NOTES FROM A DIARY
Cappy, Somme, April 3, 1916
I spent the night here at our advanced poste. The town is in ruins. There was no call for the trenches. The night was too clear. I woke about 4 A.M., thinking it was late because I heard the birds chirping, but found it was only the rats squeaking. The place is full of them; they walk over you at night. But nobody cares. The country is full of quail and hares, but no one bothers them and they are very tame.
This morning I watched the twenty-first "Suicide Club" practising hand-grenade throwing. Magoun and I noted where the things were thrown, with the idea of picking up a few fusées afterwards. Now and then they don't land right; so Magoun later picked up a couple of unexploded ones and offered me one. I declined and told him he had better let them alone. just as we were arguing up came a file of men with shovels to bury the unfired grenades. When they saw Magoun with two in his hands they nearly had a fit; said he was crazy, and to prove it they told us to get in a near-by trench and they'd show us. So we all crawled in and an expert then recocked the little spring and threw the grenade, which went off with a bang that shook the trench! That evening we got a call to carry two blessés --one man with his face mutilated and another one with his feet blown off, who, oddly enough, had been "fishing" in the canal, by throwing hand-grenades in and then collecting the dead fish which floated up to the surface --- a nice sporting thing to do! I must say I could n't feel very sorry for them. The same night we heard a heavy explosion close to our farm and at first supposed that it was an incoming obus. But it really occurred in the back room of a café in which we eat, and a call came shortly after when we collected three more poor fellows hurt, and three dead, from fiddling with hand-grenades. I made a point to rub it into Magoun, calling his attention to the fact that that day, in our Sector, the French lost more men through their own carelessness than from Boche activity.
Roche, Magoun, Francklyn, and I now occupy the palatial apartment known as the "rat incubator." Some of the boys --- Underhill, Baylies, and Paul --- have erected a tent; as they were above us in the "Rat Hole," and their feet kept continually coming through the ceiling carrying plaster and splinters on to us, we are now more comfortable and clean, although Lewis, Lathrop, and Edwards are still up there. Townsend, White, and Woodworth have the best rooms in a really well-kept house, while Sponagle, Cunningham, and Winsor sleep next to the repair shop. The Lieutenant and the other Frenchmen attached to the Section sleep in the bureau, a nice little well-kept cottage also. The washing is done by a dear old woman who hates to leave and hopes, despite orders, to stay.
Yesterday I was "Chow," that is, the man who sets the table and waits on it. Each takes this duty by turns. But as we eat everything off the same plate, that is each one of us has but one plate, with the same fork and knife, there is no great strain upon the Admirable Crichton on duty. Although I got to bed at 3 A.M. I had to be up at 6.30 to set the table, being "Chow." It's a great life, though, which I would n't miss for worlds. We have a lot of fun on the side; play base-ball and a funny sort of adaptation of tennis with a hoop. At night we play roulette for centime stakes, occasionally fish for pike with a sort of trident made out of old Ford brake rods, and swim now and then when it is warm.
Whte and Campbell finally received their decorations to-day. An amusing incident occurred when the General took White, who had been told to stand out in front of the line, to be a mere onlooker and ordered him back. It had to be explained to him that this was the hero who was to be decorated! The General apologized, of course, but it got every one giggling and somewhat marred the solemnity of the occasion.
Cappy, June 1
Big mortar batteries are arriving along the front. I saw several here, at Cappy, this afternoon, hidden near the cemetery. Nowadays even when a man gets killed he is not permitted to rest in peace. The Germans, trying to reach these new mortars, are bound to blow hell out of the cemetery.
Bayonvillers, June 2
I had fun with Francklyn this morning. It appears that he used Imbrie's paillasse last night, so that when Imbrie and I returned from Cappy, it was nowhere to be found. Francklyn was still asleep; so we carried him, bunk and all, out into the main street and placed him, on the sidewalk. A large crowd immediately gathered, thinking he was a blessé, as he had nothing on but a blanket. He woke up just as a division staff was passing, and he certainly did make a quick jump for the yard with the blanket flapping like the tail of a kite behind his long, bare legs as he beat it.
