Section Twelve (SSU 12)
- Published in History
SECTION TWELVE left Paris on February 7, 1917, bound for Bar-le-Duc. It stopped first at Longeville, then at Vadelaincourt and Jubécourt. With Dombasle as its base, the Section worked Esnes and the Bois d'Avocourt. It was at the former place the Section first saw action. Twelve later worked in the Sainte-Ménehould, Suippes, and Châlons sectors. It was at Vaux-Varennes, its next and last move as Section Twelve, in a château located in a valley surrounded by the high hills of France, that it was taken over by the American Army, thereafter to be numbered Six-Thirty of the U.S.A. Ambulance Service.
'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)
I see them, men transfigured,
As in a dream, dilate
Fabulous with the Titan-throb
Of battling Europe's fate;
For history's hushed before them,
And legend flames afresh, ---
Verdun, the name of thunder,
Is written on their flesh.
LEAVING RUE RAYNOUARD
The big majority of the Section came over on the same boat, the Espagne, and landed in Bordeaux on January 17, 1917. We arrived in Paris on the 19th. Then began our initiation into the Field Service and our acquaintance with those never-to-be-forgotten French official papers that we all had to have and now keep as precious souvenirs of bureaucracy. We more or less wandered out to "21" and there began our service and career as ambulance men. For a while we loafed around, listening wide-eyed to the wondrous tales of the permissionnaires, putting Fords together, gathering enough equipment to go to the North Pole, and spending every cent we could lay hands on. Finally came our assignment to a body to be known as Section Twelve and our introduction to our prospective Chef, Harry Iselin; whereupon we were shown our cars and got to work on them. Then came the farewell dinner, at which we were addressed by several prominent Frenchmen and our own chief Mr. Piatt Andrew. On February 8, we left rue Raynouard bright and early, with the good wishes of all, including Fisher, who had been "to the mat" with each of us in attempting to beat into our heads the whys and wherefores of a Ford.
Well, anyway, we got under way somehow or other, and our joys and troubles began. We managed to make our first stopping-place, Champigny, without any mishaps to speak of. But new cars were beginning to show off, and expert chauffeurs were beginning to be less boastful. Wheels would not steer and carburetors would not carburate, and drivers would not work, but argued the question in the middle of the road as to whether the actual complication was in the top or the differential.
Meanwhile our soft-voiced mechanic cussed and swore. We managed it, though, and arrived at Montmirail about 8 P.M., tired and cold. Strangely, and much to our surprise we had a wonderful meal cooked by our more-than-marvellous Andy. Then weary and sleepy, we crawled into a hay-loft for a good night's rest. Early the next morning we were on the way again, stopping at Sézanne for luncheon. The afternoon's journey was accomplished without mishap and we arrived at Sommesous, where we spent the night in a barn with the horses and pigs.
A STAY AT LONGEVILLE --- VERDUN AND ESNES
By the next noon we made Vitry-le-François, had lunch, and arrived at Longeville, by way of Bar-le-Duc, about eight that night, again cold, tired, and hungry, but still enthusiastic. All ears were cocked for guns: for some of us poor benighted innocents thought we were at the front.
In Longeville we spent many speculative days, were finally assigned to a division, where we met that never-to-be-forgotten Frenchman, Dr. Rolland, the Médecin Chef of the 132d, and on the morning of February 28, the Division at length started for the front. We hesitated at Vadelaincourt, and at last arrived at Jubécourt, from which, on March 14, we left for Dombasle-en-Argonne, where we relieved Section One, and commenced our work near the historical Hill 304 and Mort Homme, a region just about as alive with batteries as any I have ever seen in France.
Later we went out to look over that wonderful little spot, our poste de secours at Esnes. Over the top of the hill, above Béthelainville, we blithely rolled; we even began to descend, every one agreeing that it was a wonderful sight and feeling quite brave. However, Montzéville came into view, and with it the shells began to fall. We got through all right, though, and started for Esnes. This road from Montzéville to Esnes ran for some three kilometres parallel with and in plain sight of the trenches. Incidentally it was practically the only means of communication with our hill, and consequently all troops, supplies, artillery, ammunition, and so on passed over said route. One knows too well what happens on that kind of a road. Suffice it to say that many a night we were scared stiff as we rolled over it, praying with all our souls that our well-beloved voiture would keep chugging on all four pegs. Lord! the memories of that road! Flying artillery with the caisson hitting both sides of the road at once; tired, dusty soldiers, ravitaillement wagons, and those damned little donkeys, carrying ammunition, which simply would not get out of the way; everywhere wreckage, broken wagons, overturned guns, with always shells whipping through the air.
