May 28. No. 13 General, Boulogne
WHAT appears to be another phase of Germany's determined effort opened yesterday on a 40-mile front between Soissons and Reims. An army group under the Crown Prince broke through at Craonne, took the Chemin des Dames ridge at the first rush, reached the Aisne by midday, and by midnight got across the river in masses. We must take our hats off to them---it was absolutely unsuspected---not even known that they had brought up tanks in that area.
Also yesterday our 1st Division, which had gone into the line of the Montdidier salient on April 26th, captured Cantigny in a brilliant local action which for the first time has demonstrated the fighting qualities of our troops.
May 29th. Boulogne
With Wright in the afternoon to hear his talk at St. John's Hospital in Étaples on "wound infection"---a further elaboration of this, his familiar, theme. Wonderfully well presented, but it aroused much opposition and criticism...
Étaples has had a bad hit---much worse than we had supposed. On the night of our last Boulogne raid ten days, ago, No. 1 Canadian General lost half their personnel with 158 casualties, 59 of them fatal, including 1 officer and 3 sisters, in addition to 8 patients. There was apparently no warning. The officers were playing cards in the mess when the first bomb dropped about 100 yards away. The next landed in the men's quarters and started a fire---possibly an incendiary bomb. Then for two hours the raiders kept it up, returning again and again like moths around a flame. Twenty-two bombs, large and small, were dropped in the Canadians' compound, and about 160 in the neighborhood.
They were doubtless after the railroad and perhaps the bridge half a mile below. In this area the Camiers-Étaples road separates the hospital wards from the quarters for nurses, officers, and men, which for the most part are placed on the sand dunes between the road and the railway.
There were many close calls. Col. Trimble, the jolly Irish C.O. of St. John's, had his clothes punctured by a bomb which fell close to him, and some of his people received slight wounds; but the Canadians were badly hit---two hours' lying on the ground with torpedoes falling and bursting about, followed by an effort to succor the wounded and collect the dead in one's camp, is nerve-racking to say the least. It's bad enough to have a single raider cross over once and have it all over in a moment---but this was quite different . . . . They will all certainly be dug in after this. The Canadian Engineers have sent a tunneling company down to prepare shelters---meanwhile the nurses and orderlies are sleeping in the open on the back hills.
May 31st, Boulogne. Corpus Christi Day
Good weather continues. A raider---perhaps more than one---came over last night---dropped a bomb just in front of here on the edge of the sea, another (a dud) in the aerodrome just across from the hospital, and several others in the town. They also reappeared in Étaples and got one arch of the bridge over the Canche River, holding up traffic thereby for seven hours. This time the town was badly hit and many civilians suffered, but the hospitals escaped.
11 p.m. Our usual Friday medical meeting this afternoon---Fitz presiding, and very well. An alerte has just been sounded and raiders will soon be over. There has been heavy bombing and the sky is lit up, apparently in the direction of Étaples.
This new German thrust which opened the day I got back is too far away to affect us and we've had no wounded. The attack, however, appears to be in force, and if anything on a larger scale than those of March 21st and April 5th. The Chemin des Dames seems curiously remote---like Salonika or Mesopotamia. Four British divisions---the 8th, 21st, 25th, and 50th---had been moved,. down to that supposedly quiet region for a rest, and the line must have been rather thin. The Hun, "employing an incredible number of tanks," came through with a wallop to a depth now, on the third day, of 20 miles on a 30-mile front. Soissons has fallen to the Brandenburgers, Reims is seriously threatened, and the Paris- Nancy line connecting our army nucleus with Paris lies scarcely more than seven miles farther on.
The Germans claim large amounts of booty and 35,000 prisoners---probably no exaggeration. The 50th Division, worn down by fighting first on the Somme and then on the Lys, made a gallant stand on the Craonne plateau, but were practically wiped out. The attack during the first day on the British front, between Locre and Voormezeele, was evidently only a diversion. It, however, gave an opportunity for the first long American communiqué. Our new divisions apparently did well.
Meanwhile another hospital bombed. At 1 a.m. on the night of the 30th, No. 3 Canadian Stationary at Doullens, halfway between Arras and Amiens, got a direct hit---absolutely in the centre of a red cross painted on the roof. A four-story building, the bomb went through to the ground floor, where one team was still at work operating on an officer; the three other teams were at supper. Lieut. Sage, an American M.O., was giving ether and there was practically nothing to be found of the team. The building caught fire and there was great loss of life---three sisters killed and two M.O.'s. The place stood on the citadel a mile from the railroad.
Saturday, June 1st. Boulogne
A send-off to General Sloggett-the most elaborate any retiring general has seen. Even French, when recalled, had nothing like it. It betrayed a very genuine affection for Sir Arthur. A guard of honor---some Americans, Canadians, Australians from Powell's place, and R.A.M.C. people of this base. Many officers: "Tiger Mac," who himself is to go in three days; Black, who crossed with the General; Burtchaell, his successor; all the C.O.'s of the Boulogne Base Hospitals; the Base Commandant; the D.D.M.S.; General Carr; the Red Cross people; the Consultants; and others I've forgotten.
He did it very well; reviewed the guard; a pleasant word for everyone; kept his poise and dignity like the old soldier he is; went aboard, got on the bridge, and stood at salute as the packet pulled out, while a band played some lugubrious tune. It was quite moving. They hardly waited for him to get home to gazette him: his name was on the list in to-day's paper.
