400 ambulances and 1000 men, the field service, with headquarters at 8 Newbury St., has sent 300 ambulances and more than 300 men to the African front. The first unit is now on active duty in Syria. Recently the second unit arrived in Cairo.
Included among volunteers who left with the third unit were Robert C. Draper, son of B. H. Bristow Draper, president of the Draper Corporation, Hopedale; Roger Pierce Jr., son of Roger Pierce, president of the New England Trust Company and grandson of the late President Emeritus Eliot of Harvard; Henry L. Pierce, son of Charles S. Pierce, vice president of the New England Telephone & Telegraph Company; Richard H. Ragle, son of Dr. B. H. I Ragle, who is one of Boston's leading medical men and a member of the board of consultation of the Massachusetts General Hospital; John N. Hobbs, son of Mr. and Mrs. Marland Hobbs and grandson of Franklin W. Hobbs, president of the Arlington Mills; Augustus Thorndike 3d, son of Dr. Augustus Thorndike, associated with the Harvard football team, and Lester W. Harding Jr., nephew of W. DeFord Bigelow, chairman for New England of the American Field Service.
Others include Daniel P. Beatty Stewart M. Donaldson of Hingham, Hammond B. Douglas Jr. of Worcester , David S. Hendrick 3d of New Bedford, John W. Laverack of Brookline, Walter H. Olden of Groton, Julian P. O'Leary of New Bedford, Edward M. Spavin Jr. of Reading and William M. Taussig of Belmont.
This photo, released only yesterday, shows the Queen Mary, mammoth British luxury liner, jammed with thousands of troops on their way to the battle front. The photo was made in Rio de Janeiro in March 1942. Reinforcements and supplies carried aboard this liner are credited with saving the battle of El Alamein when the vessel arrived in Egypt at the eleventh hour.
LONDON, March 13 (INS)---Reuter's News Agency today picked up a broadcast by the Vichy news agency stating the giant liner Queen Mary, now a troop transport, recently called at Rio de Janeiro with 10,000 American and British troops aboard.
The Vichy dispatch, datelined "On the Italian Frontier," said:
"The Queen Mary made a three-day stay in Rio de Janiero bay and left for an unknown destination.
"She had 10,000 British and American troops aboard and was escorted into the South Atlantic by three warships.
"During her stay at Rio, no soldiers landed."
The Rome radio today quoted "Argentine maritime circles" as saying the 81,235-ton British liner Queen Mary, laden with 10,000 "North American" troops, was torpedoed and badly damaged several days ago after leaving Rio De Janeiro. The huge ship was reported attempting to reach the British base in the Falkland Islands.
Reports of this nature are frequently contained in Axis broadcasts in an attempt to gain information on movements of ships or troops.
In Washington the War and Navy Departments said they had no information and refused to comment.
NEW YORK, March 14 (UP) The Rome radio was heard broadcasting today a report credited to "Maritime circles" in Buenos Aires that the liner Queen Mary with "10,000 North American troops" aboard, had been torpedoed near Rio de Janeiro.
The report was contained in a dispatch of Stefani, the official Italian news agency. The dispatch, as broadcast by the Rome radio follows:
"In Argentine maritime circles it is affirmed that the British transatlantic liner Queen Mary, which left Rio de Janeiro a few days ago with 10,000 North American soldiers aboard headed in an unknown direction, was torpedoed. The ship was heavily damaged and tries to reach the British base in the Falkland Islands."
The Queen Mary is 81,000 tons, one of the three largest ships afloat. The other two are the former French Liner Normandie, now on her side and wrecked by fire in New York Harbor, and the British Liner, Queen Elizabeth. The Queen Mary was a Queen of the North Atlantic trade before the war and since has been engaged in British war service.
It was noted that the authority for the Stefani dispatch was exceeding vague, and that false reports of Its nature frequently emanate from Axis radio and other propaganda sources. Their purpose is to draw denials that will reveal vital information---in this case, where the Queen Mary is now and what she is doing.
In Washington the Navy and War. Departments said they had no information and refused to comment.
The American Field Service, one hundred and eleven members of which are on the ship, is completing the second phase of its career. Organized in World War I, it has already sent, in this war, either ambulances or drivers or both, to France, England and Greece, and is now dispatching contingents to the important Middle East Campaign.
The inception of the Field Service began with the outbreak of the last war, when a group of Americans living in France, by manning hastily improvised ambulances, helped to bring in the wounded from the first battle of the Marne. Before the war had ended, some twenty-five hundred Americans had joined the Service, carrying the wounded from most of the war's fronts. Two hundred and fifty of them received the Croix de Guerre, the Medaille Militaire or the Legion d'Honneur.
When war again seemed imminent, the Field Service laid plans to carry on as it had done before. In May, 1940, a unit moved into the north of France, and, in the few terrible weeks that were to follow, underwent a baptism of fire experienced by no other volunteer ambulance group. At Amiens, two of its ambulances and four of its drivers were caught in the swirling inferno, not to be heard from until weeks afterwards.
Later, through generous donations, ambulances were dispatched to Greece and in the brief but intense Syrian campaign, a group of seventeen men were attached to the Hadfield-Spears Field Hospital, an English unit with the Free French.
This, the fourth group to the Middle East, includes one of the Field Service's original members who served in the last war, upon whom was conferred the Croix de Guerre. Also, in the unit is one of the ambulance drivers who sailed on the ill-fated Zam-zam, and a former flyer with the RCAF, who was shot down three times over England, but who has since, because of a serious injury, been barred from flying service.
BEIRUT, Saturday. --- Another contingent of the American Field Service, the largest to date, has arrived here, and is to be assigned to British and Allied units in different parts of' Syria and the Lebanon.
This is the third contingent, second after America's entry into war, to be dispatched for service under British command. An original unit served in France until that country's capitulation and a second, with the Free French during the Syrian campaign is on active service in the Western Desert. The desert unit was recently augmented by men from Syria who arrived in February.
Members of the Field Service are volunteer ambulance drivers, and are able to service their own vehicles. Units are self-contained, and include, besides technicians and mechanics, their own administration which cooperates with the command unit, Early contingents consisted of men who volunteered months before America had entered the war but who were unable to enlist in other armies because of their country's neutrality. Volunteers after America's participation are made up of men exempted from Selective Service.
Incapacitated from further duty, with the American Field Service in Egypt, because of wounds received in Libya, Arthur Stratton of Brunswick, Me., a Bowdoin graduate, has resigned as an ambulance driver and will teach at the American University in Constantinople. Word to this effect has just been received by American Field Service headquarters at 8 Newbury street.
Stratton was wounded more than 10 times while trying to evacuate wounded Free French soldiers from the German trap at Bir Hacheim late last spring. In the retreat from Bir Hacheim and Tobruk, the
Mrs Philip L. Spalding who has just returned from Grand Junction, Tenn., from a visit to her brother, Hobart Ames, will open her home at 287 Highland street, Milton, for tea this afternoon at 4:30, when Maj. Stuart Benson, who has just flown from Africa, will talk on the current activities of the American Field Service.
Maj. Benson is second in command to Col. Ralph S. Richmond of Milton, who is at the head of the American Field service in Africa, which has already sent 300 ambulances and 300 men as volunteer drivers to this important theater of war. By early summer it is expected that Col. Richmond will have his full quota of 400 ambulances and 1000 men his command as 200 more men are ready to go and others are volunteering daily from all parts of the country.
Mr. W. DeFord Bigelow is chairman of the executive committee for New England, and Mr. S. Prescott Fay is vice-chairman. The others are Mr. John E. Boit, Mr. Donald Moffat and Mrs. John R. Chapin. The general committee is headed by Mr. Allan Forbes. Many who are interested and are planning to attend the tea have sons already serving with the ambulances as volunteer drivers in Africa, where increased activity is expected any day.
Among those who will be present are Mr and Mrs. Roger Pierce, Mrs. E. Clarence Hovey, Mrs. Horatio A. Lamb, Miss Aimee Lamb, Mr. Charles S. Pierce, Mrs. Mary Hemenway Callan, Mr. and Mrs. John T Coolidge, Jr., Dr. and Mrs. Horace Binney, Mr. and Mrs. Vassar Pierce, Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Whittier, Dr. and Mrs. Alexander Forbes, Mrs. Augustus Thorndike, Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Hobbs, Mr. and Mrs. Marland C. Hobbs, Dr. and Mrs. B. H. Ragle, Mr, and Mrs. William H. Laverack, Dr. and Mrs Randolph Byers, and Mr. and Mrs: William S. Febiger.
Alexander McElwain of Boston, American ambulance driver who last June was reported missing in the Libyan campaign, is an Italian prisoner of war in Rome, according to a letter received from him last week by his uncle, J. Franklin McElwain of Boston and Cohasset.
In his letter McElwain said he was a prisoner and was recuperating in a Rome hospital from a compound leg fracture and shrapnel injuries.
McElwain, who was decorated with the Croix de Guerre for his work with the American Field Service Ambulance Corps in France until that country fell, is a graduate of Milton Academy and of Harvard University, class of 1921.
