Frederick A. Pottle
Interlude---Coussey, Sionne and Domrémy.
DIARY A.) " Tuesday, August 20, 1918. Rode all day through large and small towns. Beautiful scenery. Dinner of jam, peaches, corned beef. Passed Mussey, Naucois-Tronville, Ligney, Menorcourt, Houdaircourt, Grand Ainville, Neuf Cheateau.(27) Went further to Coussey, where we unloaded cars and pitched tents. Moon shone in my tent while the bunch sang to the banjo and mandolin, and recitations were given, and midst all this I fell asleep at 10 P.M."
"Evacuation Hospital No. 8. American E. F.
Somewhere in France, August 22, 1918.
". . . Evacuation 8 left the Collège Monday. We packed up our whole shop-tents, surgical supplies, rations, surgeons, nurses, and men, and moved. A small detachment was left behind to care for the patients until a new organization arrives to relieve them. The old Collège, I understand, will now be a base hospital.
"This time we travelled much more comfortably. There were no plank seats in the box cars, and we took along our straw mattresses to spread on the floor. There were only fourteen of us in a car. It was really a most pleasant trip. By a strange coincidence, we have returned to the same region, and almost the identical spot which we left when we were sent so hurriedly to the Collège. We detrained at another little village [Coussey, Vosges], much the size of that we stopped at early in June. The nurses went back to a base hospital in a large town near here [Neufchâteau], but we camped out in our pup tents. It was the most delightful experience since our enlistment. The town was on one of the famous rivers of France [the Meuse], which here is about the size of the saw-mill brook at home. There was a beautiful swimming hole in it, in a meadow, where the water ran close in under a rush-lined bank, dark green, deliciously cold, and deep enough for a plunge. We had a lot of hard work unpacking our supplies from the train yesterday in the blazing sun, the hottest we have seen so far in France. I shall never forget the pleasure, after the sunburn and the dust, of a plunge in that blessed stream.
"We pitched our little tents in the stubble of a wheatfield, near an orchard of large plum trees, and set up our field kitchens on the bank by the roadside. The officers pitched their tents under the plum trees. The moon is at full now. As I lay in my tent in the cool evening, this is what I saw: on the right, a great mysterious, flat-topped hill, covered with evergreen trees. On the left, another hill, crowned by a grand château with round towers whittled off into extinguisher peaks. Nearer, another hillside with a tall slender church spire overlooking the meadow below, where the lazy little river wanders in the mist. That church [La Basilique du Bois Chenu]---it is more a monument---stands on one of the most sacred and romantic spots in France.(28) And straight down the broad white road, lined with poplars and sycamores, lies a little village [Domrémy] which I had rather have seen than any spot in France outside of Paris.
"As I lay there, and looked at the splendid slender spire, clear and solemn in the moonlight, and thought of the things for which it stands, the glamor of the moonlight and the splendor of the vision I had evoked blended and mingled with the thoughts of home and peace and love that always come to us at times like this when we have a moment to think. That night they were calm and sweet, purged of all selfishness. Such moments come but seldom, but when they do they touch one more profoundly than a sermon. Indeed, this is a spot of visions.
Fig. 4. WOUNDED MARINES ON THE LAWN AT JUILLY
"Then the moon got higher, and I could see the sweet lady's face in it as plain as the profile on a coin. Down the company street a candle flickered where our 'orchestra'---a violin, guitar, and mandolin-almost wrung the hearts out of us with the sweet familiar rag tunes they were playing and singing. The music stopped, and Bill Smith's plaintive voice rose in one of his recitations, infinitely more moving because we know every word of it. Then tattoo and call to quarters, and at last (imagine the mist rising now, and us snuggling down under the blankets), clear, and sweet, and thrilling, sad with its notes of night and sleep and death, but clear in its assurance of the dawn to come---taps."
Fig. 5. OUR ORCHESTRA IN THE WHEAT FIELD AT COUSSEY, VOSGES, AUG.20, 1918
A snapshot of that happy encampment shows the "orchestra": Parlin, Idler, and Small. Behind, easily recognizable by pose and stature, stands our favorite and always dependable entertainer, Bill Smith. Probably no other man in the company was so well known or so well liked. He was (and is) a short, small-statured Irishman from Albany, New York, his humorous face deeply scored with marks which only add to its amiability. Bill had on tap three pieces: "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" (the favorite), "Whisperin' Bill," and "The Face on the Barroom Floor," besides a few others more amusing but less edifying. No man was ever more of an artist in the difficult feat of enthralling with his voice an audience of simple men. His voice would not, abstractly considered, be called remarkable, but its husky, crooning, plaintive notes contained exactly that quality which appeals to the frank sentimentality of the average man. His greatest virtue was always to oblige. Ill or tired, early or late, when there came a halt in the march or a lull in the work, the shout would always go up, "Where's Bill Smith?" And Bill, without a word of excuse or protest, would come forward, grinning apologetically, and start the familiar words of one of his classics, while his audience, like children listening to an oft-told tale, silently repeated the words with him:
In a buckskin shirt, that was glazed with dirt,
He sat, boys, and I saw him sway,
Then he touched the keys with his taloned hands,
And, my God! but that man could play.
Were any of you ever out in the great alone
When the nights were awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in
With a silence you 'most could hear?
Or "Whisperin' Bill":
So you're takin' the census, mister?
Well, there's three of us livin' still;
Me and my wife, and our only son,
That folks call "Whisperin' Bill";
But Bill couldn't tell you his name, sir,
And I think it's hardly worth givin';
For you see a bullet killed his mind,
And left his body livin'.
Oh, wise Bill Smith! What people in general want for entertainment is not the subtle, nor the learned, nor the sophisticated; it is sentiment and heavy-handed pathos, with much mention of the simple virtues. Salve, amice!
(Diary B.) "August 21. At Coussey, after sleeping in Pup Tents over night. Unpacked and moved stuff all day in a very hot sun that almost finished some of the boys. Moved bed sack, etc, to a nearby village [Sionne, whither the office staff preceded the rest of the company]. . . . I came back and after mess went with Adams, Holmes, Kratzer, Xydias, and Graham to Domrémy where Jeanne d'Arc was born, and to the church where she had her vision. It was a big hike, but a beautiful moonlight night and the trip fine."
(Diary A.) "August 22. Swam in Meuse River. Visited Domrémy, the birthplace of Joan of Arc. Also church dedicated to her and one she attended. Most beautiful windows in church. Pictures inside depicting angles giving Joan sword and armor in her vision. As she conquers town. In battle receives crown, and one where she is burned to stake. By Lionel Royal [Royer]. Had dinner at 7 P.M. at hotel where English tourists used to stop. Saw French movies, and then to camp, about 6 kilometres, 11 P.M."
(Diary B.) "August 22. Après déjeuner went swimming with Hines, Jimmie, 'Kitty,' and Graham and then up to the church again, and then to Domrémy, where we ate a five egg omelet, and had custard pie. Fine trip all told but was very tired after. Also got some lemon soda there that was fine, and real American taste. After getting up at 4.30 and cleaning up, we started for another town [Sionne], where we are now, and expecting to get away tomorrow à le fronte."
(Diary A.) "Friday, August 23. Marched to Sionne for rest at 8 A.M., where we had assembly blown every few minutes. A mighty hot hike with pack. Quartered in little barn with Weisman, Weisenberger and four others. Slept in shade in afternoon, looking up a mountain where a statue stood looking over the village. Ate eggs, milk and potatoes for supper in a French hut of two rooms. Boys sang at night while I enjoyed a cigar and read until 8.45 P.M., then bed. Blue."
(Letter of August 22 continued.) "As I write this, I am sitting in the loft of an old French barn, which for the time being is our billet. As I raise my eyes, I look through two big open windows in the plaster wall, across two tilted old red-tiled roofs, which on the further side end against a side hill; up the hillside, covered with ancient fruit trees, to a wind-swept and battered statue of the Virgin on the summit. . . . "
(The portion of the letter which follows contains a simple cipher by which the folks at home were kept informed of the writer's whereabouts. Read the first letter of the last word in each fourth line. "FN" indicates the end of the message.)
You would think by the past
tense I employed in the other
letter that we stayed a long time.
But today is only Friday, "an' we've done
moved again." Only about four
kilometres, to be sure, but around a
hill so that my beautiful spire
is no longer in sight, though the old
château with its round peaked
towers is nearer than ever. We
are quartered, as I said before, in
a barn---a hay-loft. It is made,
like all French barns, of a kind
of crumbly concrete-stucco, with
wooden beams and rafters,
and a roof of red tiles. One roof
covers both house and barn.
In fact they are the same building.
A narrow sidewalk and gutter
of cobbles line the street on each
side, hens scratch in manure
piles heaped along the gutter,
water drains in open stone channels
from the houses into the main
street; a flock of ducks quacks
solemnly up the thoroughfare,
and enormous cows lurch ponderously
up the street to drink with you
from the trough by the public
washhouse. I have just discovered
---not altogether by sense of sight---
that at least one pig is billeted not far
from here; in fact just underneath.(29)
Again and again! The bugle
just called us out, and we are
told that we may expect to move now
(Diary C.) "Hired old hay wagon and went to Domrémy, birthplace of Jeanne d'Arc. Went through the house in which she was born, and also church which was erected to her memory on the spot where she had her visions. What a beautiful church. Never saw any thing like it! Wheel came off wagon, throwing us all out. Had a fine supper in Domrémy. Leave tomorrow."
