Tuesday, Sept. 17th. Neufchâteau
"UNCLE" FRANK BILLINGS, fresh from Washington, D.C., is billeting here with us. He tells of the group loitering around a country store in a remote part of the South which the news of the war rarely reached. A newcomer strolled up and someone said: "Jim, did you hear a big battle was going on over there?" "That so?" says Jim. "They've sut'ney got a fine day for it." He gave us a long account of the reconstruction work they are planning at home.
This morning I drew from Col. Stark his plans for hospitalization during the coming offensive. Three army corps---15 divisions---with a front from Verdun to the west of the Argonne.
The French naturally are loath to give up their long established H.O.E.'s in the area till absolutely necessary; and our Army people don't want us to show any canvas or even a nurse's skirt on the landscape till the last minute. Stark is indigestive and about crazy; and says he never wants to see a Frenchman or a calf again ---I fear he's had too much veau.
Wednesday, Sept. 18th
To Bazoilles this a.m. and back in a side car---no joke. Luncheon for Gen. Gorgas and Col. Furbush. Lt. Col. Barclay Parsons of the Engineers and others there. Gen. Walker here to see what can be done with our means of transport, which is reduced to one threadbare Sharon. Elliott Joslin, Joe Capps, and a group of picked medicos from the U.S.A. arrive. Alec Lambert to dinner. Bert Lee in later, bearing trophies and full of his experiences with the 2nd Division, who reached Thiaucourt on the first day, so he moved up there and operated in a cellar, but got shelled out when the 78th moved in---they couldn't stand it. The 78th are now digging in so we are about through, though not as far forward as we hoped to be.
Sunday, the 22nd. Benoite Vaux
8 p.m. Rain and shine---mostly rain---the usual autumn weather. Thayer and G. Bastianelli, here on a visit, depart after breakfast, dropping me at Souilly. Garcia, Baker, Clinton, and I in a large staff car to a place called Deuxnouds where a 200-bed H.O.E. for eye, ear, and maxillo-facial work has been in operation by the French since March. A château owned by Mlle. de Beye, who is much interested, and do I think it will do for a head hospital? I had thought of trying three centres---perhaps at Villers-Daucourt, Fleury, and Souilly---one for each corps, but this alternative of one centre a little farther back is possibly a good one. Perhaps a favorable place for Towne and the beginnings of Mobile 6 if they can be secured? We shall see.
Then to Vaubecourt, where a medical dump is going in alongside of No. 9. So to Revigny---badly damaged in 1914---where lunch in a French officers' place with nothing to drink but red ink; then a visit to the French H.O.E. into which No. 15 Evac'n has moved and where Base Hospital 83 will come later. A 1670-bed place in Adrian huts made very attractive with an abundance of flower beds and vines; and instead of the ugly sandbag protections against avions there are nice fortifications covered by gabions over which nasturtiums bloom profusely. No wonder the French dislike to give these places up.
So back to Souilly via Laheycourt-Villotte, where a puncture and delay in the rain---Rembercourt, all the villages badly damaged in '14 by the French in driving out the resisting Germans---Chaumont-sur-Aire in a downpour and then another puncture with no extra tires, so we ignominiously beg a ride and leave the staff car to its fate and chauffeur.
Allison and Dexter were picked up in Souilly, and we find Salmon here. But Maj. Rhein has come in as C.O. with a new bunch of "nut pickers," our little quartette of lieutenants having moved on---and, what is more, with their negro cook, of griddle-cake and Virginia-biscuit fame. 'T is now another's place, and we must look elsewhere.
Continued British and French pressure reported between Cambrai and St. Quentin---a new offensive on a large scale in Palestine by Gen. Allenby---the pursuit of the Bulgars progresses around Lake Dorian with another 5000 prisoners---reports of activity, too, come from the Archangel and the Murmansk fronts. The Boche needs to look many ways.
Monday, 23rd Sept. Benoite Vaux
8 p.m. Probably our last night in this quiet place, for to-morrow we migrate to Fleury to live in R.C. Hosp. 114 with McCoy rather than in the Deuxnouds hospital as expected. Salmon, Allison, Finney, Dexter, and Rhein are next door discussing medical education around a stove.
It poured all night and into the morning. Five of us in the Dodge to Souilly, and there Salmon, Dexter, and I stood from about 9 till 3, eating a paper of macaroons wangled from the men's Y.M.C.A. for our lunch. Behind closed doors were deep consultations between Garcia's cabinet and the Divisional Surgeons---Eastman, Grissinger, Bevans, and several more. About eleven Finney appears and he too waits. Then people one by one were admitted by a six-foot guard---by ticket as it were. I manage to propound the scheme for a triage to Deuxnouds with Towne and, his Mobile 6 as a nucleus, and hope the plan registered. We will learn later; but meanwhile, on Salmon's suggestion, Sam Harvey, with a team from No. 7, is taken over and deposited there as a decoy.
We get away at 3 in Yates's flivver in which Finney now peregrinates. To Deuxnouds, which pleases us all much, though the French occupants are removing things scarcely in the contract. We find rooms we would like, and I discover a great cache of "Boston tins," only partly emptied of their dressings, in the storeroom in the barn.
Then Nubécourt, where we dump Salmon-Fleury, where Cutler and DeForest are fretting because Evac'n 3 is tied to an R.C. hospital and where Finney decides it's the best place to take up our abode. So to Julvécourt to get Dexter at his gas place, and back to Souilly for ditto Allison and, after a word with Garcia, thence to our home in the beech wood---an extraordinary evening with marvelous cloud effects as we crossed the open country on our way. A crack in the leaden sky to the west through which could be seen great pink cumulus masses against a blue background---to the east swirling masses of milky clouds tossed into fantastic shapes below the almost black sky---so low they seemed to touch the very hills. From the woods on all sides the gray smoke of the campfires of hidden troops curled out of the trees---no danger in this as no possible flying to-day, hence the roads have been full of troops, and huge howitzers were moving west along the Souilly-Ippécourt road.
Allenby has routed the Turks in Palestine---18,000 prisoners---Nazareth occupied---the field of Armageddon crossed---the Sea of Galilee reached.
Tuesday the 24th. Evac'n No. 7. Souilly
2 p.m. He also serves, etc., though it is difficult to believe at all times. Waiting since 9 a.m. again to-day---Finney off in our single car somewhere. Garcia fearing to move on the Deuxnouds proposition until he hears from Wadhams---nothing to do but wait. Maybe we are too late for a head-centre plan. Allison thinks the storm will break to-morrow, but rumor is probably his informant---rumor with the camouflage of authorization. Meanwhile colonels buzz in and out of Garcia's office down this wooden hallway---mostly begging transportation as usual, but otherwise complaining of the number of sick they are having---Baker says 1200 sick here, mostly infectious streptococcus throats out of which come many pneumonias. Hall has just as many and he is mad, and wants it put on paper that Evac'n No. 8 is to take only seriously wounded.
