Category: american heroes

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Pitch dark.

“April 10-11 1918 – Cut
more hair and shave. Move from Sermoise to Braine. Pitch dark. Sleep in car in
street. Notified by Lieut that I am to have Croix de Guerre. Big punch bowl.
Have to buy champagne for boys.”

In Aisne, France, American ambulance driver’s diary – Special Collections Department, Stewart Library, Weber State University. Illustration: WW1, France, ambulancing at night. Herbert Ward.

March 23 1918 – After a month in Lorrain…

March 23 1918 – After
a month in Lorraine, the 42nd Division was withdrawn from the front, assembled,
and started on a long hike to the Rolampont area for further training. Before the division left, the French presented the Croix de Guerre to Colonel
Hough and 23 soldiers. One
day’s hike took the regiment to Hallainville, where they rested a few days and received new equipment.

On March 23, a regimental review was held and captured on photo by a French photographer. Here, on IMGUR, are 10 awesome photos of that glorious day.

Blamont – Photo: The American soldiers (and a little French boy) walking to the field where the review will take place. La contemporaine – France

    March 5 1918 – “The Americans lost 1…

    March 5 1918 – “The Americans lost 19 killed
and 28 wounded tho the Boche raid had failed.”

‘At 4:30 this morning we were
awakened by a terrific bombardment. I thot at first that it was a
French barrage but soon realized that it was Boche instead. Gil lighted a
candle and we put on our shoes to be ready for any call that might come. That candle made all the difference in the
world, it ‘s true that we are less afraid when he can see things… The big shells were coming over in great style. We went outside to get the car
warmed up and as I was cranking the car an éclat hit about
2 ft from my head but we got the car going. The shells made so much noise we hardly heard the motor. We went
to the kitchen again which was fairly safe and was the
best we had because the Americans had filled the abri under the house to
overflowing. I started up the “Money Blues” on the Vic and we sat around
waiting either for a shell to hit the house or a call to come. Our counter
barrage had begun – it ‘s nice to know that
your enemy is getting just as badly scared as you are.

The racket lasted an hour
and a half dropping about 500 shells in the town, teaing their way thru almost
anything. A call came so we went and saw that the communication trench had been
smashed up badly
. The American wounded did not start to come in till 8 o’clock
so we took in a French blesse’ and returned. Coming up the road from’ Pexonne
which runs perpendicular to the lines we found that the Boches had put up
a saucisse which looked
straight down the road so we hung close
to the camouflage along the road and gave old Lizzie the gun. The Americans lost 19 killed and 28 wounded
tho the Boche raid had failed.

They say that the Americans stood up on the parapet and
cursed & cried for the Boches to come over and when they finally did they
gave them such a hot reception that they were forced to retreat to their own
lines. These Americans showed
themselves worthy descendants of the men of 61 with so much courage and good
spirit. And the wounded were heroic Spartans to the core. They have astonished
the Boche and the French and also myself in that they were not only not afraid
but seem to like it. It is their first affair and of course they were still keyed up
with enthusiasm. After they have seen more, they will realize what a dirty
rotten seemingly endless game it is.

And we made only two trips before noon as 6
other cars had been sent out.’

March 5 1918 – American ambulance driver’s diary in Badonviller, Meurthe et Moselle,France – The Compensation of War – Photo: early spring 1918, Meurthe et Moselle, American ambulance drivers loading the coffin of an American soldier into an ambulance. @ Ministère
de la Culture
Here, in Badonviller, the graves soldiers who were killed that day.

“Snow, snow, snow, everywher…

“Snow, snow,
snow, everywhere … we had no extra stockings, no
nothing. Well, it snowed so damn hard we couldn’t, we didn’t
know where to sleep. And there was a farmer up there, he let us sleep in the
barn. So we all — can you picture two hundred and fifty guys sleeping in a
barn? Like sardines! And by God, you know, nobody caught a cold”

The
Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War
– Photo: February 1918, ‘snow snow snow everywhere’, American soldiers in the
Gondrecourt sector, France.

