Wednesday, April 24. Boulogne
While in the middle of a serious operation this afternoon the C.O., looking, for him, very disgruntled, appeared and read me this disconcerting and unwelcome message from the A.E.F. forwarded through No. 13 General by Roger Lee, who is now our C.O.
Following telegram received quote paragraph fifty-seven special orders forty-one these headquarters April twenty-second directs you to proceed to Neufchâteau and Langres for temporary duty you should arrive at Neufch‰teau not later than April twenty-eighth acknowledge quote signed Bradley forwarded
"What's to do?" said I. "Nothing to do," said he, "except pack your duffel bag and beat it, but I say to hell with 'em." "Can you send that answer for me?" "Under the circumstances, no."
At 5 p.m. I was sent down in one of the ambulances they could ill spare---a cold, misty, and frightfully dusty afternoon. Instead of striking the old Roman road to Thérouanne, we got lost in a maze of crowded byways to the south around Coyecque and made very poor time. No one here at the Base knows what it's all about---or what "temporary duty" means---a few days or as many months.
No. 13 General has been very busy these two weeks. Horrax up to his neck in cranial wounds---many more than we have had. This probably due to prompt evacuation from all the forward areas to Boulogne---now the only available base with an open line of communication.
Tuesday, April 25. Hôtel de la Poste, Rouen
Midnight. "Owing to the mixed bag I've got in the back seat I think we'll not go through Montreuil." This from Major Langridge---the "mixed bag" consisting of Mrs. L. of the 2nd Australian Y.M.C.A. hut, and myself with a blanket roll, etc.---she in one of her husband's cars for the first time since coming out here and off to Rouen for a two weeks' rest---I being taken with them to avoid the present interminable and uncertain journey by rail to Paris via Eu. An R.C. official does not drive his wife through G.H.Q. by choice. .
We got away from Boulogne at 2.30, reaching here at seven---four hours on the road and very good going---most too fast when Langridge took the wheel from Sgt. Ruff at St. Valery and let her out---62 miles an hour at one spot and over 50 much of the time. Samer-Neuville-Nouvion with the Forêt de Crécy on our left---then out to St. Valery-sur-Somme with the widespread estuary of the river in view, down which William of Normandy set sail for his conquest of England. Then along the coast road Brutelles-Ault-Eu, with its very fine approach; then west again to the coast to take in Le Tréport with its big cliffs like small Towers of Hercules, on one of which is No. 3 General (Harte's Unit), in a large summer hotel.
Then Dieppe and the direct postroad to Rouen, the same that was taken by Jeanne d'Arc on her last journey, after her capture at Compiègne. A lovely part of the country---half-timbered farms and houses like those in old English villages, though which was the imitator I know not---the trees bursting into leaf, much further forward than about Pernes---the roadsides a profusion of primroses---fruit trees in bloom---past great country houses with wonderful avenues of elm and beech---all very fine with no reminder of war except the villages, which were full of Belgian soldiers whose rest area this has been since the early days.
We finally pulled up at Tôtes before a picturesque old coaching hotel, built in 1611---Hôtel du Cygne---with a wonderful great kitchen decorated on all four walls by a rare collection of blue plates and platters in racks reaching to the high ceiling, and with brassware and old prints and a carved clock eleven feet in height---a picturesque courtyard with a huge stable on one side capable of putting up at least 50 horses, solidly built with great beams two feet thick---a cordial host in a fancy embroidered waistcoat---also coffee with confitures. An ideal place for some future pilgrimage.
Rouen, in time for an hour of sight-seeing before dinner. Then Sgt. Ruff drove me out across the river to the race course, where, in No. 12 General, Fred Murphy and his St. Louis outfit have been comfortably quartered---the best situation I think of all of our original six base-hospital units. Near by in No. 9 General were G. W. Crile and the Lakeside people. They have been very busy---almost on a C.C.S. basis. From Crile, just caught turning in, I learn that he too has been ordered to report at Neufchâteau on the 28th inst.
Saturday the 27th. Paris
To Paris, our train an hour late in starting. Dinner with the Strongs---self-invited. Richard just back from a trip to Étaples to meet the British Research Committee, on which Col. Lyle Cummins has taken Leishman's place---in an open car---very wind-blown and tired---as tired as he ever gets. Came through Amiens on the way down because the shortest way---the place burning.
People here much discouraged about the general situation---the army regulars keeping effective men down---General Bradley openly stating that he had put Keller in as a buffer above Finney as he did not propose to deal directly with "specialists" any longer. Even worse in other services. Warwick Greene dropped in later---his chief, Col. Bolling, recently killed by a shell while motoring through Amiens---regulars now put in charge and most of the good work of the past six months undone---utter demoralization in the air service---not a single machine over here yet. All this most depressing to hear.
