PART IV: AMERICAN AMBULANCES IN FRANCE
RICHARD NORTON'S MOTOR-AMBULANCE CORPS
The foremost figure among the scores of American university men who, in 1914, 1915, and 1916, gave their services to the ambulance corps in France, Belgium, and the Near East, was Richard Norton. Graduated at Harvard in 1892, the son of Professor Charles Eliot Norton, he had become an archeologist of note, and for eight years was director of the American School of Classical Studies at Rome. The Great War summoned him from these scholastic pursuits into active field-work in behalf of humanity; and his response to this summons was immediate. Soon after the war began he went to London and organized the American Volunteer Motor-Ambulance Corps. By October, 1914, ten of his ambulances were at work, at first under the auspices of the British Red Cross and the St. John Ambulance, the drivers being recent graduates of American colleges.
From this modest beginning the number of the ambulances over which Mr. Norton exercised supervision was gradually increased as more funds were forthcoming. Finally it was found to be desirable to associate the corps with the American Red Cross and to place its cars under the direct control of the French Army.
To the young Americans who drove these ambulances Mr. Norton, being their senior by many years, was more like an elder brother than a commanding officer. In his relations with them his principal task was of a double character---to teach them to keep out of unnecessary danger and at the same time to inspire them, by example as well as by precept, with a high courage to run any risk in the performance of a real duty. That he succeeded in this by no means easy task is evident from the feeling of loyalty, devotion, and admiration which all the young men who served under him brought back to America.
An anecdote is told of him which illustrates admirably the manner in which he controlled and tempered the overeager spirits of the youths under him. One evening, so the story goes, Norton found one of his young ambulance drivers a considerable distance from the headquarters of the section absorbed in watching a French battery near by in action. Taken to task by his chief, the boy admitted frankly that he had been drawn thither by a great curiosity to see the big guns in action.
"Yes," commented Norton, in effect, "that was natural. I've had that feeling myself. But consider, for a moment, the possible consequences. Sooner or later the Germans will find this battery, and a shell may blow you to pieces, or a fragment destroy your eyesight or cause the loss of an arm or a leg. And if that happens the French officials will merely shrug their shoulders and say, 'Another one of those reckless Americans throwing away his life for nothing'; and that will be the end of you.
"On the other hand, if you are wounded while in the performance of duty you will be cited for bravery and may receive the Croix de Guerre; and if you are killed, the French will pay you every honor at their command. Which seems to be the sensible choice to make?"
Put in this dramatic way, the lesson of avoiding unnecessary risk was quickly learned.
From the several letters from Mr. Norton to his brother Eliot in New York, which are printed in Mr. M. A. De Wolfe Howe's volume, "Harvard Volunteers in Europe," it is possible to construct a reasonably complete picture of the important work which Norton was able to do in the early years of the war.
Writing from La Croix, Champagne, under date of October 14, 1915, Norton summarized the work which his corps of ambulances had done during the year:
As it is just a year since the Corps came into being, it is worth remembering what we started from and what we have developed into Notwithstanding errors of judgment or accidents, we have accomplished good work. A year ago we started from London with our cars, and not much more than hope for a bank balance. We were wanderers searching for work. During this year we have grown into a corps consisting now of some sixty cars, to which the St. John Ambulance and Red Cross Societies render any assistance we ask, and instead of wondering where we were to find occupation the French authorities have entrusted us with the whole ambulance service of the 11th Army corps.
. . . We have carried during the year just under twenty-eight thousand cases, and during the days from the 25th of September to the 9th of October, our cars relieved the sufferings of over six thousand individuals.
The period referred to in the last sentence was that of the great French drive in Champagne, in which, as we have seen, young Farnsworth, of the Foreign Legion, was killed. Selections from Norton's description in the same letter of the work of his ambulance corps during this battle follow:
For three days before the 25th of September, an incessant cannonade, continued by night and day, showed that the region round Tahure was the one selected for attacking the Germans. It was on the twenty-fourth that we received final orders to move up to the lines, and to station our cars at the field hospitals and the trenches.
Before we actually took up our positions I had been over the ground to get the lay of the land, to see where the various trails---they were scarcely more--- led to, in order to know how best to direct the ambulances on their various errands. The country was absolutely packed; I can scarcely find any word to suggest a picture of how packed it was with troops and munition trains. There was every sort and description. On the rolling land, over which the trenches, cut in through chalk soil, ran like great white snakes, the batteries of every sized gun were innumerable. I cannot tell you how many guns there were, but, in a radius of half a mile from where my ambulances stood the first night, there were at least a dozen batteries of various calibers, and they were no thicker there than anywhere else. We tried to sleep on the stretchers for an hour or two before dawn of the twenty-fifth, but when you have a battery of "150's" coughing uninterruptedly within less than one hundred yards of where you are resting, to say nothing of other guns to right and to left of you, one's repose is decidedly syncopated. On the morning of the twenty-fifth the cannonade slackened, and we knew afterward that the three previous days' work had battered the German lines into a shapeless mass, and that the French infantry had made good the chance they had been patiently waiting for all summer of proving to the world their ability to beat the Germans.
It is curious that only three or four incidents of the twelve hard days' work stand out clearly in my mind. The rest is but a hazy memory of indistinguishable nights and days, cold and rain, long rows of laden stretchers waiting to be put into the cars, wavering lines of less seriously wounded hobbling along to where we were waiting, sleepy hospital orderlies, dark underground chambers in which the doctors were sorting out and caring for the wounded, and an unceasing noise of rumbling wagons, whirring aeroplanes, distant guns coughing and nearby ones crashing, shells bursting and bullets hissing. Out of this general jumble of memory one feature shines out steadily clear; it is of the doctors. Patient, indefatigable, tender, encouraging and brave in the most perfect way, they were everywhere in the forefront and seemingly knew not what fatigue meant.
After describing a few of the incidents that impressed themselves upon his memory, Mr. Norton continued:
Still another picture that rises in my mind, as I write, is of one cloudy morning, when, after a very tiring night, I was sitting on the roadside watching a rather heavy bombardment near by, and suddenly through the din rose the sweet clear notes of a shepherd's pipe. It was the same reed-pipe I have heard so often on the hills of Greece and Asia Minor, and the same sweetly-sad, age-old shepherd music telling of Pan and the Nymphs, and the asphodel meadows where Youth lies buried. The piper was an ordinary piou-piou, a simple fantassin, mon vieux Charles with knapsack on back, rifle slung over his shoulder and helmet on head strolling down to the valley of death a few hundred yards beyond. Nor is this the only music I have heard. One night a violin sounded among the pines which shelter our tents, and I strolled over to find a blue-clad Orpheus easing the pain of the wounded and numbing the fatigue of the brancardiers with bits of Chopin and Schubert and Beethoven.
