American Volunteerism in France
The Development of relief work, in and out of war.
- Published in History
The Development of relief work, in and out of war.
In the fall of 1914, the United States had three ambassadors in Paris: Robert Bacon, who had returned to take charge of the American Ambulance, Myron T. Herrick who, at the request of a newly-elected Wilson, had remained to complete work begun on the eve of the war, and the newly-appointed William G. Sharp.
In Spring 2019, American Field Service ambulance driver John Wright, accompanied by his son Jerry, returned to visit a place and time like no other in his long eventful life.
SECTION EIGHT left Versailles on May 25, 1916, going directly to Champagne in the Mourmelon sector. It remained there but a few days when it moved on to Dugny for the great battle of Verdun. It next served in the region of Les Éparges. Reward came in the form of an extended repos in the Moselle region, followed by a long journey to the Somme where it spent part of the winter of 1916-17. From there it went to the Meuse, thence to Sainte-Ménehould and the Argonne in the early spring of 1917. In April of the same year the Section went again to Verdun. From there it moved to Champagne, remaining until August, then returning once more to Sainte-Ménehould. It was while here that Eight was taken over by the Army in the autumn of 1917, as Section Six-Twenty-Eight of the U.S.A. Ambulance Service.
SECTION EIGHTEEN left Paris on May 8, 1917, going to Glorieux, near Verdun, working the postes of Bras and Montgrignon, and thence to Thonnance-les-Moulins en repos. It worked in the French attack at Verdun in August, where the Section received a divisional citation. From Verdun it went to Dolancourt, en repos, and thence to the hospital at La Veuve, in the Champagne, near Châlons-sur-Marne, in October, where the break-up took place and its U.S. Army régime began as Section Six-Thirty-Six.
SECTION FIFTEEN left Paris about April 10, 1917, arriving a little later at Dombasle, near Verdun. It had postes opposite Mort Homme and Côte 304, and there it remained until the end of June, when it retired en repos to Wassy far back of the lines. In late July the Section returned to the Verdun sector, working again in the region of Mort Homme, which the French successfully attacked on August 20. Its next move was early in October to the Champagne, where it worked in the region of the Mounts. It was there that the Section was made a part of the American Army as Section Six-Thirty-Three.
SECTION FOUR left Paris for Lorraine in November, 1915, and after a few weeks, at Vaucouleurs, spent the ensuing winter and spring in the Toul-Flirey sector. In June, 1916, it moved to Ippécourt for the great battle of Verdun, where it had the distinction of being the first of the Field Service sections to serve the famous postes at Marre and Esnes. For nearly a year the Section remained in the region of Ippécourt and Rarécourt in the Verdun sector. In May, 1917, it moved on to Champagne, where it remained for two months; then it went back again to Verdun, this time to the Bras-Vacherauville sector. It was at this point that the Section enlisted with the United States Army in the autumn of 1917, as Section Six-Twenty-Seven.
SECTION FOURTEEN, a Leland Stanford University section, sailed from New York as a complete unit on the 14th of February, 1917, just after the breaking-off of diplomatic relations with Germany. It went immediately to the front, working in the Verdun sector, then comparatively quiet. On April 15 it moved to the Toul sector, in the region of Commercy. At length it went en repos near Ligny-en-Barrois. On June 5 it journeyed to the Champagne, near Mourmelon-le-Petit, in the Moronvilliers sector, where it remained until recruited into the United States Army, as Section Six-Thirty-Two.
SECTION NINE came into existence on August 14, 1916, and left Versailles for the Vosges Mountains. It worked over practically the same ground that Section Three had worked over before it, serving in the valley of the Thur, in the region of the Ballon de Guebwiller, Hartmannsweilerkopf, and around Mollau and Mittlach. The Section left this region of Alsace on December 14, 1916, going to Bar-le-Duc and later to Vadelaincourt and Glorieux, where they worked the Verdun front in the region of the Meuse River and around Montgrignon. On January 15, 1917, the Section was moved again, this time going to Toul. On January 24, 1917, it moved to Royaumeix, and worked postes at Saint-Jacques and La Carrière de Flirey. On February 5, 1917, it again moved to Rupt, close to Saint-Mihiel. Another move took place in April to Ligny-en-Barrois, Vaucouleurs, and Éloyes-sur-Moselle. On April 19 it went to Vandœuvre, near Nancy. On June 15 it worked about Pont-à-Mousson. On October 6 the Section changed once again, going to Saint-Max, just outside of Nancy, where, two weeks later, it was taken over by the United States Army as Section Six Twenty-Nine.
