“Almost impossible to see”
‘October 10 1918 – Today was a day of “beaucoup travail”. The boche sent
in thousands of gas shells so the cars were kept busy all day, all night. The starlight
brought the boche over but it made no difference. Later a heavy fog settled in
the Meuse valley and it was almost impossible to see. Today’s news announced that President Wilson answered Germany. He sort of
told Germany how to get off and how to do it. Hoping she does it. Today, the
British have taken Cambrai and are advancing on a 30 mile wide front.’
American ambulance driver in the Meuse Argonne sector, France – Diary of Arthur B Eddy – Orleans County Department of History –
Photo: WW1, the Meuse a night. La
trucks passed the park, but the
fourth received a direct hit with a six-inch mustard gas shell. The driver and
five other men on the truck were but slightly wounded and were taken at once to
the dressing station, Everyone put on his gas mask and began to search
the truck for wounded.”
1918, American ambulance
driver in Meuse Argonne, France – 307 at home and in France – Photo: October 3
1918, Meuse Argonne sector, US Camouflaged Mustard Gas Ambulances on the road at Very, France. Library of Congress
“Worked on my car from 8A.M. to 5 P.M. Washing it, cleaned it, greased &
oiled it, changed bands and other things to numerous to mention.
such work I forgot all about the front.
the last of Aunt Jemima’s Pancake flower for breakfast.
ready for permission!”
September 1918 – American ambulance driver’s diary in Dammartin, Aisne-Marne sector, France – Diaries of Samuel Keplinger – Photo: WW1, France, American ambulance drivers working on their car – The American Field Service Archives
“Night and day that telephone was working, receiving news from the front,
effecting co-operation with neighboring regiments or sending back requests for
barrages, counter-battery work, food supplies, ammunition, ambulances, air
service. Soldiers in the line never fully realize how much their lives, and victory depend
on the alertness and intelligence of those in
France, Awesome Father Duffy serving with the Rainbow Division – Father Duffy’s Story: A Tale of Humor and Heroism, of Life
and Death With the Fighting Sixty-Ninth – Photos: 2 famous WW1 photos taken
September 19, 1918
in Essey-lès-Nancy, Meuthe et Moselle, France. Lt. Col. Garrett, the Rainbow
Division signal officer, tests a German telephone captured from the enemy
during the Saint-Mihiel Offensive – U.S. Army Signal
‘You know, it doesn’t
do to take this war too seriously.’
was a great saying, a philosophy which had kept men sane. Without laughter,
somehow, anyhow, by any old jokes, we should have lost the war
long ago. The only way to avoid deadly depression was to keep smiling. And so, for laughter’s sake and to keep normal in abnormal ways of life, there was a great
unconscious conspiracy of cheerfulness among men.”
The 54th Infantry Brigade, 1914-1918: Some Records of Battle
and Laughter in France – Photo: WW1, in Bazentin-le-Petit, Northern France, British soldiers’ big smile.
man gets atta, dal and vegetables, as much as he wants.
and other things: four annas worth of ghee, and fruit of every kind; three
ounces of sugar, and of cigarettes as many as he likes; eight ounces of wheat, two onces of wine. But don’t you think that, simply
because it is to be had, Ram Carup Singh eats or drinks these things. Not
England, Ram Carup Singh, a British Indian soldier’s letter home to India – Indian Voices of the Great War: Soldiers’ Letters, 1914–18 –
Photo WW1 Indian Soldiers preparing a meal. From the British Library awesome
“Even the little children seemed to
realize what it meant”
“September 12 1918 – We advanced almost steadily and we were
within a couple of kilometers of
Great craters caused by the enemy’s mines were being filled in.
Thousands of shovels were at work. Culverts
were being rebuilt. Trenches were filled in or
bridged over. And even at this early date a passable road was beginning to take
shape. It was a gigantic task, accomplished in no
time. As the workmen and American engineers moved
forward they left a road behind them where nothing had existed before and did their job with 100% efficiency, and they did it with a smile.
We crawled along and finally gained the other
side of No Man’s Land. Our ambulances were the first motor transportation to cross this road,
finally pulling into Thiaucourt at about 4 o’clock.
