Category: tuesdaymotivation

“The long twilight offers great openings for s…

“The long twilight offers great openings for songsters
and we reel off all the songs we know – very college-fashion.”

June 1918, France, American ambulance driver – In a letter to his father, he writes that singing brings back memories of college days – Text and photo from the beautiful new book “The Black Cats of Amherst”—  Also, here, the fun & smart Black Cats’ Twitter feed

‘June 1918, Alsace – I am condemned to f…

‘June 1918, Alsace – I am
condemned to four days at a tiny post on a remote mountaintop. Even in the
middle of the day it’s cold. The post looks like a lumber camp clinging
precariously to the steep slopes.  As for
the road to reach the post, it makes you revise your definition of a hill. It’s
steep and winding, 12 km long, taking more than one hour for the car to climb
it in low gear. I hope I won’t have any trips at night because my car has no
lights and the hill is something to think about even in daylight. This hill has
already played havoc with the breaks of all the
cars. The lieut suggested that we drag big logs behind us to slow us up…

looks as if every Ford in the lot might be in the scrap heap before long…’

Of Battles Long Ago: Memoirs of an
American Ambulance Driver in World War I
– Photo: Alsace  mountains, an American ambulance driving
up the actual road described in this entry.

‘June 12 1918 –  Worked on car all day. …

‘June 12 1918 –  Worked on car all day. Pretty tired after work. Fine
weather continues. Wonderful sunsets. Stays light until 10 P.M.’

In Rambluzin, Meuse, American ambulance driver’s diary – Diaries of Samuel Keplinger – Photo: France, WW1 American ambulance driver working on his ambulance in the sunset.

‘June 1918 – Billeted in a barn, hay lof…

‘June 1918 – Billeted in a barn, hay loft, clean. Our cooks on
job again. Had bath, washed cloth. Learning French!’

bugler and ambulance driver’s diary in Fayl Billot, Marne,
– Diary of J Reah Hollinger – WW1 Battlefield Medicine – Edward Hand
Medical Museum
Phtoto: 1918, American soldier with his French teacher.

                                A Canadian sol…

                                A Canadian soldier picking flowers among the barbed wire

“June 1918, Vimy Ridge, France – Bright flowers are springing from the blood-soaked trenches. A year ago, the
long range of Vimy Ridge was all hated and white where it had been torn up by
shell fire, and not a blade of grass grew upon its slopes. Now it is all aflame
with scarlet poppies, mingled with clumps of cornflowers, bluer than the
Poilus’ coat. So it is along all our trench systems,
and our men go up to the fighting line through waves of color; and outside the
dugouts are wild gardens rich in scent”

The Bellman, June 1918 – Photo: @ Library
and Archives Canada

“Tuesday, June 4 1918 – On duty – …

“Tuesday, June 4 1918 – On duty – fifty-kilometer drive from Rambluzin in
the Woods of Paroches near Villote
–  Returning I went “on pan”. The
radiator steamed and the car froze on me. Thought something extra wrong so called mechanic. By the time
he reached me, the motor had cooled and went fine when he started it. Men
of Colonial regiment at Poste. Very good crowd!”

American driver’s diary in Rambluzin,Verdun sector, East of Belleau/Chateau-Thierry Sector Diaries of
Samuel Keplinge
r – Photo: WW1, Verdun sector, Senegalese (colonial) soldiers at

a French poste.


                                                             “What a feast for the eyes!”

“Flying is not an enjoyable sport, once the wonder of it has worn off; simply a slightly disagreeable but
marvelously fast means of transport. The wind, the noise, the impossibility of
conversation, the excessive speed—is all unpleasant features. But what a feast
for the eyes! The whole world spreads out beneath us, silvery rivers, smoking
cities, perhaps a glimpse of the far-off ragged Alps. And when, at eighteen or
twenty thousand feet, above a white endless sea of clouds, we float almost
unconscious of time and space in the  sunshine of the Universe, there are moments
when infinite things are very close.”

1918  – American
ambulance driver who became a fighter pilot in the French Army. The Fledgling
Photo: 1918,

Lieutenant Rorick, American pilot.

                                     He couldn…

couldn’t “let a show like this go on without getting in on it”

On May 22, 1918, Ernest Hemingway and other
American volunteers boarded the old French liner Chicago and sailed for Bordeaux,
France. He was headed to Italy, to be an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. Hemingway arrived in Milan on June 7,
1918 – One month later he got hit by a mortar shell and machine-gun fire while on canteen duty for the American Red Cross. Hemingway
was injured on his right knee and foot. It wasn’t until September 1918, after
numerous operations, that he was able to walk with crutches. Promoted
to First Lieutenant and awarded a silver medal of valor, Hemingway was back
in his Red Cross regiment in October. He left the service in December 1918 and
returned to the US in January 1919,

‘She makes nothing at all of driving a war amb…

‘She makes nothing at all
of driving a war ambulance in Serbia. She speaks
about hunger, cold, dirt and misery, while she was billeted among French
poilus, as if they were incidents of a garden party. Dirt she doesn’t mind and even
wears a soft dark brush of bobbed hair. “We can’t
keep our hair clean, getting under cars to fix them,
sleeping in garages, on planks anywhere, so I cut mine

1918 – American lady
ambulance driver
in Serbia and France – The Woman Citizen – WW1, France, women
ambulance drivers. UcWA


                                          “Dazed by the magnitude
of the noise and death”

“Tuesday, May 7 1918 – Just north of Paris we first see the signs of a big offensive. The
roads are all guarded to keep the traffic moving, convoys must be split up into
small sections. There is a constant stream of traffic both ways. Going
towards the front are staff cars, dispatch riders & camions loaded with
fresh troops who have a superficial gayety which attempts to conceal the
fear of the horrible experiences of a big battle. Coming back are also staff
cars empty camions and trucks trailing broken artillery pieces to be
repaired later. The men coming down are dead tired and dirty, with the most peculiar
expressions in the world. Their eyes seem to burn under the nearly closed
eyelids and they are made more prominent by the thick white dirt which covers
the rest of the face. Their burning eyes
show the utter fatigue of these men and the awful hours they have seen. They
seem to have been struck dumb by some great shock, dazed by the magnitude
of the noise and death. Now and then some dust colored poilu shakes off his
lethargy to yell savagely and a little wildly “on les aura!” [we
will beat them] to the Americans. When men like these can yell “on les aura!
the Germans can’t win.”

American ambulance driver in northern France – The Compensation of War – Photos: WW1 French soldiers who just returned from the battlefield. La Contemporaine, France.