Éclusier, June 13
The other day a trooper fell off his horse and hit his head and they ordered me to carry the unconscious man to Villers-Bretonneux. The car was already full, but I piled him in and took him along to save argument. Of course I had a hideous time at the hospital at Villers, not having a ticket for him. For an hour or so nobody could take him in --- the usual red tape.
To-day I had an interesting talk with a French Lieutenant. He says the Senegalese are awfully hard to handle. They won't stand shell-fire, but don't mind machine guns, so Frenchmen are put on either side of them --- fifteen hundred Senegalese in each division. They have strings of Boche ears which they keep as trophies. On the other hand, the "Germs" always kill the black wounded and prisoners; so it is about fifty-fifty.
To-day we saw the funeral of two aviators. It was quite impressive. One plane made the sign of the cross in the heavens above the grave.
Châlons, June 23
The French kids are good little fellows. To-day one insisted I should have a rose in my buttonhole. Everywhere they give us flowers or candy. Another led me by the hand all around the village of Pont-Sainte-Maxence. Along the roads they always, girls and boys, click their heels together and give the military salute when we pass.
Bar-le-Duc, June 25
We, all went to bed at 7 A.M. and slept until Roche was awakened by something licking his face. Thinking it was one of the dogs, he just gave it a slap, and then the whole tent nearly collapsed! A stray cow had drifted in and tried to get acquainted! The riot that followed set all thought of further sleep at an end.
Dugny, June 29
One gets some astonishing directions when one is working at night in a new country. For instance, in going to Fort Tavannes, I was told to go along a certain road, until I passed two smells and then turn to the left. This referred to two piles of dead horses!
Verdun itself is pretty well shot to pieces. To-day I noticed a marble statue of Napoleon standing up in a hole above the street, which hole used to be a window in a house. The statue creates a rather impressive effect, as it looks out over the ruins and desolation toward the smoking, rocking hills.
Verdun, June 30
The other day Bowman carried a Division Commander whose leg was cut off by a " 77." He died in the car in the arms of his orderly, whose only words were, "It's too bad, too bad, to be killed by a mere '77' after all he had been through." Around here nothing under a "130" is regarded as amounting to much.
Dugny, July 1
We have now three dogs attached to the Section. Besides "Vic," Magoun has picked up a little woolly one at Bayonvillers, while Bowman got a sad sort of mongrel pointer along the road to Bar-le-Duc. They are really more trouble than they are worth, as they continually get lost, while at night they come nosing into the men's blankets and get kicked out to the accompaniment of the usual yelping. Fleas, of course, also help. There are signs, I see, of another dog joining the squad here.. It looks somewhat like a young hyena and is hanging around the cantonment. The tame crows and fox of the camion drivers at Bayonvillers were amusing and could be caged, but these pups are continually escaping. What with our three tents, the zouave, "Lizzie," and the varied menagerie, we certainly are assuming the aspect of a traveling circus.
On the road into Verdun this morning, George End saw a man killed by the shock of a "210." The "Germs " were attacking Thiaumont again when a shell exploded just beside the road, but without touching the man, who was killed simply by the shock.
Imbrie is certainly a "scream." He remarked to-day that on going out on his run to the poste the road was O.K., but coming back he saw a fresh-killed horse. He said: "Now that's the sort of a thing that causes one to stop and reflect, but I didn't. I jammed down both the levers and did my reflecting at forty miles an hour." When Francklyn came in and said "to be careful " on a certain road, Imbrie, with his usual cheerfulness, remarked: "Careful! careful! Good Lord, how's anybody going to be careful? If we wanted to be careful, we should have been careful not to leave America."
