Category: wednesday wisdom


                                              “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

“The “morning watch" hour was significant…

“The “morning watch" hour was significant as it was at that
hour that “over the top" signals came
frequently. This hill
commanded a view of the lines. I climbed up into a tree where there was an observation post.
I kept an eye on my watch. The time was near. Another minute and the boys would
be going over and up there in that tree I held a
little “morning watch” service for them. I watched them go over. I couldn’t
distinguish their forms because of the fog in the valley, but I said, “Right
down there, God—there in the fog– our boys are going over the top. Take care of them, God. Go, with
them. Bless  them.” That was the strangest
“morning watch” I ever kept.

1918, France, The Morning watch – The Outlook, Vol. 120: Published Weekly 1918 – Photo:
early spring 1918, Meurthe et Moselle, France, American soldier’s Morning
Watch. – Archives du Ministère de la Culture.

‘We get stew and tea, brought up for us in &ls…

‘We get stew and tea, brought up for us in
‘hot food containers’, and also rum, and I take a share of each – and the
last is not the least.’

Tommy: the British soldier on the Western Front, 1914-1918 – Photo: WW1 British soldier carrying containers of hot food to his section.

“You cannot imagine the beauty of the panorama…

“You cannot imagine the
beauty of the panorama. It was simply
wonderful. The Alsace mountains, the valleys, the woods, — all this, still covered with snow and a
large part bathed in sunlight, seemed to breathe of peace, while in the midst of this grandiose spectacle we little human
ants are firing cannon and rifles, and making fairly bristle with barbed wire
these quiet forests.”

WW1 – A Soldier Unafraid: Letters From the Trenches on the
Alsatian Front
– Photo: WW1, Alsace, French Alpin & photographer admiring the valley,

     “Friendship, kindness, and sympathy —thes…

kindness, and sympathy —these are made of stuff that no war can crush.”

“In March, 1918, these desecrated lands were just springing to life
again. The sun was breaking through the clouds of winter and, gardens again
dotted the landscape. Villages and towns were showing increasing signs of life
and activity; then came the blow. The clouds gathered together once again. And
in the misty morning of the 21st of March began a week of horror and
devastation — a single seven days in which all the work of
nearly 12-month was wiped out. The Germans swept across the plains of Picardy
once again and the French and British armies and the terror-stricken civilians
along with the American war workers were swept before them in a mad rush.

Yet all was not lost.
One field worker, a stout-hearted little lady in uniform, sat in the seat of a swaying motor truck and as the thing rolled and tossed
over a road of unspeakable roughness wrote in her red-bound diary, this:

“The best of all remains — friendship, kindness, and sympathy — these are made of the stuff that no war can crush. We face more than half a year’s work torn
to pieces. But I do believe that our commitment is even stronger now.

With the Doughboy in
France: A Few Chapters of an American Effort
– Photo: Spring 1918, Picardie France, an American volunteer at
work (in uniform), checking on French civilians
living in the area destroyed in the German Spring Offensive. This lady is a member
of Ann Morgan’s American Committee
for Devastated France,
which worked in coordination with the American Red Cross.
Their incredible reconstruction and
civilian relief work during and after
WW1 is featured in this online exhibition here, and in France here.

“Un blessé à Montauville — urgent!&ldquo…

“Un blessé à
Montauville — urgent!“
Calls the téléphoniste

There’s snow on the wind, there’s rain on the wind,
The cold’s like a rat at your bones;
You crank your car till your soul caves in,
But the engine only moans.”

WW1 American ambulance driver’s poetry – History of the
American Field Service in France
– Photo: WW1, Eastern France, American ambulance drivers trying to start their car in a snow storm.

 “Today we used our first powder for blasting …

 “Today we used our first
powder for blasting in the quarry. It was fizzle!!!”                                

“We were to operate a quarry. We had a definite job to do, so we
took stock of our situation in order to adopt the most practical working plan.

Our equipment had been
scattered over the whole Western Front and was in the hands of any organization
that thought it might come in handy…

We found ourselves in possession of second-hand French straight
handled shovels, crude French picks and stone hammers, and an abundance of that
stuff which prompted us to volunteer: that stuff was called “Enthusiasm”,
Patriotism” and “Esprit de Corps”.

Our job began by the industrious use of those tools, knowledge
of which, disclosed before the examining officers, would have barred us from
the 23rd Engineers. But we
said, “C’est la Guerre!” and “carried on!”

March 1918,
in Menil-la-Tour, Meurthe-et-Moselle,

American engineers in charge of building a command post in a quarry. Company A, Twenty-Third Engineers,
A. E. F
– Photo: March 14 1918 – Menil-la-Tour quarry, a French soldier showing to an American engineer how to use a French rock drill.

                       “We are all set for the…

                       “We are all set for the road: cold meat, Gruyère
cheese, and bread!”

La route
de la victoire: histoire de la grande guerre
– Photo: Mars 14 1918, lunch break in Thann Alsace. La Contemporaine