Wednesday, June 13th
I've about had my fill of sight-seeing. The D.G., however, is not to be refused and he announced last night he was going to give me a "joy ride"---that Col. Morgan was going along and that we were to be joined by one "Davy," the nicest man in the army ---"a dear boy in fact." Everyone below the rank of colonel is a "dear boy" to the General. And so we started out about nine for our rendezvous with Major Davidson (D.A.D.M.S. to General Pike of the 1st Army) at the Camblain-l'Abbé crossroads, north of Aubigny.
Joined by him who may, for convenience, henceforth be "Davy," we proceed through Villers-au-Bois to Carency---much destroyed-with the ruined towers of Mt. St. Eloi to the south and those of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette to the north---on to Souchez, absolutely flattened out---not even a piece of wall remaining as a landmark. Two big 15" howitzers, knocked out by a lucky German shot, stood about as high as anything in the ruins, for Souchez with its little salient has been in the very thick of it since September 1914. It was about time to put on our tin hats and adjust our gas masks, which we wore for the rest of the day. Surprising how comfortable the helmets are---no worse than our standard U.S. officer's caps---but the box respirator around my neck weighed on me with unpleasant reminders of life-belt days
And so across the lines to the ridge, where words fail to give any conception of the desolation. No convulsion of Nature could have done what man and man's machines have done. We bumped our way along a partly repaired road which led through "Zouave Valley," in which the Canadians had been desperately floundering for so long in the wet and cold, and up toward the ridge---passing craters from those 10 to those 30 feet across, and some almost as deep; passing rows and rows of old wire entanglements, communication trenches, line upon line of fighting trenches, all more or less obliterated. Finally past the German first line, barely recognizable except for the fact that the entrances to the dugouts now faced east instead of west.
It was an upheaval of sandbags, accoutrements, broken rifles not worth salvaging, entrenching tools, cartridge clips and machine-gun ribbons, food tins, water bottles, helmets, trench mortars, unexploded shells of every size, hand grenades, to which we give a wide berth, a human tibia exhumed from somewhere, bits of clothing---and often smells, though two months have given ample time for burials. What may be in the bottom of the pits, however, one can only guess. Salvage corps were still at work, and the whole western side of the slope was seething with people making new roads and engaging in the ant-like activity of man when he too burrows and builds and carries up food and takes away grains of sand.
We got as far forward with the car as was safe, and then on foot to the top overlooking the great plains to the eastward. The Boche was kind and all the firing was over our heads, indeed this was so all day, and we had no uncomfortable moments, though on the margin of the treeless ridge one could be as easily seen against the sky line as if standing on the hill crests behind Camiers. The visibility was low so that Lens was just to be made out in the haze. Everything between Souchez and Givenchy---for the long-fought-over line ran about halfway between them---has been absolutely wiped out---a blot of ruins---nothing standing---and we could look down on Givenchy en Gohelle with "the Pimple" beyond it, on Petit-Vimy and Vimy itself, with what we took to be the husks of Avion and Mericourt beyond.
Fascinated, we stayed for about an hour-picking out the present line of German trenches by the puffs of the shell explosions, and trying to identify the distant towns through our glasses. The shelling from our side, as near as we could tell, was directed: toward Fresnoy or Oppy. It recalled the view over Messines Ridge on Thursday, and that two years ago from Scherpenberg Hill out over Ypres---too vast to comprehend. Impossible to contract anything on such a scale down to one's own experiences; it is far easier to magnify small things in the imagination and thus get some conception of what had been going on.
Scattered everywhere was the litter I've feebly described, with openings into dugouts which are not safe to investigate, for they may contain anything from bodies to traps as yet unexploded. Most of the craters had standing water in them, but some were dry, and into one of these I climbed down. Among the canteens and food tins and fragments of tools and weapons was a broken stretcher, and alongside of it a British helmet with a through-and-through rifle shot---also stains on the band within to show what happened to the poor chap who now lies buried and unknown in the bottom of the crater in which he had fallen---in all likelihood with the load he was helping to carry. At one place we came upon some rough graves marked C.D. 24, probably the 24th Canadians, but burials for the most part must have been shallow---often enough in holes already made.
We finally picked our way back over the long slope to our car, and then south along the former Lens-Arras road to the old line near Écurie, where we crossed the famous labyrinth and worked our way back toward Neuville-St. Vaast, of which, needless to say, little remains standing---for it too was in the path of the cyclone. Among the ruins we came on a field ambulance, in front of which flower beds had been planted with the "9th Canadian" outlined among them in whitewashed stones.
They were "taking in," and when we asked for the C.O. someone pointed to a hole in the ground among the ruins embanked by sandbags. Down this we went through a cellar, once part of an old brewery, and into a subcellar, where by the light of a candle a cheery person was found who said he was Charles N. Vipond, a McGill classmate of Patterson's. He showed us about through the amazing subterranean chambers constructed by the Boches before the battle of the Somme, I believe. Here in the dark the stretcher cases are stored on shelves, layer by layer, until they can be evacuated after a bad "strafing."
We finally got back to the road roughly parallel to the line and retraced our steps from La Targette toward Souchez, to pick up "Davy's" car, which was to meet us there. And such a road! There were entrances of dugouts everywhere along the eastern bank, many of course still inhabited, also rows of 9.2" gun emplacements with the beasts in position, camouflaged with paint, and partly concealed under loosely woven wire screens entangled with shreds of cloth the color of the soil. Hollow observation towers stood among fallen trees, and not until they were pointed out did I recognize them for what they were. From the stumps of such splintered roadside trees as were still standing, shreds of brown burlap fluttered---relics of a screen to conceal the movement of troops or lorries along this important road which was in plain sight from the ridge.