The streets were lined with the rejoicing inhabitants,
as their four years of bondage
over French Lorraine
was restored. They wrung our hands with tears streaming down their cheeks, even the little children seemed to
realize what it meant.”
During the St Mihiel Drive, American surgeon and ambulances following the American troops who liberated
the city of Thiaucourt in Lorraine. Wade in Sanitary! – Photo: September 1918, St Mihiel sector, American automobile driver with little French children whose city has just been liberated. La Contemporaine
Note: Capturing Thiaucourt was a big deal because of its railroad capabilities and it being the main
supply route of the German forces in to the St Mihiel salient.
Today, this part of France remembers with this article
and photos of the Americans liberating Thiaucourt, published in the Republicain Lorrain.
“Just under the clouds”
September 12, 1918 and the St. Mihiel Drive was on!
Dressing with great
haste I ran over through the rain to the mess hall. There I found groups of the
fellows all standing about impatiently awaiting the chance to get away.
Despite the rain we
tried a short flip over the lines to see for ourselves what it was like and we
climbed into our machines and took off. At 600 feet above ground we found that
we were just under the clouds and still had quite a long view of the landscape.
straight east to St. Mihiel, we crossed the Meuse River and turned down its
valley towards Verdun. Many fires were burning under us as we flew, most of them
well on the German side of the river. Villages, haystacks, ammunition dumps and
supplies were being set ablaze by the retreating Huns.
We proceeded as far as
Verdun and turning east, continued flying at our low altitude we saw that the
main highway running north to Metz was black with hurrying men and vehicles.
Guns, stores and ammunition were being hauled away to safety with all possible
speed. We continued on south through the very heart of the St. Mihiel salient,
flying always low above the roadway and here, likewise, we found the Germans in
full cry to the rear.
We rushed back to camp and
immediately telephoned headquarters information of what we had seen. This was
evidently splendid news: the Germans were actually quitting St. Mihiel and the
retreat was in full swing.”
September 12 1918 – American
aviator observing from above the St Mihiel Drive, France – See Google Map – Figthting the Flying Circus – Photo: 1918,
France, by Edward Steichen ww1 chief of the Photographic Section of the
American Expeditionary Forces from 1917 to 1919.
“We are living like paleozoic monsters, in a world
of muck and slime”
“September 11 1918 – Our headquarters are at Hamonville, not far from Seicheprey where the
26th Division had played a savage game of give and take with the Germans last Spring.The men are encamped in a forest of low trees,
a most miserable spot. It has been showering and wet all the week and we are
living like paleozoic monsters, in a world of muck and slime. The forest roads
are all plowed by the wagon wheels, and the whole place was really a swamp. I
made my rounds during the afternoon and got the men together for what I call a
silent prayer meeting. I told them how easy it was to set themselves right with
God, suggesting an extra prayer for a serene mind and a stout heart in time of
danger; and then they stood around me in a rough semicircle, caps in hand and
heads bowed, each man saying his prayers in his own way. I find this simple
ceremony much more effective than formal preaching.”
Father Duffy, chaplain attached to the Rainbow division, comforting his men before the Battle of Saint Mihiel.
Father Duffy Father Duffy’s Story: A Tale of Humor and Heroism, of Life
and Death With the Fighting Sixty-Ninth – Photo: 1918, France, Rainbow
Division’s trucks in the mud. Missouri Over There
See National Archives
Video “THE ST. MIHIEL
OFFENSIVE, SEPT. 10-25, 1918”
‘September 5 1918 – We established a dressing station at Vauxcere. We arrived late in the evening but were ready to
operate before dark. It was a large and roomy natural cave in the hillside,
shell and bomb proof formerly used as headquarters by the Germans. Wounded by the carload kept coming all night long.
Every man worked, even the cook was kept busy making coffee for the wounded,
over canned heat, for no fire or light could be had in the kitchen. During the
night 123 patients were evacuated by the one station. What made it even worse
was that the work had to be done in semi-darkness and much of the time while
wearing gas masks.’
American ambulance driver’s log in
Vauxcere, Aisne sector – “307 at home and in
France” – Photo: 1918, medics wearing gas-masks, and attending a wounded during
a gas attack.