“Jim Europe was our benefactor and inspi…

“Jim Europe was our benefactor and
inspiration. Even more, he was the Martin Luther King of music." 
Eubie Blake

“Europe led his band
in a concert on Brest’s quay, crowded with French sailors, soldiers, and
civilians as black American soldiers passed through the streets, up the long,
winding hill leading out of the city toward the railyard. The first tune the lieutenant selected was the French national anthem,
the “Marseillaise.” Playing it in a jazzy way, Europe was surprised that none
of the French people stood at attention when they heard their country’s
national song. It was as if they were not familiar with the music.
But suddenly, as the band had played eight or ten bars, there came over their
faces an astonished look, quickly alert, snapping-into-it-attention, and salute
by every French soldier and sailor present. The style of Europe’s band playing
the “Marseillaise” thrilled them to a far greater extent than their own bands
playing it. It was the unaccustomed interpretation of their anthem that caused
the French soldiers and sailors to be so tardy in coming
to the salute.”

About James
Reese Europe
who led the 369th Infantry Regimental Band. Harlem’s
Hell Fighters: The African-American 369th Infantry in World War I

‘Into our shack the soldiers crowded every aft…

Into
our shack the soldiers crowded every afternoon after drill and each night, and wretched as it was, we managed to
get a great deal of fun out of it and many a good time we had there’

My
Hut: A Memoir of a YMCA Volunteer in World War One
–  Photo, early 1918. Meuse, France, American soldiers relaxing at the Y.M.C.A.  B.D.I.C.

                                   January 5 1…

                                   January 5 1918, aviation field near Paris, -14°C (6.8°F)

“No one knows what cold is till they have climbed to above 5,000
metres in a swift chasseur on a biting, way-below freezing January day. Whew!
On my feet I wear heavy woollen socks, a pair of slippers, and then the heavy
woollen chaussette fourrées
the army gives us. Comme ça j’ai assez chaud aux pieds. On my legs I
have two pairs woollen underdrawers, heavy breeches, woollen leggings. On my
body I wear two undershirts, a jersey, a shirt, a sweater-vest, Mother’s
sweater, a leather coat, and over everything the excellent heavy fur
combinaison the army gives. My gloves I stuff with paper, and my fur helmet
keeps my head warm. I don’t know exactly what the temperature is up there, but
one of the boys has a centigrade thermometer which averages between fifteen and
twenty below zero
. I don’t know waht it is in Fahrenheit, but I know
it’s cold, especially considering the speed with which we rush through space!

January 5 1918, Marne, France – American
volunteer aviator, Escadrille 94A Year for France

‘Jan 1, 1918. “Happy New Year to you!” “Thanks…

‘Jan 1, 1918. “Happy New Year to you!”Thanks, the same to you!, and many of
them
!” – New Year’s in the army is like Monday on a farm so we work all day. Little convivial
gathering at the Hotel du Pont in the evening’

American ambulance driver’s diary in Baccarat, Lorraine, France – evening’The Compensations of War: The Diary of an Ambulance Driver
during the Great War – January 1918, American ambulance drivers and soldiers in this same region.

‘New Year Day 1918 – I left Chateaudun yesterd…

‘New Year Day 1918 – I left Chateaudun
yesterday morning. and tore back to Tours before a ripping gale. In fact
the wind was so strong that I was forced to land with my motor full on. Spent
the evening very quietly at camp and thought about last New Years Eve, not
without a bit of regret that I was not back there. This ends my 1917 account
lets see how she goes through 1918 & how long she lasts!’

American volunteer, first as an ambulance driver, then as an aviator in Tours
France – Diary of a WW1 Pilot – Photo: 1917, Amerian aviators relaxing at camp.
culture.gouv.fr

‘December 31 1917 – And so this is the e…

‘December 31 1917
– And so this
is the end of 1917, — the most thrilling, most inspiring, most
profoundly influencing year of my life. I look back on it with a certain amount
of satisfaction tinged with awe and wonder.’

American ambulance driver’s diary, near the front, France – History of the American Field Service in France – Photo: 1917, France – American ambulance on the road.