Category: ww1 american ambulance drivers


                                                            “Well, I was lucky”

‘Sunday October 20 1918 – The
shells do not bother me the least bit. One evening they sent me to a certain
place to see if there were any wounded Americans. The town was under heavy
shell fire. The French guard stopped me and didn’t want me to go, but I went
any way. Got to my destination and started back. I would hit the first about
every three minutes. It was lots of fun. Finally, I was standing
watching them hit one two and three—that’s the one that knocked me cold. When I
came to myself I was lying in a ditch. I got up and found that nothing was hit
but my helmet—it had two big dents in it. I said to my good old helmet “Well,
it was the concussion that knocked me down
.” Well, I was lucky.’

American ambulance driver’s letter
in Meuse Argonne, France – Letters of Claud Pearson – Honey Grove
Preservation League
– Photo: 1918, Argonne, France, a close call indeed – From “Les Américains de la Gondrecourt Area de 1917 à 1919 – see their awesome photos on FacebookInstagram Twitter

“October 20 1918 – Moved to Bouillonvill…

“October 20 1918 – Moved to
and found billet. Salvation Army, Red Cross and YMCA in town. On
duty at field hospital all day. Red Cross serves cocoa every day.”

American ambulance driver in
Meurthe et Moselle, France  – See Google
– J. Reah Hollinger’s diary – Franklin & Marshall
– Photo: Fall 1918, Bouillonville,  American soldiers relaxing at the American Red
Cross house – formerly a German movie theater. Movie screen still on wall! Library of Congress

“October 18-20 1918 – Still bad weather …

“October 18-20 1918 – Still bad weather so I hugged the
stove they put at the post. Evacutation to ligineres today.  Austria threatens to surrender and Germany
wants to parlez longer. The Belgians, French and English have taken Zeebrugge and have reached the Holland border.”

American ambulance driver in the Argonne sector – Google map of his route – Arthur B Eddy’s diary – Orleans County Department of History
Photo: October 1918, a thawing out party in the Argonne forest, France – The National
WW1 Museum and Memorial



before Langemarck, in the dead quiet of the very early morning – not a sound in
hearing or a moving thing in sight – Whang!! – without warning – a huge blast,
a shower of powder,  mud and sods that
blinded. Crouched down expecting a hit every second – put on speed. Quite
calmly, fully expecting something besides dirt. Nothing to do but wait. It
seemed a long time, but was only a matter of seconds – and ‘twas over. Not a
fragment even touched the car – why, I don’t know. That shell was a big one and
it was beastly near. The right side of the car was pasted over with mud – so
was the top – and big sods. My face was black with powder.”

October 1918, American ambulance driver in Belgium –Amherst Black CatsPhoto: WW1,  close call somewhere at the front in France. La Contemporaine 

“October 16 1918 – Still very busy. Had …

“October 16 1918 – Still
very busy. Had a close call last night at the barns beyond the ditch when a
flying piece of shell or rock clipped the knuckles on my left hand. Hap was
fired on by machine guns yesterday, but wasn’t touched. Still raining and
miserable.. Feel rotten with a bad cold. We all have them.”

American ambulance driver near the front in France
From the blog “Grant R. Willard, American Volunteer”
Photo: WW1, American ambulances destroyed by German shells while parked in this farm courtyard in Meuse, France – Archives
of the American Field Service

‘October 13-14-15  1918  – The Germans h…

‘October 13-14-15  1918  – The Germans have retreated
behind the Aisne between Vouziers and Attigny. Their retreat was well prepared,
villages burned, telephone poles cut down, bridges blown up and ammunition
dumps destroyed. The sky is hazy with the smoke of still burning villages. I
was loaded with assis who lifted me out of a shell hole I fell into. I lost my
way twice and it took me 5 hours to get to triage… Worked all day carrying
wounded and sick from the poste at Marqueny. The roads are black with civilian
refugees. There was
spasmodic German shelling all afternoon. We moved to Hauviné where we have a very decent cantonment.’

American ambulance driver’ diary in the Aisne-Marne Sector, France – Diary of Jerome Preston – Photo: Fall 1918, refugees on the road in the Aisne Marne sector. (Camion ambulance on the left side of the photo)

‘October 15 1918 – We held a party in an…

‘October 15 1918 – We held a party in an old house the night before last when we stopped at Dreslincourt. We
built a roaring fire and Pernod flowed freely. I never had a
better time at any party. Each one spoke his piece or sang a song.’

American ambulance driver in Dreslincourt, France – Private Heller and the Bantam Boys: An American Medic
in World War
I – Photo: Famous WW1 photo showing Australian soldiers relaxing around a fire – Australian War Memorial

“I found a poor little dog hiding under a hous…

“I found a poor little dog hiding under a
house today and because he looked so forlorn and homeless I adopted him. He was evidently left by the Germans since he answers “kommt heir’ better than “viens-ici’ but he’s just a dog
and isn’t responsible for being owned by a German. After finding my dog I got
another trip and went in for relief. “

October 1918, American ambulance driver at the France/Belgium border – The Compensations of War – Photo: 1918, France, a little dog sitting on the hood of an American ambulance.


                                                                     C’est fini! Almost…

14 1918 – Today we heard the great news of the beginning of the end of war. For
the past week rumors have been spread around concerning peace. Yesterday
morning, on one of my trips I passed a lieut who hollered to me “C’est la fin
de la guerre! The Boche haven’t fired a shot since midnight!
” I took his words
for it and continued toward the front. Just after I passed Cheppy, one of Jerry’s
whistlers passed over my machine and lit the mud on the side… Well, anyway, it
spoiled my happy dream of an
armistice. But after reading today’s paper, I cannot help feeling that the war
has reached its last lap.’

ambulance driver’s diary, in the Meuse Argonne sector – Diary of Allison LePontois  Crile
Archive Center
– Photo: 1918, American soldier in France reading good news –   The National WW1 Museum and Memorial

The news for October 13-14
1918 – The Germans accept the Armistice
terms proposed by President Wilson. They also engage in a general retreat
along the Western Front in France stretching from the Northern sector to the Argonne Forest, and abandon positions along the Belgian
t, as the French, American, British
and Belgian armies steadily advance.

“The farm had a great amount of live stock in…

“The farm had a great amount of live stock including a herd of
rats with whom we became great friends. It was hard to find accomodations for
both the animals and ourselves, but we at last coaxed the farmer to drive out
the pigs and leave the stable to us as a sleeping apartment. We soon made
ourselves fairly comfortable.

Some of the non-coms fared a little better
and obtained a small attic at the rear of the house, but this was not without
its drawbacks. The only entrance to the place was by means of a long ladder, and some of the sergeants had great difficulty in reaching their
chamber at bed time. It required so much energy and ability to get to bed that
the strain began to show…’ 

WW1 American ambulance driver in France – 307 at Home and in France – 1918, France, American
soldiers billeted in a farm. The National WW1 Museum and Memorial