Category: mondaymemories


                                    “All people become brothers under your
tender wings”

‘The American policy against
fraternization with the Germans was a dismal failure, and everyone knew it. As the occupation wore on, and the soldiers got to know the families with whom they were billeted, a natural
kind of friendly relationship developed. At night they would sit around the
firesides of the German families with whom they lived and drink
a glass of wine or beer with the family despite the strict orders against

WW1, American soldiers in Germany
The Rainbow Division in the Great War: 1917-1919 – Photo: 1919, Germany, an American soldier and a German
family acting silly – Missouri Historical Society – “All people become brothers”: Ode to Joy by German Friedrich Schiller

Note: Here, page 252, the AEF General order No. 218 forbidding
of American soldiers with the Germans.


                                                                ‘Nothin’ special today’

‘December 31
1918 – Last day of
the year! Breakfast, buy more stuff, get our laundry, pack 2 boxes of presents
to send home: shells, lace, sword, etc. Spent all the marks I had on this. Then
go home and write letters. Go to bed early.’

American ambulance
driver in Germany – Diary of Happy Gruenberg, Ambulance Company 167, attached to the 42nd (Rainbow) Division – Photo: 1918, American soldiers relaxing somewhere in France or Germany. US National Archives

Note: from many American soldiers’ diaries, it
seems that December 311918 was spent quietly. No big celebrations.

“Monday, December 16 1918 – J’achetai un…

“Monday, December 16 1918 – J’achetai un tonneau
de bière de 34 litres pour ce soir. Bon party! [I bought a 34-liter barrel
of beer for tonight. Good party!]”

In Lorraine, France, American ambulance driver who
loves to practice his French when writing his diary – Diary of J. Reah
Hollinger – Franklin & Marshall College – Photo: Ww1 British soldier engaged in the congenial task of
tapping a barrel of beer. Imperial War Museum

‘Monday December 9 1918 – Leave is slow …

‘Monday December 9 1918 – Leave
is slow in coming through. The
authorities declare: Not enough transport. To which the troops reply: When it
was a question of sending us to Ba-li-bou you managed to find trains and
vehicles then, but when it’s our leave, you don’t give a damn!

We stay at Ottenberg. Captain Gérard and I are lodged with a factory owner, who put
everything at our disposal: bathroom, billiard room, cigars, etc.”

A fed up French infantry officer in Ottenberg, Germany A
French Soldier’s War Diary 1914-1918

– Photo: WW1, French infantry officers relaxing at night. La Contemporaine

‘December 10 1918 – On wood cutting detail. Bu…

‘December 10 1918 – On wood cutting detail.
Buy 6 eggs. First I had in 4 months! Sure good. On guard duty tonight.’

American ambulance driver in Lissendorf,
– Diary of “Hap” Gruenberg, Ambulance Company 167,
attached to the 42nd (Rainbow) Division.
Photo: 1918,  American soldiers on “wood cutting detail”.

‘December 3 1918 – This morning we went …

‘December 3 1918 – This morning we went to Trois Vierges and got
a bath. The bath house is at the railroad station and it is a real
steam bath furnished to the railroad employees. Believe me it was a fine
shower, and when I got out I felt lighter in spirit and otherwise!’

American ambulance driver in
Luxembourg – Arthur B Eddy’s diary –
Orleans County Department of History – Photo: WW1 soldiers washing in a shower
room filled with steam.

“I set out ahead of the crowd to find our way …

“I set out ahead of the crowd to find
our way to Proven. It was not easy to find. The old No Man’s land had to be
crossed – just as empty and horrible as ever. A little yellow bird was the only
bright spot, and he looked much out of place. The rats looked more natural.”

Early December 1918, American ambulance
driver in Belgium – The Amherst Black Cats – Photo: WW1, somewhere on the Western Front, awesome snapshot taken with a Vest Pocket Kodak, showing a little bird on the fuse cap of an artillery shell –
“Smartphone’ Snaps of the First World War” The Telegraph, UK

‘Monday, November 25 1918 – This town is…

November 25 1918 – This town is strong for the Americans. They built a huge archway out of cedars and had a big
sign “Welcome our Deliverers”. The people charge fairly reasonable. Candy is
high, though. I bought a small sack of it that would have cost 5 cents in the States. Our dinner cost us
6 marks, but it wouldn’t have made any difference if it had cost 27 marks. It
was the best meal I’ve had since last Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes, steak,
gravy, sauer kraut, apple butter, and coffee with sugar. We
furnished our own bread. Stole a couple of loaves – Sure
was a relief from Army cooking’

American soldier, member of the 42nd Division, arriving in Mersch, Luxembourg, on way to Germany On the Western Front with the Rainbow Division: A World War I
– Photo: November 25 1918, Luxembourg, American
troops arriving in Mersch and passing under its awesome archway. @ Mierscher Kulturhaus & 33rd
Division in Luxembourg 1918-1919

Note: in November 1918, the American dollar was worth about 5.77 Marks, and in January 1919, it rose to 8.9 Marks.

After the 1918 Armistice, proposals to initia…

After the 1918 Armistice, proposals to initiate wireless signals to
Mars emerged:

probability that these strange wireless messages noted by Marconi really do
come from Mars
opens up interesting scientific speculations, and we know that
many of the speculations of half a century ago have now become tangible
realities. If the United States, for instance, should go into the effort to
send messages to Mars with the same degree of intensity with which we went into
the war it is not at all improbable that the plan would succeed. And if a response came to the American signals, there are experienced military code-crackers who could apply their skills
to the mix.’

Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian inventor, best known for his pioneering work in the use
of radio wave transmissions for
communication – The Wireless Age, Volume 7Imagining
Mars: A Literary History
– Photo: “Marconi Testing His Mars Signals”

“We left at 11am and reached Charleville…

“We left at 11am
and reached Charleville at 4pm. I was surprised at the town. It is a very big
town with fine buildings and much life. Our only regret was that we could get
no food and we had been on the trip all day because of the long distance and
bad roads. The rest of the trip was slow and the night grew foggy but at 2am we
finally reached camp. We went directly to the cuisines and warmed up some food
and ate beaucoup then we turned in for a good snooze.”

American ambulance
driver driving  back and forth between
Charleville, Ardennes, France and Belgium.
Arthur B Eddy’s diary – Orleans County Department of History
Photo: 1918, France, warming up some food in the cuisines – US National Archives