Frederick A. Pottle


Chapter One

1. I urge the reader, before beginning this narrative, to peruse at least that paragraph of the Introduction (p. xii) which begins with the words, "I have not written this book, etc." back to text

Chapter Two

2. In the army an officer is never spoken of as a man. He is always referred to as an officer, and an enlisted man, be he ever so young, is spoken of as a man. One of our neighboring units had as an officer the most bowlegged man in the army. He was also a specialist in army discipline. It happened that one of our younger enlisted men, still a boy, had to speak to him in the presence of an officer from our company, and in doing so unluckily referred to our officer as "this man." The bowlegged officer flew into a disciplinary rage and addressed the boy as follows: "What outfit do you belong to? How long have you been in the army?" The boy was thoroughly frightened, but began to answer as well as he could. "Stand up like a soldier! " thundered the officer, and the boy snapped his heels together. "Stand like I do!" demanded the officer, and the boy obediently slumped as nearly as he could into the officer's bowlegged position. That ended the lesson. R.C.W. back to text

3. During the War, medical drill was by fours, front rank and rear rank being separate platoons. It is now done by squads of eight, like infantry drill. back to text

4. Army abbreviation for "galvanized iron." An army "G.I. can" is identical with a civilian ash can. back to text

Chapter Three

5. About this time the personnel of an evacuation hospital was officially fixed at 34 officers and 237 enlisted men. The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, VIII, 172. back to text

Chapter Four

6. I am not sure whether this was on the Caserta or on her sister ship the America by which I returned to the United States. But it is true to the letter. back to text

7. I think that it was on this hike that our adjutant gave us the famous lecture. He was a Russian Jew, an old-time Regular-Army Medical Corps sergeant, who, because of his remarkable knowledge of the intricacies of army "paper work" had been commissioned in the Sanitary Corps. The lecture came about something as follows: As we were marching along, wild with the joy of being at large again, we met a peasant woman driving a cow. One of the men jovially slapped the animal on the rump. I do not remember that the woman was in the least annoyed, but the adjutant thought the matter too serious to be allowed to pass without comment. He ordered us to fall out on a green bank beside the road, and harangued us for several minutes on our responsibilities in this strange land. French cows could not be expected to understand American manners; "their vays were not our vays." There was a great deal more of it, but the same refrain came in at every sentence: "Their vays are not our vays." back to text

8. The officers had their troubles, too, as the following anecdote testifies: "We arrived at Bazoilles in the late afternoon, and when we had eaten our dinner it was dark. Rows of empty barracks had been prepared for the patients expected. We were assigned to sleep that night in ward number five. We started out, loaded with our hand baggage, but lost our way, and after about half an hour's tramping arrived at the only lighted barrack in the vicinity, which we found to be occupied by Annamites, French Indo-Chinese. We attempted without success to inquire the way from them; they spoke French, but, like us, they spoke it their own way. Irving Berlfein, who was assisting with the luggage, had been in France before the War and offered to act as interpreter. He began, 'Parlez-vous français?' 'Oui, oui, monsieur,' replied the Annamites. Berlfein pondered a moment, and then in desperation blurted out, 'Well, where the hell is number five?'" R.C.W. back to text

Chapter Five

9. Red Johnstone writes on reading this, "Roscoe ought to mention how an officer met us in Meaux and whispered his orders to us. He whispered to crawl into a large French tent and throw off our packs, and that if we were needed he would call for us. His whispering had us thoroughly frightened. We all imagined that the Germans were about twenty feet in front of us. Next morning we woke up to find that we were some twenty kilometres from the front. Did he have laryngitis?"

The men brought back from Luzancy a yarn that became one of the most popular in the company's repertoire. I cannot vouch for the truth of any part of it, but I cite it as typical of the cycles of legends which all companies accumulated. The hospital at Luzancy was using the buildings of a large estate with a porter's lodge. This lodge was serving as the morgue, but the officer in charge of billets either forgot it, or was a humorist, for he assigned sleeping quarters there to two Evacuation Eight men. They went to the place after dark and made their beds on the floor, without striking a light because of the danger of air raids, naturally supposing that the other men over whom they stumbled were asleep. The night was cold, and they had only one blanket apiece. Being chilly and uncomfortable on the hard floor, they began telling each other stories, expecting, if not applause, at least a protest, but the other occupants of the room maintained an obstinate silence. One of the men finally rose, cautiously struck a light, and discovered that they were all corpses. He considered the situation a moment, then said: "Well, that being the case, you don't need the blanket"; divested a dead man of his covering, and put it over himself. back to text