In the p.m. with Major Langridge to Étaples, for news had spread that St. John's and other hospitals there were again seriously hit last night, with much damage and many casualties. As we approached the hospital area we passed a burial party escorting the bodies of four sisters to add to the ever-widening forest of crosses. And then the hospitals! It was appalling---our first sight of St. John's, where we had so comfortably gathered two days before. The row of huts on the Camiers end were collapsed and . splintered like so many card houses, with beds and blankets and ward furniture and letters home and torn books scattered broadcast. The X-ray plant, the laboratory, the chemist's shop, all demolished, and a smell of drugs in the air. The wrecking parties still at work, though bodies could hardly have been overlooked; still, they had had no time for a roll call. Col. Trimble worn out and in bed; he deserves a V.C., having called for volunteers to help extinguish a fire in one of the wards while bombs were falling on every side. The hospital entirely evacuated to Camiers; the few M.O.'s and orderlies that we saw obviously had quite shattered nerves. The northern side of the compound had suffered most; but the hospital as a hospital was ruined and topsy-turvy--a nightmare of a place!
The raiders came as before about 10.30, in squadrons from the north. There was no moon, but at the outset they dropped a blinding magnesium flare which lit up the country like day for miles around, and then the bombs---showers of them. And this kept up for two mortal hours. They could hardly have failed to know where they were. No damage of military significance was done, or could have been done, except the confusion of the area.
This may be their intent. If it is, and they come again to-night, the demoralization will certainly be complete. The time before, everyone thought they were after the railroad and excused them; the second time the bridge across the Canche a mile or so further on; but this time what? It is certainly staggering in view of the British agreement---on the Pope's request for a one-day truce not to bomb German towns on Corpus Christi when the streets would be full of religious processions.
We went on to the Duchess of Westminster's hospital at Le Touquet, where they naturally had the wind up, though the place seems remote enough from danger. The wounded officers naturally don't much like this bombing business while in bed on their backs. I had to calm down one of our "casual" reserve corps M.O.'s, a young doctor from Pittsburgh who will in due course be taken home legless to his wife and three children.
Boulogne by day is like a summer resort: by night quite otherwise. As I came through the black town near midnight---apparently the only person stirring ---I found the sidewalks near the abris strewn with the sleeping forms of women and children. So many of them on the broad walk by the fish market one had to go in the street to avoid tripping over them.
Sunday evening, June 2nd
No raiders last night, contrary to all prophecies. Another gorgeous day. Col. Webb-Johnson took me to Calais to see some spinal cases, and we made a day of it. To Audreselles, cutting across Cap Gris-Nez to Wissant---the villagers in their Sunday best; the villages decorated with gaudy bunting and flowers and the streets strewn with greens---the Fête Dieu, which, according to my Histoire de France, goes back to 1246 and was inaugurated in Liége.
But far more gorgeous were the hillsides with their rectangles of bright yellow mustard, others of brilliant scarlet---luzerne, I presume-and still others with a pinkish vetch, sewed in on the quilt of varied greens. The road bordered by a profusion of wild flowers, thrift and buttercups and the first of the red poppies, with other things I did not know. Across the bridge with its line of trenches dating back to 1915---then Sangatte, where stand the partly demolished brick buildings which some 15 years ago were erected by the company organized to tunnel under the English Channel---a project which was abandoned, alas!
There are three hospitals still in Calais. No. 35 (Col. Pinches, C.O.) lies in rather cramped quarters just behind the Casino. This formerly was used as a ward for the more serious cases but, owing to the bombing of late, has been abandoned except for walkers. No. 30 has been on its present site for three years and they have made things grow on the sands---flowers as well as vegetables---even have a little rock garden and waterfall, fed by water carted by hand, I fear. The place was full of femurs very well cared for by Capt. Driver; and after Webb-Johnson had made his visit, Col. Pinches took us through the town for lunch at the Officers' Club, where were many Americans newly landed.
They are coming in here, I believe, at the rate of two to three thousand a day, and I saw men in hospital (sick) from our 30th, 47th, and 28th Divisions. Such a medley of people as occupy Calais by day---and, I may add, get largely underground at night---Americans, Belgians, French, British, Indians, Colonials, negroes, Chinese laborers---every uniform known to this front---except possibly that of the much-abused Portuguese---all out for a Sunday holiday.
During the last six days the Boches have advanced 35 miles as the crow flies from the Chemin des Dames all the way to the Marne---phew! It must have been a near rout. This time at Château-Thierry, with Paris only 40 miles away. Should they get across the river they fortunately will not be as close as they were in 1914 when at Meaux.
Monday, June 3
We had a mild argument at the mess as to whether they purposely bombed hospitals, I having expressed the opinion that they did not. There being so many other things better worth hitting from a military standpoint, it would be a waste of expensive projectiles to drop them intentionally on hospitals. Nevertheless, while it seems most improbable, it is rumored that the whole Étaples district is to be moved---33,000 hospital beds in the area.
The Boches by furious attacks are endeavoring to expand the west side of their huge salient, but it is said at a heavy price, for the French are now resisting stubbornly.
Tuesday, June 4
Leave from this base is reduced to one officer per day, but the consultants are taking advantage of it. Both T. R. Elliott and Gordon Holmes going home to be married. A farewell dinner this evening to "Tiger" Macpherson, who follows his chief, the D.G., into retirement.
Friday, June 7th
This "third phase" seems to be slowing up. The German High Command claims 55,000 prisoners, including more than 1500 officers; and over 650 field guns and 2000 machine guns. The main effort slackened on the 5th, on which day, according to the press, some American troops (2nd Division) made a magnificent counter-attack at Veuilly-la-Poterie, ten miles west by north at Château-Thierry. A German cruiser-submarine has appeared off New York!