A GAS BARRAGE
Many new dead horses along the road. The gas gets them, even the smallest whiff, and of course they have no masks. Speaking of gas reminds me that the Germans have been trying a new dodge --a sort of tir de barrage of "77" gas shells. These shells do not make much noise, but the gas spreads fast. The men who were caught by it all admit that they had taken off their masks for one reason or another. Some get sick at their stomachs and that forces them to take off their masks. It is not amusing to talk to, men who don't know they are as good as dead! One really should have two masks, switch from one to the other in such a case, not breathing meantime. We all have had another one issued to us to-day.
Triaucourt, July 30
I have been struck forcibly with the quiet, restrained and generally dignified behavior of the thousands of French soldiers camped about here. They wander through the handsome Poincaré château grounds and never disturb or injure anything. Bottles of wine left to cool in the spring are not touched.
Billemont, near Verdun, August 21
We have worked three days and three nights without any sleep except naps snatched in the cars. There was the usual comic scene with Baylies. Bowman was coming down the road when he found it blocked by a mass of dead and wounded horses, and men all tangled up with harness and wagons, and beside them one of our cars. It turned out to be Baylies who came running up to Bowman, exclaiming: "There's been an awful mess, Bob," and Bowman, perfectly unthinkingly, ejaculated, "Good Lord, what have you done now, Baylies?" Baylies was as sore as two sticks and growled, "Ah, where d'you get that stuff ? " --- his conventional answer to all gibes. The word "to Baylies" (French "Bayliser") has been standardized in Section One and is even spreading to the other Sections.
Our greatest difficulty is to snatch a chance to sleep. So far, I have run every night since we've been here and I take naps at the poste.. Five men get one night's sleep in three. I take off my hat to Roche, who can curl up anywhere and sleep peacefully. Last night, for example, he got a very bloody brancard, laid it under the bench where the blessés sit awaiting their turn to be patched up, and was sound asleep for four hours, while the Boches dropped "220" marmites around the poste and the groans of the wounded and chatter of the doctors and brancardiers kept up a continual disturbance. I've given up trying to sleep in the abris and so take a chance in the car outside. At least it is cool, though the air is foul with the odor of burned wood and rotting flesh.
A CLOSE ONE --- A CRAZY MAN
Francklyn and Walker had a close call to-day. They were sitting in the front of the dugout reading a paper, when a "105 " high explosive hit a tree not five yards from them. Pieces of the shell smashed into Francklyn's car and a shower of stones knocked the paper out of Walker's hand, while both men were thrown to the ground. Walker says all that he remembers was that some one seemed to snatch his paper away and knock him down at the same time, and he found himself crawling under his car, while Gyles made one long slide for the dugout entrance.
Verdun, August 25
I carried a crazy man this morning. I found him wandering aimlessly around Verdun with a nasty hole in his head and tried to get him into the car; but he kept insisting he was too heavy. Finally, with the aid of a couple of soldiers we I made him get aboard, though he murmured all the time, "Je suis trop lourd, je suis trop lourd."
On our last round to-day I carried a well-educated poilu about forty years of age who paid the American Ambulance many compliments. He said the soldiers of France would not forget the debt they owed us. This man had rifle bullets through both hands. He said he and another soldier "got the drop" on four Boches, who put up their rifles and yelled "Kamerad" in token of surrender. Then when the Frenchmen let down their sighted guns and beckoned them to come in, the Boches suddenly opened fire, wounding my man. But his partner and a machine-gun squad wiped out the four dirty curs before they could play any more of their foul tricks.
Vic White says the attack was only partially successful. He tells how one Boche was blown in three pieces high above the tree tops, when two of the pieces fell rapidly, but the third came drifting down slowly. It turned out to be the Boche's overcoat which had been ripped right off him by the explosion.
We have now a big White truck which carries eighteen assis at a time --- a great help, as it takes the place of more than three cars. When it toppled over the bank recently, there were seven French wounded sitting on one side and eight Boches on the other side. As the French were on the up side, they fell on the Boches who thought they were being attacked again! It was quite a job to get them all extricated. But apparently the mix-up did little harm to any one.
I carried a regular pousse café of a load this afternoon, --- a Boche, an Englishman, a Senegalese, a Martiniquais, and a Frenchman, with an American driving.
