Tuesday, July 2nd. Paris
11 p.m. "C'est ainsi que les américains ont brillamment enlevé le village de Vaux, à 4 kilomètres ouest de Château-Thierry, ainsi que les hauteurs à l'ouest du village." They certainly have, and our pessimistic friend of Sunday would have been cheered could he have been to-day with the 2nd Division, who are holding what they call the sector "Pas Fini," this side of Château-Thierry. They are the boys! As the Marines have been three times cited and the regulars only twice, the latter begged to have another show before going out for a much-needed rest period. They had it, and yesterday morning after a detailed preparation the 9th and the 23rd Infantry successfully stormed the strongly fortified town and took some 600 prisoners, to the amazement and delight of the French. What's more, the Boche prisoners confess they don't like it much on the other side, and many of them "Kamerad" for the asking.
After a reëxamination of young Roosevelt with Alec Lambert, I went out in a Red Cross car to see Bert Lee, the Divisional Consultant, and to find out what they needed. Again via Claye, Meaux, and over pavé's and bad roads, but through pretty country to La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, where in Field Hospital No. 103 he was found. They've had heavy work the past few days, with four teams working in 8-hour shifts---very cramped quarters in the grounds of an old convent; no field medical cards, merely slips of paper; four Bessonneau tents for wards; only the very severe cases detained---chests, heads, abdomens, compound thighs, occasional multiples---the rest all evacuated to Coulommiers; about 500 urgent cases handled in three weeks and of course a high mortality, as the transport has been difficult to manage.
Of the other three field ambulances of the division, No. 1 is at Bazu-le-Guéry, and acts as the divisional triage---an A.D.S., it would be called in the B.E.F.---about three miles behind the present line. We went there after lunch and found Richard Derby looking rather worn, unshaven and sleepless, with a boil on his neck to try his patience---but cheerful as ever and playing an important rôle as second to the Divisional Surgeon, Col. Morrow. The C.O. is Capt. Evans, a reserve officer from New Mexico and a daisy---moved up to this post because the regular couldn't stand the strain.
From there we ran over to Villiers-sur-Marne, where is a Reserve Ambulance Co., No. 15, under command of a Lt. Bruce, occupying the Huard Château, made celebrated by My Home in the Field of Honor. The little old donkey is still there and the two grandchildren of Father Poupart, if that was his name. The other two field ambulances, Nos. 15 and 16, are at Luzancy, a little further back, where Derby had the foresight to establish a gas station in an old school building which has done timely and good work. They started with accommodations for only 250, but on June 14th, their second day, they had 756 cases from the region of Bouresches. Major Lavake, if that is his name, is proud of his unit and thinks they could handle 2000 cases a day without teams. Maj. Reynolds of Providence, one of Salmon's people, there and doing well, having already returned 150 shell-shock cases to the line.
Thence back through La Ferté-sous-Jouarre and so to Montanglaust, picturesquely overlooking Coulommiers. Here are two units functioning as a C.C.S.-Mobile Hospital No. 1 under Maj. Macrae and Evac. Hosp. No. 7 under a regular named Col. Tefft. A beautiful park with wonderful trees---very damp, I fear, in bad weather. They are making headway and show a fine spirit---their chief source of complaint being the "Pershing dressings," which are pitiful compared to the S.D.C. products some of us have grown accustomed to. It's C.C.S. work of a very good order, with Cutler's team perhaps doing as well as any. We dined in a large open tent, nurses, men, and M.O.'s, and then back with Lee to La Ferté buzzing with requests to hand on to Finney---enough to fill my notebook.
July 4, 1918. Paris
La Fête de l'Indépendance, and they were actually celebrating it in England! Here it has absorbed everything. Even Bastille Day has been fused with this our own national festival. An actual holiday for tout Paris----all the shops closed. The city began to be decked out yesterday with intertwined American and French flags, and Old Glory floats on the very tip of the Eiffel Tower. A beautiful day---everyone much cheered by the fighting qualities shown by our 2nd Division culminating in their recent attack at Vaux. Commanding generals, premiers, admirals, and presidents send telegrams of felicitation. In a note which is given wide publicity Secretary Baker lets out the actual number of troops that have come over---1,019,115 in all---six months ahead of schedule.
De Martel had sent word to say that the meeting of the Société de Neurologie was called off, and would I go with him and Major Jarvis, the C.O. of the Astoria Hospital, to see the review? No possibility of seats, but he had secured three tickets for standing room reserved in a balcony. Remembering the uncertainties of sitting astride a wall just a year ago, I accepted with alacrity. We joined the holiday crowd bound for the place of ceremonies, climbed the back stairs of a building on the corner of the rue Pierre-Charron and the Avenue du Trocadéro---after to-day to be the Avenue du Président-Wilson---and found ourselves on a narrow fourth-story ledge looking down on the Place d'Iéna. The broad thoroughfare down which the troops were to come stretched directly in front of us---the equestrian statue of Washington and reviewing stands past which they were to march lay just at our feet.
Soon pundits began to arrive in shoals to fill the six large tribunes---diplomats, soldiers, sailors, ambassadors, politicians, in blue and khaki and black, with a dash of red here and there on British Staff Officers and on Joffre's legs, for he still sticks to his old uniform; Poincaré, Lord Derby, Mr. Sharp; Pau, with his empty sleeve; General Dubail, the Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honor; General Guillaumat, the Military Governor of Paris; Lloyd George, who had just come from somewhere; Clemenceau (loud cheers for the idol of the people); the Diplomatic Corps, the Senate, the Deputies, the Municipal Council, Ministers of Commerce and of Affairs Interior and Exterior.
After some speeches (to us inaudible) by the President of the Senate, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, by Mr. Sharp and some others, the Garde Municipale moved aside, their band struck up the Chant du Départ, and the troops began to pour down the Avenue toward us. First a few French dragoons, and then, after the bands of the 2nd and 4th Divisions, came samples of our American troops, perhaps 3000 of them, in service caps, very sturdy and marching superbly. They were followed by platoons from the various regiments that have been in the line---Marines and others from the 2nd Division only relieved yesterday by the 26th after nearly 40 days of continuous fighting---wearing tin hats, rather straggly, tired, and disheveled.
Next, after a contingent of American nurses, came more French dragoons, and then with gleaming bayonets waves of poilus---glorious in their horizon-bleu. For some reason they always make me tearful, but de Martel said he had never before appreciated how squatty they were, compared to the Americans.
While all this was going on, three daredevil airmen were swooping and cavorting and looping about, skimming over the housetops and roaring over the Place. Well, it was a great and stirring show! The procession continued down the Champs-Élysées and there were more speeches, I believe, before the Strasbourg monument in the Place de la Concorde. "Nous pouvons envisager l'avenir avec sûreté.".
Sunday, July 7. Neufchâteau
Returned to this place yesterday with some officers of the 4th Corps, which also is to have its headquarters here. A hot, cloudless day. Wonderful weather continues and yet no renewal of the Boche offensive. Many theories-shortage of men? internal troubles? an epidemic of the 3-day fever? preparation for some sort of surprise? Meanwhile he's losing his most valuable ally---Time. Our people are coming fast, though they are sadly without means of transportation. We all suffer alike in this respect.
To La Fauche to see an unconscious sergeant this a.m.---for want of transportation they had to send over an ambulance. Luncheon with Schwab, who is doing excellent work and preparing to write up the war neuroses from the point of view of "over here." Most of the texts on the subject seem to come from those still "at home." He misses the chance to observe organic cases alongside of the neuroses. Psychiatry is rather overemphasized, but there is no chance to enlarge these hospitals now.
The 89th---Leonard Wood's division---is scattered between Liffol-le-Grand and Rimaucourt on the road to Chaumont. Very snappy fellows as all agree, but heartbroken to have lost their leader at the last moment. It would have been a fine chance for Mr. Wilson to square himself and do a magnanimous thing. They say the Midnight Division is the "salutinest" division in France; but the 89th is a close second.
Wednesday the 10th
Making plans for work at No. 18 on peripheral nerves. A trip to Bazoilles in consequence. Orthopædists and urologists have a way hereabouts of grabbing every available medical officer who comes overseas. The spirit of sauve qui peut is not good teamwork. John Finney back from his trip, and soon to leave for the U.S.A.---ostensibly in relation to personnel---actually at the behest of the regulars over here to support Ireland as Gorgas's successor.