After the fall of France he returned to this country and last Feb. 13 arrived in the Middle East for further service with the American volunteer ambulance unit. He was reported missing in Libya June 17. After his graduation from Harvard he studied at Oxford University and at the Harvard Law School.
Before he volunteered for ambulance service he was a member of the faculty of the Brooks School in North Andover.
BOSTON MEN WHO SURVIVED TORPEDOING---Seven American Field Service volunteers who were on their way to the Middle East on a freighter when it was torpedoed. Two are Bostonians. They are pictured on return to New York. Left to Right, Front Row---Jacob Bollrath, 19, Sheboygan, Wis.; Carl H. Adam, Madison, Wis., and George C. Lyon, 24, Essex, Conn. Rear Row---William J. Atkins, 21, Madison, Wis.; Peter C. Brooks, 25, Boston; Grafton Fay, group leader, Boston, and William B. Eberhard, 26, New Haven.
CAIRO, Egypt, April 30 (AP)---Thomas Esten, 28, of 195 Walnut St., Stoughton, Mass., a volunteer ambulance driver with the American Field Service, died of pneumonia today in an Alexandria hospital. He, was buried in the British Cemetery with military honors.
Thomas Esten of Stoughton, 28-year-old volunteer ambulance driver in Africa, whose death was announced today had won the Croix de Guerre for his gallant service in various battlefronts. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Esten of 195 Walnut St., Stoughton, Esten had his ambulance wrecked in France and was interned in a German concentration camp after the fall of France. Upon his release he reenlisted for service in Africa.
Esten won the Croix de Guerre for bravery in action on the French front. For three days and three nights, without rest, he helped carry wounded from the front lines to first aid posts, frequently acting as a stretcher bearer himself .
The tall, good-looking American young man was in Spain during the Spanish war and from there went to France where he entered the American Field Service. He was married to Miss Barbara Standish Blackburn of Dedham in 1935.
Esten studied at Stoughton High, the Huntington School and the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston.
To the Editor of The Herald:
Because I have read so many misstatements lately about the help being given the Free French, I feel it necessary to give the actual facts in the interests of those who wish to help these courageous people. The American Field Service, which carried over 600,000 French wounded in the first world war, has been supplying the Free French with all the ambulances and volunteer American drivers needed by their main forces which are in the Middle East---that is in Syria and Libya. What other small scattered groups there may be, eventually will find their way there to join this growing army of theirs which has been built up in this way.
During the fighting between them and the Vichy French in Syria last year, it was the American Field Service which served the Free French with their ambulances and volunteer American drivers sent from this country. Our first casualties occurred at that time and recently one of our wounded driver returned home. A bomb fell close to his car, blew it off the road and down an embankment. The Free French wounded inside were killed, but the driver miraculously survived with only a lot of broken bones.
The American Field Service is the only organization able to obtain passports from the State Department and to send drivers overseas with their ambulances. At present we have over 300 ambulances serving the Middle East armies of both the Free French and the British. We are now actively at work preparing to send over another 100 cars and several hundreds drivers to complete the quota we promised to furnish. Any one, therefore, interested in helping the Free French can do so through this organization which is supplying them with all the ambulances they need. Headquarters are at 8 Newbury street. Boston, Kenmore 8736. S. PRESCOTT FAY. Framingham Center. (An American Field Service driver in France in 1915.)
Many people around Boston and Providence are giving dinners next week and asking their friends to meet Major Stuart Benson, second in command of the American Field Service in Africa, who has recently flown back and will talk on the current conditions in the Middle East. The American Field Service, which is under the command of Col. Ralph S. Richmond of Milton, already has in active service 300 ambulances and 300 volunteer American drivers in Libya and Syria who are serving both the British Army and all the Free French Forces in the Middle East. In this important region, where it is expected that one of the most decisive battles of the whole war will be fought, the American Field Service expects to have its full quota of 400 ambulances and 1000 volunteer drivers completed and overseas by early summer.
The executive committee of which Mr. W. DeFord Bigelow is chairman for New England and Mr. S. Prescott Fay is vice-chairman, has formed a women's committee of which Mrs. John R. Chapin is chairman. The first meeting will take place at her home on Heath Hill, Brookline, this afternoon at 4:30.
Serving with her on the committee are Miss Martha Chapin, Mrs. Leslie B. Cutler, Mrs. Percival Gilbert, Mrs. Andrew H. Hepburn, Mrs. Conrad Hobbs, Mrs. Marland C. Hobbs, Mrs. William H. Laverack, Mrs. John W. Myers, Mrs. Roger Pierce, Mrs. B. H. Ragle, Mrs. Ralph Richmond, Mrs. Francis P. Sears, Mrs. Dwight Shepler and Mrs. Augustus Thorndike.
Invitations are going out for several parties to be given next week. Tuesday, May 5, Mr. George S. Barton of Boylston, whose son, Trumbull Barton, is already driving with the service in Africa, will give a men's luncheon in Worcester for Major Benson. That evening Mrs. Wilson G. Wing and Mrs. E. Bruce Merriman of Providence are entertaining jointly and have sent out 400 invitations to their friends to meet Major Benson at Mrs. Merriman's home, 60 Manning street, at 8:45. Many people will be giving dinners preceding the talk.
In Concord, Wednesday, May 6, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew H. Hepburn, whose son Peter Brooks, has left for Africa, and Mr. and Mrs. Walter K. Shaw are planning a similar entertainment at Mrs. Hepburn's home at 8:30 that evening. Friends of the American Field Service and parents of boys who have gone will have an opportunity to meet Major Benson and hear him tell of this important humanitarian work. Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Hoar and Mr. and Mrs. Edward H. Warren, who will give dinners that night, will take their guests on to Mrs. Hepburn's home afterwards.
Mr. and Mrs, Thomas P. Beal are asking their friends to tea Thursday afternoon, May 7, at their home in Chestnut Hill, where Major Benson will be their guest. Other parties and dinners are being arranged for Friday and Saturday but the final plans have not yet been made. Major Benson will then make a trip West before flying back to Africa to take up his duties.
Grafton Fay, 28, of Westwood,, survivor of a Swedish ship torpedoed and sunk 215 miles off Norfolk, floated in the sea for nearly two hours, clinging to wreckage, before he was picked up by a lifeboat, he revealed last night.
Five members of the crew and the captain died as one torpedo struck amidships and the vessel went down within three minutes while flaming gasoline spurted and hissed on the ocean surface,
A second Boston man, Peter C. ,Brooks, Harvard '40, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gorham Brooks of Yarmouth road, Brookline, another passenger, related how the Italian submarine surfaced and its crew questioned occupants of the lifeboat. Both men are members of the American Field Service ambulance corps and were on their way to the Middle East.
Fay, who in March of 1940 was married to Mary Amory Eliot, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Eliot of 70 Suffolk road, Chestnut Hill, said half the crew of 39 men and officers were forced to jump into the water because the ship settled so fast.
Only one lifeboat was lowered and 27 persons finally managed to get into it, while six others huddled on a raft. The survivors drifted 16 hours from the time of the attack at 5 P. M. until a flare brought rescue the next morning.
Fay said no one saw anything until the torpedo struck on the port side near the engine room and directly over tanks of gasoline.
"Most of us jumped into the water. The submarine rose out of the water and moved towards the lifeboat which was pulling away from our rapidly sinking ship.
"About six officers, all cleanly shaven and immaculately dressed in uniform, came on deck and asked the name of the ship, its destination tonnage and cargo. They were polite but firm, and spoke perfect English
After they had recorded the information members of the crew pointed out the forms of struggling passengers in the water for the lifeboat to pick up. They were a little higher out of the water and could spot us better than the occupants of the lifeboat.
"Just as I was about to be hauled aboard the lifeboat, a brand new :rubber tire floated by me. Boy I wish I could have grabbed it," he said smilingly.
"We didn't have much trouble in the lifeboat except for cramped quarters, darkness and spray. The, boat was supplied with food and water sufficient to feed us three weeks. About 5 A. M. while still in total darkness, we decided to fire a flare. By good fortune, a Norwegian freighter spotted the flare and changed its course to investigate, although we couldn't see her then.
"Nearly two hours later we made out the dint outline of the Norwegian just as she began heading away from us. We immediately set off several flares and then the ship found us."
Both Fay and Brooks were emphatic in their praise of the officers of the Norwegian vessel. "They reduced speed and stopped in sub-infested waters for nearly two hours to pick us up," Fay declared. "After getting aboard, we got underway again about 9 A. M. and at 1 P. M. a submarine was sighted. She had apparently been following us. The Norwegian had guns and the gun crews opened up with them. None of the passengers could see anything and while the guns kept blazing away, the vessel changed course and put on extra speed."
Fay attended Milton Academy and was a graduate of Lenox School, Lenox, in the class of 1933. He was ready to leave for his tour of duty as passage on another ship was obtained, he said.
CAIRO, Egypt, June 17 (AP)---Sixteen of the 21 members of the American Field Service Ambulance unit at Bir Hacheim got out safely when that desert outpost was abandoned last week, it was learned today.