Paris to-night very quiet and dark---despite the big yellow moon low in the east. If the long-range gun has been at work to-day I haven't heard it, though I found poor old Gentile, the instrument maker on the Rive Gauche, very shaky, anxious, and preparing to make a move; for their quarter of the city has suffered most. No unbridled street lights anywhere---merely occasional shaded bluish lamps on the thoroughfares to mark the abris and the entrances to the Métro.
Monday 29th. Neufchâteau
Arrived with Crile at Gondrecourt in the rain at 5.30 p.m. Met by Cannon, who brought us over here. Finney and his group have moved from the Tour Babel to new quarters---a former loft which they have had cleaned up---somewhat---though there are suspicious-looking places dried on the floors which are incompletely scraped off. Swallows which formerly occupied the premises continue to flock in when a window is opened---the walls are pasteboard partitions supplied by the Red Cross---the guest bed has a husk mattress---belowstairs dwell poilus, who are garrulous till ten, after which they cough and snore; at 6 a.m. they become garrulous again. Leastaways it was thus this morning as far as the "guest room" is concerned. Finney, Peck, Thayer, Boggs, and a young Philadelphian named Widener, who came over in Peck's unit as a private. He has now been advanced to a stripe in the Sanitary Corps and acts as housekeeper for the group.
Most disquieting accounts of the local situation. General Bradley's letter about the reorganization of the professional services makes me wonder whether it would not be better to remain with the B.E.F. The army is very lousy, but fortunately no trench fever as yet; the soldiers dirty and shabby, the death rate from preventable disease far higher per 1,000 than at home or in the other armies out here. But what may we expect? The French shrug their shoulders at us and carefully guard everything we do ---particularly the parts of the line they allow us to occupy. Goldthwait tells me that all winter neither poilu nor French officer bothered to salute an American in this area; they have only begun to do so of late since some of the divisions have been given a chance to show their mettle.
Still, it's a cheerful group here, and they try to see the amusing side of their troubles and the humiliations they are under. Walter Cannon said that while in a C.C.S. at Béthune working on "shock," he went into the ward one day to see a patient and asked the sister what she was giving the man. "What the surgeon tells me to," snapped she. Later on he happened to return with Capt. Fraser, and when she observed how much deference was shown him she asked the Matron who he was and confessed that she had snubbed him. The Matron then apologized to Walter, saying that the sister thought from the U.S.R. on his collar he was a United Service Reader. Imagine Walter's delight; but it's less funny here in the A.E.F. to be regarded about on this basis by our own regulars.
This morning down the valley of the Meuse again---Bazoilles, Clermont, Bourmont, lovely places on hilltops; but "distance lends" to the French villages in this cattle-raising part of France, where there is a highly developed passion for manure piles under your front windows---finally Langres, most charming from a distance and far more tolerable within its old walls from a sanitary standpoint than other towns round about.
We scrabbled lunch in a small restaurant crowded with young officers; and then to the Army School,(38) where I gave a lecture to some 50 of Col. Ashford's pupils who are undergoing preparation for line officers. Ashford appears to be a hustling good fellow, and very effective in his job. I intimated, however, that he would get better lectures if those who received summonses out of a clear sky were warned as to the object of their call and given their subject---also that it would be embarrassing for me to let my friends in the B.E.F. know that just at this critical time I had taken a week off merely to give a lecture. This he admitted, but "it's the way we have in the army."
"The French don't care very much about it---they just make gestures and say nothing." This from Salmon, whose experiences are many and peculiar and who, like a pin, has a head which keeps him from going too far. Someone has expressed this better: I've forgotten who. Nothing done about self-inflicted wounds as yet. One underdeveloped boy, feeble-minded, explained the small wound in his left hand by saying he was on sentry duty and fell asleep and his gun went off accidentally---not realizing that falling asleep was enough for a court-martial; but nothing was done.
In a recent German raid two Austrian-Americans from our troops were seen walking back with the raiding party. One of them was shot in the act and during a counter raid the other was captured, but no action was taken against him. The French shrug their shoulders with some reason. An officer makes advances to the daughter of the family with whom he is billeted---marries her ---a public church wedding. It is learned that he has a wife at home. He is examined and it is brought out that this poor girl is his third wife---in other words he was a bigamist when he married No. 2 before he went into military service, making a complicated tangle for the A.G.'s department. Of course the man was insane.
Still more remarkable, the story of a youngster-born in Germany of American parents-finally brought back home---a queer stick always---enlisted on the outbreak of war---was observed to be full of pro-German talk---rebellious at restraint, discipline, disparity between privileges of officers and men. Finally made friends with a German P.O.W.---gave him his uniform, fixed up another for himself with officer's trappings---forged some papers requesting that they be privileged to look over the Belfort area to see if suitable for tank manoeuvres.
They made their way on foot, by camion, etc., to the Front in the French area, where they were first suspected, and were caught in the act of getting across. The French dealt with the German prisoner. Our enlisted man, whom they would have shot without examination, was found by our board to have dementia præcox and sent home to an asylum to enjoy the remainder of his days at national expense.