July 13th, a.m. Saturday
On our short and crooked street is held weekly the pig market. It has strange hours. From Friday afternoon till dark at about 10 p.m. they gather in carts and park outside our windows---the pigs always of the same age, about 40-pounders, pink and with an enormous squeal. Pigs of any other age or squeal are apparently unsalable. Their owners, dressed alike in long aprons---the uniform of the pigster---have a penchant for pinard and there is a convenient place near by. "Pas de pinard, pas de soldat." During the evening they become most voluble and quarrelsome---both pigs and pigsters, for the latter have a way of exhibiting the former by holding them up to view by one hind leg and a tail, in which position the squeals run out.
But this is nothing to the morning, when barter really begins---at daybreak, which is about 3.30. I have only a faint idea of the destiny of these piglets, but they seem to be sold in pairs. This transaction accomplished, each is laid in turn on its back and while someone stands on its neck it is publicly emasculated---worse squeals! Then the two are taken, each by one hind leg, and squealing and clawing madly with their forefeet, which barely reach the ground, they are ignominiously marched down our street and around a corner. We do not sleep Saturday mornings after daybreak.
Neufchâteau: Sunday, July 14
Evening. Bastille Day and a gala day in consequence, with the weather still fine and the Boche quiet, though from all accounts he has been massed in a wide area north of Châlons ready for an offensive on a large scale for many days. So we proceed with our celebration with an arch over our office street on which Hommage au Président Wilson is inscribed in large letters amidst a flutter of tricolor bunting.
In the afternoon there are speeches from a platform in a field at the edge of the town---a platform covered by people resembling undertakers in silk hats and frock coats---the pundits of the village. Then a review of a company of ancient French Territorials and a contingent from our 36th Division, who have sent us a small band. In time the people surge into our rue de l'Hôpital, which becomes renamed in honor of Mr. Wilson. A noisy ball game follows between the men of No. 66 and some others.
Then dinner at the Club with E. L. Keyes and the Town Major, or, who are to make speeches, owing to the appeal of a Falstaffian person who bosses the local Y.M.C.A. hut. There was music by the 145th Inf'y band---ragtime music, to which the French have taken kindly---they have to, for it's all they get. An eloquent prayer by a Dominican priest in his white gown which was translated for us---the prayer---afterwards, and effectually spoiled by an Intelligence Officer gifted with poor English; then songs
"Ninette et Rintintin" by la classe enfantine du Collège de Jeunes Filles---very cunning. Keyes followed---most eloquent with much about ´aux armes, citoyens," wholly in French; then Major Bluem in similar vein ditto; I with more of the same, much less effective in English; and finally a gent sang some baritone songs about "when we cross the Rhine, bohoys." It was altogether very hot and enthusiastic and I reached home to find my tunic covered with green paint and patriotism which I had absorbed from the freshly decorated walls of the hut. Vive la France! Vive l'Amérique! Vive everybody, particularly Prezydonc Veelsong!!!
On the way home to dinner I skirted the town along the Meuse tributary and had the gratification of seeing a large bull poke his head over the wire fence which enclosed him, in order to investigate the contents of a wheelbarrow evidently containing the Monday's wash of some family. He finally selected a succulent pair of long black stockings knotted together above the knee and, beginning at the knot, proceeded to swallow them. The two feet finally disappeared together---a dead heat-to the exquisite delight of some passing poilus, one of whom went to the door of the cottage and explained matters to an unbelieving female. She apparently suspected the poilu of some trickery---what had happened? Then such a tornado of abuse as that old beast got! But he stood calmly regarding the irate washerwoman, his head on one side, evidently enjoying his black cud and with an expression as much as to say, "What a peculiar female, this." The poilus nearly died---and I also.
Monday a.m., July 15th
Yesterday's atmosphere of festivity, which extended over all of France, was abruptly checked this morning by the news that another great German attack had been launched---from Château-Thierry to the Argonne---an 80-km. front. It will probably be their supreme effort. However, in our Neufchâteau billet at this particular moment Finney, with Bill Fisher's help, is wildly packing for his sudden departure home, meanwhile discovering strange bundles---from unopened boxes of candy to ophthalmoscopes---among his year's accumulations. I am supposed to substitute for him during his absence---not a particularly desirable job under present circumstances.
He, Thayer, and Salmon go to Chaumont as a committee of protest regarding a new draft of Circular No. 25 relating to General Orders 88. May they be successful! Col. McCaw probably will object to their "Ireland or Nothing" campaign---sounds like a Sinn Fein slogan. If Ireland for the U.S.A., Wadhams for the A.E.F. Efficiency first, last, and all the time! When the war is over, the regulars can do as they like about seniority and rank, for which we care little.
Consultants Gathered at Rue Gohier before Dr. Finney's Departure. Seated: Finney, Thayer. Standing (Front Row): Blair, Case, Young, Cushing, Salmon, Fisher, Boggs. Back Row: Waters, Baer, Brickner, Keyes,Allison, Dexter, Peck, Widener, Derby
Meanwhile we hear next to nothing. Indeed our Medical H.Q. is permitted to have less news than we used to get as a.m. and p.m. bulletins posted at every British C.C.S. for all to read. It would appear that the Boches are after Châlons and Épernay, which would make Reims untenable. That they have been concentrating in this area has long been surmised. Brewer, who was here yesterday for lunch, hustled away as he had been given to understand the show might open any minute. It was therefore no surprise, unlike the Mar. 21st and May 27th affairs.
Later. The hospital in La Ferté-Gaucher got badly bombed, as did many others: Châlons, Coulommiers, La Ferté-s.-Jouarre. Apparently the enemy's zero hour was known to the French, whose artillery opened on them two hours before the attack, causing losses and confusion.
July 16, Tuesday. Châlons-sur-Marne
8 p.m. Under a cloudless sky, with the temperature well up in the 90's, I left Neufchâteau this morning to locate Geo. Brewer with the 42nd Division north of Châlons. In a borrowed National car behind Holbrook, who after leaving Gondrecourt missed the turn and we had to make our way cross-country through Monthiers and Chevillon before we struck the Joinville.-St. Dizier road. At Chevillon a blow-out, as the tires got so hot the old patches melted. We nearly blew out, ourselves. A woman appears with three small children and expecting another. She protests that they have 100 grams of bread a day for all---her husband for four years in the war and now in hospital, and, "M'sieur, voyez les légumes!" They certainly need rain. Vitry-le-François, and on the road to Châlons another blow-out, so it is nearly nine when we get in. I learn that a Captain Mills, liaison officer with the French 4th Army, is the only person who can tell me where to find the Divisional Surgeon. Captain Mills unfortunately is at the General's mess, where I can pursue him if it is urgent; and it certainly is if we are to get under cover this night.
Wednesday, July 17th. Écury
Capt. Mills was an unconscionable time, but it was worth while as I met General Gouraud---one-armed and lame since Salonika days--who is in command of this sector. Capt. Mills, with apologies for his hour's delay, took me to his billet, where we found people preparing to get underground and where after a half hour's attempt to reach the H.Q. of the Divisional Surgeon by telephone I was told that Brewer had gone to the 1st Corps and was no longer here. Also that things were likely to be happening in Châlons any minute and perhaps I 'd better move along and try again to-morrow. He added the information that the French were jubilant over holding the Boche and attributed it all to us---as good as a victory! They were celebrating this at the General's mess and that was why he could not come out.
Holbrook and I debated whether to stick to the countryside for the night or try and find a hotel and some food; we chose the latter. We wouldn't have done so had we known what was coming ---no food and a bombardment which lasted from 10.30 to 4.30 this a.m. With no expectation of guests at such a time, the hotel was not only empty but closed and barred. We finally roused a servant and were let in, given two rooms, and allowed to park the car in an open court. We were then hurried to the wine cave two flights underground, where was the wife of the maître d'hôtel with two aged women propped upon mattresses. There was no place to sit and they wouldn't let me smoke as "it would spoil the wine"! I stuck it till 12.30 and then went up to bed and finally slept---in my clothes---wondering whether bombs were actually dropping in the court or whether an anti-aircraft gun was firing from there---and not caring much which.
In the morning we tried Écury, some 9 km. south of Châlons, where Brewer said that Evac'n No. 4 was to be set up. And there they were in trouble enough, alongside a French H.O.E. Brewer had been operating much of the past 24 hours and I soon got to work with the rest. Golly, it was hot.