Other people come and go---nurses: "I wish you could see the, linen they sent over to us this morning, it's per--fectly aw--fuil "---another from Mobile No. 2: "How can I get my power of attorney attached to these papers; can an officer be authorized to hold a court-martial, etc?" The poor adjutant. The French central téléphonique of H.O.E. days is perhaps as amusing as anything, particularly with its effort at concealment:
"That you, Lakewood?" "Well, we want Col. Eastman." "What! Isn't 'Lakewood' Ville-sur-Couzances?"
"Hello, West Point. Is Col. Salmon there in Benoite Vaux?" And so on, with "Podunk," "Waterfall," "Widewing," and other names---if one listens long enough even at one end of the line he usually can find out who is at the other and where he is. I just got Binns at Neufchâteau via "Waterfall," only to learn that Finney's car is not yet ready to send up, so we five will continue as uncertain Dodgers.
To cheer up the locality the 16th Reg't band has just opened up---very fine; and the afternoon has become sunny and pleasant.
9 p.m. R.C. Hospital 114, Fleury. Our kits were brought over here this morning and we find ourselves in a little wooden barrack ---all to ourselves with a cubicle apiece, a stove in the hallway, pyjamas laid out on cots with sheets on them!
McCoy himself rather sore. When he took this place over the Médecin Chef with many bows pointed to the nicely planted market garden full of green cabbages and the like, saying, "This potager militaire is all yours." McCoy accepted the gift---which really was no gift as it belonged to the hospital---with thanks and there was much bowing and scraping and saluting. The next day we learned that the Médecin Chef had already sold the garden to the Génies for 1500 francs. McCoy thereupon set a guard around the garden.
The engineers countered by a complaint to the Inspecteur Général of the district, who told McCoy he could not have the garden, but there was a potato patch near by which he could have for 900 francs. McCoy paid it. We asked him why, and he said he had a brother in the cavalry, in charge of a remount station. The French tried to sell them some horses---all old enough to vote and otherwise broken down---at a prohibitive price. He refused. The French complained---word finally reaching Gen. Pershing, who ordered the purchase of the horses at the French price. They were purchased and all had to be shot in a day or two. The General evidently does not want any bickering with the French on money matters pendant la guerre; but some day we 'll possibly get even with 'em.
Wednesday, September 25th
After a cold night with incessant rumble of lorries down the Wally road just behind us, we had the usual a.m. mix-up about the disposition of our decrepit Dodge---Salmon, Finney, Allison, Dexter, and I all needing to go in different directions. Learn at Souilly that a message from Colonel Tuttle states Mobile No. 6 ordered to Deuxnouds---now "Doughnuts," in soldier parlance---without waiting for completion of equipment and organization.
So we beat it there and drop Captain Harvey to make an inventory of the things the French are to leave---none too soon, for they were packing up everything, even to the stationary engine.
Untidy, but not an unpromising place---chief features a good market garden (already sold by the outgoing French to a native of the village, who will sell it back to us for 200 per cent profit); four good wards of thirty beds each; a pile of coal, with some wood; a hillside where Towne can pitch his Bessonneau tents; and lastly a cache of essence. Only serious drawback that water must be carted from the spring at the entrance to the grounds.
Back to Souilly, where Garcia takes me to see Mlle. de Beye, the "Angel of Verdun." She very cordial---may have anything in her stores. Salmon promises ten of his nurses, and Marshall Clinton will help arrange about teams.
Our calculations for the eight divisions, with six in reserve, are 14,000 casualties---that is, 6 per cent of total engaged if there is serious resistance, as there is almost certain to be; of these, 3000 dead and 11,000 wounded, of which we may expect 10 per cent to have head wounds. The C. in C. is reported to have said, "Hell, Heaven, or Hoboken by Christmas."
September 26th. Fleury
9 p.m. The initial artillery preparation---very violent---began about 2 a.m. and continued till six. A cold, misty-clear morning. Finney and Allison to the divisional triages. Salmon and Dexter off in the Dodge. I, in a decrepit flivver wangled from Mobile No. 5, in chase of Towne's outfit, which is lost somewhere and must be ready to "take in" to-morrow.
To Souilly, where Garcia shows me a telegram which states: "Mobile 6 leaves Paris to-night at eight. Be on lookout for them to-morrow. Wadhams." So, with instructions to keep in touch with St. Dizier and to corral trucks if possible, I beat it for Deuxnouds over the plateau via St. André, with the Argonne ridge standing up beyond, the haze of the morning's barrage slipping away, the sky full of planes, the row of balloons to the north, the fields, where not being ploughed, simply alive with American soldiers who had emerged from the woods; all need for concealment over, they were being drilled in squads, eager to get forward.
No word of the unit at Deuxnouds, where Sam Harvey and his team were found at work straightening things out. Then to the station at Beauzée, where I find a funny loop of narrow-gauge road far from the town, with a French official who does not think it likely any express from Paris will come here. So back to Deuxnouds and lunch with the hospitable remnant of French Ambulance 225, a dentist educated in Philadelphia and Dr. Lataillade, the eye man. Two trucks had been sent us and it seems best to get rations from Souilly and to find what news, if any, has come. There was none, so I go on to the triage at Dombasle, through crowded dusty roads past lorries and tanks and batches of German P.O.W. There F. H. 315 is found under Maj. Harris, a Virginian from Fredericksburg, in an Adrian on a hillside near Mobile No. 1---very few wounded, only about a hundred for the 5th Corps, and possibly 4000 prisoners. The few head cases forwarded to Mobile 1. Gracious, I had expected him to say a thousand wounded at least.
Friday, Sept. 27th. Fleury
8.30 p.m. The "strategy board" sits in Allison's cubicle mostly on his bed and a wooden box, for we do not use chairs, principally because we haven't them. They are reading Count Hertling's speech about the "U.S., whose bellicose ardor has been let loose."
After rushing about most all day to locate Mobile 6, Towne and Goethals suddenly appeared here! an hour ago-their whole outfit on some 30 cars have been 48 hours on the way from Paris. We have been trying to send them on to Souilly, where there is a good detraining platform. Here they would in all likelihood smash up their camions. We may with good luck be able to "take in" at Deuxnouds to-morrow and there is much work still to be done, for Finney comes back saying that some 1200 wounded 24 hours old are being brought in to the 3rd Corps triage.
This morning in the rain, after dropping Salmon at Nubécourt and Allison at his dump, on once more to Deuxnouds. Find that 20 nurses from Base Hospital No. 5 under the guidance of Lt. Mulligan, Towne's X-ray representative, had arrived during the night via Bar-le-Duc and Beauzée, and had taken over one of the wards for their quarters---no breakfast for them or any sign of any.
This defect being supplied with some borrowed loaves from the French officers who were packed and ready to depart, we went through the hospital and made all possible plans to receive the lost unit of whom there was still no trace. Back to pick up Salmon and then to Dexter's gas place---via Fleury on the great highway to Clermont, passing Autrecourt--Froidos, where are Mobile 2 and No. 10 Evac'n, and so Rarécourt. Only some 40 gas cases, all of a mild suffocative type---phosgene.
