Category: traveltuesday

‘June 18 1919,
– Sunday I was 700 metres above Paris in an aeroplane!  Yep, its
the actual truth. We found that there was a French aviatrix who would see that people
went up in her plane for the small sum of 60 francs. So—along with four
other adventurous souls we went with her to the airfield on Sunday
afternoon. We all got six got separate rides of about 20 min. each. The only time I was really scared was when they hoisted me up into the little
front seat and clamped a seat belt around me. After the propeller started
and the machine actually moved I lost all fear entirely and just enjoyed every
minute. You can’t imagine how
wonderful it feels to go soaring over the country, to look down on buildings,
fields, roads, trees, gardens and mere mortals stalking around on the
ground. It was a wonderfully clear day and the view of Paris was superb. It was a sight I will never forget. The plane I went up in was a Caudron.

Elsie S. Church, American lady, YMCA worker in France – photo: Le Bourget, Airfield near Paris, one of the “adventurous souls” standing near a Caudron. William
C. Atkinson


“waiting, waiting, waiting”


“Why we’re here:
we’re here because we can’t
get home. The ocean is too wide, If it was narrow as the
Rhine, We’d swim to the other side. So we’re waiting, waiting waiting
until the ocean’s dry, then we’ll hike back to God’s country to Mother and
mince pie.”

June 1919, American
soldiers in France & Germany, waiting to go home – The Amaroc News: The Daily Newspaper of the
American Forces in Germany
  – Photo: spring 1919, American soldiers
in Brest, France, waiting to sail home –Tom Caulley

                             ‘NEPTUNE AHOY! Weird Nautical Doings on Crossing the Line’

‘More beautiful weather and calmer seas were never seen.
Upon crossing the “Zero Line” a grand celebration was held in honor of
Neptunus, king of the seas, who that day came aboard our good ship and
initiated into the mysteries of his realm all those land-lubbers, officers and
men, who never before had crossed the equator. The
King and his court were most wonderfully garbed with costumes that only a
“gob” could originate. Hula dances, etc., were held on the quarter
deck in the morning and the rest of the day was given over to the initiation.

Speaking of rough initiations, well we had it. We are now
the proud possessors of a large Neptunus Rex certificate which advises all the
sharks, pollywogs, sea-serpents, etc., that we have been duly initiated and
that should we fall overboard all courtesies should be accorded us by the
dwellers of the sea — we can now consider ourselves, “sea-going” sailors…’

WW1, American soldier describing the weird naval ritual during which pollywogs become shellbacks – “Letters From Oregon Boys” – Photo: King Neptune’s
party on board USS Soestdijk  during
an Equator crossing ceremony – US Naval History and Heritage



war clouds have cleared from the sky”

‘At 4:15 on the afternoon
of the never-to-be-forgotten day*, the good ship Verdi slowly pulled out
of the Marseille harbor while the band played the national air of France and the national air
of America. The S. S. Verdi steamed through the straights, out onto the
broad Atlantic, while the shore line of the Old World
grew dim and hazy in the distance.

And so the story ends. The war clouds have cleared from the
sky; the sun shines down on the blue Atlantic while the ship speeds westward,
with her cargo of A. E. F. Boys, bound for America and Home.’

*April 30th 1919

History of the 307th Field Artillery – Photo:

May 14th 1919, the 78th Division arrives on board the good S.S. Giuseppe Verdi – NYC
department of records & Information services

Note: The 78th Division
of the US Army consisted of four infantry regiments – the 309th, 310th,
311th & 312th, and three artillery regiments – the 307th,
308th & 309th.

yet a land for tourists”

tours to the battlefields had begun as early as April 1919 and visitors, duly informed
by the Illustrated Michelin Guides to the Battlefields, travelled to view the
devastation for themselves; “the
ruined villages are as the shells and bombs left
them. Everywhere are branchless trees and stumps, shell craters roughly filled
in, trenches, barbed wire entanglements, and shelters for men and ammunition.
Thousands of shells, shell casings, rifles, gun-limbers, and machine-guns lie
scattered about. Corpses are occasionally seen.”

stray from the road invites trouble, since the paths are too often bestrewn with unexploded
shells and the battle zone is not
yet a land for tourists.’

After the Ruins: Restoring the Countryside of Northern France
after the Great War  
– Photo: 1919, Northern
France, American volunteers working with Anne Morgan touring the battlefields
and ruins on a day off – Réunion des
Musées Nationaux, Grand Palais.

                                                               Wet pants?

an hour and 45 minutes’ continuous climb we reached a house halfway up the
mountain where we rested. Then our guide said “Follow me!”, and we started
down the hill. Talk about speed! Soon I heard someone screaming. Setting my
brakes into the snow, I looked around and there I
saw the rest coming down with lightning speed. Loosening my brakes I was off
and got to the foot of the mountain in about eight minutes. Wet pants? Oh, Boy!
They sure were! It reminded me of my kid days, sliding the
cellar door.’

1919, Doughboys on Leave to the French Alps Memoirs
of France and the Eighty-Eighth Division
– Photo: WW1 American soldiers
having fun in the snow – US National Archives

“December 17 1918 – Bunch go into
Vitry-le-Francois in camion.  Have a call to Vitry
about sept heures.  Fine moonlight night.”

American ambulance driver in the
Marne sector, France – Diaries of Samuel Keplinger – Note: during WW1, the center city of Vitry-le-Francois
became a “ville-hôpital” (hospital city) – Photo: a moonlite road in France, by French
Photographer Jean-Pierre Gilson. His beautiful book: Somme 1916

brought him with me and he has been my constant companion ever since”

“Peanuts came into my possession
during the latter part of 1918 while I was stationed near
Verdun, and from that time on was our mascot. He was a French dog, evidently, understood the French language
and has not forgotten it to this day. When we came back to the States, I brought him with me and he has been my constant
companion ever since. Like the rest of us he has not forgotten the war and nothing
pleases him better than to have me dig up some of the old overseas

1918-1919, American medic serving in the US Medical
Corps –The American Legion Monthly, Volume 12 – Photo: WW1, port of Brest, France, American soldier traveling with his French pup.

                                   “The job is
done and now for us, the USA is the dope“

“Tuesday December 10 1918 – We have pretty good sleeping
quarters now and no more night work, which is mighty good to all the boys
knowing that we can go to bed and get full nights sleep. What we are most
anxious for at present is the order to pull for the shore. The job is
done and now for us, the USA is the dope.  We hear all kinds of rumors but
nothing that one can put any faith in. It’s just a matter
of time and it seems mighty long.”

American truck driver in France – The letters of Laurance Bucknam
– Photo: 1918, France, seemingly pensive American ambulance & truck drivers. Tennessee State Library & Archives

“We moved from Briey to Trier. This
part of Germany is a strange contrast to the France from which we come. The
food is plentiful, the farms are wells stocked, the roads are good. In fact,
Germany today has no aspect of a nation who has been at war for over four years.
The people are friendly and several times on the road, I have stopped and had
dinner with some kind German family. Even the peasants have a sort of education,
most of them speaking two or three languages. They are ambiguous people,
leading equally a life at home of peace and culture, and a military life of war
and kultur.”

December 1918, American ambulance driver in Germany – Diary of Allison
LePontois – Crile Archive Center for History Education – Photo: December 1918, American soldiers at the Porta Nigra (Roman city gate) Trier