To Show the Extent of the Final German Offensive from Soissons to Massiges on July 15-17 in the Attempt to Encircle Reims, with Successful Crossing of the Marne (Dotted Line). Also to Show the Franco-American Counter Offensive Launched July 18th on the 27-Mile Western Side of the German Salient, threatening the Enemy's Lines of Communication).
7 p.m. We went on to Vatry in the afternoon, some 10 km. farther on---where Mobile No. 2 (St. John's Unit) had just been moved. They had had a bad shelling at Bussy-le-Château for the first six hours of the show and had to get out. Luckily no casualties and the nurses behaved splendidly, refusing to go and sticking to the work till the last minute. They're a picked lot. Rose Peabody is with them as a Red Cross representative.
July 18th. Neufchâteau
11 p.m. We worked on at Evac'n No. 4 till about 11 last night winding up the last of the cases---some 1500 wounded, they estimated, had gone through. An awful rainstorm and hurricane in the middle of the evening---some tents down, but we all hung on to the Bessonneau in which we were operating while it flapped like a loose mainsail in a gale and shook out most of the lights.
A lot more might be told. I remember beans for supper with poor coffee, and rice for breakfast with poor coffee, and some weak pink lemonade passed about by the Y.M.C.A. folks. At midnight I crawled into the wounded officers' tent and lay down on an empty cot; but there were one or two noisy ones alongside and sleep was fitful. This morning---93 miles in 3.5 hours---back here to try and get some supplies and neurosurgical outfits for each of these groups.
News has come through that two of our four divisions with the French Foreign Legion under Mangin and Degoutte on a 25-mile front have walloped through on the Soissons---Château-Thierry side of the salient; that there are 18,000 prisoners, and a penetration of 24 km. This from Col. Stark, whom I have just seen, hoping to get him to requisition the neurological tools cached in Comes, by phone. He passes the buck to Col. Keller. We'll see in the morning what Keller will do . . . . The German communiqué this afternoon admitted great activity on their front south (sic) of the Marne. Those that got across at Dormans, if we have luck, may wish they hadn't.
Saturday, July 20th. Coulommiers
11 p.m. In Macrae's tent at Mobile No. 1, the "Auto-chir"(#40) which is set up in the park behind the Château de Montanglaust, where No. 7 Evac'n has its headquarters on the ridge overlooking Coulommiers. It's blowing a gale, has turned cold and stormy, while two mournful owls are hooting in the trees near by. I hope our aviators are not out on bombing expeditions in this weather. All the afternoon the sky was humming with them.
It's been a confused day. I've been operating here with first one team, then another, but mostly doing heads with Cutler---two very good ones. Tuffier as a French Consultant here in the morning wishes to see a cranial operation; but no cases in at that time. He was very despondent---just back from Châlons, where he says 3000 French wounded have been waiting three days for operation ---much gas infection. Almost as bad at Sézanne, where we visited a large H.O.E. yesterday on the way up here.
A confused day I say---there are about 20 teams at work here and Macrae, the energetic C.O. of this Council Bluffs Unit, says that some 8000 cases have passed through No. 7 Evac'n in the château since the 14th. And there's confusion confounded, I fear, in the line. I just saw a young boy on one of the tables who was wounded Thursday---compound fracture of femur---on the outskirts of Soissons. The Boche came back and overran him and so I he lay without food. To-day our people came back---4th Division, I believe---and he was picked up and came in here unsplinted.
There must be a great dearth of splints; and as for medical cards and notes, they're hopeless-mere slips of paper flying everywhere. I saw one American soldier with a German field card, and admirable ones they are, written on by a French medical officer!! Account for that if you can! He doesn't seem to know.
Over to La Ferté-s.-Jouarre this evening to see Col. Hutton, the Chief Surgeon of the Paris Group. He wants me to go to Crépy-en-Valois to-morrow to look out for Evacuation Hospital No. 5---a new outfit just going up there---a pretty hot place, he says, due to a Boche counter in the direction of Soissons. Stopped in at the divisional F.H. No. 103, where a Major Blanchard, M.R.C., has succeeded Col. Morrow, who goes to Evac'n No. 1. McWilliams has taken over Lee's divisional job and Yates, Bernheim, Lyman, Brennan, and Hetzel were at work there.
The members of this Iowa outfit are early birds and I 'd better turn in. We were routed out at 5.45 this a.m. Breakfast at 6.30. What would they say to this at a British C.C.S.?
"We're doin' fine." Col. Hutton says we're in Etrépilly this afternoon and the Boches are moving back. Certainly none are left south of the Marne. The 42nd is to be moved down here from the Châlons region and with it Evac'n No. 4 and Mobile No. 1. Just as well I didn't undertake to go back there.
July 22nd: Séry-Magneval
9 a.m. Times and dates are difficult to figure out. This must be Monday. It's hot and quiet---the birds chirping---the hornets and flies troublesome. There's a smell of hay about as I lie on the grass in front of a square U.S. Army tent which is to be shared with Greenwood---two others were evidently here during the night shift.
We've been operating all night behind the 2nd Division in this newly pitched evacuation hospital which had never seen a battle casualty till forty-eight hours ago and found itself equipped with hospital supplies dating from before the Spanish War---no X-ray---no Dakin's fluid---no nurses, nor desire for any---not a prepared sterile dressing---no sterilizer suitable for field work---and little compressed bundles of ancient gauze and tabloid finger bandages with which to dress the stinking wounds of these poor lads.
But to go back to early yesterday a.m., in the remote past. Colonel Hutton intimated that Fred Murphy must be having his hands full---had not been able to get in touch with him for two days---this new unit sent up in a most chaotic state---completely raw, with new and untried operating teams. Would I go to a place called Crépy-en-Valois south of the Forêt de Compiègne, where I might possibly locate them and be of some service.
My notes en route read: "Coulommiers, 7 a.m.---La Ferté-sous-Jouarre--Lizy-sur-Ourcq---up the east side of the Ourcq to Ocquerre---Crouy---Montigny---Mareuil-sur-Ourcq, loaded with French chasseurs and their supplies---the clouds breaking ---across the Ourcq---along a well-camouflaged road to Auteuil about five km. from the recent line---poppies and wheat-wire and gun emplacements---flying men getting out despite the high wind---blue patches of sky above, blue patches of chicory in the fields below, blue poilus beyond on a distant hillside---batches of Boche prisoners---Ivors---behind the Forêt Villers-Cotterets---'pour aller à Crépy tournez à droite près Vaumoise'---funny little camouflaged French tanks, all gun, chewing their way along the soft side of the country road---caches of ammunition---a British artillery brigade all freshly shaven and very smart---lorries and more lorries till the mud becomes dust---more herds of Boche P.O.W---.at last Crépy, evidently severely bombed of late."
The hastily manned hospital near the station at Crépy had been hard hit and was evidently untenable obviously necessary to evacuate. For this purpose an ambulance train, No. 54 U.S.A., was drawn up alongside the badly smashed-up station---equipped to transport 360 lying cases; it was about to leave with 622 wounded of all kinds, mostly severe.
Altogether 2000 casualties had been routed through Crépy with the aid of a few surgeons and dentists from Mobile No. 1. With them were Kerr and Trout, who had just reached France and been pitchforked into this mess to do strange operations under stranger circumstances---put into a car and fired up here not knowing what would be expected of them. They began to take in Thursday afternoon---had 604 last night alone, and they're rather done in.
Meanwhile Proust, the Consultant of the French 4th Army, with Fred Murphy and a Captain Crafts, had been struggling to straighten things out. At the station, wounded had been lying out all night in the storm untouched---waiting for the train. Bert Lee in desperation finally wangled some empty lorries and sent a large number of them, thoroughly drenched, to this place, a matter of about five kilometres over narrow, torn-up country roads. F.M. said he never imagined anything so appalling---would I beat it to Séry-Magneval and help this untried outfit get started---nothing to do but route all possible cases there---the situation bad and certainly going to get worse. Gossip has it---confidential like all gossip---that General Pershing was here last night---the corps to be moved out---several divisions very hard hit.
