Category: french

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.

PARIS ON MARCH 23, 1918 There is only one “Tha…

ON MARCH 23, 1918

There is only one “That
Morning.” Some people here in Paris spoke of it as
“that awful morning.” But generally it was referred to just as “That Morning.” “That Morning” when the Boche fired the big gun the first time.” The date was, to be
exact, Saturday morning, March 23. It is still referred to as “That Morning” indefinitely, instead of by date, because the morning itself was so indefinite,
the sense of danger unseen so horrifying,

Now, in addition to
the nightly raids over Paris, the Boches would
come over by the hundreds some bright day soon. Paris was
on an uneasy seat. Imagine the consternation when, on “that morning,” at seven o’clock, bombs (or at least we
thought they were bombs) began to drop here and there all over the city at
regular intervals, fifteen minutes between times. This was as regular as clock
work. The Germans are regular and systematic if they are nothing else.

And this
was Paris on “That Morning.”

1918, Paris, “That Morning” by William V. Kelley – Photo: La contemporaine – France – Here, several great photos showing Big Bertha’s “work”.


                                            “Code name: Poilus d’Alaska”

When WW1 began, Californian Kenneth Marr,
and two Alaskan dog-handling Indians, went on a secret mission organized with two
French Army officers to secretly deliver 300 sled dogs from Alaska to France. The
dog sled teams nicknamed “Poilus d’Alaska” were trained to evacuate wounded
French Chasseurs Alpins from the snow covered Vosges
on the Swiss end of the Western Front. Once he delivered the dogs, Marr
stayed in France to join the American Field Service as an ambulance driver. As many ambulance drivers did, he then enlisted in the Lafayette
Escadrille as a pilot in 1917.
His fellow airmen nicknamed him “Si”
because of his friendship with the two Alaskan tribesmen, sometimes known as
Siwash Indians.

First to Fly:
The Story of the Lafayette Escadrille
– Read
more about this great story here and here – Photo: WW1, Vosges, France, Chasseur
Alpins and his “Poilus d’Alaska” dashing through the snow. La contemporaine. Bibliothèque, archives, musée des mondes contemporains

“I don’t envy these observers suspended in a s…

“I don’t envy these observers suspended in a small wicker backet
that gusty winds swing between earth and sky for hours and hours”

WW1 French soldier’s diary – Translated from the French “Journal de marche d’un artilleur de
campagne / Fernand Laponce”
– Photo: WW1 Alsace mountains, France – French soldiers manning a 
balloon in wind and snow… @Bibliothèque de
documentation internationale contemporaine

“In spite of all this, I am still in a very go…

spite of all this, I am still in a very good mood – For now, my only duty is to
not worry about anything and go sleep, but not before making sure that the little
kitty we adopted a few days ago is inside, with me, in the dugout.”

French soldier at the front (translated from the French “Carnets de
campagne (1914-1918)”
– Photo: WW1 French soldier in the trench with his kitten


                                                   Here’s mud in your eye!

A British toast akin to ‘Here’s to
’ ‘Good health!’ ‘Cheers!’ ‘Here’s looking at you!‘ – Popular toast in the WW1 muddy
trenches: better ‘mud in your eye’ than something more lethal!

Photo: 1917, a French officer and a British sergeant
toasting each other in the Ypres sector, Belgium – Imperial War Museums

‘December 3 1917 – Arrived here for the night….

‘December 3
1917 – Arrived here for the night. I followed my guide into a maze of trenches
leading to the poste, sloping downward with short, regular steps and
plenty of head-room, unlike any other abri I’ve ever seen! At the foot
is a broad archway and then comes the door of the main room of the poste.
What a surprise to find a blazing fire crackling on a hearth filling the place
with warmth and comfort. The Médecin Chef lounged on a bench with his
slippered feet and several brancardiers were talking quietly. A more
peaceful, homelike spot would be hard to find! From another wing of the abri
floated softly the sound of a flute and men’s voices in chorus. The Médecin
nodded his head in approval. “It keeps the men happy,” he
said. Reluctantly I broke away from the warm fire and crept into my narrow

ambulance driver in Marne, France – History of the American Field Service in
– Photo: WW1, France, abri (shelter) on a calm night. Gallica-BnF

‘The experiences of camping-out in America com…

‘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.

‘A sunny day! Several French planes seen this afternoon and guns…

‘A sunny day! Several French planes seen this afternoon and guns on hill are tried out. About 7pm. Boche planes drop bombs at Pompey. Searchlights are trained on them and “75’s” and machine guns open fire. Section much interested — its first night attack!’ 

November 1917, in Meurthe et Moselle, France, American ambulance driver’s log –

Record of S. S. U. 585

– Photo: 1917-1918, very rare night shot showing French soldiers and officers manning a searchlight somewhere in Eastern France – Personal newspaper clip. Great French slideshow of this region in April 1917.