Salmon says that the incidence of insanity in ordinary life is 1-1000; when people come under restraint as in an army, even in quiet times such as the Mexican border, it jumps to 3-1000; over here it has become about 12-1000. The slightly unbalanced man, bolstered up by his customary surroundings where his oddities pass without comment, goes to pieces when he has to conform to a common type.
Wednesday, May 1st
Major Finney's position here is comparable to that held by General Bowlby in the B.E.F. There is the same disparity in rank as in means of transportation. This morning we go off on a visit to the local hospitals in the last surviving car at the disposal of this group---a rattly flivver sounding, as someone remarked, like two skeletons wrestling on a tin roof.
A fine view of Neufchâteau perched on one hill as we climb the adjacent one to the east, with the winding Meuse threading its way through the valley between. On to Mirecourt, 40 km. away, through villages picturesque with blue-coated soldiers---a grazing country between, with cattle on a thousand hills. Finney, like others of us, seems to think he is through with surgery---55 his next birthday---after this is over, he for his Maryland farm in Ruxton, his grapes and his pet boys' schools.
Finally Baccarat on the Meurthe, much damaged in spots, with a church still standing and its bells still ringing, though a large hole shows through the belfry. Headquarters of the 42nd Division now in the line with a front of 10 km. just N.E. of and parallel to the Baccarat-Lunéville road---carefully flanked by a French division on each side.
Col. Grissinger, the Divisional A.D.M.S.---whatever he may be called here---is visited and a young Capt. Smith of Buffalo takes us to lunch in his mess. Smith is not such a rare name but that it's important to pick out your branch with care; and for a young M.O. the "Nathan" branch is a good one. We lunch largely on beans and bread---very good and white.
Then to Evacuation Hospital No. 2 with a band (U.S.A.) playing in front---the first I've heard. Excellent music, but our men somehow look most untidy compared with the poilu or Tommy. The C.O. Major Lyle of the National Guard---very efficient and making much out of little. I left as a suitable motto: "Do what you can, with what you've got, right where you are." Not a bad motto for all these places. The teams are headed by Lincoln Davis, who strikes me as looking worn, Major Morrow, and the aforementioned Smith, with Sanford, one of Young's men, in addition.
Along the Meurthe on the Lunéville-Nancy road---more graves, and near Vitremont stands the ruined farm on the hill which was the scene of captures and recaptures. A hop country with the pole forms of culture---along the canal connecting the Marne and Rhine---St. Nicolas with its fine towering church---Nancy, and through the Place Stanislas built by the last Duc de Lorraine, a patron of arts and architecture, once King of Poland---through the lovely Forêt de Haye, with Mont St. Michel and the Cathedral of Toul coming into view. Then the cut-off to Evacuation Hospital No. 1 for a glimpse of Heuer, Pool, and McWilliams, who are at work there. I hope to enlist Heuer for the Neurological Service. So via Toul, Colombey-les-Belles, and finally back home, where we arrive at 8 and dine. While I attempt to write this the others are playing reversible hearts very noisily.
They receive no daily communiqués here and have little interest in the situation on the British front, so I am without news since my sudden departure from Pernes a week ago to-day.
Thursday, May 2nd. Neufchâteau
A very handsome day---there are none too many in this part of France, I 'm told. To Vittel, some 25 km. southeast of here, a, sort of French Saratoga---watering-place with large hotels, a golf course, and actually places to bathe. Here, and in the adjacent town of Contrexéville, are four hospital units which have passed a quarrelsome winter until they became fused under the administration of a regular named Col. Rukke.
One of them, under Major Shurly's guidance, is scattered in four great hotels. They were sent over shortly after the news reached home that we of the original units were undermanned and underequipped for hospitals of the standard British size. Consequently they came doubly manned and with equipment enough for several hospitals---five huge X-ray machines for example----$60,000 worth of material presented to them by the Knights Templars. They are called a "Head hospital," though there is no neurologist or neurosurgeon, no one with maxillofacial experience, no good ophthalmologist---only an otologist. Here they sit, and have sat all winter, an enormous daily expense to the government, with an equipment no one else can use---a personnel Finney does not dare use. Situations like this will be increasingly difficult to handle---and more are arriving every week, unannounced.
Friday, May 3rd
En route Gondrecourt à Paris. Two very polite and punctilious French officers occupy the seats by the door. At Vitry-le-François a noisy Y.M.C.A. damsel and three American Marine Corps officers with an excess of baggage crowd into the compartment without a polite word of by-your-leave or greeting. They are large-limbed fellows chewing cigars. One of them, after sitting down, scales his hat toward the rack, which it misses, and falls fortunately into my lap---not a Frenchman's. It is rescued without a word. They cross their legs with their muddy boots almost against the knees of their French neighbors, who shrink in the corners they occupy and exchange glances with the slightest possible lift of the eyebrows. Doubtless they are brave fellows, but, like d'Artagnan, they have things to learn.