In a thistle field we ate our lunch of oranges and sandwiches, and then up on the ridge again---this time through Thélus, of which no stone stands on another, and where we saw more big British guns badly damaged and not yet removed. We soon stumbled on a No. 3 Field Ambulance flag in front of an embanked and sandbagged hole with precipitous steps leading down---I counted 40 to the first landing-Lord help the stretcher-bearers! ---and we felt our way in with lighted matches and discovered a sleepy orderly, who showed us the chamber where first-aid is given---also the old Boche diverticula not yet investigated, and more or less fallen in or blown up---perhaps not very safe, for they had a way of leaving mine traps in these places when driven out.
And so on to the Thélus part of the ridge, where we expected to find the great underground caverns. First we came to the openings of some large, heavily concreted German gun emplacements, with their dugouts and ammunition pits behind them in what once was a beech wood stretching down the eastern slope. On the stump of an old gray beech with about a three-foot bole, initials and hearts had been cut, as on beech trees everywhere, but there were different kinds of scars now---and in one of them was wedged irremovably the round top of a German food tin with the label still adherent.
The British artillery must have located these guns, for the massive emplacements, heavily sodded over, were badly smashed up, and the piles of ammunition behind were tumbled about in every, direction. They were evidently field pieces---77's---for the shells were all in the familiar baskets we used to see in Paris on people's mantels---three shells to a basket. There were hundreds of them sheltered behind each emplacement-their paper tags still them: "Kleine Ladung" in pink and "Nur Az" in larger letters on a larger label. A little farther down the slope, 50 yards perhaps behind the guns, were the German dugouts with some dirty uniforms lying about as though they were still inhabited---and so they were, for suddenly a Tommy gunner's head popped out of one of the holes where he had come in turn to make his own nest.
The view was even better than in the morning, and beyond ruined Farbus we could see Willerval, where the line now is, and what we took for Fresnoy in the plain beyond. The plateau of the ridge was pocked with craters and we chanced upon the dugout of a lean gunner colonel, the color of the earth---an Irishman---very voluble---very glad to have a chance to talk to someone---and particularly to grouse, which he did cheerily. Didn't want to complain of course, but hadn't been on a rest billet except for 13 days for twelve months. Now living like a rat in a hole off an old German trench---very unhealthy place. "Lice?" "No, shells; they strafe us every day. Come in and have a drink." We found one small cave inhabited by a few British gunners, but did not locate the larger ones, regarding the exact situation of which the Tommies showed their usual vagueness of place, distance, and direction. No one seemed to want to come above ground; and indeed up on the plateau no one but ourselves was to be seen.
And so back across the labyrinth country, passing the largest mine craters we had seen---fully 60 feet in diameter. One of them had the remains of a sandbag parapet and trench on each side east and west, with communication trenches leading up to them. The combatants must have looked into one another's very faces across the space.
At the famous "aux Rietz" corner we again picked up our car and proceeded along the highway toward Arras, through a country packed with everything conceivable pertaining to war, past every kind of gun and lorry---some with wireless installations, others with carrier-pigeon lofts on them; the eastern side of the road lined again with the sandbagged entrances to dugouts, past huge camps of soldiers and A.S.C. men---a jumble. At St. Catherine, on the outskirts of Arras, we stopped at a field ambulance in an old, much shelled maltery. Col. Bewley---the divisional A.D.M.S., and doing the best job in the army according to "Davy"---happened to be there and showed us about. It was he who brought Gen. Congreve over to No. 19 at Agnez last Tuesday to have his forearm amputated.
Col. Bewley insisted on showing us his ambulance, and then took us to tea at No. 39's mess, which we found after dropping into an unexpected cellar through a trapdoor on which was the following inscription:
This sign to keep off intruders had little effect, for at least three officers broke in while we were "teaing," to ask their way---and usually failed to close the trapdoor, which made the company grouse, for a cloud of dust blew in on the tea and least popular form of jam---apricot. In this subterranean messroom was a beautifully carved inlaid and gilded sideboard of about Louis XV time, and I recall, on passing openings in other dugouts along the road, seeing once-handsome sofas and upholstered chairs, usually with splinted and bandaged legs and arms, to be sure. Why not, for the houses they have come from have since vanished.
Having thus looked first behind the curtain, we then went through Arras itself---more badly damaged than one would surmise from a distance, though the massive cathedral with its collapsed roof and ruined tower-little more than a great mound of rubble---can be seen for miles. Heaven only knows how often Arras-on-the-Scarpe has been laid waste and ravaged by vandals in bygone times, or how many treaties have been signed here or how many elaborate tapestries---perhaps after Jean Foucquet's actual designs---were woven here in the fifteenth century and scattered throughout Europe. Certainly it could never have been so hard hit before, yet I suppose a new Arras will inevitably arise on the ruins, and that these two recent years of incessant bombardment will simply fade into past history.
So back to Hesdin, dropping "Davy" with regrets at St. Pol on -the way; and subsequently a luxurious hot bath in a rubber foot tub, a pleasant dinner in agreeable company, and early to bed.