One of the remaining five, George C. Tichenor, 26, of Maplewood, N.J., was killed. Lieut. Alan Stuyvesant of New York, commander of the group, is missing and believed to be a prisoner of war. Also missing and listed as probably captured were Stanley Kulak of Salem, Mass., and Alexander McElwain of Boston.
A. M. P. Stratton of Brunswick, Me., was brought out by his companions with wounds in one arm and one leg. He is now in a hospital and out of danger.
Unarmed and not permitted to fight back even though their lives were at stake, the men of the ambulance unit made their way out of Bir Hacheim with the Free French garrison through heavy fire and in close-range battle.
Tichenor got a bullet through the head. Free French soldiers brought in his identity tag.
Alexander McElwain, American ambulance driver reported missing in action in Libya, is a graduate of Milton Academy and of Harvard University, class of 1921. His wife and two sons, John, 12, and James F. McElwain, 7, live at 1196 Central av., Needham.
McElwain went to France two or three years ago with the American Field Service Ambulance. He won the Croix de Guerre for his services during the battle of France, along the Amiens front. In a letter home at that time he wrote:
"We have seen the bombing of towns, the strafing of refugees on long straight poplared roads, and have lost four members of our section; yet we are determined to see it through."
McElwain returned to the United States after the fall of France. On Feb. 13 of this year it was reported that he and 98 other American volunteer ambulance drivers had arrived in the Middle East for further service.
After his graduation from Harvard McElwain studied for several' months at Oxford University. Then he studied for one year at Harvard Law School. For a time he was on the staff of the Boston Sunday Post. In 1927 he became one of the first faculty members of the newly founded Brooks School at North Andover.
He is a nephew of J. Franklin. McElwain of Boston and Cohasset.
SALEM, June 17---Stanley B, Kulak, 29, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kulak of Derby St., a graduate of St. John's Parochial School and Salem High School, who joined the first group of ambulance drivers sent to the Middle East by the American Field Service is reported to have been captured by the Axis forces when the Free French withdrew from an outpost in the Libyan desert near Tobruk.
CAIRO, June 22 (AP)---Twenty ambulance drivers of the American field service escaped Tobruk with their vehicles just before the port was surrounded, it was disclosed tonight.
No American military observers were known to have been captured but several have not yet reported to headquarters.
One newsreel camera man and three photographers were said to have been in Tobruk when it fell.
They have come to know intimately the scream of a Stuka in murderous dive. The hot winds of the desert in sunlight and the chills of the night, when dying men utter their moans behind the dunes, are their familiars. They know the crash of tanks in action and the gruesome whimsy of the guns. Yet they do not kill. Although their rendezvous is with death, these ambulance drivers of the American Field Service on the Egyptian front have only one mission---to save lives.
Many tributes have come to these volunteers serving without pay since Rommel started his drive. And the latest and strongest is from one who saw them in action before Bir Hacheim---Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., of Massachusetts. One hundred lads from New England, all driving ambulances, are on the front he tested.
Even so, American dash and ingenuity saved 75 per cent. of the ambulances in action. A lamented casualty was George Tichenor of New York who had survived the Zamzam sinking in April, 1941 while en route to drive in France, and who later won the Croix de Guerre near Amiens. He was the only American killed near Bir Hacheim.
Two Massachusetts associates of Tichenor are still missing. They are Alexander McElwain, 44, Harvard '21, who lived with his wife and sons in Needham before the urge do something extra for humanity carried him overseas; and Stanley .B. Kulak, 24, of Salem.
To their parents, Senator Lodge has a message:
"Don't be discouraged if your sons have not yet turned up. In this desert fighting, queer things happen. A man may hide out for many days, between the lines, or even back of the enemy lines. Then, as happens many times, he may miraculously appear. Missing certainly doesn't mean dead. Even if a man isn't hiding, he may be a prisoner of the Germans."
The case of Alexander Stuyvesant, a Princeton man who joined the field service, is in point. After Bir Hacheim, he was listed as missing, might have been given up as dead. But a soldier who went to headquarters with a flag of truce spotted Stuyvesant in the Axis camp. Now a prisoner, he may escape any day in the seesaw of the fighting.
Reports received at New England! headquarters of the American Field Service, 8 Newbury street, where candidates for desert service with the British and the French are still being accepted, have thrown these sidelights on the fate and exploits, of the volunteers.
Take the case of Arthur M. P. Stratton of Brunswick, Me., Bowdoin, '35. He is a symbol of the courageous ambulance driver. Tumbled out of his machine when enemy fire struck it, Stratton might have crawled away unhurt. But he thought of the wounded on the field, and attempted to salvage the ambulance. More fire came, and he was hit five times.
Just returned from Egypt, Senator Lodge declared., "Those boys of the field service have been doing wonderful work. When I went out with the tanks I saw their ambulances on the road and everybody knew how active they were round Bir Hacheim, where the Free French held out so long against terrible odds.
"I talked with a lot of them when they had a chance to rest and found them to be absolutely self-sacrificing, just the sort of men who would do the jobs they have done with complete disregard of personal safety. Certainly it is a powerful influence for good will, as well as for humanitarian action, to have those drivers out there, serving where they elected to serve without compulsion and without reward. And I saw them in Cairo, too, on leave. They looked soldierly and were extremely well-behaved, as though they knew the gravity of the situation and the importance of their jobs. That was a refreshing attitude.
"They did not seem gay in Cairo, where so many were gay. And at the front, their attitude was not so much one of high spirits as of a grim determination to see the job through. When you're drinking brackish water and eating monkey meat and frying in the sun and handling wounded day after day, your spirits are not liable to be high. But I can say that the American Field Service in Libya and Egypt is full of vinegar, with tails up. Otherwise, the drivers would never have accomplished what has been credited to them."
And now, from another source, comes news that Col. Ralph S. Richmond of Milton, Harvard '07, distinguished himself at Tobruk before Rommel walked in. Richmond, in charge of the field service overseas, led every ambulance, bought with American funds, out of the German trap, without a single loss. He learned his tactics of recovery during the first world war, when he drove ambulances in France, and upon his skill has largely depended the safety and efficiency of the 300 machines and 400 men in his command.
At Bir Hacheim, however, the AFS received harder knocks. There the ambulance units were tied to the Free French, and the Free French had a suicide assignment. They held the outpost so that the British might retreat, and then, when the French and the American ambulance drivers tried to sally out, through a narrow path in the mine fields, the Germans had a feast day.
...sponse has been inspired by activities here..
There is great tradition behind these men and this service. It had its birth in the old France, the France which put its back to the wall in 1914 and refused to surrender. Those were the days when France could not be divided, and when a handful of Americans who never dreamed of the cleavage to come within three decades drove out to the front to salvage wounded in improvised ambulances. This was the beginning of the !American Field Service, a volunteer organization attracting the same cross-section of American youth to be found in replica today where the sands are boiling with shells and sun.
The field service of the first world war carried more than 600,000 wounded for France in the short period of two years. When America went into the fray, drivers of the field service transferred. The air force knew their skill and the enemy their courage. Eight hundred of them became officers in the A. E. F.
They had great spirit, those early ambulance drivers, and it was only natural that they should form a veterans association after the war. They put their souvenirs in a museum of their own in the Aisne, at Blerancourt, and there the trinkets stayed until the Germans moved in in 1940. Even at that, the Germans told Miss Anne Morgan that, so highly did they regard the field service veterans, the souvenirs might be recovered from a hideout in Brittany. American entrance into the war foiled this plan.
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When Poland was invaded, a former ambulance driver who came out of the first world war a major picked up the telephone in his Milk street real estate office. He was William DeFord Bigelow, now chairman of the New England Division of the American Field Service. He started talking with Stephen Galatti, New York banker, formerly of St. Mark's and Harvard (1910. )
"Say Steve, what are we going to do about this war?" asked Bigelow.
"What do you think?" replied Galatti, who served in the ambulance corps with Bigelow during the first war.
"Looks like the field service again," said Bigelow.
And so the second edition of the field service came into being. It did its work during the retreats in France in 1940 and many of the men now serving in Egypt got their start before France fell.
Wealthy New Englanders, and others not so wealthy but eager to give what they could, have been supporting these volunteer units. The debacle temporarily stopped the field service and $187,000 left on hand for the purchase of ambulances looked like a white elephant.
Do you want your money back or shall we give it to the English to buy ambulances?" the service directors asked their donors. The English won.
Gen. Wavell himself sent from Libya for the American Field Service contingents now on duty there. Again generous sponsors came to the fore with money for ambulances, which cost $2000 apiece including upkeep for a year. At first, the volunteers had to pay their own incidental expenses, exclusive of living needs furnished by the British or the French. Now, however, sponsors can be found for men imbued with the spirit of the service who lack several hundred dollars for their expenses. They enlist for one year. They can make their choice between service with the British or the Free French. They are of all ages between 18 and 40.