Ruined Clermont is most picturesquely situated on the side of one of the sugar-loaf elevations at the southern edge of the Argonne plateau. Thence through the forest, passing the 92nd-the Midnight Division---waiting to go in, to los Islettes and northward to the little town of Florent in search of the triage of the 77th, which we find had been moved. As we were due at Souilly at two we fled back via Julvécourt, where another of Dexter's places is set up and where we beg a loaf of bread to eat with a box of sardines found under the seat of the car---very good too. Clearing; and Sullivan puts back the top---the roads dry and we stop skidding into every passing vehicle, and they are many. Ippécourt--Souilly.
Dexter and Salmon go on to the St. Mihiel front and report to-night that the 26th made a two-brigade attack Thursday to aid in the general offensive, with some 200 wounded. At Deuxnouds again, this time in Finney's car, find two unexpected teams, but no word or sign from Towne. The 1st Division still in and about Deuxnouds---not called up yet. Back to Souilly, to find Finney away somewhere with Fisher and Col. Keller on "team" business; so Nat and I venture at 6 p.m. to use his car to return here---along the R.R. where across the valley stands Gen. Pershing's private train beside which a U.S.A. band is playing, while a crowd of poilus and others are gathered about. On the road itself, humping up under their camouflage of bedclothes, were no less than ten big 14-inch naval guns---a different picture every night.
Saturday, Sept. 28th
6 p.m. Sitting here at Fleury while a borrowed carpenter and sign painter, with a stolen pot of red paint, is making some 36" X 8" signboards reading, with directional arrows: ---
It's been a rotten day---racketing all over this area trying to get a hustle on No. 6---trucks---signboards to nail up routing ambulances to Deuxnouds---all in Crile's rattly old Henry of ancient vintage.
The day's peregrinations were somewhat as follows: After an interview with Towne, whose outfit is still here on the siding, to Souilly with Finney, then to Rampont to beg for Crile's car---in it via Ville-s.-Couzances and Froidos to Fleury, again to tell Towne to hustle up and beat it for Deuxnouds. Then via Nubécourt to get a sample sign from Lt. Stout and to Deuxnouds myself, where Harvey is hanging on, having accumulated four unexpected teams, some of them Lt. Colonels!
Four Packard trucks have fallen from heaven and we arrange to have three of them sent to Fleury and one to Souilly for necessary rations. Back again to Fleury and manage to steal two large motor trucks which seem to be unattached, and start Goethals filling them "toot sweet." Then Souilly again, where Col. Johnson is found holding down Garcia's job, and I get some thick red paint from No. 6, all the remaining cardboard signs I can find, and to the Medical Dump where a box of boards is pilfered. Then to Dexter's Gas Hospital in Julvécourt to beg the use of their sign painter, but he is sick in bed, and old Henry gets a puncture and it takes an interminable time to reshoe him. So here an hour ago paint, painter, and boards were successfully brought together and this brings me where I started.
We think the war is over. I hear Allison remark through his partition---"The poor miserable boobs!" We've seen lots of prisoners about and there are many German wounded. Last night there was another heavy barrage and the attack was renewed. Montfaucon, where the advance was stoutly resisted, has fallen and we've gone well beyond---also up along the left bank of the Meuse---so they say.
Meanwhile the French have attacked west of the Argonne and advanced several miles. The Serbs and others "have seized Ishtib," wherever that is, but it's bad enough to cause rumors of a demand for an armistice from Bulgaria. The progress continues in Palestine and Gen. Allenby has reached the Sea of Galilee, taking Tiberias, founded by Herod. The British press hard on Cambrai in a new attack. The poor boobs!
10 p.m. General Brewster, the Inspector General of the Army, has blown in and asked for a bed. He gets Salmon's and remarks that he's more afraid of that man than anyone in the A.E.F. He has been all over the front---the 3rd Corps up to Brieulles-sur-Meuse; from there the line drops well back to Cierges, whence our troops have had to withdraw. On the left the conditions are better. There is very stiff resistance---machine guns---the roads are impassable except on foot or horseback, and one of the main roads is blocked by a mine hole and a stalled French tank. A lot of wounded can't be got back. It's set in to a steady downpour.
11 p.m. Colonel Beeuwkes in to see the General---dripping wet---just back from Béthincourt. The road from there to Esnes impassably blocked---was nearly ten hours in going as many kilometres; cars ditched everywhere---artillery, food, and ammunition trying to get up, empties and others with wounded trying to get down; some fools had double-banked; no lights permitted, even smoking prohibited---a hard regulation to live up to a night like this. .
Sunday, Sept. 29th. Fleury
The day largely spent in mothering No. 6 Mobile and endeavoring not to appear to do so. By afternoon Towne was persuaded to let Sam Harvey receive a few patients and Garcia turned the head cases from Souilly in to them---the profane Jerry Sullivan drove me around in the Dodge and I nailed up the signs on the uncertain road corners between Souilly and Beauzée . . . .
George Brewer and Darrach here for dinner---Geo. being sent home much against his will---he's had many physical hardships and looks it.
Mon. the 30th. Fleury
11 p.m. General Brewster with us again to-night, very pleasant and companionable. Richard Strong also here for dinner, somewhat at a loss to know, now that the trench-fever report is finished, just what his job is to be---a Red Cross position with Murphy, or here with the Army to stem the throat infections---streptococcus pneumonia in particular having become a real menace.
The R.C. hospital here is choked with wounded---500 preoperative cases just sent out and some 400 yet to be sorted; many in very bad shape---wounded last Thursday or Friday. Just like our experience of last summer---after things slacked up at the end of the third day the roads got opened and the wounded of the early days---wet, exhausted, and infected---begin to be brought down, to the despair of all. I've been over the head cases with E.C. and McCoy and have sent on to Deuxnouds as many as they are likely to be able to handle. The triage, I believe, is the most important place in any hospital, and requires the sort of judgment that only comes from long experience with wounded---not the judgment of a blood-pressure apparatus and the laboratory.
To-day much like yesterday---to Rarécourt to drop Dexter---Ville-sur-Couzances, the H.Q. of the 1st Corps, to give Brewer missives home---Souhesmes-Deuxnouds via Ippécourt and St. André (a bad road). Sam Harvey had done good work the night before, seeing through 28 cases. Towne considerably cheered up, though the whole situation is bad for them, with no typewriting machines---no army forms---no transcription, and no much else. Geo. Derby turns up to help and I to Fleury to post more road signs in anticipation of a stream from that direction---luncheon en route at Nubécourt, where I find Salmon. Then Souilly for conference with Garcia, Clinton, Merritt, the X-ray man, Lyle, etc., concerning the threatened withdrawal for service elsewhere of Mobile 6, leaving Deuxnouds stranded with many wounded and insufficient personnel---concerning teams---concerning X-rays--transportation, etc., etc.
Raining again hard. Sent to locate Law, the X-ray man from B.H. 115; first to Evac'n No. 11 on the road north of Brizeau; via Ippécourt, Fleury, Waly, and the southern tip of the Forêt d'Argonne with its striking twin mounds. Douglas Duval, C.O., and Ellsworth Eliot, much unshaven, and a lot of major work still to be done, but no Maj. Law. So to Evac'n No. 10 at Froidos, on the Fleury-Clermont highway. Baker there from Evac'n No. 6, endeavoring to bring some order out of the chaos---also Law, with whom I escape, sending him on to Deuxnouds while I drop off here.
