“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.
‘October 20 1917 – We got our
mandolins and Buzby his guitar and tore off a few songs. All us boys had played
in mandolin and glee clubs so I guess we did all right. Anyway we had to play
an encore. Then a Frenchman gave a dialogue. Then Buzby on the banjo and I on
the piano (which is rotten now) tore off a few melodies & an encore. Then an
artist in my section here drew some charcoal cartoons and “got away in a
cloud.” Then a fellow, swell mandolin player, gave us two solos on his mandolin
and he was great. Then a French opera singer sang two classics (I accompanied,
and gee, I thought I’d throw a fit he was so hard to follow). He was “awfully”
good and made a big hit. Then another French singer and then Buzby did a trick
on his banjo, playing and throwing it in the air, upside down, etc. then we
sang the Marseillaise and the Star Spangled Banner.
Gee, I never thought they’d stop clapping, and Capt. Emmet and I got lots of
“bouquets”, but it is no more than anyone else could do. Anyway we had a good
time and broke up at 10:45.’
American driver’s diary in Aisne region, France – Dartmouth College Archives – Photo: Fall 1917 – American camp in Chassemy, Aisne region, France – Relaxed American ambulance drivers playing mandoline and banjo. BnF
Guten morgen Frankreich!
October 20 1917 –
A couple of miles from where we were. Next morning, we marched over to that zeppelin there. And I got a piece of it.
I tore it off, and I got it somewhere in a bunch of other things I got”
The zeppelin L-49, was returning to Germany
from England, where it had dropped more than two tons of bombs during the
attack of October 19-20, 1917, called the “Silent Raid”. On October, 20, at 10am, 5 French planes
shot it down near Bourbonne-les-Bains, in the region of Lorraine. The German
crew escaped unharmed, but soon found themselves surrounded by angry Frenchmen;
it’s hard to crashland a zeppelin without attracting attention to
yourself! The crew was supposed to set the airship on fire, but decided they’d rather flee. French soldiers caught them and took them
prisoners. And so the Allies captured their first
intact zeppelin. They inspected it thoroughly, took copious notes, and later brought the wreckage to Les Invalides in Paris for an exhibition on war trophies.
The Last of the Doughboys – Photo: Good Morning, France! October 20 1917, Bourbonne les Bains, stunned villagers looking at the monster in their backyard.