At a conference yesterday of the Allied Premiers and Commanders at Abbeville it was agreed that British shipping was to transport 10 American divisions to the British Army area for training and equipment. The U.S. Senate institutes prosecution in alleged aircraft graft in which a billion dollars is involved.
Saturday, May 4th
2 p.m. We are creeping out of Camiers on the way to Boulogne ---en route since 9.40 last evening-an 18-hour trip. Next time I shall fortify myself with food. We probably came via Eu, and got into Abbeville about 11, wending our way by the canal, on the other side of which was a column of some 300 mules, easily keeping pace with us as we slowly felt our way along. It looked as though all the rolling stock in France were in and about Abbeville.
Boulogne, 4 p.m. During the week that I have been away, as I gather from accumulated copies of the Times, severe fighting has taken place around Villers-Bretonneux in the Avre region, which finally was retaken by Australian and County troops and is still held, I believe.
In the French area the chief activity was around Hangard, which also has changed hands many times.
On the 26th a severe attack was launched east of Bailleul, and the British withdrew from Dranoutre, Kemmel, and Vierstraat, losing Kemmel Hill after a desperate struggle to a finish on the part of the French troops on the summit. Severe fighting followed for days around Locre, Scherpenberg, and la Clytte, where the French had been put in. They were forced out of Locre on the 29th, but it was later retaken. The same day the enemy pressed in, the Ypres salient to Verlorenhoek, Hooge, Zillebeke--- practically the old line.
On the 30th, 13 German divisions were thrown against the Meteren-Voormezeele 10-mile front---also in other parts of the line, with only temporary advantage gained in some places. Locre was again lost and retaken---this of course means only a spot---Locre as a town long since disappeared. Since the 30th there has been no great change, though there is more or less activity all along the line. Some American units of our 1st Division got into action near Montdidier for the first time a day or two ago and are well spoken of.
May 8. St. Omer-en-Chaussée
Midday. As there was no chance of returning to duty with the 1st Army, I was making arrangements to start in with neurological work at No. 13 General when out of a clear sky yesterday came an order from the A.E.F. that I was to report "at once" to Headquarters Service of Supply to the Commanding General, etc., etc. Got away from Boulogne at 8.30 p.m. and should have been in Paris by 9 this morning, but here at this particular place, which is somewhere between Eu and Beauvais, they are rapidly double-tracking the road and there are high dumps of supplies on every side. Chinks and Dagos at work on the road---one can hardly say feverishly. Meanwhile we simply creep along---stop for long periods---creep again.
May 9. Tours, 37 rue de l'Alma
10 p.m. I jokingly told the boys before leaving Boulogne that I was probably going to be reprimanded for some misdeed; I really thought that the U.S.A. Consultants were being summoned to be given examinations for advanced rank. As things stand, I may perhaps even be court-martialed for inadvertently enclosing some notes of this journal in a letter home---those in which S. says, in a moment of irritation, needlessly harsh things about the British.
How I came to do so I do not recall; but we were expecting orders to close up any day and all of us were sending home whatever lay loose on our desks. It's one of the reasons why it's dangerous out here to put one's thoughts too much on paper along with the things one hears. I have written a letter of apology and explanation and can but await the verdict with the greatest possible humiliation. Being my second offense with the British Censor makes matters worse; and they have passed the matter on to our Adjutant General. It took most of this afternoon to find out what my summons was for: no one had any record of it; and when the blow came I should have been glad to be "spurlos versenkt."
Tours, Saturday, May 11th
The anniversary of our sailing. We are privileged to wear two gold service chevrons, and Patterson, who happens to be here, also [now Cpl.] Call and [now Sgt.] Russell from our Unit, have blossomed out in theirs. Col. McCaw, who is in charge here as acting Chief Surgeon in the absence of both Bradley and Ireland, though very friendly, shakes his head over my sorry case and says: "Come in again to-morrow." I therefore sport no chevrons and keep as inconspicuous as possible.
Monday, May 13th
Bob Osgood here to-day for an orthopædic conference. He sails for home shortly to continue his excellent work in the States and to act as Goldthwait's representative there. Col. McCaw says so far as he can see he too will be sent home---though for different reasons. I go about with my tail between my legs and humbly report once a day to ask if there are any orders for me. None.
Wednesday, May 15th
Memorable for my first flight. We dined again last night upstairs at Pacquet's wee place. I knew none of the people but there were two vacant places beside me, and soon Stewart Forbes, now a liaison officer with the French, came in with a U.S.R. major whom he started to introduce to me---none other than Jim Barnes. He is with the aviation service and had much to say of his present and past jobs. As we broke up, the people at the other table, sitting under the busts of departed chefs, turn out to be the Marlborough-Churchills, and with them a tall young lieutenant, Raymond Noyes, an instructor in the local flying school. He pressed me to visit him, though I had little expectation of doing so.