Thursday, June 14th. Camiers
Anxious to see for himself in what condition the wounded have reached the Base, Bowlby brought me back in his car this morning. We made a detour via the Abbeville road to get a glimpse of Crécy, with the Forêt de Crécy beyond. In the little town itself we saw the old unexplained Spanish monument and one or two newer shafts; and finally with the aid of two sous and a small boy, who climbed on the running board, we drove off to the south for a kilometre or so and found the old weather-beaten granite cross with some lines from Froissart cut in below, and this inscription:
The blind John of Bohemia was one of eleven princes killed on that day, and it was his feathers that Edward the Black Prince, who commanded a division of the English, adopted as the Prince of Wales's emblem.
Then on to Douriez and along the valley of the Authie to Roussent, whence, by a lovely, little traveled road east of the main highway, north to Montreuil and to Étaples, where fresh vegetables are purchased for the mess; and so home---for my tent in our shabby old camp really has become "home." The 1000 or so admissions during the week have been well cared for by the Unit, and Sir Anthony is gratified with the appearance of the men and their dressings as sent down from the forward C.C.S.'s which he supervises.
Friday, June 15, 1917. Camiers
A convoy early this morning---as usual, about 1 a.m. Fitz handled them well. It's been very hot---a good thing we have no thermometer. Fortunately the nights are better. It's also very dry. Young Captain Graham has just been here from his present quarters at No. 26 General, near Etaples. Wanted to see how the flowers he'd planted last spring around the ditch encircling his---now my---conical tent were getting on.
There is quite a showing of bright blossoms which he calls Virginia stock, among them some little blue nemophilas. Just behind these a few patches of scarlet Linum, if that's the way to spell it, and a few ditto of dwarf (very) nasturtiums. Then come in turn a row of scarlet godetias, a few Shirley poppies, a thin line of mignonette, and at each corner some sweet peas now about eight inches high, but which (he assures me) are to be very wonderful-- -Queen Alexandra, Duke of Westminster, Lord Nelson in flesh tints, and some other lord or lady I disremember. All this from a circular mound of clay a foot wide around the tent, with occasional bamboo poles awaiting the peas.
We Americans are too new at soldiering to see the importance of such things, and poor Graham looked sadly at the little market garden beside the mess hut which had not been weeded since we took it over, and where parsnips, radishes, and carrots about two inches high are concealed by weeds of six. This is the way races overgrow one another---the more undesirable, the deeper they root---and I wonder what will happen here at the end of this blooming war. Talk of our American melting pot! For here are Annamites and Egyptians, Zulus and Kaffir laborers, Chinese coolies, Algerians and Indians---at least there once were. The labor battalions must far outnumber the male natives---certainly the breeding natives---and the women, it seems, are none too moral or fastidious. Well! I'd rather think of Graham and his flowers. Scarlet pimpernels grow everywhere hereabouts. They, at least, breed true.
Sunday p.m., and stifling hot. The larks like it, however, and they are singing madly. Been tacking some oilcloth, which Harry Lyman has procured, on my packing-box washstand and dresser. Very fine. The Boston tins, too, are well adapted for compartments in one's dresser. Butler, my batman, seems to take an interest, though just why I do not know, except that these Britishers of the lower classes make extraordinarily good servants. He came out with the 2nd Army in 1915, was wounded at Loos, in hospital eight months with a badly shattered arm---fortunately left. Now he is P.B., which, opened out, means "Permanent Base"---in other words, unfit for any other duties than at the Base. He might have been T.B. ("Temporary Base") or even P.I. or dead. So Butler, after all, is lucky---so am I.
Our neighbors at No. 22 under Hugh Cabot are a festive lot and, having unoccupied territory in their environs, play baseball vigorously once or twice a week---an open challenge. Yesterday some gunners from the training camp (infantry) at Hardelot, between here and Boulogne, accepted the challenge and were sadly beaten.
Monday, June 18
Disciplinary court session---wards---operating. Private Fordham and his brain abscess. Much about delayed tetanus, of which we have four cases. Some of the boys skeptical. Colonel Lister, the eye specialist, to tea. Says there are an immense number (2000?) totally blind among the Italian troops---shells dropping on hard rock send off myriads of fine particles. Sandbags, of course, have the same effect everywhere. Sand blown right through lids---and the globes are burst.
Wednesday, the 20th
Difficulties with the electric current, which we can only use by courtesy of No. 18. It went off duty just as I had a nail in Fordham's abscess and was about to connect with the magnet.
Thursday, the 21st
Succeeded in getting the piece of shell three inches deep in Fordham's brain. Hope the principle of "fixing" the abscess cavity a possible one. Rose Bradford---the Base Medical Consultant---here in p.m., and cheered the internists greatly. This old encampment is infested with rats. Accordingly the gunners-they seem to be the most resourceful people hereabouts---appear with three yellow ferrets, a sheep dog, and many clubs. One rat secured, I believe. The British soldier dotes on a sporting event.
Friday, the 22nd
One of the many things I have to learn is how to get out of a tightly buttoned-up bell tent when the ropes are soggy and shrunken after a night's rain. I can manage the underwear, but the outer layer from inside beats me after one's batman has buttoned and laced it up securely from outside during the storm. Ligation of vertebral artery for traumatic aneurysm.