How can I hope to put into words even a part of it? How we woke in the night in the wheat field to see the great round moon flooding with tender radiance the actual slopes which the feet of the child of Domrémy, France's warrior saint, pressed, as she wandered rapt in her visions of crowned angels calling her to save her country? How we toiled in the blistering sun, hot and dusty, and stood outside the one little café in Coussey waiting for it to open at five o'clock, and how we drank beer there? How we swam in the Meuse? How we stole the chaplain's cookies? How we wandered reverently through the luminous halls of the great basilica and stared in wonder at the paintings, or even more reverently paused in the dingy old house and church at Domrémy? How we ate wonderful repasts in low, dark, one-room French cottages, where everything was cooked in long-legged dishes over the coals of the great fireplace? There are memories connected with Sionne which are better forgotten. But how sad if other memories grow dim! Did all the members of the company lie all afternoon under the trees on the hilltop above the town, talking theology with a Baptist, a Congregationalist, a Presbyterian, and a Mormon? No, but while I did they were doing something equally memorable. And as we all gazed out on the west until it clothed itself in the regal panoply of the sunset, perhaps the mantling clouds suddenly turned themselves into the sweeping battalions of an armored host, following the Maid:
Along these very hills once strayed
The warrior-saint, Domrémy's Maid:
Five centuries since her glorious deed,
Far-called by France's bitter need,
We see where, in the sunset sky,
Her pennoned hosts sweep flaming by:
The battle-cry swells clear---oh, hark!
"Jehanne d'Arc! Jehanne d'Arc! "
On Monday, August 26, we hiked back to Coussey, and reloaded all our equipment aboard a fleet of French Fiat trucks---108 of them, to be precise. A few men went with each load, those who were left over jammed themselves into the few empty trucks left at the tail of the line, and the procession, stretching out over miles of road like a colossal disjointed snake, was entirely in motion. The roads were very dusty, and the exhaust from the motors, all of which seemed to find its way into the interior of the trucks, was nauseating and literally poisonous. We sat in two rows against the sides of the truck, facing each other, like passengers in an old--fashioned street car. The top was covered with canvas, like a prairie schooner, so that only the two men in the rear could see much, and they were soon so ill from the fumes of the exhaust that they cared little for sightseeing. We drove directly toward Verdun, through Neufchâteau and Bar-le-Duc. At Souilly we turned off to the east, and, after passing through several small villages, stopped at an encampment of a few wooden barracks in the midst of an uninhabited wilderness. It was quite dark when the last truck pulled in. All the trucks had to be unloaded then and there. It was midnight before the men, hungry and tired, were stumbling away in the dark to hunt up some corner in the piles of supplies into which they could crawl and sleep cold until dawn. We were at Petit Maujouy, Meuse, midway between the hamlets of Ancemont and Senoncourt, and some six miles southeast of Verdun.
Petit Maujouy.(30) St. Mihiel and the Argonne.
WHILE we were at Juilly, we used to spend a good deal of time repining that we were not nearer the front. This was partly because we thought that if we were nearer the front we should find life more exciting, but mainly it was for a less selfish reason. The daily sight of the sacrifice the wounded men had made, the sacrifice of suffering and mutilation, made one feel that to be well clothed and well fed, to sleep warm and dry, to have time for carefree rambles across the countryside, was unworthy and even shameful.
Fig. 6. EVACUATION EIGHT AT PETIT MAUJOUY, MEUSE, SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER, 1918 (The three long structures along the road at the right are the receiving hut, the X-ray and preparation hut, and the shock ward. The operating hut is at the extreme right, behind the shock ward. The upper arm of the large cross which informed aviators that we were a hospital may be seen against the line of the forest, back of the X-ray and preparation hut. Most of the wards were farther to the right, and do not appear in this picture.)
It was our lot never to be stationed in a place of excessive physical danger. But no location into which an evacuation hospital might conceivably have gone could better have fulfilled our desires than Petit Maujouy. As, on that morning of August 27, some representative member of the company brushed off the heavy dew which had fallen on him during the night, crawled out, stiff and half frozen, from the crevice in the pile of stores where he had tried to fit his tired body until daylight, and took his first look at the place in which he was to spend the next three months and a half, he saw something quite different from the smiling fields of Seine-et-Marne. . . . Before him, a broad white road divides the landscape like a ribbon. Beyond the road, a meadow slopes gently down to a little stream, and then the fields rise, rocky and shallow-soiled, covered with rank growth of grass and weeds, ending against the sky in wooded slopes. Behind him, on this side of the road, and near at hand, a dense and unbroken forest (the forest of Souilly) stretches up to the sky line. In the narrow sloping space between the forest and the road are a few rough wooden shacks covered with tarred paper. Behind them, a great square cross, forty feet from tip to tip, has been laid out on the ground with broken white stone and coal-ash cinders. Tents have been hastily pitched here and there to shelter some of the equipment. Up the road a few hundred yards rise the buildings of some sort of encampment; the great cemetery behind it proclaims it to be a hospital, evidently French. Everything else bespeaks desolation and desertion. Yet the country is not completely deserted. Over there on the western horizon hang several great observation balloons, marking the general direction of Verdun, which is only six miles away. Up the road two miles or so is Ancemont, a heap of rubble and still under shellfire. Down the road a shorter distance is the little hamlet of Senoncourt, which the shells have not reached, and which is inhabited. (Indeed, a few people manage to exist in Ancemont.) Still farther back is Souilly, the railhead, headquarters for the staff which is directing operations in the Argonne, and for various hospital organizations. Scattered off there to the west and north are Lemmes, Landrecourt, Lempire, Dugny---most of them mere names for barren acres of graves, the graves of the armies of men killed in the defense of Verdun.
The fields have been little cultivated since the dreadful day in 1914 when the Germans began hurling their shells into Verdun. The city, gaunt and ruined, has stood, and the Germans have not passed. But all her inhabitants and the greater part of the civilian population of the towns immediately behind have fled, leaving the fields to the tillage of Nature. Nature has in her way made up for the lack of their toil. The fields, which should be clothed with grain, are rioting with the delicate blooms of Queen Anne's lace, with chicory, and centaurea; down in the meadow scores of small pink leafless lilies, like large crocuses, are pushing their bells up through the matted grass; in the brilliant green tangle of the beech forest, still untouched by frost, are patches of brambles covered with sweet blackberries, and graceful unfamiliar shrubs display lavishly their load of small succulent bright red fruits, hung in a canopy of tender green leaves.
It is but natural that one, sending his thoughts back over the gap of eleven years, should remember the forest first of all. For we saw a great deal of the forest. When we arrived, there were no barracks nor tents for the men. For the time being, we were told, we should have to sleep in our pup tents. We carried our packs far up on the slope across the road and left them there while we returned and worked at the erection of the hospital. In the afternoon we pitched our own shelters, but hardly got them up when we were told that, as this area was constantly under the observation of enemy airplanes, we must take to the woods. Accordingly, we bivouacked under the trees farther up the slope---a delightfully sylvan encampment, with our kitchen in a little clearing. Then, orders to move again. We came down out of the woods and moved into pyramidal tents erected in the field near the meadow. That, too, proved a mistake. Again we moved, this time to the woods across the road above the hospital, and pitched our pup tents the third time. Here some of us remained rain and shine, mud and damp, for more than a month. In such a place there could be no nice lining up of tents in company front. In couples the men sought out places that suited them, and pitched their tents in any fashion they liked. We showed much ingenuity in making something like permanent and comfortable shelters out of the extremely scanty cloth of our pup tents. One that I remember intimately was pitched under an enormous beech, mossy and ivy-clad, the patriarch of the forest. Its occupants, a Baptist from Maine and a Mormon from Utah, built up a rough bed of saplings two feet or so from the ground, and used their pup tent as a roof. The opening was faced close up to the trunk of the great tree, which protected half the interior and left only room for a man to crawl in. Down at the foot of the slope, just inside the fringe of the forest, the field kitchens were pitched.
They had followed us in all our peregrinations, and were still to move once more into more permanent quarters down in the meadow.
Doctor Shipley has strikingly described the procedure of setting up an advanced surgical unit. "An Evacuation Hospital," he says, "is organized very much like a circus. It is divided into different departments and each of these must look out for itself. Officers and men are assigned to these divisions, and when the hospital moves to a new site all of them work separately to get ready. The mess officer, the cook, and the kitchen police set up the kitchen; the quartermaster and his men get their supplies under canvas and in order. Different sergeants in charge of groups get the tents up. Engineers set up their mobile electric light outfits and wire the different units, and then, if possible, pipe water to the operating hut. The X-ray officer and his assistants set up the X-ray and fix a dark room with blankets for curtains. The druggists get the drug tent ready; the shock officers arrange the shock wards; the receiving and preparation tents are set up; the operating room nurses and attendants are establishing an operating room, unpacking supplies, setting up tables, etc.; the laboratory is unpacked, and the dental surgeon gets his workshop ready. As soon as the ward tents are ready, other men begin to set up the cots, and as soon as these are ready the nurses begin to arrange them and to gather their ward supplies."
By September 1 our hospital was ready to receive patients, a feat of engineering for which we had some right to feel proud. It was our first experience of the kind. At Juilly we took over a hospital, which, though somewhat inadequate in number of beds, was already well organized and equipped. Here, with nothing except our own portable equipment and a few rough wooden shacks, we set up in four days a hospital much more convenient, rapid, and efficient than that at Juilly.
The first few days of our stay at Petit Maujouy were passed, fortunately, in perfect weather. It was cold of nights, and the air had the bracing tang of autumn. We toiled cheerfully and valiantly, breaking rock and making driveways, pitching tents, setting up cots and making beds, building the equipment for the preparation wards, X-ray room, and operating room. No wounded arrived. The front was very quiet, and had been so for months. Our principal excitement was furnished by German airplanes. Every day they came over in attempts, often successful, to bring down the "saucisses" (observation balloons) on our side of the line. It was a beautiful and thrilling sight, and one that could be seen at almost any hour of the day. Low down and unwieldy hung the vast bulk of the balloons; higher up, darting about like a little black bird, dashed the German plane, with shells from the antiaircraft guns bursting along its track, blossoming suddenly out like great soft puffs of down, and leaving a trail across the sky as they drifted and expanded like a line of small round clouds. In several diaries I find entries like the following, in which I have preserved the original spelling: "Sept. 2. Labor Day. Saw French baloon burst into flames from German aeroplane fire, and man drop until parashoot opened."