However, after my usual morning disappointment, and having been refused a movement order to spend the day in Blois, I wandered out to the Pont de Tours, sat in a park at the foot of a statue of Rabelais, played with some French children there, and finally, seeing some young flying men standing on the bridge, asked them how to get to the aerodrome. They were going that way themselves---indeed were waiting for a bus, and would I not go along; only about 7 kilometres on the Route Nationale to Paris.
Thus it happened; and I found Noyes, who is in charge of the Observation School in this the 2nd Am. Aviation Centre. We had lunch, made an inspection, looked at photographs, and about 4 p.m., weather conditions being perfect, he asked: "Would I care to go up?" Of course. So I am put in appropriate togs, a pilot named Taylor appears, and in a Sopworth Type I A2 with the ominous number 13 on its side we are off before there is time to reconsider.
We were up an hour and flew over the beautiful country down the right bank at an average height of 1100 metres---almost down to where the Vienne empties into the Loire---then across the river, with Chinon in the distance; over the Forêt de Chinon, Azay-le-Rideau, then directly over Tours and so back to the camp. It was what Taylor called a bit bumpy in spots, but on the whole much the gentlest and most comfortable form of transport imaginable, and I came down tingling as though I'd had a glass of champagne. One experiences no sense of height at all and practically none of leaving the ground. The only moment of what might be called surprise was when we began to spiral down over the camp but Captain Taylor, I 'm glad to say, is not a stunting pilot.
Thursday, May 16th. Tours
While at headquarters as usual the first thing this a.m., McKernon turns up en route to Paris with a blanket movement-order covering all Consultants. Though I have officially received no such appointment, on the basis of this order Col. McCaw gives me permission to accompany McKernon; and to atone, I presume, for having kept me on the rack these past two weeks, he invites me to lunch with other regulars of the Medical Corps at a luxurious billet hung with tapestries and with an outlying garden.
Friday evening. Paris
To-day's open meetings were held in the Hotel Continental as were those of a month ago when I was too busy at Pernes to attend. Morning sessions given over to military orthopædics (Goldthwait and Osgood and two French Médecins Majors). At our committee meeting in the late p.m., Rose Bradford, T. R. Elliott, and Cummins represented the B.E.F. No report from the "wound closure" subcommittee which, alas, had never been called together owing to some mix-up between ourselves and the British. I urged that the policy of the organization be formulated, for it has never been set down and there has been a good deal of misunderstanding about it; then, too, the antivivisectionists have openly protested against the prostitution (sic) of Red Cross funds for animal experimentation under such "celebrated vivisectors" as Crile, Cannon, and myself.
Saturday, the 18th
The "medical aspects of aviation" in the morning with papers by Col. Birley and Major Flack of the R.F.C., and remarks by Barcroft on polycythæmia---all very interesting. At noon Cannon, Taylor, Elliott, and I had a confab, as a result of which I missed not only lunch but most of the afternoon session in an effort to draw up a statement of the original unwritten policy of our meetings, from which we seem to be slipping away.
Participants in the gas session of the afternoon were Cols. Elliott, Herringham, Barcroft, and Meakins, representing the British; then a French Colonel and Col. Fries of our Engineer Corps in charge of the Gas Service. Col. Fries indiscreetly described our losses at Seicheprey---indiscreetly, at least, from the British point of view, for all matters relating to gas warfare are "confidential" with the B.E.F. Barcroft, who I believe is a Quaker, appeared comfortably in civies; and though he may be a conscientious objector, he certainly, as contributor to the chemistry of gas warfare, is in a position to concoct more devilish ways of killing Boches than if he were actually in service.
There are, in Elliott's opinion, good reasons for military secrecy regarding gas. For example, the enemy sends over his gas in shells marked with a yellow (mustard gas), blue (the arsenical compounds), or green (phosgene) cross, as told by the investigation of duds. The British learned that after shelling with mustard gas the enemy never attacked for a few days because the gas lingers and his own troops would consequently suffer. Hence after a bombardment of yellow-cross shells the British used to move out their holding troops and substitute reserves in small numbers.
Now, mustard gas takes a day or two before showing its effects, and the Boche one day sent over a lot of yellow-cross shells which contained merely a fleeting lachrymatory gas. They gave the British time to move out their troops and then, attacking in force, gained all their objectives. Furthermore, the French perfected a new and supposedly deadly cyanide gas, which after expensive and elaborate study was put into use. They employed it for about a year, and the British also used it extensively; but they never received any information as to its effectiveness and finally gave it up altogether. So much for the value of secrecy.
A late Committee meeting held for the first time in the new library room of the Red Cross, where to my great relief Col. Ireland breaks it gently to me in a corner that the censorship matter will be dropped.
May 19th. Whitsunday
To Boulogne by motor with Col. Elliott, Meakins, and a Major Best, a regular in the R.A.M.C. long in Nigeria on the west coast of Africa. A hot cloudless summer day and we basked in the sun as we sped along over the same route I took with Alan Muhr in April 1915.
