Section Sixty-Five (SSU 65)
Section 65 left for the Front June, 1917 and became Section 622 in September, 1917.
- Western Front, France
Section 65 was attached to the 68e division d'infanterie from July to August, 1917; to the 157e division d'infanterie from August to September, 1917, and to the 121e division d'infanterie from December, 1917, to January, 1919.
* * *
SECTION SIXTY-FIVE went from Paris to the training-camp at May-en-Multien in June, 1917. It left there for Courcelles, between Braisne and Fismes, on the Vesle, on July 4, taking over a section of French cars and being attached to the 68th French Division, of the Tenth Army. Its station was Vendresse, about three miles from the Aisne, with halfway stations at Longueval and Cuissy, with Paissy as advanced poste de secours, as well as serving at Œuilly by taking blessés to points farther in the rear. On July 11 the entire Division moved into line, and the Section was cantoned at Villers-en-Prayères. In addition the Section made call trips to Madagascar Hill, an artillery poste, and evacuated from Longueval, Saint-Gilles, Courlandon, Mont Notre Dame, and other hospitals.
Following this it went en repos at Bézu-Saint-Germain, and then for a week at Ronchères. On August 20 it returned to the old sector, with the same cantonment and postes. It was enlisted in the United States Army on September 8 and subsequently became Section Six-Twenty-Two.
'The Ambulance Sections', History of the American Field Service in France, "Friends of France" 1914-1917, Told by Its Members, Volume II (Boston and New York: Houghton and Mifflin Company, 1920)
AT THE MILL OF MAY-EN-MULTIEN
The birth of the soul of Section Sixty-Five was not attended by anything heroic; it sprang into being around a huge manure-pile at the old mill near May-en-Multien. On the morning of June 19, 1917 --- and a hot sunny morning it was ---two small units of boys from the Middle West were assembled in the corner of the mill-yard, together with three rickety shovels, an old cart, and a mule. The latter had been captured from the Germans, which fact, according to its French owner, explained why it always did the opposite to what it was told; it did not understand the French language. Before the day was over, however, it had had a very good instruction in English and gradually grew to comprehend certain words excellently.
A week before about one hundred and fifty men had been sent out from Paris to form the first contingent at the newly installed camp at the mill and had been separated into four sections of between thirty and forty members each. There was one section composed entirely of Yale men; another of Princeton men; a third of unattached men, called "miscellaneous"; and fourth, our Illinois-Chicago Section, formed from the union of a unit of eighteen men mostly from the University of Illinois and a unit of twelve men who lived in or near Chicago. As this fourth section labored perspiringly on the manure pile, which they were removing, the other three were out on the near-by roads, drilling under the direction of an excitable French Maréchal des logis. Occasionally one section would march into the mill yard, execute a French manœuvre with questionable ease, and march out again, at the same time casting a sidelong smile at the section en repos. Down near the creek could be faintly heard the stentorian commands of the Yale leader, "A droite, droite! En avant, marche!" From amidst a cloud of dust on the road toward the château to the east came the nasal drone of the acting sergeant of the Princeton Section, "Un, deux, un, deux, un, deux, trois, quatre " --- keeping the tread of his forty men in unison.
The purpose of the camp at the mill was to train the incoming hosts of would-be ambulance drivers to handle cars until such time as ambulances could be supplied for new sections. For this purpose two aged Fords had been supplied, one of which would go and the other of which could be started---occasionally. To keep the men occupied, a daily drill was conducted according to the French manual. Every fourth day each section took its turn en repos.
The French drill gave us but one inspiration, the old section song which, though unprintable in parts, nevertheless found its way into the répertoire of most sections of the Service. For it was at Courcelles, a later cantonment, that several near-poets evolved the parent chorus from which later sprang a litter of verses, sung to the tune of "Drunk Last Night." The chorus ran as follows:
Rassemblement! Garde à vous!
En avant, Marche! as the Frenchmen do;
Un, deux, trois, quatre,
What the hell do you think of that?
We never used to do like this before.
