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Title: "And they thought we wouldn't fight"
Author: Gibbons, Floyd
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book ""And they thought we wouldn't fight"" ***

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Transcribers Notes

1. Passages in italics are surrounded by _underscores_.
2. Passages in bold are indicated by =bold=.
3. Minor printers errors have been corrected. A detailed list can be
   found at the end of this text.
4. Text spelling was common at the time of its publication.
5. All dialect spelling has been retained.


       *       *       *       *       *


"AND THEY THOUGHT WE WOULDN'T FIGHT"

                      FLOYD GIBBONS

[Illustration: FLOYD GIBBONS]



                "AND THEY THOUGHT
                WE WOULDN'T FIGHT"

                       BY

                  FLOYD GIBBONS

  OFFICIAL CORRESPONDENT OF _THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE_,
  ACCREDITED TO THE AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES


                     NEW YORK

                  [Illustration]

              GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



                _Copyright, 1918,_
           _By George H. Doran Company_



      _Printed in the United States of America_



                        TO

              GENERAL JOHN J. PERSHING

                       AND

         THE AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES

    I RESPECTFULLY DEDICATE THIS INADEQUATE RECORD
                IN REVERENT MEMORY OF
                  OUR SACRED DEAD
                ON FIELDS IN FRANCE



                   ACKNOWLEDGMENT

        The author expresses his hearty thanks to
        _The Chicago Tribune_ for the opportunity
        he enjoyed as a correspondent of that paper,
        in the service of which he secured the
        material for these papers.

       *       *       *       *       *



    Personal.
              AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES
             OFFICE OF THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

                                         France, August 17, 1918.


    Mr. Floyd Gibbons,
      Care Chicago Tribune,
        420 Sue Saint-Honore,
           P a r i s.

    Dear Mr. Gibbons:

        At this time, when you are returning to America, I wish to
    express to you my appreciation of the cordial cooperation and
    assistance you have always given us in your important work as
    correspondent of the Chicago Tribune in France. I also wish to
    congratulate you on the honor which the French government has
    done you in giving you the Croix de Guerre, which is but a just
    reward for the consistent devotion to your duty and personal
    bravery that you have exhibited.

        My personal regrets that you are leaving us at this time are
    lessened by the knowledge of the great opportunity you will have
    of giving to our people in America a true picture of the work of
    the American soldier in France and of impressing on them the
    necessity of carrying on this work to the end, which can be
    accomplished only by victory for the Allied arms. You have a
    great opportunity, and I am confident that you will grasp it, as
    you have grasped your past opportunities, with success. You have
    always played the game squarely and with courage, and I wish to
    thank you.

                 Sincerely yours,

                            John J. Pershing.

       *       *       *       *       *



                                       G. Q. G. A. le July 28, 1918.

    COMMANDEMENT EN CHEF
      DES ARMÉES ALLIES
        LE GÉNÉRAL


    MONSIEUR,

      I understand that you are going to the United States
    to give lectures on what you have seen on the French front.

      No one is more qualified than you to do this, after your
    brilliant conduct in the Bois de Belleau.

      The American Army has proved itself to be magnificent
    in spirit, in gallantry and in vigor; it has contributed largely
    to our successes. If you can thus be the echo of my opinion
    I am sure you will serve a good purpose.

                          Very sincerely yours,

                                         (_Signed_) F. FOCH.

    MONSIEUR FLOYD GIBBONS,
      War Correspondent of the Chicago _Tribune_.

       *       *       *       *       *



                                      G.Q.G.A. _Le_ 28 Juillet 1918.

    _Commandement en Chef_
      _des Armies Allies_
        _Le Général_


           Monsieur,


          Je sais que vous allez donner des conférences aux
    Etats-Unis pour raconter ce que vous avez vu sur le front
    français.

          Personne n'est plus qualifié que vous pour le faire,
    après votre brillante conduite au Bois BELLEAU.

          L'Armée Américaine se montre magnifique de sentiments,
    de valeur et d'entrain, elle a contribué pour une large part
    à nos succès. Si vous pouvez être l'écho de mon opinion, je
    n'y verrai qu'avantage.

          Croyez, Monsieur, à mes meilleurs sentiments.


                                F. Foch

  Monsieur FLOYD GIBBONS
Correspondant de Guerre du CHICAGO TRIBUNE.

       *       *       *       *       *



         GRAND QUARTIER GÉNÉRAL
    DES ARMÉES DU NORD ET DU NORD EST
               ETAT-MAJOR
           BUREAU DU PERSONNEL
             (Decorations)

                                                    ORDER NO. 8809 D


      The General Commander-in-Chief Cites for the _Croix
    de Guerre_

      M. FLOYD GIBBONS, War Correspondent of the Chicago
    _Tribune_:

      "Has time after time given proof of his courage and bravery by
    going to the most exposed posts to gather information. On June 5,
    1918, while accompanying a regiment of marines who were attacking
    a wood, he was severely wounded by three machine gun bullets in
    going to the rescue of an American officer wounded near
    him--demonstrating, by this action, the most noble devotion.
    When, a few hours later, he was lifted and transported to the
    dressing station, he begged not to be cared for until the wounded
    who had arrived before him had been attended to."

                 General Headquarters, August 2, 1918
                     THE GENERAL COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF
                                       (_Signed_) PETAIN

       *       *       *       *       *



       GRAND QUARTIER GENERAL
    DES ARMÉES DU NORD ET DU NORD-EST

             ETAT-MAJOR

         BUREAU DU PERSONNEL
            (Décorations)

                                        ORDRE No 8809 D


    Le Général Commandant en Chef Cite à l'Ordre de l'Armée:


        _M. FLOYD GIBBONS_, Correspondant de Guerre du Chicago Tribune:

        "A donné à maintes reprises des preuves de courage et de
    bravoure, en allant recueillir des informations aux postes les
    plus exposés. Le 5 Juin 1918, accompagnant un régiment de
    Fusiliers marins qui attaquait un bois, a été très grièvement
    atteint de trois balles de mitrailleuses en se portant au secours
    d'un officier américain blessé à ses côtés, faisant ainsi preuve,
    en cette circonstance, du plus beau dévouement. Relevé plusieurs
    heures après et transporté au poste de secours, a demandé à ne
    pas être soigné avant les blessés arrivés avant lui."

             Au Grand Quartier Général, le 2 Aout 1918.
                   LE GÉNÉRAL COMMANDANT EN CHEF.

                                    Petain

       *       *       *       *       *



FOREWORD


Marshal Foch, the commander of eleven million bayonets, has written that
no man is more qualified than Gibbons to tell the true story of the
Western Front. General Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of the American
Expeditionary Forces, has said that it was Gibbons' great opportunity to
give the people in America a life-like picture of the work of the
American soldier in France.

The key to the book is the man.

Back in the red days on the Rio Grande, word came from Pancho Villa that
any "Gringos" found in Mexico would be killed on sight. The American
people were interested in the Revolution at the border. Gibbons went
into the Mexican hills alone and called Villa's bluff. He did more. He
fitted out a box car, attached it to the revolutionary bandits' train
and was in the thick of three of Villa's biggest battles. Gibbons
brought out of Mexico the first authoritative information on the Mexican
situation. The following year the War Department accredited him to
General Pershing's punitive expedition and he rode with the flying
column led by General Pershing when it crossed the border.

In 1917, the then Imperial German Government announced to the world that
on and after February 1st its submarines would sink without warning any
ship that ventured to enter a zone it had drawn in the waters of the
North Atlantic.

Gibbons sensed the meaning of this impudent challenge. He saw ahead the
overt act that was bound to come and be the cause of the United States
entering the war. In these days the cry of "Preparedness" was echoing
the land. England had paid dearly for her lack of preparedness. The
inefficient volunteer system had cost her priceless blood. The _Chicago
Tribune_ sought the most available newspaper man to send to London and
write the story of England's costly mistakes for the profit of the
American people. Gibbons was picked for the mission and arrangement was
made for him to travel on the steamer by which the discredited Von
Bernstorff was to return to Germany. The ship's safe conduct was
guaranteed. Gibbons did not like this feature of the trip. He wanted to
ride the seas in a ship without guarantees. His mind was on the overt
act. He wanted to be on the job when it happened. He cancelled the
passage provided for him on the Von Bernstorff ship and took passage on
the largest liner in port, a ship large enough to be readily seen
through a submarine periscope and important enough to attract the
special attention of the German Admiralty. He sailed on the _Laconia_,
an eighteen thousand ton Cunarder.

On the night of February 27, 1917, when the _Laconia_ was two hundred
miles off the coast of Ireland, the Gibbons' "hunch" was fulfilled. The
_Laconia_ was torpedoed and suck. After a perilous night in a small boat
on the open sea, Gibbons was rescued and brought into Queenstown. He
opened the cables and flashed to America the most powerful call to arms
to the American people. It shook the country. It was the testimony of an
eye witness and it convinced the Imperial German Government, beyond all
reasonable doubt, of the wilful and malicious murder of American
citizens. The Gibbons story furnished the proof of the overt act and it
was unofficially admitted at Washington that it was the determining
factor in sending America into the war one month later.

Gibbons greeted Pershing on the latter's landing in Liverpool. He
accompanied the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces across
the Channel and was at his side when he put foot on French soil. He was
one of the two American correspondents to march with the first American
troops that entered the trenches on the Western front. He was with the
first American troops to cross the German frontier. He was with the
artillery battalion that fired the first American shell into Germany.

On June 6th, 1918, Gibbons went "over the top" with the first waves in
the great battle of the Bois de Belleau. Gibbons was with Major John
Berry, who, while leading the charge, fell wounded. Gibbons saw him
fall. Through the hail of lead from a thousand spitting machine guns, he
rushed to the assistance of the wounded Major. A German machine gun
bullet shot away part of his left shoulder, but this did not stop
Gibbons. Another bullet smashed through his arm, but still Gibbons kept
on. A third bullet got him. It tore out his left eye and made a compound
fracture of the skull. For three hours he lay conscious on the open
field in the Bois de Belleau with a murderous machine gun fire playing a
few inches over his head until under cover of darkness he was able to
crawl off the field. For his gallant conduct he received a citation from
General Petain, Commander-in-Chief of the French Armies, and the French
Government awarded him the Croix de Guerre with the Palm.

On July 5th, he was out of the hospital and back at the front, covering
the first advance of the Americans with the British forces before
Amiens. On July 18th he was the only correspondent with the American
troops when they executed the history-making drive against the German
armies in the Château-Thierry salient--the beginning of the German end.
He rode with the first detachment of American troops that entered
Château-Thierry upon the heels of the retreating Germans.

Floyd Gibbons was the first to sound the alarm of the danger of the
German peace offensive. Six weeks before the drive for a negotiated
peace was made by the German Government against the home flank in
America, Gibbons told that it was on the way. He crossed the Atlantic
with his crippled arm in a sling and his head bandaged, to spend his
convalescence warning American audiences against what he called the
"Crooked Kamerad Cry."

Gibbons has lived the war, he has been a part of it. "And They Thought
We Wouldn't Fight" is the voice of our men in France.

                                                  FRANK COMERFORD.



                                CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                           PAGE

    I THE SINKING OF THE _Laconia_                                  17

    II PERSHING'S ARRIVAL IN EUROPE                                 43

    III THE LANDING OF THE FIRST AMERICAN CONTINGENT IN FRANCE      61

    IV THROUGH THE SCHOOL OF WAR                                    78

    V MAKING THE MEN WHO MAN THE GUNS                               96

    VI "FRONTWARD HO!"                                             117

    VII INTO THE LINE--THE FIRST AMERICAN SHOT IN THE WAR          134

    VIII THE FIRST AMERICAN SECTOR                                 158

    IX THE NIGHT OUR GUNS CUT LOOSE                                182

    X INTO PICARDY TO MEET THE GERMAN PUSH                         199

    XI UNDER FIRE                                                  217

    XII BEFORE CANTIGNY                                            235

    XIII THE RUSH OF THE RAIDERS--"ZERO AT 2 A. M."                251

    XIV ON LEAVE IN PARIS                                          266

    XV CHÂTEAU-THIERRY AND THE BOIS DE BELLEAU                     283

    XVI WOUNDED--HOW IT FEELS TO BE SHOT                           305

    XVII "GOOD MORNING, NURSE"                                     323

    XVIII GROANS, LAUGHS AND SOBS IN THE HOSPITAL                  338

    XIX "JULY 18TH"--THE TURN OF THE TIDE                          354

    XX THE DAWN OF VICTORY                                         376

    APPENDIX

    PERSONNEL OF THE AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES IN FRANCE       399



                              ILLUSTRATIONS


    FLOYD GIBBONS                                        _Frontispiece_

                                                                  PAGE
    THE ARRIVAL IN LONDON, SHOWING GENERAL PERSHING,
    MR. PAGE, FIELD MARSHAL VISCOUNT FRENCH, LORD
    DERBY, AND ADMIRAL SIMS                                         50

    GENERAL PERSHING BOWING TO THE CROWD IN PARIS                   50

    THE FIRST AMERICAN FOOT ON FRENCH SOIL                          66

    THE FIRST GLIMPSE OF FRANCE                                     66

    CAPT. CHEVALIER, OF THE FRENCH ARMY, INSTRUCTING
    AMERICAN OFFICERS IN THE USE OF THE ONE POUNDER                122

    IN THE COURSE OF ITS PROGRESS TO THE VALLEY OF THE
    VESLE THIS 155 MM. GUN AND OTHERS OF ITS KIND
    WERE EDUCATING THE BOCHE TO RESPECT AMERICA.
    THE TRACTOR HAULS IT ALONG STEADILY AND SLOWLY,
    LIKE A STEAM ROLLER                                            122

    GRAVE OF FIRST AMERICANS KILLED IN FRANCE. TRANSLATION:
    HERE LIE THE FIRST SOLDIERS OF THE GREAT
    REPUBLIC OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, FALLEN
    ON FRENCH SOIL FOR JUSTICE AND FOR LIBERTY, NOVEMBER
    3RD, 1918                                                      170

    FIRST OF THE GREAT FRANCO-AMERICAN COUNTER-OFFENSIVE
    AT CHÂTEAU-THIERRY. THE FRENCH BABY
    TANKS, KNOWN AS CHARS D'ASSAUTS, ENTERING THE
    WOOD OF VILLERS-COTTERETS, SOUTHWEST OF SOISSONS               226

    YANKS AND POILUS VIEWING THE CITY OF CHÂTEAU-THIERRY
    WHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY THE YANKS
    TURNED THE TIDE OF BATTLE AGAINST THE HUNS                     226

    MARINES MARCHING DOWN THE AVENUE PRESIDENT WILSON
    ON THE FOURTH OF JULY IN PARIS                                 274

    BRIDGE CROSSING MARNE RIVER IN CHÂTEAU-THIERRY
    DESTROYED BY GERMANS IN THEIR RETREAT FROM
    TOWN                                                           274

    HELMET WORN BY FLOYD GIBBONS WHEN WOUNDED,
    SHOWING DAMAGE CAUSED BY SHRAPNEL                              314

    THE NEWS FROM THE STATES                                       346

    SMILING WOUNDED AMERICAN SOLDIERS                              346

    (_Photographs Copyright by Committee on Public Information._)



"AND THEY THOUGHT WE
  WOULDN'T FIGHT"



CHAPTER I

THE SINKING OF THE _Laconia_


Between America and the firing line, there are three thousand miles of
submarine infested water. Every American soldier, before encountering
the dangers of the battle-front, must first overcome the dangers of the
deep.

Geographically, America is almost four thousand miles from the war zone,
but in fact every American soldier bound for France entered the war zone
one hour out of New York harbour. Germany made an Ally out of the dark
depths of the Atlantic.

That three-thousand-mile passage represented greater possibilities for
the destruction of the United States overseas forces than any
strategical operation that Germany's able military leaders could direct
in the field.

Germany made use of that three thousand miles of water, just as she
developed the use of barbed wire entanglements along the front. Infantry
advancing across No Man's Land were held helpless before the enemy's
fire by barbed wire entanglements. Germany, with her submarine policy of
ruthlessness, changed the Atlantic Ocean into another No Man's Land
across which every American soldier had to pass at the mercy of the
enemy before he could arrive at the actual battle-front.

This was the peril of the troop ship. This was the tremendous advantage
which the enemy held over our armies even before they reached the field.
This was the unprecedented condition which the United States and Allied
navies had to cope with in the great undertaking of transporting our
forces overseas.

Any one who has crossed the ocean, even in the normal times before
shark-like Kultur skulked beneath the water, has experienced the feeling
of human helplessness that comes in mid-ocean when one considers the
comparative frailty of such man-made devices as even the most modern
turbine liners, with the enormous power of the wilderness of water over
which one sails.

In such times one realises that safety rests, first upon the kindliness
of the elements; secondly, upon the skill and watchfulness of those
directing the voyage, and thirdly, upon the dependability of such
human-made things as engines, propellers, steel plates, bolts and
rivets.

But add to the possibilities of a failure or a misalliance of any or all
of the above functions, the greater danger of a diabolical human, yet
inhuman, interference, directed against the seafarer with the purpose
and intention of his destruction. This last represents the greatest odds
against those who go to sea during the years of the great war.

A sinking at sea is a nightmare. I have been through one. I have been on
a ship torpedoed in mid-ocean. I have stood on the slanting decks of a
doomed liner; I have listened to the lowering of the life-boats, heard
the hiss of escaping steam and the roar of ascending rockets as they
tore lurid rents in the black sky and cast their red glare o'er the
roaring sea.

I have spent a night in an open boat on the tossing swells. I have been
through, in reality, the mad dream of drifting and darkness and bailing
and pulling on the oars and straining aching eyes toward an empty,
meaningless horizon in search of help. I shall try to tell you how it
feels.