Well, we arrived at Dombasle on the 14th and got settled nicely in about the most comfortable and likable cantonment we ever had, then Section One rolled out and we started to work. The first cars went out to the postes and came back with wonderful tales of our good fortune in being attached to a division with such wonderful brancardiers. And right here I want to express our thanks to our friends, the little priest, Bouvier, and the ever-present and cheerful cyclist and photographer, Bardelinni, who did so much in different ways to make pleasant our life at the front. Everything, in fact, went along smoothly for a few days; then the very devil broke loose.
AN ATTACK --- ALL CARS ROLLING
About four or five o'clock on one Sunday afternoon, Houston and McLane were, I believe, at Esnes, while I was at Montzéville, the halfway poste. The other boys were having just about as hard a time, if not worse, at other postes. Along about four a terrible barrage started, and some thirty minutes later Houston stuck his head in the abri door at Montzéville and gave me the word to go up to Esnes. On the way up, I passed McLane with a load and in a few minutes was on my way back myself. From then on, for a long period of hours, it was just one continual roll, roll, roll. Things were happening thick and fast; night came on, and still there was no let-up. Cars began to get into trouble, the traffic was awful, and still faster and faster the blessés came pouring in.
All credit must be given to our Chef, who, although a new man, gave a wonderful example of command and direction. He, too, had the hard job of keeping us all up and going, notwithstanding the excited state we were in. How a man could keep awake as long as he did without going under has always been a mystery to me. Then there was the incident when the cars, first rolling out to Esnes and things getting pretty hot, were met by the little priest with these words, "Well, I knew you boys would come, anyway." One can imagine how these words affected us and how we worked after that. Later, by the way, one of the boys told about being in his little cubby hole in the abri and hearing, early one morning, one of the priests offering a prayer. He prayed for the soldiers, for the Allies, for the officers, for France and all the stricken and wounded, and lastly he said something that made this boy prick up his ears: "And for the young American volunteers who have come to us of their own free will from that great nation across the seas, who daily and gladly risk their lives in order to ease the suffering and do, what they say, is just their little part, --- may the good God watch over and protect these and bless them as France thanks them. Amen." This prayer was spoken in French and without any idea that it was being overheard. This was the sort of thing that made the Section what it was in all its future work. By the 20th the attack was over and things became more or less normal, though there was plenty of work always at that particular part of the line.
WHEN AMERICA DECLARED WAR
Then we woke up one morning about April 6, 1917, and learned that the United States had declared war on Germany. Never were we happier and never were we treated better or welcomed with more enthusiasm than when we carried the news out to the front. Bottles of wine were unearthed, and we were patted on the back until we felt as though we ourselves had been responsible for the declaration. To cap the climax we were informed at this moment that five of our number had received the Croix de Guerre for the work done during the attack of the 18th to the 20th. These men were singled out for distinction, but there was not one in the Section who did not work hard and well during those three terrible days.
On April 12 our Division left the trenches and we were again relieved by Section One. We lined our cars up alongside of the road, all loaded and ready to start, and Section One rolled in amid much tooting of horns and shouting, again taking its old place in the line. We got our convoy under way sadly, for we had spent many happy days in the little old knocked-down and kicked-about village of Dombasle.
We went with our Division as far as Senard, where, after having made camp and expecting to stay en repos for a while, we were suddenly ordered up and were on our way again in thirty minutes' time. We were transferred from our old Division to the 71st, much to our sorrow, for we had learned to love and respect our comrades, who had gone into line with us ninety-five per cent strong and had come out with only about fifty per cent left.
All left the 132d Division with regret, for we were much liked there, as this official farewell from the Médecin Chef, Dr. Rolland, testifies: "On quitting us, Section Twelve leaves behind it a feeling of unanimous regret among all the brancardiers of the Division. Coming from a very distant land to share in the defence of a good cause and lend their aid to our wounded, these friends of France displayed from the very start the finest qualities. Scarcely a month ago they knew nothing of the dangers of war, and without any previous preparation, in a most dangerous sector, and at a most critical period, they took up their new work in a fine spirit of courage and devotion, thereby personifying the splendid characteristics of their great nation. In a few days they inscribed their names on the honor roll of their Division. The Médecin Chef cannot let you depart without thanking you warmly for your aid on all occasions and without expressing his regret at being thus separated from such worthy comrades in this struggle."