On the memorable day of which I speak, the head of the camp, Mr. Fisher, who has been beloved and respected by all who have come under his direction, was absent, and a young graduate from the officers' school at Meaux was temporarily in charge. Anxious to have every one work as hard as the French had made him labor at Meaux, he set our squad en repos at the hardest job he could find. This was to transfer the aforesaid manure-pile, the accumulation of countless ages, from its ancient resting-place in the corner of the mill yard, into the near-by fields. Hercules could not have found his task of cleaning the Augean stables any more stupendous. Throughout the whole day and long after the other sections had ceased drilling, the cart was being filled, led away, unloaded, and brought back to be refilled. Finally, late in the afternoon, a merciful rain put an end to further work, but not until pictures of the Illinois-Chicago unit about the manure-pile, with cart and mule, had been taken and labelled, "Friends of France."
LEAVING MAY-EN-MULTIEN FOR THE FRONT
That night, at nine-thirty, the reward came. Rumor had had it that it might be a matter of weeks before ambulances for a new section could be supplied. Now, suddenly, however, the order was received from Paris to send in forty-two men, who were to go out immediately on French cars in a new section. So the Illinois- Chicago group was told to pack up and be ready to leave early in the morning, while twelve men were selected from the "miscellaneous" body to fill out the number. Consequently, at eight o'clock the next day we were assembled and marched to the railway station at Crouy-sur-Ourcq, the first section to graduate from the new camp. Most of us felt a tinge of regret at leaving the old mill; for a more lovely spot could scarcely have been found for an ambulance training-school.
That same night we left Paris for Beauvais and were there conducted to a palatial cantonment in a schoolhouse, where, on the following morning, we were introduced to our cars, twenty huge Berliet ambulances, which had been overhauled and put in excellent condition only a few days before. A week was spent in becoming acquainted with Berliet idiosyncrasies and in learning to drive in convoy over the hills in the surrounding country. On June 24, our French Lieutenant and fourrier arrived --- the former a jolly, short, fat individual named Blachot, and the latter a tall, excitable, hot-tempered chap named Floret.
We were now ready to leave for the front. On June 26, Section Sixty-Five became officially a part of the French army, and left Beauvais in convoy for somewhere in the region of Noyon. Twenty ambulances in convoy, at equal distances apart along a poplar-lined country road, is a fine sight, and our first glimpse of ourselves made us feel proud. The ride was one that none of us will ever forget. The coquelicots --- the French poppies --- were in bloom everywhere and spotted the fields with a brilliant crimson, while yellow and blue flowers varied the color scheme, so that in whatever direction one looked, the eye was met by a mass of color. We passed village after village, each with its little church and cluster of white dwellings with red-tiled roofs, then out again on the roads lined with stately trees. Now for the first time most of us began to realize how charming a country is France.
NOYON --- THE CHEMIN DES DAMES
In the afternoon signs of the devastation of war began to appear. First came a line of trenches, with a maze of barbed wire before them, stretching away from either side of the road. Each hamlet we passed through had more of its dwellings in ruins and fewer inhabitants than the last, until finally the once beautiful town of Lassigny presented a picture of almost absolute desolation. Its large church was only a white ruin, little more than a pile of stones, and the only human beings to be seen were a few German prisoners and their guards, working over the débris of once happy homes. Surrounding the town the country was honeycombed with trenches running in every direction, amidst a vast tangle of barbed wire. On one slope across a valley from us the trenches made a web of white lines, diverging and intersecting, the white appearance being due to the white sand and stone which had been dug up in their construction. Shell-holes, abris, remains of log roads and miniature railways were everywhere. The trees, badly damaged or stripped of foliage and branches, stood up like huge skeletons. For a long stretch there were no trees at all, and, needless to say, not a sign of a dwelling. We were passing over the scene of the famous Hindenburg strategic retreat of March, 1917. Yet it was not an ugly sight, for everywhere, over the trenches and amidst the barbed wire, was a crimson mass of coquelicots.
We passed a week in the region of Noyon, at the little hamlets of Passel and Le Mesnil, and on July 2 we went to Courcelles, in a sector of the Chemin des Dames, where we were given a fine cantonment, an entire barrack, which we found highly satisfactory. We were about seven and a half miles from the front line, and were held in reserve until our Division, the 68th, should move into line.