Things perhaps are not going so well---the advance hereabouts checked much as were the costly advances of last summer. There certainly have been more casualties than we were led to expect. Rumors of an attack being launched north of Châlons with American divisions thrown in without provision for wounded. This may have accounted for Col. Stark's growls this p.m. He certainly can't stand the strain long. Evac'n 3 and Mobile 5 are said to be going there to back up the 2nd and 36th Divisions---the nucleus of a new army.
The Boche is certainly getting it on all sides: (1) The British and Belgians have gained since Saturday a.m. more ground than in the entire Ypres affair last fall. (2) The British also are in the outskirts of Cambrai and with the American divisions have breached the supposedly impregnable Hindenburg Line at Bellenglise.
Oct. 1st. Fleury
9 p.m. Cold and raw, especially in an unheated hut. ´Les journées glorieuses," with victories of the Allies on all fronts, according to the French papers; but I am not so sure that our own show has been so glorious after all. As I gather from Gen. B., who is still with us, the Boche has plenty of kick left and more or less played the fool with us by withdrawing his troops under our barrage, letting us get well in and then showering us with machine guns, followed yesterday and to-day by a lot of mustard gas. Just the sort of performance so familiar to the much-scorned 5th Army last autumn. We, formerly with the B.E.F., do not dare make the comparison. I wish they could make their attacks with tanks alone and no preliminary barrage, so as to spare the countryside and make transportation easier both for troops and for ambulances.
Here in Fleury our little family has broken up---Finney with a treacherous cold, Fisher, Baer, and Strong back to Neufchâteau in three cars, leaving Dexter and me with the damaged Dodge, which it takes Jerry all day to get repaired with the aid of his friends in the 26th. Finney left me at Deuxnouds, where the day was spent trying to help out Towne and Harvey, who have been swamped with wounded and have been on continuous duty for about 48 hours; but they will soon get on their feet again.
Wounded of all kinds, from some foreigners of the 79th Division with nothing much wrong with them but trifles, to severe head cases many days old, and one man who had been wearing a tourniquet for three days on a badly fractured arm. I operated on a head case as a demonstration for one of the new teams and with the help of poor eyes did it very badly. They have very few supplies, but things are improving despite altercations with some French women over the potato patch on the hill, which they still claim to be theirs.
We have unquestionably been severely handled. The 35th Division on the right of the 1st Corps lost three of its four colonels, all of its lieutenant colonels and majors, and probably most of its captains and subalterns. The 79th came out much bedraggled, and General Brewster says it will probably be broken up or have its number changed, as there's no use trying to build up an esprit from a unit with a bad name. The National Army has not made such a good showing as was expected.
Oct. 2nd. Wednesday. Fleury
A fine clear cold day. Dexter and I remain. He now a major, doing great work with his gas hospitals and trying to get Corps Convalescent Camps established. Jerry sick, so no wheels for us, but Col. McGee away with Beeuwkes and loans me his car for the morning. Dexter dropped at Julvécourt and on to Souilly to report conditions at Deuxnouds. Much confusion in the offices at No. 6 Evac'n. Wounded have come in at an appalling rate and everything is choked---20,400 casualties, including 5000 "sick" since Sept. 26th. The chief difficulties and failures evidently lie: (1) in an unsuccessful triage; (2) in poor routing; (3) in the failure to send back to their units men slightly gassed or wounded who should not go to the Base. At the present moment evacuation much impeded from lack of trains, ambulances, and trucks---even from lack of engines to-day. Col. Stark tears his hair.
With Marshall Clinton to Mobile No. 1, which has been hard pressed owing to its advanced position on the Dombasle-Souilly road. Macrae highly vociferous about his troubles---late case---awful wounds---hospital on a hillside---promised an evacuation with 20 ambulances last night---100 severely wounded brought down to the roadside ready to be loaded---no ambulances came till noon the next day, and then only three---dreadful condition of cases brought in, many of them three days old---often from 24 to 30 hours in the ambulance on the way down without food---frequently the ambulances bring in dead.
He gave me to read a copy of a snappy report he proposes to send to G.H.Q. I dissuade him; but do not lessen his troubles by taking away two nurses for Evac. 11, where there are practically none, and by removing Dowman to Deuxnouds. The great pressure of wounded seems to have come via Esnes---Dombasle--Rampont-Souilly, crowding No. 1 Mobile and Souilly; and via Boureuilles---Clermont---Froidos---Fleury, crowding No. 2 Mobile and No. 114 R.C. The other hospitals have largely escaped, possibly as the drivers, if there be any pretext, will take the main arteries of traffic and avoid the side roads if possible. I wonder how many of them voluntarily chose the tortuous way to Deuxnouds.
Then back to Souilly, dropping Clinton, and to Fleury to surrender McGee's car. McCoy provides a driver. Then Deuxnouds once more, encountering Schwab en route---they are doing well, though the place is filled up---212 patients in 187 beds. Fortunately many slight wounds.
Give Schwab a lift to Nubécourt and on before dinner to No. 4 Mobile via Fleury---Froidos---Clermont---los Islettes to La Frange, in the middle of the Forêt d'Argonne. There find to my surprise that Clopton has had practically no wounded. Either the 77th Division has had few casualties or else they have not been routed via their own triage.
Bill Darrach and Swift and other 1st Corp Consultants turn up and they are full of rumors, such as that Austria has given Germany two days to state her peace terms---most unlikely. One battalion of the 92nd (Midnight) Division has been tried in the line and they didn't stick---labor for them hereafter. Some more experienced divisions are being brought in and Beeuwkes says we will have some better news soon.
At the moment Dexter and the General, who is shaving, are discussing the virtues of different varieties of razors. Me for bed. There are two categories of men---those who do and those who do not use safety razors.
Events march swiftly. The defenses of the Cambrai and St. Quentin line are breaking and the enemy is burning and blowing up both places. The Boche is withdrawing in Flanders. Damascus has fallen---the oldest city of the world---Jerusalem is as yesterday compared to her.
Oct. 3rd. Thursday
A fine cold October day, with hoarfrost covering everything this morning, and dust everything this afternoon. Young and Bertner here for the past night. With our borrowed chauffeur, Everett, who has been all night in the operating room on duty, to Julvécourt to drop Dexter, who finds to his great despair that half of his personnel has been ordered away during the night the three places full of gassed cases and his remaining people about all done in from the week's strain.
To see the 1st Division (lately the 35th) triage at Cheppy near Varennes. Julvécourt, Jubecourt, Auzéville and Clermont along. east of the Argonne, passing the bedraggled 35th coming out, and to Neuvilly, where a block. All these forward towns much destroyed, though at Neuvilly the church, characteristic of the neighborhood, still stands despite a huge hole in the side of the steeple. Someone---doubtless a "frog," as the French are universally called---has disobeyed the road signs and tied up the traffic.
The road signs---so familiar one hardly notices them---would make an interesting chapter in the story of the war: "Route gardée"; "Fractionnez vos convois"; "Laissez 50 met. derrière tout disque rouge"; "Défense de stationner"; "Observez les consignes"; "Tenez votre droite"; Sens [or Circuit] obligatoire"; "Défense de doubler"; "Éteignez vos lumières"; "Eau suspecte," or "Non potable," etc., etc.---with routings for hospitals, directions of towns, of corps, divisions, brigade or regimental quarters---on stumps of trees, corners of ruined buildings, or chance posts.
