“Wednesday October 2 1918 – “The news is marvelous –
Bulgarian has consented to a complete surrender – St Quentin and Cambrai have
been partly taken by the allies – Turkey’s fall is imminent. How can the
Germans hold on?”
Indeed, German military commander Hindenburg, could not have
agreed more! In his memoirs, he wrote about the Meuse-Argonne
offensive: “It was plain that this situation could not last. Our armies
were too weak and too tired. Moreover, the pressure which the American masses
were putting on our most sensitive point in the region of the Meuse was too
American ambulance driver’s diary in the Meuse Argonne
sector – Arthur B Eddy’s WW1 diary – Orleans County Department of History – Photo: 1918, German prisoners in Argonne. Argonne 14-18
“August 22 1918 – Just plain duty and
all morning —”
American ambulance driver’s diary in Belfort, France – Weber State University – Photo: WW1, France, Mobile dental care set up in a car sent to France by an American dentist. La Contemporaine.
a fast joy ride!
‘February 7 1918. On fatigue this
morning. Fatigue consists of gathering wood at some shot up
village — old beams, laths ect; pealing carrots, potatoes and grinding
coffee; sweeping bedrooms, dinning room & halls. Getting water in
containers. The coffee grinding job is the graft. Sit in front of
fire and read while grinding. Gathering wood is hard but we get to the front on
a fast joy ride!’
In Argonne, American ambulance driver’s diary – Diaries of Samuel M. Keplinger – Photo: February 1918, Eastern France, American soldiers returning to camp with a load of salvaged wood.
She slipped and slid…
‘By mid-January, Ralph had been on continuous hurry
calls through ice and snow. One in particular was enormous fun. He heard
about the sport of skiing and
Ralph got his first opportunity to do so and he didn’t even strap on a pair of
skis. On a solo trip, he hit a patch of ice down a hill and his car decided to take off like a ski jumper. Feeling spritely, she
added a 360-degree turn to her routine. Like a ballerina in a pirouette, she
spun elegantly. Ralph hung on for dear life. He had no control whatsoever. He
was afraid she’d flip and dump his cheering wounded poilu all over the snowy
The brake was useless.
On the final degrees of her downhill turn, he rocked the steering wheel
violently. The front wheels found purchase on dry ground, almost flipping his
girl in the process. Within forty feet or so, he got her going straight. She slipped and slid, then chattered to a
stutter-stop at the bottom on a gravel siding.’
January 1918, American ambulance driver in the Marne region – Private
Heller and the Bantam Boys: An American Medic in World War I– Photo: 1918, France, In the ditch! Imperial War Museums
‘October 18 1917 – We walked up on the hill with a good pair of field-glasses, in
hopes of seeing the shell-bursts about Fort Malmaison. But it was too dark.
However, the bird’s-eye view of the whole attack was marvelous — a sea of red
flashes below us, red signal rockets occasionally sailing up over the lines,
and the interminable pageant of star-shells commencing at dusk. Back of us in
the west was the last vestige of a red sunset, with purple clouds above that
shaded off into the fading blue sky. In front of us the “sausages”
hung with a haze about them that made them look even larger — huge,
porpoise-like, calm, their sides bright in high air in the last vestige of
sunlight. Then darkness came and still they hung there —huge, monstrous bats
above the scene of battle.
It is now late at night, and the artillery still continues its
rolling, rushing, surging noise, and the sky is ever lit with the
lightning-like, merging flashes of the guns, the flicker of the star-shells.’
American ambulance driver’s diary, in the sector of the second Battle of the Aisne or ‘Chemin des Dames’ – History of the American Field Service in France – See great French slide-show here.
Photo: WW1 sausage floating at dusk. Awesome colorized version of this photo here.
‘October 11 1917 – It’s been a cold raw day with rain in spots. Early this morning we heard the hum of a flock of planes, and got out of the tent and saw some
eight fighting planes hovering over the aerodrome very high, and circling
irregularly about. Suddenly first one and then another turned sideways and
fluttered down, spinning like a leaf, for a thousand feet or more, and then
flattened out. Astounding spectacle, to which we will surely get more accustomed as time goes by. We
sailed from New York five months ago today.’
American surgeon in the Flanders – From A Surgeon’s Journal,
1915-1918 – Fall 1917, American soldiers watching planes – Culture.gouv.fr
‘August 2 1917 – The quarters at Haudainville are
bad, and full of rats, and the boys are grumbling. Although those at Haudainville are a
lot better than the ones we had at Dugny.
the boys did splendidly last night, despite not knowing the
roads and the “poste” officers were all much pleased, as they had
every “poste” cleared before morning.’
American ambulance driver’s diary near Verdun – Photo: Summer
1917 – From Poilu to Yank – Photo: 1917 – sleeping quarters near Verdun.