The unscheduled fighting on the Marne finished, the American command resumed its original plan for an American advance against St. Mihiel and into the Argonne. For some weeks it had been quietly concentrating men and supplies in that sector in preparation for a surprise assault. Everything this time had to move like a machine, nothing overlooked or unready when the drive opened. All the time we were erecting the hospital in preparation for wounded men, the great highway before us groaned with the steady stream of the men who were to be wounded, of men and materials of war, flowing steadily on toward the front. The activity was greatest at night. As one walked guard in the pitchy blackness, he could hear passing endlessly all night the guns, the trucks and motorcycles, the ghostly tramp of interminable columns of invisible men. Voices came out of the dark: "This is Evacuation Hospital 8. What outfit it that?" "---th Machine Gun Battalion. Hope we don't meet again!" In this concentrating of divisions we had frequent opportunities to meet old friends in combatant outfits. Our own national guard division, we would hear, was passing through, was lying in the woods over the brow of the hill back of the hospital. On some more or less precarious excuse we would slip away, scour the woods, come suddenly upon the hasty encampment strung out along the road, ask for such and such a regiment and such and such a company, pass along the column, until finally we would come upon our friend, under a bush, perhaps, sleeping the sleep of utter exhaustion after the twenty-mile hike of the night before. And as the dark settled down again, and with it came the rain, we would see him line up, wave a farewell, and march off in the downpour---perhaps forever.
We got the hospital up too soon. Time hung heavy on our hands. Orders came to camouflage, for fear that some German aviator would spy our encampment and guess that a drive was scheduled. Accordingly, we spent a day or two in ridiculous activity, hacking down saplings with our hatchets and erecting them as camouflage. Nothing short of a solid forest of hundred-foot trees could have concealed our huge light-colored tents from an aviator who came over in the daytime. But we solemnly set up our pathetic little saplings, one at each corner and a few along the sides of the tents and barracks, and called them hidden. That work ran out. Many of us found opportunities to slip away to Verdun. The exploration of that great ruined untenanted city was like the experience of a vast and vivid dream come to life. I shall later find occasion to insert an account of such a tour. Something else had to be thought of to keep us at work. The weather meanwhile had changed. To the beautiful clear sunshine of the first few days at Petit Maujouy had succeeded an almost incessant downpour of rain, nearly twenty hours out of every twenty-four. The mud began to resemble that at Oglethorpe. The nights were as black as pitch, and to strike a light was a serious offense. I can still remember vividly trying to find my pup tent up in that dripping wilderness, with nothing but the mud of the little trail to guide my feet through the dense trees, knowing all the time that one trail (and why not the one I was on?) led directly into an open latrine pit. The mud provided us a new occupation. Our officers were established in little wooden shacks in the edge of the forest above the hospital. As the mud got bad, it occurred to the commanding officer that paths of crushed stone would enable him and his colleagues to get down to the mess hall dry-shod. Accordingly we went to work in our slickers in the downpour, quarrying and trucking stone, breaking it with hammers and constructing the paths.(31)
(Diary A.) "Monday, September 9. Rested in the morning. Dinner, stew. Made walks for officers during P.M. so as they would not soil feet. On guard at night, a dreary rainy night along the road. Hundreds of loaded trucks passed and cycles and cars and ambulances. Thought of the folks at home just eating supper, 12 midnight here. Overcoat, raincoat, mask, helmet, and gat. To bed after first run at 1 P.M. [? A.M.] Very tired.
"Tuesday, Sept. 10. Off guard at 7 A.M. Mess of toast and syrup. After having treatment of throat turned in, and then the rain. Tent leaked and I had rain down my neck and boots. Mud six inches deep outside tent. Mess at noon, stew, and during P.M. piled tar paper over the top. Kept it dry all night. Took walk to next town [Senoncourt] at night, had cocoa [I suppose at the little French Foyer du Soldat, a recreation barrack much like our Y.M.C.A.]. Bought candy, jam, and cigars in our Y.M.C.A. To bed 8.15 P.M.
"Wednesday, Sept. 11. Rain all morning. Went in truck for gravel. One load was enough, as we were soaked. Dinner, steak, tomatoes, potatoes. Sat around Y.M.C.A. a little, then went to bed 8.30 P.M. Heard cannon roar in distance."
(Diary C.) "Sept. 12. Saw two German planes brought down after setting one of our balloons on fire. Sky all aglow. Heavy artillery started at midnight.
"Sept. 13, 1918. Seventeen hundred German prisoners went past in trucks. Gave them the horse-laugh. . . . Big drive on, no resistance at all. Germans giving up all along the front. Some German prisoners admitted to hospital. Worked late at night getting things ready for the grand rush. Machine guns heard about 10 P.M. [This must have been from an airplane.]
"Sept. 14. Very heavy firing (artillery) commenced at 1 A.M. Many aeroplanes seen going to the front. Great number of observation balloons all along the road. American armies progress five miles toward Metz, taking more than 13,000 prisoners. Take St. Mihiel and many other important places.
"Sept. 15. Americans still advancing, take many more prisoners."
The St. Mihiel drive, here chronicled, was, in one respect, perhaps the most brilliantly successful in the history of the War. It was achieved with almost negligible casualties on the attacking side.(32) If we had not had the newspapers, we should have been incredulous as to the enormous gains said to have been made. Only a few wounded came into the hospital, and those mainly German prisoners. I remember one splendid young Austrian officer, wounded by a machine-gun bullet through both thighs, who quite overawed us with his excellent English and imperious manner. We expected gratitude, and even a little cringing, but he simply took us for granted as a quite-to-be-expected servile agency, especially provided for his own comfort. Only once did we see him lose his self-composure. As we transferred him from the litter to the operating table, the pain forced from him a shriek of agony for which he made no apology. But when he spoke again, it was with the old arrogance.
Our real work began with the opening of the Battle of the Argonne two weeks later. Many members of the company seized the opportunity of the interim to explore the recently captured territory, or to go farther, into the actual lines of combat. I shall include here two representative accounts of such excursions. The first is a combination from two diaries (B and C), the second from a letter.
"Sept. 16. Van, Watkins, and I started for the front by truck. (Left hospital at 1.20 P.M. Arrived in third line French trenches, Fresnes sector, 3 P.M.) We went through Sommedieu, etc., and landed up with the heavy artillery. We went up the hill right in front of the German balloon, and looked all about, finally stopping in a town all shot to pieces---Mallecourt (at 3.45 P.M. In this village the church showed evidence of the devilishness of the Germans. All statues of Christ, Virgin Mary, etc., were demolished---head, hands, feet, etc., deliberately cut off. In all the oil paintings, mural decorations, etc. in the church, the head of Christ was cut right out. Saw one of our observation balloons ascend, enormous things. In this town not a wall was left standing whole. Saw the method which the French use with their carrier pigeons. Instead of writing the message on a slip and tying it to the leg of the pigeon, they write it on the pigeon's wing, on one of his feathers). From Mallecourt we climbed a hill into the French trenches, where we found some Frogs watching. They said, 'Go no farther; it isn't safe.' We went one more town anyway, which was also all blown apart. There we found a small pear tree with 9 pears on it, and we ate them. When we arrived back at the trenches, the Frogs said that two nights ago the town we were in was No Man's Land. We came back to the foot of the hill, and stopped for a rest. While there, a shell went overhead by about three feet and landed 100 feet the other side of us. In all there were sixteen fired, and then we started up again, but soon the shells came on the other side. We sure did put on speed and tear up the hill, and just reached the top when the Germans got range on the road and shelled it good. We arrived in the woods safely anyway and got a ride to Sommedieu, where we hopped a big 155 gun and rode to 2 1/2 miles from Souilly. On the road a plane tried to get the gun, but was kept away by antiaircraft. We plugged into Souilly at 12 M., and immediately started walking out, arriving at 12.30 A.M., in time to get some supper."
(Letter, dated Sept. 23.) "The other day, I hopped a truck and went 'to the front.' It really wasn't the front any longer, for the Germans had left, but only a little while before [St. Mihiel sector]. One pleasant thing about this country is that you can always get a ride anywhere you want to go. The trucks pass our camp in a steady stream, night and day. You get a map and jump aboard a truck headed your way. You ride on it until it turns off your road, and then you hop another. It's as good as a tramway system. Of course, there's some risk. You can't get permission beyond a general leave to be absent from camp, and if the M.P.'s pick you up, you are out of luck. But I was very crafty, got Mitch to take my place in the operating room (he works nights), and then waited until I saw the Y.M.C.A. man and three nurses start out. I knew no M.P. would ever molest me in that company, and besides, it made it easier to catch trucks, for the drivers will stop to let the nurses aboard, whereas we have to hop them flying. So I and another operating assistant joined the party, got aboard a truck at once, and off we went.
"We were extremely lucky, and reached the place we had planned on---many miles from camp---by walking only four kilometers. The village we landed in [Lacroix] has been under fire for the last four years. Hardly one stone was left on another. Tall grass was growing within the areas which had once been homes, where people had lived so short a time before, and all the happy, intimate, beautiful life of a family had gone on. As one looked at those shapeless heaps of stone, and tottering fragments of walls, it was easier to believe that time, rather than the violence of man, had accomplished their ruin. They looked like the remains of a forgotten civilization. Indeed, the town had a strangely antique appearance. The public fountain was crowned with a bust of Minerva, and bore the inscription, 'A la Paix, et aux Artes.' Farther along the street stood the battered, but strangely well preserved, façade of an imposing structure with a Latin inscription over its arched portal, and colossal statues of river gods on either side. The nurses thought it must be a museum, or possibly the town hall, but a glance inside showed it to be only a 'lavoir'---the municipal laundry! Every town in France has one-simply a shallow rectangular basin of water with a sloping stone slab all the way around. The women kneel in little boxes filled with straw, and wash their clothes on the slab. . . .