Such are some of the impressions of the battle seen from this side of the line. Others I have formed since the main fight ceased, in the lines previously held by the Germans. I went over some of their trenches the other day and have never seen anything so horrible. Although, as prisoners have told us, they knew they were to be attacked, they had no idea that the attack would be anything like so severe as it was. Those I have talked to said it was awful, and that they were glad to be out of it. Their trenches were very elaborately constructed, many of the dugouts being fitted up with considerable furniture, the dwellers evidently having no notion they would be hurriedly evicted. After the bombardment there was nothing left of all this careful work. The whole earth was torn to pieces. It looked as though some drunken giant had driven his giant plough over the land. In the midst of an utterly indescribable medley of torn wire, broken wagons, and upheaved timbers, yawned here and there chasms like the craters of small volcanoes, where mines had been exploded. It was an ashen gray world, distorted with the spasms of death---like a scene in the moon. Except for the broken guns, the scattered clothing, the hasty graves, the dead horses and other signs of human passage, no one could have believed that such a place had ever been anything but dead and desolate. The rubbish still remained when I was there, but masses of material had been already gathered up and saved.
Mr. Norton gave the text of the notice issued to the army on October 1, describing the vast quantities of material captured in this battle, and added this evidence that six years before the present war began the Germans had decided to use gas in warfare:
In this notice no mention is made of some very interesting gas machines that were taken. They were of two sorts, one for the production of gas, the other to counteract its effects. The latter were rather elaborate and heavy but very effective instruments consisting of two main parts; one to slip over the head, protecting the eyes and clipping the nose, the other an arrangement of bags and bottles containing oxygen, which the wearer inhaled through a tube held in the mouth. There were several forms of these apparatuses, but the most interesting point to note about them is that one had stamped upon it the words: "Type of 1914--- developed from type of 1912, developed from type of 1908," thus showing that seven years ago the Germans had decided to fight with gas.
Light months later Norton and his corps were at Verdun, the scene of the great but unsuccessful offensive of the army of the Crown Prince of Germany in the spring of that year, 1916. Another letter from him to his brother Eliot, reprinted in "Harvard Volunteers in Europe" from the Springfield Republican of July 8, 1916, shows the perils of the work in which he and his men were then engaged, and the spirit in which they faced these perils. The letter was dated Verdun, June 15, 1916:
It is some time since I wrote, but we first were moving up here, and since arriving have had strenuous times. We are camped some five miles outside Verdun, where we have our permanent post; another is at a hospital between us and Verdun; while every night, as soon as it is dark, we send out eight cars to evacuate the advanced posts. This is extremely risky work and can only be done at night, owing to the road being in view of the Germans, who are not a kilometre distant. At night I have my office, as it were, at Verdun, where L'hoste has his main post. Thence, as there is need, he and I go up and down the line of posts to keep the work moving.
The advanced posts can be reached only at night, so, as there are only four hours of darkness, we are extremely busy. Two days ago we were ordered to evacuate one of these posts by day---a thing heretofore unheard of. Of course, I obeyed and sent the five cars demanded, following them up a short time afterward. I arrived at the starting point to find the first car had been steadily shelled as it went along the road, that the second, containing Jack Wendell and a chauffeur named Hollinshed, had not returned from the trip, and that another car had gone to see what the trouble was; I started at once to go after the missing cars, but at that moment Hoskier, who had gone after Wendell, came hurrying round the corner. He told me that both Wendell and Hollinshed had been wounded, but not seriously, as they were putting some wounded in their car; that they were being cared for at the poste; that they begged me not to come up till dark; that the authorities at the poste begged us to keep away for fear the poste would be shelled, and, lastly, he said it was obvious the Boches were laying for us, for they were shelling our road steadily.
This was obviously the right thing to do, but Lawrence MacCreery at once asked to be allowed to go by the boyau with his chauffeur; they would reach the poste as dark fell and would bring Wendell and Hollinshed out on their car if that had not been destroyed. This they very pluckily did. I, meanwhile, had to report to the authorities, and got back just as Wendell and Hollinshed had been fixed up by the doctors. Wendell has a slight wound in the back, Hollinshed a rather more severe one in the shoulder. They behaved in a way to give cause to their families to be extremely proud of them, absolutely refusing to return with Hoskier, but insisting on his taking the four bad cases they had gone to get. They will both be given the Croix de Guerre, and they well deserve it.
Since then we have had one car blown to pieces and five others hit. Our Verdun post is shelled every evening, and one of the others was heavily peppered last night. The division has suffered heavily, and I do not think can stay more than a few days more. We can't either, if we go on losing men and cars at this rate.
Till to-day it has rained steadily, which has added to our difficulties. However, we are sticking to it and I think will pull off the work all right.
The officials of the French Army showed a high appreciation of the value of Mr. Norton's services. Early in the war he received the Croix de Guerre, the Journal Officiel, in the announcement signed by General Pétain, the commander of the 2d Army, referring to his services as follows:
He gave proof of the greatest devotion and finest courage, by himself driving his cars day and night, through dangerous zones and by giving to all his section an example of endurance carried to the point of complete exhaustion of his strength.
After the work of Mr. Norton's corps at Verdun was completed, the members as a body were cited in the army orders of the day for their bravery and devotion in caring for the wounded. "Il n'est plus un seul de ses membres," concluded the citation, "qui ne soit un modèle de sang-froid et d'abnégation. Plusieurs d'entre eux ont été blessés." Finally in the spring of 1917 the Cross of the Legion of Honor, the highest decoration to be won in France by a foreigner, was presented to Mr. Norton.
When the United States entered the war Mr. Norton had charge of more than a hundred ambulances on the western battle-front, and was arranging for two additional sections of forty men each. He was urged to accept a commission as major in the United States Army and to continue in control of the ambulance corps which he had created and which he had managed with untiring devotion and with admirable results for two and a half years. He declined the offer, however, and in September, 1917, retired from the service. Early in August, 1918, he died suddenly in Paris of meningitis.
THE WORK OF MR. ANDREW'S CORPS
Entirely distinct from the Motor-Ambulance Corps, of which Richard Norton was the chief, was the Field Service of the American Ambulance, of which A. Piatt Andrew was the Inspector-General. Mr. Andrew was one of the contingent of American volunteers who arrived in Paris early in 1915. He was a man of experience and culture. After being graduated at Princeton in 1893 he had studied in Germany and in Paris, and from 1900 to 1909 he was an instructor and assistant professor of economics at Harvard. For the two following years he was Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury.
