Category: mondaymemories

‘As the officers entered with the word “ATTEN SHUN” – We hopped to position and stood as if dumb.’

“Twelfth
U.S. Infantry, 1798-1919
“ – Illustration: 1919, “331st field
artillery, United States army, 1917-1919”

(Atten shun! = attention!)

                                                          “I dont like any sargeant”

“I dont like any sargent but this one particular. The first day out he kept sayin “Prepare to mount” and then “Mount”.  Finally I
went up to him and told him that as far as I was concerned he could
cut that stuff for I was always prepared to do what I was told even though it was
the middle of the night. He said, Fine, then I was probably prepared to
scrub pans all Sunday.”

Text & illustration: WW1 – Dere
Mable: Love letters of a Rookie

                                    “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
fraternization.’

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
fraternization
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 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 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.
Buy 6 eggs. First I had in 4 months! Sure good. On guard duty tonight.’

American ambulance driver in Lissendorf,
Germany
– 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 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 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 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
Diary
– 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.