Well, I could tell much more both about Crépy and about this awful place---the utter confusion---the large number of rotting men for whom no possible relief was in sight; my effort to get some order out of the chaos while the C.O.---the poor man had a bad carbuncle on his neck---disappeared for some hours to get a needed rest; his fury at my having ventured in his absence to number the hastily pitched ward tents---a prompt reconciliation---visits later from Hall, from a very haggard Bert Lee, from Murphy, Allison, Salmon, Bevans, the Corps Surgeon, and many more. Persuaded a Red Cross official to get through by telephone to Paris for a lorry of sterile Boston dressings in tins---more wounded and still more, many of them three days old. E. A. Poe's brother (Nat, I believe) found in one of the crowded tents---Redmond Stewart, a judge advocate, there with him; operations all night in a Bessonneau tent we finally managed to get set up---amputations of the thigh---sucking chest wounds---mutilations---German wounded. I recall a young Seaforth Highlander subaltern and a Jock of the Gordons (the 15th Scottish has come down here to back us up) wounded by the air raiders who passed over near midnight---the only two wounds which I saw that were not stinking.
All told it was a bad night. Sometime about dawn, while waiting for the next head to be shaved, I lay down on an empty operating table, went promptly to sleep, and fell off. Morning has now come and it all seems very far away. I've had coffee, a shave, and will take a nap---the flies permitting---before we go on again.
I suppose these people have done as well as could be expected ---like learning to swim by being thrown in the water after hearing a lecture on how to do it. To add to his sleepless troubles the poor C.O. had been ill enough to put him to bed any other time. Their equipment was of an ancient vintage, and they had never opened their boxes. Some of them contained bolo knives, saddles, and bridles, when one wanted sterile gauze! Laid over the supplies in one box, I was told, was a newspaper headlining that Cervera's fleet was expected off New England---but this may have been someone's imagination. . .
Wednesday, July 24. La Trousse
7 p.m. At Mobile No. 2, set up 24 hours ago here on the Château-Thierry road 3 km. east of Lizy-sur-Ourcq. A beautiful spot---a large guest room in the château of the Comte de Crouy, on a hill overlooking a park with lovely vistas and near by a lake and fountain---quite different from some spots I have lately seen.
Since my last notes on Monday morning much has happened difficult to recall; but there was another day and long night operating on head cases with Harry Kerr at No. 5 Evac'n at Séry, where they began to get hold of themselves, though those first two days were a nightmare.
A few Red Cross nurses under a Miss Patterson, sent up by Miss Fitzgerald---old J.H.H. friends---finally arrived and some order grew from the chaos. Supplies also come from Paris---a Bessonneau was put up accommodating ten tables---another for an X-ray plant, and we began to stay the tide of new cases by Monday afternoon, though we never got to the poor fellows waiting in the closely packed hospital tents. They were lucky even to be under shelter.
Fred Murphy finally managed to start evacuation of cases through Crépy, where he had set up some tents, and where yesterday morning, when I came through, were some tired M.O.'s and Y.M.C.A. people asleep on stretchers while German prisoners were being utilized as bearers for the wounded.
After a couple of hours' sleep I got away in the afternoon carrying a report on the situation to Col. Hutton. Séry--Crépy-Betz-Acy, and through Vareddes to Meaux---a wonderful ride, war or no war, with showers and sunshine and such lights and shadows! At Meaux in No. 6 Evac'n it was arranged to have Lt. Hanson given the responsibility for the head cases and I shall hope to send him some proper tools.
Then, after passing miles of the 42nd Division coming up, to La Ferté-s.-Jouarre again, where I report to the G-4 Paris group and am taken by them to dinner. Afterward on to No. 4 Evac'n, just moved in to a fine place-the Château La Perreuse, south of La Ferté, where Col. Edwards put me in bed in his billet and I knew nothing more till this a.m. after nine hours actually in pyjamas.
To-day more of the same. First to No. 103 F.A. in La Ferté---next to No. 4 Evac'n again to see Major Ogden and get him started. Then to Montanglaust for a conference and afterward to the R.C. hospital at Jouy-s.-Morin near La Ferté-Gaucher, where Maj. McCoy was making a rapid turnover of his cases and I got a telephone through to Paris for supplies. Then La Ferté-s.Jouarre once more via Rebais to find the place packed with "Amex" troops. There I was told to proceed to this place, where many head cases were supposed to have congregated---a false rumor.
G-4 gives out that our casualties from July 16-24 have been heavy; I should judge about 5000 for each division engaged. The 1st Division hard hit: 5300 casualties, 700 killed; the 2nd and 28th possibly even worse.
Thursday, July 25th
From La Trousse, where no pressure of work, to La Ferté to report; lunch with Cols. Hutton, Edwards, Murphy, and others. Rumor that Ouchy is to-day's objective. Col. Hutton having difficulties getting sites for hospitals. With Leopold, the 4th Divisional Psychiatrist, to Crouy-sur-Ourcq, where is a Franco-Américaine Groupement d'Ambulances---the U.S. Unit being No. 19 F.H. with 4 operating teams and 10 nurses acting as an evacuation hospital and forwarding to Meaux. The night spent again at La Trousse.
From La Trousse to Lizy, and on to Juilly over a country dotted by the graves of 1914 in the wheat of 1918 ---Etrépilly, Barcy---new trenches and wire at St. Soupplets, as also our 33rd Engineers. Hall and Shepley both away---the remaining M.O.'s at Evac'n No. 8 found highly critical of the state of the wounded, of the Army and the world in general. To Meaux to pick up young Hanson and get him started as neurosurgeon for No. 8.
Orders received for Evac'n No. 6 to move forward, and yet wounded still coming in.
Yesterday afternoon to Paris for the Research Committee, too late to hear much of the afternoon session by Leriche and Heitz-Boyer. This morning's session on "wastage," most of which I also missed owing to necessary purchases of instruments and the like for neurosurgical teams. General Burtchaell, the new "D.G.," analyzed the British figures for the year past--- 1,400,000 casualties, 823,000 cases of sickness, only 1298 of them in the typhoid group. This, as I estimate it from his diagram, would give 577,000 wounded and 40,000 deaths, but I was not quite clear whether it referred only to the Base or to the C.C.S.'s as well---he possibly did not intend it to be dear. He paid our "casual" Reserve Corps M.O.'s attached to the British a fine compliment---told how many have received citations and said that the casualties among those serving in forward areas had been 12.74 per cent, and among the R.A.M.C. 12.6 per cent.
The afternoon session given over to the evacuation of wounded; Col. Gallie as usual was informing and amusing in his description of their difficulties of the early days in the B.E.F.---especially when the nurses first came out. He has laughed and joked his way through many a tangle as other Irishmen have before him. He paid a tribute to the way the evacuation from Crépy was handled by Fred Murphy, and probably meant it. He could appreciate the difficulties better than the Congressmen who are over here and who want to know why the wounded can't have notepaper and envelopes in the Evac'n Hospitals. He had established a C.C.S. at Senlis for the British divisions, and had been in and about Crépy during the worst of Fred's troubles.
Sunday, July 28th. Paris
Visits to the hospitals of Paris group; the Univ. of Virginia people with Cabells and Venables a-plenty just moving in. Luncheon with Mrs. MacMonagle, and with her to see the new cemetery for American soldier---dead on the hill at Suresnes overlooking Paris. Her son lies buried at Friancourt-s.-Meuse, near where he was shot down. His body will not be moved; others will probably feel the same way about their boys.
p.m. Having nothing better to do, this is a good chance to review the events of these past ten days during which the last phase of the great German offensive collapsed at Reims and now promises to change hands altogether.
This show has been going on a long time---since Monday the 15th when the long-awaited German attack was launched. It is said that our divisions held when even some of the French gave way and we are being showered with credit, deserved or undeserved. The enemy got across the Marne to a depth of 5 miles, on the 16th, in the Dormans-Châtillon region halfway between Château-Thierry and Reims, but were held there as well as at other points of attack---indeed were driven back by our troops. In General Gouraud's area east of Reims in the Prosnes-Suippes line no gains were made. Severe fighting-heavy losses---prisoners----probably for both sides. Quentin Roosevelt killed in an aerial engagement.
On the 17th, the day I was at Écury, the great drive which was to engulf Reims and its protecting mountain was definitely checked, though they made some slight progress toward Épernay. East of Reims Gen. Gouraud held fast. A Franco-American counter regained St. Agnan and the region north of the Condé-Dormans road. The Boche plans were doubtless confused thereby.