A shipping shortage, and not a lack of men, is holding up reinforcements for the ambulance army in Egypt. Many volunteers are on the waiting list and there is room for a few score more. Draft deferment is possible for them, and physical requirements are less severe than those of army and navy.
One of the best men in the field service, now in action, has a wooden leg. But he can drive like a demon and is an expert at first-aid. Another has one eye. Many have what the armed services would call faulty eyesight or defective hearing, . But they can spot wounded through the false mist of a sandstorm and they know what to do with them, at the risk of their own lives.
Not a few are members of religious sects that do not subscribe to war, not even in self-defense, but which fear nothing in efforts to help stricken mankind.
The New England headquarters of the field service, 8 Newbury street, has days of feverish activity and periods of deceptive calm. It has wires of information stretched taut to Cairo and establishes liaison with all sorts of agencies in this country which might help the good work along.
Bigelow, the New England chairman, who has been joined by S Prescott Fay of Framingham, a lean, tanned ex-driver of ambulances and former World War flyer, as vice-chairman, spends much of, his time speaking on the platform and the radio to gatherings all over the country.
He talked in New Bedford last October, and Portuguese factory workers, fishermen and other citizens proudly gave an ambulance to the service. In Cleveland three weeks ago, after a Bigelow pep talk, $14,000 went into the service coffers. Thirty applications for posts, as drivers came in forthwith from men hearing the Ohio broadcast.
Checks have been arriving in Boston ever since. A Newport society gathering recently gave $7000 for the replacement of ambulances lost in Libya.
Many cities with war chest funds patronize the field service. Donors of ambulances may have appropriate -inscriptions placed on panels.
"Driving an ambulance in the first world war was somewhat different from the job our men have today," revealed Fay.
"Today, in the desert, they have to drive by compass. They must: know how to read maps, and darned well, too. They have to be hard, able to take the punishment of the climate. On the steamers going out, our drivers study the necessary techniques. Then they get two weeks' intensive training at a mobilization center. The rest comes with action."
The New England branch is rather proud of its borrowed, rentless offices six flights up opposite the Ritz. One reason for pride is the lowest overhead---5 1/2 per cent.---of any of the 250 war agencies registered in Washington. This percentage applies to the whole field service all over the country, This is one reason why so little has been wasted, why New Englanders, who have contributed more than $150,000 as well as more than 100 men since the war started, feel so satisfied. The office here has only one paid worker---Miss Rita McEntee, who wears a smart uniform and can tell the life history of every man accepted for service in this region.
Some of these men are: Walter I. Allen of Worcester, Joseph C. Bradley of Needham (Harvard varsity), Freeman Hersey (Brown '38) of Boston, Wendell L. Nichols of Brookline, Houghton Metcalf of Providence, Ralph Woodworth, Jr., of Weston, Trumbull Barton of Worcester, Alan R. Brunch of Webster, Carroll F. Connover of Malden, John A. Countaway of Winthrop, Samuel L. Hobbs of Boston, George H. Laiser of Boston, Edward B. Libber of Brookline, William C. McGuire of Hingham, Stuart M. Donaldson of Hingham, Hammond B. Douglass, Jr., of Worcester, Robert C. Draper of Hopedale, David S. Hendrick, 3d, of New Bedford, John N. Hobbs of Chestnut Hill, John Laverack of Brookline, William F. Merrill of Amherst, Julian P. O'Leary of Marion, Henry L. Pierce of Milton, Norman Pierce of Milton, Roger Pierce, Jr., of Boston, Richard H. Ragle of Boston, Edward M. Spavin, Jr., of Reading, William M. Taussig of Belmont, Daniel P. Beatty of Boston,
Lester W. Harding Jr., of Portsmouth (Chairman Bigelow's nephew), Grafton Fay of Boston, (cousin of Vice-Chairman Fay and survivor, with Peter C. Brooks, of one of two torpedoings affecting field service contingents this year) Augustus Thorndike, 3rd, Harry A Blackwell of Boston (another of several survivors of sub sinkings), David Hodgdon of Greenwood, Vincent Bowditch of Jamaica Plain, John Bowron of Ashby, Holbrook Davis of Marston Mills, Percival Gilbert of Southboro, John Huntington of Westwood, Alexander Parker of Marblehead, William Pearmain of Boston, Carleton Richmond, Jr., (nephew of Col. Richmond), Paul Kimball of Melrose, Winslow Marton of Providence, William 0. Randall of Boston ("baby" of the outfit at 17), and Bayard Tuckerman, Boston sportsman, who is 53 and one of the oldest volunteers.
Some of these men are socialites many are not. Altogether, they form a varied sample of American, life, just as though they had been drafted for a humanitarian cause instead of being volunteers.
After ranging the ear Eastern theater of war from Alexandria to Aleppo, Syria, a young Harvard man William M. Taussig of Belmont, ambulance-driving veteran of the American Field Service, has returned here asking for more. He is now trying to join a combat unit, preferably the Air Force, and is putting himself in shape after the bout of desert pneumonia that sent him home.
Taussig brought back no tales of his own prowess in foreign fields. But, he did tell of the heroism of New Englanders and others enlisted in the Field Service, who often wearied of waiting for ambulance convoys to start and so dashed off themselves in their quart-size cars to find their own wounded under fire.
The Belmont man several times said goodbye to able-bodied New Zealanders in the morning and saw them come back at night without arms or legs. He made friends with the Arabs, observed that some Egyptians had pro-German sympathies and surmised that the Syrians are happier under British rule than under French rule, although they would prefer no rule at all.
Moreover, after six months in the ambulance service, this nephew of a famous Harvard economics professor came home to be amazed at the apathy of Americans to the war.
"We've got to realize that a tough job is ahead, that we are not playing for marbles," said Taussig. "They can't lick us, of course, but we ought to know how far have to go before we lick them."
Taussig spent most of his time near the Turkish frontier in Syria where Kurd bandits often swept upon the highway and the most miserable specimens of humanity--- starving Greeks released by the Germans---filtered toward Aleppo.
"I saw a good many things, but the, sight of those Greeks impressed in most of all," declared the Harvard man, who would have been graduated next year but for his volunteer service abroad. "If they are samples of what the New Order does for Europe, then we'd better get even busier."
Ambulance. drivers were not asleep. There was Ernest H. Waldner of New Haven, in charge of four trucks under fire near Bir Hacheim, who stacked the wounded like cord wood in four trucks until the vehicles actually carried 109 casualties to safety. John W. Laverack of Brookline, who served two months with Taussig, explored the danger of what has been called the world's worst malaria zone---the region north of Aleppo toward Turkey. Augustus Thorndike, Jr. of Chestnut Hill. who flew back with Taussig and who is the son of a noted Harvard doctor, also braved malaria in this zone, aiding sick soldiers and helping doctors fight the scourge.
"When we first went over, the British couldn't figure us out. They: thought we were a lot of slap-happy American kids. Well , I guess we were, But the outfit has never been afraid to get into the thick of things. Sometimes the drivers have become tired of waiting for convoys to start and have dashed off individually to find some business and. pick up the wounded.
"The British know what, the uniform and the service means now. One British general said, when asked about us, 'Discipline---Oh my, God. But by jove, they're good."
Roger Pierce and Harry Pierce of Milton, not related, and John W. Hobbs of Chestnut Hill. were comrades of Taussig in Syria who won his high praise for their life-saving work. They did not confine themselves to ambulance tasks. They turned their vehicles into staff cars for Medical officers, took remedies into the malarial districts, and even did minor surgical work. Their spirit, said Taussig, is typical of that of the 300-odd Americans of the Field Service who will be ;ready for anything if Rommel pushes again.
Other New Englanders singled out for compliments included Joseph C. Bradley of Needham, Hammond Douglas of Worcester and Robert C. Draper of Hopedale, But Taussig threw up his hands. "They're all good." he said.
"And the boys are standing up, physically, for the most part. It's amazing how they can take the heat---and in the dry region, it does get more than hot. You get mildly slap-happy and as you have a job to do, you forget the discomforts.
"That 's the way I'd like to see people taking it here at home."
Close on the heels of Rommel in his flight from Egypt, an intrepid group of non-combatant Yankees, as careless as soldiers with their lives, are performing duty with the British Eighth Army in celebration of an anniversary. They would rather have gunfire than the pop of festive bottles. Grim though the work of salvaging wounded may be, it is a more appropriate commemoration of the departure of the first contingent of the American Field Service for the Western desert, a year ago last Friday, than any set program of speeches and feasting.
More than 300 of these volunteer ambulance drivers, including about 100 New Englanders trained in the life-saving branch of desert warfare, are right out in front with the advancing Tommies and Anzacs. Many times during the past year have they proved their courage and skill in the face of defeat. Now, as exposed to the shells as though they were fighters, they feel the flush of victory and the potential end of bloodshed in the sands.
Some of the 100 men who went out first from New York on Nov. 6, 1941, already have lost their lives, or have been wounded or taken prisoners. All have added to the history of a unique war ambulance unit, privately supported, that had its inception in France in 1914, worked through the World War, played its vital part in the French and British retreats from Belgium in 1940, and turned up again in North Africa, by invitation of Gen. Wavell, before Christmas of 1941.