The night of July 5, or rather at 1 A.M. on July 6, we had our first real thrill. We were awakened suddenly by a terrific crash which seemed to have taken place within an inch of our ears. The crash was followed by two more. Immediately the whole valley seemed alive with antiaircraft guns, searchlights and tracer lights. A French "75" bellowed forth within a hundred yards of the cantonment. In the short intermissions of silence we could hear, far above us, the faint purring of an aeroplane. We were in the centre of a German aerial bombing party. Altogether six bombs were dropped, the one that awakened us falling within a hundred yards of our cantonment. The following morning we were requested by French officers to take down the large American flag which flew over our barracks. It had been raised on the Fourth of July. In the opinion of the Frenchmen this flag had drawn the attack.
A couple of days after the air raid just mentioned, six of our cars were loaned to a French section during one of the hottest attacks of the season on the Chemin des Dames. The French section with whom our six cars worked had lost one man killed during the night. For hours our boys had run back and forth over roads strange to them, past woods full of French batteries. They had made one trip to Paissy, an advanced poste de secours, and the rest of the time had taken wounded from a triage at Œuilly to points farther in the rear, which necessitated crossing the bridges over the Aisne and the Aisne Canal on every trip, under regular shell-fire.
When that work was about done, the relief found these men sitting under a little tent at Œuilly, haggard and tired, too nervous to sleep. A few weeks later, when such experiences were an everyday occurrence, they could laugh at their emotions over the original trip to Paissy. All now freely admit that they had been scared. Long afterwards Fred Smith confessed that before going out to replace Swain and his damaged ambulance, he had hurriedly written home a "last letter," saying he did n't know whether he would ever come back alive.
All June, July, and sporadically in August and September, the army of the Crown Prince attempted in vain to push the French off the California Plateau and the Chemin des Dames --- a road coursing along the top of the plateau from east to west for about twenty-five kilometres, constructed by Louis XV to facilitate the visits of one of his daughters to her maid of honor. Attack after attack was delivered, masses of men were hurled lavishly into the attempt, but the French held their ground. Opposite Cerny the front lines were only forty metres apart, and the plateau became a great upheaved stretch of shellholes. Trenches disappeared and men lived and fought in improvised troughs between shell-holes.
Gas and liquid fire played their part in the struggle. The lay of the land was such as to favor the effectiveness of the gas, for by pouring gas-shells into the valleys which cut into the plateau, it would settle there, and traffic along the valley road for artillery trains, infantry, or ambulances --- be rendered very dangerous. Much of the artillery itself was reached by the fumes. It was estimated that the Germans were pouring forty thousand gas-shells a day into the ranks and rear of the French along that one small sector. Such was the sector to which we had come, all of us except our Chef uninitiated into the sights and sounds of war.
TAKING OVER THE POSTES
On July 11 the 68th Division moved into the line and we took over our postes, the two little villages of Vendresse and Cuissy-et-Geny, the first-named being an advance station less than eight hundred metres from the Boche lines, and the latter an artillery poste de secours farther in the rear. Besides we made trips on call to Madagascar Hill, an artillery poste, and evacuated to a triage at Longueval. We maintained three cars at Vendresse, working exclusively between Vendresse and Longueval, and four cars at Longueval, evacuating the transportable wounded to hospitals at Saint-Gilles, Courlandon, Mont Notre Dame, and other towns. Ambulances were sent to the artillery postes only on receiving a call therefrom by telephone. The Section had been divided into two squads of ten cars, each under a Sous-Chef. Squad 1 was headed by Caldwell and Squad 2 by Quirin. The squads took turns of two days on duty and two days en repos, although it was soon apparent that with the normal number of accidents and mishaps, one squad was rarely sufficient to do the work required, and the other had to be called on for cars.
Our cantonment for the first two weeks at Villers-en-Prayères was worse than none. It consisted of a small ruined house of two floors, with one room downstairs and two above. The lower room was, with great difficulty, made to accommodate eleven stretchers. A whole division of rats was cantoned there also. Of the two rooms above, accessible only by a sort of ladder outside, one was fair, with not too many holes in the roof, while the other had approximately only three walls, and not all of either the floor or ceiling. Practically all equipment had to be stored in a little shed in the rear, which also served as a dining-room, and where there was place for only about two thirds of the Section to eat at one time.