On the 18th at 4.35 a.m. Foch launched his brilliant counter on a front of 27 miles from Fontenoy to Belleau with Franco-American troops, reaching the Mont de Paris, a mile from Soissons, by early afternoon---the greatest depth eight miles---5000 prisoners---apparently a complete surprise. The performance was not unlike the famous stroke by the French 6th Army under Maunoury along the Ourcq in September 1914 and promises to be of equal importance in compelling the enemy's withdrawal. The American troops took part and did finely. The German lines of communication were under fire and their position became awkward. This was the best day for the Allies on this Western Front for many a month.
On Friday the 19th Ludendorff's offensive ended and the active rôle passed to Foch. The Boche under pressure retreated across the Marne with heavy losses.
On the 20th, the day I was at Montanglaust, the western line was advanced to the plateau dominating Soissons, with 20,000 prisoners; and the Americans, as I learned that night from Col. Hutton, captured the dominating plateau of Etrepilly which the Boche finally evacuated after holding it for 50 days. People began to talk of an Allied victory and bells were rung in the U.S.A. as they were in London after Cambrai.
On Sunday the 21st, the day of the Séry-Magneval mess, Franco-American troops moved up practically to the Soissons-Château-Thierry road, seriously threatening the enemy's line of communication. Château-Thierry was taken and they were forced to make a complete withdrawal north of the Marne. They began extricating themselves cleverly behind a screen of smoke and machine guns---meanwhile excusing their withdrawal by similar methods in the communiqués.
On Monday the 22nd, we got back across the Marne at two points between Passy and Dormans. The Boches were retreating, blowing up ammunition dumps, and had withdrawn five miles north of Château-Thierry. Though their pivotal points at Soissons and Reims unhappily were holding---54 German divisions identified---their position looked critical. The Americans reported 6000 prisoners. These were the Séry-Magneval days and we must confess to many wounded in the German counter-attacks.
On Tuesday the 23rd when we were fretting at La Trousse the Americans took Jaulgonne, the bridgehead of the Fère-en-Tardenois road.
On July the 24th it looked as though our advance were slowing up. At least the Boche resistance was stiffening and he was even countering---it was rumored with a new army. The 26th Division took Epieds.
On July 25th the Boche countered again at Dormans with no effect. Oulchy-la-Ville fell to the Americans. To show how delayed our news may be, the 26th Div. (according to Gen. Edwards's order to his troops) got into the Forêt de Fère and as far as the Jaulgonne-Fère-en-Tardenois road on this date.
By July 26th even the British press began to talk about "the bravery and impetuosity" of our infantry. Oulchy-le-Château, the last point on the Château-Thierry-Soissons road, was taken. Gen. Gouraud recaptured all the strip east of Reims, which the Boche overran the first day. The pressure of the Franco-American troops became so threatening by nightfall that a general withdrawal began which lasted through Saturday the 27th and Sunday the 28th, on which day Fère-en-Tardenois was reached.
How far they withdrew is not at all clear. Nor is it entirely clear why they withdrew at all. Something must be happening to the Boches. They were outwitted by Gouraud on the first morning; they were soon held south of the Marne; on the morning of the fourth day they were crushingly surprised by Foch's attack. They had poured reënforcements into a "pocket" until it was jam-packed, and suddenly decided on a swift withdrawal. No equal spectacle of German indecision since the war began.
Belloc's Map Showing the Status of the German Retirement from the Tardenois Salient by the End of July 28th. Arrows Indicate the American Thrust at Fère-en-Tardenois, the Important Crossroads for the German Lines of Communication, Where They Made a Desperate Four-Days Resistance along the Ourcq at Sergy, Seringes, and Cierges
Monday, July 29th. Neufchâteau
Returned here to-day from Paris via Lagny, Esternay, St. Dizier, and Joinville. We stopped at Coulommiers, where were a large number of wounded lying about waiting their turn. No. 1 Mobile is moving out to a site near Château-Thierry and the burden will fall on No. 7 Evac'n. The wounded largely from the 42nd, who recently moved into that region---mostly machine-gun wounds. The Boche has taken a heavy toll.
Yesterday they turned and attempted to hold. There was severe fighting, particularly in the districts of Chambrecy and Ville-en-Tardenois. Sergy was the scene of particularly bitter conflicts [cf. page 484], and has changed hands four times, being now held by the 42nd, I believe. The same is true of Seringes.
They were up against the Prussian Guards and a Bavarian Reserve division---it was hand-to-hand fighting with the bayonet and no quarter, according to hearsay.
Thursday, August 1st
Two days passed in getting organized in our new quarters across the Meuse. As Young's department---somehow in possession of their own private motor car---has a way of absorbing most of the information afloat, Bertner is to be G-2 (41) of our group---G.U.-2, as someone suggested. Allison and Greenwood back with much needed information regarding disposition of divisions and evacuation hospitals. Kerr to be attached here to help with formation of neurosurgical teams for each hospital.
There is a pause in the battle---the quietest day since July 14th. For all but ourselves it means the end of four years of war---to celebrate this the German military dictator of the Ukraine has been assassinated; and it is rumored that last night Boulogne was again badly bombed with a direct hit demolishing the R.A.M.C. headquarters. Stirling, on night duty there with some N.C.O.'s, was wounded.
Tuesday, August 6. Neufchâteau
After three days in bed with a N.Y.D.(42) malady which I regarded as the Spanish flu---three days' grippe---or what you will. This came on top of two rackety days around Château-Thierry, getting back home supperless, cold, and wet, in an open Dodge at 1 a.m. I had suddenly aged and our driver had to help me upstairs---teeth chattering and done in.
Greenwood and I were supposed to leave in a National at 5 a.m. Friday morning the 2nd for Chierry, just east of Château-Thierry, where No. 1 Mobile had gone into unwilling liaison with No. 6 Evac'n under a new C.O., and where there was said to be much work---and there was. A borrowed open rackety car came for us at 8 a.m.---about as much as we can expect these fallen times.
The highly illegible jottings in my pocket notebook are: "Aug. 2. Neufchâteau, Gondrecourt, Ligny, to Bar-le-Duc, along the old canalized river bed with highlands jutting out from the west. Showers, and the crops are being hustled in. Revigny and to Châlons, 53 km. along a most uninteresting plateau with vast acres of wheat, barley, oats, and patches of scrub pine---a wearying solitude. West at the crossroads of La Grande-Romanie. A blowout near Châlons---luncheon there in a Hôtel Renard with a lot of young French aviators, one of them an ace of aces, Fonck, the centre of a circle, a big bottle of sauterne before him, and a ribbon so elongated with palms it hangs in his pocket. A meeting with John Gibbon and Norris---all quiet these days in their area and they devote themselves to French lessons.
"Across to Épernay---along the Marne Valley-with the forested Montagne de Reims sticking up into the wet clouds. Épernay must have been a handsome place---champagne brings money---fine residences---very badly bombed---shellfire, I should judge. Following the left bank, about 7 km. from Épernay we came to recent battle territory near uilly---the farthest east the enemy got after crossing the Marne. The highway thick with French---fresh trenches and wire---shell dumps along road-gun emplacements---many large trees down and craters everywhere---pretty villages perched on the sides of the opposite hills---Châtillon, Verneuil, Treloup---now gaunt and sepulchral---ghosts of their former state.
"A pontoon bridge at Troissy well camouflaged---Boche ammunition everywhere in large amounts---77's in the triple woven baskets of old, but far less well made. The remains of a direct hit on a Boche battery---the 6 horses just being buried---phew!!--entrenching tools, hand grenades, pontoons full of holes that never got to the river's edge, clothes, overcoats, helmets, wire, telephone spools, piles of artillery ammunition, French and German. Not a tree has escaped---many with severe multiples---every now and then one down or uprooted. All the original bridges destroyed---railroad engines blown up and tracks demolished---German signs still up in villages.
"Dormans a holocaust---almost worse than the sepulchral towns of Flanders, pictures in disarray on the walls and the beds hanging out of the second-story level---the work still at the sewing machine, though half the house gone. German graves, German boots and baskets---a milestone broken in two; putrid smells; gray-green overcoats.
"Courthiezy and Reuilly with Italians---then the curve in the river across which lie Barzy and Jaulgonne, with quite precipitous highlands beyond and where our boys somehow got across. Moulins, where was the 2nd Batt'n of the 3rd Division, and Crezancy; then Fossoy---the present Divisional Hq. for the 3rd; and finally Chierry, where No. 1 Mobile and No. 6 Evac'n are found pitched together in a wet field."