Volunteers still are leaving the New England headquarters of the American Field Service at 8 Newbury street for the Middle East. Families of those who have some 200 ambulances in the thick of the fray are offering prayers for the safety of their boys and many a New England Thanksgiving will seem bleak because of empty places at the board.
So it seems fitting, on this first anniversary of a new lifesaving front, where many laurels have been won for the Field Service, to offer excerpts from letters sent to AFS headquarters here by those serving overseas.
These letters give a graphic picture of conditions in the desert. They were penned under fire in many cases. Because they were not intended for publication, they are effortless and natural.
And nothing could show better the spiritual effect of the service, which is commanded by Col. Ralph S. Richmond of Milton, than the following paragraph from a message sent by a 20-year-old driver to his sponsor, William DeFord Bigelow of Boston, a veteran ambulance man of 1914-1918, who helped organize the present group.
"In spite of all vicissitudes, I do not regret having volunteered. It is proving to be a valuable experience in so many ways. We not only have a deeper appreciation of life itself, but also of the most elemental things of life, such as water, food and minor comforts previously taken for granted.
"I think anyone who has lived through this will have a richer, fuller life."
Another lad wrote: "We began to wonder about. the horror tales we had been getting from various others in the same locality when it hit us.
"The major of the advanced dressing station had called me in and told me that a big attack would be launched that night. He showed me first what the disposition of our forces was, along what bearings they would attack, what the signals would be for success or failure. Under cover of darkness, we got to the front in time to see some of the infantry before they started out with their bayonets.
"At the prescribed hour they went out and such hell as broke loose out there I never hope to hear again. There was literally the 'din of battle' with the shouting and yelling which arose when the enemy was contacted.
"Machine-gun fire and flares immediately broke loose from both, sides, whirling onions of fire, mortars bursting everywhere, and the signal rockets made it as bright as daylight much of the time.
"Almost immediately we got the cars loaded with wounded and started back and after that we ran continually for almost three full days and nights. I have never before seen such hellish sights. Without sleep, with several Stuka raids a day, with lots of shelling, and with blood and death beside us confidently we had just about reached our limit of endurance when we were ordered back. . . ."
"The work is damned interesting though the locality is hell on earth," wrote another driver before going under fire into a more advanced sort of hell.
"Hotter than blazes, frequent dust, storms and more flies than you can shake a stick at. In fact, the flies are going to drive us batty before long. We'd been here about two weeks when I got a bit of fever which I insisted was sand fly fever. The captain called it just a bit of a hangover from two bottles of weak beer an ophthalmic major had given me two days before. Finally the captain came down with the same thing, and he had to admit it was fly-fever."
Another wrote: "I was taking two sitting patients, not badly hurt, back to the advanced dressing station. Then I saw two Stukas getting ready to have some fun about two miles ahead. I told the two patients to get into a slit trench and I drove the car a little bit away---the one danger is the car getting hit and catching fire. Then to my untold consternation, I found there wasn't a slit trench available for me. So I just dropped in my tracks and waited for the bombs. But the first three or four came nowhere near us.
"Then I lost interest in the Luftwaffe. For a shell burst about 400, yards behind and then another and I saw that the two slightly wounded blokes had been hit again. I got them into the car and we drove off.;
"One, an off officer, wasn't too badly off, but the other, a sergeant, had had his foot completely blown away. I put a tourniquet on . . . And he tried to help me dress the wounds of the officer as well as his own. Then he started dictating what he wanted done with his sundry properties. This was to go to his sister: this to a chum named Jim. It was incredible.
"Back at the dressing station, that sergeant kept on dictating . . He died a few hours later. When a fellow like that gets it, you can't help letting it become personal. I think his death affected me as much as anything else out here."
The ambulance man who hated his car, because it balked frequently and was too high for easy loading of the wounded, finally got his revenge, according to another letter. His name was Andy.
"We were both in the 'guaranteed safe' area of a minefield when there was an explosion," wrote Andy's comrade. "This time Andy must have got the whole business. What can we do to put poor Andy together again, I wondered.
"I ran round to the side of Andy's wrecked ambulance. The door opened and Andy slid out. His eyes were glassy and there was a little blood on one cheek. He stared at me in a solemn daze, and then he said, 'Well, I got rid of that damned car.'"
And how about this bit of description for an idea of what that constantly-bombed retreat from Egypt is like? "Two thousand yards away, stretching along an eighth of a mile atop the escapement, a line of dusty mushrooms, huge and frightening, grow up from the earth, and interspersed among their roots are burning vehicles and blasted ground ...That's where our Job is . . . "
BAY STATERS IN MIDDLE EAST-Left to right, Peter C. Brooks of Chestnut Hill, Mass.; Grafton Fay of Westwood, Mass.; W. R. T. van Cleef of Woodbridge, Conn., and Bayard Tuckerman of Boston, who are drivers of ambulances of the American Field Service.
Bayard Tuckerman, Jr., former member of the Governor's council who left Boston to drive an ambulance with the American Field Service in Egypt last June, is being invalided home by airplane, according to a report from Cairo last night An attack of shingles forced his retirement from active duty.
Now 53, Tuckerman was one of the oldest men to be accepted by the Field Service. He led a group of 98 men who went overseas in the spring and served a tour of driving duty on the desert in North Africa before being placed in charge of a section of eight or nine ambulances. Three weeks ago, the attack of illness required hospitalization in Cairo.
"Deepest gratitude to the officers and men of the American Field Service" for their ambulance work in the Middle East is expressed by a New Zealand colonel in a letter to the service made public today.
The note, written by Col. P. A. Ardagh, expresses "a genuinely sincere and warm appreciation of everything done by the officers and men of your service whom we consider it an honor to have had with us."
It tells of the "firm bond between your men and our own," established during the 2 1/2 months of association on the same front.
"Casualties amongst AFS men inevitably occurred, but considering the eager way in which AFS drivers persistently volunteered to 'get in amongst it,' I think we may consider it fortunate that losses were not heavier.
"The truest judges of worth are the soldiers themselves and in this respect I can assure you that our own drivers with whom your men worked, all officers and men of the N. Z. Medical Services and most important of all, the wounded, expressed nothing but admiration and praise for the AFS.
"These sentiments I most heartily indorse, and on behalf of the commanding General and members of the 2d N. Z. Division I would once again express our deepest gratitude to the officers and men of the AFS as a result of whose tireless service so many New Zealand lives have undoubtedly been saved."
Commenting on the communication, S. Prescott Fay, vice chairman of the service, said, "The AFS is so grateful to the Boston Globe and also to our many friends that we would like to express our appreciation."
The service dates back to the Battle of the Marne in the first World War and owes its present activity largely to three Harvard graduates who were ambulance drivers in the last war. They are Stephen Galatti of New York, general director; Col. Ralph S. Richmond of Milton, who is in command of the service in Africa, and W. DeFord Bigelow of Boston, chairman of the New England group. In the first World War the service transported over half a million French wounded from the front lines.
America's new Gen. Sherman tanks are the darlings of every United Nations tank corps man in North Africa, it was reported last night by Douglas Hammond, young. Yale man from Worcester who is on leave from his volunteer work as an American Field Service ambulance driver in the western desert..
Douglas said the fighters of all nations respected the Yankees as men who got things done fast; that the Italians were overjoyed to be taken prisoners, and that the fall of Tobruk and the subsequent British retreat to the El Alamein line paved the way for the present successful drive by the Allies.
Addressing the New England Educational Salesmen's Association at the Hotel Bradford, Hammond said he had carried soldiers of all African armies in his ambulance and had learned from German troops with earlier experience in Russia that the North African strife was a gentleman's war by comparison.
In Russia, the Germans said, the fighting was fierce and constant, with no picking up of wounded men. The wounded, they said, just died.
As proof of the Italians' disinterest in the fighting, he told of visiting a prison camp south of Cairo where 50 British guards watched over 5000 Italian prisoners in a puny enclosure of barbed wire about knee-high. There were no attempts to break out.
Even the loyalty of Czechoslovakians made itself felt in the desert, Hammond said. once a "dud" shell landed near a hospital truck, and one of his colleagues lugged the shell off to a safe distance. When engineers dismantled it later, they found it packed with sand.
In the sand was a note, which read, "V for Victory---from Czecho-slovakia." One in every four or five German shells, he said, failed to explode. Land mines left by the retreating Germans were a worse, hazard, however.
American field service ambulances donated by Americans, Hammond said, have been in constant action; because they are the only four-wheel drive ambulances in the desert.
Germans, he said, respected the Red Cross painted atop the ambulances but the Italians, curiously, did not. He reported that heavy German bombers now came over only at night. Italian bombers were seen by day, but never at an altitude less than 35,000 feet. "With them," he commented, "it's safest to sit on the objective. They never hit it."
Hammond plans to return to duty soon.