Wednesday, June 27
6 p.m. Hot. S.I.T.(8) Major Goodwill, U.S.R., here to-day in a large motor car talking copiously of "reconstruction"---must organize our American medical forces on the basis of reconstruction---going home Saturday to see Gorgas about it before he gets organized on some other basis. G. is a fine chap, though visionary. He came down to earth for a moment, in order to enter the slit in my palatial abode. In this process he observed that my garden needed weeding, and, stooping casually, pulled three varieties of weeds. I have long known it needed weeding, but as I couldn't tell the dwarf nasturtiums from French weeds (though I am studying "French self-taught with phonetic pronunciation" while I shave in the morning) I didn't dare try any reconstruction business on my own hook. This is bad, too, because Graham cycles over twice a week from Étaples to see how "they" are getting on, and looks rather sad.
I therefore surreptitiously preserved the three samples of G.'s weeding and put them away where "P.B." Butler couldn't find them. With the aid of these specimens, I have just weeded my southeast quadrant and it's quite wonderful. To-morrow for the northeast; and I hope Graham will come over in the evening. I shall pretend that it was the first opportunity I have had to do any redding up. There's nothing but clay southwest and northwest---not even weeds.
We have a new D.O.R.E. in our district---Colonel Kitto. The R.E. is easy---viz., Royal Engineers---but D.O. beats me as yet. Anyhow, he is an important person to cultivate, particularly when you want to get the roof of the mess hut retarred, some linoleum on the floor, another electric light, and the kitchen made dust-and water-tight.
To No. 26 with Graham---a fine new layout all in huts! A special ward with a laboratory---heavy accent on the first o, please---in charge of Bashford. Great opportunity for work. B. doing some interesting things with Carrel-Dakin fluid on pollywogs.
Very simple way of determining the relative bactericidal powers of different fluids.
Sunday, July 1
Much rain the past few days, leaving us in a sea of mud, which possibly accounts for my state of mind. We have learned from the Canadians that we have been given the poorest place for a hospital in France. So bad it was, even two years ago, that the McGill Unit, who were then here, refused to "carry on" and were removed to the heights above Boulogne. It has since led a hand-to-mouth existence and become much deteriorated. It was offered to the Engineers, who said it might do for a hospital, but not for them. We've been at it a month now, and aside from the C.O.'s justifiable grumbles about the water and milk and sump pits and sanitation in general, I've heard no complaints.
We were organized by the Red Cross for a 500-bed base hospital. We at this date have 1876 patients in our marquees, and during the month 3000 have passed through our hands. Our Red Cross equipment has never been received [it was subsequently sent off to Halifax after the disaster there] and we are obliged to borrow a motor ambulance to do our marketing.
All this has been taken in the day's work, but it seems time now to find out what we are to look forward to ---either remaining here with the B.E.F. for "duration" and spending our company fund to make the place habitable, or carrying on as best we can "as is," with the expectation of being transferred to the A.E.F. Meanwhile our flags, so movingly consecrated by Bishop Lawrence, have scarcely been out of their rubber cases since we left Fort Totten. I wish the nurses and men were equally well protected from the cold and wet.
Tuesday, July 3rd
George Denny, Chairman of the Laundry Committee, squares himself by pinning notices on our bulletin board. I regret not having copied the earlier ones. To-day as follows---with an empty match box tacked on below:
LAUNDRY. Persons receiving articles in their wash of unknown origin will kindly place them in this box. Honesty is the best policy, and by means of the box method all hard feelings will be wiped out and each can receive his own goods through an excellent clearing house system. I am counting on the purity of soul of the command to make the idea efficient.
G. P. DENNY, L.C.
To-night a sock with many holes was draped over the box.
Yesterday a visit from Colonel Leishman on my solicitation, concerning a mortuary; he brought with him a high-up sanitary officer with many service ribbons and much gold braid. The belligerent Patterson was away, taking a French lesson, which was perhaps just as well, for though I did not know the whereabouts of the sump pits---old and new---I could tell the general story of our unsanitary compound. Was it worth while, in short, to spend more money on an admittedly poor camp? We had tea, and I atoned later, I hope, for plain speech. As a result the local D.D.M.S. spent most of this morning here with our C.O. looking the ground over.
July 4, 1917
Vive l'Amérique! An historic day to have arrived in Paris---though a bad one for my particular quest on this very account. After a real bath at the Crillon, I met the Strongs hustling about ---must go immediately to Les Invalides---they have tickets---special seats---Pershing---American troops---Fourth of July---punctually at nine---great doings, and so forth. So, breakfastless, I joined them and we rushed off in a decrepit taxi, but soon became so mixed up in the crowd we never got to our seats---merely saw between people's heads the bayonets of our boys squared up in the inner court. The corridors were jammed with poilus and others, frantically cheering while General Pershing received two banners from the descendants of men who had fought with Lafayette.
July, 1917. In the Court of Les Invalides after the Descendants of Officers Who Had Served with Lafayette Had Presented General Pershing with the "Guidons de Commandement"
A Few Decorated Doughboys on Guard Outside the Picpus Cemetery during the Ceremonies
I escaped back to breakfast and was just opening an egg when they came marching across the Place de la Concorde---about a battalion, I should think, of not especially well-set-up or well-drilled troops---newly enlisted men of the 16th Infantry, I believe ---marching in squads.
I left the egg and joined the excited populace, which was fairly mobbing the men, covering them with flowers---quite thrilling. In the midst of it all a daring aviator swooped into the square---down, it seemed, almost to the people's heads, certainly below the level of the obelisk-turned corners standing on one wing, then on the other---rose again, dived down and up once more---looped the loop once or twice---then climbed up and was away to the south. A most daredevil, Gallic performance. Guynemer, they said it was---an ace---many German planes to his credit---in a new Hispano-Suiza machine capable of 200 km. an hour. Sounds fast,---especially the Suiza.