"Down at the end of what had been the main thoroughfare, rose the battered tower of the church. We went into the ruins. Of all the things I have seen in France, I think I shall remember that church the longest. It had, like nearly all French churches, a double row of columns down the center, forming a nave and two aisles, and the altar was set in a recess or apse at the end. The roof was vaulted, and the part over the altar had been mainly of stained glass. But of course the roof now was nearly all gone, and the walls were full of great breaches. Down the nave had been built a solid barricade of stone and concrete, with narrow slits for machine gun or rifle fire. The graceful pillars of the church formed part of this structure. A bomb-proof shelter was built into and under the altar itself. Some of the massive oak panelling of the choir formed the roof; stones had been heaped on this, and the whole neatly lined with concrete. An effigy of a saint had been walled in where he stood, so that only his head protruded above the stones.
"The stained-glass windows had been shot in with a great flood of débris which had overflowed the little shrines, where the overturned saints lay buried, looking as though they were struggling to escape. The floor was covered with broken stone and rubbish, everything shattered and overturned, except that on a pillar above the machine gun emplacements a large cheap effigy of Christ upon the Cross gazed down on the ruin. Through all the bombardment that crucifix had survived---the only unbroken thing in sight. I looked at the Y.M.C.A. man. His helmet was off and he was murmuring familiar words: 'How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! . . . Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.' And looking in the direction of his gaze, I saw, sure enough, a bird's nest in a niche of the ruined altar.
"The French trenches started just outside the town. We walked through the fields, torn here and there by shell holes, and fantastically tangled with barbed wire barricades, which we fortunately found cut. We ascended a long, gently sloping hill, crowned by a shell-torn forest. The third-line trenches were just on the brow of the hill---hardly more than dugouts for the reliefs to stay in. We went on through the battered forest---more barbed wire; then suddenly the second-line trenches, nothing but deep ditches in the earth with occasional bombers' pits, where hand grenades lay in pockets of the earth like the eggs of some iron reptile. Then came a deep ravine, then a steep climb to the front-line trenches, on the very top of the second hill, at the edge of the forest. Here the ditches were deeper, with many hastily constructed dugouts. One saw Claxon horns for gas alarms, a tripod of a machine gun, and bushels of grenades. The trees were pounded down to mere stubs, and the earth churned deep with shell holes. We scaled the parapet of the trench, and gazed out over No Man's Land. The day was gray and chilly, with occasional bursts of rain. Just in front of us stretched yards and yards of rusty tangled barbed wire, inextricably interwoven and quite impassable. Beyond, the hill, sparsely covered with lank gray herbage, sloped down to a dismal little stream with sombre green banks. Then came the German wire, looking very low and harmless, a tiny village [Seuzey], so thoroughly ruined that it looked like a heap of blocks kicked down by a child after he had finished his play, another steep slope, its brow sliced by a trench, a battered forest, more trenches, and the leaden horizon.
"We found the wire absolutely impassable, and were forced to go back to the ravine, where we had seen a tortuous path that proved, sure enough, to lead through. We crossed No Man's Land, and reached the German wire. A tiny lane had been cut through, which we followed without difficulty. The German wire has barbs very near together---vicious stuff. We came suddenly upon their front-line trenches. No heaped-up dirt here, no sandbags, no mud. The trenches were neatly walled with concrete, and had wooden duck-boards in the bottom. There you have the difference between the Germans and the French. Both had been occupying the same locations for nearly four years.
"The little village proved to be undermined by a complicated system of tunnels that ramified back under the hill in every direction. I lighted a bit of candle, and we ventured in. It was weird. The flickering light gleamed down the posts which supported the roof, showing here and there the doors of dugouts, was reflected back once by a large mirror, went out once and left us darkling. A whole camp underground. We came upon the detachment office. A dirt wall protected it from shells. A bulletin board with notices in German hung beside the entrance, a headless Virgin looted from a church was mounted on the top, and in the side of the trench was a huge Iron Cross, cast from concrete, complete with its motto, 'Gott mit Uns.' I picked up few souvenirs except a variety of huge black fleas which have eaten me raw. Considering the fact that I already had the cooties and the itch, this seems almost too much."
After St. Mihiel, the American command shifted the brunt of its attack to the Argonne, on the western side of Verdun. This rapid moving in less than a week of almost the entire First Army with all its military equipment, over roads already congested with traffic, was in its way a feat as brilliant as the taking of St. Mihiel. Again our road groaned with the endless stream of trucks, and thousands of invisible feet tramped by in the dark. A few entries from diaries will show what was happening at Petit Maujouy in the meantime.
(Diary A.) "Sept. 13. Stone quarry in A.M. Mess of corn wullie hash, beans, tomatoes, coffee. Woodpile in P.M. after inspection. Sat around new Red Cross canteen in evening drinking their good cocoa. [This was the famous Smith College Relief Unit, of which more later.]
"Sept. 16. Papers tell of 15,000 Huns captured and Austria looking for peace. German plane came over at 9.45 P.M. and shots in airial combat were close to us."
(Diary C.) "Sept. 18. Was awakened at 6 A.M. by the bursting of shells near the hospital. They only sent eight over, and there was no material damage done. . . . just at noon (mess time) a German bombing plane was observed flying directly over the mess hall. All of a sudden, five of our planes came out of a cloud directly over him, and brought him down after a battle lasting about twenty minutes. Observer's head was shot completely off from our machine gun fire. Pilot hurt but little. All of our machines landed safely."
We seem first to have taken note of the opening of more intense activity about the nineteenth, although wounded men did not arrive in any numbers for some days after that.
(Diary B.) "Sept. 19. Awoke at 4 A.M. hearing the biggest barrage I have yet heard, so guess the French have started something."
(Diary C.) "Sept. 19. Made out 20 court martials, this afternoon for AWOL's" [men found absent without leave. Evidently too many of the company had been making indiscreet trips].
(Diary B.) "Sept. 20. Afternoon quiet. About 7.30 we gathered enough material to start some fudge, which came out fine for a first time. We were busy stirring up the mess before allowing it to cool, when a boche plane came along, announcing his arrival by shooting his machine gun into the road. The anti-aircraft guns opened up, and all lights went out, so we finished the fudge outside in the dark. Things were lively for a time, but were soon quiet again. About midnight, he came back, but did no damage around here."
Fig. 7. FOLDING AND STORING LITTERS (EXTREME RIGHT) After carrying the wounded into receiving hut, Petit Maujouy
(Diary A.) (The author was at the time himself ill in the hospital.) "Sept. 22. Still in hospital. Ward now full, and some Germans. They talk some to us, and imagined they had won the battle until they got to hospital. Some say this is like heaven to them. Another says, 'I thought Americans were in Metz now.' Others say it will please them to go home. . . . Groans from our [wounded] boys are heartrendering.
"Sept. 23. Out of hospital. Ate fine dinner, steak, mashed potatoes and gravy. Walked to Ancemont in P.M. . . . Officers had dance at night. Good band music [by a band from the 26th Division, probably 104th Infantry], but we all felt as though we were wronged. . . .
"Sept. 25. 11 P.M. big barrage started and roared all night long.(33) Sounded like thunder, but heavier. Trucks by the score passed. G.I. cans [literally, 'galvanized iron cans': slang name for especially large shells] and whizz-bangs heard every few moments. . . .
"Sept. 26. Barrage still continues. Planes in droves pass over us. Boys from front say we go forward in great style. Patients came all night long. I was used for wards 9, 19, 1, 2, 3. Kept me moving. . . .
"Sept. 28. 1 A.M. left in ambulance for Souilly to unload on train. Dark night, flash could be seen all around sky. Worked until 4.30 P.M., then drove back to camp and bed until 7. Breakfast, then bed again, very tired. Reported at 7.30 P.M.--raining hard. . . . "
The great battle of the Argonne was on, no sudden spurt followed by weeks of inactivity, but a steady, desperately contested, inexorable advance through the most difficult kind of terrain, one steady uninterrupted battle lasting nearly fifty days. The stream of wounded flowed almost without break through the efficient mill of Evacuation Eight. Trucks, coming down the road from Ancemont in an endless line, pull up on the hard curved roadway which we had cracked stone to build. They stop before the blanket-hung doorway of a rough wooden shack. (The blankets serve both to shut out cold and to shut in light.) A group of litter bearers quickly and quietly lift out the four wounded men from each ambulance. The ambulance driver takes four folded litters from a great stack beside the road, and is off, out the other end of the curved driveway. His ambulance has been stationary only a minute or so. The litter bearers carry the wounded men inside, and set them carefully down on the floor. Then they are back to unload another ambulance. They will work at this for twelve hours, sometimes with hardly an interval except when they snatch a few minutes for meals. The reception ward is bare of all furnishings save for a rusty coal stove and two bare wooden tables for the clerical force. There is room here for eighty stretchers at once, and we have besides four reserve tents with a capacity of forty stretchers each in case the wounded arrive faster than we can put them through. A special triage officer at once surveys the patients to determine the urgency of their injuries. All of them are in need of prompt attention, but some can wait better than others. Sucking wounds of the chest, abdominal wounds, cases with active hemorrhage, must be given precedence. Men in that state of profound physical prostration called by doctors "shock" must not be subjected to the usual preparation but rushed at once to the shock ward for treatment to restore their waning vitality. Cases requiring X-ray (i.e., wounds which appear to have retained the bullets or shrapnel which caused them) are tagged with a distinctive green slip.