Verdun, September 7
It certainly is a satisfaction to note the contrast in the comments at the front concerning the American Ambulance from those to which one is forced to listen in Paris and other cities far from the lines. Here the soldiers can't praise us enough and the same is true of the officers and even of the priests. Many soldiers make it a point to salute the ambulances when they catch sight of the now familiar cars and uniform, because they have heard of the quickness and of the comfortable springs, --- so different from the ordinary type of camion ambulance. "Ah, c'est les volontaires! Bon!" is a common phrase from a wounded man.
Last night the commander of the 214th arrived with his regiment to relieve the 67th. We carried his body down this morning. He had n't been at the front three hours before a shell got him.
Section One cited by order of the Army Corps. This puts us "top dog" of all the foreign Sections.
La-Grange-aux-Bois, September 15
To-day the Section moved to the so-called front again, but in the Argonne this time --- to this little place named Sainte-Ménehould, where Louis XVI was kept by the revolutionists when he was caught. I saw the room in the town hall where he was prisoner.
To-day I took three joy-riding officers into Sainte-Ménehould, where they stayed for a couple of hours and came back with two live chickens, which I was told to carry over to the car, just like "Jimes in the ply," because it looked "odd" for them to do it. However, it's amusing and I don't give a hang anyway, as we are here to help the French.
Tyson is a great fellow, --- only about six feet four inches high! When he, Culby, and Roche come into a café the whole conversation stops --- everybody turns to see the giants. Pity we have n't still got Lathrop, for then there would be twenty-five feet of America represented by four men.
The Salonikans left to-day and Francklyn took little "Vic" with him, which I think peeved Section One almost as much as the loss of the men. "Vic" had come to be considered our mascot and knew us all well. He would associate with no one else. Peter Avard picked him up at Vic-sur-Aisne about a year ago when he was only a few weeks old. The pup always enjoyed going up to the firing-line, riding cheerfully on the front seat or on the hood. The poilus and brancardiers all knew him, and petted and fed him. I believe "Vic" has been under fire more often than any one of us.
It's astonishing how everybody trusts everybody else out here. The Frenchmen give us money to buy them wine, tobacco, send telegrams and so on; and we leave all our belongings lying around loose and they never touch them. Of course it would n't be safe to do this with Senegalese, and on a highway where the troops are passing; but in the lines nobody touches any one else's things.
Dombasle, April 13, 1917
This afternoon General Herr, the commander of the Sixteenth Army Corps, inspected us. We were introduced to him individually and he said some very complimentary things, remarking that with the entry of America into the war "the combat would be shortened." Amen, I say.
Flynn took Lidden to the Esnes poste. On their way, at "the bad corner," two shells dropped right close to them on the road, leaving several big holes in the car, and ripping the whole back out of Lidden's coat! Surely a remarkable escape, and "some" experience for a brand-new man on his first appearance on the firing-line. He had to remain at the poste for twenty-four hours, too!
BERRY-AU-BAC --- CRAONNE
Muizon, April 17
Our orders came to roll at 7 P.M. and the whole Section went out. We handled the wounded from Berry-au-Bac and Craonne. There were heavy fighting and heavy losses. The receiving hospital, which is far to the rear, was so full that we had to wait four and five hours before the cars could be unloaded, and the wounded, naturally, suffered terribly.
This has been an interesting day. Word came that A. Piatt Andrew was to be decorated with the Legion of Honor. General Rageneau, General Nivelle's second, the head of the entire Automobile Service, and so many other "stripers" that it reminded one of Sing-Sing, turned up. The cars were formed in a hollow square in the château courtyard, and some two hundred troops, beside "us volunteers," fell in before them. Section One had been selected as the oldest Section in the Field Service, and Andrew's Section as well. The day was perfect. Mr. Andrew arrived and presented us with our new Section Flag, with the croix twice starred on it, and the names of the battles in which we had served: Dunkirk, Ypres, Verdun, Somme, Argonne, Aisne, Champagne --- some eight or ten names. We were introduced to the General individually; and, after his speech, some of the older men were invited into the château to drink the health of France and the United States; Sponagle, Woodworth, Kurtz, Stockwell, and I were chosen. As it happened, the big guns were roaring straight ahead, behind, and all around us. In addition Boche aviators chose the moment to drop bombs on Muizon (our town) and the anti-aircraft batteries were going full tilt. One bomb fell into the Vesle right near our tent. We had been swimming in the stream but a short time before. It was a splendid mise-en-scene for such a military ceremony.