It was an unkempt-looking place, this field---just off the main highway on a level several feet below it so that the wet top-soil had become thoroughly churned up by ambulances and trucks. They had been very busy---had thrown over all attempts to do any special work. Indeed the sight of Consultants staggered them and I don't wonder---more colonels around, of both leaf and chicken variety, than one could count. There was a good deal of indecision as to what to do with the head cases---Cutler had been doing general work at No. 1 with only an occasional head and Harrington of the No. 6 Evac'n group had done none at all. One young captain of infantry whom I ran across in the ward was regarded as inoperable and I persuaded Macrae to let me take him on with Harrington, to show what might be done under such circumstances.
By about 11 work suddenly began to slack up and Cutler put me to bed on a canvas cot in their communal tent. I soon began to feel feverish and to ache---though I did not know what was coming on.
In the morning of the 3rd---still no work-evidently a lull in the fighting---we took Cutler into Château-Thierry across the pontoon bridge to find a blanchisseuse---and sure enough he did, in the guise of a returned refugee who could give no address, as her house was down. We stopped at the château near Chierry where Evac. No. 5 with F.H. No. 26 and F.H. 27 were encamped---not a very happy-looking combination.
Then over to La Ferté-Milon, having been asked to report on the hospitals just moved up there. Except that we passed north of Hill 204 we practically followed the old line of July 15th, through battered towns and woods and a shell-pocked countryside much fought. over. Keeping Vaux on the left, we take the road to Torcy, passing Boche graves with helmets on them and long formal German inscriptions. Bouresches, and then Belleau and Belleau Wood, which is likely to remain celebrated in American history.
The early Boche trenches along the south side of the road with hand grenades in dumps and each man's allotment in a little cave dug in the bank. Belleau hamlet a sad and tottering wreck. Poilus harvesting the patches of oats between shell holes in the fields---poppies and chicory. Then Torcy and Bussiares---also tottering. Gun carriages and baby carriages thrown up by the roadside---nothing more incongruous than an old battered silk hat and an abandoned Boche helmet side by side in the ditch---baby carriages and top hats indicate refugees.
On the side of the hill by Veuilly-la-Poterie---the place where on June 7th our first notable counter-attack was made---were large Boche dugouts---indescribable burrows where men had actually moled themselves into the earth---in one of them a Leipziger Nachrichten of May 31st with a leading article: "Vorwärts zwischen Soissons und Reims. Die Neue Deutsche Offensive. Zur Durchbruck---Schlacht beim Chemin des Dames," etc. Alongside of this was a letter of the date "26 mai, 1918"---a rusty gun---a perforated Boche helmet. May 27 was the day of the opening of the great offensive and presumably this soldier of an unknown regiment came in on the high tide of the invasion, reached Veuilly, and lived there in this hole only 40 miles from Paris until the happenings of July 18th.
Near Veuilly we met a scabetic from the 10th Machine Gun Co., 4th Division, who said he was looking for a hospital---wanted directions how to get back. The two poilus, who turned him over to us, were not quite sure of him; their orders are strict about arresting chance people wandering about in American uniforms. So on to Chézy-en-Orxois along a road on which both Boches and Americans have been entrenched---many graves---many penetrated helmets---Boche and French. Finally La Ferté-Milon with its old ruined castle and its newly ruined churches and dwellings, where we found No. 3 Evac'n (Col. Lamson, C.O.) with six teams on hand and St. John's No. 2 Mobile as an appendage---at least the first half of it---under Parsons's tutelage. The other half not yet arrived.
The 2nd Division were in this area on the eventful 15th-18th July, with the French Moroccans on their left, and the 1st still further north, I believe. The Boches never got into La Ferté, though they were about 3 km. away on June 1st and many of the graves are inscribed June 5th or June 6th. Again on June 15th they got to the edge of the town for a day or two, when the 2nd Division came in and drove them back again.
Then south to Lizy along the east side of the Ourcq Canal, passing an extraordinary series of secondary defenses with wire and trenches. Geo. Brewer at La Trousse recovering from a spell of illness and looking very thin. We learn that Mobile No. 2 and No. 3 Evac'n are to be moved to a place near Mézy. We are given lunch and sped on our way. So quiet all the morning we had supposed the line must be getting stabilized; and it was a great surprise to learn that Soissons had been taken (i.e., on Friday, Aug. 2nd, the day previous) and that the enemy were again in full retreat.
At La Ferté-sous-Jouarre find G-4 much bucked up since the advent of Col. Stark, and I learn that since July 15th, 37,241 casualties had been evacuated through the hospitals reporting to their office. Nothing more they want us to do so we gladly turn homeward---and Greenwood being very anxious to go via the north bank of the Marne, I submit.
We stopped at Méry, the Hq. of the 26th Division, to see Gen. Edwards, who was in Paris---his A.D.C., Capt. Hyatt, doing the honors for the Yankee Division. A large 210 howitzer stands in the yard of the château where they are billeted---the biggest gun they had so far captured.
On along the valley of the Marne---very beautiful. Charly-le-Pont-beginning to see signs of American transport---much-abused roads---our first pioneers---F.H. 128 at Azy, the 32nd Division therefore---Essommes---Château-Thierry again---Brasles---Gland, its signboard broken in two---the 3rd Division identified and the 28th going up in lorries. Mont St. Père badly damaged---Chartèves, our cavalry going up. We miss our way by the heights behind Jauglonne and get on the road to Fismes. Barzy, with many German signs pointing to places for crossing the river---signs dating back to July 15th undoubtedly. Marcilly, deserted but for its graves and ruined houses. All the poles along the road carrying the current from a power plant cut down---probably in the French retreat. Passy wrecked and deserted, with the church absolutely collapsed and the roads littered with abandoned Boche ammunition. Courcelles, another cadaverous town, through which a mule-drawn ammunition train of the 32nd Division is passing.
At Treloup and Dormans the valley opens up, and along the road are Boche pontoons riddled with holes---evidently shot to pieces as they were bringing them up. However this is where they finally got across, as the sign which I ripped off from a tree indicates---"Zur (Schweren) Ponton-Brücke. Tragfähigkeit bis Einschl. St."---all nicely initialed, though the "Schweren" had been painted out. But there was no crossing for us at Dormans despite this sign, and we had to make a long detour to get across on a pontoon bridge at Verteuil, where a French pont renforcé was also going up.
This brought us by twilight to the south bank on our old road, and it began to rain---supperless via Épernay, Châlons, St. Dizier, Ligny, and home at one a.m. in the state I have told.
Wednesday: Aug. 7th
Up and about but very feeble . . . . The attack which began July 18th under Generals Mangin and Degoutte on the German right flank south of the Aisne may be considered over. It is amazing that only three days before Ludendorff still had the initiative. It seems undoubted that the start made by Gen. Gouraud's army in Champagne, saving Épernay and Châlons, was what made possible the shift of the offensive to the Allies---what gave them the ball.
Aug. 8th, Thursday
The grippe or something worse.(43) . . . Rumor that the French and the British 4th Army under Rawlinson have suddenly opened up on the Amiens front---a successful surprise attack in a mist between Albert and Montdidier. Pearce Bailey from the U.S.A. and Salmon at our mess for supper.
Canadians and Australians push forward two miles on a 20-mile front---17,000 prisoners. Montdidier threatened by the French---the maximum advance nearly 12 miles, and they are within a mile of Chaulnes. This with cavalry, armored automobiles, and "whippet" tanks. "One of the greatest and most gratifying surprises of the war, and so far the most serious German defeat."
The news from the British front still good. Montdidier taken: 24,000 prisoners. The Canadian cavalry played a brilliant part in the advance---they got in so far and so fast they actually captured a brigade headquarters intact.
The first American Army is formed and Pershing takes command. Corps Commanders are Bullard, Liggett, Bundy, Reid, and Wright.
Sunday, August 11th
Very feeble. To Contrexéville and Vittel with Kerr for the day, seeing heads and peripheral nerve cases.
August 18, Sunday. Neufchâteau
Advised by Thayer a week ago to go off to the Riviera for a rest. Got as far as Paris and after five sweltering days in the Continental, restless with fever though sleeping most of the time, am glad to be back here with something to do.
Aug. 19th, Monday
Things are brewing on a large scale. Neufchâteau becomes an army headquarters, the area full of troops---a rumor that with half a million men we are going to stage a show on our own account between Commercy and Toul, with Metz and beyond as our objective. I wonder if we have not lost our heads---or are we really the darlings of the gods and capable of doing things others could not do? We shall see.
