|Toute la vie est dans l'Essor
Car vivre, c'est prendre et donner avec liesse
Avide et haletant
Devant la vie intense et sa rouge sagesse!
---VERHAEREN (Les Formes Tumultueuses)
June 25. Word has just come that I had been made "Chef" and that Spone goes to Meaux. I hate to think of the utter loneliness before me. It is hard to lose the last of the Mohicans. First Woody, and now Spone! I'm left now practically the only one of the old Somme gang, excepting Ned Townsend.
The great honor of being appointed Commander of Section carries with it the equivalent of a First Lieutenancy in the French Army. I do hope I can hold down the job properly. It is a difficult one, as the men are so hard to keep disciplined when they are not getting much work. Little cliques form, and grouches develop, and a general spirit of unrest is apt to prevail. Just now we are fairly active and the morale is good; but of course, one never can tell how long this will continue.
I expect to go down to Paris on my "permission" about the first week in July, and hope to run across Harry Dillard and the rest of the doctors from Philadelphia, although I am not sure whether they have remained in Paris or have been shifted somewhere else.
In a way, I am sorry to be taken off my car, and the life of a Section Chief is rather lonely, as one cannot play around with the men as much as before., On the other hand, one has a staff car of one's own, and a private officer's room with an orderly, and all that, so that one's creature comforts are fine. It remains to be seen if our new Lieutenant has the push that made de Kersauson so successful; but I like him and I get along with him very well. I dined with the French officers quartered here last night --- mostly cavalry --- and I had a very good time. The previous night I dined with the Médecin Principal and his staff. I'm not awfully keen on that sort of thing, but that is one of the duties of an officer's job. They were all awfully polite and pleasant, however.
Two men arrived to-day. G. F. Norton(28) looks good; also Rice (Philip S.). He is no relation to W. G. Rice. . No doubt he'll turn out all right. He is a Pennsylvanian --- comes from Wilkes-Barre.(29)
1 June 26 Sponagle left to_day with Plow, who was recalled, owing to his escapade with Kenyon at Muizon. I was sorry about it, and told him so; but it could n't be helped, and Sponagle promised to see what he could do to prevent his being given a black mark.
When I got back from taking them to Épernay, who should have turned up but Andrew with a man named Osborn, whom he was taking to see his brother who had been seriously wounded in Section 28.(30)
Andrew announced that he wished to take W. G. Rice and Hibbard for Chefs of new Sections, so that we are losing four good men on one single day! Well, it is all in the game! They left on the noon train.
I put in a good word for Plow with Andrew, and I think that he will get out of the scrape.
Gamble tells me that the crowd is pleased with my appointment because they feel that I will be "perfectly fair with them." That's some consolation anyway.
June 28. I fired a man to-day. I hate this sort of thing, but it has to be done. I told him that we only want men up here who are both able and willing to work and that he seemed to be neither. "What have I done?" he asked. "It's what you have n't done," I replied: car never clean, breaking minor rules, shamming sickness when it is his turn to work, and so on.
Everybody says I was perfectly right. In my official letter I merely stated that he did not seem physically able to keep up the standard of work required by this Section, and that I thought something lighter than field service would suit him better. The boys all seem to approve the step.
June 30. Philip S. Rice received his baptism of fire all right the first night I sent him out. Gas attack and heavy shelling---quite complete! All the cars at the "poste" were kept rolling all night. He came through with flying colors. Stout got a shrapnel "éclat" through his windshield.
It is funny how stories get exaggerated. Some one must have remarked to a doctor about the car being hit. The doctor told some one else, and this afternoon we were called by the État-Major asking about the three cars they heard had been destroyed!
The Lieutenant and I took a hurried trip of inspection around the "postes" and found that it was all due to the one hole in Stout's car, and so reported to Headquarters. But the four-striped Médecin Principal had to make assurance doubly sure. So we had to take him around to all the "postes" again. Incidentally the Germans were shelling Sillery so hard that the General ordered the "poste" evacuated, and we found it only after hunting around, at the far end of the village, established in a wine cellar. The old "poste" at which we worked until last night was utterly destroyed and is now simply a mass of overturned ruins. The car-drivers were lucky to have escaped.
