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”
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
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.”
Reese Europe who led the 369th Infantry Regimental Band. Harlem’s
Hell Fighters: The African-American 369th Infantry in World War I
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’
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 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 94 – A Year for France
‘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
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.
‘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.
“Now I know why they
call us the A.E.F. It means ‘Ass End First!”
Winter 1917-1918 in France, was one of the coldest in living
memory. American soldiers faced subzero temperatures without adequate supplies
of blankets, gloves, or overcoats. Some of them had no shoes that would fit and
were marching through the snow and ice with rags wrapped round their
feet. Then on Christmas Day, in a
heavy snowstorm, orders came to march to the area south of Langres.
This long march was part of the training and despite the blizzard, for 3 days the
division marched over ice covered roads. Chilled to the bone, the Rainbow Division made that
memorable march, and through it, never lost its spirit. It was the Unbeatable
Spirit of the Rainbow Division.
History of the A.E.F. –
The American Promise, Volume C: A History of the United States – Photo: December 25 1917, photo of this famous march, the"Valley Forge Hike"
‘In this very busy railroad junction, the
cheering aroma of fresh coffee steams up into the air. And
the American ladies can be seen, while the line of soldiers, cups in hand, which starts at that early hour, and continue for at
least another 18 hours, until well after midnight.
that making coffee for a canteen is not making it for a household dining room! You
don’t measure it by teaspoonfuls! It is an affair of pounds and gallons. And the
sandwiches are not dainty morsels but sandwiches
fit for fighting men, the sort that hungry soldiers can grip with
With the Doughboy in France – Photo: winter 1917-1918 – Railroad station
in France – American soldiers drinking coffee made and served by American
ladies. Library of Congress
‘The days are wet and frigid. Sometimes snow falls. Sometimes sleet pelts down like
Last week of December 1917, in Marne, France – American ambulance driver’s diary –
Private Heller and the Bantam Boys: An American Medic in World War I – Photo: WW1, France, snow-covered American ambulances.