Category: french

WW1 French stretcher-bearer officer Marcel Cha…

WW1 French stretcher-bearer officer Marcel Chatenay enjoyed playing
with his camera. His album photo is interesting, at time intriguing.  Aside from taking fantastic photos of life at
the front, he experimented with mirror photography, today’s selfies. When en
in his room, he loved to take mirror portraits of himself and his
friends.  See his “selfies” here, and the
entire album @ Archives de la Ville de Saumur


“Halte là!”

“The work at night is eerie,
and on moonless nights quite difficult. No lights are allowed, and the inky
black way ahead is packed with a discordant jumble of sounds as the
never-ending artillery and ravitaillement trains rattle along. we creep
past convoy after convoy, past sentinels who shout “Halte là!”
and then whisper an apologetic “Passez!” when they see the
ambulance; and it is only in the dazzling light of the illuminating rockets
that shoot into the air and sink slowly over the trenches that we can see to
proceed with any speed…”

WW1 American ambulance driver in France – Friends of France: The Field Service of the American
Ambulance Described
– Photo: WW1, France, a stop at a sentinel post. La Contemporaine

                                  “DO NOT GO O…

                                  “DO NOT GO OUT THERE… WITHOUT YOUR MASK

course, we always wore a helmet and carried our gas mask! When
in a forward position no sensible man ever permits himself to be separated from
his mask. We made it a practice not to go even from one room of the house to
another without taking our masks along and placing them in a convenient position where they could be slipped on at a
moment’s notice.”

June 1918, American doctor in France – The Boston Medical
and Surgical Journal
– Photo: famous photo taken 100 years ago today, in Saint Sauflieu, Somme, France.

Sinn Féin Leaders Arrested

Michael Collins (pictured in 1919), one of only two Sinn Féin leaders to escape arrest.

May 17 1918, Dublin–The British government was determined to enact conscription in Ireland, and newly-installed Lord Lieutenant French saw Sinn Féin as the major obstacle preventing this–despite the broad opposition to conscription from every element of Irish society and political life.  On the night of May 17, on the pretext that they were plotting with the Germans to stage a rebellion in Ireland, French had over 150 Sinn Féin leaders arrested.  Although the Germans certainly had an interest in Irish intrigues, especially in the leadup to the Easter Rebellion, when they sent arms (which were interecepted) and Roger Casement (who was captured and executed), the evidence for any grand “German Plot” was shaky at best.  Some have theorized that the attempt to tie Sinn Féin to Germany was an attempt to turn American public opinion against the Irish.

Only two Sinn Féin leaders managed to escape the arrests–Michael Collins and Cathal Brugha, who were tipped off by a source inside Dublin Castle.  With the remainder of the leadership detained without trial for the rest of the war, Collins and Brugha rose to unexpected prominence.

Today in 1917: Marshal Putnik Dies

Today in 1916: Kut POWs Paraded Through Baghdad
Today in 1915: Germans Attack Along the River San

Lord French Made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland

A 1919 John Singer Sergeant portrait of Lord French.

May 5 1918, Dublin–Since his dismissal as head of the BEF, Sir John French (eventually made Viscount French) had been relegated to serve as commander of the UK’s Home Forces, guarding against the oft-overblown fears of a German invasion.  In April 1918, faced with severe manpower shortages and multiple German offensives, Lloyd George had decided to extend conscription to Ireland, a move that brought immediate vociferous opposition in Ireland, not only from Sinn Féin, but from the Irish Parliamentary Party and the Catholic Church as well.  Determined to push through conscription (albeit in conjunction with Home Rule), on May 5 Lloyd George appointed Lord French as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and gave him independent command of all British troops there.  In the past, the post was a figurehead, but Lord French insisted that he be made effective “Military Viceroy at the Head of a Quasi-Military Government.”  French would consult Irish business leaders for advice during his tenure as Lord Lieutenant, but largely ignored the current civil administration in Ireland and refused to talk to Sinn Féin or other Irish nationalists; opposition to conscription was in no way reduced.

Today in 1917: French Capture Eastern End of Chemin Des Dames

Today in 1916: Villistas Raid Texas During Cinco de Mayo
Today in 1915: Italian Nationalist Poet D’Annunzio Calls for War


                                                                             “Not a scratch”

“A shell of
very large calibre exploded two paces from Joan of Arc, on the Parvis, without
touching her; it digged a veritable ditch, broke and dispersed far off on the
pavement, and showered shot all over the place; but Joan of Arc has not a

1918, Reims, Marne, France –

The Cathedral of Reims: The Story of a German Crime

– Photo: April 26 1918, Reims, a shell hole on the Cathedral Parvis and Joan of Arc, still standing in the back ground. La Contemporaine, France.


                                         “They stuck it all without a whine
or complaint”

“Imagine a hospital as big as King’s College Hospital
all packed into a train and having to be self provisioned, watered, sanitized,
lit, cleaned, doctored and nursed, and staffed, and officered, all within its own
limits. No outside person can realize the difficulties except those who try to work it! The patients are
extraordinarily good, and take everything as it comes (or as it doesn’t come!)
without any grumbling.”

WW1 Nurse – Diary
of a Nursing Sister on a Western Front
– Photo: April 27 1918, Doullens, in the
thick of The German
Spring Offensive, a nurse dressing wounds of French and British soldiers in an ambulance
La Contemporaine France. Other great photos here  @the Imperial War Museums

“Just at present, am reading Captain Fracasse …

“Just at present, am reading Captain Fracasse in French – think I read a book every three or four days.”

WW1 American ambulance driver
in France – Soldier Letters – WW1 Soldier peacefully reading in his billet 

A “laissez-passer” is indispensibl…

A laissez-passer” is indispensible and sentries stop you
every few miles – I thought I
could run by a sentry and simply wave a paper at him, but when I saw him slip a
cartridge into his rifle, I did not think it was worth it!”

WW1 American ambulance driver’s
diary – With a Military Ambulance in France – Photo: Spring 1918, Meurthe et Moselle, France, American ambulances stopped at a sentry post – U.S.A. Signal Corps

                        March 25 1918 – French…

                        March 25 1918 – French & British soldiers holding the line together

British and French from Albert to Soissons materially
bettered their positions. They drove the Germans across the Somme and won the
greatest area taken by the allies in one day
in France since trench-warfare began. Along a thirty-mile front, between
Peronne and Noyon, they hurled the Germans back to a depth of more than eight miles at some points. This
broke the strength of the Germans’ resistance and forced them back in
precipitate retreat. Nesle, the railroad center and key-position in the German
defense, fell early in the fighting. The Allies then stormed their way eastward  along the Somme between Peronne and Noyon. Ludendorff’s front in Picardy and Artois had
caved in the center. The improvised line he tried to hold from Arras to Noyon
had broken.

Literary Digest History of the World War 1
– Photo: La Contemporaine – Here, a short and interesting video-map showing the battle of Noyon.