I have made Jim White,(31) Vic White's brother, Sous-Chef. The crowd seemed pleased. A new man, Tapley, arrived today. The Section is now complete.
July 2. This, certainly, is no soft job. I spend most of my time acting as a bumper between the Frenchmen in the Section and boys who insist on "kidding" them. A Frenchman does not understand the American method of teasing and jollying, and he gets raving mad, feeling insulted. And so I spend my time smoothing over alleged insults which were never meant. I have given strict orders to all the fellows now, that they "must n't tease the animals." But, of course, it is very hard for them not to "kid" some of the men we have with us who are certainly a childish lot. Among them are a few who, being extremely young and just graded, have the typical college graduate idea that they are about the most important personages in the universe. Of course the fellows just laugh at them. Well, I suppose that it is all in the day's work, but it is a decided nuisance for me.
July 5. We had a wonderful banquet yesterday. The corporation declared a two hundred and fifty francs dividend, and Pierre, the "fournier," and the chef outdid themselves. We even had ice-cream! The boys all acted nicely. The "poste" men were out of luck, but we sent up to them what we could. We had the American and Section flag up too. All agreed that it was the very best dinner the Section ever had. The Government allowed us the customary forty-eight hours' "permission," and we picked three men who would not be on duty for two days --- Patterson, Flynn, and Pearl. The latter is our Chief Mechanic and has been working his head off lately, and deserved a rest.
I've decided to take only four of my seven days' "permission," as there have been signs of increasing activity hereabouts recently.
July 7. I had most interesting talks in Paris with McFadden, Cartier, Galatti, Ewell, Plow, and Bosworth. Evidently there, is to be a big change in the American Ambulance Field Service. Ewell, Galatti, and McFadden axe practically running everything. Dodge, of Section 3, has been made co-inspector with Galatti. Then there is the Harjes-Norton complication!
I dined with Muhr and End. The latter is as sore as a crab over his treatment in Salonica. He is going home.
July 8. I saw Giles Francklyn,(32) who is driving a truck for the moment, waiting to get into the Army. They won't give him a berth, although he talks French as well as he does English. He has the Croix de Guerre, and is of military age. Really it is a shame. He is undecided as to whether to try the only avenue---aviation---through Dr. Gros. He wants to get into the artillery. He told me of Baylies' latest: --
It appears that the first time he was put on one of those trying-out machines at the School which run along the ground and have only cut wings to prevent them from flying, so that beginners can't be hurt, he managed to so handle the thing that, to the utter amazement of every one in the field, he made it jump some forty or fifty feet in the air; a performance that never had been attempted or seen before.
Then, when he found himself up there, he did n't know how to land. He set himself about twenty minutes to live, as the tank held but little gasoline. Meantime, every aviator and mechanic had rushed to the field to see the flying freak which no one knew could fly. Baylies was flying round and round, in the lap of the gods! They were as ever merciful to him. After some minutes of helpless flying, with true Baylies luck, he finally crashed into a nice soft tree, smashed the machine to pieces, and was not even scratched! The yarn is all over the Front already, and it only happened a couple of days ago!(33)
July 11. I returned to the Section, and found that Andrew had been here, but only stayed a little while and knew, or pretended to know, nothing about the American Ambulance Field Service's future.
En attendant, minor attacks are occurring and the boys have been fairly busy. Rumors of Austria entering into negotiations for a separate peace are rife. Also rumors of coming big attacks by the Allies on the Belgian seacoast and near the Swiss frontier. Meantime, the Boches have approached a little closer to Rheims. Some of the men have had fairly close calls.
July 13. Norton was killed at the Ludes Chalet, last night at ten o'clock. An aeroplane bomb dropped about twenty feet from the boys' sleeping quarters. They all were, in bed, excepting Norton, who, after putting out the light and lying down, heard the planes and got up to look out. An "éclat" caught him squarely in the throat, cutting the jugular vein and killing him without his ever knowing what hit him.(34)
Elliott had a very close call. Three or four "éclats " smashed through the wall right above where he lay. If he'd been even sitting up he must have been hit. Gamble and Oller were in the front room and Oller's bed was covered with broken glass, a piece coming through the wall only a couple of inches above him. He was unhurt, while Gamble got a cut on the shoulder. All the wires were down, and Gamble drove in to Louvois in his stocking feet to get me. His socks were soaked in Norton's blood. I got up and dressed, and we were at the "poste" in a very few minutes. The body of Norton had been taken to the hospital by Oller and Elliott. They had a hard time getting it out of the little chalet, as the place was a mess of broken glass, splinters, and blood.
