Category: Paris


                                                                   Protecting Paris

“In February 1918, the authorities
took measures to protect the art treasures of Paris from air raids. Monuments
were protected by sandbags. Sandbags and netting covered the roof of the
Louvre, while some of its priceless treasures were removed to less conspicuous

History of France

– Photo: February 13 1918, Paris, Jardins des Tuileries, a public garden located between the Louvre Museum
and the Place de la Concorde – Protecting the “Seine et la Marne” statue. Gallica France

‘February 8 1918 , Paris – The foot of t…

‘February 8 1918 ,
Paris – The foot of the Vendome column is being
protected by concrete. What scenes of human folly that monument will have seen
before the end! They are also building absurd little sheds over the Marly
in the Champs-Elysees. They are closing the grounds of Versailles, to
clear out the contents of the Palace. All that as a precaution against German

The Paris Front, an Unpublished Diary – Photo :
February 1918, Place Vendome, early in the morning, protection of the column in


                                                          “So Paris was on fire.”

‘Hopital Claude-Bernard, January
31 1918 – I have been in a big air raid; It was a
white night in the hospital for me. Suddenly my drowsy ears were pierced by a long weird hoot. A moment later the building was in
darkness. I jumped from my bed and ran to the window. The light in front of the
munitions factory was out, there seemed an uncanny silence, the machinery had
been stopped. I hurried to the door. The corridor was full of hastening forms, infirmières,
their loose white robes showing dimly in the grey light.

ce qui arrive?”

“Les Boches! It’s the first warning,”
she whispered. “See! The lights of
Paris still shine

But even as we looked, the
light across the sky flickered, dimmed, flashed out. At the same moment two
great golden stars rose over the munitions factory.

“Les avions!” cried
the night nurse.

And all the time the sirens
kept up their ghostly wailing and the guns began. A moment later a crashing
thud told that a bomb had fallen in our neighborhood. The night nurse drew me
hurriedly into the hall.

Lie down against the wall,—close—like this,” she ordered.

Up and down the corridor every
space by the wall was occupied by the huddled form of an infirmiere buried
beneath a mattress. The bombs were falling nearer. There was a flash and then a
tearing thud that shook the hospital. I had one ghastly moment, a thrill of
panic terror at our utter helplessness as we lay there awaiting what seemed the
inevitable coming of destruction. The moment passed. I got up and slipped down
the side corridor to the glass door. The sky was full of moving lights; some
burned with a steady brilliancy, some flickered and went out like fireflies, a
few flashed red. There was no telling which was friend or foe. They seemed to
be proceeding in all directions without plan or purpose. The air pulsated with
the humming drone of their motors. They were like a swarm of angry hornets.

I went back to my room and
climbed out on the window-sill. At first I thought the lights of Paris had been
turned on again, but this time they were color of rose. As I looked the pink
flush deepened, grew ruddy, flamed across the sky. I called the night nurse.
C’est un incendie! Quel malheur!

So Paris was on fire.

An aeroplane swung low over the
munitions factory, so near that it looked like a great lazy fish with the rose
light from below shining on its belly. Was it friend or enemy?

The bombs were dropping close
again. We could see the flashes and feel the jar of the explosions which made
the windows rattle.

As I watched, a burning plane
looking like a great tinsel ball seared its way through the sky, falling just
to the right of Paris. “Pray God it is a Boche!” I thought.

The red glare over Paris was
fading out. The machines in the munitions factory began to throb once more. In
the grey light at the window I looked at my watch. It was fifteen minutes past
one. I turned to crawl into bed feeling cold and very sleepy. Someone touched
my sleeve; it was the night nurse. She was staring out the window with eyes
that saw nothing.

“And how many little
children will be dead in the morning do you think?”
she asked.’

American volunteer & canteen worker
Uncensored Letters of a Canteen Girl

 – Photo:
WW1, night time air raid on Paris,
from the splendid book “The War Illustrated
Album de Luxe”
–  Photos of the damages caused by the raid at
Hospital Claude Bernard, here

‘Paris, January 31 1918 – My first idea …

‘Paris, January 31 1918 – My first idea this
morning was to send you a cable to let you know your husband is in Paris and that we were unhurt
last night.

For two hours the guns and the bombs thundered. The bombs struck
near here with a sickening noise that hurt me in the pit of my stomach: a
horrid sensation. In a house a few blocks away the two top floors were
, but considering the numbers of German planes, the damage was
slight in Paris.

I saw most of the places
this morning. Everywhere the people were furious and incensed. They were out in
the streets in crowds, swearing revenge.

A friend of mine in the
police told me about things and the official communique is to be published in
the evening papers.

I suppose we can expect
them every night for a while.

The planes which dropped the bombs not far from here flew so low
over this house that we could hear the engines distinctly. We all stayed in our rooms. The children slept all through it, but I did

American lady, suffragist, in Paris – Some
Letters Written to Maude Gray and Marian Wickes, 1917-1918
– Photo: January 31 1918, Paris. Photos of the damages caused by this air raid, here.