I had been assigned by _The Chicago Tribune_ to go to London as their
correspondent. Almost the same day I received that assignment, the
"Imperial" Government of Germany had invoked its ruthless submarine
policy, had drawn a blockade zone about the waters of the British Isles
and the coasts of France, and had announced to the world that its
U-boats would sink without warning any ship, of any kind, under any
flag, that tried to sail the waters that Germany declared prohibitory.

In consideration of my personal safety and, possibly, of my future
usefulness, the _Tribune_ was desirous of arranging for me a safe
passage across the Atlantic. Such an opportunity presented itself in the
ordered return of the disgraced and discredited German Ambassador to the
United States, Count von Bernstorff.

Under the rules of International courtesy, a ship had been provided for
the use of von Bernstorff and his diplomatic staff. That ship was to
sail under absolute guarantees of safe conduct from all of the nations
at war with Germany and, of course, it would also have been safe from
attack by German submarines. That ship was the _Frederick VIII_. At
considerable expense the _Tribune_ managed to obtain for me a cabin
passage on that ship.

I can't say that I was over-impressed with the prospect of travel in
such company. I disliked the thought that I, an American citizen, with
rights as such to sail the sea, should have to resort to subterfuge and
scheming to enjoy those rights. There arose in me a feeling of challenge
against Germany's order which forbade American ships to sail the ocean.
I cancelled my sailing on the _Frederick VIII_.

In New York, I sought passage on the first American ship sailing for
England. I made the rounds of the steamship offices and learned that the
Cunard liner _Laconia_ was the first available boat and was about to
sail. She carried a large cargo of munitions and other materials of war.
I booked passage aboard her. It was on Saturday, February 17th, 1917,
that we steamed away from the dock at New York and moved slowly down the
East River. We were bound for Liverpool, England. My cabin accommodations
were good. The _Laconia_ was listed at 18,000 tons and was one of the
largest Cunarders in the Atlantic service. The next morning we were out
of sight of land.

Sailors were stationed along the decks of the ship and in the look-outs
at the mast heads. They maintained a watch over the surface of the sea
in all directions. On the stern of the ship, there was mounted a
six-inch cannon and a crew of gunners stood by it night and day.

Submarines had been recently reported in the waters through which we
were sailing, but we saw none of them and apparently they saw none of
us. They had sunk many ships, but all of the sinkings had been in the
day time. Consequently, there was a feeling of greater safety at night.
The _Laconia_ sailed on a constantly zig-zagging course. All of our
life-boats were swinging out over the side of the ship, so that if we
were hit they could be lowered in a hurry. Every other day the
passengers and the crew would be called up on the decks to stand by the
life-boats that had been assigned to them.

The officers of the ship instructed us in the life-boat drill. They
showed us how to strap the life-preservers about our bodies; they showed
us how to seat ourselves in the life-boats; they showed us a small keg
of water and some tin cans of biscuits, a lantern and some flares that
were stored in the boat, and so we sailed along day after day without
meeting any danger. At night, all of the lights were put out and the
ship slipped along through the darkness.

On Sunday, after we had been sailing for eight days, we entered the zone
that had been prohibited by the Kaiser. We sailed into it full steam
ahead and nothing happened. That day was February the twenty-fifth. In
the afternoon, I was seated in the lounge with two friends. One was an
American whose name was Kirby; the other was a Canadian and his name was
Dugan. The latter was an aviator in the British army. In fights with
German aeroplanes high over the Western Front he had been wounded and
brought down twice and the army had sent him to his home in Canada to
get well. He was returning once more to the battle front "to stop
another bullet," as he said.

As we talked, I passed around my cigarette case and Dugan held a lighted
match while the three of us lighted our cigarettes from it. As Dugan
blew out the match and placed the burnt end in an ash tray, he laughed
and said,

"They say it is bad luck to light three cigarettes with the same match,
but I think it is good luck for me. I used to do it frequently with my
flying partners in France and four of them have been killed, but I am
still alive."

"That makes it all right for you," said Kirby, "but it makes it look bad
for Gibbons and myself. But nothing is going to happen. I don't believe
in superstitions."

That night after dinner Dugan and I took a brisk walk around the
darkened promenade deck of the _Laconia_. The night was very dark, a
stiff wind was blowing and the _Laconia_ was rolling slightly in the
trough of the waves. Wet from spray, we returned within and in one of
the corridors met the Captain of the ship. I told him that I would like
very much to have a look at his chart and learn our exact location on
the ocean.

He looked at me and laughed because that was a very secret matter. But
he replied:

"Oh, you would, would you?" and his voice carried that particular
British intonation that seemed to say, "Well it is jolly well none of
your business."

Then I asked him when he thought we would land in Liverpool.

"I really don't know," said the ship's commander, and then, with a wink,
he added, "but my steward told me that we would get in Tuesday evening."

Kirby and I went to the smoke room on the boat deck well to the stern of
the ship. We joined a circle of Britishers who were seated in front of a
coal fire in an open hearth. Nearly every one in the lighted smoke room
was playing cards, so that the conversation was practically confined to
the mentioning of bids and the orders of drinks from the stewards.

"What do you think are our chances of being torpedoed?" was the question
I put before the circle in front of the fireplace.

The deliberative Mr. Henry Chetham, a London solicitor, was the first to
answer.

"Well," he drawled, "I should say about four thousand to one."

Lucien J. Jerome of the British Diplomatic Service, returning with an
Ecuadorian valet from South America, advanced his opinion.

I was much impressed with his opinion because the speaker himself had
impressed me deeply. He was the best monocle juggler I had ever met. In
his right eye he carried a monocle without a rim and without a ribbon
or thread to save it, should it ever have fallen from his eye.

Repeatedly during the trip, I had seen Mr. Jerome standing on the
hurrideck of the _Laconia_ facing the wind but holding the glass disk in
his eye with a muscular grip that must have been vise-like. I had even
followed him around the deck several times in a desire to be present
when the monocle blew out, but the British diplomatist never for once
lost his grip on it. I had come to the opinion that the piece of glass
was fixed to his eye and that he slept with it. After the fashion of the
British Diplomatic Service, he expressed his opinion most affirmatively.

"Nonsense," he said with reference to Mr. Chetham's estimate. "Utter
nonsense. Considering the zone that we are in and the class of the ship,
I should put the chances down at two hundred and fifty to one that we
don't meet a 'sub.'"

At that minute the torpedo hit us.

Have you ever stood on the deck of a ferry boat as it arrived in the
slip? And have you ever experienced the slight sideward shove when the
boat rubs against the piling and comes to a stop? That was the
unmistakable lurch we felt, but no one expects to run into pilings in
mid-ocean, so every one knew what it was.

At the same time, there came a muffled noise--not extremely loud nor yet
very sharp--just a noise like the slamming of some large oaken door a
good distance away. Realising that we had been torpedoed, my imagination
was rather disappointed at the slightness of the shock and the meekness
of the report. One or two chairs tipped over, a few glasses crashed from
table to floor and in an instant every man in the room was on his feet.

"We're hit," shouted Mr. Chetham.

"That's what we've been waiting for," said Mr. Jerome.

"What a lousy torpedo!" said Mr. Kirby. "It must have been a fizzer."

I looked at my watch; it was 10:30.

Five sharp blasts sounded on the _Laconia's_ whistle. Since that night,
I have often marvelled at the quick coordination of mind and hand that
belonged to the man on the bridge who pulled that whistle rope. Those
five blasts constituted the signal to abandon the ship. Every one
recognised them.

We walked hurriedly down the corridor leading from the smoke room in the
stern to the lounge which was amidships. We moved fast but there was no
crowding and no panic. Passing the open door of the gymnasium, I became
aware of the list of the vessel. The floor of the gymnasium slanted down
on the starboard side and a medicine ball and dozens of dumb bells and
Indian clubs were rolling in that direction.

We entered the lounge--a large drawing room furnished with green
upholstered chairs and divans and small tables on which the after-dinner
liqueur glasses still rested. In one corner was a grand piano with the
top elevated. In the centre of the slanting floor of the saloon was a
cabinet Victrola and from its mahogany bowels there poured the last and
dying strains of "Poor Butterfly."

The women and several men who had been in the lounge were hurriedly
leaving by the forward door as we entered. We followed them through. The
twin winding stairs leading below decks by the forward hatch were dark
and I brought into play a pocket flashlight shaped like a fountain pen.
I had purchased it before sailing in view of such an emergency and I
had always carried it fastened with a clip in an upper vest pocket.

My stateroom was B 19 on the promenade deck, one deck below the deck on
which was located the smoke room, the lounge and the life-boats. The
corridor was dimly lighted and the floor had a more perceptible slant as
I darted into my stateroom, which was on the starboard and sinking side
of the ship. I hurriedly put on a light non-sink garment constructed
like a vest, which I had come provided with, and then donned an
overcoat.

Responding to the list of the ship, the wardrobe door swung open and
crashed against the wall. My typewriter slid off the dressing table and
a shower of toilet articles pitched from their places on the washstand.
I grabbed the ship's life-preserver in my left hand and, with the
flashlight in my right hand, started up the hatchway to the upper deck.

In the darkness of the boat deck hatchway, the rays of my flashlight
revealed the chief steward opening the door of a switch closet in the
panel wall. He pushed on a number of switches and instantly the decks of
the _Laconia_ became bright. From sudden darkness, the exterior of the
ship burst into a blaze of light and it was that illumination that saved
many lives.

The _Laconia's_ engines and dynamos had not yet been damaged. The
torpedo had hit us well astern on the starboard side and the bulkheads
seemed to be holding back from the engine room the flood of water that
rushed in through the gaping hole in the ship's side. I proceeded down
the boat deck to my station opposite boat No. 10. I looked over the side
and down upon the water sixty feet below.

The sudden flashing of the lights on the upper deck made the dark
seething waters seem blacker and angrier. They rose and fell in troubled
swells.

Steam began to hiss from some of the pipes leading up from the engine
well. It seemed like a dying groan from the very vitals of the stricken
ship. Clouds of white and black smoke rolled up from the giant grey
funnels that towered above us.

Suddenly there was a roaring swish as a rocket soared upward from the
Captain's bridge, leaving a comet's tail of fire. I watched it as it
described a graceful arc and then with an audible pop it burst in a
flare of brilliant colour. Its ascent had torn a lurid rent in the black
sky and had cast a red glare over the roaring sea.

Already boat No. 10 was loading up and men and boys were busy with the
ropes. I started to help near a davit that seemed to be giving trouble
but was sternly ordered to get out of the way and to get into the boat.

Other passengers and members of the crew and officers of the ship were
rushing to and fro along the deck strapping their life-preservers to
them as they rushed. There was some shouting of orders but little or no
confusion. One woman, a blonde French actress, became hysterical on the
deck, but two men lifted her bodily off her feet and placed her in the
life-boat.

We were on the port side of the ship, the higher side. To reach the
boats, we had to climb up the slanting deck to the edge of the ship.

On the starboard side, it was different. On that side, the decks slanted
down toward the water. The ship careened in that direction and the
life-boats suspended from the davits swung clear of the ship's side.

The list of the ship increased. On the port side, we looked down the
slanting side of the ship and noticed that her water line on that side
was a number of feet above the waves. The slant was so pronounced that
the life-boats, instead of swinging clear from the davits, rested
against the side of the ship. From my position in the life-boat I could
see that we were going to have difficulty in the descent to the water.

"Lower away," some one gave the order and we started downward with a
jerk toward the seemingly hungry, rising and falling swells. Then we
stopped with another jerk and remained suspended in mid-air while the
men at the bow and the stern swore and tusseled with the ropes.

The stern of the boat was down; the bow up, leaving us at an angle of
about forty-five degrees. We clung to the seats to save ourselves from
falling out.

"Who's got a knife? A knife! A knife!" shouted a fireman in the bow. He
was bare to the waist and perspiration stood out in drops on his face
and chest and made streaks through the coal dust with which his skin was
grimed.

"Great Gawd! Give him a knife," bawled a half-dressed jibbering negro
stoker who wrung his hands in the stern.

A hatchet was thrust into my hands and I forwarded it to the bow. There
was a flash of sparks as it was brought down with a clang on the holding
pulley. One strand of the rope parted.

Down plunged the bow of the boat too quickly for the men in the stern.
We came to a jerky stop, this time with the stern in the air and the bow
down, the dangerous angle reversed.

One man in the stern let the rope race through his blistered fingers.
With hands burnt to the quick, he grabbed the rope and stopped the
precipitous descent just in time to bring the stern level with the bow.

Then bow and stern tried to lower away together. The slant of the ship's
side had increased, so that our boat instead of sliding down it like a
toboggan was held up on one side when the taffrail caught on one of the
condenser exhaust pipes projecting slightly from the ship's side.

Thus the starboard side of the life-boat stuck fast and high while the
port side dropped down and once more we found ourselves clinging on at a
new angle and looking straight down into the water.

A hand slipped into mine and a voice sounded huskily close to my ear. It
was the little old Jewish travelling man who was disliked in the smoke
room because he used to speak too certainly of things about which he was
uncertain. His slightly Teutonic dialect had made him as popular as the
smallpox with the British passengers.

"My poy, I can't see nutting," he said. "My glasses slipped and I am
falling. Hold me, please."

I managed to reach out and join hands with another man on the other side
of the old man and together we held him in. He hung heavily over our
arms, grotesquely grasping all he had saved from his stateroom--a
gold-headed cane and an extra hat.

Many feet and hands pushed the boat from the side of the ship and we
renewed our sagging, scraping, sliding, jerking descent. It ended as the
bottom of the life-boat smacked squarely on the pillowy top of a rising
swell. It felt more solid than mid-air at least.

But we were far from being off. The pulleys twice stuck in their
fastings, bow and stern, and the one axe was passed forward and back
(and with it my flashlight) as the entangling mesh of ropes that held
us to the sinking _Laconia_ was cut away.

Some shout from that confusion of sound caused me to look up. I believe
I really did so in the fear that one of the nearby boats was being
lowered upon us.

Tin funnels enamelled white and containing clusters of electric bulbs
hung over the side from one of the upper decks. I looked up into the
cone of one of these lights and a bulky object shot suddenly out of the
darkness into the scope of the electric rays.

It was a man. His arms were bent up at the elbows; his legs at the
knees. He was jumping, with the intention, I feared, of landing in our
boat, and I prepared to avoid the impact. But he had judged his distance
well.

He plunged beyond us and into the water three feet from the edge of the
boat. He sank from sight, leaving a white patch of bubbles and foam on
the black water. He bobbed to the surface almost immediately.

"It's Dugan," shouted a man next to me.

I flashed a light on the ruddy, smiling face and water plastered hair of
the little Canadian aviator, our fellow saloon passenger. We pulled him
over the side and into the boat. He spluttered out a mouthful of water.

"I wonder if there is anything to that lighting three matches off the
same match," he said. "I was trying to loosen the bow rope in this boat.
I loosened it and then got tangled up in it. When the boat descended, I
was jerked up back on the deck. Then I jumped for it. Holy Moses, but
this water is cold."

As we pulled away from the side of the ship, its receding terraces of
glowing port holes and deck lights towered above us. The ship was slowly
turning over.

We were directly opposite the engine room section of the _Laconia_.
There was a tangle of oars, spars and rigging on the seats in our boat,
and considerable confusion resulted before we could manage to place in
operation some of the big oars on either side.

The jibbering, bullet-headed negro was pulling a sweep directly behind
me and I turned to quiet him as his frantic reaches with the oar were
jabbing me in the back.

In the dull light from the upper decks, I looked into his slanting
face--his eyes all whites and his lips moving convulsively. He shivered
with fright, but in addition to that he was freezing in the thin cotton
shirt that composed his entire upper covering. He worked feverishly at
the oar to warm himself.

"Get away from her. My Gawd, get away from her," he kept repeating.
"When the water hits her hot boilers she'll blow up the whole ocean and
there's just tons and tons of shrapnel in her hold."

His excitement spread to other members of the crew in our boat. The
ship's baker, designated by his pantry headgear of white linen, became a
competing alarmist and a white fireman, whose blasphemy was nothing
short of profound, added to the confusion by cursing every one.

It was the tension of the minute--it was the give way of overwrought
nerves--it was bedlam and nightmare.

I sought to establish some authority in our boat which was about to
break out into full mutiny. I made my way to the stern. There, huddled
up in a great overcoat and almost muffled in a ship's life-preserver, I
came upon an old white-haired man and I remembered him.

He was a sea-captain of the old sailing days. He had been a second cabin
passenger with whom I had talked before. Earlier in the year he had
sailed out of Nova Scotia with a cargo of codfish. His schooner, the
_Secret_, had broken in two in mid-ocean, but he and his crew had been
picked up by a tramp and taken back to New York.

From there he had sailed on another ship bound for Europe, but this
ship, a Holland-American Liner, the _Ryndam_, had never reached the
other side. In mid-Atlantic her captain had lost courage over the U-boat
threats. He had turned the ship about and returned to America. Thus, the
_Laconia_ represented the third unsuccessful attempt of this grey-haired
mariner to get back to his home in England. His name was Captain Dear.

"Our boat's rudder is gone, but we can stear with an oar," he said, in a
weak-quavering voice--the thin high-pitched treble of age. "I will take
charge, if you want me to, but my voice is gone. I can tell you what to
do, but you will have to shout the orders. They won't listen to me."

There was only one way to get the attention of the crew, and that was by
an overpowering blast of profanity. I called to my assistance every
ear-splitting, soul-sizzling oath that I could think of.

I recited the lurid litany of the army mule skinner to his gentle
charges and embellished it with excerpts from the remarks of a Chicago
taxi chauffeur while he changed tires on the road with the temperature
ten below.