To the energy and administrative skill of Mr. Andrew were mainly due the organization and development of the Field Service of the American Ambulance in France, the full story of which, told in detail by the men themselves who formed the corps, is to be found in "Friends of France." In recognition of his services to France, Mr. Andrew, early in 1917, received the Cross of the Legion of Honor, he and Mr. Norton being the only two Americans engaged in ambulance work upon whom this distinction had been conferred up to that time.
By the spring of 1915 a sufficient number of cars and drivers had been assembled in Paris to justify the request that the French authorities give the American Ambulance a place at the front. The request was complied with, and by the end of April three sections, each comprising about twenty American cars, and all with American volunteer drivers, were in operation, one stationed at Dunkirk, another in Lorraine and a third in the Vosges.
From these small beginnings the Field Service of the American Ambulance developed rapidly, until nearly two years later, in January, 1917, only a short time before the United States entered the war, Mr. Andrew, summarizing the work done, could write as follows to the Princeton Alumni Weekly:
We have already more than 200 cars driven by American volunteers, mostly university men, grouped in sections which are attached to divisions of the French army. These sections have served at the front in Flanders, on the Somme, on the Aisne, in Champagne, at Verdun (five sections, including 120 cars at the height of the battle), in Lorraine and in reconquered Alsace, and one of our veteran sections has received the signal tribute from the French army staff of being attached to the French Army of the Orient in the Balkans. We are now on the point of enlarging our service for the last lap of the war, and a considerable number of new places are available.
Every American has reason to be proud of the chapter which these few hundred American youths have written into the history of this prodigious period. Each of the several sections of the American Ambulance Field Service as a whole and fifty-four of their individual members have been decorated by the French army with the Croix de Guerre or the Médaille Militaire for valor in the performance of their work.
The American Ambulance Field Service. The drivers are from left to right: J.R. McConnell, Ned Salisbury, Herman Webster, A. Piatt Andrew, Inspector-General, James W. Horne, Norman Barclay.
It was obvious that young college men formed the most available class for this service, which called for leisure and certain financial resources, in addition to initiative and intelligence. A knowledge of the mechanics of a motor-car and the ability to speak French were of course additional and valuable assets. Mr. Norton even considered it essential that his men should know some French. In a letter to the secretary and treasurer of his corps in London, Mr. H. D. Morrison, he wrote:
Many of the writers whose letters I have sent you express a delightful confidence that they can learn enough of the vernacular on their voyage out to render their service effective. It is a shame to dash cold water on such pleasing beliefs, but the feet is they are hopelessly wrong. They are like the man who, when asked if he played the violin, replied "I don't know; I have never tried." Still the general spirit of the letters is fine.
The young college men of the country made a splendid response to Mr. Andrew's appeals. As given in the list at the end of "Friends of France," the members of the American Ambulance who had been in the Field Service down to October, 1916, numbered 849. Of this number 264 men were representatives of forty-eight American universities, colleges and schools, and of two foreign universities, Paris and Cambridge. Of these 264 men there were 89 from Harvard, 31 from Princeton, 30 from Yale, 11 from Dartmouth, 8 from the University of Pennsylvania. 7 from Columbia, 6 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 5 from Amherst, and from 1 to 4 from dozens of other institutions, from the University of California in the West to Bowdoin in the East. Eighteen of these men were American Rhodes Scholars from Oxford. The non-college men in the group, eighty-five in number, were, almost without an exception, of the same high spirit and of the same fine type as their fellows.
The duties which all the men in the Field Service of the American Ambulance were required to perform involved hardships, deprivations, and often great dangers. Three of them were killed in service---Richard N. Hall, of Ann Arbor, Mich., Henry M. Suckley, of Rhinebeck, N. Y., and Edward J. Kelley, of Philadelphia. Many of them were wounded, two so severely and under such circumstances as to win for them the most coveted decoration that the French Army has to bestow, the Médaille Militaire, which carried with it the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. They were William M. Barber, of Toledo, Ohio, and Roswell S. Sanders, of Newburyport, Mass.
THE DEATH OF RICHARD HALL
The first section of the American ambulance to reach the front in April, 1915, had its headquarters at the beginning at the town of Saint-Maurice, on the headwaters of the Moselle, about fifteen miles north of Belfort, near the Swiss frontier. At first numbering only ten ambulances, the section was soon increased to twenty, when it was found that the light but strong American cars could replace the mules and farm-wagons which up to that time had been used to transport the wounded over the mountain roads, with their heavy grades, from the dressing-stations behind the firing-lines to the hospitals. Later the headquarters of the section were moved nearer the firing-lines to Moosch, in the valley of the river Thur, which, flowing in a southeasterly direction, emptied into the Rhine. From the mountain heights, the front-line French trenches overlooked the broad Rhine valley to the east, Mulhausen and Colmar being within full view. The ten miles or so between Saint-Maurice and the valley of the Thur included the watershed between the Moselle and the Rhine and the boundary-line between France and Germany.
One of the most popular men in this Alsace section was Richard N. Hall, of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Immediately after being graduated at Dartmouth in June, 1915, Hall had gone to France and had joined the American Ambulance Field Service, becoming a member of the third section in Alsace. Under the title "Christmas Eve, 1915," Waldo Peirce, of Bangor, Maine, in "Friends of France," described the circumstances under which Hall met his death, and indicated the affection in which he was held by his mates:
All this time, as in all the past months' Richard Nelville Hall calmly drove his car up the winding, shell-swept artery of the mountain of war,---past crazed mules, broken-down artillery carts, swearing drivers, stricken horses, wounded stragglers still able to hobble,---past long convoys of Boche prisoners, silent, descending in twos, guarded by a handful of men,---past all the personnel of war, great and small (for there is but one road, one road on which to travel, one road for the enemy to shell),---past abris, bomb-proofs, subterranean huts, to arrive at the postes de secours, where silent men moved mysteriously in the mist under the great trees, where the cars were loaded with an ever-ready supply of still more quiet figures (though some made sounds), mere bundles in blankets.
Hall saw to it that those quiet bundles were carefully and rapidly installed,---right side up, for instance,---for it is dark and the brancardiers are dull folks, deadened by the dead they carry; then rolled down into the valley below, where little towns bear stolidly their daily burden of shells wantonly thrown from somewhere in Bocheland over the mountain to somewhere in France the bleeding bodies in the car a mere corpuscle in the full crimson stream, the ever-rolling tide from the trenches to the hospital, of the blood of life and the blood of death.
