Category: fridayflashback

“Just now, the sun shed on that white and red accumulation of
mingled material an appearance of life and even an illusion of meditation. The
beauty of sunshine heralded what would be, and revealed the future. The face of
the watching soldier, too, shone with a glamour of reincarnation, and hope.”

soldier’s memoir: Le feu – Henri Barbusse – Photo: WW1, France, sunshine in
the trench.

                                                “Those God sent smokes!”

A soldier on a stretcher
be too feeble to move a hand, but put a cigarette to his lips and
light it and he’ll get some comfort – the very
first thing the wounded man wants to quiet his nerves is a smoke. The American Red Cross came to our rescue in
passing those God sent smokes!’

Forty-Seven Days: How Pershing’s Warriors Came of Age
to Defeat the German Army in World War I
– Photo: October 12 1918, in Fleville,
Meuse-Agonne sector France,
Lieut. Stiles of the American Red Cross
giving a wounded soldier a “second aid” cigarette. Library of Congress

                                                       Looking back to look ahead

“The nurses at the front
are working terribly hard, sleeping with helmets over their faces and enamel
basins on their stomachs, washing in the water they had in their hot-water bags
because water is so scarce, operating fourteen hours at a stretch, drinking
quantities of tea because there is no coffee and nothing else to drink, wearing
men’s socks under their stockings, trying to keep their feet warm in the frosty
operating rooms at night, and both seeing and doing such surgical work as they
never in their wildest days dreamed of, but all the time unafraid and
unconcerned with the whistling, banging shells exploding around them. Oh, they
are fine! Never tell me that women can’t do as much, stand
as much, and be as brave as men.

WW1, France, American Army Chief Nurse’s letter – Finding Themselves: The Letters of
an American Army Chief Nurse in a British Hospital in France
– Photo:
1918  American Nurses of Etretat Base Hospital, France in a parade. Archives & Special Collections,
Columbia University Health Sciences Library 

                                                             Good Morning!

WW1 Awesome American soldiers’ morning routine at camp.

                                                               “Beer and other

7 1918 –  We have made several attempts
to be sent away because we are rather
“home-sick” and detest getting in bed at 9 every evening and also not
having one “sou” to spend on “la bière et autres choses” [beer and other
things]. So, finally,  we shall leave for Paris at 6 o’clock tonight unless the CO. in his finite wisdom decrees that we tarry longer
within his gates. Vichy is too fine a place to be cooped up in and under a
strict surveillance…’

ambulance driver _totally done with convalescing_ in Vichy, FranceThe Compensations of War – Photo: WW1, France,
en terrasse, drinking beer. La Contemporaine.

‘August 16 1918 – In Millery, a
little town between Nancy and the lines.  We are assigned to an old barrack, barely off
the dusty main road, which was used as a motion picture theatre. We played the
host ourselves on our third night and entertained our friends with flickering
pictures jumping across the screen.’

American ambulance driver in
Meurthe-et-Moselle – A History of Section 647, United
States Army Ambulance Service With the French Army
–  Illustration WW1, France, “Movie Night”.

‘Friday August 16 1918 – Our cook is back. Lieut. brings him up—also brings section pay for

In Jaulzy, Aisne, France, American ambulance driver’s log

of S. S. U. 585
– Photo: Summer 1918, Aisne, France, American Ambulance drivers watching their cook at work.

“They have just begun to gas us again – thank
goodness the wind is carrying it away from us, black cat luck as usual.” 

1918, American ambulance driver in France – Text and photo Amherst Black Cats


“Friday, August 16 1918 – One
got part of a night’s rest in a forest. Every man seized the breathing spell not only to sleep but to wash, brush up and shave. They looked
snappy in the morning sun light!”

The stars
and stripes, Paris, France, August 16, 1918 – Library of Congress
Photo: WW1, France, soldiers washing in a river – La Contemporaine

                                       “It seems so good to be “all-American” once more!”

‘August 10 1918 – Our ambulance boys are entertaining us with Southern songs, accompanied by
a mandoline and sometimes a violin. They are great and we are between hysterics
at their camp songs and tears at some of our old home songs. It’s a bit
distracting but it seems so good to be “all-American” once more!’

In the Aisne sector, France – American Red Cross nurse ‘s “Intimate Letters from France”
– WW1
in the Aisne sector, American Ambulance drivers at camp relaxing & playing mandoline. La Contemporaine