Chapter Six

10. The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, VIII (Field Operations), 324, 325. back to text

11. From information kindly furnished me by the Surgeon General, April 29, 1929. back to text

12. This seems a good place to add an anecdote current in the company about service in aid stations: "One of our officers was temporarily assigned to duty with a front line regiment, and as a result of the advance he acquired a first aid station which had been abandoned by the enemy. One day he felt that the conditions there had become unbearable. He had previously reported the situation to his commanding officer, but to no avail. On this day he presented himself at headquarters during a lull in the battle, saluted, and said: 'Colonel, Sir, about that first aid station. I don't mind the fact that it faces the enemy's fire, I don't mind the fact that the steps are broken and the stretcher bearers usually fall down them with the wounded, I don't mind the fact that it is so wet and damp that we can't keep the dressings clean and dry, but, Colonel, Sir, I'm afraid I'll get killed out there! R.C.W. back to text

13. The immediate and almost miraculous effect of this radical surgical procedure is well shown by the following anecdote: "During the Meuse-Argonne, an American soldier who had been born in Italy was brought in in an apparently hopeless condition, practically unconscious from gas gangrene. A piece of shell had struck him in the back of the left upper thigh and had passed through and upwards across to the region of the right loin. The whole tract was a mass of gas gangrene which from outward appearances seemed impossible to remove. The surgeon operating called in consultation one of the older surgeons, who said, 'I would operate upon him and finish the operation if he died on the table. There is no hope otherwise.' The younger surgeon did as he was advised. The next day upon visiting the ward he found his patient very much alive, and asked him where he lived in America. The patient replied smilingly, 'Two dollars from Pittsburgh.'" R.C.W. back to text

14. For the boric acid, which was added to neutralize the alkalinity of the solution, some formulas substitute bicarbonate of soda. back to text

15. "G.S.W." stands for "gunshot wound" and "F.B." for "foreign body." back to text

16. "S. & W." stands for "sick and wounded" and "Hold" means "do not evacuate until further orders." back to text

17. "C.D." stands for "Carrel-Dakin," "F.C.C." for "compound comminuted fracture," and an "éclat" was a fragment of a high explosive shell casing. back to text

18. "W P" means "white, Protestant," and "5/12" stands for "five months." back to text

19. The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, VIII, 159. back to text

Chapter Seven

20. It was on one of these days, I think, that the same lieutenant gave the order for the company to advance at double quick. As he was fat, they ran away from him. In his panic at being left in the rear, he forgot the proper command, and gasped, "Stop 'em, sergeant! Stop em!" back to text

21. The author of this record, who talks as though he were middle-aged, was actually at this time something short of twenty-one. back to text

22. This was the Second Division, which after a six days' rest in villages along the Marne, was being rushed north for the Aisne-Marne offensive. back to text

23. Château Montanglaust, a mile or so from Coulommiers. Evacuation Seven had been here since the middle of June. back to text

24. "At 11 P.M. of July 15, enemy aviators bombed the hospitals at Château Montanglaust and Jouy-sur-Morin, without casualties at the former but killing 1 and wounding 18 patients and personnel at Jouy-sur-Morin, including 1 nurse. Four of those wounded by this attack died. The enemy volplaned downward toward the unit at Jouy-sur-Morin before releasing his bombs." The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, VIII, 354. The unit at Jouy was American Red Cross Hospital No. 107. back to text

25. The offensive on our side of the salient having started, we were now nearer the scene of heavy fighting than the hospitals farther east. back to text

26. I have at my disposal three diaries, which I shall hereafter designate (when I use extracts of any length) as Diary A, Diary B, and Diary C. I think it improves the flow of the narrative to present them thus anonymously, but any member of the company who wishes to spend a little time in detective work can easily identify the authors. back to text

Chapter Eight

27. All but the first of these towns seem to be between Bar-le-Duc and Neufchâteau, and are properly spelled Nançois-Tronville, Ligny (en Barrois), Menaucourt, Houdelaincourt, and Grand-Avranville. Mussey is a short distance the other side of Bar-le-Duc. back to text

28. It is erected on site where, according to tradition, Joan of Arc tended her flock, and received her visions. back to text

29. R.T.J. notes from his diary: "We were scattered all over town in hay lofts, cow barns, chicken coops, etc. Dirty, lousy men. Every night it seemed as though a thousand chicken lice were crawling over me. But I could soon fall asleep thinking how absurd to worry over lice and cooties when a man was at war." back to text

Chapter Nine

30. Petit Maujouy will be sought in vain on a map. Members of the company will recall the large group of farm buildings on the left of the road toward Ancemont, just beyond our encampment. This was "Maujouy Ferme." From it the large French surgical unit up the road took its name, and a French field hospital which had operated on the site we later took over was known as "Petit Maujouy" to distinguish it from its neighbor. The name descended to us. back to text

31. It was about this time that the Colonel was assigned his automobile. "it was a Dodge, of course of the vintage of 1918 or earlier. A ride in this grand vehicle was considered a rare favor. For some reason it proved necessary to change chauffeurs occasionally. The Colonel was once overheard interviewing a modest private who had been recommended to him by one of the sergeants. The interview went something as follows:

COLONEL: Private Blank, you have been recommended to me as a chauffeur. Can you drive a car?