2 p.m. A stop in Beauvais for lunch and afterward a look at the gigantic but unfinished cathedral. The amazing height of the graceful arches in the choir is indescribable. This choir, together with the nave of Amiens, the portal of Reims, and the towers of Chartres, would have made the architectural marvel of all ages. Beauvais, being now the G.Q.G. of Foch, is likely to be bombarded. Consequently the tapestries are down and the glass is being removed from the windows where much of it has been untouched for 600 years.
11 p.m. Boulogne seems like home, though at the moment we are being bombed---the moon is bright and flying conditions perfect.
Monday, May 20. Boulogne
A long-sustained raid here last night; and bad as it was, Étaples got it worse. In that area they tried repeatedly to get the single bridge over the Canche, which would have shut us off from the south. Meanwhile the neighboring hospitals, particularly No. 1 Canadian, suffered greatly, and it is rumored that the raiders swept the place with machine guns after dropping their bombs. Kipling says that mankind can be divided into two classes---human beings and Germans.
10 p.m. London. My being here is the result of a conversation this morning with the D.D.M.S. of Boulogne, who, with the understanding that certain American divisions are to come into the British area, favors unifying the neurosurgical service for the combined front. He will take the matter up with the D.G. and an answer should be forthcoming by the end of the week. The idea would be that the proposal made by General Sloggett last November to the Chief Surgeon of the A.E.F., but refused by the latter, be reopened, and that No. 13 General serve as a training ground for men capable of undertaking neurosurgical work not only for the British, but for the American Army as well.
While awaiting a decision, he suggested that I familiarize myself with the disposition and condition of the cranio-cerebral cases here in Blighty. It would give me time for a twice-postponed visit to Ireland---just now in a turmoil with the arrest, by order of Lord French, of about 100 Sinn Feiners.
I crossed with Meakins and Barcroft, feeling particularly safe, as Sir Eric Geddes was aboard---burly, thick-necked, smooth-shaven. He looks as though he were accustomed to having his own way and the devil take those who oppose. Doubtless the Admiralty needs a person of this particular type to-day.
Tuesday, May 21st. London
With Sargent and Buzzard to the Tooting Hill Hospital, getting a lead on the neurological cases there. Dinner with Henry Head, to meet Riddoch, who is at the Empire Hospital, and Fearnsides, who is at the shell-shock hospital on Golder's Green Road. Apparently the Neurological Home Service is all at cross-purposes with patients scattered at Tooting, King George's, Queen Square, Maida Vale, the London, and 200 incurables at the Star and Garter, Richmond; also officers in small batches at the Empire, Roehampton, Brighton, and elsewhere. I am to see General Goodwin and put the project of organization and unification before him.
Wednesday, May 22
The morning at the Empire seeing wounded officers with Riddoch---among them Capt. Hyam of No. 46 recollection. The spinal-cord transections, some 40 of them, are doubtless getting better care than would be possible anywhere else. Then at a penny lunch counter some cold tongue and ham on a meal ticket, the waitress putting a spoonful of brown sugar in my coffee when no one was looking.
This prior to a conference with Col. Delaney and General Goodwin at Adastral House, on their plans for looking after our wounded here in England. Tea with Capt. Trotter, and more ideas from him of neurological work, followed by an hour in the library of the Royal College of Medicine. Dinner with several neurologists and neurosurgeons, among whom there was little agreement about heads, spines, and peripheral nerves---except that there is an immense lot of work to be done on the incompletely treated cases which gravitate over here from France.
London is muggy and depressing---the streets full of cripples---people very tired of the war. They universally voice the feeling that all would shortly have been over if America had not come when she did. Let us hope it may not have been too late. The expected third phase of the great German offensive gets put off from day to day.
Thursday, May 23rd
With Buzzard this a.m. to see poor "Micky" Bell-Irving at Lady Ridley's Officers' Hospital, 10 Canton House Terrace. He only vaguely recalled me---suffering the tortures of hell from neuromata in the stump of his amputated leg which he sat nursing while propped up in bed. Still the same charming person, however, despite his thoroughly drugged condition. He was up in a scout machine---stunting. Had been looping and rolling when one wing gave way at 5000 feet---so said his flight commander, who had been watching him. Now a suffering wreck---death would have been less bad.
The only apparent food shortage in London---at least the only things one has difficulty in getting---is butter and sugar. Two little pats of a crumbly sort of fat are given with coffee and a roll at St. James's for breakfast, but no sugar. Still, at our Commissary Stores I subsequently bought for a few pennies two pounds of granulated sugar, which was presented to me in a yellow pasteboard box once occupied by Fatima cigarettes. I knew not what to do with this, so presented it to Susan Chapin to hand on to Lady O. for preserves. There is apparently no scarcity of anything if one knows how to find it and what to do with it when it's procured. I might except taxicabs. People therefore eat less and walk more. Their minds are probably the clearer.