Once there, his wounded unloaded, Dick Hall filled his gasolene tank and calmly rolled again on his way. Two of his comrades had been wounded the day before, but Dick Hall never faltered. He slept where and when he could, in his car, at the poste, on the floor of our temporary kitchen at Moosch---dry blankets--- wet blankets---blankets of mud---blankets of blood; contagion was pedantry---microbes a myth.
At midnight Christmas Eve, he left the valley to get his load of wounded for the last time. Alone, ahead of him, two hours of lonely driving up the mountain. Perhaps he was thinking of other Christmas Eves, perhaps of his distant home, and of those who were thinking of him.
(. . .)
Matter, the next American to pass, found him by the roadside halfway up the mountain. His face was calm and his hands still in position to grasp the wheel. Matter, and Jennings, who came a little later, bore him tenderly back in Matter's car to Moosch, where his brother, Louis Hall, learned what had happened.
A shell had struck his car and killed him instantly, painlessly. A chance shell in a thousand had struck him at his post, in the morning of his youth.
The body of Richard Hall was buried with all the honors of war in the valley of Saint-Amarin, his grave being next to that of a French officer who fell the same morning. At the end of the service Hall's citation was read and the Croix de Guerre was pinned to his coffin. A translation of the latter half of the address of the surgeon-in-chief of the 66th Division, Dr. Georges, follows:
Barely graduated from Dartmouth College, in the noble enthusiasms of his youth he brought to France the invaluable cooperation of his charitable heart---coming hither to gather up on the battlefields of Alsace those of our gallant troops who were wounded fighting for their beloved country.
He died like a "Chevalier de la Bienfaisance," like an American, while engaged in a work of kindness and Christian charity!
To the dear ones whom he has left in his own land, in Michigan, to his grief-stricken parents, to his older brother who displays here among us such stoicism in his grief, our respect and our expressions of sorrow are most sincere and heartfelt.
Driver Richard Hall, you are to be laid to rest here, in the shadow of the tri-colored flag, beside all these brave fellows, whose gallantry you have emulated. You are justly entitled to make one of their consecrated battalion ! Your body alone, gloriously mutilated, disappears; your soul has ascended to God; your memory remains in our hearts---imperishable !---Frenchmen do not forget !
Driver Richard Hall---farewell !
AROUND BOIS-LE-PRÊTRE, THE "FOREST OF DEATH "
Pont-à-Mousson, which became the headquarters for ten months of Section 2 of the Field Service of the American Ambulance, is near the Lorraine border, at the apex of a triangle at the base of which are Nancy and Toul. It is on the Moselle River, and lies only a dozen or so miles east of Seicheprey, where the American soldiers first came in conflict with the Germans. The section consisted of twenty cars, and the Americans in charge of them numbered twenty-four, under the leadership of Edward Van D., or, as he was more commonly called, Ned, Salisbury, of Chicago. Constant and violent fighting in the near-by region in and around Bois-le-Prêtre, the "Forest of Death," the Germans called it, kept the section busy during the summer of 1915, Pont-à-Mousson and the neighboring towns and villages being frequently under shell-fire. The section began its work in April, at first under the direction of French orderlies. The Americans, however, were so quick to learn, and adapted themselves to their new duties so readily, that in a short time the French section was transferred to another post and the Americans were left in sole charge of the work.
Two of the members of this section have left a full record of its personnel and of its daily activities---James R. McConnell, of Carthage, North Carolina, and Leslie Buswell, of Gloucester, Massachusetts. McConnell's narrative was printed in the Outlook for September, 1915, with an introduction by Colonel Roosevelt; and the paper was so full of information and was written with such vividness, freshness and humor, that it deserved all the praise it received. The article was reprinted in "Friends of France." Here is McConnell's picture of the scene when the shelling was active:
It was a day when the shelling seemed to be general, for shrapnel and small 77 shells were also bursting at intervals over and in a little town one passes through in order to avoid a more heavily bombarded outer route on the way to the postes de secours. It was magnificent descending the hill from the postes that afternoon. To the left French 75 shells were in rapid action; and one could see the explosion of the German shells just over the crest of the long ridge where the batteries were firing. It was a clear, sparkling day, and against the vivid green of the hills, across the winding river, the little white puffs of shrapnel exploding over the road below were in perfect relief, while from the red-tiled roofs of the town, nestling in the valley below, tall columns of black smoke spurted up where the large shells struck. Little groups of soldiers, the color of whose uniforms added greatly to the picture, were crowded against the low stone walls lining the road to observe the firing; and one sensed the action and felt the real excitement of the sort of war one imagines instead of the uninteresting horror of the cave-dweller combats that are the rule in this war.
In contrast with the foregoing is McConnell's description of the night-work of the American ambulance drivers:
The work at night is quite eerie, and on moonless nights quite difficult. No lights are allowed, and the inky black way ahead seems packed with a discordant jumble of sounds as the never-ending artillery and ravitaillement trains rattle along. One creeps past convoy after convoy, past sentinels who cry, " Halte là ! " and then whisper an apologetic "Passez" when they make out the ambulance; and it is only in the dazzling light of the illuminating rockets that shoot into the air and sink slowly over the trenches that one can see to proceed with any speed.
It is at night, too, that our hardest work comes, for that is usually the time when attacks and counter-attacks are made and great numbers of men are wounded. Sometimes all twenty of the Section cars will be in service. It is then that one sees the most frightfully wounded: the men with legs and arms shot away, mangled faces, and hideous body wounds. It is a time when men die in the ambulances before they reach the hospitals, and I believe nearly every driver in the Section has had at least one distressing experience of that sort.
Through all the excitement, however, these young Americans preserved their characteristic traits. Thus McConnell notes:
No matter how long the war lasts, I do not believe that the members of Section Y will lose any of their native ways, attitudes, or tastes. They will remain just as American as ever. Why, they still fight for a can of American tobacco or a box of cigarettes that comes from the States, when such a rare and appreciated article does turn up, and papers and magazines from home are sure to go the rounds, finding themselves at length in the hands of English-reading soldiers in the trenches. I never could understand the intense grip that the game of baseball seems to possess, but it holds to some members of the Section with a cruel pertinacity. One very dark night, a few days ago, two of us were waiting at an advanced poste de secours. The ride and artillery fire was constant, illuminating rockets shot into the air, and now and then one could distinguish the heavy dull roar of a mine or torpille detonating in the trenches. War in all its engrossing detail was very close. Suddenly my friend turned to me and, with a sigh, remarked, " Gee ! I wish I knew how the Red Sox were making out !"