Fig. 8. CARRYING WOUNDED FROM THE AMBULANCES INTO THE RECEIVING HUT, PETIT MAUJOUY
Every patient admitted must have some kind of record made for him, and it must be made before he goes under the ether. He has on a string around his neck his identification disks, and there should be a linen tag tied in his buttonhole giving the diagnosis and treatment at the aid or dressing station. Sometimes he has a field medical card, his permanent surgical record, with one section filled in by the unit which has given him treatment. If he has not, an orderly makes one now with fountain pen, while another orderly fills out in duplicate on the typewriter the "Form 52" of which I have reproduced an example on p. 147. The patient is sometimes unconscious; in that case we must get the information from other patients, from his identification disk, from the diagnosis slip. The field medical card is tied to the wounded man and accompanies him wherever he goes; of the two copies of "Form 52" one is put in the envelope with the field medical card and the other sent to our office as the hospital record. This system of records was invented by our own clerical staff, and proved to be a great advance over the old method, as I shall later show.
These records finished, another set of litter bearers picks up the wounded man and carries him forward the next stage. In another shack, standing end to end with the first, and exactly like it in point of construction, is the undressing and preparation room. A team of two orderlies takes charge of each wounded man. One swiftly and gently removes the bloodstained uniform, cutting it off if necessary, and dresses the patient in a clean suit of cotton wool pajamas, while the other collects his pathetic little store of valuables (mostly "souvenirs") and makes a receipt for them. These valuables are put in a bag and kept in a locker until the patient leaves the hospital, when they are again checked with his receipt and returned to him. The litter on which the wounded man lies is now lifted upon a rough wooden rack which supports it at a level of about three feet from the ground. There are eight of these supports, with an orderly at each. If the wound is accompanied by fracture and splinted, it must be left as it is until the man reaches the operating room, but otherwise all wounds are prepared here. The first-aid dressings are removed, an area about the wound shaved, and small sterile dressings applied again to protect the wounds until they reach the operating room.
Those men with the green slip are then carried into the X-ray dark room, which occupies one end of the preparation ward. There are two tables with the Roentgen bulb over each. The patient is transferred to one of the tables and the foreign bodies located by the fluoroscope. In most cases a written description of the location of the missile, with guiding marks made with silver nitrate on the surface of the skin, is sufficient, but in more delicate and difficult cases, such as brain wounds, a negative photographic plate is made, developed at once, and sent on to the operating room. Two X-ray surgeons, and four assistants, among whom are a skilled electrician and a photographer, make up the force. The wounded men are now ready for operation. Some, as we have seen, are in so profound a state of vital depression that they could not possibly survive an immediate operation or even much preparation of wounds. Just outside the door of the shack where the X-ray room is located, stands a brown French wall tent---the shock ward. Here, usually in their clothes just as they came from the ambulance, lie these poor fellows, with surgeons and nurses expending all their efforts to recall their vitality sufficiently to make an operation possible. They wrap them warmly in blankets, warm them further by small oil stoves placed under the cots, and give then stimulants, injections of saline solution, and blood transfusions. (The hospital has a considerable list of its members always ready to offer blood.) The shock ward is a sad and discouraging place, for the heat and rest which the patients must have furnish exactly the condition most favorable for the rapid development of infections. The air is heavy with the odor of decay, which we mask somewhat by sprinkling carbolic acid on the gravel floor. Many of these poor fellows die here without rallying at all. If they are operated, their chances for life are slight. But this intelligent and devoted care saves a percentage, and so is a hundred times justified.
So far, the patient has been moving in a perfectly straight line of progress, as though he were on the belt of a great machine. The operating room, however, a third shack just like the other two, stands a little higher up on the hillside. We have constructed a passageway covered with builders' paper, so that the patient will not be chilled or wet in being carried across the intervening space.
The operating room is simply a long rough wooden barrack, covered with tarred paper, but it is fairly warm and almost water tight. Down the middle runs a row of eighteen white-enameled operating tables. Against the wall on one side is built a wide shelf, covered with sheets, where the instruments lie, shiny and sharp looking, and bundles of sterile towels, gowns, and gloves. This is the "sterile side"; one touches nothing there without being "scrubbed up." Against the other wall are two stoves, two clumsy looking but quite serviceable sinks cast of solid concrete, several large covered buckets for waste, and, at intervals, the tables and rough filing cabinets of the three scribes or recorders, each of whom serves six tables. Between the operating tables and the wall on the "non sterile side" is an alleyway sufficiently wide to permit the bringing in of litters without running into anyone. High powered electric bulbs with metal shades hang at the head and foot of each table. Across the room, directly over each table, stout wires are stretched. There are other electric lights with adjustable cords and hooks, which can be hung at any height and in any location. The wire is also useful to fasten up arms or legs which have to be elevated and held for a considerable time in that position. High above the wires at each end of the room hang two large signs painted with one word: SILENCE.
Fig. 9. OPERATING ROOM, PETIT MAUJOUY Colonel Shipley's surgical team beginning an operation on a wounded knee joint.
The eighteen tables are manned by six surgical teams, each team covering three tables. On one a man is waiting, on the second a man is being prepared and anesthetized, and on the third a man is undergoing operation. As long as the supply of wounded holds out, there is no let-up. The surgeons strip off their bloody gowns and gloves, put on another set, and start immediately at another table. They do more work in a week than the same number of surgeons in a civilian operating room would perform in a year. On September 30, 1918, the six teams of the day shift in Evacuation Eight operated on 206 wounded men with an average of two and one-half wounds a man; thirty-four cases per team in eleven hours.
Fig. 10. RECEIVING WARD, PETIT MAUJOUY
The teams are provisionally assigned to particular types of wounds. Colonel Shipley, for example, specializes in wounds of the knee joint, Lieutenant Hanson in brain wounds, Captain Foote in wounds involving the eye, Lieutenant Dillon in fractures of the jaw and teeth, Colonel Lilienthal in sucking wounds of the chest. Of course, all the tables are kept busy all the time as long as there are wounded. The litter bearers come in at one end of the shack. The surgeon in charge (Colonel Shipley on one shift, Major Bruggeman on the other) has the table nearest the door, so that all the patients pass him. He looks at the man and assigns him to a vacant table. The litter bearers move down the passageway on the right, and turn in beside the table designated, holding the litter at the level of the table. Two operating room assistants stand on the outside of the litter, facing the table, and slip their arms under the man's shoulders and knees. The litter bearers then drop the outside handles of the litter, leaving the patient on the assistants' arms; they take a step forward and deposit him on the table. A merely incidental detail, but it took a great deal of thought and drill to work it out. After the operation the surgeon dictates to the scribe a brief summary of his diagnosis and what he has done, and indicates whether the man can be evacuated within twelve hours or should be held for a longer time. The scribe enters the record in the hospital record book and copies it on the field medical card. He then reports to the sergeant in charge of the operating room that the patient is ready to be carried to the ward. This sergeant, who has a list of all the empty beds in the hospital, assigns the patient to a ward where he will be "held" or "evacuated" according to the surgeon's recommendation. He also keeps a list of the names of the wounded men with the wards to which he has assigned them. This information he sends to the office to enable our clerical staff to maintain a complete and up-to-date directory. The unconscious patient is put back on a litter, carried out the door at the other end of the building, and thence to the ward. A few of the wards are in wooden barracks like the operating room. To these go the men who are not in a condition to be immediately evacuated: wounds of the head, fractures of the thigh, etc. The greater part of the wards, however, are tents with no floor other than the native gravel.
The work in the wards differs from that in civilian hospitals in the same way that the work in the operating room differs from that in a civilian operating room. The evacuable wards are filled with surgical patients, a fourth of them, perhaps, coming out of the ether at once; there is a tremendous turnover of patients, with a consequent heavy strain of lifting and transferring. In the "hold" wards the patients are all in very critical condition, and deaths are very frequent. Yet in spite of the difficulties, the men must be fed, kept dean, and have their wounds properly attended to. Each surgeon is responsible for all the men he has operated on, and when he goes off duty after eleven hours in the operating room, will go around to the wards to examine the more critical cases.
Fig. 11. FRACTURE WARD, PETIT MAUJOUY (The weights, suspended over pulleys, keep broken arms and legs in extension. One of the glass reservoirs for the Dakin solution may be seen beside the first weight at the left.)
The final stage is evacuation, which, though the least spectacular of our activities, is one of the most important. On the way it is managed depends the smooth working of the entire hospital. The stream of patients coming in from the triage can be handled only if there is a corresponding outgo from the other end. But evacuation cannot ordinarily be a continuous performance. At Juilly, where we evacuated to Paris by ambulance, we had to wait until a fleet of ambulances was released from bringing in the wounded. At Petit Maujouy, where we evacuated back to the railhead at Souilly daily, we emptied all the evacuable wards at once. In short, when evacuation is under way, it must move rapidly so as not to hold up ambulances or delay the transit of the wounded to the rear. When our office staff began work at Juilly, it found in force a system of army "paper work" that proved on the first evacuation to be cumbersome and inefficient. As each patient was taken from the ward, a sergeant was supposed to get his name, with other necessary data. The result was either that the evacuation was held up, or the men evacuated without proper records. For this our office force has substituted the simple system---an obvious one to those acquainted with the methods of modern business, but a revolution in army procedure---of making out "Form 52" in duplicate, as already described. The original is sent to the office, the duplicate put in the patient's envelope with his field medical card. Before an evacuation, the evacuation officer places on the bed of each evacuable patient a distinctive marker. The sergeant then simply takes the duplicate slip from each envelope and returns it to the office, which knows thereby that that man has left the hospital. Evacuation is usually carried out in the evening, when the change of shifts makes more men available for carrying litters.
There are many other departments to this great factory. Opening into the "sterile" side of the operating room is the sterilizing tent where the instruments are cleaned and boiled. In an adjoining building is the great autoclave where towels, gowns, gloves, and dressings are sterilized. There is the laboratory where the necessary bacteriological work is carried on. There is the pharmacy where the various medicaments are prepared. There is the dentist's room, where the dental surgeon works on patients who do not have to be operated on the table. There is the laundry, a great complicated French machine as big as a small house on wheels, stationed in the stream by Maujouy farmhouse. There are the two kitchens, one in the main group of the hospital buildings which prepares food for the officers, nurses, and patients, and one down in the meadow which serves the mess for the enlisted men. There is our lighting plant, which the engineers set up and keep going for us.