PRIVATE: I think so, sir.

COL.: But do you think you know how to drive a car like mine? Did you drive a truck or something?

PRI.: Well, sir, I have driven more or less.

COL.: Do you know how to repair a car?

PRI.: Well, sir, I used to fix my own.

COL.: What kind of car did you own?

PRI.: A Marmon, sir."

R.C.W. back to text

32. There were less than seven thousand casualties in the entire operation. Practically all those on the southern side of the salient went to Evacuation Hospital No. 1 at Sebastopol Barracks near Toul, and those on the western side to Evacuations Six and Seven at Souilly. However, since the official army order designated Evacuation Eight and Mobile Hospital Two as the destination of all seriously wounded from the Fifth Corps, it appears that the number of severe wounds must have been small. The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War VIII, 275, 457, 507, 516. back to text

33. This was the opening fire of the Meuse-Argonne. back to text

34. I have included as an illustration a photograph of one of the pages of the operating room record on which this case was entered. Three teams were working simultaneously. The reason that we were getting so many "horrible cases" all at once, as I see now on examining the book, was that we were working on a series of patients from the shock ward. back to text

35. The record which I wrote for this boy in the operating room book reads as follows:

"October 2, 1918. 9 A.M. Ward 6

LAESCHKE, HERBERT, Prisoner of War.
Private, 263 Pioneer Infantry.
Duration of injury 5 days (?)

I. GSW scalp. Dressed. II. GSW left leg, FC left tibia and fibula. Bone débrided. Fracture reduced. 4 CD tubes. Splint applied by Lt. Morris.

Evacuate.................Lt. Nexsen" back to text

36. Doctor Lilienthal, though not a member of our original organization, became one of the best liked of our officers. I am sure he will not mind my adding this characteristic anecdote: "Col. Lilienthal had been in civil life for many years the surgeon-in-chief of a famous Jewish hospital in New York City (Mt. Sinai). At one time a division made up of recruits from the large cities on the Atlantic coast was in the line in front of us, and wounded from it were coming in. On one of the tables in the operating room a badly wounded Jewish boy was lying, suffering greatly as he waited his turn for operation. He kept quietly repeating to himself, 'Oi, Oi, Gewalt, Weh ist Mir,' over and over again. Col. Lilienthal happened to pass the table and overheard him. He turned to him quickly and said, 'Oh, for goodness' sake, keep still! You make me homesick.' " R.C.W. back to text

Chapter Ten

37. The following anecdote is more amusing, but perhaps its touching pluck covers a situation no less disastrous: "Usually the first question the surgeon asked a wounded man preparatory to operation was what outfit he came from. This was because we were so busy with our shift in the operating room and with seeing our patients in the wards afterwards that we could hardly follow the progress of a battle in any other way. The Wildcat Division from South Carolina was in front of us at one time, and when one of the wounded men was asked about his outfit, he replied, 'I was a wildcat, but I ain't so wild now.'" R.C.W. back to text

38. See p. 216. back to text

39. Unfortunately this happy state of affairs did not last long. back to text

Chapter Eleven

40. An army is divided into corps, a corps into divisions, a division into brigades, a brigade into regiments. Besides the men belonging to regiments and divisions, there are also "Corps Troops," or soldiers not divisional attached to corps headquarters, and "Army Troops" attached to army headquarters. We were "Army Troops," i.e., we never belonged to any division or corps. The bright shoulder patches worn on the uniforms distinguished these classes, by indicating the division, the corps, or the army. Divisional and corps troops made no change in their shoulder insignia on going into Germany; we did, because we were changing from the First Army to the Third. Our new shoulder patch was an "A" circled by an "O." I find that American civilians generally think that this was the distinguishing mark of all members of the Army of Occupation. As a matter of fact, only a small part of that army wore it. back to text

41. The officers' mess also had its scandals, though of a different kind: "One of our prominent officers suffered from autointoxication, for which he considered it essential to drink each day a quart of milk inoculated with bacillus bulgaricus. The whole company in Mayen was allowed only eight quarts, but one was set aside for this purpose. Some one conceived the scheme of adding a drop of croton oil besides the culture. When the effect was reported, the other officers were to blame it on some tropical disease, and advise the evacuation of the sufferer to a base hospital for adequate treatment. Visitors happened to arrive on the morning of the first dose. The commotion aroused was so extensive and so alarming that the campaign was not continued." R.C.W. back to text

42. I am not quite sure of this, for the paper continued publication after both Davidson and I left Germany. back to text

43. This was a mistake, but I think the writer of the letter was accurately reporting what he had been told. President Ebert was born of Catholic parents, and is said never to have completely broken with the Church. But since the majority of the leaders of the Socialist party were Jews, it is easy to see how the misapprehension arose. back to text

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