How two Boston volunteer ambulance drivers with the British push against Rommel in Libya captured seven armed Germans was described in a letter received here yesterday from the Eastern battle front. Henry L. Pierce of Milton, who was graduated from Harvard in 1933 and is the son of Charles S Pierce, former vice-president of the New England Telephone & Telegraph Company, wrote the letter.
His companion in this exploit was Richard H. Ragle, Exeter '41, son of Dr. B. H. Ragle of 226 Marlboro street.
Although Pierce and Ragle, hunting for a bathing beach after hard days spent succoring wounded of both sides, risked their lives to take the Germans, Pierce's description is full of humor, indicating the spirit of American Field Service drivers abroad.
"This is the pay-off," wrote Pierce to his family.
"Dick Ragle wanted to show me a lovely spot where he had been camped before, and where there were some palm trees, grass and a lovely beach. We parked the ambulance under the first grove of palms, locked it and started for the beach when we heard a noise in the other group of palms.
"There were seven Germans, one waving a white towel. We went. over and they surrendered to us. If you could have heard Dick saying 'Pile your guns here at our feet,' when we had no arms at all! And they piled them in front of us.
"We asked them if they had eaten and the answer was 'No.' So we took out our special macaroni tins that we were saving for a treat and cooked them lunch. They were living off berries that grew on palms, boiled in water. Lunch was a very pleasant affair, with them hauling water to wash and cook with. Then we ordered them to pack up and get in the ambulance. At this point---you know me--I had lost the keys to the car and here I was with seven prisoners, so the there was nothing to do but make them help look for them.
"I soon found the keys. I had hidden hem so that if there was any trouble, they couldn't make us drive them off, But in the excitement I had forgotten.
"Just as we were putting the Germans into the car, a New Zealand lieutenant came along and we hailed him and his men. They advanced with drawn rifles and we stood in more danger from them than from the Germans. But we soon explained and turned over our prisoners to them.
"They wanted to know if we had 'frisked' the Germans for arms and we said, 'No, we cooked them lunch and have been with them for an hour and a half.'
"You should have seen the New Zealanders' expressions. Well, we finally had our swims."
Most of the Italian prisoners taken in the big drive looked half-starved and some were badly wounded, Pierce, who was graduated by Milton Academy and lives at 224 Adams street, Milton, declared.
"I am proud to say that our boys treat the enemy with every care and consideration, as if they were our own, remembering that they are human beings after all.
"The scavenging for articles left behind by the enemy by some is enough to turn your stomach, especially as the soldier hasn't really any room to carry it all, I should think . . . I am used to it by now, but the sight of unburied bodies, burned vehicles, clothing, food and all that is abandoned in flight is a great shock at first. The fact that it is all enemy property does not make up for it, even if it is a thrilling thought.
"And it seems so funny to go flying along through the little towns that we have heard the names of since the beginning of the war in the Middle East. Pray God this is the last time it will be fought over, and that this campaign will wind it up."
Among the selectees who leave from headquarters of Selective Service Board 105, Natick, for Fort Devens today will be a new U. S. Army private who has had a year's experience in the fighting in Libya and Egypt.
This "veteran rookie" is Ralph Woodworth, Jr., 32, of Church street, Weston, who returned home last November after service as an ambulance driver with the American Field Service in North Africa. He is "tickled to death" to get into the U. S. Army, he said last night.
He is pleased despite the fact that he is now a buck private, while he was a major in Libya. The officer's rank, he explained, was "merely honorary," granted him by a battalion of Scotch Highlanders.
Woodworth was inducted a week ago, and today will have completed his seven-day induction furlough.
DINNER PROGRAM----Mrs. W. G. Curtis will introduce Hammond Douglas of the American Field Service, recently returned from the Libyan battle front, who will be a guest of the junior and business evening group of the Women's Republican Club of Massachusetts at their dinner-meeting at 6:30 tonight in the clubhouse. Following dinner Mr. Douglas, who was in charge of 20 ambulances and drivers in the desert campaign and carried out his duties under direct shell fire, will tell of his experiences in a talk entitled "The American Field Service at the British Front on the Libyan Desert.
Definite word that Stanley B. Kulak, 24, of Salem, an ambulances driver in Africa, lost his life during a German attack of June 10, 1942, was received yesterday by S. Prescott Fay, chairman for New England of the American Field Service. Kulak is presumed to have been buried by the Germans at Bir Hacheim, where his ambulance was destroyed by shellfire.
At the same time, Fay displayed part of a letter signed by Alexander McElwain of Needham, another ambulance driver, who was wounded and captured by the Italians in Libya last summer. The letter was, sent from a Roman prison.
"I am now your close-shaven, wounded prisoner in an Italian hospital," stated McElwain, who has a wife and two children in Needham. "Taken June 10, with machine gun bullets and shrapnel in leg. Compound fractures---painful but coming along slowly. I am with a nice group 'f English. Glad to be away from Africa. Volunteer rating and no privileges since Dec. 7."
With a sly dig which the Italian censor must have muffed, McElwain said, "Like it here better than at Ossining. Food fair---service not too good ... No need to worry."
Kulak was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kulak of 84 Derby street, Salem. He was graduated by Salem High School, where he was an honor student, and by Alliance Junior College, Pa. He enlisted in the American Field Service in 1941, a member of the first group to go to Africa, and was cited for bravery shortly before his death.
"This boy represented the finest type of American, ready to risk his life at all times to save the lives of others," declared Fay. "He was the first man in the American Field Service to lose his life in the Second World War. His record, in keeping with the service's high ideals and traditions, will always be an inspiration to everyone connected with us."
New York, Jan. 14---(AP)---The American Field Service said today that it had received word John D. Dun, 50-year-old volunteer ambulance driver of Tucson, Ariz., had received the Medaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre from the French fighting forces for extreme heroism in Libya.
The A. F. S. said that Dun, cattle rancher and formerly of the Toledo, Ohio, Times, maintained an all-night vigil last October over two ambulances filled with wounded which had become stuck in soft sand, right in the center of intensive shelling.
Dun saved the lives of ten men---another was killed in his arms. When aid came, he supervised the evacuation of the wounded and the salvaging of the ambulances.
MOTORIZED TRANSPORT FOR BRITISH WOUNDED---Wounded British soldiers are transferred to trucks from advanced Red Cross first aid stations somewhere in Libya, for transport to hospitals farther removed from the battlefield. The more seriously injured are flown by air to Cairo.
A direct descendant of John and Priscilla Alden, EDGAR L. JONES was born in Concord, New Hampshire, and attended Dartmouth College and Columbia University. He served for over a year as an ambulance driver with the British Eighth Army in North Africa, where he was cited for "outstanding bravery." In September, 1943, he was invalided home.
MORE than three months have passed since I arrived home, yet I still am lost between two worlds. Every man returning from overseas invariably is asked the same two questions, and I have not found the answer to either of them. When someone says to me, "You must have had a great experience. What was it like over there?" I am confounded. That, to a man fresh from war, is like rushing up to a survivor crawling from the wreck of the Congressional Limited and asking him to describe his "great experience." There is no doubt that I, and thousands of others, have had an experience which we shall remember all our lives, but it is one we could have done very well without. I have yet to find a reply that will adequately represent sand, bombs, fleas, hunger, shells, disease, desolation, and death.
The second question: "How does it feel to be home?" is relatively easier to answer, if one is content to respond without thinking. It feels very good, of course, to be home. And yet, what sensations can a soldier afford to have? A battlefield is no place for emotions. A man going overseas must leave his feelings behind. The difficulty, I find, is to regain those lost emotions which enable a man to take his place in civilian life. Except for taste sensations, I am numb to everything I used to find stimulating. I can understand now why members of the so-called "lost" generation of the 1920's went to such extremes in their search for animation. It may sound like exaggeration, but I actually feel like a stranger in my own home, because everyday living in America requires emotional responses which I am incapable of giving.
The part of civilian life most difficult for me to become accustomed to is the mental agitation, the fluctuating enthusiasm, which accompany each day's news of the war. While I was overseas a friend who had been invalided home wrote and urged me to stay away as long as possible because the war on the home front would drive a man crazy. Now I know what he means. The over-intensified, glamorous version of war which comes to us each day via headlines and excited voices of radio announcers is far removed from the actual fighting. Because our reading habits are based on emotions, the war news must be highly dramatized to compete with murders, accidents, and sports for top place in public interest.
The true story of a soldier's dull, routine existence, told without benefit of adjectives, would never sell papers. I am not blaming anyone. My reaction is purely a personal one ---now that I have been judged unfit for further service I must adjust myself to the civilian approach to war. But I should like to make people understand that war is not glamorous or exciting or even a "great adventure."
Every time I hear a commentator rhapsodizing on another Allied victory, or am told that the war is practically over, I think back to the wet November day last year when the British Eighth Army huddled around radios in the Libyan Desert and heard England and America celebrating the Battle of Egypt. Rommel had been defeated at El Alamein and chased through Halfaya Pass. Britons were wildly ringing church bells, and American officials were running out of adjectives. We of the Eighth Army were shivering in the rain and wishing we had a hot meal and a dry bed.