From Neuvilly to Boureuilles---or what remains of it, for it stood just about at the old line. A km. or so south of it is a huge crater completely wrecking the road---the result of a mine let off, by the French on July 4th or 5th, when I believe the Boche attacked here and the French had to withdraw. The place a great tangle after these seven days, with the French "Jennys" trying to, bridge the gap (Query: Why is it always the French engineers?) while the traffic is deviated in a wide semicircle to the west. We finally get through, and then past the lines---masses of wire, and at Boureuilles itself another huge crater wrecking the road, and about a kilometre further on still another---this time a Boche mine, I presume. "No Man's Land" all this, sure enough, and the zone shows clearly as it runs across the distant Argonne highland, for there is a treeless strip plainly to be seen.
To Varennes, where the American Army is eating its lunch---by the road and in the fields, and probably wonders greatly at the ruined town, for it is a new lot, the 82nd, going up to relieve the 28th. We missed the turn to Cheppy and go on almost to Apremont along a road completely screened by German camouflage before we find our error. It becomes warm there for heavies are firing, though the day is quiet enough, and there are flights of planes from seven to thirteen in wild-duck wedges---very high; but we see no air battles.
We finally locate the ruins of Cheppy where two field hospitals, are fused---the third under Maj. Wilson and the 12th under a Capt. Black wearing a Croix de Guerre with two palms and four wound stripes on the right sleeve. A very admirable triage. . .
There have been interruptions and it's too late to finish to-day's story except to say that Deuxnouds, visited in the late afternoon, is doing creditably. The hospitals are all choked and Gen. B. has intimated that there would be a fresh attack by new divisions to-morrow; and considerable distant firing has already started up. Beeuwkes says 12,000 casualties, sick and wounded, have gone through Vaubecourt alone in the seven days; Col. Turnbull has handled the situation well but proper evacuation is difficult, and hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of salvageable stuff---not human---is also spoiling, as it can't even be covered.
General Gouraud's army of seven corps with our 2nd Division making an eighth attacked opposite Souain to-day, taking Challerange. The 2nd Division did well and took White Hill, while the French on each side lagged, leaving them in a desperate salient for three days.
October 4th, Friday
To Bar-le-Duc in the early morning behind Jerry, who has recovered, and there is a train to Paris with standing room only. Not being very good on my hind legs these influenzal days, I would have been done in had not a young French aviator insisted on my taking his seat most of the way. The ride via the opened-up Château-Thierry road would be a great spectacle for anyone who has not become satiated with the sight of shell craters and ruined villages.
Paris on time, and so the last part of the Research Society meeting. Sir David Bruce---very dreary, on the old subject of tetanus.
Tuesday, Oct. 8th. En Route, Paris-Chaumont
The last four days passed with the kindly Strongs, who are much concerned about my health, and, though poorly themselves, they nevertheless have made their apartment a hospital for me. Something has happened to my hind legs and I wobble like a tabetic and can't feel the floor when I unsteadily get up in the morning. Bastianelli, who has a ready thermometer, has taken my temperature every time he's seen me and finds I have fever; Thayer caught me defenseless last night and couldn't elicit my deep reflexes and mumbled something about extrasystoles. They all insist on my going away---the Riviera, Rome, Oxford, all suggested. These places all sound to me like going to the moon. So this is the sequence of the grippe. We may perhaps thank it for helping us win the war if it really hit the German Army thus hard in February last. .
A smart young major sits by me, just off the Leviathan, fresh from home-clad in thin clothes-on the General Staff-only to be over here a couple of weeks-fears he has caught cold and wants to know if I think he has the grippe, which he hears is prevalent. Complains of being "unseasoned"---the pioneers on his transport were "unseasoned"---only together six months and most of them sick all the way over---great advantage to have been over here for a year so you can get "seasoned."
I quite agree with this and try to interest him in the military situation, but he says he understands everything over here is going fine, also the response to the last Liberty Loan has exceeded all expectations and it's been a hot summer in Washington. He wears a service web belt outside his overcoat and a pistol hangs from it---doubtless thinks he will meet a Hun at any moment---safety first. . .
Four days are a long time to catch up in this journal---events move so fast. Most important and significant of all was the news that came to us Sunday of the proposal from Max of Baden, the new Chancellor, for an armistice.
Weary as we all are of the war, the response seems to have been unanimous ---unconditional surrender---and we feel that it is but a clever dodge to let the Boche get off with a whole skin and withdraw his troops and stores quietly from France and Belgium rather than to do so with the Allies snapping at his heels. It's just like the "Kamerad" of the machine gunner who has fired till the last minute and then throws up his hands, expecting to be spared. A Prussian squeal, in fact.
On July 31, 1914, they gave France 18 hours to declare that in the event of a Russo-German war she would remain neutral, betray her ally, and as a guarantee give up Toul and Verdun to Germany till the end of the war. No one believes in Germany's honesty of purpose. This is no offer to make Peace. It's a proposal to halt the present battle, which is going against her, while she discusses President Wilson's peace principles. It's a matter for Foch, not for Pres. Wilson to decide, and the only possible terms are for her to lay down her arms.
To go back to my story. On Saturday too feeble to do much with the open meetings; and so missed the "streptococcus pneumonias" of the afternoon completely, the session being largely given over to reports from recent arrivals and the experience of home camps. The Committee meeting was better, though too social, and too elaborate a preliminary tea provided for the enjoyment of the British. Sir David Bruce sank into a divan, stretched out his highly polished boots into the middle of the room, inserted his spurs into the rug, drew his John Bull visage deep into his clothes, turtle fashion, and slept profoundly---this was good for the General and also helped the meeting.
General Ireland appeared, probably for the last time, and brought with him Col. McCaw, which probably answers the speculations concerning his successor. He favored the proposed subject of discussion for next time(45) and we had the usual reports of committees, among them that of Joe Blake, Heitz-Boyer, and Sinclair, all of whom were present.
Sunday was largely passed in bed and in breaking engagements, Monday more or less ditto, though I went to St. Cloud in the morning on a goose chase to find out about Towne's missing truck and side ca--r-they having gone forward, it seems, with Mobile No. 7. The lively Miss Nichols of Boston, now serving as a V.A.D. at an H.O.E. in Vitry-le-François, came to lunch, and also one of the Patterson boys of Ann Arbor---a private in the field artillery of the 1st Division, who brought with him a huge sheep dog that had adopted him in Buresches and Belleau Wood days---a French dog captured by the Boches and taken prisoner with them in our counter-attack. Patterson, like many another young private, has had enough of the war and is subdued by the Army.
The afternoon in bed and an examination by Thayer, who solemnly shakes his head---after which I resolve to beat it for Neufchâteau. "No matter how lowly," etc.