Meanwhile the Consultants carry on ignobly as an impatient body of pundits. We can now no longer move. Salmon says it's just as though someone had poisoned the country doctor's horse---it didn't hurt the doctor but he was no longer any use to his patients. Bill Fisher in turn takes to his bed with fever.
Wed., Aug. 21st
Very hot-flies and hornets. The neighborhood stiff with troops. Evacuation hospitals all about us brought down from the Château-Thierry region. Cutler here last night---in surgical charge of Evac'n No. 3, which with much energy he is remaking---what one can't get by proper means one steals. They've had a bad time, these hospitals, with dysentery, and I believe there has been an investigation following a report by Hans Zinsser, who does not think much of our boasted sanitation.
We've been much upset by orders to move out---Neufchâteau now the H.Q. of the Army---"Gen. John" at the château---billets wanted for regular officers Consultants can vamose---who are they anyway? We managed to give up 15 rooms by doubling up and persuading some who should really be at the Base to return where they more properly belong.
The 10th French Army under Gen. Mangin yesterday followed up Saturday's attack by a further gain of 4 km. between the Oise and the Aisne, taking 8000 prisoners and threatening Roye and Noyon. Meanwhile Gen. Byng let the 3rd British Army loose north of the Ancre and advanced three miles toward Bapaume. The Allies may be said to be alternately attacking on a continuous front from Albert to Reims, or, if we include Gen. Gouraud's steady pressure, from Albert to the Argonne. When we are permitted to join forces this front supposedly will spread to---let us say Nancy.
Thursday, Aug. 22
Still very hot, dusty, a cloudless sky and the temperature in the 90's. Many disgruntled M.R.C. officers at the office, and justly so. All the good men pulled out of the base hospitals and sent forward as teams are forever lost to their units, which have to carry on with a heavy service, undermanned and with juniors at best.
Too feeble to walk back here to 51 rue Gohier for lunch, so take a haversack with me and eat at the offices with the wise Salmon. He points out how the regular army has circumvented the Owen Bill, framed to give the National Army its just quota of generals, colonels, etc. This by an act whereby there is no longer a "national army," everyone henceforth being U.S.A.---good thing, I should think.
Saturday, August 24th. Besançon
Sent with Pearce Bailey (over here on a tour of inspection) to visit Gustave Roussy at Besançon and the Centre Neurologique, etc., la 7ème Région---a most instructive jaunt. Incidentally it took us into the delightful country of the Département Doubs on the edge of the Jura.
In one of our uncertain Nationals, behind Holbrook, we got away from crowded Neufchâteau at nine on a showery morning. Through Langres, the Dijon road as far as Longeau, then left into the Haute-Saône, passing the Maryland people of the 79th at Champlitte, and on to Gray. There we lunched with a medley in a small French restaurant where tame magpies hopped about and regarded you curiously, doubtless wondering whether it was worth while to chance snatching a metal souvenir off your tunic.
Somewhere below Gray we crossed into the Département, doubtless named from the doubling river which winds through it. Then Besançon, the former capital of the Franche-Comté, a place of historic interest in most picturesque surroundings---a fortress of the first class with a citadel perched high on a tongue of land nearly surrounded by the river, and with other detached Vauban fortresses scattered about. One of them we were to see.
We were lucky enough to find Roussy, who promptly gave to us the rest of his day. He showed us the general plan of organization and then took us to the Besançon Hospital, used as a neurological triage. After seeing some of the neurosurgical cases there we departed for Salins, some twenty-five km. to the south, where the psychoneuroses are sent to be treated. Despite the rain, a wonderful trip across country, with charming views, along deep valleys, of the winding Doubs and its tributaries. Salins itself a healing salt spring, as its name indicates-is a most fascinating village stringing along, with what foothold it can get, in the crack between two towering heights, each of them surmounted by one of the subsidiary forts of the Besançon cluster. One of these was our objective, and Holbrook, who had already skidded badly in dodging an ambulance when leaving Besançon, looked at the road askance; but up we went, a most wonderful view unfolding before us.
We finally reached the top, where Fort St. André, now Station Neurologique No. 42, is one of the centres given over to the psychoneurotics---more particularly those with congealed hands (les mains figées) and clubbed feet. These, of course, represent the neuroses which are apt to arise in the case of men with trifling wounds---men whose psyche is not satisfied with the magnitude of their injuries and who fear they may get sent back into the line. Many of these acro-contractures and acro-paralysies, alas, are attributable to the surgeon---and more particularly to the orthopædist, if he is not to be called a surgeon.
An unnecessarily long period of fixation by dressing is bad enough, but a succeeding period of immobilization in apparatus of some kind for a supposed muscle or nerve injury will do the business. And here they were, men with all imaginable types of fixed deformities---the main d'accoucheur, main en bénitier, main en coup de poing---a most extraordinary collection. Many of the injuries were two or three years old, the men meanwhile having been nursing their extremities set in the favored posture for all this time, until finally they were drawn into this neurological net.
The whole situation, of course, lent itself admirably to successful therapeutics---just as Lourdes does or Ste. Anne de Beaupré---a picturesque spot, the expectation of recovery (much as it was dreaded), a room littered and lined with the canes and crutches and braces for back and arms and legs of those who have marched out presumably cured. Stress is laid, by those in control, on the fact that no neurological examination of any kind is made after admission to this place---only psychotherapy. The detailed physical examination, which necessarily implies to the patient uncertainty of diagnosis, is done elsewhere and by other people---in the sorting station at Besançon or wherever else. Here treatment alone and no questions asked. One can understand how much its success depends on personality by watching Captain Boisseau, Roussy's collaborator, take these self-deformed people in hand and after a brief séance disabuse them of their paralyses---men that had come in that very day permanently crippled, to all appearances.
We climbed the embankment to the old fortress wall for a glimpse of the valley and town, with the almost sheer hillside below us. Then back to Salins to see in the caserne an important last stage of the treatment---the training battalion---the discharged cases from Station No. 42 divided into three groups: those getting ready to go back to the line, those doubtful, and those probably permanently unfit. They were drawn up on parade, the first group fully equipped for service, under command of a crippled captain wearing an apparatus for a musculo-spiral paralysis. As they marched by us Roussy picked out one probable récidive from among the A class. He will doubtless be sent back to Fort St. André for three days' solitary confinement followed by another strenuous therapeutic session---one mind struggling to get control of another that has good reason to resist.
Then back to Besançon in a downpour which flooded the valley, a late supper in Roussy's comfortable billet, and to bed in the last room of the single hotel.
Aug. 26-27. Neufchâteau
Working on organization of neurosurgical consultants for hospitals in base areas.
Wednesday, Aug. 28th
With Longcope to visit the hospital arrangements in our Toul Sector on the basis of information from Col. Stark Picking up Gibbon and Norris, now Corps Consultants, we begin with the justice Hospital Group, formerly the French H.O.E. No. 3 in three large casernes---a place capable of holding 10,000 beds. It is now occupied by two of our base hospitals and two evac'n hospitals. Lt. Col. Maddux, who has been pulled out of Mesves to have charge here, is not quite sure what his position is---whether Commandant for Toul, or for the area, or where the S.O.S. comes in; and whether the fact that Col. Morrow of Evac. No. 1 outranks him makes any odds, etc., etc.
He will have a large job with Toul alone, even if the others are not included. Base Hosp. No. 45, Stuart McGuire's outfit, is about 60 per cent ready. They will take medical and gas cases---the surgeons to be scattered. Evac. No. 3, Cutler's group, is about 90 per cent ready and E.C. was fairly bursting with his plans, having tried out his machinery yesterday, to Gibbon's horror, on a hernia case! Evac. No. 14 alongside has just arrived in France---their senior surgeon, Major Meredith, arrived only yesterday---and they have no equipment whatsoever. Base Hospital No. 51, a "U.S. at Large" Unit, made up chiefly of Boston M.O.'s, only landed in France Aug. 18th; they are without nurses and the last they saw of their equipment was in Hoboken.
We went on to Sebastopol and saw Evac. No. 1 and the new and unpromising Mobile Unit No. 3. Then on to the field hospitals of the 89th Division now in the area, No. 355 in a fine lot of Bessonneau tents left by the French in the woods near Minorville. Another, No. 356, in the old abbey buildings of Rangeval, from which we could see Montsec standing up out of the plain, in whose attempted capture the French lost so many thousands. We also visited No. 353 and No. 354 somewhere in the woods.