There are the incinerator and the morgue tent up in the edge of the woods. And, finally, there is the growing cemetery on the hillside, down the road toward Senoncourt. Before we left Petit Maujouy, there were 338 graves there.
Near the ambulance entrance to the hospital stands another tent, not a part of the official organization of Evacuation Eight, but actually one of its most indispensable departments---the recreation hut conducted by members of the Smith College Relief Unit. As early as August, 1917, they had come to France to carry on relief work among the French villages along the Somme. This area was for two-and-a-half years within the German lines. When, in February, 1917, the Germans were forced to evacuate it, they systematically and thoroughly devastated it by cutting down the trees and blowing up and burning the villages, and took with them all the members of the civilian population able to work, but left behind the aged and the women and children as "useless mouths" to embarrass the French. In September, 1917, the Unit, eighteen in number, took up its headquarters in the ruins of Château Robécourt, Grécourt, near Nesle, with sixteen villages under its care. Their program contemplated nothing less than the giving of medical service to some five hundred people, furnishing stores and supplies of all sorts, reorganizing agriculture, and providing general social service, especially among the children. Two of them were doctors, three could serve as nurses, some were "skilled in children's work, carpentry and handicrafts; one was a farmer, one was a high school teacher; six were trained social service workers, and six qualified as chauffeurs." By March, 1918, they had done wonders. Barracks were up for many of the civilian population, fields and gardens had been planted, and kindergartens were in operation. Then, on March 22, the Germans drove through and overran the territory for the second time. The Smith College Unit remained at Grécourt until the machinegun fire of the approaching troops could be clearly heard. "Each girl was charged with the evacuation of a village, and each one stuck to her post and rescued her people in spite of shell fire." The main objective of the Unit still remained the reestablishment of those villages on the Somme, but in the interim they made themselves indispensable as Red Cross workers in army hospitals. From May 29 to August 12 they were at Beauvais; then, at the request of the chief surgeon of the First Army they were transferred to Château-Thierry. On September 12 they moved to our area near Verdun, and set up their canteens, two others besides that at Evacuation Eight. Eight of them served with us at various times. Their most important duty was to serve the patients, both incoming and outgoing, with hot drinks, by no means a luxury, but an important part of the surgical treatment of wounded men suffering from cold and shock. One of them was always in the receiving ward giving hot chocolate to all the wounded except the poor chaps with abdominal wounds. They also were in the wards a good deal distributing cigarettes, reading to patients, or writing letters for them. Besides this they managed to do a great deal for the personnel of the hospital and for troops stationed near or on their way through to the front. Their outfit consisted of one rather small unfloored tent, equipped with a case of books, a few chairs, tables and benches for writing, and a battered piano which members of the company foraged from a German officer's hut at St. Mihiel. Outside was erected a field stove,. where once a day steamed great boilers of cocoa ---such cocoa as man never tasted before or since. The Relief Unit tent soon became our one place of relaxation and entertainment. Before it had come, Mr. St. Clare had opened a Y.M.C.A. hut and canteen in the end of one of the barracks, and had done his best to make it cheerful and attractive. But since he remained until after the armistice the only chaplain in a thousand-bed hospital of seriously wounded men, he had his hands so full that he was glad to turn over this part of his functions to the Unit.
"Evacuation Hospital No. 8, American E.F.
Begun Oct. 2, 1918. Finished Oct. 6, 3 A.M.
Written in the operating room between whiles.
The last week has been the busiest I have seen in the operating room. Our plant has worked wonderfully. On Sept. 30 we made a record for the A.E.F.---something over 200 cases operated in one shift of twelve hours. At first our wounded arrived very soon---wounds only six to twelve hours duration---but now we are getting some horrible cases---men who have been wounded four or five days. Nearly every case I have recorded tonight was an amputation, sometimes a double amputation. There is a man on the table now with his right arm blown off, right shoulder smashed, skull fractured, both legs wounded in thighs, knees, and calves. They are giving him a saline infusion, and think he will live. . . .(34)
"From these last few days one or two pictures remain indelibly stamped on my memory. The first is that of a boy with a badly shattered arm, which had been put up in a hastily improvised splint of sticks and hay. I see him as he lay on the table, telling us how, after being picked up by first aid, and bandaged, he was sent back to a field hospital. The hospital was choked with wounded, and he and many others were lined up on litters along the road. Two German planes came over, and flying low, turned their machine guns on the wounded and the men who were caring for them. Two surgeons who were splinting his arm were killed on the spot. Many of the wounded were hit again, and some died in the ambulance on the way here. The boy told it simply, as though it were quite an ordinary, matter-of-fact occurrence.
Fig. 12. A PAGE OF THE OPERATING ROOM RECORD KEPT BY THE AUTHOR AT PETIT MAUJOUY
"The next picture is that of a German boy we operated on.(35) The prisoners receive exactly the same treatment as our own wounded. The ward reserved for them was filled long ago, and you can see them now in nearly all the wards, mixed in with our men, distinguishable from them only by the black letters 'G.P.' (German prisoner) painted on one cheek with silver nitrate. I have seen our surgeons, so tired they are ready to drop, work as patiently and carefully on these German wounded as on our own. This boy was eighteen years old. His leg was smashed, and he had a big gash on his head. He looked strangely like M. and the more I watched, the closer seemed the resemblance. When we shaved his head, he wrinkled his forehead exactly as M. used to do when something hurt him. He was in the last stages of exhaustion, and his mind wandered. His voice was thinned by fatigue until it sounded like a little boy's. Through all, he had clung to a big leather wallet full of his treasures---letters from home, a pathetic little expense account, begun with a great deal of flourish and then broken off abruptly, several photographs---his mother, himself and two chums before the war (typical high school youngsters), a flashlight of his family around the table at home (he was the only boy), a snapshot of himself in his first uniform, very swaggering and boyish, and lastly, his sweetheart. He was so tired that he didn't care what became of him so long as he got away from the trenches. The horror of it had pursued him and was still with him. He lay on the table, eyes shut, face pinched and wrinkled like an old man's, and murmured continually --- 'The artillery, always the artillery; no, hand grenades---' then, suddenly opening his eyes, 'Will they give me a book to read?' I saw him again in the ward, sleeping the sleep of utter exhaustion, still murmuring. When he was evacuated, I went around to say good-bye. He remembered me, I think, and I hope that my being there may have reassured him some what in the strange and terrifying position in which he found himself. I have by now seen a good many German prisoners, and, individually, they seem quite normal, ordinary, people. Why should they shoot helpless wounded men with machine guns?
"The last picture is that of an American operated yesterday. As he lay on the table, you would never have guessed how horribly he was wounded. His face was unscarred. I think he was one of the most handsome men I ever saw, with blue eyes and long waving tawny yellow hair. He was shot nearly in two in the region of the abdomen, and died on the table. They gave him an anaesthetic, of course, and the surgeon attempted a hasty operation. I remember how he took up two large gauze drains sheathed with rubber tissue, and held them a moment in his hand pondering whether he should waste them on this patient or not. The nurse discontinued the anaesthetic, wiped his face and smoothed out his hair, and we all stood there a few moments watching him as he died, quite peacefully, with only a little sob or gasp at the end, like a child dropping off to sleep after a fit of crying. I wonder what you will think when I say that the only feeling I experienced was an eager curiosity to know what he was experiencing. I felt no sorrow, and no horror. . . .
"I have just taken a piece of shrapnel as big as the end of my thumb which the surgeon pulled out from a man's leg all red and sticky, and have wrapped it in a bit of gauze to put in the man's envelope. He will find it there when he comes out of the ether. He will be immensely proud of his 'souvenir,' and will compare its size with all the others in the ward. . . .
"Sometimes it seems as though I had been gone hardly a month. I dream sometimes that tomorrow I shall go back to work, my intimate knowledge of amputating knives, and saws, and haemostats a thing of the past. I am tired of writing all day such things as this:
SMITH, 1679423, JOHN H. ......................Ward 6.
Pvt., Co. H, 1------ Infantry. Duration of injury, 24 hrs.
GSW left thigh, perforating, severe. FCC (compound comminuted fracture) of femur, left, upper third. Excision of wounds of entrance and exit, débridement of tissue and bone. Femoral artery found lacerated, ligated. 6 CD tubes. Dakin dressing.
An import ant daily event at Petit Maujouy was the burial detail, to describe which I shall fall back on a piece of verse written by an eye witness. I believe it to be entirely accurate in detail, and also in atmosphere, if one makes proper allowance for the inevitable simplification incident to any poetic presentation.
Evacuation Hospital No. 8, Petit Maujouy, Meuse.
"The truck's so slow; it's only just got back
From Souilly, with our rations for the week."
"But, sergeant, can't you hurry?
These men here
Are badly needed on their other jobs."
"Here she comes now. 'Tention! who's got the flag?
All right. The ropes? Yes. And the bars? Up there?
Back the truck up against the bank. Slow, slow!
You'll get into the ditch; that mud is soft.
Easy I My God, man, can't you wait?"
I've been out since five without a bite."
"You can eat afterwards. This won't take long.
All right, men, rush 'em out! How many are there?
Fourteen? You'll have to pile 'em up a bit."
(A cold gray day; a dirt road, deep in mud;
a battered truck backed up against a bank;
a tangled wood of drenched and stunted beeches,
Half leafless, steaming in the misty air;
A tent pitched in the trees, the front thrown open;
Within on litters, decently covered up
With dirty blankets, yesterday's crop of dead.)
"Right on the bottom of the truck, sarge?"
