Category: tuesdaythoughts

I want to go home. I don’t want to go to…

I want to go home.
I don’t want to go to the trenches no more,
Where the Whizz-bangs and Johnsons do rattle and roar.
Take me right over the sea,
Where the Allemands can’t bayonet me.
Oh, my!
I don’t want to die,
I want to go home.

Text: An Onlooker in France, 1917-1919 By Sir William Orpen

About this photo @ La contemporaine: this iconic and powerful photo was
taken on July 10th 1918, at the Ferme des Loges, Oise, France. But the
French government did not like it and censored it. Indeed,
this photo showed too much despair and exhaustion, feelings widely shared amongst
the French soldiers who had been fighting in this terrible war for almost 4 years.
This unforgettable photo and other WW1 censored photos were recently
featured in a superb exhibition & a book: “Images
interdites de la Grande Guerre” –

“July 10 1918 – Getting a terrible appet…

“July 10 1918 – Getting a terrible appetite. Can eat
anything — and lots of it. Eat a lot of fat lately. — Am gaining a little
weight.

One
year ago today, we landed at Bordeaux. Been
on the Somme, Marne, Verdun, Argonne & St Mihiel sectors. Been to Paris (8
times), Rouen, Aix-les-Bains on permission
s.”

American ambulance driver’s diary in Rambluzin, Verdun sector – Diaries of Samuel Keplinger – Photo: WW1, France, American truck & ambulance drivers having a picnic – Dartmouth Library

                                              …

                                                   “One of
the cows gobbled up a shirt”

‘July 10 1918 – We have
certainly done a lot of traveling and have seen lots of country. France is a beautiful country. It doesn’t look very much
different from Wisconsin. There is lots of farmland and most of it is
cultivated intensively. They are harvesting hay now. Cattle and sheep can be
seen passing through the streets every evening. Last evening a few cows were driven up to the drinking fountain and one of
the cows gobbled up a shirt, which one of the
fellows had washed, and started to chew it up. They had quite a time rescuing
it!’

American soldier, somewhere in North East France –-Brodhead’s
Tribute to Her Men of the Service, 1914-1918
– Photo: 1918, France, an American soldier and
French kids bring wandering cattle back to the farm. Library of Congress

                                              …

                                                            

“It is God’s
flower garden”

“Tuesday, July 2 1918 – The Chalons plains set all of us old
Border veterans going again. The first comment was “Just like Texas.”
A broad expanse of flat brookless country with patches of scrimpy trees that
surely must be mesquite. But I delight in it. There is a blue sky over it all,
and the long reaches for the eye to travel are as fascinating and as restful as
the ocean. In Texas the attraction is in the skies. Half of it is beautiful.
The half you see by gazing at the horizon and letting the eye travel up and
back till it meets the horizon again. But here the flat earth has beauties of
its own. It is God’s flower garden. The whole ground is covered with wild
flowers—marguerites and bluets by millions and big clumps of violets as
gorgeous as a sanctuary of Monsignori, and poppies, poppies everywhere.”

Near Chalons, France, Father duffy, the beloved chaplain of the Rainbow Division – Father
Duffy’s Story: A Tale of Humor and Heroism, of Life and Death
– Photo: WW1,
France, somewhere near Chalons, “marguerites and bluets by millions” Europeana.                          

                                              …

                                                1918, a Yank on his Harley in Germany

“In the Army Now: When the United States entered WWI, the military bought one out of every two Harley-Davidsons sold. By 1918,
20,000 of the bikes were in Europe. Solo and sidecar machines were used by
dispatch riders, and combat rigs were equipped with machine gun mounts. The first Allied soldier to enter Germany after the
Armistice was signed was dispatch rider Corporal Roy Holtz, who rode across the border on a Harley-Davidson.”

Text Source. Photo: November 12 1918, Newspapers back in the US wrongly
printed this beautiful picture as the first
US soldier to enter Germany after Armistice, but in truth, Hotlz, captured the day before, was
leaving Germany to get back to his unit. More awesome WW1 photos @ Riding
Vintage

“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…

It
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 1918, France – “Everywhere the Amer…

June 1918, France – “Everywhere the American soldiers are stationed they make
friends with the children immediately. And the children, once the ice broken, are not backward. They see in these soldiers their
friends, their deliverers.”

The Literary Digest, Vol. 58 – Photo: 1918, in a village of Lorraine, American soldiers sharing their lunch with little French rascals. – Tourisme Lorraine France

                                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

                                              …

                                                                    Changing billets

“The town major brought us round to our
billet—the most filthy, disgusting house in all Hesdin, and the owner, an old
woman, cursed us soundly, hating the idea of people being billeted with her.

This was all very depressing, so we talked
together and went on a voyage of discovery and found an hotel; then we went
back to the billet and said “good-bye” to Madame and moved our stuff
there. But the hotel wasn’t a dream—at least we had no chance of dreaming—bugs,
lice and all sorts of little things were active all night…”

In Picardie, France –

Text and Illustration by William Orpen WW1 prolific official artist sent by Britain to the Western Front– From his beautiful book “An Onlooker in
France 1917-1919, by William Orpen”
Some of his incredible work is currently on display in the Tate Britain exhibition “Aftermath Art in the Wake of World War One”