On the way back we stopped at Lucy, the Divisional H.Q., and I looked up Col. Kilbourne for a moment and found him very fit but a bit down owing to the general neglect of the 89th and the way they have been treated; their General not yet with two stars and the Division sent in on a front from Montsec to Fey-en-Haye, where they began cutting enemy wire and taking prisoners on the third night---their predecessors never having taken any. Hence information of the conditions of the sector was completely wanting when they came up.
Thursday, Aug. 29
Widener's French confidant says that Gen. Pétain was here yesterday and is going up to the Nancy front. There are many rumors of all kinds---of probable actions---of breaking through to Metz---of spies in the guise of couriers shot on the roads---of German aviators flying over here in a Caproni machine dressed as Italian flying men, and of their being brought down by the British R.F.C. because they did not answer signals.
The news continues to be encouraging. Certainly something unaccountable has happened to the Boches. They seem to be beating a retreat toward the old Hindenburg Line before the British, who are clinging to their heels. Yesterday, in an advance of 10 km. on a front of 40, Chaulnes and Nesle and 50 lesser villages fell to them and the French; and now Noyon and Péronne are threatened. The British have even crossed the Hindenburg Line east of Arras and as far south as Croisilles. Can it be that the Boches have cracked?
Friday, Aug. 30th
Very busy offices with many people, constituting teams, coming and going. Most of Fisher's time spent in Chaumont. Lunch as usual, on "bully" and jam plus yellow jackets innumerable, in Salmon's room. Bert Lee and Ruggles from the 2nd Division there. Flint, very large and busy, in this afternoon. His guess is that it will be Monday! May the weather hold. To-day could not have been improved upon.
The British still bang away. The New Zealanders have taken Bapaume and Péronne is threatened. Marcel Hutin laconically says: ´Ils ne sont plus à Noyon!"
Sat., Aug. 31
Most of the young officers out here go booted and spurred---boots often of the drawing-room variety, accompanying thin soles and pointed toes. These are particularly characteristic of newcomers. The story has come with them that someone asked Joe Cannon why so many officers wore spurs---even aviators wear them---and he replied: "To keep their heels from slipping off the desk."
One of our newly arrived "chicken colonels" appeared at breakfast to-day to our great joy with his spurs upside down, and when he went to ride this afternoon---for Webb is giving him riding lessons---he thought it was safer to take his spurs off, though he has worn them continuously as a pedestrian and automobilist.
We're an amusing lot surely. Goldthwait, who has just come back from the much neglected Base, which he has made his own and where he has been doing some excellent work, told at lunch of a soldier just sent home---drafted in June; immediately sent over with a replacement group, absolutely untrained; reached France and was sucked into a division supposedly en repos; this division was drawn unexpectedly into the line in the July battles before he had even learned to fire his gun; wounded in the first day's fight; sent home by transport the end of August---all in the space of two months.
It's commonly understood that there were several hundred of these men in the 1st and 2nd Divisions---men who had never learned to put the clips on their rifles, far from learning the manual of arms---the surprising thing is they did very well.
Yesterday Combles and Bailleul were retaken by the British. The Australians are across the Somme above and below Péronne. An attack by the Canadians toward the angle where the old Hindenburg Line joins the highly fortified switch line Quéant-Drocourt---i.e., the Wotan Line. The French are progressing through difficult country, and the Americans with them entered Juvigny yesterday.
Sunday, Sept. 1st
Discover that my threatened blindness is an acute 2-diopter presbyopia which has rushed on me in a period of ten days---an accompaniment of the muscular enfeeblement of the grippe, according to George Derby. Specs for me henceforth.
Monday, September 2nd. Neufchâteau
Again a perfect day---cool and cloudless. But Neufchâteau is torn up and dust-covered by the incessant passage of transport---everything from lines of camions borrowed from the French to processions of clucking motor cycles newly landed and straight from St. Nazaire.
The streets of this small place are really astonishing if one stops to squint through the dusty haze. This afternoon, on the road coming into town from our offices, Russians were piling crushed stone in preparation for the steam roller doing its work farther on. A column of French lorries driven by Annamites ---very funny in their tin hats---were going west and another column of heavy U.S.A. cars full of troops were coming in, while motor cycles with or without side cars, decrepit Y.M.C.A. and Red Cross flivvers, pedestrians, and an occasional officer on a loaned horse dodged in and out as best they could.
The motor-transport people---our neighbors---were gathering for their supper, mess kit in hand, while a big Caproni bombing plane circled overhead. Farther on, a squad of Boche prisoners in their green uniforms---content and well-fed, be it said---were being herded to their cage by a single poilu. Loitering on the streets were occasional Italians belonging to an aviation squadron hereabouts, samples of our negro troops, men of the English Flying Corps stationed just north of here, a smattering of blue poilus---a. kaleidoscope seen through a cloud of dust.
Preferring cows and a narrow path beside the bad-smelling, swampy Meuse to all this, I cut cross-lots to our billet. The fields are spotted with purple colchicums sticking their blossoms out of the grass as much as to say, "Don't take me for a crocus and think this is spring.".
Wednesday, Sept. 4th
Our scarcity of transport makes us hunt in couples---even in foursomes at times. Yesterday I joined a traveling X-ray circus behind Sgt. McCormack, with Case and one of his sanitary-corps repair people.
To Pagny-sur-Meuse via Vaucouleurs. Pagny full of guns and camions, a scant 200 yards from the railroad and still less from a huge ammunition dump. Evac'n Hosp. No. 12 under Col. Bloomberg, newly arrived in France (viz., Aug. 28), was making its nest as usual in an abandoned H.O.E. The Unit, gathered at large, had Bronson Crothers among them. Clopton, too, was hovering about not knowing where to place his Mobile No. 4---certainly no room in this crowded spot---Trondes a possible solution, for there a so-called "provisional evac'n hosp." is being formed out of unattached field hospitals.
To Toul, and luncheon before reporting to Geo. "High Ranking" Gosman, who sat spurred and booted and covered with eagles in his office. He has ideas of his own concerning Consultants---present company of course excluded---would put 'em at work---with their hands, etc. Not a bad idea on the whole. He gives Case directions about placing X-ray machines in all divisions and we depart to the justice Group to interview Maddux and Edwards. Cutler, at No. 3 Evac., and his C.O. who follows him around like a puppy dog, are found more than ready and awaiting an inspection from the Chief Surgeon.
So to Nancy, where Case flew about as erratic as a spark from one of his own coils, and where McCormack got tires and Case a uniform, after which we discovered at La Mal Grange another "provisional evac'n hosp." made out of the 163rd F.H. of the 41St Division, under Major Ostrom. Then north along the valley of the Meurthe to Frouard, and very pretty country with surprising towns on the hillsides---thence west along the Moselle and the Marne-Rhine Canal some 10 miles from the line, to Liverdun, an old walled town perched high on a pointed hill with fascinating outlooks of valleys and rivers and distances shadowed by the low sun.
A bad place for a motor car, but McCormack safely negotiated the narrow twisting and precipitous streets. We found Grissinger away and had to satisfy ourselves with Maj. Tenney, my quondam classmate who happily discourages Case from doing any business with them. So we returned via Nancy, stopping at Chavigny, where Evac. No. 13, also newly landed in France (Aug. 26th), was found ensconced in a fine H.O.E. and believing themselves ready to take severely wounded to-morrow if necessary.
While Case was being delivered of another apparatus I interviewed the embryo neurosurgeon, and it grew dark and air raids began---the usual picture---searchlights and Archies---so familiar last summer. They followed us, indeed, all the way to Colombey-les-Belles and Autreville before we ventured to use a single headlight, and it was precarious business, as the roads were full of lorries and guns and troops going up in clouds of dust. We got into Neufchâteau about 11 not knowing that bombs had been dropped here, causing great excitement, for the experience was novel to this place.
The British did great business in crossing the Drocourt-Quéant line last Monday, and report 10,000 prisoners. One of the most startling operations of the present interallied offensive. Lens has been evacuated. The French, too, are working further around the western flank of the Chemin des Dames. Some American troops are said to be at last engaged alongside the British in Flanders. The U.S. has recognized the Czechoslovaks as co-belligerents. La désillusion règne en Allemagne.
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