SECTION NINETEEN left Paris on May 16,1917, going by way of Saint-Dizier and Bar-le-Duc to La Grange-aux-Bois, arriving on May 19. It served the postes of La Chalade and Chardon in the wooded Argonne. The Section remained in this sector for some time, going at last, on September 25, to Montereux, and thence to Semoigne when it was taken into the U.S. Army as Section Six-Thirty-Seven.
SECTION ONE left Paris for Dunkirk on January 20, 1915. The latter part of March it was moved to Malo-les-Bains. From there it went on April 6 to Wormhoudt, to be ordered back later to Dunkirk. On April 22 it went to Woesten near Ypres: Later half the Section went to Elverdinghe.
In June ten ambulances were at Dunkirk and the remainder of the Section was transferred to Coxyde, Belgium, the postes being situated at Nieuport and Nieuport-Bains. On July 20 the entire Section was sent to Crombeke in Flanders.
On December 22 of the same year the Section moved near Beauvais, en repos. In January, 1916, it moved to Jaulzy, in February to Cortieux, and then to Méricourt-sur-Somme. From here it was suddenly ordered, on June 22, 1916, to Bar-le-Duc, behind the Verdun front, going from there to Dugny, where it arrived June 28. On July 13 it went en repos at Tannois, Givry-en-Argonne, Triaucourt, and Vaubécourt, all in the Argonne region. On the 15th of August it moved to Château Billemont. On September 11 it spent three days en repos at Triaucourt, and then moved to La Grange-aux-Bois, between the Argonne and Verdun sectors.
On January 19, 1917, the Section again went to Triaucourt en repos, following which it moved to Ippécourt. January 25 found it at Dombasle-en-Argonne, and the 14th of March at Vadelaincourt in the Verdun sector, en repos. On April 17 it moved to Muizon, ten kilometres west of Reims, and on June 21 to Louvois. It spent a repos, beginning July 23, at Évres. August saw it at Houdainville and later at the Caserne Béveaux. On September 14 it moved to a peaceful little village in the Jeanne d'Arc country, where it ended its career as a part of the Field Service, becoming thereafter Section Six Twenty-Five of the U.S. Army Ambulance Service, with the French Army.
SECTION SEVENTEEN left Paris for the front on April 30, 1917. On May 10 it found itself at Vadelaincourt in the Verdun sector, and on the 3d of June left for Jubécourt, passing the months of June and July on the Meuse front. A short repos was spent at Condé-en-Barrois in the early part of August. On the 14th of the month the Section arrived at Ville-sur-Cousances, near the Meuse, where it remained until September. It then went to Mesnil-sur-Oger, near Épernay, in the Champagne district, making a brief stay, thereafter going to Mourmelon-le-Grand and the Champagne front, in the region of the Mounts, where it continued as Section Six-Thirty-Five.
SECTION SEVENTY left Paris for May-en-Multien on July 8, 1917, and on July 14 came back to Paris to take over its section of Fiat cars, then at Versailles. On July 16 it left Versailles en convoi for Noyon. After a week here it went to Rollot, near Montdidier, en repos with the 53d Division. On August 9 it returned to Noyon, and on August 13 was attached to the 38th Colonial Division at Bas-Beaurains. On August 20 it moved with the Division to the Aisne front, being cantoned at Missy-aux-Bois. On August 28 it moved to Sermoise, on the Aisne, and its Division went into line directly in front of Fort Malmaison. The Section served postes at Jouy, Aizy, and the Ferme Hameret, just under the Chemin des Dames Plateau. Vailly was the reserve poste, and Chassemy, and later Cerseuil were the evacuation hospitals. On September 23 it went en repos for a week at Écuiry, near Septmonts, back of the Aisne, returning to its old sector and cantonment on October 1. It worked there through the Fort Malmaison attack of October 23 until November 1, when the Fiats were abandoned and the men enlisted in the U.S. Army and took over the Fords of S.S.U. Eighteen, becoming Section Six-Thirty-Six.