Changes in the personnel now occurred. Second Lieutenant Bayard was called away and replaced by Lieutenant René Posselle, under whom it was our good fortune to work thereafter.
From Senard we went to Sainte-Ménehould, where we found our new Division in line and where our work was rather quiet, and we learned to know the villagers and were met by the utmost courtesy and consideration on the part of the French soldiers and officers. Here we spent about a month, having gained additions to our family in the persons of Bradley, Sinclair, and a few others. About this time, too, Houston and Dunham left us for the school at Meaux, subsequently becoming chefs of motor transport sections, while our Chef, Iselin, went also to the same place. Ray Coan was appointed Chef and Alan McLane Sous-Chef. Here we had a wonderful party with Section Thirteen that had just come down from the lines with an army citation to its credit, which event, of course, had to be celebrated.
From Sainte-Ménehould we went to Billy-le-Grand, where we spent two or three days, and then to Recy, near Châlons-sur-Marne, where we stayed en repos for about a month, during which period we had little else to do but play cards, fight, eat, sleep, and generally enjoy ourselves. Along about this time the Section began to break up badly. Benney went into French Aviation, where he was subsequently killed at the front. He, with Harry Craig and Waller Harrison, who were subsequently killed in the American Aviation Service, and Henry Houston, who was later killed in the Artillery, were the only members of the original Section to make, so far as is known, the final sacrifice. We render them all due honor, and salute them as comrades who never faltered in their duty and who were over-eager to accept service of any kind. They went to their deaths as men should, serving their country to the last moment. A little later Faith left us for the same service, while Tenney, Harrison, and Sinclair wended their way to the Orient to enter the sections which had gone down there, where were already two of our former number, Kelleher and Chauvenet. A little later Croom Walker took charge of a new section going to the front. Finally, the 8th of July arrived, the first period of enlistment was up, and when the Section made its next move very few were left of the original members.
From Recy, the Section went to Suippes, in the Champagne district, where it stayed for a while and then shifted over toward Reims. There it migrated around from village to village, finally landing in the little hamlet of Vaux-Varennes, where the recruiting officers of the United States Army found it, and old Twelve of the American Field Service passed out of existence. Gone but, we are sure, not forgotten.
CROOM W. WALKER, JR.*
*Of Chicago, Illinois; University of Virginia; joined Section Twelve of the Field Service in January, 1917; subsequently a First Lieutenant, U.S.A. Ambulance Service.
THE FAREWELL DINNER --- EN ROUTE
One of the finest speeches I have ever heard was given at our farewell dinner in 21 rue Raynouard by M. Hugues Le Roux, a famous French journalist and adventurer. He told us in almost perfect English how he had lost his only son early in the war, and he bravely described how that one had died and how he had barely managed to get to the bedside and hear the story from the boy's own lips before the latter passed away. He showed us why the work of the Field Service meant so much to him, because his boy when wounded had been left for days at the front on account of the insufficiency of the ambulances; and he made every man who had come from a mere desire for adventure, feel that it was really his duty to help France. Among the others who gave stirring speeches at the dinner were Mr. Andrew, and Mr. Frank H. Simonds, the well-known war correspondent.
Longeville, Monday, February 14, 1917
There was no room for us in Bar-le-Duc Saturday, and we had to push on to this little place where we slept in an old barn. But the close atmosphere drove us to our cars. I have made a regular little cabin out of mine. A good-sized bundle of straw, spread over the floor of the car, makes a fine mattress and for my heating and lighting system I have two kerosene lanterns. I am writing now sitting up in bed with my mackinaw on, since the heaters are not always too efficient. Pretty soon it will become stuffy, and then I shall throw back the canvas flap and the side windows and go to sleep.
Longeville, February 26
On Thursday we had our first evacuation work. At Haironville we picked up two assis and a couché. The latter was in bad shape, and we had to drive back very carefully. We dropped all three cases at the big hospital in Bar, and then speeded home by the canal road.
INCIDENTS AT THE FRONT
Jubécourt, March 8
I have just returned from the regular nightly rat hunt. It is a pastime not very well known in America, but very popular here at the front. Every evening we collect our clubs and flashlights and raid an old barn near the river. Two or three of us usually rush in together, flash our lights about until we spot a rat, and then fall upon him with our sticks. It takes a good clean shot to kill, and we consider ourselves lucky if we get two or three in an evening.