The doctor and the other officers were most kind. We arranged for the funeral for nine o'clock the following night, as the cemetery is in view of the Boches and any gathering of people would be observed. I made all the arrangements for the coffin and for flowers, and 'phoned Rue Raynouard.
In a way, it was lucky that the boys had to work all last night. The wires being down it was hard work, too; but it took their minds off the casualty. Oller, a brand-new man, was pretty well rattled, but stuck to his job as well as did the others. I told them that Norton could not have asked for a better death. It was absolutely instantaneous, and in the course of duty.
Strater came in from the "poste" with a load, and was rather upset, as he had a dying man in his car and the road was being shelled. He had a miss in his engine and was too excited to locate it. I did it for him and sent him along without telling him about Norton. Later, when he came back, he found the chalet empty and blood all over everything. When the others got in, they found him wandering about with a rock in his hand, thinking that a murder had been committed!
Patterson, who took Norton's place at the "poste," and Gamble got into a wrangle, but as I appreciated that their nerves were on edge, I simply shut them up and let it go at that.
July 14. They worked all night hard and were about "all in" in the morning. Gamble, who had received a slight wound on the shoulder said nothing about it until yesterday, when I told him to get the anti-tetanus injection. All the men acted finely. Gamble had his "brancardier" quit him on the road to Sillery. A shell burst right beside the car and cut the roof over their heads, and the "brancardier" insisted on getting out and crawling into a dug-out. Gamble eased on through the shells, got his wounded, and came back. Pretty good for a man who has just been wounded, is it not?
Oller came and thanked me to-day for sending him to the Front "poste." He
said it was the best thing that could have happened to him.
A letter written by the author under the spell of these events shows what he thought of his men: --
Dear X: We have had a hectic time lately, but the boys stood up to the work finely. Three others were in the "poste" waiting to go out when called, when the bomb exploded which killed Norton. They all had marvelous escapes, and one, Gamble, was slightly wounded, but said nothing about it and continued to roll for forty-eight hours thereafter. Of course, I went down to the "poste" and did my best to steady them up throughout the night, for which they all thanked me afterwards. Two of them were new and I had to make minor repairs for them, as for a time they did not seem to be able to think very consecutively when their motors balked. But they were splendid. Andrew came up to the funeral, and all the officers near by were on hand.
The work has eased up a bit now, and I have spent most of the day writing letters of thanks in "near French" for flowers and other expressions of kindness. I think that the making of the arrangements for the funeral was even more tiring than the real work, because 't is something of a strain to talk to the high officials and to try to speak really correct, dignified French!
Norton was buried on the hillside above Rheims, with the shells bursting and plane guns going, trench lights rising, flares, colored signals, and the rattle of the mitrailleuses, and the tracing shells streaking the heavens. It seemed as though the Boches were joining in doing him honor.
The men are all pretty tired, but they are still on the job. To-day, our Section Frenchmen are giving us a return spread for the one we gave them on the Fourth, this being the 14th. They went out of their way to get delicacies, such as crawfish, snails, etc., but I fear that most of the Americans will have difficulty in pretending to enjoy such a succulent menu. However, the champagne comes from Rheims!
Most of us have cut out all liquor except white and red wine; but on the 4th and the 14th of July, we make exception to a moderate extent.
The funeral went off without a hitch. All day the lieutenant and I went around seeing "stripers," and explaining what had happened, and finally, after more trouble we found a soldier Protestant minister.
