Category: american heroes

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“What’s the sense of it?”

‘September 15 1918 – Went
to the funeral of four Americans in the little churchyard. These were our
own boys and we could not let them be buried in foreign soil
alone; so we went. It was terribly sad and I wept so hard that
Liz whispered: “For heaven’s sake stop or you’ll get me started!” But I
couldn’t stop. What’s the sense of it? Why did they have to be killed before
they had even begun to live?

It was such a
beautiful clear day with meadow-larks singing over head. The coffins were covered
by an American flag and placed beside the freshly dug grave… I watched the
boxes go down and reach the bottom.

Then
the spades flew and the black dirt thudded on the wood,
crumbling, quickly covering the coffins.’

American nurse
at the Front in France – from the beautiful book “I Saw Them Die: Diary and
Recollections of Shirley Millard
” – Photo: 1918, France, a nurse watching the funeral of American
soldier(s). The National WW1 Museum and Memorial                                             

‘The long desired orders for relief finally ar…

‘The
long desired orders for relief finally arrived and we marched out on Sunday
morning. I had planned to have my Sunday Service a memorial one for the brave
lads we were leaving behind. I set up my altar in an open field and preached on
the text, “Greater love than this no man hath than that he lay down his
life for his friends.” When the service was over the regiment took the
road and began its march, with the band in advance and the regimental wagon
train in the rear.’

Summer
1918, Father Duffy, beloved chaplain of
the Fighting Sixty-Ninth, the famous Rainbow Division “who helped close the lid of hell” – Father Duffy’s Story: A Tale of Humor and Heroism, of Life
and Death With the Fighting Sixty-Ninth
– Summer 1918, France, soldier laying flowers on the
grave of a Rainbow Division soldier. Missouri Over There

“August 25 1918 – Fine weather. We are evacuat…

“August 25 1918 – Fine
weather. We are evacuating wounded at Cohan – Ate at Field Hospital. Pass near
Quentin Roosevelt’
s grave on this trip.”

American ambulance driver’s diary in Aisne sector – See map, Chamery being the town where Quentin Roosevelt was buried
Diary of J. Reah Hollinger , Franklin & Marshall College. Photo:
August 1918, Chamery, France, American soldiers and ambulance drivers
paying their respect at the grave of Quentin Roosevelt

                                            “J…

                                            “Jerry has been sending beaucoup gas shells”

“July 20, 1918.

Dear Dad:

Jerry made it quite hot for us the past week, but I guess we got him on the
run. Have been in luck to get in on the ground floor of the year’s two biggest
drives. Have passed thru some experiences during the last few days, experiences
I would have deemed impossible a year ago. Had our first real experience with
gas during the last days, Jerry has been sending beaucoup gas shells over and
as a result we have almost lived in our masks (It’s great sport). The last few
days has seen some terrible shell fire–almost a steady roar. Every night the
front is the scene of huge fireworks display with flares, skyrockets, signals;
etc. This sure is some life.

On the whole I am enjoying these
last few days, although there are times when we have it pretty hard. Will write
again soon unless Jerry makes it too hot for us. We will probably get a rest
after Jerry “calms” down.

Your loving son,
Edward Normal Gilkey
Co. B. 6th Eng.; A.E.F.”

American soldier in the thick of the Battle of Soissons – Sadly, this was Edward Gilkey’s final
letter home, written on the day of his death. Minnesota Historical Society –  Photo: Summer 1918, France, French officers adjusting the American soldiers’gas masks. US National Archives

                                    “The thing…

                                    “The thing that won her over completely was her dog”

‘July 11 1918 – The old lady who owns the billet is delightful. She’s
a little bit of a dried up person, and she
regarded me with deep suspicion, but I’ve now succeeded in winning her over.
She thawed a little when she found I talked French — but the thing that won her
over completely was her dog. When I first came in I was greeted with furious
barkings and growling and I just walked on past him. Later, as I was
sitting reading, the dog solemnly advanced, wagged his tail, and then put his
head on my knee to be patted. After that the old lady and I became fast friends
and now I am “Monsieur Quentin” and a privileged person. Among other things she
told me that she had German officers quartered in her house in 1870 and
then again in 1914. Think of it.’

In Marne, France, Lt. Quentin Roosevelt, American pilot and fourth son
of former President Theodore Roosevelt ‘s last letter – From the beautiful book 
Quentin
Roosevelt: A Sketch with Letters
– Sadly, 3 days after this letter, on  Sunday July 14 1918, he was shot down and killed by a German Fokker
plane over the Marne River in France. – Photo; 1918, Quentin Roosevelt and a
doggy in France @ Library of Congress.