Vendresse was a little town about three miles from the edge of the Aisne. The road crossed the Aisne Canal and River and the Oise Canal at Bourg-et-Comin, and passing through this town, coursed up the valley, over a hundred yards of poorly improvised board road past Madagascar Hill, the side of which was thick with French cannon, past the Moulins fork and the woods thick with hidden guns, to the left around a slight rise into a thoroughly exposed half-kilometre of road in plain view of the Germans on the plateau at the east corner of the valley. At this rise was a turn-out and sign-post directing all vehicles to turn there and go no farther. Such signs, however, are not meant for ambulances. In fact ambulances usually go anywhere in France, gendarmes and military zones notwithstanding, so complete is the right-of-way of the red cross.
Our way through Vendresse took us to the west end of the town, where we backed into a court between two stone walls. In the southeast corner of the court was a passageway, thatched and covered with sandbags, which led to a stairway down into the magnificent subterranean vaults which constituted the poste de secours, where were in all, three levels one beneath the other, each level containing spacious chambers and passages cut in the rock. To the north, a long passageway led beneath to a ruined château across the road, where stairs mounted to another outer opening. Northern France is replete with such caves and cellars. The one at our poste is said to have been used as the wine and mushroom cellar of the château. These caves and cellars furnished admirable refuge for the wounded in the Great War. Indeed the whole system of evacuating wounded was adapted to whatever happened to be the scheme of things as the Frenchman found it. There seemed to be no inflexible rule and system of postes and hospitals, and it was better that there was not.
Once inside the cellar at Vendresse, wounded, stretcher-bearers, doctors, and ambulance drivers were perfectly safe. Shells might land directly above the cellar, as they frequently did, creating no more terrifying manifestation than a dull thud and the shaking of a few chips of rock from the ceiling. It was always a relief to know that, having run the gauntlet of shells and gas from Bourg-et-Comin, one here was safe at least for a few minutes.
The story of our experiences at Vendresse, if complete, would fill a chapter in itself, and must necessarily be restricted. On their first trip to the poste, Gemmill and Myers, on Car 2, missed the turn-off into the town and continued on the Troyon road, climbing up the plateau. Suddenly they saw the heads of Frenchmen peering out of a trench ahead and arms in blue wildly gesticulating to them to turn back. It was the reserve line of trenches, the occupants of which were in terror lest the cloud of dust created by the ambulance might draw on them the German fire. Gemmill, who was an excellent driver, did not stop to turn around, but simply backed down the slope and around into Vendresse at full speed. Holton and Atherton, on Number 8, on one of their first trips, had the uncanny experience of seeing a Frenchman, some thirty yards ahead on the road, blown into atoms by an obus.
Cuissy, our artillery poste, was a different affair --- a cave hollowed out in the side of a cliff high on a plateau. There were two routes to it, one the road up over the plateau from Œuilly, the other an old wagon-road across a field, through the valley and up a steep slope --- a constant succession of shell-holes and, on rainy days, almost impassable. Though we made some twenty-five or thirty trips to Cuissy we miraculously escaped without having a single casualty among the men, but we did suffer seriously in regard to the cars. There was scarcely a car among the twenty Berliets but showed traces of its Cuissy trip, the damage being anywhere from the complete demolition of the ambulance to having a horn or a fender ripped off by éclats. Car 10 made a memorable night trip, with Lowes and Hawley Smith as drivers, in which the car was punctured with thirty-seven éclat holes and neither driver was hurt. Car 1, while its drivers, Page and Tallmadge, were standing only a few feet away, received a shell through the top, which, curiously, did not explode, and after going through the seat and tool-box, buried itself several feet in the ground.