I walked back to the Crillon wondering about my egg, when some American Ambulance people were encountered---a Mr. Williams, an auxiliaire named Mrs. Rhodes, and a newly arrived Mr. Turnbull of New York---who insisted that I go with them to the ceremony at the Picpus. The cemetery where Lafayette is buried is in a remote part of Paris, and we reached there some half hour before the battalion arrived. Though allowed in the churchyard, we were held up at the entrance to the small enclosure where is Lafayette's tomb, surrounded by an old crumbling wall about ten feet or so in height.
We waited while many pundits were shown through the gate; and, having had our offer to go through in company with them politely refused once or twice, we stood wondering what to do. Others, many of them in fact, were in the same boat, and we kept encountering folks like Major Parsons of the Engineers and his wife who shared our ambition. At this juncture various kinds of people---newspaper photographers, some blessés (not very blessé), and some French people of neither military age nor military sex ---began to scale the wall with the aid of a ladder procured from somewhere.
A Frenchwoman, well astride, beckoned to Mrs. Rhodes that there was room beside her, and up she went without a moment's hesitation. So I followed and straddled the wall between a Moroccan petit-officier covered with medals and an oldish man who said he was a Belgian from Dixmude. This was a Humpty-Dumpty performance, but we had the best possible view of the ceremonies below us and hope we were not in range of the movie cameras going off like a barrage on all sides.
Many dignitaries were grouped about the tomb, "Papa" Joffre among them, and I may add that he had to be pushed forward into the front row, for, though he has been kicked upstairs by an unappreciative government, the people still adore him. Mr. Sharp spoke at length. Brand Whitlock read at still greater length many pages about civilization and humanity---very immaculate, in eye-glasses with a heavy black braid and in spats---both the speech and B.W. Then Colonel Stanton, U.S.A., brief and to the point. Finally le Général Pershing s'avance à la tribune "without the intention of speaking"; but he did, briefly---a fine-looking man with a square chin and proper shoulders. He may have said, "Lafayette, nous voici," but if so we didn't hear it on the wall. Then followed more in French by M. Painlevé, Minister of War, concerning "les deux peuples unis par le même idéal"; and finally the Mayor of Puy wound up with an hommage or something of the sort to Lafayette. Thereupon we climbed down, or rather fell off, into the cabbage garden on the side we had ascended, and took our way back to the Crillon, seeing the flower-bedecked battalion pass by with their escort of French cavalry.
Then lunch and to business---my two Paris quests being (1) to find out what, if anything, the U.S. Army Medical Corps has in store for us, and (2) to secure a motor car of whatsoever sort for the use of Base Hospital No. 5. On the way to quest I met Robert Bacon by chance. Long talk with him about the general situation, on our way to the temporary U.S.A. headquarters; but 27 rue Constantine proves no place for a major---crowd there already--everyone trying to get something he wants---most of them outranking me.
Quiet dinner with the Blisses. They have had a strenuous time these past two years. It's fortunate two people so popular and so conversant with French should have been at the Embassy. R.B. tells an interesting story of the two Wilson notes of last December. The first of them transmitted the German proposal for peace, and, the Ambassador being away, R.B. had to present it himself. A few days later came Wilson's famous communication to both combatants asking what they meant by the war anyway and what their objectives were---so far as he could see they were very much alike on both sides---or something of this sort. So it at least sounded to most of us at home.
Mrs. B. had been at the Chambres des Députés in the afternoon to hear the discussion regarding the German proposals, and the statement had been made there that the Allies would transmit their terms on the following day to the Central Powers through Mr. Wilson. This news she promptly telephoned to the Embassy, where they were in process of decoding the President's second note, which threw an entirely different light on the matter. Consequently R.B. thought it was absolutely essential---as soon as they got the drift of the note late in the afternoon---that the fact of its reception and general tenor should promptly be made known to the Foreign Office. In the Ambassador's absence he had to make this decision himself, and so he took it to Cambon. Cambon was quite thunderstruck and called in Briand. Both of them purple in the face---simply furious. Wilson on the side of the Germans---playing into their hands from the outset---Wilson a mufle. The only way they could be pacified was to explain that, while the message had not as yet been fully decoded, it seemed necessary that they should be made aware of its having been received. All told, a very trying time, and truly we had no friends anywhere.
Mrs. B. a trump---will help us get our needed transportation in the shape of a Ford ambulance with French trimmings---in fact through Richard Norton has already taken steps in this direction; and if she succeeds we had better be prepared to motor it back to Camiers instanter, before someone else gets hold of it.
Paris, July 6
People simply running around in circles here. Newly appointed officials arriving and the old volunteer organizations wholly disregarded. American Ambulance and Field Service people in a predicament---much agitated to know what will happen to them and rather inclined to remain with the Service de Santé. Found I could do nothing at 21 rue Raynouard in Passy;(9) but at the Ambulance later Mrs. Vanderbilt said she would give us one of her own cars if necessary. Col. Kean, late military director of the Red Cross, now in charge of U.S.A. motor ambulance services in France and the Norton-Harjes Formation (Section Sanitaire No. 5), likely to be disbanded. Richard Norton's despair over this was what gave us our chance. In another 24 hours we would never have squeezed a car out of the American Army. Telegraphed the D.D.M.S. at Étaples begging him to dispatch someone from No. 11 General to help bring back a motor ambulance.