Saturday, June 8th. The Casino
Americans are suddenly growing numerous hereabouts and don't know what to do with themselves---nor the British with them. They are being given new Enfield rifles so they can use the ammunition of the B.E.F., and the storehouses at Calais are said to be filled with the excess luggage which their heavy packs contain.
There is a young fellow here---from the 59th Inf., a newcomer and already with a ball through his elbow, which picked out his radial nerve in its passage. He was one of a circle squatting on the ground near Calais while a British corporal demonstrated the workings of a Lewis gun. He incidentally succeeded in wounding several of the group.
Capt. Kelly of No. 30 General at Calais has brought down for operation the young American soldier with a presumptive brain tumor whom I saw the other day in consultation. Kelly has lived on the desert sands of Calais for a year or more without much change or, of late, much sleep. I loaned him a pair of shoes to replace his heavy rubber-soled boots, and took him to our Recreation Hut, where he passed the evening, as did others, at a dance given for our nurses.
During the afternoon a Lt. Col. of the 80th Division, with a Major of the same, freshly arrived in France and spending the night in the Officers' Club, dropped in and asked to be shown the kitchen arrangements. "Certainly": and Sgt. Edwards escorts them while I continue to look after Capt. Kelly. A half hour later I encounter them again, Edwards much crestfallen. From the Lt. Col.: "The kitchen and all about it a disgrace to the American Army---very glad he saw it---important for him to know what kind of place the wounded from his Division would be brought to---once they get into the line and begin to break through---as they certainly will, for "they have the right punch." In rejoinder---I was not the C.O., and had no recollection of ever having seen the kitchen. Thereupon he takes me by the arm and shows it to me---in all its disgrace. It looked very good to me; but I apologized for it, nevertheless, and admitted we probably had grown very dilatory during the past 12 months---indeed walked down to the club with him, where he was left fairly burning up with his importance.
Just now a Court of Investigation is being held here in our rooms---military and civilians. A Portuguese stabbed an Australian some time ago in the lower town and then licked it up the hill with the world and its wife after him. They must have caught him; and the present court is trying to decide, I presume, why the Australian, who is a patient here, did not kill him outright. Recently a street fight occurred in which several were taking a hand when the A.P.M. appeared and was about to make arrests. At this juncture a British Marine, who happened by with itching knuckles, knocked down the A.P.M., then the Portuguese, as well as his assailant, and vanished in the crowd.
This afternoon the Boulogne Medical Society met in the Consultants' Hut at No. 14 Stationary. McCormick dilated on scabies and impetigo to make one itch---40 per cent of all losses from sickness are due to these causes. Subsequently a number of us dined at 32 Stationary---their regular mess night. Sir Bertrand Dawson, Fullerton, Lister, and a number of others. Among them the naval officer who is in charge of the anti-submarine activity along this coast. He seems to think they are making headway--six done for in the past week. The whole Channel is marked out in squares---and when a "sub" is located in one of them a deep mine is set off and that's the end.
A long powwow after dinner on the after-the-war problems of medicine, and the urgent need of formulating plans to meet the new situation which will doubtless arise. All agree that State Medicine will come to play an increasingly important rôle and the profession must anticipate legislation by formulating it themselves rather than having this done by politicians and lawyers.
Sir Bertrand is an interesting person with a lively mind. I remember his saying that the two great disappointments of the war were not medicine, but the Church of England and the Burberry raincoat. He would be the last, however, to belittle what "Tubby" Clayton---almost single-handed---at "Toc H" in Poperinghe had been doing for both British officers and men since December 1915. For those who lived in continuous danger, squalor, and misery, Talbot House ("Every man's club") opened its door in a welcome spirit of laughter and prayer. To this the 10,000 and more, who meanwhile had gone with him to the upper room, could testify. Clayton kept the house open in "Pop" from December 1915 until only a few days ago. He was about the last: to leave---and then only on compulsion from H.Q.
Sunday, June 9th
This morning a cranial operation with Gil, for the benefit of. Capt. Kelly, who has managed to prolong his stay. A highly nervous Jock with a 48-hour temporal penetration, very septic, with a gassy abscess in the temporal lobe. It was not only necessary for the Scot, who abused us roundly during the process of shaving, but was good for Kelly, who has been brought up in the school advocating delay in cranial wounds.
Lunch with Michael Foster at No. 55 out beyond Wimereux, and afterwards a walk with him and Captain Fletcher over the sand dunes on a showery afternoon. Most charming companions of the cult naturalist. They delighted in everything, from the patches of pink sheep sorrel and cotton grass on the neglected golf links beyond 32 Stationary, to the suckers on the feet of the tiny green frogs which abounded in the rank growth underfoot.
Fascinating, this rolling seaside country with its mixture of sand dunes and swamps and scraggy patches of trees---alders, haws, scrub elms, and poplars, with an abundance of fragrant elder just coming into flower.
Their particular objective was to see the nest of a water rail in the long grass at the edge of one of the swamps----a nest they had been watching; and to-day the last egg was found hatched and the nest empty but for some broken bits of shell. The marshy places are still showy with yellow flag, though its glory is past, marsh marigold, which also is nearly over, and clusters of ragged robin, of bog bean, and of purple orchids---which they don't bother to pick, together Fletcher gathers samples of most everything else to botanize with when off duty.
Countless flowers there were---pink and yellow rattle, speedwell, bittersweet, four or five kinds of forget-me-nots, comfrey, dog's tongue and the water variety, stitchwort, spearwort, violets in masses, and other things low on the ground, stonecrop or golden moss, beds of bluish-green dead nettle or bugle, an occasional wee scarlet pimpernel, patches of horseshoe or bird's-foot trefoil ---"eggs and bacon" and "fingers and thumbs," according to Foster-herb Robert, festoons of bryony.