It proved to be an effective combination, this brim-stoned oration of
mine, because it was rewarded by silence.

"Is there a ship's officer in this boat?" I shouted. There was no
answer.

"Is there a sailor or a seaman on board?" I inquired, and again there
was silence from our group of passengers, firemen, stokers and deck
swabs.

They appeared to be listening to me and I wished to keep my hold on
them. I racked my mind for some other query to make or some order to
direct. Before the spell was broken I found one.

"We will now find out how many of us there are in this boat," I
announced in the best tones of authority that I could assume. "The first
man in the bow will count one and the next man to him will count two. We
will count from the bow back to the stern, each man taking a number.
Begin."

"One," came the quick response from a passenger who happened to be the
first man in the bow. The enumeration continued sharply toward the
stern. I spoke the last number.

"There are twenty-three of us here," I repeated, "there's not a ship's
officer or seaman among us, but we are extremely fortunate to have with
us an old sea-captain who has consented to take charge of the boat and
save our lives. His voice is weak, but I will repeat the orders for him,
so that all of you can hear. Are you ready to obey his orders?"

There was an almost unanimous acknowledgment of assent and order was
restored.

"The first thing to be done," I announced upon Captain Dear's
instructions, "is to get the same number of oars pulling on each side of
the boat; to seat ourselves so as to keep on an even keel and then to
keep the boat's head up into the wind so that we won't be swamped by the
waves."

With some little difficulty, this rearrangement was accomplished and
then we rested on our oars with all eyes turned on the still lighted
_Laconia_. The torpedo had hit at about 10:30 P. M. according to our
ship's time. Though listing far over on one side, the _Laconia_ was
still afloat.

It must have been twenty minutes after that first shot that we heard
another dull thud, which was accompanied by a noticeable drop in the
hulk. The German submarine had despatched a second torpedo through the
engine room and the boat's vitals from a distance of two hundred yards.

We watched silently during the next minute as the tiers of lights dimmed
slowly from white to yellow, then to red and then nothing was left but
the murky mourning of the night which hung over all like a pall.

A mean, cheese-coloured crescent of a moon revealed one horn above a rag
bundle of clouds low in the distance. A rim of blackness settled around
our little world, relieved only by a few leering stars in the zenith,
and, where the _Laconia's_ lights had shown, there remained only the dim
outlines of a blacker hulk standing out above the water like a jagged
headland, silhouetted against the overcast sky.

The ship sank rapidly at the stern until at last its nose rose out of
the water, and stood straight up in the air. Then it slid silently down
and out of sight like a piece of scenery in a panorama spectacle.

Boat No. 3 stood closest to the place where the ship had gone down. As a
result of the after suction, the small life-boat rocked about in a
perilous sea of clashing spars and wreckage.

As the boat's crew steadied its head into the wind, a black hulk,
glistening wet and standing about eight feet above the surface of the
water, approached slowly. It came to a stop opposite the boat and not
ten feet from the side of it. It was the submarine.

"Vot ship vass dot?" were the first words of throaty guttural English
that came from a figure which projected from the conning tower.

"The _Laconia_," answered the Chief Steward Ballyn, who commanded the
life-boat.

"Vot?"

"The _Laconia_, Cunard Line," responded the steward.

"Vot did she weigh?" was the next question from the submarine.

"Eighteen thousand tons."

"Any passengers?"

"Seventy-three," replied Ballyn, "many of them women and children--some
of them in this boat. She had over two hundred in the crew."

"Did she carry cargo?"

"Yes."

"Iss der Captain in dot boat?"

"No," Ballyn answered.

"Well, I guess you'll be all right. A patrol will pick you up some time
soon." Without further sound save for the almost silent fixing of the
conning tower lid, the submarine moved off.

"I thought it best to make my answers sharp and satisfactory, sir," said
Ballyn, when he repeated the conversation to me word for word. "I was
thinking of the women and children in the boat. I feared every minute
that somebody in our boat might make a hostile move, fire a revolver, or
throw something at the submarine. I feared the consequence of such an
act."

There was no assurance of an early pickup so we made preparations for a
siege with the elements. The weather was a great factor. That black rim
of clouds looked ominous. There was a good promise of rain. February has
a reputation for nasty weather in the north Atlantic. The wind was cold
and seemed to be rising. Our boat bobbed about like a cork on the
swells, which fortunately were not choppy.

How much rougher seas could the boat weather? This question and
conditions were debated pro and con.

Had our rockets been seen? Did the first torpedo put the wireless out of
commission? If it had been able to operate, had anybody heard our S. O.
S.? Was there enough food and drinking water in the boat to last?

This brought us to an inventory of our small craft. After considerable
difficulty, we found the lamp, a can of powder flares, the tin of ship's
biscuit, matches and spare oil.

The lamp was lighted. Other lights were now visible. As we drifted in
the darkness, we could see them every time we mounted the crest of the
swells. The boats carrying these lights remained quite close together at
first.

One boat came within sound and I recognised the Harry Lauder-like voice
of the second assistant purser whom I had last heard on Wednesday at the
ship's concert. Now he was singing--"I Want to Marry 'arry," and "I Love
to be a Sailor."

There were an American woman and her husband in that boat. She told me
later that an attempt had been made to sing "Tipperary," and "Rule
Britannia," but the thought of that slinking dark hull of destruction
that might have been a part of the immediate darkness resulted in the
abandonment of the effort.

"Who's the officer in that boat?" came a cheery hail from the nearby
light.

"What the hell is it to you?" our half frozen negro yelled out for no
reason apparent to me other than possibly the relief of his feelings.

"Will somebody brain that skunk with a pin?" was the inquiry of our
profound oathsman, who also expressed regret that he happened to be
sitting too far away from the negro to reach him. He accompanied the
announcement with a warmth of language that must have relieved the negro
of his chill.

The fear of the boats crashing together produced a general inclination
toward maximum separation on the part of all the little units of
survivors, with the result that soon the small crafts stretched out for
several miles, their occupants all endeavoring to hold the heads of the
boats into the wind.

Hours passed. The swells slopped over the sides of our boat and filled
the bottom with water. We bailed it continually. Most of us were wet to
the knees and shivering from the weakening effects of the icy water. Our
hands were blistered from pulling at the oars. Our boat, bobbing about
like a cork, produced terrific nausea, and our stomachs ached from vain
wrenching.

And then we saw the first light--the first sign of help coming--the
first searching glow of white radiance deep down the sombre sides of the
black pot of night that hung over us. I don't know what direction it
came from--none of us knew north from south--there was nothing but water
and sky. But the light--it just came from over there where we pointed.
We nudged dumb, sick boat mates and directed their gaze and aroused them
to an appreciation of the sight that gave us new life.

It was 'way over there--first a trembling quiver of silver against the
blackness, then drawing closer, it defined itself as a beckoning finger,
although still too far away to see our feeble efforts to attract it.

Nevertheless, we wasted valuable flares and the ship's baker,
self-ordained custodian of the biscuit, did the honours handsomely to
the extent of a biscuit apiece to each of the twenty-three occupants of
the boat.

"Pull starboard, sonnies," sang out old Captain Dear, his grey chin
whiskers bristling with joy in the light of the round lantern which he
held aloft.

We pulled--pulled lustily, forgetting the strain and pain of innards
torn and racked with violent vomiting, and oblivious of blistered palms
and wet, half-frozen feet.

Then a nodding of that finger of light,--a happy, snapping,
crap-shooting finger that seemed to say: "Come on, you men," like a dice
player wooing the bones--led us to believe that our lights had been
seen.

This was the fact, for immediately the oncoming vessel flashed on its
green and red sidelights and we saw it was headed for our position. We
floated off its stern for a while as it manoeuvred for the best
position in which it could take us on with a sea that was running higher
and higher.

The risk of that rescuing ship was great, because there was every reason
to believe that the submarine that had destroyed the _Laconia_ still
lurked in the darkness nearby, but those on board took the risk and
stood by for the work of rescue.

"Come along side port!" was megaphoned to us. As fast as we could, we
swung under the stern and felt our way broadside toward the ship's side.

Out of the darkness above, a dozen small pocket flashlights blinked down
on us and orders began to be shouted fast and thick.

When I look back on the night, I don't know which was the more
hazardous, going down the slanting side of the sinking _Laconia_ or
going up the side of the rescuing vessel.

One minute the swells would lift us almost level with the rail of the
low-built patrol boat and mine sweeper, but the next receding wave would
swirl us down into a darksome gulf over which the ship's side glowered
like a slimy, dripping cliff.

A score of hands reached out and we were suspended in the husky,
tattooed arms of those doughty British Jack Tars, looking up into their
weather-beaten youthful faces, mumbling our thankfulness and reading in
the gold lettering on their pancake hats the legend, "H. M. S.
_Laburnum_." We had been six hours in the open boat.

The others began coming alongside one by one. Wet and bedraggled
survivors were lifted aboard. Women and children first was the rule.

The scenes of reunion were heart-gripping. Men who had remained
strangers to one another aboard the _Laconia_, now wrung each other by
the hand or embraced without shame the frail little wife of a Canadian
chaplain who had found one of her missing children delivered up from
another boat. She smothered the child with ravenous mother kisses while
tears of gladness streamed down her face.

Boat after boat came alongside. The water-logged craft containing the
Captain came last.

A rousing cheer went up as he stepped on the deck, one mangled hand
hanging limp at his side.

The sailors divested themselves of outer clothing and passed the
garments over to the shivering members of the _Laconia's_ crew.

The cramped officers' quarters down under the quarter deck were turned
over to the women and children. Two of the _Laconia's_ stewardesses
passed boiling basins of navy cocoa and aided in the disentangling of
wet and matted tresses.

The men grouped themselves near steam-pipes in the petty officers'
quarters or over the grating of the engine rooms, where new life was to
be had from the upward blasts of heated air that brought with them the
smell of bilge water and oil and sulphur from the bowels of the vessel.

The injured--all minor cases, sprained backs, wrenched legs or mashed
hands--were put away in bunks under the care of the ship's doctor.

Dawn was melting the eastern ocean grey to pink when the task was
finished. In the officers' quarters, which had now been invaded by the
men, the roll of the vessel was most perceptible. Each time the floor of
the room slanted, bottles and cups and plates rolled and slid back and
forth.

On the tables and chairs and benches the women rested. Sea-sick mothers,
trembling from the after-effects of the terrifying experience of the
night, sought to soothe their crying children.

Then somebody happened to touch a key on the small wooden organ that
stood against one wall. This was enough to send some callous seafaring
fingers over the ivory keys in a rhythm unquestionably religious and so
irresistible under the circumstances that, although no one seemed to
know the words, the air was taken up in a reverent, humming chant by all
in the room.

At the last note of the Amen, little Father Warring, his black garb
snaggled in places and badly soiled, stood before the centre table and
lifted back his head until the morning light, filtering through the
opened hatch above him, shown down on his kindly, weary face. He recited
the Lord's prayer and all present joined. The simple, impressive service
of thanksgiving ended as simply as it had begun.

Two minutes later I saw the old Jewish travelling man limping about on
one lame leg with a little boy in his arms. He was collecting big, round
British pennies for the youngster.

A survey and cruise of the nearby waters revealed no more occupied boats
and our mine sweeper, with its load of survivors numbering two hundred
and sixty-seven, steamed away to the east. A half an hour steaming and
the vessel stopped within hailing distance of two sister ships, toward
one of which an open boat manned by jackies was being pulled.

I saw the hysterical French actress, her blonde hair wet and bedraggled,
lifted out of the boat and carried up the companionway. Then a little
boy, his fresh pink face and golden hair shining in the morning sun, was
passed upward, followed by some other survivors, numbering fourteen in
all, who had been found half-drowned and almost dead from exposure in a
partially wrecked boat that was picked up just as it was sinking. It was
in that boat that one American woman and her daughter died. One of the
survivors of the boat told me the story. He said:

"Our boat was No. 8. It was smashed in the lowering. I was in the bow.
Mrs. Hoy and her daughter were sitting toward the stern. The boat filled
with water rapidly.

"It was no use trying to bail it out. There was a big hole in the side
and it came in too fast. The boat's edge sank to the level of the water
and only the air-tanks kept it afloat.

"It was completely awash. Every swell rode clear over our heads and we
had to hold our breath until we came to the surface again. The cold
water just takes the life out of you.

"We saw the other boats showing their lights and drifting further and
further away from us. We had no lights. And then, towards morning, we
saw the rescuing ship come up into the cluster of other life-boats that
had drifted so far away from us. One by one we saw their lights
disappear as they were taken on board.

"We shouted and screamed and shrieked at the tops of our voices, but
could not attract the attention of any of the other boats or the
rescuing ship, and soon we saw its lights blink out. We were left there
in the darkness with the wind howling and the sea rolling higher every
minute.

"The women got weaker and weaker. Maybe they had been dead for some
time. I don't know, but a wave came and washed both Mrs. Hoy and her
daughter out of the boat. There were life-belts around their bodies and
they drifted away with their arms locked about one another."

With such stories ringing in our ears, with exchanges of experiences
pathetic and humorous, we steamed into Queenstown harbour shortly after
ten o'clock that night. We had been attacked at a point two hundred
miles off the Irish coast and of our passengers and crew, thirteen had
been lost.

As I stepped ashore, a Britisher, a fellow-passenger aboard the
_Laconia_, who knew me as an American, stepped up to me. During the
voyage we had had many conversations concerning the possibility of
America entering the war. Now he slapped me on the back with this
question,

"Well, old Casus Belli," he said, "is this your blooming overt act?"

I did not answer him, but thirty minutes afterward I was pounding out on
a typewriter the introduction to a four thousand word newspaper article
which I cabled that night and which put the question up to the American
public for an answer.

Five weeks later the United States entered the war.



CHAPTER II

PERSHING'S ARRIVAL IN EUROPE


Lean, clean, keen--that's the way they looked--that first trim little
band of American fighting men who made their historic landing on the
shores of England, June 8th, 1917.

I went down from London to meet them at the port of arrival. In my
despatches of that date, I, nor none of the other correspondents, was
permitted to mention the name of the port. This was supposed to be the
secret that was to be religiously kept and the British censor was on the
job religiously.

The name of the port was excluded from all American despatches but the
British censor saw no reason to withhold transmission of the following
sentence--"Pershing landed to-day at an English port and was given a
hearty welcome by the Mayor of Liverpool."

So I am presuming at this late date of writing that it would serve no
further purpose to refrain from announcing flatly that General John J.
Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces
overseas, and his staff, landed on the date above mentioned, at
Liverpool, England.

The sun was shining brightly on the Mersey when the giant ocean liner,
the _Baltic_, came slowly up the harbour in the tow of numerous puffing
tugs. The great grey vessel that had safely completed the crossing of
the submarine zone, was warped to the dock-side.

On the quay there were a full brass band and an honourary escort of
British soldiers. While the moorings were being fastened, General
Pershing, with his staff, appeared on the promenade deck on the shore
side of the vessel.

His appearance was the signal for a crash of cymbals and drums as the
band blared out the "Star Spangled Banner." The American commander and
the officers ranged in line on either side of him, stood stiffly at
attention, with right hands raised in salute to the visors of their
caps.

On the shore the lines of British soldiery brought their arms to the
present with a snap. Civilian witnesses of the ceremony bared their
heads. The first anthem was followed by the playing of "God Save the
King." All present remained at the salute.

As the gangplank was lashed in place, a delegation of British military
and civilian officials boarded the ship and were presented to the
General. Below, on the dock, every newspaper correspondent and
photographer in the British Isles, I think, stood waiting in a group
that far outnumbered the other spectators.

There was reason for this seeming lack of proportion. The fact was that
but very few people in all of England, as well as in all of the United
States, had known that General Pershing was to land that day.

Few had known that he was on the water. The British Admiralty, then in
complete control of the ocean lines between America and the British
Isles, had guarded well the secret. England lost Kitchener on the sea
and now with the sea peril increased a hundredfold, England took pains
to guard well the passage of this standard-bearer of the American
millions that were to come.

Pershing and his staff stepped ashore. Lean, clean, keen--those are the
words that described their appearance. That was the way they impressed
their critical brothers in arms, the all-observing military dignities
that presented Britain's hearty, unreserved welcome at the water's edge.
That was the way they appeared to the proud American citizens, residents
of those islands, who gathered to meet them.

The British soldiers admired the height and shoulders of our first
military samples. The British soldier approves of a greyhound trimness
in the belt zone. He likes to look on carriage and poise. He appreciates
a steady eye and stiff jaw. He is attracted by a voice that rings sharp
and firm. The British soldier calls such a combination, "a real
soldier."

He saw one, and more than one, that morning shortly after nine o'clock
when Pershing and his staff committed the date to history by setting
foot on British soil. Behind the American commander walked a staff of
American officers whose soldierly bearing and general appearance brought
forth sincere expressions of commendation from the assemblage on the
quay.

At attention on the dock, facing the sea-stained flanks of the liner
_Baltic_, a company of Royal Welsh Fusiliers Stood like a frieze of clay
models in stainless khaki, polished brass and shining leather.

General Pershing inspected the guard of honour with keen interest.
Walking beside the American commander was the considerably stouter and
somewhat shorter Lieutenant General Sir William Pitcairn Campbell,
K.C.B., Chief of the Western Command of the British Home Forces.

Pershing's inspection of that guard was not the cursory one that these
honourary affairs usually are. Not a detail of uniform or equipment on
any of the men in the guard was overlooked. The American commander's
attention was as keen to boots, rifles and belts, as though he had been
a captain preparing the small command for a strenuous inspection at the
hands of some exacting superior.

As he walked down the stiff, standing line, his keen blue eyes taking in
each one of the men from head to foot, he stopped suddenly in front of
one man in the ranks. That man was File Three in the second set of
fours. He was a pale-faced Tommy and on one of his sleeves there was
displayed two slender gold bars, placed on the forearm.