He seemed a trifle overwhelmed at being called upon to officiate at such a function; but he carried it off very well. We saw the Chief, and he said that, of course, Norton would be cited, and he would let the citation go up as high as possible. Two civilians and a nurse sent flowers besides those of the officers, the doctors' and ours. Andrew brought up a bronze wreath. The coffin was draped with the tricolor and American flag with the Croix de Guerre on top. We buried him in the new graveyard, as the old one only had trenches for eight more bodies left, and the French were kind enough to allow him a separate grave. His was the first in the new location, and the priest spoke of this as a sort of dedication. So there he lies by himself for the present, on the hillside, among the vineyards, looking down on the Cathedral of Rheims to the left, and the Moronvilliers hill on the right --- where. the battle is raging. Norton had been with Peary on one of his polar expeditions. He had hunted big game in the north of Africa, and was one of the first men to learn to fly a plane, having taken lessons from the Wrights many years ago. He was forty years old, and that was what kept him out of the flying game now. He was a fine all-around man, and one of the best we ever had in the Section. --
July 15. To add to my troubles, Weld received a telegram yesterday announcing the death of his uncle. He was his nearest relative and he has to go back to settle his estate. He left on the noon train. That leaves us two short with four men " en permission"! However, every one is working hard and I expect some new men and one "permissionnaire" back to-day. I asked for Plow and Francklyn, but hardly hope to get them back.
I made the usual round by the " poste. Considerable shelling.
July 20. One of the French officers at the Château Romont, one of our " postes " where the État-Major is, had a lucky "'squeak" the other day. He had just laid out his kit, preparatory to rolling it up to go "en permission," and had walked out of his room to arrange some detail, when a big shell, a "'220," landed plump into the room and blew the whole side and roof off the château! No one was hurt; but the officer was as sore as he could be over the loss of his kit, and left on "permission" in the clothes he had on and nothing else, except a terrible grouch.
Two new men have arrived to replace Norton and Weld. Their names are Kreutzberg and O'Connell. Both seem to be willing, quiet, and sensible sort of chaps.
July 25. The "permissionnaires" returned, White, Hanna, and Dallin. They all report the same impossibility in Paris to get into the Army. White had an amusing experience with an old and deaf American officer recruiting for the engineers. After listening with difficulty to White's term of experience at the Front, his credentials, etc., he said: "Sign these papers. Then you may have a job in this office as a civilian clerk!" White says he just looked at him once, and walked out of the place.
He tells me that a friend of Norton in Paris received a letter on the day of his death, advising him to come out to Section 1, because the men were " all good fellows, especially the Chef "! Pretty nice of him, considering that really I had never had more than the most formal conversations with him.
July 22. The anti-tetanus knocked Gamble hard. He's all swollen up and has red splotches all over him. So I insisted upon his going to the hospital where he can be properly taken care of. He is too good a man to lose through just pretending he's not sick! His wound, too, is suppurating.
July 23. The work the Section did during the forty-eight hours when Norton was killed seems to have made an impression, as the old boy has, according to the "Loot," decided not only to cite Norton, but Gamble, Elliott, Flynn, and me. I hope that it proves true, as it has certainly been irritating to have so many cited, some of whom deserved it and others did n't, as we all know. It seems to be part luck and part pushing one's self forward, except, of course, when it is really deserved as in the case of Gamble, Elliott, and some others. Flynn should certainly have had one at Esnes (Hill 304), and the man with him did get it, which jarred old Jim. Anyway, the family will be happy.
|Dans son brasier, il a jeté
Les cris d'opiniâtreté,
La rage sourde et séculaire;
Dans son brasier d'or exalté,
Maître de soi il a jeté
Révoltes, deuils, violences, colères,
Pour leur donner la trempe et la clarté
Du fer et de l'éclair.
---E. VERHAEREN, Le Forgeron (Les Villages Illusoires)
July 24. Orders came to move out of the Fifth Army back to the Second Army. at Verdun. So we are off to Bar-le-Duc. Everything was packed up smoothly and we made Vitry-le-François to-night --- a good run. Strater broke a back spring, and Curtis burnt out a bearing; otherwise all made the grade. I got a good swim in the Marne; had a fine lunch at Châlons and a splendid dinner at Vitry.
July 25. Writing to a near relative at this time, the author said: --
You'll be glad, I know, to hear that I have been personally cited for the Croix de Guerre by the General of the 42d Cavalry Corps. I don't know just why they picked on me, but I suppose it was for straightening the tangle the night Norton was killed. Anyway, the order reads as follows: --
The Adjutant Commander Stevenson, W. Yorke:
Section sanitaire Américaine N°. 1. Engagé volontaire depuis Février 1916, Commandant adjoint de la Section Sanitaire Américaine N° 1, n'hésitant jamais à payer de sa personne, a largement contribué à l'organisation et à la direction des évacuations sous le feu de l'ennemi. Brave, devoué, et d'une modestie rare.