A cuckoo was announcing the hour (every few minutes) with a full June voice, and in one of the thickets a pair of nightingales---old friends of my companions---were merrily practising. Scattered everywhere between the swampy and grassy places, which had their individualities, and the actual thickets, which likewise had theirs, were the rolling dunes with their coarse grass and low privet, osier willows and grayish-green sea buckthorn---a wonderful place for a water colorist.
Finally a person of the French forester variety with a shotgun over his shoulder and a dog at his heels came up and announced that we were trespassing on a preserve; but seeing Fletcher's handful, he bade us follow him and, opening out a path through a thicket, he showed us some low bushes with three kinds of wild roses just coming into bloom, from which he picked branches to present to us before bowing us on our way. We came back across the links in a shower---soaking wet and didn't care. We 'd been far from the war and there was hot tea to welcome us.
Monday, June 10. Boulogne
No. 13 General is fast filling up with Americans who bear no relation to the present or any other battle---a mixed bag of "sick," some 250 in number---hammer-toes, hallux valgus, hemorrhoids, hernias, varicoceles, backaches---and, worse, tuberculous pleurisies, chronic heart disease, and the like. Very inefficient medical examinations at home this would seem to indicate. It's difficult to know where to send them until American bases in England are opened---if there ever are to be any. I gather that there are about as many of our troops over now as we can digest, particularly if they have to be chewed over in this way before they are fit even to undergo training.
I saw a young chap this morning whose weight on enlistment was 108 pounds; he now weighs about 90 pounds, and his pack with rifle, ammunition, and all else weighs more than he does. Another feeble soul---before his khaki days a few weeks ago---was a combination of an Armenian and an undertaker's assistant on the N.Y. East Side. A young Swede, a chauffeur at home and machine gunner out here, had a hysterical anæsthesia of almost the entire body---associated I thought with a moderate flat foot. Another in Arlie Bock's ward---of German-Jew parentage ---a tailor---had a mitral stenosis, with the apex in his axilla. He has not been able to run or climb stairs for many years. A young medical officer thought something was wrong and called his major's attention to it, but they sent him along nevertheless. He'll have to be boarded Class C. All these people were in the 77th Division.
News reaches us that on Saturday the Boches opened up again over a front of 22 miles on the south of their great Somme salient between Montdidier and Noyon, making a drive toward Compiègne. Supposedly to straighten their front by forcing the French to withdraw from between the Oise and the Aisne. If this was to be a new major phase in the great offensive, it appears to have been checked.
11 p.m. An extraordinary and depressing spectacle! Like prehistoric cave dwellers packed in for the night, but in this instance only women and little children, for the cave man is elsewhere carrying a gun. Still chattering and jabbering at 10 o'clock as they squatted or curled up on the hard hummocky dirt floors---some eating their supper of bread and wine by the aid of a bit of bougie ---others wriggling to find a place that was not too crowded; and not only the floor but the air was full of humanity.
The unexpected advent of George Crile to spend the night led me to think of the caves under the citadel where, as I had heard, the poor people of the haute ville take shelter these nights. The old thirteenth-century citadel with its high massive walls and round towers lies detached from the walled city proper, and must have once had a moat, but this is filled in, the area at the moment being used as a city market garden.
At one of the lower portals a friendly gendarme is found, with a flickering square of lantern, who will gladly escort us; so down through long passages opening out into wide chambers, and then more passages with scant headroom till, some 10 metres underground, we begin to hear the echoing murmur of countless voices like a thousand nurseries settling down for the night---the two main casemates "pour ceux qui dormirent." Women and children all over the floor, still awake most of them, and the tots on seeing us get off their few English words: "Good morning," "cigarette," "pennee," "yesno," as we step around and over them.
We made our way through for a look into the farther vaulted chamber at a still lower level, doubtless packed with the firstcomers. And in the distant corner one dimly makes out by the yellow glare of the gendarme's raised lantern the black hole representing the entrance into the cell where Louis Napoleon is said to have been incarcerated. Then we are led through other passages and chambers, which become crowded with those who are merely transients during an actual raid, unlike the night lodgers---room probably for some thousands of them. To such extremes are the populace driven underground like moles, into subterranean chambers built for a similar purpose six centuries ago---then as now the only safe ultimate refuge.
Crile much affected---so affected he gives pennies as long as they last to all the little beggars who in the late evening are still playing about outside---this very bad for their morals. We agree that we'd rather have our families take the chance of a hit in their own beds than the certainty of illness from repeated nights spent in the vitiated atmosphere of les caves de la citadelle.
Tuesday, June 11
Without doubt Hepburn is the most interesting character in our Unit. I shall never forget his first appearance in my rooms at the Brigham a few days before we sailed---bursting with the desire to get abroad and into the "circus": this, I 'm quite sure, largely from eagerness to see his old pals again. Had it not been for Villaret---and our recruits to drill---I should not have had the least idea what to do with him. Erect, massive, with sufficient breadth of shoulders to disguise his height, bristling waxed moustachios, prominent red eyes, full of energy and sometimes of alcohol. Well, he's all kinds of person, is "Hep."
He became automatically our Master Hospital Sergeant, knowing more about paper work and the mysteries of channels and ways of getting out from under---certainly more than anyone in our Army, and at least as much as the most beribboned and sophisticated of British sergeants. He can quote verbatim paragraphs and sections from the Service Manual, Field Regulations, and other black books---particularly those paragraphs useful to you when you want to pass the buck. At least, so I 'm told.