American Red Cross at 5 rue François Premier getting a vast organization started under Jim Perkins, who was very kind; but the place was full of people, all of whom want something. Find I can do much better at the soon-to-be-abandoned American Clearing House, where Geoffrey Dodge and Russell Greeley promise to load our car with all manner of things we greatly need---from needles and thread to warm woollies and matador stoves, cached in the Distributing Service Warehouse. George Derby arrives, and together we go to the garage at 79 rue Longier, where we can hardly believe our eyes!---was a ciel-bleu Ford ambulance of latest model---the French Army number 44970 painted on its side with the usual "4 assis: 3 couchés"-also ´U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 5," black on a white background, and "American Red Cross Ambulance" along the bottom-heavy studded tires already on, her tank full of essence. And when we were then given, not only an official Ordre de Mission signed and dated, but also four booklets marked, "Livret Matricule de Véhicule Automobile," on which we could draw for "Essence et Ingrédients, Pneumatiques et Chambres à Air, Aménagements, Accessoires, Outillage et Rechange," at any French Military Park---our sensations were indescribable! We had been in the nick of time. What a welcome awaits us when we reach No. 11 General actually in our own car packed solid with much needed supplies . . . .
Wednesday, July 11th
Very busy two days. Evident wholesale evacuation of C.C.S.'s. A number of bad cases sent down. To my lot fell an aneurysm of the right carotid with left hemiplegia and pressure signs. A ligation under local anæsthesia stopped the aneurysm but did not improve his intracranial condition, and he died in the night.
Many official visitors. They are becoming concerned about us. "Tiger" Macpherson from G.H.Q. here with Colonel Carr. Tells us we can be transferred to No. 13 General in Boulogne if we so desire. The D.O.R.E. came in person to discuss our repeated request for repairs---three husky Tommies have taken a week to cover part of the messroom with burlap, with no underlying tar paper, so the dust comes in just the same. Another pair have taken two days in the attempt to cover a filthy screen, and finally gave it up.
An embarrassing episode in regard to our quixotic pledge which many men, and one officer, alas! have broken. We face it, and publicly call off the pledge before the men, though the mess is to remain dry, and I think most of us in it. The Kaffirs have been moved, and we are to be given their small compound---I hoped for a playground, but the Padre has already planted a recreation tent in the middle of the small lot.
Thursday the 12th
The pessimistic liaison officer's expectation of the Russians has come true. Halicz has fallen to General Korniloff in the course of a surprising advance of fifteen miles, with many prisoners and guns. Meanwhile it is rumored that the British in their new territory by the sea have had a mishap and been driven back to and across the Yser.(10) Strategic positions lost; and a whole battalion that was cut off by destruction of the bridges with shellfire was captured. A British officer tells me this is merely a tap on the nose received early in the bout.
Towne and I, with Miss Gerrard the anæsthetist and Pte. Clifford, constituting a "team," have been ordered to get our gas masks and helmets. We were put through the gas chamber this afternoon at the machine gunners' camp, while some tear gas was tried on us. Very disagreeable and suffocating. How anyone can sleep in the things beats me.
Sunday, July 15
Yesterday morning largely passed at Étaples, getting some peculiar supplies from the Medical Stores: e.g., asphalt, tar, beeswax (flav. and alb.), paraffin, and from No. 51 two guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are scarcer than rabbits, and Robertson, who has found some spirochetes in the urine of two trench-fever cases, simply must have them. They cost---approximately---a guinea apiece in the London market. At No. 51 they use two a week for their Wassermann reactions. They have about three left, and Robertson accepts from Major Wetherell the best two, with thanks, and they get covered with tar on the way home, having been put in the same receptacle with this substance. Robby transfers most of it to his uniform in the process of rescue.
Looking down from the Chalk Ridges on the Dannes-Camiers Hospital Groups. View toward the Sea
The Queen and "the D.G." Leaving No. 2 General to Visit Base Hospital No. 5. View toward the Ridges
To-day a visit at No. 26 to see Bashford about Dakin's dichioramine-T preparations. Some very encouraging results by Morrison, with closure of large wounds by secondary suture. Explain my plans of combined paraffin treatment. Try a case with Harvey this afternoon---very septic compound fracture of lower leg. Serious air raids over London of late---the full details just coming out---together with an unrivaled specimen of the new sacred poetry of the Boche:---
Du der über Cherubinen,
In der höchsten Höhe tronest.
Monday, July 16th
10 p.m. R.B.O. and I have just climbed the hill to see the sunset over the distant sea. Very beautiful it was. Some Tommies up there shooting rabbits: also a few V.A.D.'s and gunner officers somewhat more interested in themselves than in the color of the sky or the rabbits. This at the end of a long day's trip in company with Roger Lee, Harmon, and the piratical D.D.M.S. of Étaples ---to visit the camp site near St. Omer, offered to us as an alternative to No. 13 at Boulogne
We reached Hesdin in time to lunch with General Sloggett and his staff, including "Tiger Mac." The D.G. described his recent tour with the Queen and her party---very enjoyable---"they like people to be like people." He says she is shy: so I retract what I said about her stiffness. They took all their meals together like ordinary folk. "Mary" very much gratified with the reception given her everywhere by the French people. Sir Arthur adds that the Prince is a little brick---"dear boy"---alert, interesting, lovable ---wants to get into the trenches with the others. "Why not?" says he. "I have plenty of brothers." They evidently struck up a warm friendship.