Quartier Général, le 30 Juillet, 1917
Some hot air! However,. I am awfully glad to get it just the same.
We have moved from the Rheims district, and are back again on our old stamping ground, Verdun. The figuring is that there is going to be a resumption of activity hereabouts; but, of course, rumors are so thick along the line that one never knows what is fact. I should not be surprised, however, if you heard from this Section again. We made the trip over here in fine shape --- just twenty-four hours and only two cars broken down, both of which rejoined before we reached our ultimate destination, which is the famous Saint-Mihiel salient.(35)
There seem to be quite a few American troops scattered along the line already. We ran across them several times on our way over here. We came along the Marne Valley by way of Châlons, Vitry-le-François, and, by luck, had good weather. By the way, an Army Corps citation bears the gold star
July 25. The absence of the Rochet Schneider camion " makes the White truck and all the ambulances carry a lot of extra weight, which certainly is hard on them. So I set a very easy pace. We got to Bar-le-Duc all right. We found there Sections 6, 9, 15, and a Harjes truck. Evidently we are going "en repos" awaiting the much-talked-of Verdun offensive. The place is thick with troops; but if the Boches continue to attack at Craonne, this offensive may have to be put off. I had to leave Gamble at Louvois in the hospital, as he has n't recovered from his wound.
We reached Èvres at noon to-day. Everybody all right, but terribly dusty and tired. Pretty poor "cantonnements," especially after Louvois, which was the best we ever had.
July 26. Gamble rejoined us to-day. He made a quick trip by way of Sainte-Ménéhould whore he lunched with Section 13, which he says is in poor shape, with a personnel much below the standard set by Sections 1, 2, and 3. He says that apparently we have a very high reputation among the newer Sections, and are much looked up to.
He likewise says that the night after we left Louvois, the Boches dropped over two thousand shells on the "poste" at Sillery and Espérance, and that the Section which relieved us quit cold, and refused to budge for six hours, so that the "postes" were jammed with wounded. Pretty rotten, that. And also hard luck for us, as had we been there that would have meant another citation for us in all probability. The boys never would have allowed such an opportunity to go by.
July 28. Flynn and Stockwell have agreed to sign up for another three months. I am awfully glad to have been able to persuade them to remain, as they are both A No. I men.
I had an interesting talk with an officer who is "cantonned" here, and is in the artillery. He remarked that he had heard from our "Loot" that I had been cited. I said something about not understanding why they were so generous with the Croix to Americans, when lots of Frenchmen had not got it who had actually been in the trenches. He replied that that had nothing to do with it. They were forced to go in; many of them very much against their will; whereas the Ambulance men, who had volunteered long before the United States had entered the war, were each and every one a small but vital factor in bringing America in. Every time a man volunteered, he carried with him the hopes and sympathies of all his relatives and friends; and as the Ambulance grew, so did the pro-Ally sentiment grow by leaps and bounds in the United States.(36)
That was a point of view of which I had not thought, but apparently it is held by a great many Frenchmen. He said that he had no doubt that this was the reason why Andrew, as head, had received the Legion of Honor. He added that he, for one, would give the Croix to every American who had come before the war had been declared and who had actually been under fire. Of course, some of the new Sections have never been up to the lines; nor has the Paris Section. Also we have had a small percentage of quitters; but, aside from these, he thinks that all should have it, varying the degree according to special cases.
He thinks that the men killed or wounded should get the palm; the Chiefs, the gold star; and the privates, silver or bronze stars, according to circumstances.
July 29. My landlady is a pessimist. Her front windows open right on the road to Verdun and she says she has n't a chance to leave the front room because passing "poilus" "swipe" everything. She says that she is only too glad when they go by in "camions," despite the dust which is so thick that she cant recognize her own furniture, simply because they can't reach in and get away with her pans, clothes, and other belongings. She declared that they don't seem to care whether the clothes they take are women's clothes or not.
