“They are great people – the
boches – for putting up signs”
“They are great people – the
boches – for putting up signs; in fact the only thing that ever tempted me to
wish I was a Fritz, is the careful, the perfect, the all-inclusive,
nothing-forgotten manner in which they mark their roads and villages – Unlike
the French, notorious for the careless way in which they conscientiously omit
signs where signs should be. The Germans mark every village with a great sign,
and road directions; every cave or cellar is so marked together with the number
it will hold; no path or trail is too insignificant to be undeserving of a
beautiful “wegweiser”. The French leave up the civilian
signs and call it a day – if they have been shot down, then tant pis!”
Summer 1918, France – American ambulance driver’s letter
Lying or Four Sitting – From the Front in a Ford
– Photo: August 1918, Tilloloy, Somme, France, a French soldier
reading the German wegweisers. La Contemporaine – See more photos of WW1 German roadsigns in France, here.
Villers Cotterets for the night. Cantoned in an actor’s chateau. Running water,
wonderful kitchen with a stove
August 1918, American ambulance driver in Aisne-Picardie – Diaries of Samuel Keplinger – Photo: 1918, morning wash in a real bathroom with running water. La Contemporaine
“August 13 1918 – Section moves to Jaulzy. Evacuations hereafter are to
Hautefontaine and Mortefontaine. Good cantonment. All cars under cover, fine
recreation-room, dining-rooms, bureau and caves!”
In the Oise, France, American
ambulance driver’s log Record of S. S. U. 585 –
Photo: WW1, in the Oise, France, dinner time in a “good cantonment”.
poilus friends have been very much taken with the American songs, and every evening they gather in a ring before the
cars to hear the musical members of the section singing to the accompaniment of
mandolin and guitars.Tonight, the poilus decided to exchange courtesies, and they invited us to
their sleeping quarters, where wine and cakes were served al fresco, and chansons
de guerre were sung.”
WW1 American ambulance driver’s diary in France – History of the American Field Service in France – Photo: WW1 evening of al fresco singing in the Meuse sector, France. The singer stands to the left, in the shade. La Contemporaine.
“It seems so good to be “all-American” once more!”
‘August 10 1918 – Our ambulance boys are entertaining us with Southern songs, accompanied by
a mandoline and sometimes a violin. They are great and we are between hysterics
at their camp songs and tears at some of our old home songs. It’s a bit
distracting but it seems so good to be “all-American” once more!’
In the Aisne sector, France – American Red Cross nurse ‘s “Intimate Letters from France”
in the Aisne sector, American Ambulance drivers at camp relaxing & playing mandoline. La Contemporaine
‘August 5, 6, 7. 1918 – New
poste is established on top of hill near Berny, called Picardie – Sound box for Victrola arrives. Now for some
Aisne/Picardy region, France, American ambulance driver’s log – Record of S. S. U. 585 – Photo: 1918, American
soldiers, their doggy and a Victrola record player.
‘Monday, August 5 1918 – washed with hot water in my basin, put
on clean clothes and had all the dirty ones washed – Feeling pretty well on it
American ambulance driver’s diary in Le Charmel, France – Franklin
& Marshall College – photo: WW1 American ambulance’s morning wash. Library of Congress
It has been one long nightmare
August 4 1918 –
‘It’s been a long time since I last wrote and I am ashamed because
you have probably worried. My only excuse is that I have really been through too much this summer to do anything but work and rest when I have had the chance. I have
been lucky or unlucky to be with divisions which have born the brunt of the
three main German offensives. How I even came out unscratched is beyond me, but I am safe and sound. From the
middle of May to the present moment it has been one long nightmare.
I have written not a soul. No time, inclinations or ambition. For
times we have lost all communication with the outer world.
We are going up again in a few days.’
Somewhere in France, American ambulance driver’s letter to his mom. Letters from Verdun – Photo: 1918, American ambulance driver writing a letter. Library of Congress
August 2 1918 – French capture Soissons. GREAT!
In the Aisne sector, France, American
ambulance driver’s log – Record of S. S. U. 585
– Photo: August 1918, American ambulance driver & mileage to Soissons, France.
“As though transported on a magic carpet, I
found myself in the midst of peace”
hour and a half before I was within rifle range of the German
trenches where men were battling to the death and
big guns barked their hate, and now, as though transported on a magic carpet, I
found myself in the midst of peace, where dainty
women tripped by, children laughed at play, and life untrammelled by war ran
its course. After weeks amid the
mud and turmoil of the front, the transition was at first stupefying.”
American ambulance driver’s diary in France – History of the American Field Service in
France – Photo: Billeted in a quiet sector – A little French kid of the family sitting on one of the
American ambulances. Special Collections
Department, Stewart Library, Weber State University.