Perhaps the most noticeable thing in London is the stripping off of the traditional British reserve. I presume that a dozen times people stopped me on the street or in the tube to ask if they could do anything for me---often going to unnecessary trouble to give me directions or explain situations. This is quite a different England.
Friday the 24th
London to Dublin via Rugby, Holyhead, Kingstown. Very pleasant journey---two amiable Irish officers in the Regular Army, an Artillery Major wearing an M.C. ribbon, and a Lt. Col, of the Inniskilling Fusiliers bore me company. I learned from them something of Sinn Fein and the present situation in this inscrutable and incomprehensible country which the Irish, if possible, seem to understand even less well than anyone else.
French had been Viceroy only six days when he arrested and deported to England the Sinn Feiners' chief leaders---men and women---many of them implicated in the 1916 affair but liberated only to begin their nefarious plots anew. Parliament stopped short, as it usually does, and failed to reach the bottom of the matter---viz., the priests, who have openly opposed Lloyd George's conscription legislation. So the situation hangs in the balance and the government has not yet even made public their justification of these arrests---far from having had the courage to arrest the priests. Recruiting is at a standstill. The Irish will follow a leader if he can be found, but they won't be driven.
Saturday, May 25th. Dublin
Breakfast again just as 10 years ago with the Royal Zoölogical Society in Phoenix Park---some 30 people who partook of their porridge standing and of salmon and eggs---yesterday's (the dates were on them)---and coffee and marmalade sitting. No shortage of food nor food restrictions in Ireland. I sat between the Pres. of the Soc., Sir Fredk. Moore, and the D.D.M.S., Dublin, Major Gen. Sir Jas. Maher, who was in charge of the L. of C. in the Gallipoli campaign. His stories of the conditions at Lemnos are about on a par with the printed tales concerning that ill-fated campaign---automobiles sent out instead of steam launches---plenty of stores in the holds of the ships, but no way to land them or any place to put them when once landed---much less any way to sort out ammunition from surgical supplies.
Luncheon at Friendly Brother House, an intimate club where people call each other by their Christian names, prefixed by "Friendly." The president is always "Sir John Friendly" and there are "Perfect" Brothers, and others less so, I presume. I asked if it had anything to do with Masonry, which it hasn't, though Masonry is widespread in Ireland, my host being a 30th degree Mason---at two degrees more he should melt. I don't mean to imply by this that there is a chill about him---far from it, as he is very warmly Irish.
11 p.m. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland occupies a fine old Georgian building facing St. Stephen's Green. To-day it was flying an American flag, though I did not dare imagine why. It was there on that Easter Monday, 1916, that the Sinn Feiners, after first barricading themselves on the opposite green, broke in, and held off the troops for a week. There are many marks of bullets in the woodwork and the canvas of the large painting of Victoria which hung in the front room was torn out of the frame and the portrait destroyed. The frame is still empty. Otherwise there is no evidence of the lighting and barricading which took place, though everything was in most disreputable shape when the rebels finally gave themselves up after a good many were killed---for the place was raked from the Shelbourne Hotel and other buildings in the neighborhood. They had made a mortuary chapel out of the dissecting room. So much for a half-baked rebellion under the Republican Army of Ireland, which chose as its fortress and chief scene of operations the one place in Dublin which boasts that neither politics nor religion concerns its affairs.
The ceremony in the afternoon was most elaborate, and amusingly disproportionate to the occasion---viz., me. There was a guard of honor drawn up in the lower hall---the students' O.T.C., which I had to inspect. Then tea in the council room for the elect, and Viscount French appears with his Staff---very fine. He reminded me of a small edition of a much-decorated Leonard Wood.
Then they proceeded to the Hall above, and after the audience had been admitted, the President and the Viceroy, the Lord Chancellor, the Council, and the rest filed in while a military band did "God Save the King," and expecting me to follow immediately they quickly shifted to "The Star-Spangled Banner." I was put in a robe with blue stripes, surrounded by four proctors, male and female---it's a co-educational school---and some hitch occurred, for old Sir Chas. Cameron forgot that he was to escort me.
As he didn't appear we walked in rather belated---applause---and I sank alongside of the Field Marshal, Lord Lieutenant, Viscount, and Viceroy rolled into one---sank, I say, into a large carved chair in which, as I was told later, Daniel O'Connell once died or did something equally foolish. As a matter of fact, I should have stood, but too late now.
Then they began tormenting me---the Vice President read slowly the names of former Honorary Fellows---66 I believe---Abernethy, Benjamin Brodie, Syme, Pott, Astley Cooper, John Hunter, Lister, Huxley, Jonathan Hutchinson, Paget, Helmholtz, John Billings (this made me feel a little more at home), Robert Jones, Moynihan, Keogh, Sir Almroth Wright---perfectly at home. They then told other things about the College and finally, coming to me, read dates out of an ancient Who's Who about someone I vaguely recognized as having met.