Thursday, the 22d of July, 1915, was a memorable day for the Americans in Pont-à-Mousson. The town was heavily shelled, and it was only by the narrowest margin that some of them were not killed. As it was, they lost their faithful orderly and general servant, Mignot, to whom they were all greatly attached.
A graphic narrative of the occurrences of that day is to be found in one of the letters that make up the book called "Ambulance No. 10," by Leslie Buswell, of Gloucester, Massachusetts, a member of the section. Under date of Pont-à-Mousson, July 24, 1915, Buswell wrote:
. . . We got back to lunch about 12 o'clock, and Mignot, our indefatigable friend in the position of a general servant, upbraided us for our unpunctuality, etc.
We had hardly finished lunch when a shell burst some twenty metres away and we hurriedly took to the cellar, while eleven more shells exploded all around our headquarters or "caserne," as we call it. We then went for a round of inspection and found that the twelve shells had all fallen on our side of the road and were all within forty or fifty metres of us. This made us feel pretty sure that the shells were meant for us or for our motors. Schroder [Note: Bernard N. P. Schroder, the only representative in the American Ambulance Field Service of Northwestern University] and I discussed the matter, and came to the conclusion that we did not like the situation very much, and that if the Germans sent perhaps six shells, all at once, we should many of us get caught. I was very tired, and at about one-thirty went to sleep and slept until five-thirty, when I went to dinner at the caserne.
The evening meal over, an argument started about the merits of a periodical called le Mot (do you know it?)---a kind of futurist paper. After a rapid-fire commentary from one and then another of us, which continued until about eight-thirty, Schroder and I decided to go to our rooms to bed. We were walking home when I reminded him that he had been asked to tell four of our fellows who slept in a house near by to be sure that no light could be seen through the shutters; so turning back we rapped on the window and heard merry laughter and were greeted with a cheery invitation to join the nine who had gathered inside. It seems that one of them, who had been on duty at Montauville, had managed to get some fresh bread and butter and jam, and they were celebrating the event! We had to decline their friendly hospitality, however, as we wanted to get some sleep.
I had just got my boots off when whish-sh-sh-bang! bang! bang! bang! four huge shells burst a little way down the road towards our caserne. Thirty seconds after came two more ---five minutes later six more and then we heard a screaming woman ejaculating hysterically "C'est les Américains." Schroder and I looked at each other without speaking. We hurriedly dressed and started to run to the caserne---women and soldiers shouting to us to stay where we were; but rushing on through the fog, smoke and dust, we reached headquarters. There we found the rest of the Section in the cellar, and hurriedly going over those' present, realized that two were absent---Mignot and the mechanic of the French officer attached to us.
Mignot, it was found, had been killed by one of the shells; also two women, while several others, including the mechanic, were badly wounded. The narrative continues:
Ogilvie [Note: Francis D. Ogilvie, of Lindfield, Sussex, England.] got his car and we got our stretchers out to take away the blessés. There were a few of us grouped about some seven or eight ---and near---with the wounded just put on stretchers, when---"Look out ! " Bang! Bang ! Bang !---three more shells.
We had already thrown ourselves on the ground, and then, finding we were still alive, feverishly loaded the car. "Good God! I've stalled it," said the driver---then the cranking--- would it never start---try again---thank Heaven, it was off ! Hardly thirty seconds after, whishsh-bang ! bang ! two more came. We retired to a cellar for a few minutes, as the three dead could stay there while it was so terribly dangerous. At last we emerged and were about to lift Mignot's body when both arms moved. Was he alive, after all? No, it was only the electric wires he was lying on that had stimulated his muscles. The car turned the corner with the three dead, and we ran back to the caserne.
There we found the rest of our Section very shaken indeed. A shell had burst just outside of the house where the nine were making merry and the violence of the impact had hurled all of them to the ground. Two feet nearer and the whole lot would have been killed.
As a result of this bombardment and of an attack by the Germans on the town, the headquarters of Section 2 were moved the next day to Dieulouard, five or six miles to the south of Pont-à-Mousson.
IN THE GREAT BATTLE FOR VERDUN
When in February, 1916, the German army of the Crown Prince began its attack upon the French troops protecting Verdun, the men composing Section 2 of the American Ambulance were hastily transferred from the neighborhood of Pont-à-Mousson to Verdun. In the previous month Section 3 had been moved from its station in Alsace to the Lorraine front, and the men of this section were also at Verdun. The need of more ambulances finally became so great that two additional American sections were sent to the neighborhood of Verdun.
Frank Hoyt Gailor, of Memphis, Tennessee, a member of Section 2, contributed to the Cornhill Magazine for July, 1916, a vivid description of the journey of the section to a village near Verdun, by way of Bar-le-Duc. From this paper as it appears in full in "Friends of France," a few paragraphs may be quoted:
We started from Bar-le-Duc about noon [on February 22, 1916], and it took us six hours to make forty miles through roads covered with snow, swarming with troops, and all but blocked by convoys of food carts and sections of trucks. Of course, we knew that there was an attack in the neighborhood of Verdun, but we did not know who was making it or how it was going. Then about four o'clock in the short winter twilight we passed two or three regiments of French colonial troops on the march with all their field equipment. I knew who and what they were by the curious Eastern smell that I had always before associated with camels and circuses. They were lined up on each side of the road around their soup kitchens, which were smoking busily, and I had a good look at them as we drove along.
It was the first time I had seen an African army in the field, and though they had had a long march, they were cheerful and in high spirits at the prospect of battle. They were all young, active men, and of all colors and complexions, from blue-eyed blonds to shiny blacks. They all wore khaki and brown shrapnel casques bearing the trumpet insignia of the French sharpshooter. We were greeted with laughter and chaff, for the most part, in an unknown chatter, but now and again some one would say, " Hee, hee, Ambulance Américaine," or "Yes, Ingliish, good-bye." . . .