Inside "Shenickadaydy," Jubécourt, March 11
The General commanding our Division passed through the village this afternoon and reviewed the Section. Our orders were to stand motionless beside our cars and look straight ahead. But the General was a good-natured old fellow and spoke to several of the men as he passed, instead of marching formally by, funeral fashion.
Dombasle-en-Argonne, St. Patrick's Day, 1917
With the exception of a few road-menders, we are the sole occupants of the place. The peasants were all forced to flee after the shelling. Yesterday late in the afternoon I went with Craig to learn the road. Immediately upon leaving the village we came into plain sight of the trenches. I experienced the same shivery feeling here which one often has at home before getting up to make a speech in school. You try to tell yourself everything is all right, but still you seem to quiver all over. However, from the glances I stole at Craig now and then, I knew that he was just as worked up as I was. This idea seemed to cheer me immensely, and I felt much more at ease afterwards. I wonder why this should be so!
In the abri of the poste de secours at Esnes, March 20
A liitle after noon on Sunday the heaviest bombardment we have yet heard started. I was given the Esnes run, the one I had made with Craig, and where I am now, waiting until a full load of blessés arrives. Finally I managed to get to the château and found three grands blessés waiting for me outside. I drove very slowly and carefully on my return trip, but sometimes I struck a bad hole which I had n't seen and the poor fellows moaned and shrieked pathetically. But finally I managed to get them into Dombasle. Then I went back to Esnes again for more, and kept on working until four o'clock the next afternoon. I did n't sleep for thirty-five hours, and some of the men, those who had been on duty before, went for four or five hours more than this. The result of our two days' work, ending Tuesday night, was 377 wounded carried a total distance of 10,000 kilometres, which, the crowded condition of the roads being taken into account, was no small achievement.
Dombasle, March 24
I crawled into my blankets here at three o'clock this morning. They sent me out about ten last evening on a special call to Poste Two. I had three runs down to Ville with some blessés from a German coup de main, and this kept me going for some time. Fortunately there was a full moon or I should have had a terrible time in the woods. "Barney" Faith and I laid in a supply of wood this afternoon which ought to last us a month. But it is still pretty cold, and Bradley and Cook keep the fireplace so well filled up that we have to have two or three cords on hand all the time. We keep it stacked up in the corner where the piano used to be. The two of us ran my ambulance down the street to the wreck of an old mansion, filled the back chock full of banister pickets, assorted furniture, and wainscoting which we tore from the walls, and carried it back to our one-room apartment on the hill.
Dombasle, March 28
Chauvenet has just come in from Poste Two. On his way out a "210" landed in the middle of the road just in front of him, and a great piece of steel tore through the top of his car not ten inches from his head, and dropped into the back of the ambulance. He did not know that the car had been touched until half an hour later, for he was so stunned by the force of the explosion, and so overcome by the shell-gasses through which he was forced to ride, that he barely got out alive. Every one is envious and wishes that it had happened to him --- at least they say so.
UN COUCHÉ GRAVE
Dombasle, March 30
Thursday night the blessés from the morning attack began to pile in at Esnes. I went on at eight o'clock as a reserve. The first time down I had one couché who could n't stand the pain. He almost drove me crazy with his shrieking and yells of "For God's sake, stop!" And several times when I happened to hit, accidentally, a shell-hole or a log, he actually rose up in his agony and pounded with his bare fists upon the wall of the ambulance. But I knew I could n't help him by stopping, and I felt that I might save his life if I hurried. After I got out of Montzéville, he quieted down, and I supposed this was because the road was so much smoother. But not until I stopped in front of the hospital at Ville did I learn the truth. The poor fellow had died on the road!
In the abri at Poste Two, April 6
At supper to-night the good news came, which we, and especially the Frenchmen, have been waiting to hear for months --- the United States had declared war on Germany. One of the brancardiers returning from his furlough broke the news to us. We were all below in the abri when he came rushing down the muddy stairs and shouted to us what had happened. And each one of those simple poilus wrung my hand.
A CANTONMENT --- AND A HOME
Dombasle, April 13
Benney and I were talking before the fire in his room to-day and Gilmore was attempting to make hot chocolate, when a knock came at the door. He yelled, "Entrez," and, as the door slowly opened, we saw an old French couple standing on the threshold. This had been their home six months before, and now they had returned to look upon the wreckage. The woman wept when she saw the shell-hole through the ceiling, the broken furniture which we were burning, and the heap of old family treasures lying in one corner. We said nothing; we couldn't say anything; but as they departed sadly, the man muttered, "It is not very nice, but after the war we will . . . " and we heard no more. Benney and I were silent, and Gilmore forgot about his cocoa for a few minutes. It had never occurred to us before, when we tore a ruined house to pieces for firewood, and carted off all the old books and ornaments for souvenirs, that people like these actually lived in the houses, or would ever return.