"Yes. No---spread a blanket out. But hurry up.
It's going to rain directly. That's the stuff!
Jump up into the truck, you; roll 'em off.
The litters won't go in. God! that one's heavy!"
(Long rigid forms, some wrapped in sheets, some not,
With gunny-sacks pulled on from either end.
The tired men bring out the litters, hoist,
Roll off the burden, bring another one.)
"All in? Spread out the flag. The other way.
Fall in behind. Is Mose here to blow taps?
Bring all the shovels. Ready, chaplain? March!"
(A lumbering truck with canvas cover on,
And tail-gate up; you can just see the flag.
The detail with the shovels on their shoulders,
Wearing their slickers, wet boots sucking mud.)
"Turn up the hill. You haven't got your chains?
You'll never make it. Give a boost here, men.
Oh, snap into it! We want to get this done.
Another heave! I think she'll make it now."
(A sodden hillside, two bare apple trees,
Three rows of sour mounds with crosses lined;
Part of another, then the gaping graves.)
"Bring that one here. You've got the ropes beneath?
All ready; pull the bars out. Lower slow.
Lord! He went under water two feet deep.
Look out! you're dropping that one. How he sags!
No wonder. Feel his leg. He's hardly cold. . . .
Quick work. Fall in! We're ready, chaplain, now."
(The truck stands empty, driver fidgeting;
The chaplain midway in the line of graves,
Uncovered, with his bald head in the rain;
The men, with caps off, leaning on their spades,
Their weary shoulders drooping, thoughts afar
From the clear droning of the parson's voice.)
"I am the Resurrection and the Life. . . . I go
To prepare a place for you. . . . Then shall the body
Return to the earth . . . to ashes, dust to dust. .
(A handful of wet earth in every grave
He casts, and takes his place among the men.
The bugler steps out, softly tries his horn;
The silver notes ring out across the graves:)
"Go to sleep! Go to sleep!
Go to sleep I Go to sleep! Go to sleep!
Till the dawning shall come
It shall come!"
(The chaplain walks away; the truck pulls off
With much backfiring. Then upon the ear
The heavy thud of earth on earth beneath;
While at the road the truckman waits his turn
Among the ambulances pulling in.)
Once the Argonne started, there was almost no let-up. The hospital was now a great efficient machine grinding steadily along with an unfailing supply continuously pouring into its hopper. The clear tonic sunshine of autumn dimmed and thickened into the gray, misty, cheerless atmosphere of a French winter. The leaves, which by rights should have gone out in a blaze of glory, dispiritedly withered into lifeless browns, which under a bright sun were of a surprising somber beauty, but the sun seldom shone. There was as yet no snow, but it rained almost continuously, a cold, drizzling, deliberate rain. The sullen roads, fields, and woods clothed themselves with heavy wraiths of mist, and the mud deepened. We plodded on from day to day, forgetting what day of the week it was, paying little attention to the weather. The nurses (who had no pathways of crushed stone) bravely faced the mud with rubber boots or spiral puttees. Fortunately, we had a fairly good wash house with hot water in the afternoons, but it was so hard to get a complete shift of clothing at one time that cooties multiplied apace. It was a sight never to be forgotten to see a colonel in the operating room, too proud or bashful to ask someone to scratch his back, and unable to do it himself because of his asepsis, furtively scraping the itching spot on an exposed timber of the wall. Yet our life at Petit Maujouy was not all one of somber toil. Even after working twelve hours, one does not feel like sleeping all the remaining twelve. We often hiked to Senoncourt, to Lemmes, to Ancemont, to Verdun. We met for moments of real comfort and pleasure in the bright warmth of the Red Cross tent, or sat around a fire in our tents chatting and munching bread and jam illicitly furnished by a benevolent cook. It is probably fair to say that, in spite of the horror and suffering with which every moment of our days was surrounded, Evacuation Eight was as cheerful and unmorbid a company as any in the army. If we had not been, we could not have done such good work.
I shall cover the history of the company from the opening of the Argonne to the armistice by a series of extracts from diaries and letters.
(From a letter by a member of the Smith College Unit.) "An evacuation hospital is often made up of tents, but sometimes the baraques used by the French for hospitals in the great battle of 1916 are taken over by the Americans. Whether in a baraque or a tent, the receiving ward is a perfect hell, floors crowded with litters, great piles of foul, blood-stained garments, another pile of rifles, the clerks at the desk taking down the names and the record of the wounded as they are unloaded from the ambulances and trucks, and from a corner one or two of our girls serving hot chocolate. . . . One night Dot Brown was lighting cigarettes for the men in a receiving ward; a bright-eyed boy whispered to her, 'Pull down my blanket.' She, thinking there was a dressing to be adjusted, drew back the cover and saw a baby rabbit nestling in his wounded arm. He begged her to keep it until he should come out from his operation. She had it waiting for him as soon as he was conscious and the next day the other girls further down the line, as they fed him on an evacuation train, saw him again with the little rabbit close to his side."
(Diary B.) "Sept. 28. Gen. Pétain of the French Army paid us a visit. Heavy artillery all day.
"Oct. 2. Heavy frost in A.M. On the previous night, there was an air raid, and several shells near Ancemont."
(Diary A.) "Oct. 9. Still news of advance, and some peace talk. Beautiful day, crisp and nice."
(Diary C.) "Oct. 9. Pvt. Victor R. Newhouse of our company died of nephritis."
Newhouse was the first of our losses after we reached France; indeed, the first since the earliest days of our organization. He was not a member of our original company, but joined us at Juilly two months to a day before his death. His home was in West Virginia.
(Diary A.) "Oct. 10. Heard 100 planes in formation pass over. My, what a sound. One did a few stunts, and then dropped mail for nurses."
(Diary C.) "Oct. 11 . Ancemont shelled."
(Letter, Oct. 13.) "I had hoped to begin at least one letter without an apology for its being late, but I'm afraid it's been more than a week since my last. Since Oct. 1, I have been on night duty. We have been terribly rushed. The ambulances bring us our wounded just about as fast as we can operate. But the steadiness of the grind begins to tell."
(Diary A.) "Oct. 13. Rumor has it again that Germany agrees to 14 Wilson terms, but outside of little excitement about hospital, all remained the same. Many gassed entered at night. . . .
"Oct. 15. Boys tell of machine gunners capturing 'Dutch' in dugout and how they cut his legs off." [I have included this shocking entry to show that a sufficiently credulous or unscrupulous person might have collected a fine list of "atrocities" from the yarns of our wounded men. Nearly all of them were certainly fictions. Some, I fear, were true. The same thing may be said of those related of the Germans.]
(Letter, Oct. 16.) "I saw an operation tonight that exhausted my ideas of the marvellous. A wounded man was shown by the X-ray to have a bullet either in his heart or in the pericardium, for it beat with every pulsation of the heart. Colonel Lilienthal(36) performed the operation, under local anaesthesia. He opened the ribs nearly from breast bone to spine, and spread them several inches apart with retractors. The man was perfectly conscious and suffered no pain. The colonel repaired the lung punctures, found the hole in the pericardium, but failed to discover the bullet, and decided that it was in the right auricle, where he was forced to leave it. The patient left the table in good condition, and the surgeons seemed to think he had a chance to recover."
In many ways the most spectacular operations we saw were those performed daily by Lieutenant Hanson, the brain surgeon. Like that just described, these operations were performed under local anesthesia. There are no sensory nerves in the brain. That is, though the brain is itself the seat of sensation, it has no means of feeling any contact with its own tissue. When a man was brought in with an X-ray report or plate showing foreign bodies in the brain, he was placed on the table in a sitting posture, and towels arranged around the wound in the usual way. The towels were allowed to fall down over his eyes so that he could not see what was going on. The surgeon with a hypodermic syringe anesthetized the scalp (which had been entirely shaved of hair) with novocaine for a considerable distance in three lines radiating out from the wound. He then made incisions along these lines, dividing the whole top of the scalp into three flaps, which he peeled off the skull and folded back, revealing the bone with the jagged aperture of the wound. The skull was usually cracked like an eggshell. With an instrument exactly like a carpenter's burr drill and bitstock, he bored a circle of little holes about the hole made by the missile, and with bone-cutting forceps lifted out the disk so made. If the X-ray showed that the missile had gone through the head and lay near the surface on the other side from the wound of entrance, he made an incision and took it out there. But foreign bodies within the brain tissue were removed by an ingenious technique invented by Harvey Cushing of the Harvard Medical School, then a colonel in the Medical Corps. A rubber catheter was put on the tip of a glass bulb syringe filled with warm sterile saline solution, and inserted into the wound. The soft rubber followed the tract without causing further damage, and the liquid, gently forced in, washed out some of the mangled tissue and small in-driven bone fragments. Such of the lacerated tissue as was not flushed out by the saline solution was sucked into the catheter when the pressure on the bulb of the syringe was released. Larger bone fragments and pieces of shrapnel in the wound could be felt by the catheter, and could sometimes be expelled by having the patient cough; if this failed, they were carefully removed by a special kind of forceps. Meanwhile, the patient was quite conscious, though he felt no pain, and had no idea what the surgeon was doing except from the sound of the instruments. A surprising percentage of these cases recovered completely.
(Diary C.) "Oct. 18, 1918. As soon as the rain cleared off , saw two boche planes brought down. Landed just outside hospital grounds. Machine gun bullets flying thick and fast during the scrap. One struck the Red Cross hut." [It permanently silenced one key of the German piano.]