At about six in the evening we reached our destination some forty miles northeast of Bar-le-Duc. The little village where we stopped had been a railroad centre until the day before, when the Germans started bombarding it. Now the town was evacuated, and the smoking station deserted. The place had ceased to exist, except for a hospital which was established on the southern edge of the town in a lovely old chateau, overlooking the Meuse. We were called up to the hospital as soon as we arrived to take such wounded as could be moved to the nearest available rail-head, which was ten miles away, on the main road, and four miles south of Verdun. We started out in convoy, but with the then conditions of traffic, it was impossible to stick together, and it took some of us till five o'clock the next morning to make the trip. That was the beginning of the attack for us, and the work of "evacuating" the wounded to the railway stations went steadily on until March 15. It was left to the driver to decide how many trips it was physically possible for him to make in each twenty-four hours. There were more wounded than could be carried, and no one could be certain of keeping any kind of schedule with the roads as they then were.
Sometimes we spent five or six hours waiting at a cross-road, while columns of troops and their equipment filed steadily by. Some-times at night we could make a trip in two hours that had taken us ten in daylight. Sometimes, too, we crawled slowly to a station only to find it deserted, shells falling, and the hospital moved to some still more distant point of the line. Situations and conditions changed from day to day---almost from hour to hour. One day it was sunshine and spring, with roads six inches deep in mud, no traffic, and nothing to remind one of war, except the wounded in the car and the distant roar of the guns, which sounded like a giant beating a carpet. The next day it was winter again, with mud turned to ice, the roads blocked with troops, and the Germans turning hell loose with their heavy guns.
WILLIAM BARBER'S MÉDAILLE MILITAIRE
Beginning on February 21, 1916, the battle for Verdun, with the repeated German attacks and the French counter-attacks, lasted for weeks and even months. One of the most thrilling experiences of the American Ambulance drivers was that of William Barber, of Toledo, Ohio, who was the only representative of Oberlin in the section which had come to Verdun from Alsace. The story begins with the following selections from the letter of a Harvard ambulance driver to his uncle, which was printed anonymously in the Red Cross Magazine for October, 1916. Accompanying the letter, which was in the form of a diary--- vivid memoranda of incidents during six successive June nights---was an injunction "not to let dad know about this, for it would worry him." Here is the writer's description of one night's experience:
Fourth Night: Filled up gas and oil and out again: headquarters changed into Verdun because of bombardment of suburb. Black as pitch and heavy rain. Heavy traffic of all kinds on road. Terrible driving. Heavy firing; dead horses and smashed wagons, etc., strewed all along. O. K. to post. On way back met great tangle in road: six horses killed in one spot; dead and wounded men and busted wagons all mixed up in middle of road. Got out; was in act of cutting dead horses' traces with knife; "bang" without warning and another in the same spot. Thrown down among the tangle; face in a pool of horses' gore; showered with rocks and stuff of every kind. Sharp pain in shoulder. Thought had got one; turned out to be only a bruise. Another man in back of me same; more wounded, groaning all around; don't know how many dead; could not hear for two hours, and still have ringing in my ears. Saw there was nothing to do but wait until firing was over. Ran back in ditch in side of road and got behind tree and big rock. More came, but I was O. K.... Let up for a minute; ran through debris to stop other cars coming in opposite direction. Met two just on other side; dove under car; shell went off pretty near. Some one jumped off car and followed me; it was Paul. We stayed there a couple of minutes and talked; will never forget it.
He got back to headquarters safely, running at high speed, "low not working," with two shrapnel dents in his helmet and many scars on his car. The next night he rescued a wounded comrade, young Barber, as thus narrated:
Fifth Night.---Got to post O. K. Heavy traffic; firing; road stinking of dead flesh. On way back heard forlorn cry of Barber. Stopped and found him in arms of Frenchman by side of road. Nerves gone so he couldn't talk straight. Car had been hit; he was wounded; pumping hell out of road ahead where his car was. He had crawled back; was afraid to let him wait. Dragged him into front alongside of me and made a dash; never drove so fast in all my life. Passed his car; whole back shot off and wheels gone. Got to last bridge and found artillery coming across in opposite direction. Crawled across one side on remains of a railroad track. Grabbed leading horses of a battery by bridle, and jammed them over on one side of road, commanding riders to wait; must have thought I was an officer; because they did; hurried back and drove across. Got to headquarters O. K. and got Barber into dressing room. Worst wound was on his back, but a glancing one. He will pull through.
The sequel to this drama, which came so near having a tragic ending, is to be found in the following selections from a letter dated June 30, which Barber wrote from the hospital to his family and which is printed entire in "Friends of France":
Four nights ago I had a pretty narrow escape. I can mention no names here, but this is the gist of the story:---
I was driving my car with three wounded soldiers in it along a road that was being shelled. Well, I got in the midst of a pretty hot shower, so I stopped my car and got under it. A few minutes later I supposed it was blowing over, so I got out. I had no sooner done so than I heard one of those big obus coming, the loudest I had ever-heard. I ran to the front of my car, crouching down in front of the radiator. When it burst it struck the car. My three soldiers were killed. I was hurt only a little. I am not disfigured in any way. It just tore my side and legs a bit.
The French treated me wonderfully. I succeeded in getting the next American Ambulance driven by Wheeler (a great boy) who took me to the City of where our poste is. Here I was given first aid, and the Medecin chef personally conducted me in an American Ambulance, in the middle of the night, to a very good hospital. They say I have the best doctor in France--- in Paris.
Well, I woke up the next day in a bed, and have been recuperating ever since. Every one is wonderful to me. General Pétain, second to Joffre, has stopped in to shake hands with me, and many are my congratulations, too, for above my bed hangs the Médaille Militaire, the greatest honor the French can give any one. Really, I am proud, although I don't deserve it any more than the rest. Please excuse my egotism.
This letter identifies the rescuer of Barber as Walter H. Wheeler, of Yonkers, N. Y., who had been with Barber in Alsace before coming to Verdun. After he had turned Barber over to the medical men, Wheeler was sent back to get the wounded from Barber's car. But he found that the same shell that had wrecked the car and had injured Barber had killed the three wounded soldiers who were in the car.
For their courageous work through these dreadful nights the entire section received an army citation and as a body the Croix de Guerre. Wheeler and three of his companions received individual citations and each the Croix de Guerre. The Médaille Militaire which was awarded to Barber carried with it the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. The only other driver in the American Ambulance Field Service upon whom the Médaille Militaire had been bestowed, up to November, 1916, was Roswell S. Sanders, of Newburyport, Mass.