We have organized two baseball teams, the "Back and Forths " and the "Here and Theres." We have games every day, some of them most exciting. We have quite an audience of poilus, too. Of course, the playing is rather weird, but we get a lot of fun out of it.
While we were playing baseball to-day, the Boches jumped on two saucisses. One of the observers came down in his parachute all right.
Disaster! All are plunged in woe! They have spread manure over our baseball field!!
Villers-Franqueux, May 29
Our abris here are amusingly named. One is "le Métro" another is "Ça me suffit, " which the men pronounce "Sam Suphy"; still another, "Grotte des Coryphées," etc.
PROMOTION AND DUTIES
Louvois, June 25
Our new cantonment is at this place, about fifteen kilometres southeast of Reims. Word has just come that I have been made Chef, which carries with it the equivalent of a First Lieutenancy in the French Army. I do hope I can hold down this job properly. It is a difficult one, as the men are so hard to keep disciplined when they are not getting much work. In a way, I am sorry to be taken off my car, and the life of a Section Chief is rather lonely, as one cannot play around with the men as much as before. On the other hand, one has a staff car of one's own, and a private officer's room with an orderly, and all that, so that one's creature comforts are fine.
I fired a man to-day. I hate this sort of thing, but it has to be done. I told him that we want up here only men who are both able and willing to work and that he seemed to be neither. "What have I done? " he asked. "It's what you have n't done," I replied --- car never clean, breaking minor rules, shamming sickness when it is his turn to work, and so on. Everybody says I was perfectly right, and the boys all seem to approve the step.
This certainly is no soft job. I spend most of my time acting as a bumper between the Frenchmen in the Section and the boys who insist on "kidding" them. A Frenchman does not understand the American method of teasing and jollying, and gets raving mad, feeling insulted. And so I spend my time smoothing over alleged insults which were never meant.
I have had an interesting talk with a French officer to whom I said something about not understanding why they were so generous in conferring Croix de Guerre on Americans, when lots of Frenchmen, who had actually been in the trenches, had not got the decoration. He replied that that had nothing to do with it; that these Frenchmen were forced to go into the war, some of them very much against their will, whereas the American Ambulance men, who had volunteered long before the United States entered the conflict, were each and every one a small but vital factor in bringing America into the struggle. Every time a man volunteered, he carried with him the hopes and sympathies of all his relatives and friends; and as the Ambulance grew, so did the pro-Ally sentiment grow, by leaps and bounds, in the United States.
Haudainville, August 1
Reymond, our French Lieutenant, has had a funny argument with the Médecin Chef at Vaux, who insisted upon our carrying corpses of men killed right around the poste. We demurred, saying that it was the job of the mortuary wagons. Finally we compromised, the Lieutenant agreeing that if the corpses were still warm (!) we would carry them; but not any that had been dead a length of time. Rather gruesome, that.
Passing along the Douaumont road the other day to get one of our men out of a ditch, I saw a boot lying on the way. I picked it up to throw it out of the road, and found a rotten leg still in it!
We are in the midst of the heaviest work the Section ever had. The men and the cars are sights ---plastered with mud from top to bottom. No fenders or side boxes left, nearly every car full of holes from éclats, and two of them with their entire sides blown out.
AN UNEXPECTED ATROCITY
Flynn, who is driving No. 17, a car "presented by the Young Girls of San Francisco," --- this is the name plate attached to it, --- came back to-day announcing "another German atrocity!" "They've been knocking out 'the Young Girls of San Francisco,'" he said. And indeed, the whole side of his car was blown out.