We had pulled up at dusk, after driving since dawn. The rain had made the desert as mucky as a mudflat at low tide, and digging a place to sleep in was a long, discouraging task. As fast as we shoveled, the wet earth oozed back into our holes, but I at least had a roof over my head by virtue of getting first claim on the tailboard of a blown-up truck. Breakfast that day had consisted of porridge and two pieces of bacon, we had had no lunch, and for supper we opened cans of cold corned beef and packages of hardtack --- the omnipresent meal which the Tommies call bully and biscuits. The country was the same barren, desolate wasteland that extends with few interruptions from Alexandria to the hills of Tunisia.
Our supplies had failed to catch up with us. There was no water and no prospect of a decent meal. Even brewing tea was out, because a fire would have attracted the deadly attention of Rommel's "defeated" army. A dive bomber had taken the measure of a near-by artillery unit and filled our hastily pitched dressing station with groaning, spewing men. It was impossible to locate a hospital for them before daylight. There was nothing to do but hang around the headquarters truck and listen to the sound of church bells ringing out our victory. The Battle of Egypt was over, yet I can remember how difficult it was to sleep that night --- not because of exhilaration, but because I was so bitten by fleas I could not stop scratching. As one Tommy put it, "Chum, if this is victory, give me steak and chips!"
CERTAINLY, if any army should feel the joys of victory, in the sense that we at home revel in our troops' reflected glory, it was the Eighth Army after Alamein. For the Aussies, New Zealanders, Tommies, Indians, and South Africans who made up Montgomery's legion of desert fighters there was never a doubt as to the eventual outcome of the war in Africa. Rommel was out-numbered and out-equipped. It was only a matter of time before the Axis forces would be trapped between Montgomery's men and the Yanks coming from the West.
Yet the British troops, most of whom had been blooded at Dunkirk, Greece, and Crete, kept their sense of proportion. They realized that war for a soldier is not unlike a bloody football game. He gives all he's got to achieve a certain goal and then must line up at midfield to start the battle over. So the Tommies, always aware of tomorrow's demands, cursed in time-worn basic English at today's gains and went on fighting. There was no satisfaction for them in herding together hungry, sodden Italians who would surrender to anyone who would feed them, nor in capturing shell-shocked, beaten Germans who had fought valiantly but unsuccessfully.
The entire march from Alamein to Tunis was one of hardship and misery, not only for men in the front lines but for everyone in the desert. They say in Cairo that you can tell anyone who has been in the Western Desert by the way he unconsciously waves his hand across his food to ward off flies --- flies which are no longer there. This is no exaggeration: the flies were horrible. There were hundreds of them at every meal. They swarmed over the food and could light on a spoonful of stew before one could get it to his mouth. The Tommies referred to the flies as the meat in their meat and vegetable rations. Active as soon as the sun came up, the flies maintained a shuttle service from open latrines to the food, and their efficiency in spreading infection, dysentery, and fever sent more men to our hospitals than the Afrika Korps.
The Eighth Army in defeat or victory lived exclusively on the ground. Mobile warfare provided no time to pitch tents, and the towns were uninhabitable. Shells and bombs were minor discomforts in comparison with the flies, fleas, scorpions, black spiders, and sand vipers which demanded a major share of the Tommies' living space in the Egyptian and Libyan Deserts. Throughout the green belt around Benghazi there were malarial mosquitoes and typhus-bearing lice. Tripoli was a synonym for hungry red ants. Added to these extramartial discomforts was the fact that from Alamein to Tunis the slightest wind was laden with stinging sand. After two or three years in the desert, troops could fight and sleep in a sandstorm, but no one could ever eat in one. At mealtime, as we squatted in the desert, blowing grit formed a layer over everything we ate. It was impossible to chew the food: it had to be swallowed whole, with stomach cramps for dessert. At the end of a three-day storm, men were dizzy from hunger, for no one --- not even the stoutest hero -- can live by sand alone.
Meals under the best of circumstances were never satisfying. The faster an army advances, the less it has to eat. The Eighth Army lived month after month on limited battle rations --- corned beef fried for breakfast, served cold for lunch, made into stew for supper; a can of peaches for dessert to be divided among a dozen men; a vitamin tablet to prevent scurvy. Fresh meat (mutton), occasionally available for troops within easy reach of the supply lines, was rationed at three ounces per man. The monotony of hardtack and margarine three times a day was sometimes, perhaps once a week, relieved by semi-white bread so spotted with dead weevils that it resembled raisin toast. What local produce was available was unsafe for army consumption because the natives used human manure for fertilizer.
During the year I spent with the Eighth Army I was always hungry, except when a box of food arrived from home, and then I was sick from gorging myself. We used to curry favor with the cooks, as housewives here at home try to get on the right side of their butchers. Supper was always served by four, or four-thirty, so that all fires could be extinguished before sundown, and by nine o'clock men were so hungry that guards had to be posted around the cook truck to keep them from stealing a can of cheese or a piece of stale bread.
Yet, scarce as food was, water was even more so. A well in the desert is a major objective, and a retreating army must ruin the water supply with the same thoroughness that it destroys bridges and buildings. Water points in Libya, after changing hands several times, contained oil, salt, dead camels, or anything else that might spoil their purity for oncoming troops. Although the heat on the desert often reached 120 or 130 degrees, the Eighth Army survived on virtually no water. The customary ration was one pint of water a day --- one pint of tepid, brackish water to drink, wash with, shave in, and use for laundering. At Mareth the ration was lowered to a single cup of water a day, and the supply had to be so heavily dosed with chemicals that milk curdled in the tea. Faced with the choice of how to use our precious water, most of us gave up washing. I did not have a bath in nine months, but I always brushed my teeth, convinced as I am that it does more for morale than any other single gesture toward cleanliness.
Water was so scarce in the weeks immediately following the break-through at Alamein that in our medical units we were scooping rain water from mud puddles, straining it through gauze, and boiling it to get enough water for washing patients. Then it rained every day in November, December, and January, and usually all day. Anyone who still believes war is glamorous should go out into his back yard some night when it is raining hard and imagine having to dig a hole in the ground for his bed. That is what the British and American infantrymen will have to do this winter in Italy. That is what the same Eighth Army now in Italy had to do last winter, and the winter before, and the one before that. Sometimes in the desert the rain and sandstorms came at the same time, and it was like being pelted with mud pies.
To a soldier it is just as uncomfortable being hungry and wet four miles from Tunis, or ten miles from Rome, as it was to be wet and hungry at Alamein or Salerno. War for him is a timeless existence in which today is much like yesterday or tomorrow. In terms of food, water, bedbugs, and the chance of being killed, victory is seldom sweeter than defeat. He knows he can be killed just as thoroughly on a day when the papers announce light patrol activities as when the headlines herald a major break-through. No fighting man is going to cheer raucously about Salerno, for example, when the battle for Naples begins the next day. The end may come for him one mile from Berlin, or even while the generals are debating the terms of surrender. The only battle he wants to cheer about is the last one.
Despite rather thorough jamming, the soldier overseas occasionally hears jubilant sounds emanating from America, and his repugnance is expressed with Chaucerian simplicity. I shall never forget an incident which occurred on the fourth night of landing operations on Sicily. Our ship had survived its twenty-fifth air attack, but shrapnel from a bomb which landed twenty yards away had knocked out our two favorite gunners. In the lull between attacks Sparks emerged from his wireless room to give us a copy of the day's news. The first item was the triumphant announcement that Allied forces invading Sicily had encountered "very light aerial resistance." The expletives which greeted this assuring summary of our situation should have burned out every radio tube in America. The announcer should have tried to tell that to the one dazed survivor of our sister ship, which was blown into a million pieces of arms, legs, and twisted machinery by two well-placed portions of his "light aerial resistance."
Whenever I hear civilian strategists discuss the war, whether they are on the air, writing for newspapers, or talking around the table after dinner, I involuntarily wince. I suppose this is because, as an ambulance driver in North Africa, I was constantly trying to comfort those men over whose mangled bodies victory was won. Public fanfare over a current success rouses in me the guilty realization that the men who did the fighting are hunched, chin on chest, beside their foxholes, unenthusiastically opening a tin of cold rations, scratching at their fleabites, waiting for the night bombers to begin their attack, and thinking only of tomorrow's battles. Blatant optimism makes me shudder, because I have seen tired fighting men throw down a magazine in disgust or turn off a radio in embarrassment. Premature applause turns their stomachs.
Because the men in the Eighth Army maintained their mental and emotional stability they were able to survive one of the worst setbacks of the war, reform their battered regiments, and fight back across 2000 miles of desert to Tunis and to victory. Those Americans who suffered the Kasserine setback, but came back to beat the powerful Tenth Panzers in a return engagement, must have arrived at a similar attitude towards war.
Men who have been in action have developed a marked sense of humility. They have seen death strike with illogical fury to their left and right, and their own survival makes them feel small and unworthy. War to them is a dirty job that must be done, the sooner the better. Their attitude towards it is never expressed in words that would make inspiring copy for a war bond campaign, but they have an unemotionalized spirit of determination that allows them to take defeat and victory in their stride. While the sale of war bonds fluctuates, and the amount of public participation in Red Cross activities varies with the changing headlines, they steadily fight on, today the same as yesterday, the same as tomorrow.