The decoration was no larger than two matches in a row and on that day
it had been in use hardly more than a year, yet neither its minuteness
nor its meaning escaped the eyes of the American commander.

Pershing turned sharply and faced File Three.

"Where did you get your two wounds?" he asked.

"At Givenchy and Lavenze, sir," replied File Three, his face pointed
stiffly ahead. File Three, even now under twenty-one years of age, had
received his wounds in the early fighting that is called the battle of
Loos.

"You are a man," was the sincere, all-meaning rejoinder of the American
commander, who accompanied his remark with a straightforward look into
the eyes of File Three.

Completing the inspection without further incident, General Pershing and
his staff faced the honour guard and stood at the salute, while once
more the thunderous military band played the national anthems of America
and Great Britain.

The ceremony was followed by a reception in the cabin of the _Baltic_,
where General Pershing received the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, the Lady
Mayoress, and a delegation of civil authorities. The reception ended
when General Pershing spoke a few simple words to the assembled
representatives of the British and American Press.

"More of us are coming," was the keynote of his modest remarks.
Afterward he was escorted to the quay-side station, where a special
train of the type labelled Semi-Royal was ready to make the express run
to London.

The reception at the dock had had none of the features of a
demonstration by reason of the necessity for the ship's arrival being
secret, but as soon as the _Baltic_ had landed, the word of the American
commander's arrival spread through Liverpool like wildfire.

The railroad from the station lay through an industrial section of the
city. Through the railroad warehouses the news had preceded the train.
Warehouse-men, porters and draymen crowded the tops of the cotton bales
and oil barrels on both sides of the track as the train passed through.

Beyond the sheds, the news had spread through the many floors of the
flour mills and when the Pershing train passed, handkerchiefs and caps
fluttered from every crowded door and window in the whitened walls. Most
of the waving was done by a new kind of flour-girl, one who did not wave
an apron because none of them were dressed that way.

From his car window, General Pershing returned the greetings of the
trousered girls and women who were making England's bread while their
husbands, fathers, brothers, sweethearts and sons were making German
cemeteries.

In London, General Pershing and his staff occupied suites at the Savoy
Hotel, and during the four or five days of the American commander's
sojourn in the capital of the British Empire, a seemingly endless line
of visitors of all the Allied nationalities called to present their
compliments.

The enlisted men of the General's staff occupied quarters in the old
stone barracks of the Tower of London, where they were the guests of the
men of that artillery organisation which prefixes an "Honourable" to its
name and has been assigned for centuries to garrison duty in the Tower
of London.

Our soldiers manifested naïve interest in some of England's most revered
traditions and particularly in connection with historical events related
to the Tower of London. On the second day of their occupation of this
old fortress, one of the warders, a "Beef-eater" in full mediæval
regalia, was escorting a party of the Yanks through the dungeons.

He stopped in one dungeon and lined the party up in front of a stone
block in the centre of the floor. After a silence of a full minute to
produce a proper degree of impressiveness for the occasion, the warder
announced, in a respectful whisper:

"This is where Anne Boleyn was executed."

The lined-up Yanks took a long look at the stone block. A silence
followed during the inspection. And then one regular, desiring further
information, but not wishing to be led into any traps of British wit,
said:

"All right, I'll bite; what did Annie do?"

Current with the arrival of our men and their reception by the honour
guard of the Welsh Fusiliers there was a widespread revival of an old
story which the Americans liked to tell in the barrack rooms at night.

When the Welsh Fusiliers received our men at the dock of Liverpool, they
had with them their historical mascot, a large white goat with horns
encased in inscribed silver. The animal wore suspended from its neck a
large silver plate, on which was inscribed a partial history of the
Welsh Fusiliers.

Some of these Fusiliers told our men the story.

"It was our regiment--the Welsh Fusiliers," one of them said, "that
fought you Yanks at Bunker Hill. And it was at Bunker Hill that our
regiment captured the great-great-granddaddy of this same white goat,
and his descendants are ever destined to be the mascot of our regiment.
You see, we have still got your goat."

"But you will notice," replied one of the Yanks, "we've got the hill."

During the four days in London, General Pershing was received by King
George and Queen Mary at Buckingham Palace. The American commander
engaged in several long conferences at the British War Office, and then
with an exclusion of entertainment that was painful to the Europeans, he
made arrangements to leave for his new post in France.

A specially written permission from General Pershing made it possible
for me to accompany him on that historic crossing between England and
France. Secret orders for the departure were given on the afternoon and
evening of June 12th. Before four o'clock of the next morning, June
13th, I breakfasted in the otherwise deserted dining-room of the Savoy
with the General and his staff.

Only a few sleepy-eyed attendants were in the halls and lower rooms of
the Savoy. In closed automobiles we were whisked away to Charing Cross
Station. We boarded a special train whose destination was unknown. The
entire party was again in the hands of the Intelligence Section of the
British Admiralty, and every possible means was taken to suppress all
definite information concerning the departure.

The special train containing General Pershing and his staff reached
Folkstone at about seven o'clock in the morning. We left the train at
the dockside and boarded the swift Channel steamer moored there. A small
vociferous contingent of English Tommies returning to the front from
leave in "Blighty" were crowded on all decks in the stern.

With life-boats swinging out over the side and every one wearing
life-preservers, we steamed out of Folkstone harbour to challenge the
submarine dangers of the Channel.

The American commander occupied a forward cabin suite on the upper deck.
His aides and secretaries had already transformed it into a
business-like apartment. In the General's mind there was no place or
time for any consideration of the dangers of the Channel crossing.
Although the very waters through which we dashed were known to be
infested with submarines which would have looked upon him as capital
prey, I don't believe the General ever gave them as much as a thought.

Every time I looked through the open door of his cabin, he was busy
dictating letters to his secretaries or orders or instructions to his
aides or conferring with his Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Harbord.
To the American commander, the hours necessary for the dash across the
Channel simply represented a little more time which he could devote to
the plans for the great work ahead of him.

Our ship was guarded on all sides and above. Swift torpedo destroyers
dashed to and fro under our bow and stern and circled us continually. In
the air above hydro-airplanes and dirigible balloons hovered over the
waters surrounding us, keeping sharp watch for the first appearance of
the dark sub-sea hulks of destruction.

[Illustration: THE ARRIVAL IN LONDON, SHOWING GENERAL PERSHING, MR.
PAGE, FIELD MARSHAL VISCOUNT FRENCH, LORD DERBY, AND ADMIRAL SIMS]

[Illustration: GENERAL PERSHING BOWING TO THE CROWD IN PARIS]

We did not learn until the next day that while we were making that
Channel crossing, the German air forces had crossed the Channel in a
daring daylight raid and were at that very hour dropping bombs on London
around the very hotel which General Pershing had just vacated. Some day,
after the war, I hope to ascertain whether the commander of that flight
of bombing Gothas started on his expedition over London with a special
purpose in view and whether that purpose concerned the supposed presence
there of the commander-in-chief of the American millions that were later
to change the entire complexion of the war against Germany.

It was a beautiful sunlight day. It was not long before the coast line
of France began to push itself up through the distant Channel mists and
make itself visible on the horizon. I stood in the bow of the ship
looking toward the coast line and silent with thoughts concerning the
momentousness of the approaching historical event.

It happened that I looked back amidships and saw a solitary figure
standing on the bridge of the vessel. It was General Pershing. He seemed
rapt in deep thought. He wore his cap straight on his head, the visor
shading his eyes. He stood tall and erect, his hands behind him, his
feet planted slightly apart to accommodate the gentle roll of the ship.

He faced due east and his eyes were directed toward the shores of that
foreign land which we were approaching. It seemed to me as I watched him
that his mind must have been travelling back more than a century to that
day in history when another soldier had stood on the bridge of another
vessel, crossing those same waters, but in an almost opposite direction.

It seemed to me that he must have been thinking of that historical
character who made just such a journey more than a hundred years
before,--a great soldier who left his homeland to sail to other foreign
shores halfway around the world and there to lend his sword in the fight
for the sacred principles of Democracy. It seemed to me that day that
Pershing thought of Lafayette.

As we drew close to the shore, I noticed an enormous concrete breakwater
extending out from the harbour entrance. It was surmounted by a wooden
railing and on the very end of it, straddling the rail, was a small
French boy. His legs were bare and his feet were encased in heavy wooden
shoes. On his head he wore a red stocking cap of the liberty type. As we
came within hailing distance, he gave to us the first greeting that came
from the shores of France to these first arriving American soldiers.

"_Vive l'Amérique!_" he shouted, cupping his hands to his mouth and
sending his shrill voice across the water to us. Pershing on the bridge
heard the salutation. He smiled, touched his hand to his hat and waved
to the lad on the railing.

We landed that day at Boulogne, June 13th, 1917. Military bands massed
on the quay, blared out the American National Anthem as the ship was
warped alongside the dock. Other ships in the busy harbour began blowing
whistles and ringing bells, loaded troop and hospital ships lying nearby
burst forth into cheering. The news spread like contagion along the
harbour front.

As the gangplank was lowered, French military dignitaries in dress
uniforms resplendent with gold braid, buttons and medals, advanced to
that part of the deck amidships where the General stood. They saluted
respectfully and pronounced elaborate addresses in their native tongue.
They were followed by numerous French Government officials in civilian
dress attire. The city, the department and the nation were represented
in the populous delegations who presented their compliments, and
conveyed to the American commander the of the entire people of France.

Under the train sheds on the dock, long stiff, standing ranks of French
poilus wearing helmets and their light blue overcoats pinned back at the
knees, presented arms as the General walked down the lines inspecting
them. At one end of the line, rank upon rank of French marines, and
sailors with their flat hats with red tassels, stood at attention
awaiting inspection.

The docks and train sheds were decorated with French and American flags
and yards and yards of the mutually-owned red, white and blue. Thousands
of spectators began to gather in the streets near the station, and their
continuous cheers sufficed to rapidly augment their own numbers.

Accompanied by a veteran French colonel, one of whose uniform sleeves
was empty, General Pershing, as a guest of the city of Boulogne, took a
motor ride through the streets of this busy port city. He was quickly
returned to the station, where he and his staff boarded a special train
for Paris. I went with them.

That train to Paris was, of necessity, slow. It proceeded slowly under
orders and with a purpose. No one in France, with the exception of a
select official circle, had been aware that General Pershing was
arriving that day until about thirty minutes before his ship was warped
into the dock at Boulogne. It has always been a mystery to me how the
French managed to decorate the station at Boulogne upon such short
notice.

Thus it was that the train crawled slowly toward Paris for the purpose
of giving the French capital time to throw off the coat of war
weariness that it had worn for three and a half years and don gala
attire for this occasion. Paris made full use of every minute of that
time, as we found when the train arrived at the French capital late in
the afternoon. The evening papers in Paris had carried the news of the
American commander's landing on the shores of France, and Paris was
ready to receive him as Paris had never before received a world's
notable.

The sooty girders of the Gare du Nord shook with cheers when the special
train pulled in. The aisles of the great terminal were carpeted with red
plush. A battalion of bearded poilus of the Two Hundred and
Thirty-seventh Colonial Regiment was lined up on the platform like a
wall of silent grey, bristling with bayonets and shiny trench helmets.

General Pershing stepped from his private car. Flashlights boomed and
batteries of camera men manoeuvred into positions for the lens
barrage. The band of the Garde Républicaine blared forth the strains of
the "Star Spangled Banner," bringing all the military to a halt and a
long standing salute. It was followed by the "Marseillaise."

At the conclusion of the train-side greetings and introductions, Marshal
Joffre and General Pershing walked down the platform together. The tops
of the cars of every train in the station were crowded with workmen. As
the tall, slender American commander stepped into view, the privileged
observers on the car-tops began to cheer.

A minute later, there was a terrific roar from beyond the walls of the
station. The crowds outside had heard the cheering within. They took it
up with thousands of throats. They made their welcome a ringing one.
Paris took Pershing by storm.

The General was ushered into the specially decorated reception chamber,
which was hung and carpeted with brilliant red velvet and draped with
the Allied flags. After a brief formal exchange of greetings in this
large chamber, he and his staff were escorted to the line of waiting
automobiles at the side of the station in the Rue de Roubaix.

Pershing's appearance in the open was the cue for wild, unstinted
applause and cheering from the crowds which packed the streets and
jammed the windows of the tall buildings opposite.

General Pershing and M. Painlevé, Minister of War, took seats in a large
automobile. They were preceded by a motor containing United States
Ambassador Sharp and former Premier Viviani. The procession started to
the accompaniment of martial music by massed military bands in the
courtyard of the station. It passed through the Rue de Compiègne, the
Rue de Lafayette, the Place de l'Opéra, the Boulevard des Capucines, the
Place de la Madeleine, the Rue Royale, to the Place de la Concorde.

There were some fifty automobiles in the line, the rear of which was
brought up by an enormous motor-bus load of the first American soldiers
from the ranks to pass through the streets of Paris.

The crowds overflowed the sidewalks. They extended from the building
walls out beyond the curbs and into the streets, leaving but a narrow
lane through which the motors pressed their way slowly and with the
exercise of much care. From the crowded balconies and windows
overlooking the route, women and children tossed down showers of flowers
and bits of coloured paper.

The crowds were so dense that other street traffic became marooned in
the dense sea of joyously excited and gesticulating French people.
Vehicles thus marooned immediately became islands of vantage. They were
soon covered with men and women and children, who climbed on top of them
and clung to the sides to get a better look at the khaki-clad occupants
of the autos.

Old grey-haired fathers of French fighting men bared their heads and
with tears streaming down their cheeks shouted greetings to the tall,
thin, grey-moustached American commander who was leading new armies to
the support of their sons. Women heaped armfuls of roses into the
General's car and into the cars of other American officers that followed
him. Paris street gamins climbed the lamp-posts and waved their caps and
wooden shoes and shouted shrilly.

American flags and red, white and blue bunting waved wherever the eye
rested. English-speaking Frenchmen proudly explained to the uninformed
that "Pershing" was pronounced "Peur-chigne" and not "Pair-shang."

Paris was not backward in displaying its knowledge of English. Gay
Parisiennes were eager to make use of all the English at their command,
that they might welcome the new arrivals in their native tongue.

Some of these women shouted "Hello," "Heep, heep, hourrah," "Good
morning," "How are you, keed?" and "Cock-tails for two." Some of the
expressions were not so inappropriate as they sounded.

Occasionally there came from the crowds a good old genuine American
whoop-em-up yell. This happened when the procession passed groups of
American ambulance workers and other sons of Uncle Sam, wearing the
uniforms of the French, Canadian and English Corps.

They joined with Australians and South African soldiers on leave to
cheer on the new-coming Americans with such spontaneous expressions as
"Come on, you Yanks," "Now let's get 'em," and "Eat 'em up, Uncle Sam."

The frequent stopping of the procession by the crowds made it happen
quite frequently that the automobiles were completely surrounded by
enthusiasts, who reached up and tried to shake hands with the occupants.
Pretty girls kissed their hands and blew the invisible confection toward
the men in khaki.

The bus-load of enlisted men bringing up the rear received dozens of
bouquets from the girls. The flowers were hurled at them from all
directions. Every two hundred feet the French would organise a rousing
shout, "_Vive l'Amérique!_" for them.

Being the passive recipients of this unusual adulation produced only
embarrassment on the part of the regulars who simply had to sit there,
smiling and taking it. Just to break the one-sided nature of the
demonstrations, one of the enlisted men stood up in his seat and,
addressing himself to his mates, shouted:

"Come on, fellows, let's give 'em a 'veever' ourselves. Now all
together."

The bus-load rose to its feet like one man and shouted "Veever for
France." Their "France" rhymed with "pants," so that none of the French
understood it, but they did understand the sentiment behind the husky
American lungs.

Through such scenes as these, the procession reached the great Place de
la Concorde. In this wide, paved, open space an enormous crowd had
assembled. As the autos appeared the cheering, the flower throwing, the
tumultuous kiss-blowing began. It increased in intensity as the motors
stopped in front of the Hôtel Crillon into which General Pershing
disappeared, followed by his staff.

Immediately the cheering changed to a tremendous clamorous demand for
the General's appearance on the balcony in front of his apartments.

"_Au balcon, au balcon_," were the cries that filled the Place. The
crowd would not be denied.

General Pershing stepped forth on the balcony. He stood behind the low
marble railing, and between two enormous white-stoned columns. A cluster
of the Allied flags was affixed to each column. The American commander
surveyed the scene in front of him.

There are no trees or shrubbery in the vast Place de la Concorde. Its
broad paved surface is interrupted only by artistically placed groups of
statuary and fountains.

To the General's right, as he faced the Place, were the trees and
greenery of the broad Champs Elysées. On his left were the fountains and
the gardens of the Tuilleries. At the further end of the Place, five
hundred feet straight in front of him, were the banks and the ornamental
bridges of the Seine, beyond which could be seen the columned façade of
the Chambre des Deputies, and above and beyond that, against the blue
sky of a late June afternoon, rose the majestic golden dome of the
Invalides, over the tomb of Napoleon.

General Pershing looked down upon the sea of faces turned up toward him,
and then it seemed that nature desired to play a part in the ceremony of
that great day. A soft breeze from the Champs Elysées touched the
cluster of flags on the General's right and from all the Allied emblems
fastened there it selected one flag.

The breeze tenderly caught the folds of this flag and wafted them across
the balcony on which the General bowed. He saw and recognised that flag.
He extended his hand, caught the flag in his fingers and pressed it to
his lips. All France and all America represented in that vast throng
that day cheered to the mighty echo when Pershing kissed the tri-colour
of France.