A STRONG ATTACK
The climax of our first visit to the Chemin des Dames sector came with the attack of July 30. Artillery fire in the afternoon further demolished the remains of the buildings above the abri and poste and the buildings around the court, as well as the two cars standing there at the time. When relief cars and the little Ford staff car containing the Chef and Sous-Chef arrived, they found every room of the poste packed with wounded. There had been a terrific German attack in the afternoon, in which the Boches threatened to break clear though the French lines. They had broken the first two lines of trenches at several points and advance bombing-parties had reached Troyon, a half-kilometre away. The French had been digging a new line of trenches about two hundred metres behind Vendresse, preparing to fall back. All the afternoon our boys had been in the poste, listening to the directions of the Médecin Chef as to the best way to gain safety in case this occurred. Two regiments of our Division, which had been relieved in the morning, preparing to go en repos, had been rushed back to attempt to hold the advance and to retake the lost ground.
Immediately the work of evacuating the wounded was undertaken. Before long we had to call on every car we had left, making in all thirteen cars serving Vendresse, four serving the halfway station at Longueval, and one reserved for Cuissy calls. As fast as one car was loaded and sent off, another was backed into the courtyard. Finally we reached a point where we had not a single car left, and with wounded still coming in. Then came the discouraging news that Number 2 had rolled off a wheel near Bourg, and had had to transfer its load to another car; that Number 5 had run into Number 19 near the curve at Vendresse, putting Number 5 out of commission with a bent axle; and that Number 11 had smashed its oil-tank on a shell-hole.
Thus crippled we continued to do the work, instructing every driver to lose no time. Providence was with us, however, for no sooner would we ship off the last car and start praying for another to arrive than we would hear the welcome whirr of a Berliet motor speeding up to Vendresse. Toward morning conditions were relieved by the decreasing number of wounded and by the return of car 2. By six o'clock we were able to send back all but three cars, and to arrange for hauling back cars 4 and 11. Car 3 could not be moved and had to be taken by a tractor on the following day.
In the afternoon of August 1, Henry Cooper performed a deed for which he deserves much credit. A wagon full of hand grenades had been wrecked on the Vendresse road and the grenades lay scattered around for a space of thirty or forty feet. Before Cooper arrived there with his ambulance several French infantrymen had been killed and many more wounded in walking over these grenades. Thereupon Cooper sent his driving partner on with the ambulance, while he himself remained behind and spent well over an hour in clearing the road of the danger and in warning Frenchmen who passed.
It was a tired Section that left Villers-en-Prayères on August 2 for a well-earned rest in the rear; and it was more than a tired-looking line of cars, not a single one of them having escaped some degree of battering. Yet it was a happy crowd, particularly so because we had not had a single casualty, whereas all the other sections in the sector, with less dangerous postes, had suffered at least one casualty --- Field Service Section Sixty-Six to the right having lost two men, the French section to the left, one, and the section which preceded us at our postes having lost three men. The graves of the latter at Longueval had held an ominous significance for all of us.
While we were en repos at Bézu-Saint-Germain, near Château-Thierry, we were given our divisional citation. The citation ceremony was a memorable event. We marched onto a large field presenting a glorious view of the Marne Valley. Here we found our Division, its ranks sadly depleted by the last three weeks of fighting. Many awards of medals were made, and finally came our turn. As the General turned toward us, the Division band played the "Star-Spangled Banner," followed by the Marseillaise. Never had we felt as we did then the stirring beauty of those battle calls of freedom, and never had we realized so strongly the bond of a common cause which linked us to those thousands of on-looking Frenchmen. There were tears in many eyes. Fred Spencer was the standard-bearer. The General of the Division pinned a Croix de Guerre on our flag and then kissed Fred on both cheeks. Fred turned around and grinned!
A week at Ronchères followed. Here we were given nineteen bumpy Fiats for our Berliets, and again attached to a division --- this time the 15 1 151st. In addition, we made the acquaintance of a regiment of Senegalese, whom Hawley Smith endeavored to teach the English language by offering them bribes of cigarettes.
THE RETURN TO THE SAME SECTOR
When we returned to the front after our repos the Section was somewhat changed. Lieutenant Blachot had left some time previously to go into the Transport Service. Lieutenant Max Decugis, the tennis champion of France, had succeeded him, but he too left at the end of August, regretted and regretful.
