Category: tbt

“The other day we took a bottle of pinard out …

“The other day we took a bottle of pinard out under the apple trees and drew
over a group of poilus, who sang their songs some happy, some
passionate, and others sentimental — so justifiably sentimental during those hours
of reflection and uncertainty…”

WW1 American ambulance driver’s diary in France – History of the American Field Service in France – Photo: 1918, France, sharing a bottle of pinard under the trees


                                                         “I’ll take you, burden and all”

“You say you may be a cripple. Well, what are you going to
do if you are? Your father and mother are old; you can’t expect them to take
care of you all your life. You say you couldn’t be a burden on me. Well — what will you be — a public charge? If
you’ve got to be a burden on someone, and I want you for my burden, what
have you to say about it?

I’ll take you, burden and all,“

1918, American lady to her fiancé soldier at the front – American
Magazine, Volume 85
– Photo: 1918, just married
– courtesy of Tynemouth WW1 Project.

“We are at last en repos and are quartered in …

“We are at last en repos and are
quartered in a little village that hardly deserves the name. We asked an
inhabitant how many people lived here, and he answered that he did not know
whether it was 129 or 130. The Mayor has the only silk hat, and if any young
blood wants to get married, he has to rent it, and then walk up and down the
main street with his bride on his arm. We say that a sense of humor and a pair
of rubber boots are all we need in this town. This is our second rest in ten
months, so you see we are badly in need of it.”

1918, American ambulance driver in Grandville, FranceHistory of the American Field Service in France – Photo: 1918, a wedding in a small French village.

‘May 9-10 1918 – Cars are parked on squa…

‘May 9-10 1918 – Cars are parked on
square. Lots of British troops here. Section assigned quarters in small
barn. Fine English canteen. The band has
demonstration this evening.’

ambulance driver’s log in Picquigny near Amiens, Northern France Record of S. S. U.
– Photo: 1918, France, American military band’s concert for the
villagers and the soldiers. Archives du Ministere de la Culture, France

“Thursday, May 9 1918 – Lily of the vall…

“Thursday, May 9 1918 – Lily of the valley
picked in the Forest of Amiens, near Boves… I always think of you.”

A French soldier in a letter to his sweetheart – Archives Departementales
d’Indre et Loire


                                                          “Santé! Here’s mud in your eye!”

Here’s mud in your eye!
This toast became popular with the soldiers living in the muddy trenches. It points out that having ‘mud in your eye’ is a relatively
insignificant problem compared to what else could happen in the course of battle…

Body Idioms and More for Learners of
The Origins of English in Ten
Phrases and Expressions by Paul Anthony Jones
– Photo: WW1, Northern France, British and French men enjoying
a break in Amiens, before much of the city was destroyed in the 1918 German


                                               “He believed in sympathy and kindliness”

“At Villers-en-Prayères part of the church was still standing and
l’Américain often dropped in off duty to play a bit on the wheezy
harmonium. Why not? Was not “jazz” a sacred thing to him? An old
woman used to pass the cantonment every evening on her way to the church to
burn a candle for her son lost in the war. She was obviously poor and candles
were pricy. Thereby this American from our section, without a doubt the finest
Christian gentleman, gave this old lady each time he saw her a bottle of
much-coveted and valuable petrol for her altar lamp; she gave him prayers and
kindness in return. He may not have believed in the efficacy of the prayers,
but he believed in sympathy and kindliness — and he learned much from the
vieilles dames” of our beloved France.

WW1, Aisne, France, American ambulance driver’s notes – History of the
American Field Service in France
– Photo: Spring 1918, Northeast France, a French
lady and her friend, the Américain. Archives du Ministere de la Culture, France.”

“Don’t worry, dear poilu, don’t worry… …

“Don’t worry, dear poilu,
don’t worry…  One day, you were abruptly removed from your home, your
comfort and joys to be turned into a soldier. Since then, no wife, no freedom,
no bed, no food, nothing… but hey… you will always have a good bistouille…”

Bistouille: a WW1 evil mixture of chicoried coffee and
local rotgut and popular breakfast drink in Northern
France and Belgium.

L’Opinion, Volume

– Photo: French and Belgium artillery men relaxing in their trench.



“They are playful and funny”

Americans are very good to France, to come to help
her to fight the Germans. The American soldiers are always laughing. They are playful and funny. They are clean and polite. They often
give us good examples and good lessons. They have everything necessary, horse
wagons, automobiles, trucks, bicycles, motor-cycles, and some kind of motor
with a sort of bathtub.”

French Children Think of American Soldiers
–  In 1918, a French teacher asked his
students to write, without preparation, compositions about American soldiers as
they knew them. Their texts were
published in The Independent – Our
Paper, Volume 35

photo showing a playful American soldier and a French child, 1918, France. The Trésors d’archives
– ECPAD, France

“We have a barber now — A French one. Although…

have a barber now — A French one. Although I need a hair cut pretty badly, I
think I’ll stay away. From the work he has done on a few of the boys, I have
come to the conclusion that I can do as good a job myself. Over here a bald
headed man has the advantage. Nothing doing with the clippers, however, once
was enough for me with a convict head…”

France, American ambulance & truck driver’s notes – Camion Cartoons – Photo:
1918, France, a French haircut for an American soldier…