Although of a stern exterior and surrounded with a deep haze of gloom, she really is kind-hearted enough underneath, and takes good care of me in her morose sort of way. She had never seen, a typewriter before, and when, after several days of hearing the tictac, her curiosity overcame her aloofness and pride, she actually poked her head in to see what it was; she was hypnotized watching the printed lines forming. She was particularly interested in the manifolding process.
Dick Plow came back to-day and every one was delighted. His return and a little persuasion on my part enabled me to sign up Flynn, Townsend, Stockwell, Elliott, and Hanna for another three months. Funny how a little thing like that sometimes makes a lot of difference. The Section would have been shot to pieces next month if all those men had quit.
August 1. Orders came to move to Haudainville near Verdun. I went over to look at the Sector and found it "a bird"! Mostly in reconquered territory. The "poste" is beyond even Fleury, right up to Douaumont, at Haudromont. Three cars stay at the old Caserne Marceau "poste," and go from there forward to Forts Vaux, Damloup, and Souville. Fleury is merely a spot on the map. The town is obliterated. Two other cars are stationed at Verdun and run to Tavanne and beyond Bras, toward Douaumont, Haudromont, and Louvaumont. In fact, Section 1 is doing what it took two Sections to do before. And what pleases us most is that Section 4 takes our evacuations back to Vadelaincourt, a fact which naturally they do not enjoy. We dump our wounded at Verdun.
There is much talk of an attack here, and "permissions" have been canceled throughout the Second Army. We are attached to the 69th Division. I met all the high chieftains and they certainly were most friendly and polite, although Reymond had a funny argument with the Médecin Chef at Vaux, who insisted upon our carrying corpses of men killed right around the "poste." We demurred, saying that it was the job of the mortuary wagons. Finally we compromised, the Lieutenant agreeing that if the corpses were still warm (!) we should carry them; but not any that had been dead a length of time. Rather gruesome, that, is it not?
We relieved the 109th French Ambulance Section whose cars were not equal to the bad roads, being too low-hung and in bad repair. They had two blown to pieces a couple of days ago, and the medical department decided they'd have to get a new Section. They expressed themselves as much pleased to have us. The quarters at Haudainville are bad, and full of rats, and the boys are grumbling. They have been spoiled by the Louvois and Muizon château quarters, although those at Haudainville are a lot better than those we had last year when we were at Dugny.
August 2. The boys did splendidly last night, despite not knowing the roads. I was only able to take a couple over them the previous day; but the "poste" officers were all much pleased, as they had every "poste" cleared before morning.
I had trouble with C---- over food. He chose to sleep late at the "poste" and to miss his coffee, expecting to get it when he came back to Haudainville. Of course, there was nothing doing, and now he has a grouch. All the others had sense enough to get theirs; and they say that the "poste" food is all right. Of course, it is plain "poilu" food, but C--- complained of that too. If he does n't like it he need not stay.
This afternoon, the General dropped in unexpectedly and inspected us. Luckily we were in good shape, and he was satisfied.
August 3. Another active night. A shell fell in front of Rice, Flynn, and Holt as they were on their way to Haudromont. Two cars were ditched and four horses killed, but no men were hurt. Rice couldn't get out and I had to go up later with Hanna and a tow-rope. To-morrow Verdun will be closed, and we will evacuate to Brivaux, right next to Verdun. I suppose that they expect the Boches to "crown" Verdun when the push starts.
August 4. Changed hospitals and, after some trouble, I arranged that our cars should do only front-line work, a French Section taking the evacuation. Section 5 now evacuates to Glorieux; so we no longer are "cantonned" together at the "poste." Galatti stopped in and inspected us, expressing himself as well satisfied.
August 5. A lucky day! All spare parts, including new motor recently ordered, arrived this morning. This afternoon the Lieutenant handed me the citation from the Second Cavalry Corps of the Fifth Army, the text of which is given under date July 25.
Gamble and Elliott were also cited for their work on the night when Norton was killed. The work is too heavy just now for us to celebrate; but we will do so later with a big dinner.