I gathered that the D.G. and General Macpherson would like us to take on this new project---St. Omer to become a large hospital centre---ours, if we accept the offer, to be geographically the most advanced general hospital in France---largely for acute sick, cranial wounds, and fractured femurs. Also such other cases as we wish to work upon. Three other hospitals already there---No. 7 for shell shock, etc., Nos. 58 and 59, which are new territorial hospitals; also three stationary hospitals---No. 4 for eye, dental, cutaneous, etc., cases, No. 10 General and No. 7 Canadian, where wounded and sick prisoners are taken.
On reaching St. Omer we picked up Major Prynne, recently D.O.R.E. at Camiers, who took us out to the site-alas, nothing yet but a site---with a few Boche prisoners carrying some pipes across a field preparatory to laying a drain. Still, it's a lovely spot---an unpretentious French château in a small but charming park--- an old wall covered with roses, a pretty wood with big trees, ferns, birds, and flowers, and a large field beyond. Very fine on a sunny day like to-day. But it would take six months at least to do anything with it; and the prospect of a winter passed in tents, even if better than what we now have, does not strike Roger or Harmon very favorably. For myself I should have liked to tackle the job and spend some of our company fund on it. After all, what's a few months? The alternative is to turn No. 13 out, and they will have to find some other place. "Cuckoos" is a name given to an Irish Medical Unit that kept turning people out of their nests.
We stopped for a brief spell at the large aerodrome near St. Omer and saw a veritable flock of planes in the air. Then back home via Desvres and Samer---the country beautiful beyond words and the crops all very fine---just enough rain for them to swell before ripening. Harmon was greatly excited by our trip---his first away from Camiers---but had no idea where we were until we reached Neufchâtel and came in sight of the C.H.D.A.V.C.---Convalescent Horse Depot of the Army Veterinary Corps. Of course if this should ever become known to the enemy it might be serious, for war is a matter of secrecy and concealment, and no German could possibly have guessed what all these initials stood for unless I wrote it out.
Tuesday, July 17th
It's extraordinary that our Harvard juniors at No. 22 General across the way, being enrolled as an R.A.M.C. unit, are using volunteer Americans as V.A.D.'s, whereas we, an undermanned U.S. Army outfit, must use British V.A.D.'s, of whom we have about 50, and are neither permitted to send for our officially enrolled Nurses' Aids from Boston, nor to gather in those who happen to apply to us. Wm. R. Castle of the Red Cross has just been here on his way home, and we have been urging him to plead with Washington that they be sent over.
This morning at No. 26 in Étaples trying out some wax moulds on a large recent through-and-through wound of the buttock. A great deal to learn about it yet. Bashford much interested---a good man, but a little too fond of scotching persons and things. He has scotched Sir Almroth, for example, and says the only difference between Wright and wrong lies in the matter of the W. He is now busily scotching flavine, and this ought to be an easier job. As I surmised, the stuff seems to act by merely necrosing the surface of the wound like any fixative.
Our first weekly lecture to the enlisted men fell to my lot---general talk on the story of military medicine---the earlier wars on our present "terrain"---the existing medico-military problems and how they are being met.
Wednesday, July 18th
A strange lot of people one sees about here. Last evening as I was talking to the men in their mess hut at the back of the camp, a passing train gave its peculiar penetrating French squeal, and I looked out to see a long line of slowly moving boxcars of the cattle variety simply packed with grinning and gesticulating Chinese coolies---big fellows with their blue shirts open, showing their naked chests---going north, I may add.
To-day at lunch a shy, unprepossessing young New Zealander lieutenant---sent down here to see the N.Z. wounded, of whom we have a number. I was talking with Roger about the mysterious new gas cases and paid little attention to him, I fear, leaving this to the Adjutant, who had brought him in. I'm sorry I missed any of it, for it was a story beyond any of Boyd Cable's I've happened to read. I got in only at the end---very simply and quietly told. The Australians had had a disastrous bombing raid planned on an extensive scale---when they got over their parapet and near enough to do business with their bombs none of them exploded---they had been dealt out to them without detonators! Well, they left 1500 dead in No Man's Land before they got back. The New Zealanders had to take over their sector, and here our young friend enters in. He was selected to take out a patrol the next night to get information---his first experience of the sort. You can imagine the rest---crawling about in the mud among the wires---the impossibility of telling whether a body was a dead Australian or a live Hun out on the same mission as yourself. Rather got on their nerves. I remember his saying that even the barbed-wire posts came to look so much like men if you stared at them long enough that they would appear to line up in columns of four. Another aneurysm operation this morning---anterior tibial. Also Summary Court after lunch. I personally have more bench than table work. Harry Forbes back from Paris with eight guinea pigs, so Robby returns the two tarry ones and proffers one of our handsome eight. This they refuse, though appreciating our generosity.
Friday, July 20th. 10 p.m.
Friends at home are laboring under the delusion that we are subjected to all manner of privations out here, and quote an article in the N. Y. Times which states that we are enduring hardships untold. Life is simple, to be sure. Some of the rations, like the Maconochie stew, are not particularly appetizing, and sugar as such ---on the ear, so to speak---is scarce. There is plenty of it, however, in other forms. For example, in addition to marmalade, there is a ration outwardly resembling honey, but which isn't, and goes by the name of "the golden goo." Some take it on their porridge in the morning. Others go without porridge. If anyone reaches out for the sugar bowl unconsciously, H. Lyman, our economical mess officer, sets up a howl. Indeed he went so far this morning as to use it---the goo---in his coffee, and assumed a sort of "the water's fine" expression-indeed took two cups. No one followed suit.