On August 20 we returned to our old sector, the same cantonment and the same postes, with Moulins, Paissy, Pargnan, Jumigny, and work at Œuilly added. The situation had now quieted down so that we were able to do the work previously done by our Section and another. For the most part our second sojourn at the Chemin des Dames offers few unusual incidents. The wounded were less numerous, though more cars were actually on duty. Perhaps the most notable part of the four weeks was the nightly cloud of gas which the Boches poured in as regularly as clockwork. Many times entire trips to the postes had to be made through gas-fumes, and once in a while the gas crossed the Aisne and extended into Villers-en-Prayères, which was now occasionally under fire. The bridge across the Aisne to Œuilly was continually under shell-fire, and a rain of éclats pattered into the village, their force spent.
Another notable part of these weeks was running a gauntlet of air raids on the way to the hospitals. We no longer evacuated to Longueval and frequently had to go clear to Montigny, some forty kilometres away through Fismes and Courlandon. Every night Fismes, Courlandon, and Montigny were subjected to air raids, and our ambulances seemed to follow the planes from one town to another, arriving just in time for fireworks at each place.
A LUCKY ESCAPE
On one day early in our second visit to the Chemin des Dames four of our cars were stationed near a château at Œuilly. The État-Major of the Division was lodged in this château. Suddenly a salvo of shells broke the tranquillity of what had been a very quiet day. The first of these shells which rained on the château lit about thirty feet in front of a row of four of our cars, on the road, awaiting their turn to go to their postes. It smashed the radiators of two of them and riddled them with éclat holes. Of our eight men, some sitting in front of cars, and some lying down inside, two, only, were scratched and the rest escaped unhurt. However, two Frenchmen much farther away were killed and some fifteen more wounded. Barker, sitting on the front seat of car 20, had his figure outlined on the wall of the car with éclat holes: one a half-inch above his head, another taking off the horn by his arm, and a third tearing through the fender and into the car just beneath his feet. The boys say he looked up in mild surprise.
PAUL C. BENTLEY KILLED
Just before the official demise of the old organization, the tragedy occurred which marred the happy record of the Section and must always inject a sad note into memories of an otherwise glorious summer. I refer to the death of Paul C. Bentley, who succumbed on September 16 to wounds received while on duty three days before. At the same time and by the same shell, Carson Ricks, a new member of the Section, suffered wounds which may cost him the use of one arm. Paul's brave fight after his wounds had laid him low was an inspiration and an example of quiet courage.
Gradually the complexion of the Section was changing, and one could not but feel intuitively that the days of old Sixty-Five were about numbered. In fact, at the end of September, the U.S. Army took us over. Eight members enlisted, the rest having made plans to go into other work, and thus ended the existence of Section Sixty-Five.
LOUIS G. CALDWELL*
* Of Oak Park, Illinois; Amherst, '13; North-Western, '16; served in the Field Service as Sous-Chef of Section Sixty-Five until September, 1917; subsequently a Sous-Lieutenant in French Artillery.
After Sixty-Five left May, it went by way of Paris to Beauvais, which had not seen many Americans before, and the élite of the town received us with open arms. We were curiosities in those days. Then there were the "vieilles dames, un peu sourdes," and toothless, who had to be reassured time after time that we really were Americans. "Vous-étes des américains, Messieurs!" --- "Ah" --- "Vous êtes nombreux en France?" "Ah! Tiens! Tiens!" "C'est loin l'Amérique, n'est-ce pas?" "Mais vous-avez tous des belles dents. Comment se fait-il? " They were a dear lot, those old, inquisitive, and kindly ladies at Beauvais.
Across the road from us at Courcelles was a Midi regiment from the 68th Division, to which we were later attached. We gave them cigarettes for songs, and wine for knickknacks and souvenirs. They made canes, hammered brass, and laundered during the spare time of waiting for the day of going up. Section Sixty-Five spent the time watching planes, peeling "spuds," writing reams of letters, and discussing the big issues of the war. The night before we went up with the Division we took a can of pinard out under the apple trees and drew over a group of poilus, who sang their songs of the Midi provinces --- "Montagnard," "Gardez mes amours toujours," "Ah, pays lointain," "L'Arlésienne" --- some gay, some passionate, and others sentimental --- so justifiably sentimental during those occasional hours of reflection and uncertainty. I remember afterwards looking among the regiments of the Division, after their hard losses above Craonne in July --- looking for these fellows from the Midi who sang for us under the trees at Courcelles. I wanted to learn all the words of "L'Arlésienne, la belle divine " but I never saw but one of the lot after they went into line: I carried him to Longueval. He sang a tune much different from the airs of Provence --- a blubber and an unconscious moan. We shall never hear those airs again and find them half so fine, for all they may be sung by finer voices. The background of those days will never be again. And if it should be, we would not be young and sensitive --- it would all seem changed.