We are up to our ears in work now, and several of the men have had close calls. We are working in reconquered territory, and it is most interesting, but ghastly, as the bits of bodies lie unburied for days. The men are working finely and I never had a better crowd. Rain, of course, all the time, and the most frightful roads. In fact, no roads at all in spots. As for Douaumont, it is a sight! Patterson returned from his "permission" and found an order for him to go back to Paris to report to the American Army Commission for examination. As he had been two days on the road trying to find the Section and sleeping on chairs, tables, and any old thing, he was anything but pleased. However, he had to go back.
August 6. Busy night. There was heavy traffic and fog, and the combination made it very hard on the men. We had no accidents, however.
August 8. Our chief troubles are broken springs. Working out around Douaumont, the roads are frightful. Dead horses lie around for days and also bits of human beings --- for when a shell lands near some one the pieces are never all gathered. The only signs of life one sees are the flies, rats, and ravens. Passing along that road the other day to get one of our men out of a ditch, I saw a boot lying on the way. I picked it up to throw it out of the road and found a rotten leg still in it!
August 9. The Germans shelled the Caserne Marceau next to the hospital just at dinner-time. Everybody fell flat on his stomach or dived under cars or into "abris." Quite a funny sight. The shelling kept up for about twenty minutes --- big fellows. They killed a lot of officers' horses, and knocked some bodies out of their graves in the cemetery, but only a couple of men were slightly wounded.
Bullard, of Norton-Harjes --- brandnew, --- turned up. He is going to work with us from to-morrow. He says his men are all raw. They have never been under fire. He himself used to be in Section 5. I told him that we would do all we could for him, show them the "postes" and help them out.
The following is a letter received from Major A. Piatt Andrew at this time: --
Dear Yorke: --
I congratulate you sincerely on your very fine citation. Please express to Mr. Gamble and Mr. Elliott our gratification also in regard to their Croix de Guerre. Steve(37) brought back a glowing account of Section No. 1, of. its condition and of its prospect. The Section never has done better than it is doing under your leadership and that is saying a great deal.
Such a letter is most encouraging. But certainly the men are a splendid bunch of lads, and their work is wonderful. We are in the midst of the heaviest work the Section ever had, not even excluding the battle for Fleury, last year at this time.
I am told we must hold out for about another week, which will make almost a record for a single Section doing frontline work for all the "postes" of the Army Corps. Our own Division has been "en repos" a week already; but we asked as a favor to be allowed to remain and do the work of the new attacking Divisions. The men and the cars are sights --- plastered with mud from top to bottom. No fenders or side boxes left; nearly every car full of holes from "éclats" of shells, and two of them with their entire sides blown out. We use these for the gassed men as much as possible, as they need all the air they can get. Two of my men have been gassed, themselves, but were given rapid treatment and are all right. Another, Oller, is in the hospital with appendicitis; and still another has had a nervous breakdown, and I use him only in the daytime, on rare occasions, and only at easy "postes." The rest are rolling.
August 12. After moving from Haudainville to the hospital at Caserne Bevaux on the 9th, we had to move out again to a plateau, just beside it, where we pitched our tents. The reason being that a little martinet of a doctor in charge of the hospital, was "en permission " when we moved up here, and of course was not consulted. When he got back, in order to show off his authority, he put us outside. The five-" striper'; Chef came up to-day and told him plainly that it was "one of the biggest mistakes he had made yet!"
The Harjes-Norton Section has come up here, too, and is to work with us.
Gamble knocked his shoulder out of joint this morning, cranking his car. So I'll let him go down to Paris, as he is no more use to us, now. He has a chance for a captaincy in the United States Army, and he might as well put in his time, until his shoulder heals, in arranging his own affairs. I am terribly sorry to lose him.
Farnham ran over a drunken "poilu" last night, and broke his leg. He is much upset about it, although it was n't his fault.
August 13. Last night was a big night. Most of the Squad was running. A munition dépôt blew up right close to our "cantonnement" and kept popping for hours thereafter.
Meantime, I had to go out with Pearl and Day to supervise putting in a back axle in C.'s car at La Source, one of the Front "postes." C., of course, drives like a fool, so that his car is out of business much of the time. When I got back I found that one of the men had gone to pieces. Several shells dropped near him along the road to Haudromont, and when he came back and found the munition dépôt going, he collapsed. The Lieutenant had given him some brandy and had put him in my bed.
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