Dallin is a funny chap. He likes to go up to the postes, even when off duty, and always asks to accompany the drivers. Just now he asked to go with Plow in the camionnette, although the road is being heavily bombarded. They certainly are a great bunch of boys! One couldn't ask for a better crowd to lead.
The cars are all "marching." That is due to Pearl, who is working his head off. He keeps them going in spite of everything and has grown a scraggy beard and worn out his clothes in the doing. But they go. The boys, too, are fine. Hardly any sleep, food grabbed when they can get it, but they make good every time. They are a splendid bunch.
This morning Rice came in plastered with mud. It rains every day and the roads are quagmires. Rice, who has a well-developed sense of humor, remarked, "If I were the French, I'd give the Boches the damned country and then laugh at them!"
Every hour, as the men return from the postes, some story of lucky escapes and weird experiences is brought in. It is the biggest work the Section has ever done.
We are to be relieved of the Haudromont poste by two French Sections! Some compliment, considering that only one half of Section One was working the poste!
The attack has been an unexpectedly big success. The Sanitary Service worked finely. Everybody is praising the Americans.
This job certainly is instructive, if nothing else. I am becoming quite a doctor. I treat all my children with the medicine chest furnished by the Field Service. All the various dopes are described and numbered in a little catalogue. I catechize the patient, look wise, scratch my chin, and then, after a quick "once over" of the catalogue, hand him out the pills.
Haudainville, August 31
Red Day and I have had a tight squeeze in the staff car here at this place. The Germans were shelling the road with "220's" at half-a-minute intervals. So we got up as close as we dared, and then made a dash for it with the throttle wide open just after a shell had landed. We made it by the skin of our teeth, the next shell failing within thirty feet behind us, exactly on the road. The shock was terrific and our ears were dulled for an hour or more.
The Boches shelled around the hospital all day to-day, and the smell is fierce, as they landed several of their shells in the graveyard. We, too, get shelled all day, and the avions drop bombs on us every clear night. For the first time I hear the men hoping for rain! Those boys, by the way have been wonderful. I never saw such work as they have been doing. It far exceeds anything the Section has done before, and I really don't see how they keep it up. Of course, I give them every bit of rest I can, and insist upon their being fed at a hours, both day and night. It is putting a crimp in the Section's books, but it's keeping them physically fit, anyway.
Little Tapley has an abscess; so, as he is pretty well done up, I sent him down to Paris for his Croix and gave him two days' permission to get his teeth fixed. An amusing thing occurred to him at Bar-le-Duc, where he was buying a little Croix ribbon, when an old poilu, noticing his extreme youth, came up and kissed him! You may imagine Tapley's feelings!
We are still hard at work, and the men are still doing wonderfully, considering the strain under which they have been for five weeks. Two of the cars have been completely destroyed by shells, and several others have been badly hit. But we have managed to patch them up with bits of board and odds and ends. They don't look like ambulances, but they run. The sides of one have simply been remade out of two canvas sleeping bags. Only two of the men have broken down under the nerve strain, but the others are getting pretty jumpy.
FORDS AND PIGEONS
The French Army now apparently classes Fords with carrier pigeons! At least I received this morning a letter from Captain Foix, Intelligence Officer of the 32d Army Corps, which reads as follows:
"I herewith send you two crates of pigeons for General Riberpray's Division, whose headquarters are in the Carrière Sud. It would be very kind of you to deliver them to him, on behalf of the 32d Army Corps, and thus do me a great service, for our cars cannot go so far."
I gave them to Ned Townsend, and told him to "fly with them!"
Regan pulled "a funny one" up at the poste. He had some pretty close calls getting there; so, as he had not confessed for some time, he asked the Lieutenant to let him see the Catholic priest. The Lieutenant found the priest; but the latter couldn't understand English and Regan knew no French. Regan then asked the Lieutenant to translate his confession. But the Lieutenant, being a Catholic himself, refused, because, he said, it was n't the proper thing for a third party to hear a confession. Then the priest had a happy thought, and said he could absolve, or do whatever Regan's sins required, without understanding them. So Regan confessed in English, and got next to Heaven in good shape, although the priest did n't comprehend a word Regan said; and everybody seems to have been satisfied.