It was a tremendous, unforgettable incident. It was exceeded by no other
incident during those days of receptions and ceremonies, except one.
That was an incident which occurred not in the presence of thousands,
but in a lonely old burial ground on the outskirts of Paris. This
happened several days after the demonstration in the Place de la
Concorde.

On that day of bright sunshine, General Pershing and a small party of
officers, French and American, walked through the gravel paths of Picpus
Cemetery in the suburbs of Paris, where the bodies of hundreds of those
who made the history of France are buried.

Several French women in deep mourning courtesied as General Pershing
passed. His party stopped in front of two marble slabs that lay side by
side at the foot of a granite monument. From the General's party a
Frenchman stepped forward and, removing his high silk hat, he addressed
the small group in quiet, simple tones and well-chosen English words. He
was the Marquis de Chambrun. He said:

  "On this spot one can say that the historic ties between our nations
  are not the result of the able schemes of skilful diplomacy. No, the
  principles of liberty, justice and independence are the glorious
  links between our nations.

  "These principles have enlisted the hearts of our democracies. They
  have made the strength of their union and have brought about the
  triumph of their efforts.

  "To-day, when, after nearly a century and a half, America and France
  are engaged in a conflict for the same cause upon which their early
  friendship was based, we are filled with hope and confidence.

  "We know that our great nations are together with our Allies
  invincible, and we rejoice to think that the United States and
  France are reunited in the fight for liberty, and will reconsecrate,
  in a new victory, their everlasting friendship of which your
  presence to-day at this grave is an exquisite and touching token."

General Pershing advanced to the tomb and placed upon the marble slab an
enormous wreath of pink and white roses. Then he stepped back. He
removed his cap and held it in both hands in front of him. The bright
sunlight shone down on his silvery grey hair. Looking down at the grave,
he spoke in a quiet, impressive tone four simple, all-meaning words:

  "Lafayette, we are here."



CHAPTER III

THE LANDING OF THE FIRST AMERICAN CONTINGENT IN FRANCE


The first executive work of the American Expeditionary Forces overseas
was performed in a second floor suite of the Crillon Hotel on the Place
de la Concorde in Paris. This suite was the first temporary headquarters
of the American commander.

The tall windows of the rooms looked down on the historic Place which
was the scene of so many momentous events in French history. The windows
were hardly a hundred yards from the very spot where the guillotine
dripped red in the days of the Terror. It was here that the heads of
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette dropped into the basket.

During General Pershing's comparatively brief occupancy of these
headquarters, the reception rooms were constantly banked with fresh-cut
flowers, the daily gifts of the French people,--flowers that were
replenished every twenty-four hours. The room was called the "Salon des
Batailles."

In one corner of the room, near a window overlooking the Place, was
General Pershing's table. It was adorned with a statuette of General
Joffre and a cluster of miniatures of captured German standards.
Extending from the floor to the ceiling on one of the walls were two
enormous oil copies of "La Bataille de Fontenoy" and the "Passage du
Rhin." A large flag-draped photograph of President Wilson occupied a
place of honour on an easel at one end of the room.

During the first week that General Pershing stopped at the hotel, the
sidewalk and street beneath his windows were constantly crowded with
people. The crowds waited there all day long, just in the hope of
catching a glimpse of the American commander if he should happen to be
leaving or returning to his quarters. It seemed as if every Parisienne
and Parisian had taken upon herself and himself the special duty of
personally observing General Pershing, of waving him an enthusiastic
"vive" and possibly being within the scope of his returning salute.

But the American commander would not permit demonstrations and
celebrations to interfere with the important duties that he faced. Two
days are all that were devoted to these social ceremonies which the
enthusiastic and hospitable French would have made almost endless.
Dinners, receptions and parades were ruthlessly erased from the working
day calendar. The American commander sounded the order "To work" with
the same martial precision as though the command had been a sudden call
"To arms."

On the morning of the third day after General Pershing's arrival in
Paris, the typewriters began clicking incessantly and the telephones
began ringing busily in the large building which was occupied on that
day as the headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces in France.

This building was Numbers 27 and 31 Rue de Constantine. It faced the
trees and shrubbery bordering the approach to the Seine front of the
Invalides. The building was two stories high with grey-white walls and a
mansard roof. At that time it could be immediately identified as the one
in front of which stood a line of American motor cars, as the one where
trim United States regulars walked sentry post past the huge doors
through which frequent orderlies dashed with messages.

Ten days before, the building had been the residence of a Marquis and
had contained furniture and art valued at millions of francs. All of
those home-like characteristics had been removed so effectively that
even the name of the kindly Marquis had been forgotten. I am sure that
he, himself, at the end of that ten-day period could not have recognised
his converted salons where the elaborate ornamentation had been changed
to the severe simplicity typical of a United States Army barracks.

General Pershing's office was located on the second floor of the house
and in one corner. In those early days it was carpetless and contained
almost a monkish minimum of furniture. There were the General's chair,
and his desk on which there stood a peculiar metal standard for one of
those one-piece telephone sets with which Americans are familiar only in
French stage settings. A book-case with glass doors, a stenographer's
table and chair, and two red plush upholstered chairs, for visitors,
comprised the furniture inventory of the room.

One of the inner walls of the room was adorned with a large mirror with
a gilt frame, and in the other wall was a plain fireplace. There were
tall windows in the two outer walls which looked out on the Rue de
Constantine and the Rue de Grenelle. Opposite the Rue de Grenelle
windows there was a small, deeply shaded park where children rolled
hoops during the heat of the day and where convalescent French soldiers
sat and watched the children at play or perhaps discussed the war and
other things with the nurse-maids.

This was the first workshop in France of the American
commander-in-chief. Adjoining rooms to the left and right were occupied
by the General's staff and his aides. And it was in these rooms that
the overseas plans for the landing of the first American armed
contingent in France were formulated.

It is safe now to mention that St. Nazaire on the west coast of France
was the port at which our first armed forces disembarked. I was in Paris
when the information of their coming was whispered to a few chosen
correspondents who were to be privileged to witness this historical
landing.

This was the first time in the history of our nation that a large force
of armed Americans was to cross the seas to Europe. For five and a half
months prior to the date of their landing, the ruthless submarine policy
of the Imperial German Government had been in effect, and our troop
ships with those initial thousands of American soldiers represented the
first large Armada to dare the ocean crossing since Germany had
instituted her sub-sea blockade zone in February of that same year.

Thus it was that any conversation concerning the fact that our men were
on the seas and at the mercy of the U-boats was conducted with the
greatest of care behind closed doors. In spite of the efforts of the
French agents of contra espionage, Paris and all France, for that
matter, housed numerous spies. There were some anxious moments while
that first contingent was on the water.

Our little group of correspondents was informed that we should be
conducted by American officers to the port of landing, but the name of
that port was withheld from us. By appointment we met at a Paris
railroad station where we were provided with railroad tickets. We took
our places in compartments and rode for some ten or twelve hours,
arriving early the next morning at St. Nazaire.

This little village on the coast of Brittany was tucked away there in
the golden sands of the seashore. Its houses had walls of white stucco
and gabled roofs of red tile. In the small rolling hills behind it were
green orchards and fields of yellow wheat. The villagers, old women in
their starched white head-dresses and old men wearing faded blue smocks
and wooden shoes, were unmindful of the great event for which history
had destined their village.

On the night before the landing the townspeople had retired with no
knowledge of what was to happen on the following day. In the morning
they awoke to find strange ships that had come in the night, riding
safely at anchor in the harbour. The wooden shutters began to pop open
with bangs as excited heads, encased in peaked flannel nightcaps,
protruded themselves from bedroom windows and directed anxious queries
to those who happened to be abroad at that early hour.

St. Nazaire came to life more quickly that morning than ever before in
its history. The Mayor of the town was one of the busiest figures on the
street. In high hat and full dress attire, he hurried about trying to
assemble the village orchestra of octogenarian fiddlers and flute
players to play a welcome for the new arrivals. The townspeople
neglected their _café au lait_ to rush down to the quay to look at the
new ships.

The waters of the harbour sparkled in the early morning sunlight. The
dawn had been grey and misty, but now nature seemed to smile. The
strange ships from the other side of the world were grey in hulk but now
there were signs of life and colour aboard each one of them.

Beyond the troop ships lay the first United States warships, units of
that remarkable fighting organisation which in the year that was to
immediately follow that very day were to escort safely across three
thousand miles of submarine-infested water more than a million and a
half American soldiers.

The appearance of these first warships of ours was novel to the French
townspeople. Our ships had peculiar looking masts, masts which the
townspeople compared to the baskets which the French peasants carry on
their backs when they harvest the lettuce. Out further from the shore
were our low-lying torpedo destroyers, pointed toward the menace of the
outer deep.

Busy puffing tugs were warping the first troop ship toward the
quay-side. Some twenty or thirty American sailors and soldiers, who had
been previously landed by launch to assist in the disembarkation, were
handling the lines on the dock.

When but twenty feet from the quay-side, the successive decks of the
first troop ship took on the appearance of mud-coloured layers from the
khaki uniforms of the stiff standing ranks of our men. A military band
on the forward deck was playing the national anthems of France and
America and every hand was being held at the salute.

As the final bars of the "Star Spangled Banner" crashed out and every
saluting hand came snappily down, one American soldier on an upper deck
leaned over the rail and shouted to a comrade on the shore his part of
the first exchange of greetings between our fighting men upon this
historic occasion. Holding one hand to his lips, he seriously enquired:

"Say, do they let the enlisted men in the saloons here?"

[Illustration: THE FIRST AMERICAN FOOT ON FRENCH SOIL]

[Illustration: THE FIRST GLIMPSE OF FRANCE]

Another soldier standing near the stern rail had a different and more
serious interrogation to make. He appeared rather blasé about it as he
leaned over the rail and, directing his voice toward a soldier on the
dock, casually demanded:

"Say, where the Hell is all this trouble, anyhow?"

These two opening sorties produced a flood of others. The most common
enquiry was: "What's the name of this place?" and "Is this France or
England?" When answers were made to these questions, the recipients of
the information, particularly if they happened to be "old-timers in the
army," would respond by remarking, "Well, it's a damn sight better than
the Mexican border."

As our men came over the ship's side and down the runways, there was no
great reception committee awaiting them. Among the most interested
spectators of the event were a group of stolid German prisoners of war
and the two French soldiers guarding them. The two Frenchmen talked
volubly with a wealth of gesticulation, while the Germans maintained
their characteristic glumness.

The German prisoners appeared to be anything but discouraged at the
sight. Some of them even wore a smile that approached the supercilious.
With some of them that smile seemed to say: "You can't fool us. We know
these troops are not Americans. They are either Canadians or Australians
coming from England. Our German U-boats won't let Americans cross the
ocean."

Some of those German prisoners happened to have been in America before
the war. They spoke English and recognised the uniforms of our men.
Their silent smiles seemed to say: "Well, they don't look so good at
that. We have seen better soldiers. And, besides, there is only a
handful of them. Not enough can come to make any difference. Anyhow, it
is too late now. The war will be over before any appreciable number can
get here."

But the stream of khaki continued to pour out of the ship's side.
Company after company of our men, loaded down with packs and full field
equipment, lined up on the dock and marched past the group of German
prisoners.

"We're passing in review for you, Fritzie," one irrepressible from our
ranks shouted, as the marching line passed within touching distance of
the prisoner group. The Germans responded only with quizzical little
smiles and silence.

Escorted by our own military bands, the regiments marched through the
main street of the village. The bands played "Dixie"--a new air to
France. The regiments as a whole did not present the snappy, marching
appearance that they might have presented. There was a good reason for
this. Sixty per cent. of them were recruits. It had been wisely decided
to replace many of the old regular army men in the ranks with newly
enlisted men, so that these old veterans could remain in America and
train the new drafts.

However, that which impressed the French people was the individual
appearance of these samples of American manhood. Our men were tall and
broad and brawny. They were young and vigorous. Their eyes were keen and
snappy. Their complexions ranged in shade from the swarthy sun-tanned
cheeks of border veterans to the clear pink skins of city youngsters.
But most noticeable of all to the French people were the even white rows
of teeth which our men displayed when they smiled. Good dentistry and
clean mouths are essentially American.

The villagers of St. Nazaire, old men and women, girls and school
children, lined the curbs as our men marched through the town. The line
of march was over a broad esplanade that circled the sandy beach of the
bay, and then wound upward into the higher ground back of the town. The
road here was bordered on either side with ancient stone walls covered
with vines and over the tops of the walls there extended fruit-laden
branches to tempt our men with their ripe, red lusciousness. As they
marched through the heat and dust of that June day, many succumbed to
the temptations and paid for their appetites with inordinately violent
colics that night.

A camp site had been partially prepared for their reception. It was
located close to a French barracks. The French soldiers and gangs of
German prisoners, who had been engaged in this work, had no knowledge of
the fact that they were building the first American cantonment in
France. They thought they were constructing simply an extension of the
French encampment.

That first contingent, composed of United States Infantrymen and
Marines, made its first camp in France with the smallest amount of
confusion, considering the fact that almost three-quarters of them
hadn't been in uniform a month. It was but several hours after arriving
at the camp that the smoke was rising from the busy camp stoves and the
aroma of American coffee, baked beans and broiled steaks was in the air.

On the afternoon of that first day some of the men were given permission
to visit the town. They began to take their first lessons in French as
they went from café to café in futile efforts to connect up with such
unknown commodities as cherry pie or ham and egg sandwiches. Upon
meeting one another in the streets, our men would invariably ask: "Have
you come across any of these FROGS that talk American?"

There was nothing disrespectful about the terms Frogs or Froggies as
applied to their French comrades in arms. American officers hastened to
explain to French officers that the one piece of information concerning
France most popularly known in America was that it was the place where
people first learned to eat frog legs and snails.

The Frenchmen, on the other hand, were somewhat inclined to believe that
these first Americans didn't live up to the European expectations of
Americans. Those European expectations had been founded almost entirely
upon the translations of dime novels and moving picture thrillers of the
Wild West and comedy variety.

Although our men wore the high, broad-brimmed felt hats, they didn't
seem sufficiently cowboyish. Although the French people waited
expectantly, none of these Americans dashed through the main street of
the village on bucking bronchos, holding their reins in their teeth and
at the same time firing revolvers from either hand. Moreover, none of
our men seemed to conclude their dinners in the expected American
fashion of slapping one another in the face with custard pies.

There was to be seen on the streets of St. Nazaire that day some
representative black Americans, who had also landed in that historical
first contingent. There was a strange thing about these negroes.

It will be remembered that in the early stages of our participation in
the war it had been found that there was hardly sufficient khaki cloth
to provide uniforms for all of our soldiers. That had been the case with
these American negro soldiers.

But somewhere down in Washington, somehow or other, some one resurrected
an old, large, heavy iron key and this, inserted into an ancient rusty
lock, had opened some long forgotten doors in one of the Government
arsenals. There were revealed old dust-covered bundles wrapped up in
newspapers, yellow with age, and when these wrappings of the past were
removed, there were seen the uniforms of old Union blue that had been
laid away back in '65--uniforms that had been worn by men who fought and
bled and died to free the first black American citizens.

And here on this foreign shore, on this day in June more than half a
century later, the sons and the grandsons of those same freed slaves
wore those same uniforms of Union blue as they landed in France to fight
for a newer freedom.

Some of these negroes were stevedores from the lower Mississippi levees.
They sang as they worked in their white army undershirts, across the
chest of which they had penciled in blue and red, strange mystic
devices, religious phrases and hoodoo signs, calculated to contribute
the charm of safety to the running of the submarine blockade.

Two of these American negroes, walking up the main street of St.
Nazaire, saw on the other side of the thoroughfare a brother of colour
wearing the lighter blue uniform of a French soldier. This French negro
was a Colonial black from the north of Africa and of course had spoken
nothing but French from the day he was born.

One of the American negroes crossed the street and accosted him.

"Looka here, boy," he enquired good-naturedly, "what can you all tell me
about this here wah?"

"Comment, monsieur?" responded the non-understanding French black, and
followed the rejoinder with a torrent of excited French.

The American negro's mouth fell open. For a minute he looked startled,
and then he bulged one large round white eye suspiciously at the French
black, while he inwardly debated on the possibility that he had become
suddenly colour blind. Having reassured himself, however, that his
vision was not at fault, he made a sudden decision and started on a new
tack.

"Now, never mind that high-faluting language," he said. "You all just
tell me what you know about this here wah and quit you' putting on
aihs."

The puzzled French negro could only reply with another explosion of
French interrogations, coupled with vigorous gesticulations. The
American negro tried to talk at the same time and both of them
endeavouring to make the other understand, increased the volumes of
their tones until they were standing there waving their arms and
shouting into one another's faces. The American negro gave it up.

"My Gawd," he said, shaking his head as he recrossed the street and
joined his comrades, "this is shore some funny country. They got the
mos' ignorantest niggers I ever saw."

Still, those American blacks were not alone in their difficulties over
the difference in languages. I discussed the matter with one of our
white regulars who professed great experience, having spent almost one
entire day on mutual guard with a French sentry over a pile of baggage.

"You know," he said, "I don't believe these Frenchies ever will learn to
speak English."

Our veterans from Mexico and the border campaigns found that their
smattering of Spanish did not help them much. But still every one seemed
to manage to get along all right. Our soldiers and the French soldiers
in those early days couldn't understand each other's languages, but they
could understand each other.

This strange paradox was analysed for me by a young American Lieutenant
who said he had made a twelve-hour study of the remarkable camaraderie
that had immediately sprung up between the fighting men of France and
the fighting men of America. In explaining this relationship, he said:

"You see, we think the French are crazy," he said, "and the French know
damn well we are."

Those of our men who had not brought small French and English
dictionaries with them, made hurried purchases of such handy articles
and forthwith began to practice. The French people did likewise.