I remember, the day we landed in Falmouth, his coming down the gangplank to the lighter, the last of all, so full of business, so unmistakably different from any of the rest of our men, that the British officer who met us and was standing by me asked who he might be, adding that he looked like an old British soldier. Hepburn, when summoned, approached, saluted, and got rigid. Yes, he had been in British service 14 years. "How old are you now?" This was evaded. "How old were you when you enlisted in the States?" "The same age as when I enlisted in the British Army, sir." And he might easily pass for his enrolled 40 instead of his probable 55.
We got on the subject of punishments, at lunch to-day; he knows not a little about them from personal experience. It was in 1884, I believe, that he became "a bloomin' 'ermaphrodite, soldier and sailor too"---in short went into the Marine Corps. There he suffered many vicissitudes, working up to an N.C.O.'s stripes time after time, and then being reduced to the ranks again to the tune of various and diverse penalties. "Hep" can talk eighteen to the dozen---like a mitrailleuse in action---and I cannot begin to tell all that sputtered out of him when we got on the subject again to-night after dinner---about the cat, passing the shot, picking oakum, or working the pumps for imaginary leaks.
He finally managed to get transferred to the Navy and worked in the sick bay, meanwhile learning, among other things, the multitudinous ways of simulating diseases, ophthalmological, intestinal, orthopædic---diseases which would justify having the Captain put the old Victory into port with some critically ill patient who would promptly recover. Just the right drops to simulate infectious conjunctivitis; just how long friction on one's under shirt will raise the mercury in a thermometer to about 102° and no higher; just how to simulate scabies by jabbing a stiff scrubbing brush on the tender skin of the groins and between the fingers.
Once he "licked it"; made his way up to Edinburgh and tried to enlist in the Black Watch under the name of Charles Edward Stuart---which was going some. Said he was a sailor off a private yacht, the Norman, in Portsmouth Harbor. They kept him on for a day, giving him his shilling in advance, and then confronted him with a telegram from the Norman's captain that no hands were missing; but he said he was a sailor nevertheless and wanted to join the Black Watch.
His shilling a day as a prospective recruit was not discontinued, so he was quite happy, spending it in the canteen, the officials meanwhile making efforts to identify him with others in Her Majesty's service who chanced to be "missing." For example---a musician from the North Lancs had taken Scotch leave and "Hep" was suspect for some time of being the person in question. He a musician! Ha, Ha! Ultimately they identified him and he was sent back to Portsmouth under a guard of two. He finally reported for duty on the Victory with his handcuffs in his pocket and both guards speechless from certain fluids, for which "Hep" has a peculiar tolerance.
One thing you evidently had to learn in the old army was to decide quickly what religion you professed---whether a Catholic or "one of the fancy religions," Church of England, Wesleyan, or the like. It often made a great difference in the amount of oakum you had to pick in the hours of rest that followed the more severe periods of enforced activity. In the Marine Corps one was always tipped off to give a "fancy" religion, for Catholics had only one service a week, whereas the others had a daily service, and if you said "Catholic" you had to pick oakum six days in the week while the other more canny prisoners religiously attended service.
"Hep" seems to have made the wrong guess in this direction at least once. It was when he met the chaplain---you always have to see a chaplain---the time he not only was reduced to the ranks but served 90 days in a naval jail for having stretched his one-day leave to twelve. This was after 3 1/2 years on the west coast of Africa and London looked good to him! Well, his sailor collar and chevrons were cut off before the ship's company; he was given a thing like a muff for a cap, and looking as though sewn up in a bag was marched off to clink through Brighton and other public places where people thought he was at least a murderer---while he 'd really only taken 12 days off.
When they got to the place of confinement they first cropped his hair and then brought him to the chaplain. He took a chance and said "Catholic" and the chaplain just said: "Take him away." He finally served his term, and found his old father, a poor man, waiting for him with two pounds to put in his pocket, with which untold wealth he rejoined his former ship's company.
In due course, after some years' further service, he got dismissed---with a pension---as a victim of "Mediterranean fever and rheumatism"---on crutches in fact. They brought him home from Malta, where he had learned to simulate this particular malady, and put him ashore. While still in sight he hobbled down the street, turned a corner and stopped in at a convenient "pub," where he left his crutches. The next day he joined up with the Liverpool police. They thought it a rather quick recovery, but were glad to get him, since the other 49 applicants didn't look like much.
Then at the outbreak of the Boer War he joined the Grenadiers and subsequently got transferred to the Irish Guards, with whom he became a "Top" Sergeant, I believe. After the war he stayed on in the Natal Mounted Police, among whom his nickname was "big moustache," and a long time was passed---was it another three years?---in Zululand---at least there was one time when he went that long without seeing a white man or white woman or a glass of beer! There follows a period of obscurity before he is located in the Philippines in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army and par hasard lands at the Brigham Hospital in the days of Villaret.
Needless to say "Hep" has numerous acquaintances, in various walks of life, in various parts of the world, who could easily identify him even without his service ribbons---Ashanti, South African (both King's and Queen's), Zulu, and he has several still earlier ones which he cannot wear, for they represent Egyptian and Indian campaigns and would make it appear---at 40---that he had entered the army almost before he was born. So he finds himself very much at home here with the British Army, for there are plenty old 'uns still about. To judge from him, his old pals, who have survived, have all become higher officers---colonels at the least. But he seems satisfied to have become a Second Lieutenant in the Sanitary Corps, attached to Base Hospital No. 5, and to be eating at the Officers' Mess, though it is doubtless much less elaborate and certainly much less wet than the Sergeants' Mess he has recently left.