The latest method to, rehabilitate blessés, particularly couchés, is to be stopped by a cut road or a smashed-up ravitaillement train, while shells are coming in. Several of our men report remarkable resurrections of this kind. Couchés get out and run like deer, while assis make regular Annette Kellerman dives into abris. The other night Dix had to go up and down a line of dugouts shouting "Oosong mes blessés? Oosong mes blesses?" for half an hour, before he finally corralled his wounded and could proceed on his way. He relates that one of his couchés actually climbed off the top stretcher, all by himself, and succeeded in unfastening the back.
An amusing incident occurred while I was fixing things so that our cars could pass up to the door of the abris. A tall man in a blue cap called to me, "Why have n't you got on your helmet?" Thinking he was just a lieutenant like the rest of us, I shouted back, "How about yourself?" There was a laugh from one or two of the other "stripers" who were in the group with the tall man, and when I looked up to see what they were laughing at, I saw it was General Riberpray himself! --- the Commander of the 128th Division, who only grinned and said nothing.
THE DEATH OF GENERAL RIBERPRAY
General Riberpray was killed yesterday morning. It could n't have been more than two hours after we met. It appears that he went down the line and a shell got him.
At last, orders have come for us to move. We leave tomorrow for Vaucouleurs.
Last night, the English Section invited the Lieutenant and me to dinner and were mighty nice to us. They said we "had set them a pace that they found it damned hard to follow." Pretty good for the usually undemonstrative Englishman.
RESTING AFTER THE BATTLE
Vaucouleurs, September 18
We are slowly getting over the recent work. Personally, I slept straight through for twenty-four hours. We have had wonderful luck in coming out of the offensive virtually intact, at least as far as men go, for not a single car in the whole outfit escaped without a hole. At all events, we seem to have made quite an impression, as the English Section working with us could not make the front postes, excepting in the daytime, whereas we made them day and night, on account of the lightness of the Fords, and the quick-wittedness of our drivers, who filled up shell holes, with anything handy, as fast as they were made. Often, three or four times in one night, we would remake the road sufficiently for a Ford to pass over.
On our way here we passed many American troops in training, and one of the officers remarked that he "never had seen such a looking crew" --- referring to us. To be sure, one half of the boys were wearing trousers and poilu shoes; some had on helmets, and all had a week or two's growth of beard. Every one was covered with mud, and the cars were all smashed up as to headlights, fenders, radiators, and also covered with mud and dozens of éclat holes. Altogether, it was a scaly-looking bunch of heroes.
Allainville, September 28
The boys have lots of fun with the peasants. They dance with the girls, and jolly them in great style. We had a regular party last night. Several of the boys whistled on pieces of cardboard; others sang, and all had a fine time.
Section One has been cited "by order of the Army," and gets the Palm, "for its valiant conduct at Verdun in August, 1917, when everybody admired its audacity and zeal notwithstanding the continual bombardment of the roads by large asphyxiating shells; nor was there any interruption of its service, though suffering severe losses." The citation is signed by General Guillaumat.
Dr. W. P. Gary, Médecin Principal, of the 96th Division, sends an official letter to our Lieutenant Reymond, in which he refers to our "brilliant personnel" and to our "magnificent go, endurance, courage, and devotion." We feel that we are going out of the old régime into the new with every reason to be proud of one's record. Personally, I cannot find words to express what I think of those wonderful boys. May the new Service live up to the old!
WILLIAM YORKE STEVENSON*
*Of Philadelphia; University of Pennsylvania; served in Field Service from March, 1916, to December, 1916, and April, 1917, to the end of the Field Service, when he was commissioned First Lieutenant, U.S.A. Ambulance Service, and continued work with Section One; author of At the Front in a Flivver and From Poilu to Yank.