I saw one young American infantryman seated at a table in front of one
of the sidewalk cafés on the village square. He was dividing his
attention between a fervent admiration of the pretty French waitress,
who stood smiling in front of him, and an intense interest in the pages
of his small hand dictionary.

She had brought his glass of beer and he had paid for it, but there
seemed to be a mutual urge for further conversation. The American would
look first at her and then he would look through the pages of the book
again. Finally he gave slow and painful enunciation of the following
request:

"Mad-am-moy-sell, donnie moy oon baysa."

She laughed prettily as she caught his meaning almost immediately, and
she replied:

"Doughboy, ware do you get zat stuff?"

"Aw, Hell," said the young Infantryman, as he closed the book with a
snap. "I knew they'd let those sailors ashore before us."

From the very first day of the landing we began to learn things from the
French and they began to learn things from us. Some of our men learned
that it was quite possible to sip an occasional glass of beer or light
wine without feeling a sudden inclination to buy and consume all there
remained in the café.

The French soldiers were intensely interested in the equipment of our
land forces and in the uniforms of both our soldiers and sailors. They
sought by questions to get an understanding of the various insignia by
which the Americans designated their rank.

One thing that they noticed was a small, round white pasteboard tag
suspended on a yellow cord from the upper left hand breast pocket of
either the blue jackets of our sailors or the khaki shirts of our
soldiers. So prevalent was this tag, which in reality marked the wearer
as the owner of a package of popular tobacco, that the French almost
accepted it as uniform equipment.

The attitude of our first arriving American soldiers toward the German
prisoners who worked in gangs on construction work in the camps and
rough labour along the docks was a curious one. Not having yet
encountered in battle the brothers of these same docile appearing
captives, our men were even inclined to treat the prisoners with
deference almost approaching admiration.

In a measure, the Germans returned this feeling. The arrival of the
Americans was really cheering to them. The prisoners disliked the French
because they had been taught to do so from childhood. They hated the
English because that was the hate with which they went into battle.

It sounds incongruous now but, nevertheless, it was a fact then that the
German prisoners confined at that first American sea-base really seemed
to like the American soldiers. Maybe it was because any change of
masters or guards was a relief in the uneventful existence which had
been theirs since the day of their capture. Perhaps the feeling was one
of distinct kindred, based on a familiarity with Americans and American
customs--a familiarity which had been produced by thousands of letters
which Germans in America had written to their friends in Germany before
the war. On the other hand, it may simply have been by reason of
America's official disavowal of any animosity toward the German people.

One day I watched some of those prisoners unloading supplies at one of
the docks in St. Nazaire, more or less under the eyes of an American
sentry who stood nearby. One group of four Germans were engaged in
carrying what appeared to be a large wooden packing case. Casually, and
as if by accident, the case was dropped to the ground and cracked.

Instantly one of the prisoners' hands began to furtively investigate the
packages revealed by the break. The other prisoners busied themselves as
if preparing to lift the box again. The first German pulled a spoon from
his bootleg, plunged it into the crevice in the broken box and withdrew
it heaped with granulated sugar. With a quick movement he conveyed the
stolen sweet to his mouth and that gapping orifice closed quickly on the
sugar, while his stoical face immediately assumed its characteristic
downcast look. He didn't dare move his lips or jaws for fear of
detection.

Of course these Germans had been receiving but a scant ration of sugar,
but their lot had been no worse than that of the French soldiers
guarding them previously, who got no sugar either. American soldiers
then guarding those prisoners reported only a few of them for
confinement for these human thefts.

Surreptitiously, the American guards would sometimes leave cigarettes
where the prisoners could get them, and even though the action did
violate the rules of discipline, it helped to develop further the human
side of the giver and the recipient and at the same time had the result
of making the prisoners do more work for their new guards.

It should be specially stated that lenience could not and was not
extended to the point of fraternisation. But the relationship that
seemed to exist between the German prisoners and American soldiers at
that early date revealed undeniably the absence of any mutual hate.

Around one packing case on the dock I saw, one day, a number of German
prisoners who were engaged in unpacking bundles from America, and
passing them down a line of waiting hands that relayed them to a freight
car. One of the Germans leaning over the case straightened up with a
rumpled newspaper in his hand. He had removed it from a package. A look
of indescribable joy came across his face.

"Deutscher, Deutscher," he cried, pointing to the Gothic type. The paper
was a copy of the New York _Staats-Zeitung_.

The lot of those prisoners was not an unhappy one. To me it seemed very
doubtful whether even a small percentage of them would have accepted
liberty if it carried with it the necessity of returning to German
trenches.

Those men knew what war was. They had crossed No Man's Land. Now they
were far back from the blazing front in a comparatively peaceful country
beyond the sound of the guns. If their lot at that time was to be
characterised as "war," then in the opinion of those Germans, war was
not what Sherman said it was.

Their attitude more resembled that of the unkissed spinster who was
taken captive when the invading army captured the town. She flung
herself into the arms of the surprised commander of the invaders and
smilingly whispered, "War is war."

The German prison camps at St. Nazaire were inspected by General
Pershing on the third day of the American landing when he, with his
staff, arrived from Paris. The General and his party arrived early in
the morning in a pouring rain. The American commander-in-chief then held
the rank of a Major General. In the harbour was the flagship of Rear
Admiral Gleaves.

There was no delay over the niceties of etiquette when the question
arose as to whether the Rear Admiral should call on the Major General or
the Major General should call on the Rear Admiral.

The Major General settled the subject with a sentence. He said, "The
point is that I want to see him," and with no further ado about it
General Pershing and his staff visited the Admiral on his flagship.
After his inspection of our first contingent, General Pershing said:

  "This is the happiest day of the busy days which I have spent in
  France preparing for the arrival of the first contingent. To-day I
  have seen our troops safe on French soil, landing from transports
  that were guarded in their passage overseas by the resourceful
  vigilance of our Navy.

  "Now, our task as soldiers lies before us. We hope, with the aid of
  the French leaders and experts who have placed all the results of
  their experience at our disposal, to make our forces worthy in skill
  and in determination, to fight side by side in arms with the armies
  of France."



CHAPTER IV

THROUGH THE SCHOOL OF WAR


Clip the skyline from the Blue Ridge, arch it over with arboreal vistas
from the forests of the Oregon, reflect the two in the placid waters of
the Wisconsin--and you will have some conception of the perfect Eden of
beauty in which the first contingent of the American Expeditionary
Forces trained in France.

Beckoning white roads curl through the rolling hills like ribbons of
dental cream squeezed out evenly on rich green velour. Châteaux, pearl
white centres in settings of emerald green, push their turrets and
bastions above the mossy plush of the mountain side. Lazy little streams
silver the valleys with their aimless wanderings.

It was a peaceful looking garden of pastoral delight that United States
soldiers had picked out for their martial training ground. It was a
section whose physical appearance was untouched by the three years of
red riot and roar that still rumbled away just a few miles to the north.

The training area was located in the Vosges, in east central France. By
train, it was a nine-hour day trip from Paris. It was located about an
hour's motor ride behind the front lines, which at that time were close
to the north of the cities of Nancy and Toul.

The troops were billeted in a string of small villages that comprised
one side of the letter V. French troops and instructing officers
occupied the other converging line of the letter. Between the two lines
was the area in which our men trained. Where the two lines converged
was the town of Gondercourt, the headquarters of Major General Seibert,
the Commander of the first American division in France.

The area had long since been stripped of male civilian population that
could be utilised for the French ranks. The war had taken the men and
the boys, but had left the old people and children to till the fields,
tend the cattle, prune the hedges and trim the roads.

With the advent of our troops, the restful scene began to change.
Treeless ridges carpeted with just enough green to veil the rocky
formation of the ground began to break out with a superficial rash of
the colour of fresh earth. In rows and circles, by angles and zigzags,
the training trenches began to take form daily under the pick and shovel
exercises of French and Americans working side by side.

Along the white roads, clay-coloured rectangles that moved evenly, like
brown caravans, represented the marching units of United States troops.
The columns of bluish-grey that passed them with shorter, quicker steps,
were companies of those tireless Frenchmen, who after almost three years
of the front line real thing, now played at a mimic war of make-believe,
with taller and heavier novitiates.

Those French troops were Alpine Chasseurs--the famous Blue Devils. They
wore dark blue caps, which resemble tam o'shanters, but are not. They
were proud of the distinction which their uniform gave them. They were
proud of their great fighting records. One single battalion of them
boasted that of the twenty-six officers who led it into the first fight
at the opening of the war, only four of them existed.

It was a great advantage for our men to train under such instructors.
Correspondents who had been along the fronts before America's entry
into the war, had a great respect for the soldierly capacity of these
same fighting Frenchmen; not only these sturdy young sons of France who
wore the uniform, but the older French soldiers--ranging in age from
forty to fifty-five years--who had been away to the fronts since the
very beginning of the war.

We had seen them many, many times. Miles upon miles of them, in the
motor trucks along the roads. Twenty of them rode in each truck. They
sat on two side benches facing the centre of the trucks. They were men
actually bent forward from the weight of the martial equipment strapped
to their bodies. They seemed to carry inordinate loads--knapsacks,
blanket roll, spare shoes, haversacks, gas masks, water bottles,
ammunition belts, grenade aprons, rifle, bayonet and helmet.

Many of them were very old men. They had thick black eyebrows and wore
long black beards. They were tired, weary men. We had seen them in the
camions, each man resting his head on the shoulder of the man seated
beside him. The dust of the journey turned their black beards grey. On
the front seat of the camion a sleepless one handled the wheel, while
beside him the relief driver slept on the seat.

Thus they had been seen, mile upon mile of them, thousand upon thousand
of them, moving ever up and down those roads that paralleled the six
hundred and fifty miles of front from Flanders to the Alps--moving
always. Thus they had been seen night and day, winter and summer, for
more than three long years, always trying to be at the place where the
enemy struck. The world knows and the world is thankful that they always
were there.

It was under such veteran instructors as these that our first Americans
in France trained, there, in the Vosges, in a garden spot of beauty, in
the province that boasts the birthplace of Jeanne d'Arc. On the few
leave days, many of our men, with permission, would absent themselves
from camp, and make short pilgrimages over the hills to the little town
of Domremy to visit the house in which the Maid of Orleans was born.

Our men were eager to learn. I observed them daily at their training
tasks. One day when they had progressed as far as the use of the New
French automatic rifles, I visited one of the ranges to witness the
firing.

Just under the crest of the hill was a row of rifle pits, four feet deep
in the slaty white rock. On the opposite hill, across the marshy hollow,
at a distance of two hundred yards, was a line of wooden targets,
painted white with black circles. Poised at intervals on the forward
edge of the pits were a number of automatic rifles of the type used by
the French army. An American soldier and a French soldier attended each
one, the former in the firing position and the latter instructing.

The rear bank of the pits was lined with French and American officers.
The order, "Commence firing," was given, and white spurts of rock dust
began dancing on the opposite hill, while splinters began to fly from
some of the wooden targets.

At one end of the firing trench a raw American recruit, who admitted
that he had never handled an automatic rifle before, flushed to his
hat-brim and gritted his teeth viciously as his shots, registering ten
feet above the targets, brought forth laughter and exclamations from the
French soldiers nearby. He rested on his gun long enough to ask an
interpreter what the Frenchmen were talking about.

"They say," the interpreter replied, "that you belong to the
anti-aircraft service."

The recruit tightened his grip on his rifle and lowered his aim with
better results. At the end of his first fifty shots he was placing one
in three on the target and the others were registering close in.

"Bravo!" came from a group of French officers at the other end of the
trench, where another American, older in the service, had signalised his
first experiences with the new firearm by landing thirty targets out of
thirty-four shots, and four of the targets were bull's-eyes. The French
instructors complimented him on the excellence of his marksmanship,
considering his acknowledged unfamiliarity with the weapon.

Further along the depression, in another set of opposing trenches and
targets, a row of French machine guns manned by young Americans, sprayed
lead with ear-splitting abandon, sometimes reaching the rate of five
hundred shots a minute. Even with such rapidity, the Americans
encountered no difficulties with the new pieces.

French veterans, who for three years had been using those same guns
against German targets, hovered over each piece, explaining in half
French and half English, and answering in the same mixture questions on
ways and means of getting the best results from the weapons.

Here a chasseur of the ranks would stop the firing of one American
squad, with a peremptory, "Regardez." He would proceed with pantomime
and more or less connected words, carrying the warning that firing in
such a manner would result in jamming the guns, a condition which would
be fatal in case the targets in the other trenches were charging upon
the guns.

Then he showed the correct procedure, and the Yanks, watchfully alert to
his every move, changed their method and signified their pleasure with
the expression of "Trays beans," and "Mercy's."

"Do you think it would have resulted in a quicker and possibly more
understanding training if these Americans were instructed by British
veterans instead of French?" I asked an American Staff Officer, who was
observing the demonstration.

"I may have thought so at first," the officer replied, "but not now. The
explanations which our men in the ranks are receiving from the French
soldiers in the ranks are more than word instructions. They are object
lessons in which gesticulation and pantomime are used to act out the
movement or subject under discussion.

"The French are great actors, and I find that American soldiers
unacquainted with the French language are able to understand the French
soldiers who are unacquainted with the English language much better than
the American officers, similarly handicapped, can understand the French
officers.

"I should say that some time would be lost if all of our troops were to
be trained by French soldiers, but I believe that this division under
French tutelage will be better able to teach the new tactics to the new
divisions that are to follow than it would be if it had speedily passed
through training camps like the British system, for instance, where it
must be taken for granted that verbal, instead of actual, instruction is
the means of producing a speeding up of training."

Thus it was that our first American contingent in France was in training
for something more than service on the line. It rapidly qualified into
an expert corps from which large numbers of capable American instructors
were later withdrawn and used for the training of our millions of men
that followed.

This achievement was only accomplished by the exercise of strict
disciplinarian measures by every American officer in the then small
expedition. One day, in the early part of August, 1917, a whirlwind
swept through the string of French villages where the first contingent
was training.

The whirlwind came down the main road in a cloud of dust. It sped on the
fleeting tires of a high-powered motor which flew from its dust-grey
hood a red flag with two white stars. It blew into the villages and out,
through the billets and cook tents, mess halls, and picket lines. The
whirlwind was John J. Pershing.

The commander-in-chief "hit" the training area early in the morning and
his coming was unannounced. Before evening he had completed a stern
inspection which had left only one impression in the minds of the
inspected, and that impression was to the effect that more snap and pep,
more sharpness and keenness were needed.

At the conclusion of the inspection all of the officers of the
contingent were agreeing that the whirlwind visitation was just what had
been needed to arouse the mettle and spirit in an organisation comprised
of over fifty per cent. raw recruits. Many of the officers themselves
had been included in the pointed criticisms which the commander directed
against the persons and things that met disfavour in his eyes.

The night following that inspection or "raid," as it was called, it
would have been safe to say that nowhere in the area was there a recruit
who did not know, in a manner that he would not forget, the correct
position of a soldier--the precise, stiff, snappy attitude to be
presented when called to attention. The enlisted men whose heels did not
click when they met, whose shoulders slouched, whose chins missed the
proper angle, whose eyes were not "front" during the inspection,
underwent embarrassing penalties, calculated to make them remember.

"Have this man fall out," General Pershing directed, as he stood before
a recruit whose attitude appeared sloppy; "teach him the position of a
soldier and have him stand at attention for five minutes."

One company which had prided itself upon having some of the best
embryonic bomb-throwers in the contingent, contributed a number of
victims to the above penalties, and as the General's train of
automobiles swirled out of the village, the main street seemed to be
dotted with silent khaki-clad statues doing their five minute sentences
of rigidity.

"What about your men's shoes?" General Pershing asked a captain sharply,
while he directed his eyes along a company line of feet whose casings
seemed to be approaching the shabby.

"We need hobnails, sir," replied the captain.

"Get them"--the words snapped out from beneath Pershing's close-cropped
grey moustache. "Requisition hobnails. Your men need them. Get them from
the quartermaster."

The American commander stepped into the darkness of a large stone-walled
stable, which represented the billeting accommodations for ten American
soldiers. A dog curled in the doorway growled and showed its teeth. The
General stepped past the menacing animal, and without heeding its snarls
close to his heels, started questioning the sergeants in charge.

"Are any cattle kept in here?" he asked.

"No, sir," replied the sergeant.

"Detail more men with brooms and have it aired thoroughly every day."

Observed from a distance, when he was speaking with battalion and
regimental commanders, the commander manifested no change of attitude
from that which marked his whole inspection. He frequently employed his
characteristic gesture of emphasis--the wadding of his left palm with
his right fist or the energetic opening and closing of the right hand.
When the Pershing whirlwind sped out of the training area that night,
after the first American inspection in France, it left behind it a
thorough realisation of the sternness of the work which was ahead of our
army.

The development of a rigid discipline was the American commander's first
objective in the training schedules which he ordered his staff to
devise. After this schedule had been in operation not ten days, I
happened to witness a demonstration of American discipline which might
be compared to an improved incident of Damocles dining under the
suspended sword at the feast of Dionysius.

A battalion of American Infantry was at practice on one of the training
fields. The grenade-throwing exercises had been concluded and the order
had been given to "fall in" preparatory to the march back to the camp.

Upon the formation of the long company lines, end on end down the side
of the hill, the order, "attention," was sharply shouted bringing the
men to the rigid pose which permits the eyes to wander neither to the
right nor to the left, above nor below, but straightforward.

As the thousand men stood there, rigid and silent, a sudden disturbance
took place in the sky above them. Shells began exploding up there. At
the same time the men in the ranks could distinctly hear the whirr and
the hum of aeroplane motors above them.

Almost every day reports had been received that German planes had evaded
the Allied aerial patrols along the front and had made long flights
behind our lines for the dual purposes of observing and bombing.