Then I arose and stood back to the audience before a large and threatening mace, while the President, between me and a background of intertwined American and Irish flags, uttered other things about painting the lily and such sentiments. Finally I was permitted to sit again in the lap of Daniel O'Connell's chair and wished I too might also die there---but no, I had to sign the roll---a slippery parchment containing signatures if anything less legible than mine---then was given a green box with a diploma, a book in green vellum containing the roll of honor of the College in this war, and Lord French was given a duplicate of it, which he will doubtless prize.
Then, horrors! I was given the opportunity of making a public acceptance!! It was pretty bad, but they cheered me along and I got through somehow with a kind of after-dinner-speech effect. Lord French was given a similar opportunity which he did not accept, but contented himself with shaking hands with me and indicating that it was high time to go.
So we filed out again with the help of the band and went down E
and had more tea---the elect, that is---his Lordship, Mr. Schott, M.P., "Chief Sec. to the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland," and his wife, who was very nice, Mr. Walter Long, who is in the Cabinet as Sec/ to the Colonies, though he doesn't look it, the Earl of Belmore, the Lord Chancellor, Sir Ignatius O'Brien, Sir Charles Cameron, and others both medical and lay. Meanwhile the students tea'd in the Library, where I should greatly have preferred to be.
Sunday, 26th May. Dublin
The morning paper says that with my most "pronounced American accent," I addressed the gathering, etc. .
At Taylor's dinner last night I sat by a delightful person dressed in clerical purple---the Most Rev. Dr. Bernard, Archbishop of Dublin. Something happened to be said about Dean Swift's friend Richard Helsham, who appears in the Journal to Stella, and His Grace suggested that before he got tied up with his Sunday duties he would like to show me around St. Patrick's.
So with him there at 10 a.m. and a most fascinating hour alone together. Snakes or no snakes, St. Patrick seems to have really existed, and near the site of the present building he had a well, marked by a stone on which was a Celtic cross dating from the ninth or tenth century. This was recently dug up and reposes on view among other relics. Along about 1191 a church appears; but it was in a bad place, for this well of St. Patrick's, being near the Poddle River, had a way of overflowing. So St. Patrick's Church and Cathedral in the succeeding ages acquired a habit of falling in in spots. . .
The Archbishop loves the old place and when Dean became steeped in its lore. There was much to see in a short time. The huge monument to Richard Boyle of black marble and alabaster, with R.B. himself, Earl of Cork, in an upper berth, while some generations, down to an infant, the great Robert, kneel and pray below; the interesting old brasses; the tombs with amusing inscriptions like that of Dame Mary Sent Leger, who, after disposing of four husbands, died in childbed at 37 years of age, and "whose soule (noe doubt) resteth in all joyfull blessedness in ye heavens." His Grace dotes on the subtlety of the "noe doubt."
But chiefly of Swift---the black slabs he had put up, some with most sarcastic Latin inscriptions like that containing the dig at the Duke of Schomberg's family---and the wonderful bust of the great, though finally crazy, Dean, with his prominent eyes and amiable mouth---but a fine head it is! And in the nave below is the plain brass plate marking the spot of his burial, and beside it another for the mysterious Stella. .
This afternoon Taylor took me to the old Meath Hospital with its memories of Dease, Crampton, Whitley Stokes, Graves, Richard Helsham, Porter, Colles---and more I scarce remember. At the entrance I was accosted by a woman---a lady in much disrepair with a black eye who wanted to know, between hiccoughs, if I could get her boy back to her from the hospital in Scotland where he had been for the past two years missing one leg. This illicit pot-still whiskey must be the very devil---the three great industries of Ireland seem to be poteen, politics, and the priesthood---and poverty is the inevitable consequence.
Monday, May 27. London, Charing Cross Hotel
A pleasant and uneventful crossing last night on the Leinster with Sir Arthur Chance. Civilians and military now carefully separated as has not heretofore been the custom. Indeed to-day some 450 aliens---Germans and Austrians---who have been interned in County Meath were deported from the Liffey by special steamer, while the large crowd of onlookers cheered, waved green flags, and sang Sinn Fein songs. Queer business!
I gather that there are many Irish boys in the small towns who would welcome conscription if only the government would insist with a firm hand and not shilly-shally about it. Independently to enlist practically means ostracism from their communities, in which the priests have such a strong hold; so they would be glad to be freed from the responsibility of making a decision themselves.
To all of this the government unconsciously gives aid, for to Maynooth College, where the priests are given such education as Rome permits, the government actually gives financial support.
The supply of priests never fails, as every family aspires to have one of its sons take orders. Potatoes may have a bad year, but the crop of priests never. Meanwhile the population of Ireland has dwindled enormously---the most likable, hospitable, generous, and nimble-minded people in the world.
To-day's paper announces that Lieut. General Sir Arthur Sloggett, K.C.B., etc., having reached the age limit of service on the active list, is being retired from, his position as overseas D.G. and will be immediately succeeded by Major General Burtchaell. With this, the project of a neurosurgical training ground at No. 13 General probably goes up in smoke.
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