Wednesday, June 12th
(1) An ulnar nerve suture this morning on an original Mons man of the 3rd Division---a clean section of the nerve two inches above the wrist. For want of an operation he has been all this time in a labor battalion. (2) A sciatic nerve divided and two inches removed in a "débridement operation" by an enthusiastic M.O. at a C.C.S. If any are needed, these are arguments for the establishment of a Neurological Service.
The enemy claims 10,000 prisoners as a result of the recent offensive which has brought them near Compiègne. The French have countered and seem to be holding. Secretary Baker announces that 700,000 soldiers have now been sent to France. A visit from the "deaf one" to-night.
Friday, June 14. Boulogne
An A.E.F. "special order" No. 158, Par. 90, issued under the date of June 7, has just reached our C.O. (Roger Lee) stating that I am relieved from further duty with Base Hospital No. 5 and will proceed to Neufchâteau for duty as Senior Consultant in Neurological Surgery. This is a final blow to any plans for a fused Neurological Service for the Anglo-American armies. Everyone seems to approve of the idea, and if I can manage to get the ear of the new D.G. before leaving, there is a bare chance it may still be put through.
Sunday, June 16th. Boulogne
"We were stationed at Portsmouth---a very cliquy lot of regular army officers, and as it was a dull time we took to cricket---got up a good team and played the people around about. There was a young surgeon practising there named Conan Doyle, who played on the local team, and we didn't think much of him or them or anyone but ourselves.
"Well, we finally arranged for a series of matches for a week on the Channel Islands and, just as we were to leave, some of the officers were called away, and to fill a vacant place on the team we had to go outside, and as Doyle was a good cricketer he was chosen. But no one paid any attention to him---he was merely a supernumerary. We ate together, stayed together on the boat, and permitted him to shift for himself.
"The day of the first scheduled game it simply poured. We sat around all the morning in a very dismal hotel and by afternoon someone said let's have some music. There was an old piano and all the well-known songs of the crowd were dragged out of our coterie, the man Doyle sitting unnoticed with a book.. in a far part of the room. Finally, as the afternoon wore on, somebody with a little more feeling than the rest called out, 'Oh, I say, Doyle, do you sing?' Doyle gathered himself up---it was the first time anyone had addressed him---came over to us, and said he was sorry he didn't sing, but if we liked he would try and recite a piece. Anticipating the worst, we said 'go ahead,' and he recited a poem called 'Waterloo'---this was many years before he ever published it. Well, after a few minutes first one and then another of us began to sit up and take notice, and before he got: to the end---it took nearly an hour---we were all hanging on his. words. From that time we paid Doyle a little more attention, and he really became a member of our party."
This story was told by the D.D.M.S. at lunch to-day in their billet high up in the old town near the Calais Gate. Col. Thurston, Major Best, Capts. Ferguson, Brandt, and Farquhar. A farewell lunch for me and hopes expressed for my return, which is entirely up to the D.D.M.S., who has gone so far as to have all the head cases of the area transferred to No. 13 General---this after six months' waiting. The wheels of the army like those of the gods, etc.
11 p.m. Sad saying good-bye to the boys . . . . Sir Almroth came in later on and stayed till our alerte was sounded, so I walked down with him past the crowd in front of the fish market as far as his billet. People don't like being bombed, but it's not a mournful or depressed crowd, nevertheless. I saw one woman lift a baby in the air and call out---"Mais la guerre, ce n'est pas toujours."
June 17th, Monday. Paris
To Paris in our Frenchified Ford ambulance---our sole means of transportation this past year---with MacDonald driving, and through to our destination without incident, reaching the Porte St. Denis at 5.30. I chiefly remember the dust, a very hard seat, an attempt to memorize some French verbs---effrayer, égarer, égayer, etc.---fields full of red poppies, and the first crop of clover being harvested. We averaged about 50 km. an hour---quite good for the old bus, which has seen hard usage. When we finally struck the pavé of the broad avenue leading in through St. Denis, MacDonald said: "Gee! Reminds me of Columbus Avenue"---the highest compliment he could pay, I presume.
A fortunate encounter at the Continental with Finney, Peck, Keller, and Blake, with whom I have dinner. Evidently things have not gone well with the care of our wounded during the past ten days---almost as bad as in 1914, according to Blake. All from lack of mobility of our medical personnel. Juilly, like Blake's and Hutchinson's hospitals here in Paris, overcrowded and full of gas bacillus infections. But however this may be, the Marines in their small area have been giving the Boche a serious jolt this past week, and we are beginning to be looked upon as having an army which at least has fighting potentialities.
The truth of the matter is that during the retreat the French lost heavily in hospital equipment---30,000 beds, I believe, which was worse than the 5th Army's loss in C.C.S.'s during the first phase of this spring's offensive. Owing to this, more pressure came on our few units than they would otherwise have had. There is always a great howl about hospitals being captured, just why I do not know. Much fuss about a few iron beds and some equipment easily replaced; whereas a lot of planes crash, tanks and heavy guns get captured by the hundred, each of which cost about as much as a field hospital---and not a word.
June 18th, Tuesday
At the old Am. Ambulance, Neuilly, in the a.m., seeing nerve cases with Jim Hutchinson and lunch with him. Then to No. 3 Red Cross Military Hospital---Mrs. Whitelaw Reid's place for officers in the rue Chevreuse---to see Archie Roosevelt, whose musculo-spiral paralysis has been the object of discussion and disagreement.