Last Meeting of the "Conférence Chirurgicale Interalliée" on the Steps of the Val-de-Grâce. Central Figures, Standing: Sir George Makins and Docteur Tuffier
Medical Research Committee at i Place Vend™me after Its Last Session, November 1918. Standing (Back Row): Rose Bradford, Finney, Makins, Thayer, McCaw, Emerson, Bowlby, Fletcher, Winter, Cummins, Elliott. (Second Row) : Siler, Harris, Cannon, A. Lambert. Front Row (Seated): Cushing, Wallace, Crile
Wednesday, Oct. 9. Neufchâteau
In bed with what they call the grippe and a hot-water bottle not a bad combination. The time passes with Duruy's History of France and friendly visitations.
Meanwhile the news is excellent. While awaiting Mr. Wilson's reply the Allies have smashed away all together on several fronts, the best possible answer to the German note. In our 1st Army area things have continued to march along. The attack in the Argonne which started Friday morning, the 4th, seems to have been largely, a movement east of the Meuse, though there was also pressure toward Exermont, and the Argonne woods and ravines are being slowly relinquished.
There is a remarkable story of a battalion of 500 Americans from the 308th, 77th Division, under a Major Chas. Whittlesey, a N.Y. lawyer before the war. During the attack of Wednesday, Oct. 2nd, they had reached their objectives but got cut off from their contacts in a ravine, some 3 km. east of Binarville. They became surrounded by the Boches, and put up a desperate resistance in the wilderness of wire and underbrush. Without food, water, or shelter, wet and cold, with almost no ammunition, they stuck it for four days and were relieved Monday. The Boches gave them an invitation to surrender, but Whittlesey replied in effect that they could go to hell first.
Thursday, the 10th Oct.
Wilson's answer through Robert Lansing to Max of Baden was, in last night's communiqué---very skillful---a diplomatic counter-manoeuvre to the peace offensive---as clever and sure as was Foch's military counter on July 18th. In short, do you really mean this, Mr. Max, or for whom are you speaking, the High Command. and Prussian militarism, or the German people? We cannot speak of an armistice without the immediate retirement of the Central Powers from all invaded territory.
Meanwhile the British with the American 2nd Corps continue their victorious advance between Cambrai and St. Quentin in the direction of Le Cateau, and yesterday morning Canadians entered Cambrai, which was blown up by the retreating Boche. Poor Cambrai, will it ever again return to its 400 years of muslin-making?
More or less in bed owing to my hind legs, which are in chronic state of being asleep up to the knees and threaten to leave me in the lurch.
The British have chased the retreating enemy as far as Le Cateau, where was fought one of the most famous of the 1914 battles of the "Contemptible Little Army" in their retreat from Mons-23-- kilometres advance in two days---the Hindenburg Line is left far behind. "Les Allemands, durement bousculés, battent en retraite." Laon comes next. The enemy are forsaking the Chemin des Dames, leaving the Suippe, and have evacuated the main pass through the Argonne. Gouraud on the 11th advanced five miles, reaching Mont St. Rémy on the way to Rethel.
Sunday, Oct. 13th. Neufchâteau
Pouring, so a trip to Deuxnouds postponed. With Widener alone at our supper of beans and veau to-night, when Lee and Pincoffs blew in. Pincoffs carries the same single bar on his shoulders he was wearing when I first encountered him in the prison of Ypres---in short, still a battalion M.O. and alive. The 2nd Division is out en repos after a lively time with Gouraud's army. Seven French corps participated in the attack of Oct. 3rd, and the 2nd Division, which made an eighth, had a front of about 5 km. just north of Souain. Their objective was in the direction of Somme-Py and, pushing ahead, they were left for three or four days way out on a salient enfiladed from both sides; for the French failed to come up. From the 3rd to the 9th they had 5000 casualties and 800 dead.
Pincoffs, who is in charge of one of the F.A.'s as well as "director of field evacuation" for the division, was out in all of it getting the wounded back, and he certainly deserves the D.S.C. if anyone ever has. Through Dick Derby, who has been made the divisional surgeon, he has been given the chance to organize the entire ambulance service of the division, and I judge that things are better than they were when he made the notes about the conditions under which the 2nd Division labored last July.
Generals Finney and Thayer, wearing their stars for the first time, came in late with Alec Lambert, having motored from Paris via Suippe, and we managed to scrape up a bully-beef supper for them. A long talk with Pincoffs about the duties and responsibilities of a battalion M.O.---most informing.
Monday the 14th
In response to an appeal from Major Kerr, a trip taken to Deuxnouds, crossing the recovered salient via Hattonville again ---a long, tedious trip. No. 6 Mobile has moved out in large part and is to go to Varennes, while No. 8 Mobile, a Philadelphia outfit, will take their place---the present teams to remain.
I tried to operate for them on a bad case, but the light was poor and I could not see well enough to do a proper job. All the way home in the car I had spells of diplopia.
Tuesday the 15th. Neufchâteau
Salmon has just related an unsung tale of sacrifice, which he got yesterday from a young lieutenant of the heavies. They were bringing up coast-guard guns and were passing through a French village---a row of caterpillar tractors towing the heavy pieces, also on their caterpillars. He was sitting behind his piece and a jovial gunner had crawled up astride of the gun which he was straddling, whistling "My Girl Back Home." On the side of the road were some doughboys, dealing out bits of chocolate to an eager group of French children. Suddenly a little girl on the opposite side of the road caught sight of them and, oblivious of the traffic, darted across the road to get her share. She thought she could get between the tractor and the gun, not realizing it was being towed, and darted for the spot.
Quick as a flash the gunner swung under the long barrel of which he was astride, caught the child while almost in the air, and threw her back into the road, but before he could recover himself the caterpillar of the gun carriage went over his head. The gunner was buried by the roadside near the village; and when they came out, some weeks later, the grave was covered with flowers and on the wooden cross the villagers had placed a tablet---to the brave American soldier who had given his life for a little French girl.
A cold depressing rain to-day. To the office and back with great effort. Bagley turns up, after some three weeks in working his way by "channels" to these H.Q. from Southampton, where they landed. The usual story. This time Transport 56--i.e., the Olympic. He was ship Medical Officer. There had been no grippe in the States(?), but nine cases developed on the boat, with one death from pneumonia. They were held in Southampton Harbor 24 hours before disembarking, and 384 cases developed during this brief time---very severe---temperatures of 105° frequent in men at the very outset. People standing guard would fall in their tracks. They were sent to a rest camp near Southampton and in a week 1900 cases developed, with several hundred pneumonias and 119 deaths before he left. Of the 342 nurses who were left on shipboard after the troops disembarked, 134 developed influenza.
The weekly report of Oct. 3rd of the relation of patients to beds in the A.E.F. gave as a grand total:---
Thus 84.7 per cent of the normal and 60 per cent of the emergency beds were then filled and we were lacking personnel for 35 base hospitals. A few days ago it was reported that we had beds for only two days if wounded and sick continued to come in at the present rate, and the weekly report of Oct. 10, just come to-day, gives:-
In short, our base hospitals are 107.9 per cent full, our camp hospitals 82.5 per cent full, and 73.3 per cent of our emergency beds are occupied.
In regard to the prevailing influenza epidemic, Haven Emerson's Weekly Bulletin of Oct. 9th frankly admits a serious present situation in the A.E.F.