TWO YALE MEN AT VERDUN
Among the Americans who won distinction by their devotion to their difficult and dangerous duties as drivers of ambulances at Verdun were several Yale men, brief records of whom are available. Elmore McNeill Bostwick, of St. Louis, having completed his year's work at college by Christmas, 1915, sailed for France, and with a classmate, George K. Haupt, of Buffalo, became an ambulance driver in what was called the "Formation Harjes," to which was awarded the Croix de Guerre for its services at Verdun. Here is a paragraph from a letter from Bostwick, which appeared in the Yale Alumni Weekly, describing his sensations during an enemy attack from the air:
After breakfast, just before we started out, I was treated to my first air attack. Eight German aeroplanes came over the town and attempted to destroy the military headquarters. As we were right next door to them, it was rather disturbing. An air attack is the most nerve racking thing in the world. You see these little things, looking for all the world like hornets, apparently exactly over your head. You hear a whistling sound, lie on the ground flat on your face and wait for the explosion which comes about three seconds after you first hear the bomb coming. I can tell you you do a lot of thinking in those three seconds, and each time you feel as though the bomb was going to hit you right in the small of the back. They dropped sixteen bombs that morning, but no one was hurt, though one dropped within fifty feet of where I was lying.
This reference to the "Formation Harjes" calls for a word of explanation. The first lot of ambulances which the American Red Cross sent abroad consisted of seventeen Ford cars, the cost of which was met by contributions from students at Yale and Harvard, twelve being the gift of Yale and five of Harvard. Writing in the spring of 1916 of the work which these cars had accomplished, Mr. H. Herman Harjes, president of the American Relief Clearing House in Paris and the official representative for France of the American Red Cross, said:
The original American Red Cross ambulance unit is doing very good and satisfactory work in every respect. It has transported up to date about 16,000 wounded. All the men are very devoted and full of energy, and the service they are rendering is much appreciated.
The French authorities having expressed a desire that the general control of all the American ambulances and drivers be placed in the hands of the American Red Cross, the arrangement was made, the cars remaining, of course, under the immediate direction of the French army officers for service at the front. Mr. Harjes, in the same letter to the American Red Cross, explained the transfer under this arrangement, of Mr. Norton's Motor Ambulance Corps, as follows:
A unit known as the "American Volunteer Motor Ambulance Corps," having Mr. Richard Norton at its head, has now come under the American Red Cross. His section was, up to quite recently, under the British Red Cross, and has been doing excellent work.... All the volunteer American work in the field has been really splendidly done and is extremely appreciated by everybody.
The following paragraph from a letter from . P. Clyde, Jr., of the Yale class of 1901, which also appeared in the Yale Alumni Weekly, gives a glimpse of the spirit which these American volunteers brought to their arduous and often perilous work:
Under these conditions your eyes smart and your throat becomes dry from dust, the fumes and the strain. The air at night on roads near the front is heavy with the smell of burnt powder and also that other odor with which all Verdun reeks---of the dead hastily buried, or left as they died, or burned beneath the fallen walls and ruins. We carried wounded, we carried those gone mad from shell-shock, we carried the dying, even the dead. Among the thousands of wounded in our cars were some Germans, and they received from us and in the French dressing stations and field hospitals the same care as the others. For the Allies do not hate the poor, half-starved, bullied, and driven German Yokels who now compose the bulk of the German soldiery. Even we whose work is a work of mercy have come to have the greatest hatred for the Heads of the Huns and all that Hundom stands for; besides helping the grounded it is a great satisfaction to every member of our corps to feel that, as perfectly good Americans, we are doing more than just "watching and waiting" by helping the Allies defeat for all time the attempt of the Hun to enslave the world.
HENRY SUCKLEY KILLED BY A BOMB
By some odd decree of chance an unusual number of Harvard men found themselves in the Vosges section of the American Ambulance Field Service; and as one form of diversion it amused these young men to call themselves the Harvard Club of Alsace Reconquise. The club came into being on the night before the Harvard-Yale football game in November, 1915, and its official life seems to have ended when the health of the Harvard team was drunk after the result of the game was known.
First and last there were twenty-five Harvard men in the membership list of this "club." One of them was Henry M. Suckley, of the class of 1910. Hailing from Rhinebeck, N. Y., Suckley had joined the American Ambulance Field Service in February, 1915, and by good work had become an assistant to his classmate, Lovering Hill, when in July, 1915, Hill succeeded Richard Lawrence as the commander of Section 3. By his coolness and courage in carrying the wounded over the shell-swept roads in the Vosges he had won his Croix de Guerre, and he was destined to receive, on the eve of his death, even greater honors.
In the autumn of 1916 he returned to the United States for the purpose of recruiting a new ambulance section. He succeeded in securing from his friends in the New York Stock Exchange sufficient funds to purchase and equip twenty motor-ambulances, and with these he returned to France. Meanwhile his old chief, Lovering Hill, had been sent at the head of Section 3 to Saloniki to serve with the French Army in the Orient, the section containing eleven Harvard men, three men from Yale and Princeton respectively, and one each from the universities of Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The work of this section around Saloniki gave such satisfaction that General Sarrail asked for another; and the cars which Suckley had procured and which were unofficially known as the New York Stock Exchange Unit were formed into Section 10, and under his leadership were sent to Saloniki.
In the following March  Suckley was killed at a camp near Saloniki by the explosion of a bomb dropped by a German aviator. Two others were killed and several were wounded by the same bomb. Describing the occurrences following the explosion, which took place on the 18th, Gordon Ware, a college mate of Suckley's, wrote in part as follows, his letter intended for private reading only, appearing in the Harvard Alumni Bulletin of May 24, 1917:
W. cranked up his car and took Henry, smiling and smoking, to K. "If I'm going to pass out, I'll have a cigarette first," he said, the calmest of the lot. The lieutenant's chauffeur, who is the butt of every one, proved himself a real hero and refused aid and transportation until Henry had been attended to. At K. everything possible was done for him, but only his strong constitution enabled him to last the night, an artery having been severed. He suffered little and was always conscious, not realizing until the end that he was going. Bright and cheerful, even the doctor broke down when he went. It gives an idea of the man's charm that he could so grip strangers, and it is difficult to measure our regard for him after three months' close association. As a section-leader he worked like a dog, and asked nothing of anyone which he would not do himself. The hardest thing is that he must go before the section can make or break itself. The Legion of Honor was wired him.
Suckley was buried with all military honors. Shortly after, oddly enough, the same German airship which had dropped the bomb that killed Suckley was forced by fire or by engine trouble to descend on the same French camp that had been bombarded, the two Germans surrendering. The air-ship was capsized in landing and burned. Of the two occupants, Mr. Ware wrote:
The men were white and frightened, uncertain as to their reception. As their French was not good they could hardly have been re-assured by a lieutenant's threat to shoot them emphasizing the point with drawn revolver---should their denial that there were bombs in the machine prove false. The officer was a good-looking young chap with a keen, American-like face. His non-com. was of the caricatured Prussian type, bull-necked, bullet-headed and brutal in appearance. The officer had three decorations, including the inevitable Iron Cross. " Le moteur est ---est---en panne," he said hesitatingly, and claimed that it had been going badly all the morning and at length, catching fire, had forced his descent, accidentally unsuccessful. I think he deliberately capsized it so as to destroy it.