SECTION SEVENTY-ONE took over a section of Fiat cars in Noyon on July 31, 1917, and on August 2 was attached to the 158th Division, en repos at Nesle, on the Somme. On August 19 it moved to Lanchy on the Saint-Quentin front, with front postes at Holnon, Maissemy, a relay station at Marteville, and evacuation work at Ham, Cugny, and Noyon. The recruiting officers visited the Section on August 29, but the Section continued under the old régime until November, when the Fiats were abandoned; then the men transferred to a Ford Section at Belrupt, outside of Verdun, becoming, with what remained of Old Twenty-Nine, Section Six-Forty-One of the U.S.A. Ambulance Service.
SECTION SEVENTY-TWO arrived at May-en-Multien on August 6, 1917. It left for the front, driving French ambulances, on August 18, 1917. After repos of two weeks at Noyon, it was sent to the front at Saint-Quentin. En route for this place, it was enlisted, at Flavy-le-Martel, by the American recruiting officers, being the first section of the Service taken over by the U.S. Army. It continued work under the old régime until November, when it filled in Old Section Twenty-Seven's vacancies and took over their Fords, becoming Section Six-Thirty-Nine of the U.S.A. Ambulance Service.
SECTION SIXTEEN left Paris at the end of the third week of April, 1917. It went to Rarécourt, in the Verdun-Argonne sector, and in this sector it remained for nearly six months working about Grange-le-Compte and the poste of Bon Abri. Its greatest activity was during and after the successful Verdun offensive in August of that year. Just before the end of its history it moved to Corbeil, back of Vitry-le-François, for a repos, and there became Section Six-Thirty-Four of the U.S. Army Ambulance Service.
SECTION SIXTY-EIGHT left Paris on July 27, going to La Ferté-Milon, and thence to the Parc Levecque. On July 6 it arrived at the H.O.E. at Bouleuse, where it was engaged in service to Épernay. This evacuation work it continued until September 13, when enlistment began in the U.S. Army. A little later it became Section Six-Twenty-One.
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.
On June 11 SECTION SIXTY-FOUR left for the training-camp at May-en-Multien. On June 21, it took over a section of French cars at Mouy-Bury and left for Rupt-sur-Moselle, in Lorraine. After a stay there, en repos, of almost a month, it was transferred to Rougemont-le-Château, later going on to Vesoul, in the extreme east of France, in the Haute Saône, back of the Alsatian front. After nearly a month of evacuation work here, it convoyed down into Lorraine by way of Contrexéville and Neufchâteau, and finally at Condé-en-Barrois was attached to the 19th Division. On September 12 it went to Glorieux, near Verdun, handling wounded from the postes of the Carrière des Anglais, Vacherauville, and La Fourche. On October 2 it was en repos at Vanault-les-Dames, near Vitry-le-François, and on the 10th left for Génicourt. There, on October 26, a section of Fords relieved Sixty-Four, its Fiats were turned in to the French parc, and the men left to enter other services or be reassigned in the U.S.A. Ambulance Service.
SECTION SIXTY-NINE came into being on July 13, 1917, at May-en-Multien, going to the French parc at Saint-Martin-d'Ablois to get the French Fiat cars which were assigned to it. On July 23 it left via Saint-Dizier and Bar-le-Duc, for Issoncourt. On September 7 it moved to Glorieux, near Verdun, evacuating to hospitals at Landrecourt, Souilly, Souhesme and Fleury-sur-Aire. From September 14 to 19 it was at Génicourt in the Mouilly sector. Then it was at Mirecourt and Jussécourt en repos for eight days, from where it went back to Glorieux on September 13, succeeding Section Sixty-Four at postes at Verdun --- Vacherauville, Bras, Carrière des Anglais, and La Fourche. It left Glorieux on October 18 to go en repos at Chardogne, near Bar-le-Duc, where it was recruited by United States officials. Subsequently it was amalgamated with Section Twenty-Six, the Ford cars of which it took over, becoming Section Six-Thirty-Eight of the U.S.A. Ambulance Service.