                                              …

                                                         ‘moving forward all the time

‘France is one continuous camp and the troops are coming
in all the time and every one moves forward all the time, and no one gets to
the rear except the wounded – So
you see that the whole movement is constantly towards Berlin. Everything
is moving fine over here so far and I think we have Fritz on the run, thanks to
the good work of the people back home – Here,
my people are doing their bit to win the war, they sure make good soldiers.’

Letter of James William Alston, American First Lieutenant in the US 372nd
Infantry,
an all-black regiment – African American Soldiers in World War
I @ DPLA – Photo: July 4th 1918, Independence Day Parade in Lignieres, Meuse, France. La Contemporaine, France.

                                              …

                                                          

“Last
night was a perfect inferno”

“These
officers coming in wounded, terribly, terribly, wounded, rarely complain. They
have endured their hardships and suffering gloriously. My heart has bled by the
things I have seen.”

June 1918, Belleau Wood, American Surgeon J.T. Boone’s letter to his wife. He received the Medal of Honor for his incessant work and heroism in WW1, especially during the Belleau Wood battle.  In one instance,
on June 25 1918, Dr. Boone
followed the attack of one battalion against enemy positions in Belleau Wood, establishing advanced dressing
stations under continuous shelling. More about Dr. Boone @ the Library of Congress –  Illustration: June 1918, US Marine regimental aid station in Belleau Wood, France – militar.org.ua

 

                                       …

                                      

“The
first time I went “over the top” was on June 6th.“

“If there be any
person who does not believe there is a God, let that man go “over the
top” just once. It will do more to convince him than a thousand years of
religious meetings.

The first time I
went “over the top” was on June 6th. Oh, what a happy bunch we were shaking
hands with one another, happy and exultant in the fact that at last we were
“going over.”

Of the forty men
in my platoon that started to cross a small ravine only 100 yards across, four
of us reached the other side. That was when we took Bouresches. We were in the
line for one whole month. It is an absolute fact that the Marines stopped the great German drive, saved
Paris, and then, with over half of their number killed or wounded, drove the
Germans back and once more saved the day.”

June 1918, in
Belleau Wood, American Marines’ letter home. – Dear Folks At Home, The Glorious Story of The United States Marines in France
Illustration: WW1 song “One, two, three, boys over the top we go”
Library of Congress. Here, the WW1 Centennial News’s podcast gives a very interesting
June 1918 Overview. Here, France remembers.

The day before Memorial Day of this year, (191…

The
day before Memorial Day of this year, (1918), Marshal Petain wrote General
Pershing,

“I have invited French troops stationed near American cemeteries
to go and salute their brothers-in-arms
fallen for the safety of their Land and
the Liberty of the world. Later, when you have left Europe, rest assured that
the same rites will be rendered them and with the same fervor. The remembrance
of these valorous men will endure in our hearts.”

It did and still does. See here, Memorial Day 2018 celebrated in Chaumont, France.

Source: A Machine Gunner’s Notes – Photo: WW1, Memorial Day French soldiers, ladies & children paying tribute to the fallen American soldiers. Ministere de la Culture, France.

Memorial Day 1918 in France, Masevaux, Chaumont, Romagne

                                              …

                                                               “Everything was dead“

‘On May 27 1918, the
attack began at 12:55 am with “a terrific crash that rocked the entire sector… Hundreds of bulking missiles, wobbling through the
air with a sickening rush, exploded in their midst, and terrified shouts of
‘Gas!’ warned us that we were in for the greatest of horrors, a night gas
attack. The barrage ceased at 2.00 am. Later that day, we saw that the deadly
fumes not only affected the soldiers but also the flora and fauna.
Everything was dead. Messenger pigeons lay in their baskets; rats,
swollen and distended, were stretched out in the trenches and dugouts … The whole area looked as if it had been visited by a killing frost.’

This
gas attack coincided with a large German offensive
that occurred near Chemin des Dames to the northwest. The final report from this attack stated that
236 Americans were gassed, 36 were killed.

Somewhere in Northeast France,

American
soldiers, members of the Rainbow Division – Somewhere
Over There: The Letters, Diary, and Artwork of a World War I Corporal
An
American Soldier in World War 1
– Photo: 1918, France, No Man’s Land