Wed., Oct. 16th
Rain! Bagley reports sick with a chill and temperature of 103.6°. Kerr manages to get an ambulance and takes him to No. 18 in Bazoilles. I had hoped to turn over the affairs of this office to him and then get out myself, as I am growing very tottery and had considerable difficulty in dressing this a.m. Even so, I shirk my job and ignominiously retire to blankets and a cheap novel at our forlorn and smelly billet.
Finney, back from Chaumont and Dijon, says for the first time he finds Col. Wadhams in the dumps---the American Army being still further split up and two divisions now ordered to the Belgian coast-troops scattered from there to Belfort---the French don't want our troops concentrated anywhere---don't want us to get too much credit now that the Boche is on the run---no pinch-hitter business for them. Quite an understandable feeling.
Meanwhile the formation of our 2nd Army is announced---under Gen. Bullard with the 4th, 7th, and 6th Corps. An attack northeast of Nancy is projected and trainloads of tanks are said to be moving up there, though no hospitals as yet. It will lead to an interesting crisis for the enemy if we can close his line of retreat through the valley of the Moselle south of the Ardennes and limit him to the one route further north via the Meuse, where he poured through four years ago! It may bottle him up in Belgium.
The evening papers give the full text of Wilson's remarkable note, which practically means surrender and a change of government. He has caught the Kaiser with his trousers down, has taken two spanks at him, and now hands the shingle to Foch. Meanwhile the British have taken Menin and crossed the Lys, Lille is being encircled, and our troops have broken the Kriemhilde-Stellung position at several points. "On les a!" now replaces "On ne passe pas."
Thursday, Oct. 17th
Too poor on my pins to go to Vichy as planned. Marked increase of numbness and unsteadiness with a good deal of involvement of my hands. Schwab comes to the rescue, takes me to his hospital at Priez-la-Fauche as "a guest," and gives up his room to me.
The Anglo-Franco-Belgian advance continues on a 32-mile front between Dixmude and Douai. Thourout fallen; Courtrai entered. We have taken Grandpré. More than a hundred German slow-fused mines exploded during the day in the region of Laon.
Oct. 18. La Fauche
Very kind people here. I am being kept in bed, having little use of my lean and shrunk shanks. Schwab shakes his head and talks about a multiple toxic neuritis with leucopenia. A new set of visitors and acquaintances---notably a vociferous militia colonel who occupies the room next to mine and is strong on things to eat and drink at bizarre hours.
Lille, Douai, Ostend délivrés. La cavalerie aux portes de Bruges. Les Anglais aux bords de Tourcoing. The first person to enter Lille after the German evacuation came out of the air, a young aviator, Captain Delesalle, with a Croix de Guerre boisée de quatre palmes---Lille his native city, of which his father is maire---he literally flew into his father's arms. Wilson has sent his "separate note to Austria-Hungary." His earlier distinction between the King of Prussia and the Imperial and Royal Government of Austria-Hungary is noticeable.
Oct. 19th, Saturday
In bed getting my sensation tested, and having a female from the Sargent school, built like a football tackle, give me massage. One particular inning which consists in beating my sore and wasted extremities seems to me unnecessary. I call it the barrage---I'd much prefer to have her go over me with a tank.
Le roi Albert entre dans Ostende et Bruges. The British advance five miles, along a 50-mile front, occupying Tourcoing and Roubaix. The French take Thielt.
Monday, Oct. 211t
Allison here and says everything going on well in our forward area, though we are up against a stiff proposition and are fighting in the almost impassable country of the 1916 Verdun battles. The 29th and 33rd have gone over to the right of the Meuse, and the 26th is in support with their H.Q. at Verdun, Clarence Edwards and his staff living majestically in the Citadel. The 42nd has replaced the 91st, and I believe the 1st, the 35th. The 91st, with one other (the 37th?), has gone to Flanders. All have done very well---even the 77th has quite redeemed itself, and the story of Whittlesey and his 500 is true "and then some," as Allison expresses it.
More gains in Belgium. Zeebrugge and Bruges left behind. The British 2nd Army in close to the Scheldt, where the enemy may hold. The 5th Army east of Lille approaches Tournai--the 1st is nearing Valenciennes. French troops are well across the Oise, and south of the Serre have penetrated the Hunding Line.
Tuesday, 22nd Oct.
Two Generals to call this afternoon---Thayer and Finney---.La Fauche much excited---far more than I. Thayer perfunctorily goes over my neurological extremities and looks solemn---remembers cases of neuritis in 1889---necessary that 1 stay here, as the only room in France with a fireplace---a good excuse to get Sir Wm. Osler over, etc. All this interspersed with various stories. Finney has made new arrangements---viz., Lyle to be C.S. of the 1st Army and Clinton of the 2nd. They are to have Asst. Army Consultants under them, rather than Corps Consultants---e.g., Lyle will have Pool, Darrach, and Lee under him---and thus these men can supervise the work of the Evac'n Hosps., which they otherwise, as Corps people, could not do.
Shwab gives a dinner party at the estaminet in La Fauche village run by one Suzanne---Padre Taylor, Col. Rumbolt, the C.O., Miss Butler the R.C. worker, Miss Johnson a civilian employee, the head nurse Miss Postum, and another. I was taken reluctantly in an ambulance, wobbly in mind and body. Walking is very bad, and one dresses with great difficulty, buttoning being almost impossible---hands now almost as awkward and stiff as feet---a good deal of soreness but fortunately no pain.
The Boches have replied to Mr. Wilson saying that they are democratic and have not committed atrocities.
A gorgeous warm October day with soft air and a brilliant sky. The C.O. took me for a half hour's ride before lunch---through the woods---chasse réservée---and over to Leurville, near which is an astonishing crater, as though the earth's crust had caved inan area about a half mile at the top and some 200 feet deep---le Cul du Cerf. The gorgeously colored trees in the bottom and at the margins stood out against the gray chalky slopes like the painted figures against the gray background of a Vermeer.
The woods are superb. There are blood-orange patches made by sumac, maple, and eider; but the beeches are the glory of all. They have a rich tinge of yellow and old gold, and the green ivy climbing on their gray trunks gives a brilliant contrast. At a distance the woods suggest a soft Persian shawl spread over the hills.
The 3rd (Byng) and 4th (Rawlinson) British Armies have jumped ahead to-day between the Scheldt and Sambre-Oise Canal in the direction of Le Quesnoy and threaten to outflank Valenciennes by cutting its L. of C.
Friday, Oct. 25th
What one might call flyable weather. I've just managed to bring down 300---actual count---in individual combat---none counted unless seen to crash or come down in flames. I feel that I am sort of an ace of aces, though I have not yet got the supremacy. There are apparently just as many more in this room---the penalty of having had my window open yesterday, for it was warm and sunny. Mayhap the French fly, which has a persistence and an élan all its own, accounts for the reluctance of the human element to keep their windows ajar.
Later. My score reached 500 at supper time---there were others left, chiefly of the chasse variety, hovering out of reach.