(Letter, Oct. 19.) "Yesterday the sun came out for the first time in two weeks, and we had one glorious Indian summer day. The beech trees have turned a tawny russet, and the slopes were either green with short grass, or showed the rich brown of plowed land. The scene had a sombre subdued beauty wonderfully encouraging to us who have seen so much rain and mist and drizzle and mud. We are having a rest today. It seems too good to be true. For three full weeks our factory has been running day and night without a let-up. We're all a little tired. . . . Something nice to tell you. The man whose opinion counts most of anybody's was here yesterday, and said that we had the best outfit in France. I heard him. . . . It's raining again. If it weren't for the clouds the moon would be full. As it is, the light is gray and indistinct. A long, long line of French charettes and camions is coming down the road. They come out of the mist like silent gray ghosts, hardly a chain jingling or a strap creaking, the men hunched up on their horses' backs or on the seats of the carts. The horses' hoofs sound muffled. Occasionally a white one passes, his driver a dark blue blotch, shapeless, unhuman. . . . "
(Letter, Oct. 21.) "My tent floor is an ocean of mud. Thank God, I only have to sleep there."
(Letter, Oct. 24.) "Last night the boche came over with a big moon behind him, and dropped three dandies in our general direction. He did no damage at all. But at least he gave us something to talk about. We worked hard today---mostly shrapnel wounds from the barrage, which is the loudest and deadliest of any we have encountered since the war began. I can almost believe that the guns on both sides stand hub to hub. We are trying out a serum for gas gangrene, and it seems to work."
(Diary B.) "Oct. 24. Nothing unusual, except that in the wee hours of the morning Pvt. Rossetti with helper took a body to the morgue. The place being quite full, some bodies were left outside [in the path, the morgue tent being in the woods], and over one of these Rossetti stumbled. He dropped the litter and man he was carrying and ran for the operating room, where he informed the major that he would never carry another man up there at night."
It would have been worth while to have heard the words of Pvt. Rossetti to the Major. The roster called him "Rosati," just as it called Henry Angelo "Maestrangelo" throughout his military career, I suppose because in the beginning he tried to tell someone that his name was Mr. Angelo. Rossetti was an excitable little mustached Italian (Neapolitan, I think), who could speak only a word or two of English. The experience of falling over one corpse in the dark and having another embrace him as it rolled off the litter must have given occasion for a most brilliant exhibition of Italian words and gestures.
(Diary A.) "Oct. 28. Slept all day, and took walk to Senoncourt with wash at night, then to duty. Slightly colder and a silver tint on the ground. Watched several boys die. Slept a little.
"Oct. 29. Meals good and troops advanced to north of Verdun."
(Letter, Oct. 30.) "Today I'm supposed to be digging ditches. No wounded coming in. But I took time to write. . . . We have been having glorious weather for more than a week, a true Indian summer. Hoar frost in the mornings, smoke from the hospital hanging low and blue over the motley collection of tents and shacks which stands to me in the place of home, steam over the little creek with its fringe of rushes, the woods a rich russet against an autumn-blue sky, and overhead tiny fleecy white clouds, where a slender silver airplane, indescribably graceful and dainty, skims across, pursued by a swirl of black crows."
(Diary A.) "Nov. 1. Beautiful day, stood inspection after off duty. Slept 2 hours in P.M. Good meals, steak, etc., all day. 6 P.M. dark as pitch, we stumble in the mud and over ditches to mess. Started fire in stove in ward 5 and read until midnight. Chow of hash and real brown gravy. Lantern in hand with Sgt. Schill we tramped along the road like farmers. A little weird. Turkey signs the armistice. Still no pay."
Indeed, one of the most memorable experiences at Petit Maujouy was the hazardous nightly excursion for supper and midnight mess. The mess hall was now down below the road beside the meadow stream, nearly a quarter of a mile from the operating room. One went out from the blaze of the nitrogen bulbs, the glare of which was carefully shut in by heavy shutters, and found himself in utter, blanketing, palpable darkness that seemed always to overhang the sky at night. A faintly illuminated sign showed the entrance to the driveway. Then we tramped up the broad road toward Senoncourt, keeping out on the side to avoid being struck by the ambulances and trucks that ran lightless through the dark with astonishing speed and accuracy. When well past the group of our tents, we turned to the right, and felt our way gingerly down to the brook, which often announced its presence only as we slopped into it. Then we were in the mess hall, a great bare shack with dirt floor and trestle tables but no seats, dimly lighted by candles and shaded lanterns, warm with the steam of food. And as we ate, wounded boys were patiently lying on the white tables, waiting for us to come back and attend to their injuries.
(Letter, Nov. 1.) "Speak about gruesome happenings! John Martin, who works in the lab here, went up to do an autopsy yesterday, and found that the corpse was that of a friend of his, a man he had been in college with three years."
Could one have guessed, in penning those words, that it was only half of the story, unrolling inexorably to its conclusion? For John Martin himself took the influenza a few weeks later, was critically ill in bed when the company moved to Germany, had to be evacuated, and died. He came from Oklahoma, and at the time of his enlistment was pursuing advanced study in the Massachusetts Agricultural College---a man of superior education and abilities. He had also one of the largest circles of warm personal friends in the company because of his unassuming and genial presence. Was that macabre meeting in the morgue tent a memento mori? I think the news of his death, which reached us long after the event, shocked and saddened us almost more than that of any man we lost.
(Diary A.) "Nov. 2. Rain, so to bed until 6 P.M. Full ward during night, and 4 Germans, one only 15 years old. One 23 could speak English, said Kaiser is in bad and will abdicate. Ludendorf started the war, he said. One fellow fell from bed, and then some real sweating to get him back again. Got some souvenirs and pictures, etc., all good."
(Diary C.) "Nov. 3. Learn of Kaiser's abdication. Austria ready to accept our terms. Boche plane brought down in the afternoon."
(Diary A.) "Nov. 6. Walked about, had fire call and read paper of Austrian armistice. Received 2 letters from home, Sept. 15 and Oct- 5. Full ward, plenty of mud, but with hip-boots I should worry."
(Letter, Nov. 6.) "I have described several cemeteries to you; suppose I try another. This is the best yet. It is the cemetery of a large French evacuation which has stood near here for four years. It is laid out with the utmost precision and elegance, with neat gravel walks and grass borders. Beautiful old trees shade the whole area. In the center stands a great concrete cross, from which the paths all radiate. In one corner there is a block of graves of French Algerians---Mohammedans---marked with white head and foot boards, scrawled with Arabic characters, looking toward the holy city and awaiting the great day when Mohammed shall summon the faithful to Paradise. And, so that they may not feel too much the shadow of the great cross, there has been built in the center of their section a beautiful little shrine tipped by a slender crescent. Another monument marks a third group of graves. On one side appears a recognizable copy of the Statue of Liberty, and on the other are these words: 'Que la terre de Lorraine soit douce à nos Alliés.' These are American graves. On each cross hangs a shield with the soldier's name, 'Mort sur le champ d'honneur,' and a large round medallion of the American flag. What wonderful, wonderful people the French are! "
(Diary A.) "Nov. 7. Lots of talk of peace, but no official news. Full ward at night."
(Diary C.) "Nov. 7. Heard from an unofficial source of Germany's surrender.
"Nov. 8. Officially confirmed."
(Diary A.) "Nov. 8. Had my bed decuddieized. Slept some but looked for news of armistice, which gives 72 hours for deciding. Full ward. Lots of mud outside. Cloudy all day but warm.
"Nov. 10. Up at 3 P.M. after short sleep. Walked to Senoncourt and back, beef supper, then to ward, and patients arrived in droves it seemed, but only slightly wounded. Rumors of armistice being signed seemed vague but possible.
"Nov. 11. Heavy barrage put over at 3 A.M. Patients still arriving. To bed at 9 A.M. but awakened by noise, fellows yelling about armistice."
(Diary B.) "Nov. 11. 7.30 A.M. Report armistice signed. Terrible barrage on now. 10.00, barrage still fierce and getting worse.
Finie la guerre! "
(Letter, Nov. 14.) "I suppose you would like to know how the war ended. Our papers are a day late, and we always ended the war every day while we waited for them. We knew that Germany had until 11 o'clock to sign, but the night before the guns roared and flashed, and when I got up a heavy barrage was still going over. I went to the operating room and found the receiving ward choked with wounded waiting operation. It didn't look like the end of the war. We started in, all the tables full, everybody working at top speed. About nine o'clock we got the rumor that Germany had signed., hostilities to cease at eleven o'clock. But meanwhile the barrage was getting fiercer. We hardly believed the news. Besides, we were too busy to think anyway. I forgot all about it. At eleven o'clock I was writing down a dictation. Here it is:
223. November 11, 1918. 11 A.M. Shock Ward. JONES, (number) JOHN H.
Pvt. Co. G. 3--- Inf. Duration 27 hrs.
GSW right shoulder, machine gun bullet perforating from above clavicle, through neck, apex of lung, and scapula. Extensive injury to scapula and adjacent muscle. Débridement of posterior wound. CD tubes.
Hold ...........................Maj. Shipley.'
"I was about half-way through when it suddenly seemed strangely quiet and still---almost uncomfortable. It took a moment for me to realize that the guns whose roar and concussion had kept the operating room shivering like a leaf in the wind almost without interruption for two months had ceased firing for ever."
(Diary C.) "Nov. 11. In the evening the French hospital was lighted brightly, no shutters on the windows."
(Letter, Nov. 11. ) "When I heard the guns stop, the first thing I thought was, 'Well, we can leave the operating room curtains up this evening!' And they're up! Can you imagine how glorious it seems to see light, light everywhere, and have no fear of a boche airplane?"
Every document I have seen which was written at Petit Maujouy on the day of the armistice records, as the most striking incident of that memorable day, the triumphant emergence of the light. For four years France had braved the darkness. The pouring out of the light again through unshuttered windows was a symbol. Men cannot live in the dark without the darkness' having a profound effect on their moral nature. With the setting free of that light which illuminates the physical darkness of men, there seemed to us to come another great light, flooding with its radiance all the morally dark places of the world, making clear as day a highway which we called the Highway of Peace. Was it only, after all, the mirage of our own longings? Lighten our darkness, we beseech Thee, O Lord.
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