Abri at Ferme des Wacques, July 1
To-day a young aspirant named Lucot took me around to the officers' abri and introduced me to his Captain and two Lieutenants, who invited me in to dinner. At dessert they told me they wanted some bright American girls for their marraines. So I wrote down the names and addresses of four of my friends at home who, I thought, would be willing to correspond with them. Then I described each one in turn and let each officer pick the one he wanted. It was very funny the way they debated about the girls. They decided that Lucot should take the youngest, who was very intelligent and quite small, because he also was young and small, although he did n't come up to the intelligence standard. The Captain preferred the tall and sedate brunette, because his grandmother was tall and sedate. The Lieutenants had a terrible dispute over the remaining two, one of whom was a marvellous dancer and the other very beautiful. At last they ended the argument by throwing up a two-franc piece and calling the turn of the coin.
Ferme de Piémont, July 9
It's a true saying that a Ford will run anywhere you take it. Frutiger ran his machine into a tree on the Suippes road; but instead of climbing it, as the Ford joke-book would have it, the car bounded over to the opposite side of the road and lay there for several minutes on its back with the rear wheels spinning around at a great rate, before he was able to shut off the motor. Then he waited until a couple of Frenchmen came along and with their help turned it right side up again. After this he thanked them and rode off as though nothing had happened.
My last day with good old Section Twelve --- July 11, 1917
I left the Section for good to-day. I am going home. I'd a thousand times rather stay in France until the war is over, but the family does n't agree with me. Therefore, I must go home to argue it out. Princeton opens in September and I'll be there with the rest. But next fall it will be France again. I have finished saying good-bye to the fellows. As for old 464, 1 patted her radiator in a last fond caress and gave her a final drink of water five minutes ago. Dear old "Shen-ick-a-day-dy," as the poilus call her.
JULIEN H. BRYAN*
*Of Titusville, Pennsylvania; Princeton, '21; entered the Field Service in January, 1917; served with Section Twelve until July.
SUMMARY OF THE SECTION'S HISTORY
UNDER THE UNITED STATES ARMY
In September, 1917, and in October, 1917, the enlisting officers of the American Army visited the Section at Vaux Varennes (north of Reims). About the 15th of October, the Section moved en repos to Ablois Saint-Martin, near Épernay, where Chef R. Coan was commissioned a First Lieutenant. November 13 found us for the second time at Vaux Varennes with no more war for our delight than had formerly been the case. In early December, Chef Coan was called to Paris to be replaced by Lieutenant Fisher, who previously had had charge of the training school at May-en-Multien. My diary depicts great disgust of the Section at the introduction of American Army rules and regulations. The banishment of trunks, the adoption of the ill-fitting American uniform, combined with the cold winter of suffering, did not permit us to remain long in a good frame of mind. There was very little work in the sector.
On February 4, Lieutenant Fisher was replaced by Lieutenant Rogers. In the latter part of February, we moved to Prouilly for repos again, but on March 7, we left to return to Saint-Martin for the ultimate purpose of changing our division and receiving a new allotment of cars. On March 13 and 14 the change of cars was completed.
On March 27, we received orders to leave Saint-Martin immediately and go to Meaux. The 5th Army divisions were being rushed north to aid in repulsing the big German drive on the Somme. We left Saint-Martin at six in the evening, ran an all-night convoy through Montmirail and La Ferté. Our first stop was early the next morning in Saint-Jean-les-deux-Jumeaux, outside Meaux by a few kilometres. At seven that night we received orders to proceed to Pont Sainte-Maxence, departing at once. During this convoy through Meaux, Senlis, and on to Pont Sainte-Maxence we began to get a glimpse of conditions in a big retreat. On Easter evening we left Pont Sainte-Maxence for an eighty-kilometre drive to Crèvecœur-le-Grand, north of Beauvais.
While waiting for further orders we cantoned in Marseille-le-Petit, and on April 4 orders came to go to Essertaux, about midway between Amiens and Breteuil. In the sector we had rather difficult work, all of us being kept busy continually. The Médecin Divisionnaire of the 127th rewarded us by "Une Citation à l'Ordre du Jour." On April 11, we came again to Marseille-le-Petit for an indefinite stay, not being attached to one particular division, but serving with any which needed our aid. On April 23, orders came to move to Rumigny to aid in the defensive in the Bois de Hangard. Upon arrival in Rumigny, we were posted to Dury, thence to the Asile d'Aliénés, outside Amiens. Nothing can better describe the affair of Amiens than what I wrote on the spot.
