Category: wednesday wisdom


“We hit if off in great style!”

‘This is the first time
we have been with the English and we are struck by the excellence of their equipment. A
comparison of their horses and their tractors for hauling the big guns with
those of the French makes us wonder how the Frenchmen ever get anywhere…
The Australians are a splendid lot and being less reserved than the English.
They impress us – They are more like Americans than any other
soldiers, except the Canadians, and we hit it off in great style! “Diggers” and

May 1918, in Picardie, Somme, Northern France, American ambulance
driver’s diary – The Compensations of War – Photo: British, Australian &
American soldiers sharing a meal in the woods in Picardie. Australian War

“A good wash up with lots of water and scrubbi…

“A good wash up with lots of water and scrubbing, then a cup of bad coffee – always in a playful and joyous mood.”

WW1 French soldier’s memoirs “L’enfant du siècle se souvient: Mémoires”
Photo May 16 1918, France, French soldiers’ morning wash-up – La Contemporaine

‘On the whole, the time spent in Alsace, was a…

‘On the whole, the
time spent in Alsace, was a period of training for the whole Sanitary Train. We
learned something about maps and trails, and especially that trails on maps and
trails on mountain sides are two very different things. We learned also to
respect our gas masks and helmets. They became our constant companions. Indeed,
the sight of school children six and eight years old going through gas mask drill
in the streets was enough to make anyone think about his gas mask…’

Spring 1918, American
ambulance driver’s notes in AlsaceHistory of Ambulance Company Number 139 – Photo,
WW1, Alsace, children & teacher who just finished their gas mask drill.
Here, a 22s great video showing French school children’s gas mask drill in 1918.

“The other day I brought in a bunch of flowers…

“The other
day I brought in a bunch of flowers, and it makes a beautiful sight on the table before me. Its vase, a French “75”
shell-casing, is rather incongruous, but so is war.”

American ambulance driver’s diary in France – History of the American
Field Service in France
– Photo: Des fleurs sur la table or how a shell
casing becomes a flower vase Trench
Warfare 1914-18

‘We have a large flower and vegetable garden w…

have a large flower and vegetable garden which our
section tries to keep up. Many ambulance drivers spend time in
planting and weeding it. The house is looked after and the meals prepared by Madame
Marin, an elderly French lady who has been through more bombardments than many
colonels, and who thinks that there is nobody on earth like the American Ambulance drivers!’

American ambulance driver in Meurthe et Moselle France Harper’s New Monthly Magazine
Photo: Spring 1918, Northeastern France, 3 ambulance drivers tending their billet’s garden. Special Collections Department, Stewart Library, Weber State


                                                               Flower Power

“All sort of odd uses have been found for
German steel helmets. Flower pots, cuspidors,
indirect lighting fixtures, wash basins—these and many other uses have served to make the German helmet a peacetime thing of some value…”

About WW1 – Scientific
American, Volume 122 – Photo: WW1, Verdun, France, a
German helmet used as a flower-pot – La Contemporaine, France.

From April 25 1918 to May 8 1918, a batallion …

From April 25 1918 to May 8 1918, a batallion of Senegalese tirailleurs was digging trenches in the woods of the Vosges mountains. Several journalists traveled
up to the mountains to capture the life of these formidable men at work and in

Beautiful photos were taken of the tirailleurs praying,
dancing, and eating in these scenic mountains.

Photo: April 25 1918, praying in the mountains – Bourbach-le-Haut, Vosges,
France – La Contemporaine, France


                                              “Sometimes, you know, I just
sit and think“

“Sometimes, you know, I just
sit and think about things, the human make-up, mind, war. And there are many
things clear to me now that never were before. One profound truth is that this
better be the last war — for the simple reason that science has changed the whole
aspect of the business of war — to make it so deadly as to wipe out in its
entirety the whole human race. In short, the fearfully deadly gases are coming
into vogue so rapidly, that an entirely different medical program will have to
be developed if the end does not soon come…”

April 1918, American
Surgeon in France – Passed as Censored – Photo: 1918, American soldier in France.

“He would open his eyes and find me bending ov…

would open his eyes and find me bending over him, my white veil brushing his cheek. He would speak my name, and I would
press his hand. Then I would attend him, while his grateful eyes would follow me through the ward”

WW1 American nurse – First World
War Nursing: New Perspectives
– Photo: 1918, American Hospital in Neuilly, France, a moment of kindness between an American nurse and patient. Library of Congress

“Passed a saucisse truck chasing its balloon t…

“Passed a saucisse truck chasing its balloon that had broken loose. The
pharmacien orderly is an Algerian, a hard and serious worker. He does extra work and sends all he
earns to his wife. The others kid him a lot and call him ‘Bicko’ which is
Arabic for Arab, but he gives as good as they send!

Moving out to the Somme, I suppose. After dinner we sat around and
smoked and joked until 9. —A wonderful evening. In the daytime I am ready for
all kinds of excitement, but at night I love peace.“

Spring 1918, American ambulance driver’s diary in Marne, FranceDiary of Jerome Preston – Photo: WW1, France, soldiers enjoying a peaceful evening