A PRINCETON MAN'S EXPERIENCES
When the war broke out Clarence V. S. Mitchell, of New York, was in the Harvard Law School, having been graduated from Princeton, in 1913, and from St. Paul's School, Concord, four years earlier. He sailed for England on the Olympic in September, 1914, to Join the American Ambulance service in France. From the letters that he sent to his parents, his father, Clarence Blair Mitchell, has compiled a small volume which he has had privately printed under the title, "With a Military Ambulance in France, 1914-15." A large part of the value of this intimate personal record lies in the freshness and spontaneity of these letters, informal in character ;and, of necessity, unstudied in form.
Young Mitchell was exceptionally equipped for his job, for he spoke French fluently and preserved his American sense of humor as a means of counterbalancing the tragic sadness of many of the scenes and incidents of his daily life. Finding on reaching London that he must be inoculated against typhoid, he notes:
I saw Dr. D after lunch and he put 500,000,000 more typhoid germs into me for the sum of one guinea, which is not very much per germ, but seems quite a bit for the labor involved.
While waiting for his ambulance Mitchell became an orderly in Dr. Blake's hospital at Neuilly. One of his adventures in a Paris subway-station is thus described:
I was sitting next to a woman with a small baby. All of a sudden she let out a yelp, threw the kid to me and ran to the other end of the platform, where she fell on the neck of a soldier. I did not know if I was to become an adopted father or not, but I could not drop the kid and sat there very much fussed, trying to amuse it. By evil luck a crowd of ouvrières came along and burst into shrieks of laughter. Their remarks were considerably more witty than polite ! By the time the mother came back I was the centre of an amused crowd. Now, if I see any babies around, I don't sit down !
By November Mitchell got his ambulance, a big six-cylindered Packard, and was assigned to a section of the Formation Harjes, with headquarters at the Château d'Ayencourt, near Montdidier, under the immediate leadership of Paul Rainey, the big-game hunter, who became his roommate. Four of the party were Princeton men, two of whom were doctors. Their principal work was the transportation of wounded soldiers from the railway-station to the military hospital of Val de Grace. Mitchell brought a serene philosophy to bear upon his job. "This ought to be a very healthy life," he notes; "no end of work, and no rum or late hours." He did not escape altogether, however. For early in 1915 he wrote that while he was convalescent from an attack of jaundice, a Mrs. H substituted jonquils for the roses which she found in his room, in order to make the color scheme in harmony with his complexion !
Not infrequently Mitchell was near the firing-line. Under a November (1914) date he wrote:
Thursday Night---I am writing this on a board laid on my steering wheel while I'm waiting outside the station for orders. I'm stuck here till 12 P. M. It's a damp, foggy night, but the sight of the few lights gives a rather Whistler-like touch, and the cannons are booming at short intervals. They worked us for fair this P. M. I made any number of trips to a farm behind the firing line and to Wassy and Dannescourt, two villages, and brought in 40 wounded. Our cars brought in over 200. Off on another trip now, so so-long.
Back again from a trip to the civil hospital with a couple of wounded. This P. M. on my last trip to Wassy when it was almost dark I passed a battalion of artillery. They were coming over a ridge with the full moon rising behind them, and it was a most gorgeous silhouette. I also saw the Germans shelling aeroplanes. You'd hear a boom and then see a puff of brown smoke burst way up high, but they hit nothing. I didn't get nearer than two miles from our line, but every little bit helps. Our machines are the envy and admiration of every French doctor who sees them. They carry 6 couchés, and the stretchers run in on pulleys, which is a new idea to these people.
There are 1,400 wounded in this station--- the result of having taken the village of Oncy and having it retaken by the Germans this morning. The French intend making another attack to-night, so to-morrow ought to be a busy day. An old fellow rode in beside me today who had been in Algiers four years and we had a great talk. He was shot lying down, the bullet going in above his shoulder and stopping just above his knee. He was also hit by a spent bullet on his Morocco medal, which pleased him no end,---and he was very gay. The station beggars description---stretchers everywhere and smells and groans rising in chorus. I've just been through giving them chocolate and cigarettes and doing any little thing could, like taking letters, etc. They seem very grateful, and I enjoy doing it no end.
It is safe to say that it was Mitchell's custom to bring something besides newspapers with him on his return from trips to Paris, if one may judge from his reception at the hospital on one occasion:
I have been a good deal in Ward 8, bringing the men papers, etc., and the evening I came back from Paris I went in to see them and was quite pleased to have them let out yells of delight. In fact they yelled so loud that the doctors and three nurses came running in to see if a lamp had upset, and I felt rather foolish, though it was nice to be welcomed back.
Perhaps the most effective page in Mitchell's letters is the one in which he gives a picture, full of color and ending on a dramatic climax, of a midnight mass which he and a few of his companions attended on Christmas Eve in 1914 in Montdidier:
We sat around in the smoking-room till 11.30 P. M., when I took Dr. B---, Miss L , Miss L---, T--- and myself into midnight mass at St. Pierre. I think it was the most impressive service I've ever attended, and only those who have seen the chapel at St. Paul's on "Last Night" can begin to picture it. The church is an old fourteenth century one, with fair vaulting and very massive columns and a good organ with an echo high up at the end of the centre aisle.
The place was jammed, and I stood with my aviator friends near the back. It must have been a picturesque sight from the altar. The chairs crowded with women and then the aviators, some in the new light-blue uniforms, others in bearskin coats; then two of us in gray-green alongside and the dark splash of the two nurses' cloaks standing out against the red of the soldiers' trousers as they stood behind us in a crowd ten deep the whole width of the church. The lights on the columns and vaulting were beautiful, and when the organ came in to accompany the priest's chanting it seemed almost as if someone were picking the notes out of the moss-grown cracks in the arched roof. War seemed a long way off, but when the bells rang midnight and everything was as silent as possible, you could hear sobbing all around; and as the last few strokes tolled, three "Err-roums !" from the 120s at La Boissière came as clear as could be, and you woke with a start.
Chapter XXII. Herbert Hoover and "Engineering Efficiency."
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