April 24. Berteaucourt and Domart. called out on service in the early morning and reported at the G.B.D. of the 131e D.I. to assist S.S.U. 575 in their work. Little idea could we have had of the tremendous work we were going to do. Eight cars were wrecked in the attack. At Domart yesterday morning, Charles Livermore was instantly killed, while going from the abri to prepare for a trip. The 140e D.I. called on us for aid to-day, necessitating five cars on service near Villers-Bretonneux.
On May 4, we are back again in Marseille-le-Petit, sobered by the tragedy through which we have just come. We leave tomorrow for the front, and henceforth we are to be attached to the 60e D.I.
On May 9, we relieved English Section 10 at Gannes, a little village directly in front of Montdidier. Here we had excellent accommodations, but work was continuous. The First Division (American) was on our immediate left.
In July, Lieutenant Rogers was replaced by Lieutenant H. G. Ford. In early August, a consciousness that something important was about to happen in our sector came over us, causing us all to prepare for any eventualities.
On August 10, we were the first American military organization to enter the city of Montdidier after the German occupation. August 11 found us in Faverolles, on the eastern side of Montdidier, with our outposts at Laboissière, Fescamps, and stone quarries indiscriminately scattered about the countryside. Our stay in this locality was featured by heavy, consistent work, and by annoyance from the retreating enemy, who tried to make the way as difficult as possible for the advancing Allies. On August 30, we were in Fignières for a day, and then moved back to the city of Montdidier for a repos. However, we did not stay there long, for on September 7, we arrived in Laboissière once again. Later, we moved to Avricourt, thus keeping up as rapidly as possible with the advance. Avricourt was situated midway on the Grand Route between Roye-sur-Avre and Noyon. While here, we worked outposts at Beaulieu-les-Fontaines and the Canal du Nord. Early on the morning of the 8th of September, we entered Frétoy-le-Château, on the eastern side of the Canal du Nord, having to cross the field and cross the canal almost in its bed. Postes were changing continually, and to a man the Section was busy working irrespective of time, food, or weather.
Soon after arriving in Avricourt, we moved our cantonment to Frétoy-le-Château, to stay one night or so, then moving on to Villeselve. While at these places, our regiments captured Nesle, Ham, and Guiscard. From Villeselve we quickly moved to Cugny, not far from the Canal Crozart, whence we could see Saint-Quentin. Here we discovered one of the emplacements of the "Gros Berthas" which did the long-distance firing.
Cugny remained our cantonment for a much longer time than we really had expected. Outposts were advancing rapidly by demi-kilometres until we were well up to the Hindenburg line. Following Cugny the Section had a rapid succession of cantonments, at Montescourt, Essigny-le-Grand, and Marcy, beyond Saint-Quentin on the main road to Guise. Here, after our gallant 60e D.I. had crossed the Oise and had maintained their positions there, we were relieved to be sent to the Vosges for a rest.
Not long after our arrival in Saint-Dié came news of the Armistice. Orders were immediately forthcoming for us to move into Alsace, which we did about the 15th and 17th of November. Though this convoy was of not a long distance, it took us several days to accomplish it, due to the technicalities of the German withdrawal from Alsatian soil. Passing through Provenchères and Saales, we made our first stop at Ville (Veiler). From there we went to Barr the next day, and two days following our arrival in Barr, on to Erstein-Schaeffersheim, twenty kilometres south of Strasbourg.
In the post-Armistice months the length and breadth of Alsace was ours to re-discover, of which opportunity we eagerly availed ourselves. December, January, and February passed for us in the rural community of Schaeffersheim. February brought vague rumors of going home, and finally we began our last trip. Early one morning, the 28th of February, we left Strasbourg for Paris by way of Saverne, Sarrebourg, Avricourt, Lunéville, Saint-Nicolas-du-Port, Nancy, Toul, Void, Ligny-en-Barrois, Saint-Dizier, Vitry-le-François, Châlons-sur-Marne, Épernay, La Ferté, and Meaux.
RALPH N. BARRETT*
*Of Boston, Massachusetts; Dartmouth, '18; entered the Field Service in July, 1917; served with Section Twelve and later in the U.S.A. Ambulance Service.