“It wasn’t so bad”
“The Boches flew over us
very low shooting their guns. No
bullets came near us but soon they began to shell our abri. One shell hit it
fair but didn’t cave it in. It seemed miraculous that we were not hurt. The
shell exploded just ten feet from where I was. We had several trips and I think
that the Boshes shelled us for the shells came uncomfortably near the
road. But even at that, it wasn’t so bad. I missed the best. Though I was lucky
to save my baggage (i.e. wounded)”
Northeast France, American ambulance driver’s dairy – Private Heller and the
Bantam Boys: An American Medic in World War I – Photo: Spring 1918, France, a
shell exploding too close for comfort… La Contemporaine, France.
“Thurday, April 18 1918 – On duty at 7 P.M. — Very quiet. Hardly a gun shot. Cook from
Nice is a music wizard – No Calls.”
American ambulance in Argonne, Verdun sector – France – Diaries of Samuel Keplinger – Photo: WW1 French soldiers playing music in the abri at night.
PASSED AS CENSORED
Somewhere in France, April 17 1918 – With best regards.
Reverse side here: “Bravo, comrade, under the protection
of your flag, we will win the Victory !”
French poscard sent by an American soldier to a lady in N.J. From the awesome “My Fellow Soldiers” Smithsonian National Postal Museum
“April 15 1918 – Our wireless work is
a grind. We keep station open day and night and are working in reliefs of four hours on
and eight hours off. Have to get the weather reports every four hours and keep
an ear open for any S.O.S. that might come. We are now catching the communiqués
from every country in Europe. We are ambitious to catch the States.”
American soldier in the Baccarat sector,
Lorraine, France – On the Western
Front with the Rainbow Division: A World War I Diary – Photo: Spring
1918, Lorraine, American wireless station.
“I went over to the Tuileries Garden to sit in the warm sunshine. Several of
our American boys were playing baseball. Their lean, strong, young bodies assumed true
professional baseball curves as they pitched swift
straight balls. A little crowd of Parisians, old men, young girls and children,
gathered. They gazed open mouthed and with wide-eyed admiration at our handsome
lads. When a ball went wide of its mark a child would
dash after it and bring it proudly back, to the Americans. The boys were
chewing gum and ragging one another, but they always paused to smile and give
the French kiddie a reassuring pat. This American game of baseball was more interesting to the spectators than the great gun…”
Amercian suffragist in Paris – Behind the Battle Line: Around
the World in 1918 – Photo: April 1918, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris – American
soldiers playing baseball, Library of Congress – Here, awesome short video showing one of
these baseball games at the Jardin des Tuileries in Spring 1918.
“A fine spring day, and we have just completed our Saturday morning
inspection of persons and barracks. Saturday inspections are a
good idea as we are all compelled to be cleaned and
shaved at least once a week!”
Spring 1918, American ambulance driver in the Verdun sector – Letters from
Verdun – Photo: Early spring 1918, American ambulance drivers relaxing in the
sun. Archives du Ministère de la Culture, France.
Breakfast with the toutous
“In sign of gratitude, the doggies wagged their tails – these men
and their dogs were so moving.”
Lectures pour tous: revue universelle et populaire
– Photo: WW1 French soldiers sharing their breakfast with their doggies.
“When the bomb fell, the midwife had just handed a newborn to his mother.”
“Paris, April 12 1918 – Yesterday afternoon the Big Bertha scored another hit, this time upon a maternity hospital; the shell burst in the midst of a room in which were twenty convalescent women and a
number of new-born babes. In addition to killing a number of these
poor women and their innocent babes, the Germans
this time accomplished a new sort of atrocity by causing a “mix-up”. Dozens of babies were rushed out of
the ruined place to near-by houses, a wise
move, as far as saving their lives is concerned. But now nobody knows which
baby is which, and consternation reigns among the mothers.
The bombardment of Paris
now goes on night and day.“
American diplomat in Paris – The War Diary of a Diplomat. Photo: the scene in the maternity after the bombardment. This room was the newborn nursery. Here 4 photos showing the damages in the maternity.
“Full belly, happy heart!”
The cook made sandwiches for us with bread, pâté, saucisson and
cheese. It made us so happy! Full belly, happy heart! That’s the soldier’s
life; being content with the simple things of life: eating, drinking, smoking
and playing cards.
WW1 French soldier’s diary – Moi, Joseph
l’Alsacien: Soldat français de la Grande Guerre – Photo : French alpin cook
cutting slabs of cheese.
“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.