‘Bombs were
actually being dropped

on Paris’

January 31 1918 –  Last night was an ideal night — the
moon had waned only a little and the stars were bright. Everyone has been expecting an
air raid on Paris for
quite a time, but, last night, when I snuggled down in my
warm bed, I had forgotten all such possibilities.

Suddenly I heard the dismal, foreboding sound of the siren. I first thought it might be a false alarm, but the siren kept
it up and kept it up, so, we all slipped into our coats and went out on the
balcony. We had a superb view.

We saw
a few planes and rocket signals and heard a distant booming of guns. The street
lights went out one by one and the tramways rumbled home from their
last nocturnal journey. Way
to the left was the Eiffel Tower, invisible at that distance, but certainly one
of the goals of any air attack because of the greatest wireless station. To the
north lay the Place de la Concorde, with the heads of the Inter-Allied
resting, perhaps uneasily, in the Hotel Crillon. All the way to the
Place d’ltalie, in the extreme east, we had the panorama of the sky,.

We counted as many as fifteen aeroplanes at once, flying in
groups of threes or fours or widely separated. Bombs were
actually being dropped in the suburbs of Paris on
buildings, on our friends, on the refugees, on anybody.

Suddenly a flash lit up the
Place — the trees stood silhouetted against a red glare and an explosion
thundered out. It seemed just across the Place. I never shall forget it. We
thought of the garage with the three Fords sleeping peacefully in it —when bang!
bang I
— more bombs:—. We saw a plane with a red light fire his
mitrailleuse and then down fell another bomb. It was fascinating to see him so
plainly, but as the sound of his engine became louder and we could see him
flying towards us, one charge of fear went through me. To feel that an enemy is
flying right over you, ready any second to drop a bomb that will blow you and
people you love and the house and the street and everything; to know that you
can’t do anything — that not even pulling the bedclothes up over your head is
sure protection; to have to wait, wait, wait while you hear that throbbing
motor, and then wait again to see whether he’ll let go
that instant or not.

It lasted two hours, and we stood there  trying not to feel the cold stone of the balcony through
our kid night slippers. We went to bed – We experienced a real raid and we’ve had one and
that’s enough’ 

Paris, American volunteer lady
working with the Red Cross – Text and extraordinary photo of this raid – Over
Periscope Pond: Letters from Two American Girls in Paris –

First Gotha Raid on Paris

January 30 1918, Paris–German Gotha bombers had primarily been used to target England–it was one of the few weapons that could do so, and the campaign was highly popular at home, where anti-English sentiment was high.  On January 30, they instead struck the considerably closer target of Paris.  German Zeppelins had struck Paris before, on rare occasions, but this was the first time the Gothas had done so.  Thirty Gothas dropped 14 tons of bombs in a half-hour nighttime raid, causing 259 casualties.  French air defenses were only able to shoot one of the bombers down.  The next day, railway stations were “besieged” with people trying to flee the city.  The war had returned to Paris.

Today in 1917: Family Known For Hiding Draft Evaders Arrested for Conspiracy to Kill PM

Today in 1916: UK Attorney General Arrested by Army
Today in 1915: Russians Retake Tabriz

‘When  the swollen Seine bursts its banks, and…

‘When  the
swollen Seine bursts its banks, and it did during WW1, all fluvial traffic stops as ships and barges can’t
pass under the bridges. During WW1, the seine floods caused all sorts of
shortages: food, medicine, and especially coal. Coal was impossible to find, and
in these exceptionally cold winters, it became as rare and precious as

de la IIIe République: La grande guerre
– Photo: WW1, Paris, the swollen and frozen Seine river  Gallica France – Seine River, the Heart of Paris (great postcards) – #seine on Twitter

‘January 16 1918, Paris – It’s been snow…

‘January 16 1918, Paris – It’s
been snowing since late morning, and the sky is so low that night is already
setting in, dimly lit by a few headlights from cars slowly driving on
Raspail boulevard. Their roofs are covered, just like the streets, with a layer of
shiny white.’

Translated from the French ‘Morts pour la France, tome 3′ – Photo : WW1 Paris, Roget Viollet

‘January 8 1918 – Arrived in Paris at 2….

‘January 8 1918 – Arrived
in Paris at 2. P.M. Put up at Y.M.C.A. Went to Casino de Paris featuring Gabby
for the third time. Good show with
good American jazz Band. Crowd
goes wild when it plays. French people
don’t know just what to make of it but they can be seen swaying!’

American ambulance driver’s diary en repos in Paris – Diary of Samuel M. Keplinger – Illustration: Rick Nance


                                                          GRANDE VITESSE !

SPEEDY DELIVERY! – December 20 1917, Rue
Boulay, Paris 17eme – Christmas rush to the post office; Parisians sending Christmas gifts & letters to the soldiers on the front.  Bibliothèque
historique de la Ville de Paris