Mr. Wilson comes back at 'em somewhat at length. Briefly he offers this dilemma---surrender without mercy or suppress the Hohenzollern rule. Meanwhile the Allies nibble away, the British making further notable gains toward Valenciennes, which is the next important station after Lille in the great lateral railway system of the frontier. To avoid destruction of their large towns it seems to be the intent to manoeuvre the enemy out of his position by flanking movements. If the British can get through or around the Forest of Mormal and get Bavay and possibly Maubeuge, commanding the valley of the Sambre, it will seriously threaten the line of the Meuse. The Sambre Valley is vital to the Boche defense.
Saturday the 26th
I begin to question whether late suppers of sardines, cheese, and champagne partaken of by the Padre, the Colonel, and the Psychotherapeutist in the room of the Patient are entirely conducive to his rapid recovery, though they may serve for his amusement.
Sunday, the 27th
I must have touched bottom yesterday---without knowing it, for my soles are devoid of sensation. Distinctly better to-day and able to bathe and dress again. Bishop Brent in for a long call after lunch---then Miss Shepley from the offices in Neufchâteau with mail and papers.
It is stated that Ludendorff has resigned and Karl Liebknecht been liberated. Germany has briefly replied to Mr. Wilson's last to the effect that "we will be good" and that a people's government awaits proposals for an armistice! It is their business to approach Marshal Foch and Sir David Beatty with a white flag. The Kaiser does not appear. Col. E. M. House has quietly slipped into Europe---pointed toward Versailles! Meanwhile we keep on attending to the war with good purpose. The Americans, British, and French in their several areas are fighting with determination.
Dexter here in the p.m. with welcome news of the changes in our forward area. Pershing still at Souilly, which remains the Advanced H.Q. for the army, though Ligny is now the H.Q. 1st Échelon. Preparations have been under way for some time for a large offensive on our Argonne front---nine divisions to participate. It was expected to come off some days ago but was postponed, according to rumor, because of the capture by the Boche of a Lt. Col., who was inspecting the front lines while carrying on his person all the orders and plans of the operation.
I attempt to walk and manage about 200 yards down our roadway. Like walking on a ship's deck in a high sea with both your feet asleep. Was glad to get back safely to my room.
We get the day's papers here about 8 p.m. To-day's news is interesting, e.g., Austria-Hungary appears to be breaking up; and according to the Paris Herald "all America is saving nutshells and fruit pips." This, I suppose, evidences our determination to win the war.(46)
La Fauche, Oct. 29th
a.m., while anxiously awaiting my enemy the masseuse. Would that I were capable of thumb-sketching this place and some of its inmates. Due to my short tether, acquaintances are somewhat limited, to be sure, even here in the château, which is some distance from the hospital. Still, such as they are, they are unique. The Colonel for example.
He's been here several weeks with a foot drop---probably due to kicking at the Regular Army, though said to be acquired while walking around the front areas looking for battery positions before the Argonne fight opened. He's an old National Guardsman ---40 years' experience more or less---from the state where one has to be shown---the ancient and honorable artillery kind---oldest battery in the country, sir---marched all the way to Mexico City and back without the loss of a man.
Then the Colonel himself has a most ancient and honorable lineage, the details of which I have heard several times. It goes back to Thor and thunderbolts, I believe, and comes down through Sir Somebody who was something or other to "Ollie" Cromwell. His immediate forbears went to live in Scotland, so he has an overpowering scorn and hatred for the English, which even surpasses his sentiments re the Boche.
I don't see how the Army gets along without him. He has no sense of humor and a deep voice---the voice of command---and with it tells you all about his relations and, when not his relations, the National Guard and its ill-treatment. When he gets home he'll run for Congress on his National Guard record and when he gets in---well, the Regular Army will get what's coming to it.
But there's a far pleasanter side to the Colonel which I enjoy more. He's a handy man about the house---a natural-born fixer. When Schwab-Who decidedly is not-breaks at midnight an irreparable pane out of the window at the head of my bed in a moment of anger and fit of profanity directed against a particularly pestiferous fly, the Colonel, hearing the crash, comes in and repairs it with a combination of yesterday's Le Matin and some thumbtacks.
This morning there were cries of fire from the next room, which is an officers' dormitory. The Colonel appears and orders us not to worry, but to dress, dashing off again. Schwab in great trepidation, with visions of being court-martialed, hastily gets on his green bathrobe---the gift of an admirer in Chicago, a patient---"an old lady," of course---also his boots---slings open the huge French window for a look at the smoke and leaves it open---then the door ditto, so that I, preferring fire to frost, climb back in my bed. He disappeared after the Colonel and found him looking up the chimney---probably between his legs---by the aid of a large mirror he had ripped from the wall and was using periscope... fashion. The French housekeeper---relic of other days---says they normally catch on fire---only way to clean the chimneys.
When our single and treasured oil lamp does not burn square, and Schwab makes it worse with the aid of a safety pin, the Colonel comes in, sweeps him aside, and produces the biggest pocket knife in the world, combined with a variety of corkscrews, gimlets, saws, etc. He trims the wick admirably and admiringly. And so it goes.
But the Colonel is at his very best along toward 11 p.m. just as I am laboriously getting to bed and Schwab is preparing to write a letter home to his wife, the inspiration for which he apparently gets from sucking a piece of Q.M.A. stick candy. The Colonel is heard pussyfooting down the hall. He knocks, and enters bearing a bottle of wine, boxes of sardines, a tin of cheese, and half a loaf of bread---his mouth watering. How he gets these things, and why, I dare not ask---sometimes oxtail soup and other strange viands.
The Padre is called if he hasn't gone to bed, and they go to it. Schwab promptly breaks off the cork in a violent effort to extract it. The Colonel brushes him aside, demands a penknife---two penknives---inserts their blades alongside the cork and, lo and behold, on the second trial twists out Mr. Cork. Wonderful! Oh, that's nothing at all---his father was an inventor---even so Thor, who invented thunder, I believe---and R. has inherited these capabilities. A similar episode occurs with the can of sardines. It refuses to open for Schwab, who with an oath spills most of the oil on his blotter. The Colonel's complicated knife bears a can opener, and, presto! The Padre, meanwhile, is burning the toast and his fingers. The Colonel is especially particular about wood fires and the way to lay them---his ancestors probably were too. The Padre is brushed aside, the sticks rearranged, the embers exposed and blown upon by a pair of huge National Guard lungs---and, behold! perfect toast in a jiffy.
In short, he's a wonder, the Colonel---about the house---he takes a half inch of butter on his toast, pepper and salt on his cheese, finishes the bottle of wine, and then salvages all the tinfoil from the packages of cigarettes, from the neck of the bottle, from the cheese, from my shaving soap---"Why, this must be saved---a thousand tons of it comes over here a month---ammunition can be made out of it, guns in fact." Quite a goodly sized ball of it sits this morning on the mantel entirely forgotten by the Guardsman, who, since the fire, has probably gone somewhere in quest of cheese, champagne, and sardines for to-night. It's a fine, crisp, sunny October day---good hunting weather. C'est la guerre.
9 p.m. McCarthy and Naffziger from B. H. 115 here to-day---also Bagley. We powwow over the establishment of a real Neurological Institute to grow out of the war.
Chapter Eleven, concluded
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