As the American battalion stood stiff and motionless, I knew that the
thought was passing through the minds of every man there that here, at
last, was the expected visitation of the German flyers and that a
terrific bomb from above would be the next event on the programme. The
men recognised the reports of the anti-aircraft guns blazing away, and
the sound of the motors suggested a close range target.

The sound seemed to indicate that the planes were flying low. The
American ranks knew that something was going on immediately above them.
They did not know what it was, but it seems needless to state that they
wanted to know. Still the ranks stood as stiff as rows of clay-coloured
statues.

An almost irresistible impulse to look upward, a strong instinctive
urging to see the danger that impended, and the stern regulations of
"eyes front" that goes with the command "attention," comprised the
elements of conflict that went on in each of the thousand heads in that
battalion line.

In front of each platoon, the lieutenants and captains stood with the
same rigid eyes front facing the men. If one of the company officers had
relaxed to the extent of taking one fleeting upward glance, it is
doubtful whether the men could have further resisted the same
inclination, but not a man shifted his gaze from the direction
prescribed by the last command.

One plane passed closely overhead and nothing happened. Three more
followed and still no bombs fell, and then the tense incident was closed
by the calling out of the order of the march and, in squads of four, the
battalion wheeled into the road and marched back to billets.

As one company went by singing (talking was permitted upon the freedom
of routstep), I heard one of the men say that he had thought all along
that the officers would not have made them stand there at attention if
the danger had not been over.

"As far as I knew, it was over," a comrade added. "It was right over my
head." And in this light manner the men forgot the incident as they
resumed their marching song.

When Mr. W. Hollenzollern of Potsdam put singing lessons in the
curriculum of his soldiers' training, a tremor of military giggling was
heard around the world. But in August, 1914, when Mars smiled at the
sight of those same soldiers, marching across the frontiers east, south
and west, under their throaty barrage of "Deutschland, Deutschland, Über
Alles," the derisive giggles completely died out. It immediately became
a case of he who laughs first, lives to yodel.

The American forces then in training took advantage of this. They not
only began to sing as they trained, but they actually began to be
trained to sing. Numerous company commanders who had held strong
opinions against this vocal soldiering, changed their minds and
expressed the new found conviction that the day was past when singing
armies could be compared solely with male coryphées who hold positions
well down stage and clink empty flagons of brown October ale.

"It's a great idea," a company commander told me. "We learned it from
the Blue Devils. They are the toughest set of undersized gentry that I
have run into in France. They have forearms as big as three-inch shells,
and as hard. Their favourite pastime is juggling hand-grenades that
can't possibly explode unless they just lightly touch one another.

"Yesterday we watched them, bared to the waist, as they went through
three hours of grenade and bombing practice that was the last word in
strenuosity. Keeping up with their exercises was hard work for our men,
whose arms soon began to ache from the unaccustomed, overhand heaving.

"Then we watched them as their commander assembled them for the march
back to the village. At the command, 'attention,' their heels clicked,
their heads went back, their chins up and their right hands were pasted
rigidly against their right trouser leg.

"At the command 'march' all of them started off, punctuating their first
step with the first word of their marching song. It was not any sickly
chorus either. There was plenty of beef and lung power behind every
note. My men lined up opposite were not missing a bit of it. Most of
them seemed to know what was expected when I said:

"'On the command of "march," the company will begin to sing, keeping
step with the song. The first sergeant will announce the song.'

"My first sergeant responded without a change of colour as if the
command to sing had been an old regulation. I knew that he was puzzled,
but he did it well. The name of the song chosen was passed down the line
from man to man.

"When I gave the command to march, the company, almost half of them new
recruits, wheeled in squads of fours, and started off down the road
singing, 'Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here.' There were some who were
kind of weak on the effort, but there was a noticeable crescendo when
the sergeant passed the word down the squad that the company would be
kept marching until everybody had joined in the singing.

"We swung into camp that night with every voice raising lustily on 'One
Grasshopper Hopped Right Over Another Grasshopper's Back,' and after
dinner the billets just sprouted melody, everything from ragtime to
Christmas carols and baby lullabies."

One noticeable characteristic about our soldiers during that training
period before they had come in contact with the enemy, was a total
absence of violent antipathy toward all persons and things Teutonic.

On the march the men then sang "We'll Hang the Damned Old Kaiser to a
Sour Apple Tree," but at that time I never heard any parodies on the
"Gott Straffe Germany" theme. Our soldiers were of so many different
nationalistic extractions and they had been thrown together for so short
a time, that as yet no especial hatred of the enemy had developed.

An illustration of this very subject and also the manner in which our
boys got along with the civilian populations of the towns they occupied
came to my notice.

A driving rain which filled the valley with mist and made the hills look
like mountain tops projecting above the clouds, had resulted in the
abandonment of the usual daily drills. The men had spent the day in
billets writing letters home, hearing indoor lectures from instructors,
playing with the French children in the cottage doorways, or taking
lessons in French from the peasant girls, whose eyes were inspirations
to the dullest pupils.

I spent several hours in a company commander's quarters while he
censored letters which the men had submitted for transmission back home.
The Captain looked long at a letter in his hand, smiled and called for
his orderly.

"Tell Private Blank I want to see him here right away," were the
Captain's instructions. Blank's name was not quite so German as
Sourkraut, but it had a "berger" ending that was reminiscent of beer,
pretzels and wooden shoes.

"Here's a letter written in German," said the Captain to me, referring
to the open missive. "It's addressed to somebody by the same name as
Blank, and I presume it is to some one in his family. Blank is one of
the best men in my company, and I know that the letter is harmless, but
it is impossible for me to pass it when written in an enemy language."

The door opened and a tall, blonde enlisted man stepped in, shaking the
rain from his hat. He stood at respectful attention, saluted and said:

"Did the Captain wish to see me?"

"Yes, Blank, it is about this letter written in German," the Captain
replied. "Who is it addressed to?"

"My father, in Cincinnati, sir," Blank replied.

"I am unfamiliar with German," the Captain said. "I notice the letter is
brief. Is there anything in it which the company has been ordered to
omit mentioning?"

"No, sir," Blank replied.

"Will you translate it for me?" the Captain asked.

"Yes, sir," said Blank, with just a bare suggestion of a blush. Then he
read as follows:

  "Dear Father: I am in good health. Food is good and we are learning
  much. I am becoming an expert grenadier. In this village where we
  are billeted there is a French girl named Germain. Before the war
  she lived in northern France, near the German frontier, and she
  speaks German. So it is possible for us to talk together. She fled
  before the German troops reached her village. She lives here now
  with her aunt.

  "I carry water from a well for her and she has given me each day a
  roll of fresh made butter for our mess. In the evening we sit on the
  front seat of her uncle's small carriage, which is in the front
  yard, and we imagine we are taking a drive, but of course there are
  no horses. Her uncle's horses were taken by the army a long time
  ago. She is very anxious to know all about America, and I have told
  her all about you and mother and our home in Cincinnati.

  "She asked me what I am going to do after the war, and I told her
  that I would return to Cincinnati to help you at the store. She
  cried because she said she did not know where she was going after
  the war. Her father and two brothers have been killed and her aunt
  and uncle are very old.

  "I have some more to write to you about Germain later. But must stop
  here because the Sergeants are assembling the men for indoor
  instruction. Love to all. It is raining very hard. Your son, ----"

Blank's face seemed to redden as he hesitated over a postscript line at
the bottom of the page.

"This is nothing," he said. "I just asked father to ask mother to send
me one of the photographs I had taken on the day I enlisted."

"For Germain?" the Captain enquired, smilingly.

"Yes, sir," replied Blank.

"Why didn't you write this in English?" the Captain asked.

"My father reads only German," Blank replied.

Blank was instructed to rewrite his letter in English and address it to
some friend who could translate it into German for his father. As the
door closed on this American soldier of German extraction, I asked the
Captain, "Do you think Germain could stand for Blank's German name,
after all she has lost at the hands of the Germans?"

"She'll probably be wearing it proudly around Cincinnati within a year
after the war is over," the Captain replied.

It might be reassuring at this point to remark that girls in America
really have no occasion to fear that many of our soldiers will leave
their hearts in France. The French women are kind to them, help them in
their French lessons, and frequently feed them with home delicacies
unknown to the company mess stoves, but every American soldier overseas
seems to have that perfectly natural hankering to come back to the girls
he left behind.

The soldier mail addressed daily to mothers and sweethearts back in the
States ran far into the tons. The men were really homesick for their
American women folks. I was aware of this even before I witnessed the
reception given by our men to the first American nurses to reach the
other side.

The hospital unit to which they belonged had been transported into that
training area so quickly and so secretly that its presence there was
unknown for some time. I happened to locate it by chance.

Several of us correspondents seeking a change of diet from the
monotonous menu provided by the hard-working madam of our modest
hostelry, motored in a new direction, over roads that opened new vistas
in this picture book of the world.

Long straight avenues of towering trees whose foliage roofed the
roadways were sufficient to reanimate recollections of old masters of
brush realism. Ploughed fields veiled with the low-hanging mist of
evening time, and distant steeples of homely simplicity faintly glazed
by the last rays of the setting sun, reproduced the tones of "The
Angelus" with the over-generous hugeness of nature.

And there in that prettiest of French watering places--Vittel--we came
upon those first American nurses attached to the American Expeditionary
Forces. They told us that all they knew was the name of the place they
were in, that they were without maps and were not even aware of what
part of France they were located in.

It developed that the unit's motor transportation had not arrived and,
other automobiles being as scarce as German flags, communication with
the nearby camps had been almost non-existent. Orders had been received
from field headquarters and acknowledged, but its relation in distance
or direction to their whereabouts were shrouded in mystery. But not for
long.

Soon the word spread through the training area that American nurses had
a hospital in the same zone and some of the homesick Yanks began to make
threats of self-mutilation in order that they might be sent to that
hospital.

The hospital unit was soon followed by the arrival of numerous American
auxiliary organisations and the kindly activities of the workers as well
as their numbers became such as to cause the men to wonder what kind of
a war they were in.

I happened to meet an old top sergeant of the regular army, a man I had
known in Mexico, with the American Punitive Expedition. He had just
received a large bundle of newspapers from home and he was bringing
himself up-to-date on the news. I asked him what was happening back
home.

"Great things are going on in the States," he said, looking up from his
papers. "Here's one story in the newspaper that says the Y. M. C. A. is
sending over five hundred secretaries to tell us jokes and funny
stories. And here's another account about the Red Cross donating half a
million dollars to build recreation booths for us along the front. And
here's a story about a New York actor getting a committee of
entertainers together to come over and sing and dance for us. And down
in Philadelphia they're talking about collecting a million dollars to
build tabernacles along the front so's Billy Sunday can preach to us.
What I'm wondering about is, when in hell they're going to send the army
over."

But that was in the early fall of 1917, and as I write these lines now,
in the last days of 1918, I am aware and so is the world, that in all of
France nobody will ever ask that question again.

That army got there.



CHAPTER V

MAKING THE MEN WHO MAN THE GUNS


While our infantry perfected their training in the Vosges, the first
American artillery in France undertook a schedule of studies in an old
French artillery post located near the Swiss frontier. This place is
called Valdahon, and for scores of years had been one of the training
places for French artillery. But during the third and fourth years of
the war nearly all of the French artillery units being on the front, all
subsequent drafts of French artillerymen received their training under
actual war conditions.

So it was that the French war department turned over to the Americans
this artillery training ground which had been long vacant. Three
American artillery regiments, the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh, comprising
the first U. S. Artillery Brigade, began training at this post.

The barracks had been long unoccupied and much preparatory work was
necessary before our artillerymen could move in. Much of this work
devolved upon the shoulders of the Brigade Quartermaster.

The first difficulty that he encountered was the matter of illumination
for the barracks, mess halls and lecture rooms. All of the buildings
were wired, but there was no current. The Quartermaster began an
investigation and this was what he found:

The post had been supplied with electricity from a generating plant
located on a river about ten miles away. This plant had supplied
electrical energy for fifteen small French towns located in the
vicinity. The plant was owned and operated by a Frenchman, who was
about forty years old. The French Government, realising the necessity
for illumination, had exempted this man from military service, so that
he remained at his plant and kept the same in operation for the benefit
of the camp at Valdahon and the fifteen small towns nearby.

Then the gossips of the countryside got busy. These people began to say
that Monsieur X, the operator of the plant, was not patriotic, in other
words, that he was a slacker for not being at the front when all of
their menfolk had been sent away to the war.

Now it so happened that Monsieur X was not a slacker, and his
inclination had always been to get into the fight with the Germans, but
the Government had represented to him that it was his greater duty to
remain and keep his plant in operation to provide light for the
countryside.

When the talk of the countryside reached Monsieur X's ears, he being a
country-loving Frenchman was infuriated. He denounced the gossips as
being unappreciative of the great sacrifice he had been making for their
benefit, and, to make them realise it, he decided on penalising them.

Monsieur X simply closed down his plant, locked and barred the doors and
windows, donned his French uniform and went away to the front to join
his old regiment. That night those villagers in the fifteen nearby
towns, who had been using electrical illumination, went to bed in the
dark.

It required considerable research on the part of the Artillery
Quartermaster to reveal all these facts. The electric lights had been
unused for fifteen months when he arrived there, and he started to see
what he could do to put the plant back to work. It required nothing
less finally than a special action by the French Minister of War whereby
orders were received by Monsieur X commanding him to leave his regiment
at the front and go back to his plant by the riverside and start making
electricity again.

With the lights on and water piped in for bathing facilities, and
extensive arrangements made for the instalment of stoves and other
heating apparatus, the purchase of wood fuel and fodder for the animals,
the Brigade moved in and occupied the camp.

The American officer in command of that post went there as a Brigadier
General. As I observed him at his work in those early days, I seemed to
see in his appearance and disposition some of the characteristics of a
Grant. He wore a stubby-pointed beard and he clamped his teeth tight on
the butt end of a cigar. I saw him frequently wearing the $11.50
regulation issue uniform of the enlisted men. I saw him frequently in
rubber boots standing hip deep in the mud of the gun pits, talking to
the men like a father--a kindly, yet stern father who knew how to
produce discipline and results.

While at the post, he won promotion to a Major General's rank, and in
less than six months he was elevated to the grade of a full General and
was given the highest ranking military post in the United States. That
man who trained our first artillerymen in France was General Peyton C.
March, Chief of Staff of the United States Army.

Finding the right man for the right place was one of General March's
hobbies. He believed in military mobilisation based on occupational
qualifications. In other words, he believed that a man who had been a
telephone operator in civilian life would make a better telephone
operator in the army than he would make a gunner.

I was not surprised to find that this same worthy idea had permeated in
a more or less similar form down to the lowest ranks in General March's
command at that time. I encountered it one cold night in October, when I
was sitting in one of the barrack rooms talking with a man in the ranks.

That man's name was Budd English. I met him first in Mexico on the
American Punitive Expedition, where he had driven an automobile for
Damon Runyon, a fellow correspondent. English, with his quaint
Southwestern wit, had become in Mexico a welcome occupant of the large
pyramidal tent which housed the correspondents attached to the
Expedition. We would sit for hours hearing him tell his stories of the
plains and the deserts of Chihuahua.

English and I were sitting on his bed at one corner of the barrack room,
rows of cots ranged each side of the wall and on these were the snoring
men of the battery. The room was dimly illuminated by a candle on a
shelf over English's head and another candle located on another shelf in
the opposite corner of the room. There was a man in bed in a corner
reading a newspaper by the feeble rays of the candle.

Suddenly we heard him growl and tear the page of the newspaper in half.
His exclamation attracted my attention and I looked his way. His hair
was closely cropped and his head, particularly his ears and forehead,
and jaw, stamped him as a rough and ready fighter.

"That's Kid Ferguson, the pug," English whispered to me, and then in
louder tones, he enquired, "What's eating on you, kid?"

"Aw, this bunk in the paper," replied Ferguson. Then he glared at me
and enquired, "Did you write this stuff?"

"What stuff?" I replied. "Read it out."

Ferguson picked up the paper and began to read in mocking tones
something that went as follows:

"Isn't it beautiful in the cold early dawn in France, to see our dear
American soldiers get up from their bunks and go whistling down to the
stables to take care of their beloved animals."

English laughed uproariously.

"The Kid don't like horses no more than I do," he said. "Neither one of
us have got any use for them at all. And here, that's all they keep us
doing, is tending horses. I went down there the other morning with a
lantern and one of them long-eared babies just kicked it clean out of my
hand. The other morning one of them planted two hoofs right on
Ferguson's chest and knocked him clear out of the stable. It broke his
watch and his girl's picture.

"You know, Mr. Gibbons, I never did have any use for horses. When I was
about eight years old a horse bit me. When I was about fifteen years old
I got run over by an ice-wagon. Horses is just been the ruination of me.

"If it hadn't been for them I might have gone through college and been
an officer in this here army. You remember that great big dairy out on
the edge of the town in El Paso? Well, my dad owned that and he lost all
of it on the ponies in Juarez. I just hate horses.

"I know everything there is to know about an automobile. I have driven
cross country automobile races and after we come out of Mexico, after we
didn't get Villa, I went to work in the army machine shops at Fort Bliss
and took down all them motor trucks and built them all over again.

"When Uncle Sam got into the war against Germany, this here Artillery
Battalion was stationed out at Fort Bliss, and I went to see the Major
about enlisting, but I told him I didn't want to have nothing to do with
no horses.

"And he says, 'English, don't you bother about that. You join up with
this here battalion, because when we leave for France we're going to
kiss good-bye to them horses forever. This here battalion is going to be
motorised.'

"And now here we are in France, and we still got horses, and they don't
like me and I don't like them, and yet I got to mill around with 'em
every day. The Germans ain't never going to kill me. They ain't going to
get a chance. They just going to find me trampled to death some morning
down in that stable."

