“I see ruins, mud, long files of men foundered and fordone,
taverns where they fight desperately for litres of wine, gendarmes on the
watch, trunks of trees splintered into matchwood, and wooden crosses, crosses,
crosses… . All that passes through my head, mingles, melts together. It
seems to me that my whole life will be obscured with these gloomy, sordid
horrors, that my sullied memory will never succeed in forgetting.”
WW1 French Soldier’s memoir – Wooden Crosses – Photo: WW1, in
Chauny, Aisne, France, a pensive poilu. La Contemporaine.
“What a wonderful meaning is wrapped up in this one word; what
wonderful thoughts it bring to all of us. Let’s write on the banners — VICTORY!”
November 1918, The T.p.a. Magazine
– Photo: 1918, celebrating the armistice in Paris – Jules Richard @ collection C. Roitel et Y. Leborgne
What’s this, steak and French fried at last?
What’s this, steak and French fries at last?
No such luck — got a shower of
water and monkey-meat. Can you beat it? Boy, oh boy, but it’s wet down here!”
— By Old Man Stomach Himself
France, diary of a doughboy’s stomach – The Stomach
Speaks – Food in
the American Military: A History – Photo: Friday
July 12 1918, well-know photo showing American soldiers’ chow in Longemer, Vosges, France. La Contemporaine.
Note: Fried thinly sliced potatoes were
called “French fries” around 1918, when the doughboys
stationed in Northern France and Belgium first tasted this thinly-sliced regional
potato specialty. The doughboys began referring to them as “French
fries” after the French-speaking people who sold them. By the
end of the 20th century Americans ate more than 5.5 billion pounds a year
of French fries!
The Un-Demanding Cook Book
are some amusing incidents among the sordid realities of the front:
rule is that we cannot take articles of food or of value in the towns where we are
billeted. So we cannot touch live stock
unless actually attacked by it. Sometimes, however, this rule is winked at by
the officers… in one instance one of our boys furnished
his messmates on three successive evenings with nice fried chicken, each time solemnly making a report to his
officer in charge that he had been “attacked by the
animal.” But the next time our soldier boy made his sortie on the chicken in
the road, he was observed by the farmer’s wife who owned the chicken. In other
words, he was caught red-handed, and could no longer allege that he was being
viciously attacked by the animal when he appropriated it for dinner…
next morning the farmer’s wife rushed up to the soldier, threw both arms around
his neck and kissed him, looked at him for a moment and smiled. Then she turned
in her funny wooden shoes and walked away. She had left
with him “To Mr. __ debtor, one chicken – Account canceled. With the love and
deepest gratitude of the women of this village.”’
What Every American Should Know about the
War – Photo: WW1, Meuse, France, American soldier chatting with a nice old lady. La Contemporaine
“July 4th – We called nos camarades les poilus and drank a toast to America & to France. We would have
included the other allies but the champagne ran out after America & France had
been taken care of so we could not.”
July 4th 1918 – American ambulance driver in Boursonne,
Aisne, France – The Compensations of War – Photo: 1918, American ambulance
drivers and French soldiers ‘s toast. Source: Mr. Remy Jaegle Collection.
“It is God’s
“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.
July 3 1918 – In Breuil-le-Sec, France,
French soldiers’ morning coffee at the Foyer du Soldat managed by English
ladies. La Contemporaine, France.
“’Look!’ said my comrade, and I looked – There, in a crater made
by a large shell, was a pretty little cat. If anything
speaks of home, it is a cat.
The crater belongs to war; the cat to peace. The one speaks of
death; the other of life. And it is life that will triumph and death that will
War is a horrible crater, but within it is a sweet kitten of humanity. The love which brought the little cat to the crater is the love
that will conquer hate and put an end to war.”
at the Front; Fragments from the Trenches – Photo: WW1 French soldiers
playing with a kitty they found in their trench. La Contemporaine.
“We were able to play soccer today because
the stadium owner was kind enough to give us a ball! It felt so good!”
French soldier –
de guerre (1914-1918) – Photo: WW1 happy French soldiers playing soccer.
June 26 1918, Paris, a Franco-American Red Carpet Event.
‘June 26 1918 – The official American
Expeditionary Force picture
“America’s Answer to the Hun” was presented for the first time at the Gaumont
Palace in Paris. The house was crowded with French and Americans, including celebrities such as Marshal Joffre, Ambassador Sharp, the
British Minister, and many French Senators and Ministers. One
section of the theater was reserved for the wounded marines who were
brought to the theater in huge trucks, and the
ovation they received was tremendous. During that period, all France, and
especially Paris, had come to realize that the Hun had been stopped, and
that the Americans had played an important part in the fight.
picture depicted the enormous effort that America had put forth, both in
an industrial and a military way and was given a mighty reception.
Copies of the film were promptly
sent to all the allied and neutral countries for
showing there. The big commercial producers,
Gaumont and Pathe, sent it to all their theaters in France, and it was used
most successfully among the troops, in factories,
universities, schools, etc.’
AEF in Print: An Anthology of American Journalism in World War I – Photo: June
26 1918 Arrival of the guests at the Gaumont Palace in Paris. La Contemporaine,
France. See more photos of the “Red Carpet” event
here. And the awesome YouTube video of the film “America’s Answer to the Hun”