June 19, Wednesday
The morning at No. 2 R.C.M.H. with Blake, Heitz-Boyer, and others; Patterson, now a Colonel, to lunch and full of his experiences with our people behind Château-Thierry. Enthusiastic about our troops, but equally abusive of French hospitals. The chief reason for our breakdown, however, was due to Lee's inability to secure sufficient teams for the work, his efforts in this direction having been blocked by the Divisional Surgeon. These things will get straightened out some day, but only when the Consultants are given more authority.
Price and I then went to see young Roosevelt---a bad end-result of Pool's successful primary operation with closure over a fractured humerus. These privately run hospitals for officers are a pest, and it looks as though we may, in this respect, fall into the same error as did the British.
Dinner with the Strongs---he just back from Dijon. Tales of his chauffeur---he's lucky to have one at all. He got out on a rainy night to read a signpost halfway to Paris from Dijon, the man drove off and left him in the middle of the road and did not miss him till he reached Paris. R.'s philosophy is, "It might have been worse." More serious was the time, returning from H.Q. at Chaumont, when the same man left the portfolio containing his completed manuscript of the trench-fever report on the running board of the car, after having turned up the back seat to get out some tools. It wasn't missed till they reached Paris at dawn. It's too long a story to tell here---the immediate retracing of their steps---rewards---giving it up-going back the next day, and finally stumbling on the very farmer who had picked up the portfolio. He nearly passed away when presented with 200 francs.
Sunday, June 23rd Neufchâteau
11 p.m. Three days of getting oriented and accustomed to work in an office where people are falling over each other. Finney, Fisher, Peck, Blair, Greenwood, and McKernon in one room---most of them trying to use their own typewriting machines. In another Thayer, Salmon, Cohn, Dexter, and a few more. In a third I have been given a table with Goldthwait, Baer, Allison, and others. Young and his trio in a fourth. One telephone for all in the entry---visitors every few minutes---reports of new divisions arriving that have to be fitted out with teams and officers. Some confusion!
I have a vague recollection of orders permitting some of us to assume silver leaves---of an Army Order G.O. 88 which left many things, such as the relation of Divisional Consultant to Divisional Surgeon, most uncertain---of a visit from Col. Keller---of a long night's powwow in Finney's room---of a call last night from General Ireland, who is the real thing, and straightened matters out in a jiffy---of our good friend General Thompson of the 1st Army, B.E.F., who is being shown around by Col. Ashford, and a dinner for him at the Red Cross Club---of getting accustomed to U.S. Army paper work--of preparing for a lecture---of visiting with Terhune the two local hospitals (No. 66 and the Red Cross Civil Hospital near which our new offices are being built)---of seeing Heuer, Norris, John Gibbon, Col. Brackett, fresh from the U.S.A., and Gerald Webb---of saluting Sammies---of cows, cats, pigs, and a French feather bolster under which I shall now endeavor to insert myself.
With Salmon to lecture at Langres before Ashford's school---Salmon in the p.m., Baer in the a.m., I in the evening. "A superfluity of lectures causeth ischial bursitis"---however, the pupils were attentive and apparently interested. Following Salmon's afternoon talk---he has been dubbed by the irrepressible Yates the "nut picker"---he and I gathered up dear William Potter, who is still a lieutenant and has worked unceasingly at his job here since leaving us in Boulogne eight months ago. He's a patient soul---a veritable Job---and to complete the picture he has had a succession of boils on his neck for the past two months which give him the attitude of a robin listening for a worm.
He took us to many interesting old corners of the town in the best of which---an old thirteenth-century residence used as a prophylactic station, alas!---were some wonderful mural carvings. Then a walk around the walls with lovely views of distant country---even Mont Blanc to the S.E.---and so supper with Ashford, my talk, and the 70-kilometre ride home with Salmon by moonlight, meanwhile discussing the past of peoples and governments.
June 27th, midnight
Due in Paris at 8 p.m., we arrived an hour ago, supperless, and as an alerte sounded just as we were getting into the Métro--stopping all trains, and no taxis of course---we decided to hoof it to the Continental---a long way. By the time we reached the Place Vendôme things were getting pretty lively, but as Col. Bell had never witnessed a raid we stood on the corner of the rue Castiglione for some minutes watching the anti-aircraft guns and searchlights and then walked on down to the hotel. We had to pound on the big iron doors before the concierge would let us in, and just as he did so the whistle of a torpedo and bang! bang!!---two of them uncomfortably near.
An attentive hall boy has conducted me to the balcony overlooking the Tuileries and we have seen the whole show for the last half hour---Gothas---lights---shrapnel---the explosion and flame of an occasional bomb---a small fire---a pitch-black Paris---the moon low and behind a cloud, intensifying the darkness. I wonder why they didn't drop a magnesium flare, as at Étaples, to see what they were doing.
Friday, June 28. Paris
The two we heard last night, so near by, got the Place Vendôme and fell about 50 feet from where we had stood. Moral: Don't be too curious about an air raid. The place is a sight---practically every window blown in and the façades much pockmarked. This am. the holes in the pavement were already being filled in and the place was full of curiosity seekers whom the gendarmes had to keep moving along. A pile of plate-glass fragments, about 4 feet high and 15 feet square, was stacked up near the Column. This is the second raid they've had on consecutive nights, and I may add that the sirens at this moment are racing through the streets announcing another for to-night. Paris, however, doesn't seem to have the wind up.
