“They carry guns on their ambulances”
“The Germans are very contemptible in their methods of
fighting in the open, and they stoop to do every crooked trick their clever
brains conceive. They carry machine guns on Red Cross stretchers out into No
Man’s Land and go down into a shell
hole and fire on us, they carry guns on their ambulances and bring them up that
way to the front. We never fire on anything marked with a red cross.
They bomb our evacuation hospitals even though every hospital has a big
red cross painted on its roof. After the war, the Germans will have a pretty
low place in the esteem of anyone who has been over here. There
is no name too low to be applied to the Kaiser and the officers of an
army who permit and encourage their men to do the things the Huns do.
are beginning to pay for it now and they will have to pay a
Late August 1918, France – American volunteer infantryman, cartoonist and embedded
journalist, serving with the Rainbow Division –
Over There –
Photo: WW1 Illustration
“When the Americans fire a shot everybody sticks his
head over the gun pit to see if it hits the mark—if it does, we cheer, and if
it doesn’t, we swear— while the French all duck their heads when firing. Every
American soldier over here comes from “Missouri,” and they all have
to see everything that goes on, even though they could get “picked”
off by some “sniper” when they stick their heads up.”
1918, France, American soldier’s letter home –
Wisconsin Magazine Of History
– Photo: 1918, France, American snipers “sticking their heads up”. Library of Congress
“March 1918 – What a difference it makes when you carry
American wounded; it brings the war
home with a bang. These are the men you knew at home, the clerk in the little
store, the bank teller, the grocery boy,
these are the men who cry in your own tongue and their cries seem to strike your ear in
a different manner or at least the sound is relayed clear to your heart.”
In Meurthe-et-Moselle, American
ambulance driver’s diary – The Compensation of War –– Photo: Spring 1918, Meurthe et Moselle – American First Aid unit tending to an American wounded. National Archives Catalog
Early 1918, the importance of aerial photography –’At the front officers in
bombing squadrons find that photography is one of the most important branches
of their work. In fact, next to bombing, it is their most important work.
Furthermore, commanders look more and more for
photographs to prove the value of bombing squadrons.
A squadron may go out, drop their bombs with excellent results,
and do a considerable amount of destruction, but if on returning they have no
photographic record of the destruction done, they can hardly be expected to
receive credit for what they did. Obviously, it is to the interest of the
pilots and observers concerned to perfect themselves in aerial photography.
Now, the camera is the best observer there can be. If handled
properly, it will bring back records of such detailed nature as no observer, no
matter how well trained, can; and furthermore the records will be accurate. The
human observer is bound to be affected by external conditions; he will be on
the lookout for enemy aircraft, and he will probably be, to say the least,
somewhat flustered by antiaircraft fire. Needless to say, he cannot be
expected to see the many details which the camera records.’
service information circular – Photo: February 22 1918 near Arras, a
seemingly satisfied Canadian aviator serving with
the Royal Flying Corps, examines an aerial photo. Gouvernement du Canada
“Here are hundreds
of men of foreign birth — born of parents whose first impression of the Land of
Freedom and Promise was of the world’s greatest colossus standing with beacon
light at the portal of a nation of free people, holding aloft a torch symbolic
of the light of liberty which the statue represents. Side by side with native
sons these men, with unstinted patriotism, sacrifice their liberty and even life for our beloved country.”
1918, 18,000 soldiers training at Camp “Dodge”, in Iowa. Details on this incredible photo: Snope
‘The other day, I was speaking to a French lady about the custom
in America (and England) of hanging up mistletoe at Christmas
time and kissing the first young lady who passed under
it. She said in the utmost frankness: “Ah! Monsieur, pas besoin de gui en France!” meaning that there is
no necessity for mistletoe in France; that if two young French people desire to kiss each other
there is no need of subterfuge!’
WW1 American officer in France – Experiences of
the Great War: Artois, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne – Photo: Decembre 20 1917, Northen France, a British soldier and a French lady. Imperial
War Museums – Note how the outfits (the fur vest for the soldier and the
crochet duster for the lady) look au courant!
1917 – I got up early to take a couché to Châlons; so I visited the
American canteen at the station. It is a marvellous place with hundreds of brancards
for the soldiers to sleep on. There are reading-rooms, shower-baths, an
outdoor garden, and a huge refectory where we can buy simple, extraordinarily
cheap food served with the efficiency of a modern American quick-lunch counter.
The big rooms are quaintly and cleverly decorated and furnished with indirect
lighting. The kitchen is a model establishment with pleasant American women in
charge. I talked for a long time with a very attractive lady before I could
finally tear myself away!’
ambulance driver’s diary in Châlons, France – History of the American Field
Service in France – Photo: 1917 American ladies working at a Red Cross canteen
in France – Many great photos of the Châlons canteen mentioned in this entry
here. Also, this awesome book, a compilation of letters, diaries, and photos by Massachusetts-born
Margaret Hall, of the American Red Cross, who worked
at this canteen in Châlons during WW1.
‘The experiences of
camping-out in America come into
play in a most admirable fashion, especially in the matter of eating and cooking.
We have just been trying to
make a hunk of red beef look like porterhouse. We
never quite succeed in doing that; but it surely tastes so to us after we fried it brown just as we like it. Then we
pour in the potatoes and onions, heat the coffee, and “hop to it”; and we enjoy the meal.
Last night, being Sunday, we
went out and cooked our supper. As usual, every Frenchman who passed by
stopped. They always do. Last night among other passers-by were two old men and
a little boy. They spoke a dialect French difficult to understand . One of them invited us to his farm for a
supper. His wife would cook us a great kettle of potatoes
ça” — indicating a “beaucoup”
quantity — and eggs. He had a little good
wine and we need not drink black coffee. He had a great admiration for
Americans, knew we were helping France, and he wanted to show his appreciation.
He told us that he would be honored to have Americans dine with him.
All typically French. They are the finest, most
polite people in the world; and here, we meet some of the most delightful characters to
be found anywhere.’
Fall 1917, American ambulance
driver’s diary in Soissons, France – History of the American Field in France –
Photo: 1917-1918, dinner time in Sept-Saulx, American ambulance drivers hanging out with Frenchmen.
France – University of Kentucky Archives.
‘When we were all down in
the hole eating dinner on this day the ship seemed to be moving. Some of the
men went up to see if we were leaving and in a short time every man was on
deck watching our Dear Old America fade away below the horizon. We sailed out
past the Statue of Liberty and as we saw it fading away the men began to
realize that we were fast leaving our homes behind, some of us never to
1917, American soldiers sailing to France – Memoirs of
France and the Eighty-eighth Division – Photo: New
York Harbor, 1917, awesome shot taken aboard the Espagne, by an ambulance driver member of an American ambulance unit sailing to France with US
troops. Maine Military Historical Society
1917 – First snow of the season
American ambulance driver in the Meuse region, France – Record of S.S.U 585 – 1917-1919 – Photo: WW1, Northeastern France, evening in a snowy village.