Said the Tommy to his corporal, making a wry face, "That tea tastes funny." "Then why don't you laugh?" comes the peevish retort.
Still, our coffee is good, though expensive, for we import it from London, and cans of condensed milk occasionally reach us from home in precious individual boxes holding a miscellany from tooth paste and a much needed cake of soap to blocks of maple sugar---which we might use on our porridge. Then when it's pleasant, as it has been to-day, living in a bell tent and working in open marquees is a tolerable kind of summer outing. And when it grows damp and cold in the evening, there is a large gray "robe de chambre chaude" brought back from Paris, some warm Jaeger bed socks and pyjamas sent by Lady Osler, three heavy army blankets from Mrs. Slater, a folding candle lantern from another unfailing source of supplies, yesterday's London Times, some sweet-smelling Virginia stock planted by your predecessor around your tent, soaring larks trilling overhead---and what more could you want?
Meanwhile a tennis tournament is going on, in which Horrax and Miss Cunningham promise to carry off the Camiers honors, ball games are frequent, lectures still more so. This week, for example, at 8.30 at the Camiers Y.M.C.A. hut (I copy from our bulletin board) :
Tuesday------The 19th Ordnance Depot Concert Party
Wednesday--Lecture by J. Holland Rose, on "The Crisis of 1914"
Thursday----Dramatic Performance: "Waterloo" and "Phipps"
Friday------Lecture by Prof. Perkins: "The Story of Bagdad"
All this "for Sisters and Officers," and those who managed to attend were doubtless edified. For the men there are entertainments equally plentiful, and our Padre has things going on in our newly established recreation tent. Then, too, there are places to go and dine if you care to walk or cycle to them---at Hardelot, Camiers, Paris-Plage, and elsewhere. But even for those who mostly spend their days uninterruptedly in camp there is no chance for boredom. Indeed, I have never seen time go so rapidly, never found it more difficult to go to bed, never slept more soundly when once there.
We had our regular weekly Medical Meeting this afternoon---I have never attended a better one anywhere. Our patients are down to about 900, the lowest they have been, but there is a constant succession of new and interesting things. Osgood showed some ingenious splints he had devised, by bending the standard Thomas units which are supplied to us; Derby, some rare eye conditions; Denny, some examples of contralateral collapse of the lungs after thoracic wounds; Binney an interesting functional disturbance, involving movements and speech, in a man who had been buried. Towne, on gas-bacillus infections; and finally Lee on his original observations upon the effects of the new and unknown gas which Fritz has been throwing over well back of our lines. A characteristic oedema of the larynx and conjunctivæ, which comes on late, and, most striking of all, the remarkable cutaneous manifestations with great patches of purple pigmentation, which seem to come out wherever there has been any external pressure, as from a belt. One boy, a Singhalese soldier by the way, had a most extraordinary widespread purpuric erythema. Quite a feather in Roger's cap for, in this district at least, he is the first to have observed these things and to have ascribed them to a new form of poison gas.(11) Even Sir John Rose Bradford had never seen them. Apparently the gas is comparatively odorless and sent over in shells; the symptoms do not appear until after quite an interval.
So much time was given to these things that Robertson's studies of P.U.O. had to hold over till next time. He has been finding spirochetes pretty regularly, and now with a generous supply of guinea pigs from our Red Cross and two ounces of glycerine---possibly the most difficult thing to find in Europe outside of munition plants---for Giemsa stains, he will soon be making progress. Three or four young M.O.R.C., U.S.A., casuals from Boulogne, have been stationed here, waiting to be sent to British battalions at the Front---a ticklish job for a young doctor.
Patterson is back from his examination in Paris, wearing his Lt. Colonel silver leaves, and full of gossip from the capital. Lee wants to know where the rumor factory is located---whether it's under the regular army or the Red Cross---the Kansas sunk, our flotilla with Pershing attacked by submarines, some of which were destroyed by a new mine which is dropped on them and explodes at a great depth. Meantime Bethmann-Hollweg has been dropped by the Kaiser and is succeeded by a Dr. Michaelis, who is saying familiar-sounding things to the press. Our belated home papers read as though the war were nearly over; but it doesn't look so to us, and this favorite topic of conversation in America we studiously avoid.
To-night we inaugurated a course of exercises for the orderlies. The Matron began by a simple and much needed demonstration of bed making---I wish my batman could have been there. She dissected and put together again one of these army-hospital iron cots. Unquestionably no expense spared in the materials. The three square hair mattresses are enclosed in a heavy unbleached linen bag. She estimated that they would cost in peace times at least $12----circa $12,000 for this hospital, or $60,000 for the mattresses alone in the five hospitals of this Camiers district.
I began by speaking of our pseudo-privations. We can manage to circumvent the rats and the imperfect drainage and the dark tents; but we can't keep ahead of the holes in our socks. Roger says he favors a purse-string suture and subsequent trimming with curved scissors borrowed from the operating room. Malcolm we find has secretly been making use of the secretaries, but this is a privilege only for Padres. The British War Office should send over a battalion of suffragettes and penalize them with this task, inscribing on their V. for W. banners something like "Damn the Votes; Darn the Socks"---pendant la guerre.
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