The Research Committee meeting to-day began with "Chest Wounds." Major Lockwood of No. 36 C.C.S. on the surgical aspects---very good. Then Col. Soltau, admirable. Next Rose Bradford, talking as to a class of third-year medical students---not much. Then two French papers---very unfortunate---Cannon first called on Tuffier, who should have come last. T. read from a manuscript in an English no one could understand. At the end of 20 minutes Cannon rapped, T. paying no attention. After three minutes C. rapped again---no attention. Finally C. got up to speak to T., who kept turning just the wrong way so Walter was unobserved, and he finally announced from behind T.'s back that the Professor had exceeded his time but we hoped he would continue and finish his paper. He did. But he forgot to show about 100 photographs and to exhibit a row of blessés who, covered with medals, were sitting before us in the care of numerous auxiliaires. Well, it was all very funny as one thinks of it now---and Tuffier is so dignified and effective in his own language!
11 p.m. The Strongs'. Things are pretty lively outside---difficult to tell bombs from anti-aircraft guns---evidently a good deal of both in this neighborhood---all the family and maids have gone to the cellar. Col. Lyle Cummins, who is here, and I both prefer to take to our beds.
Saturday, the 29th
Research meeting continues. Neuropsychiatry programme under Salmon's guidance---rather disappointing. Salmon himself suffering from an aphonia which he explains is not hysterical. Foster Kennedy---excellent! Gordon Holmes urges more neurology; and in the afternoon we got it---three more papers by Frenchmen whom no one could understand as they undertook to read in English. Leri spoke and Babinski, and also Pierre Marie---nice old man! Later a meeting of the Committee with tea for the sake of the British, though afternoon tea is défendu nowadays in Paris. Alec Lambert reads a version of our policy as he sees it, with much insertion of Red Cross, and we then have prolonged and various discussions till seven.
Sunday, June 30th
A gorgeous June day in Paris. One looks on the monuments and vistas of this incomparable city, wondering if it is to be destroyed ---and when. This must be continually in the minds of all. The morning spent with Dean Lewis at the American Ambulance, as I still incline to call it, though it is now officially, I believe, U.S. Red Cross end Military Hospital No. 1, looking at peripheral nerve records.
5 p.m. Col. Cummins and I have been wandering the streets of Paris all the afternoon with a feeling that it may possibly be for the last time. He knows the place intimately and is a charming companion. We have just come from visiting a friend of his, Edouard Estaunié, author of Les Choses Voient, La Vie Secrète, Solitudes, and other serious romances. We found him in Passy---his wife and children sent away for safety because of the bombardment---sitting at his desk, writing with a robe over his knees. "One has to work."
I would give much for a record of his conversation during the hour we sat there---sad beyond degree---the end of France and her great monuments---first Reims, then Amiens, now Soissons, and soon Paris. Better go out against the enemy and lose 40,000 men than to lose them in a retreat like the last. "The army at all costs must be preserved?" No. Look at the Belgian Army, but where is Belgium---the Serbian Army preserved, but where is Serbia? France will go down fighting and die in the last ditch---very fine ! for future times to point to as glorious, but what of France? C'est effroyable. . .
It's impossible to describe how he said all this and with what fervor. We think he's wrong, of course, especially about the right never having triumphed in the history of the world---always the barbarian. Nineveh, Athens, Rome, Alexandria. It was a torrent, crystal clear. We venture to suggest that the Americans may yet do something to help France. He doubts it. It's almost too late---they've been here a year and what's to show for it?
When the next offensive will come off no one knows. It probably won't be long postponed. I gather that the epidemic of grippe which hit us rather hard in Flanders also hit the Boche worse, and this may have caused the delay. Then too perhaps the Austrian retreat, which became a near rout on the swollen Piave, may have had some influence. Meanwhile our people are piling in---48 divisions, I believe, at present---750,000 or more, but they've kept the secret well.
July 1st, Monday
With Strong to the old American Hospital of Paris, where the final stages of the trench-fever problem are being worked out. One has to go there and see the volunteer victims fully to realize what they have been through, some of them to-day on the peak of a 104° fever from having sedimented urine or louse fæces rubbed in or injected under their skin two to three weeks ago. College men several of them---I ran across two Yale graduates. They certainly deserve the meritorious conduct medal for which Strong has recommended them to an unwilling Congress---or possibly President. I learned for the first time to-day that when they volunteered for these experiments last January they all expected that the work would have to be carried out actually in the trenches---one reason they were eager to volunteer---the quickest way to get there.(39)
To the rue Chevreuse again, and then Gentile's---poor old man; most of his instrument makers have left him for work elsewhere giving higher wages, and preferably outside of Paris. The exodus indeed, caused by the Big Bertha and the approach of the Boche, has been over one million---about a quarter of the population. Then to the Red Cross Library; lunch at the new mess of No. 1 in Neuilly; a séance with the neurologists there and plans for future coöperation.
In the afternoon to Juilly with Jim Hutchinson---my first visit to the old Jesuit College where Mrs. Whitney started the adjunct to the Am. Ambulance, which did such good work before our entry into the war. They had a bad time during the recent offensive, having been commandeered by Col. Wadhams, who really saved the day by persuading Hutchinson to send up his ambulance cars without authorization of the Paris office, by getting two evacuation hospitals set up, one at Juilly and the other at Coulommiers, and by starting to move up medical supplies.
Well, that's an old story now, as is the fact that the reserve officers Lee had asked for got there too late to be of real service. Hall, my old classmate, now has Evac'n Hospital No. 8 set up in the grounds, and it's difficult to know whether he, a regular Lt. Colonel, or Charles Mixter, a reserve corps Captain, is really C.O. Mixter undoubtedly carried off the honors---1500 cases went through in one day and Lee jumped in himself and worked at a table before the teams could be brought up.
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