FOR a former ambulance driver to talk about America's post-war obligations may be out of place. For nearly a year and a half, however, I was isolated from all things American. I saw the United States through the eyes of the common man in other countries; through the hopes and fears of the British, South Africans, Egyptians, Syrians, Indians, Australians, New Zealanders, Fighting French, Arabs, Italians, and even a few Germans. In most cases we were the first Americans to whom these men had ever talked. Because we were constantly serving as interpreters of the way Americans think, we were more aware of the United States than ever before. We read as foreigners American newspapers and magazines; we listened as aliens to American broadcasts. I can say without hesitation that America is the best-loved nation in the world --- and add, with reluctance, that it may become the most hated.
Life in the desert was a communal existence. The nearer one was to the front, the more the essentials of existence were on a give-and-take basis. Food, clothing, blankets, and water were shared without hesitation --- and what is more important, without ceremony. Cigarettes were precious, but no one took one for himself without offering the pack to whoever might be standing near-by. The men who had things took care of those who had not. Packages from home were divided up --- each man feeling that it was the fortunes of war that brought his box through; so it should be shared with those less fortunate. Survival of the fittest was not the rule of life; the strong helped the weak. There was no room in battle for bickering over who owes whom what.
Some of this spirit, I find, has developed in America since I left. The rationing system is all new to me. Out of it has grown a new neighborliness, which I like. Friends share their butter, meat, and sugar; strangers climb into taxicabs together; the comradeship in trains and buses these days makes the crowded conditions bearable. War has made us personally less self-sufficient, more aware of one another.
The same spirit prevails throughout the United Nations. All trade barriers are down for the duration. The countries that have, supply those which have not. Money is no motive; if England or Russia wants food, we send all we can spare. American troops wear clothes made in New Zealand and Australia; Indians drive Canadian trucks; the Fighting French eat South American corned beef. And nations are flourishing as never before under a system which has replaced competition with cooperation. The Moscow Conference has stimulated hope for permanent unity, a foundation for everlasting peace.
Yet there are other changes in America that are shocking to anyone just back from the war. Searching for ulterior motives has become a national pastime. Each move on the part of governmental bureaus, labor, or industry is eyed with suspicion, viewed with alarm. Outspoken racial prejudices hit the returning American these days like a blow in the face. The undercurrent of criticism against the Administration has all the terrifying qualities of any underground movement. If this atmosphere of distrust were confined to domestic affairs it might be considered pre-election politics, but unfortunately it undermines our international associations as well. The war has never come close enough to our doors to make us feel ashamed to ask what we are going to get out of Lend-Lease, who is going to own the air bases after this war, or how we are going to get our share of the oil, rubber, and tin.
Since I have been home I have thought often of the posters I saw in Arab shops throughout the Middle East. One of the most ubiquitous is a picture of President Roosevelt. I could not read what was written in Arabic under the smiling, benevolent face. A second line in French, however, says: On ne vous oublie pas ("We are not forgetting you"). The more I talk with people here, the more I wonder who of us it is that does not forget the Arabs. Few Americans I have met know anything about conditions in the Middle East. Yet the people of Egypt, for example, though thirteen out of sixteen million of them cannot read or write, and though they live under unbelievable hardships, regard us Americans as their one great hope and salvation.
Whenever we stopped to prepare a meal along the roads in Egypt, Libya, Tripolitania, or Tunisia, Arabs appeared from nowhere to watch like hungry dogs while we ate. They begged for whatever scraps of food were left in our mess tins; young and old, they searched ravenously through our garbage pits; they gathered up the used tea leaves which the cooks tossed out on the ground. The men and women used to shake our hands warmly, after we had given them a package of biscuits or an old pair of shoes, and repeat over and over, like a prayer, "Americans very good. Americans very good."
I am sure that if the American people learned of the plight of the Arabs they would raise several million dollars overnight to send to them. But the Arabs don't want charity. They want a share in the life that to the rest of the world has come to mean the American way of living. And they are not alone. Millions of Moslems face the East to pray for spiritual guidance, but look to the West, America, for economic liberation. In Aden, at the mouth of the Red Sea, we were followed up and down the streets by children shouting, "The Americans are here!" (There were only two of us!) Men and women in every house came out to greet us. High in the mountains of Lebanon a man took me in to meet his aged mother. She smiled from within, like so many other blind persons, and cried, "Ah, you have come at last, Mr. American. God bless you all!
AT LEAST two-thirds of the British troops I talked with wanted to come to America after the war --- some to visit, but many of them to find a satisfying future. Among the peoples of India the American promise is a ray of hope. For the Australians and New Zealanders life in the United States is an ideal towards which they are trying to build. Through us the peoples of the South Pacific expect to build up their secondary industries and become more independent.
Yet if you read American magazines and newspapers as an English civilian would read them, or listen to the radio as though you were a Chinese soldier fighting for the sixth year against the Japanese, you can understand the adverse reaction to American propaganda in the minds of many of our allies. We used to hide some of our magazines from home so that the Tommies would not misunderstand the attitude of our country. I do not believe that most Americans are eager to exploit the world after this war. Yet many industrial advertisements, heralding the golden vista of world-wide markets, create the impression that the shores of the United States are lined with twentieth-century carpetbaggers ready to Americanize the world for their own profits as soon as the last shot is fired.
Some of us in America are so jealously concerned with what we are going to get out of this war that we have turned the people in England against us. I have great faith in the British Tommies. They have been away from home so long that they have changed their entire perspective. They are determined to return to England and change many of the things that now seem unfair to them. But they, and the letters they get from home, repeatedly express a fear of the United States. As a result many Britons are more interested in an alliance with Russia than with us.
So, when someone asks me how it feels to be home, it is in the light of these post-war problems that I try to answer. I came home eager to discover how much public support stood behind the promises that sounded so encouraging while I was overseas. I wanted to learn what plans the average citizen had for collective security after the war. I have found a general feeling that some sort of "League of Nations with teeth in it" should be established after the war. This is encouraging. So is the new neighborliness I have mentioned. Offsetting these heartening changes is a host of ominous fears --- the mercantile, profit-seeking suspicion brought back by the five Senators; the whispering campaign against the Russians, our supposed enemy in a war to follow this one; the distrust over whether or not our allies are contributing a fair share; the lack of confidence in anything but force as a means of maintaining peace; the ever increasing resentment toward any measure, good or bad, that the Administration proposes.
For more than a month I have put off writing to a young New Zealander who lost his arm at El Alamein. During the two weeks he and I occupied beds side by side in a hospital in the desert outside Cairo, we spent long hours discussing our respective countries. He had complete faith that out of war would come a bright new world. That's what he was fighting for. He is waiting for me to tell him how I find things here in America. He, like millions of other men, is waiting for encouragement. I wish I could write and tell him in full confidence, "On ne vous oublie pas."
Not of the Red Cross are these Ambulance Drivers, yet They Wear Its Mercy Symbol
From North African front lines these members of the American Field Service hauled the wounded. Many dodged Rommel's Stukas and 88's. For all this they got a $20-a-month commissary allowance. Organized in France in 1914, the service operated there again until the surrender. Now its volunteers are with the British.
Shot on the field of action, a New Zealand infantryman lies full-length before the front-line trench which he had just left. He was taking part in an attack on the enemy's gun positions when an Axis bullet dropped him in his tracks. He waits for help in glare of the blazing 130' sun. LIFE Photographer Landry took these pictures from shallow front-line trench.
Ambulance men rush out with stretcher to help the wounded soldier. These men are volunteer members of an American Field Service unit attached to the New Zealand forces and have been doing fine work in desert battles. Their haste is impelled not only by the wounded man's suffering but also by enemy bullets which are still zipping and zinging ominously over their heads.
Stooping over the trooper, ambulance men prepare to lift him gently onto the stretcher. At this point, all their long and careful training comes to the fore. They must make a quick and accurate estimate of the trooper's injury, stop excessive bleeding, pick him up properly if any bones are broken, then get the victim and themselves quickly out of danger.
Back at the double, they bring their burden to the comparative shelter of the slit trench. Though their running might seem to shake up the casualty unnecessarily, these stretcher bearers have had extensive schooling in picking their way through desert rocks and depressions so that even at fast trot like this the stretcher is always kept at an even keel.
The ambulance is ready, just behind the front line. Before the attack, headquarters notified the Field Service officers so that they could spot ambulances in strategic places. All Field Service men are exposed to all the dangers and hardships that face regular troops. Some were captured with the Fighting French at Bir Hacheim when Rommel started his Libyan push.
Into the ambulance goes the wounded New Zealander. He will be driven to an advance dressing station like that shown on the following pages. Here he will get immediate treatment, then be driven back to a base hospital (or flown back if his wounds are serious). If the man is lucky be will soon be well. If he is not, he will be buried in a desert cemetery.