At Villers-en-Prayères part of the church was still standing and l'Américain often dropped in off duty to play a bit of "Ziegfeld's Follies" on the wheezy harmonium. Why not? Was not "jazz" a sacred thing to him? An old woman used to pass the cantonment every evening on her way to the church to burn a candle for her son lost in the war. She was feeble and obviously poor --- and candles were high. Thereby hangs a tale of a man of Section Sixty-Five, who, though not outwardly so, was without a doubt the finest Christian gentleman we had. His particular charities were his sympathy and dealings with old ladies. He gave this particular one, as regularly as she came, a bottle of much-coveted and valuable petrol for her altar lamp; she gave him prayers and kindness in return. He may not have believed in the efficacy of the prayers, but he believed in sympathy and kindliness --- and he learned much from the "vieilles dames of our beloved France.
RAYMOND W. GAUGER*
*Of Champaign, Illinois; University of Illinois, '17; joined the Field Service in May, 1917; served with Section Sixty-Five; subsequently a member of the U.S.A. Ambulance Service.
SUMMARY OF THE SECTION'S HISTORY
UNDER THE UNITED STATES ARMY
Section Sixty-Five came into Paris in September, 1917, with eight old members enlisted in the U.S. Army. Fourteen men from the newly arrived Syracuse Unit were placed in "Sixty-Five," and on the morning of September 22, 1917, with new Ford cars, and Lieutenant Sponagle in command, the Section left for the war zone again. It then took up life en repos, not being attached to any Division, but remaining at Fère-en-Tardenois from September until November, 1917. At about this time the Section was officially renumbered Six-Twenty-Two.
On December 22 we were attached to the 121st Division, .on the Chemin des Dames, and had Œuilly for a cantonment, with postes de secours at Oulches, Paissy, Verneuil, and Vendresse. It left the Aisne sector in April, 1918, with the 121st Division, and convoyed to Poperinghe, Belgium, in the Ypres-Mont Kemmel sector. The work was very hard and dangerous, but the Section finally came out, without any losses, in the last part of May.
Repos for ten days followed at Beauvais. Then the Section was ordered into line near Estrées-Saint-Denis, on the Montdidier-Noyon front. It continued in this Oise sector, near Compiègne, for some time, with its cantonment at Remy. During the attack on Ferme-Porte and Ferme-des-Loges in the first week in August, a big advance was made. Then followed the battle of Lassigny. The headquarters of the Section was at Bayencourt, outside Ressons-sur-Matz. Two men, Raymond Gauger and Leo Smith, were wounded here by éclats. Following the Lassigny battle and the German retreat, steady progress followed toward Saint-Quentin and La Fère. Then the 121st Division was ordered to the Chemin des Dames, and we followed, going into line at Vailly, between Soissons and Braisne, and having a poste at Ostel. It was here that Hugh McNair lost his right leg when he was struck by a large piece of éclat. It was here, too, that we received a section citation.
On October 13, 1918, we crossed the Chemin des Dames, following the German retreat, and had a cantonment at Bruyères, near Laon. We advanced steadily from this time, and the Armistice found us at Auvillers, near Rocroi, on the Belgian frontier. We returned to Samoussy, near Laon, until December 10. Then we started for Germany, the Division marching all the way, via Reims, Châlons, and Nancy, and across the Lorraine frontier at Nomeny to Saargemund. The Division then broke up and we went to Saarburg, and then to Saint-Avold, near Metz. On March 25 the Section was ordered in to Versailles, and the U.S.A. Ambulance Service Base Camp at Ferrières.
PAUL A. REDMOND*
*Of Syracuse, New York. U.S.A. Ambulance Service during the war.