Two or three of the occupants of nearby beds had arisen and taken seats
on English's bed. They joined the conversation. One red-headed
youngster, wearing heavy flannel underwear in lieu of pajamas, made the
first contribution to the discussion.

"That's just what I'm beefing about," he said. "Here I've been in this
army two months now and I'm still a private. There ain't no chance here
for a guy that's got experience."

"Experience? Where do you get that experience talk?" demanded English.
"What do you know about artillery?"

"That's just what I mean, experience," the red-headed one replied with
fire. "I got experience. Mr. Gibbons knows me. I'm from Chicago, the
same as he is. I worked in Chicago at Riverview Park. I'm the guy that
fired the gattling gun in the Monitor and Merrimac show--we had two
shows a day and two shows in the evening and----"

"Kin you beat that," demanded English. "You know, if this here
red-headed guy don't get promotion pretty quick, he's just simply going
to quit this army and leave us flat here in France facing the Germans.

"Let me tell you about this gattling gun expert. When they landed us off
of them boats down on the coast, the battalion commander turned us all
loose for a swim in the bay, and this here bird almost drowned. He went
down three times before we could pull him out.

"Now, if they don't make him a Brigadier General pretty quick, he's
going to get sore and put in for a transfer to the Navy on the grounds
of having submarine experience. But he's right in one thing--experience
don't count for what it should in the army.

"Right here in our battery we got a lot of plough boys from Kansas that
have been sitting on a plough and looking at a horse's back all their
lives, and they got them handling the machinery on these here guns. And
me, who knows everything there is to know about machinery, they won't
let me even find out which end of the cannon you put the shell in and
which end it comes out of. All I do all day long is to prod around a
couple of fat-hipped hayburners. My God, I hate horses."

But regardless of these inconveniences those first American artillerymen
in our overseas forces applied themselves strenuously to their studies.
They were there primarily to learn. It became necessary for them at
first to make themselves forget a lot of things that they had previously
learned by artillery and adapt themselves to new methods and instruments
of war.

Did you ever hear of "Swansant, Kansas"? You probably won't find it on
any train schedule in the Sunflower State; in fact, it isn't a place at
all. It is the name of the light field cannon that France provided our
men for use against the German line.

"Swansant, Kansas" is phonetic spelling of the name as pronounced by
American gunners. The French got the same effect in pronunciation by
spelling the singular "soixante quinze," but a Yankee cannoneer trying
to pronounce it from that orthography was forced to call it a "quince,"
and that was something which it distinctly was not.

One way or the other it meant the "Seventy-fives"--the "Admirable
Seventy-five"--the seventy-five millimetre field pieces that stopped the
Germans' Paris drive at the Marne--the same that gave Little Willie a
headache at Verdun,--the inimitable, rapid firing, target hugging, hell
raising, shell spitting engine of destruction whose secret of recoil
remained a secret after almost twenty years and whose dependability was
a French proverb.

At Valdahon where American artillery became acquainted with the
Seventy-five, the khaki-clad gun crews called her "some cannon." At
seven o'clock every morning, the glass windows in my room at the post
would rattle with her opening barks, and from that minute on until noon
the Seventy-fives, battery upon battery of them, would snap and bark
away until their seemingly ceaseless fire becomes a volley of sharp
cracks which sent the echoes chasing one another through the dark
recesses of the forests that conceal them.

The targets, of course, were unseen. Range elevation, deflection, all
came to the battery over the signal wires that connected the firing
position with some observation point also unseen but located in a
position commanding the terrain under fire.

A signalman sat cross-legged on the ground back of each battery. He
received the firing directions from the transmitter clamped to his ears
and conveyed them to the firing executive who stood beside him. They
were then megaphoned to the sergeants chief of sections.

The corporal gunner, with eye on the sighting instruments at the side of
each gun, "laid the piece" for range and deflection. Number one man of
the crew opened the block to receive the shell, which was inserted by
number two. Number three adjusted the fuse-setter, and cut the fuses.
Numbers four and five screwed the fuses in the shells and kept the
fuse-setter loaded.

The section chiefs, watch in hand, gave the firing command to the gun
crews, and number one of each piece jerked the firing lanyard at ten
second intervals or whatever interval the command might call for. The
four guns would discharge their projectiles. They whined over the damp
wooded ridge to distant imaginary lines of trenches, theoretical
cross-roads, or designated sections where the enemy was supposed to be
massing for attack. Round after round would follow, while telephoned
corrections perfected the range, and burst. The course of each shell was
closely observed as well as its bursting effect, but no stupendous
records were kept of the individual shots. That was "peace time stuff."

These batteries and regiments were learning gunnery and no scarcity of
shells was permitted to interfere with their education. One officer told
me that it was his opinion that one brigade firing at this schooling
post during a course of six weeks, had expended more ammunition than all
of the field artillery of the United States Army has fired during the
entire period since the Civil War. The Seventy-five shells cost
approximately ten dollars apiece, but neither the French nor American
artillery directors felt that a penny's worth was being wasted. They
said cannon firing could not be learned entirely out of a book.

I had talked with a French instructor, a Yale graduate, who had been two
years with the guns at the front, and I had asked him what in his
opinion was the most disconcerting thing that could happen to effect the
morale of new gunners under actual fire. I wanted some idea of what
might be expected of American artillerymen when they made their initial
appearance on the line.

We discussed the effect of counter battery fire, the effect on gun crews
of asphyxiating gas, either that carried on the wind from the enemy
trenches or that sent over in gas shells. We considered the demoralising
influences of aerial attacks on gun positions behind the line.

"They are all bad," my informant concluded. "But they are expected. Men
can stand without complaint and without qualm any danger that is
directed at them by the foe they are fighting. The thing that really
bothers, though, is the danger of death or injury from their own weapons
or ammunition. You see, many times there is such a thing as a faulty
shell, although careful inspection in the munitions plants has reduced
this danger to a percentage of about one in ten thousand.

"At the beginning of the war when every little tin shop all over the
world was converted into a munitions factory to supply the great need of
shells, much faulty ammunition reached the front lines. Some of the
shells would explode almost as soon as they left the gun. They are
called shorts. The English, who had the same trouble, call them 'muzzle
bursts.'

"Sometimes the shell would explode in the bore of the cannon, in which
case the cannoneers were usually killed either by pieces of the shell
itself or bits of the cannon. The gunners have to sit beside the cannon
when it is fired, and the rest of the gun crew are all within eight feet
of it. If there is an explosion in the breech of the gun, it usually
wipes out most of the crew. A muzzle burst, or a breech explosion, is
one of the most disconcerting things that could happen in a battery.

"The other men in the battery know of course that a faulty shell caused
the explosion. They also know that they are firing ammunition from the
same lot. After that, as they pull the trigger on each shot, they don't
know whether the shell is going out of the gun all right or whether it
is going to explode in the breech and kill all of them. That thought in
a man's mind when he pulls the firing lanyard, that thought in the minds
of the whole crew as they stand there waiting for the crash, is
positively demoralising.

"When it happens in our French artillery the cannoneers lose confidence
in their pieces. They build small individual dugouts a safe ways back
from the gun and extend the lanyard a safe distance. Then, with all the
gun crew under cover, they fire the piece. This naturally removes them
from their regular firing positions beside the pieces, reduces the
accuracy and slows up the entire action of the battery. The men's
suspicions of the shells combined with the fear of death by their own
weapons, which is greater than any fear of death at the hands of the
enemy, all reduce the morale of the gun crews."

Now, for an incident. A new shipment of ammunition had reached the post.
The caissons were filled with it. Early the following morning when the
guns rumbled out of camp to the practice grounds, Battery X was firing
in the open. At the third shot the shell from piece number two exploded
prematurely thirty yards from the muzzle. Pieces three and four fired
ten and twenty seconds later with every man standing on his toes in his
prescribed position.

Ten rounds later, a shell from number three gun exploded thirty feet
after leaving the bore. Shell particles buried themselves in the ground
near the battery. Piece number four, right next to it, was due to fire
in ten seconds. It discharged its projectiles on the dot. The gun crews
knew what they were up against. They were firing faulty ammunition. They
passed whispered remarks but reloaded with more of the same ammunition
and with military precision on the immediate command. Every man stuck to
his position. As each gun was fired the immediate possibilities were not
difficult to imagine.

Then it happened.

"Commence firing," megaphoned the firing executive. The section chief of
number one piece dropped his right hand as the signal for the discharge.
The corporal gunner was sitting on the metal seat in front of his
instruments and not ten inches to the left of the breech. Cannoneer
number one of the gun crew occupied his prescribed position in the same
location to the immediate right of the breech. Gunner number two was
standing six feet behind the breech and slightly to the left ready to
receive the ejected cartridge case. Gunner number three was kneeling
over the fuse setter behind the caisson which stood wheel to wheel with
the gun carriage. Gunners four and five were rigid statues three feet
back of him. Every man in the crew had seen the previous bursts of
dangerous ammunition.

Number one's eye caught the descending hand of the section chief. He
pulled the lanyard.

There was an eruption of orange coloured flame, a deafening roar, a
crash of rendered steel, a cloud of smoke blue green, and yellow.

A black chunk of the gun cradle hurtled backward through the air with a
vicious swish. A piece of the bore splintered the wheels and buried
itself in the ammunition caisson. Thick hunks of gun metal crumbling
like dry cake filled the air. The ground shook.

The corporal gunner pitched backward from his seat and collapsed on the
ground. His mate with fists buried in his steel seared eyes staggered
out of the choking fumes. The rest of the crew picked themselves up in a
dazed condition. Fifty yards away a horse was struggling to regain his
feet.

Every man in the three other gun crews knew what had happened. None of
them moved from their posts. They knew their guns were loaded with
shells from the same lot and possibly with the same faults. No man knew
what would happen when the next firing pin went home. The evidence was
before them. Their eyes were on the exploded gun but not for long.

"Crash," the ten second firing interval had expired. The section chief
of piece number two had dropped his hand. The second gun in the battery
had fired.

"Number two on the way," sang out the signalman over the telephone wire
to the hidden observation station.

Ten seconds more for another gun crew to cogitate on whether disaster
hung on the dart of a firing pin.

"Crash."

"Number three on the way."

Another ten seconds for the last section to wonder whether death would
come with the lanyard jerk.

"Crash."

"Number four on the way." Round complete. The signalman finished his
telephone report.

Four horses drawing an army ambulance galloped up from the ravine that
sheltered them. The corporal gunner, unconscious and with one leg
pulverised was lifted in. Two other dazed members of the crew were
helped into the vehicle. One was bleeding from the shoulder. The lead
horses swung about; the ambulance rattled away.

"Battery ready to fire. Piece number one out of action." It was the
signalman reporting over the wire to the observer.

Battery X fired the rest of the morning and they used ammunition from
the same lot and every man knew what might happen any minute and every
man was in his exact position for every shot and nobody happened to
think about hiding in a dugout and putting a long string on the firing
lanyard.

It had been an unstaged, unconscious demonstration of nerve and grit and
it proved beyond all question the capacity of American artillerymen to
stand by the guns.

The gunner corporal told the nurse at his bedside how it all happened,
but he was still under the effects of the anesthetic. He did not refer
to the morale of his battery mates because it had not occurred to him
that there was anything unusual in what they did. But he did think that
he could wiggle the toes on his right leg. The doctor told me that this
was a common delusion before the patient had been informed of the
amputation.

Incidents such as the one related had no effect whatever upon the
progress of the work. From early dawn to late at night the men followed
their strenuous duties six days a week and then obtained the necessary
relief on the seventh day by trips down to the ancient town of Besançon.

In this picturesque country where countless thousands fought and died,
down through the bloody centuries since and before the Christian era,
where Julius Cæsar paused in his far flung raids to dictate new inserts
to his commentaries, where kings and queens and dukes and pretenders
left undying traces of ambition's stormy urgings, there it was that
American soldiers, in training for the war of wars, spent week-end
holidays and mixed the breath of romance with the drag of their
cigarettes.

The extender of Roman borders divided that region into three parts,
according to the testimony of the first Latin class, but he neglected to
mention that of these three parts the one decreed for American
occupation was the most romantic of them all.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is late on a Saturday afternoon and I accept the major's offer of a
seat in his mud-bespattered "Hunka Tin." The field guns have ceased
their roar for the day and their bores will be allowed to cool over
Sunday. Five per cent. of the men at the post have received the coveted
town leave.

They form a khaki fresco on the cab and sides of the giant commissary
trucks that raise the dust along the winding white road over the hills.
Snorting motorcycles with two men over the motor and an officer in the
side car skim over the ground, passing all others. A lukewarm sun
disappears in a slot in the mountains and a blue grey mist forms in the
valleys. A chill comes over the air and a cold new moon looks down and
laughs.

It is a long ride to the ancient town, but speed laws and motor traps
are unknown and the hood of the Detroit Dilemma shakes like a wet dog as
her sizzling hot cylinders suck juice from a full throttle. We cross one
divide through a winding road bordered by bushy trees and as orderly as
a national park. We coast through a hillside hamlet of barking dogs and
saluting children who stand at smiling attention and greet our passage
with a shrill "Veev La Mereek" (Vive l'Amérique).

We scud across a broad, level road built well above the lowland, and
climb through zig-zagging avenues of stately poplars to the tunnel that
pierces the backbone of the next ridge.

While the solid rock walls of the black bore reverberate with the echoes
from our exhaust, we emerge on a road that turns sharply to the left and
hugs a cliff. Below winds a broad river that looks like mother of pearl
in the moonlight. The mountain walls on either side rise at angles
approximating 45 degrees, and in the light their orderly vineyards look
like the squares on a sloping checkerboard. In front of us and to the
right the flanking ridges converge to a narrow gorge through which the
river Doub runs to loop the town.

Commanding this gorge from the crests of the two rocky heights are
sinister sentinels whose smooth, grey walls and towers rise sheer from
the brink of the cliffs. The moonlight now catching the ramparts of the
em-battlements splashes them with strokes of white that seem ever
brighter in contrast with the darker shadows made by projecting portions
of the walls. Spaniard and Moor knew well those walls, and all the
kingly glory that hurried France to the reign of terror has slept within
their shadows.

Our way down the cliff side is hewn out of the beetling rock. To our
left, a jagged wall of rock rises to the sky. To our right, a step,
rock-tumbled declivity drops to the river's edge.

The moonlight brings funny fancies, and our yellow headlights, wavering
in concentric arcs with each turn of the course, almost seem to glint on
the helmets and shields of the spear-bearing legionaries that marched
that very way to force a southern culture on the Gauls. We slow down to
pass through the rock-hewn gate that once was the Roman aqueduct
bringing water down from mountain springs to the town.

Through the gate, a turn to the left and we reach the black bottom of
the gorge untouched by the rising moon. We face a blast of wind that
slows our speed and brings with it the first big drops of rain. We stop
at the "Octroi" and assure the customs collector that we are military,
and that we carry no dutiable wine, or beans or wood into the town.

Yet another gate, built across the narrow road between the cliff and the
river, and we enter the town. It has been raining and the cobblestones
are slippery. They shine in the gleams of pale light that come from the
top-heavy street lamps. Gargoyle water spouts drip drainage from the
gables of moss-speckled tiles.

We pass a fountain that the Romans left, and rounded arches further on
show where the hooded Moor wrote his name in masonry. Barred windows and
stone balconies projecting over the street take one's mind off the
rattling motor and cause it to wander back to times when serenading
lovers twanged guitars beneath their ladies' windows and were satisfied
with the flower that dropped from the balcony.

The streets are wet and dark now and through their narrow windings our
headlights reveal tall figures in slickers or khaki overcoats topped by
peaked felt hats with the red cords of American artillerymen. Their
identification is a surprise to the dreamer, because one rather expects
these figures to sulk in the deeper shadows and screen their dark,
bearded faces with the broad brims of black felt hats or muffle
themselves to the chin in long, flowing black cloaks that hide rapiers
and stilettos and other properties of mediæval charm.

We dine in a room three hundred years old. The presence of our
automobile within the inner quadrangle of the ancient building jars on
the sense of fitness. It is an old convent, now occupied by irreligious
tenants on the upper three floors, restaurants and estaminets on the
lower floor. These shops open on a broad gallery, level with the
courtyard, and separated from it only by the rows of pillars that
support the arches. It extends around the four sides of the court.

Centuries ago shrouded nuns, clasping beads or books of office, walked
in uncommunicative pairs and mumbled their daily prayers beneath these
time-worn arches, and to-night it affords a promenade for officers
waiting for their meals to be served at madame's well laid tables
within.

Madame's tables are not too many. There is not the space economy of an
American café, where elbows interlock and waiters are forced to navigate
fearsome cargoes above the diners' heads. Neither is there the
unwholesome, dust-filled carpet of London's roast beef palaces.

Madame's floor is bare, but the wood has stood the scrubbings of years,
and is as spotless as grass-dried linen. The high ceiling and the walls
are of white stucco. In bas-relief are clusters of heraldic signs, of
bishops' crooks and cathedral keys, of mounted chargers and dying
dragoons, of miter and crown, and trumpet and shield, and cross.

Large mirrors, circled with wreaths of gilded leaves, adorn both end
walls, and beneath one of them remains an ornate fireplace and
mantelpiece of bologna coloured marble, surmounted with a gilt cock of
wondrous design. Beneath the other mirror madame has placed her buffet,
on which the boy who explores the dusty caves below places the cobwebbed
bottles of red wine for the last cork pulling. Large gold chandeliers,
dangling with glass prisms, are suspended from high ceiling and flood
the room with light, against which the inner shutters of the tall
windows must be shut because of danger from the sky.

There is colour in that room. The Roman conquerors would have found it
interesting. If former armed occupants of the old town could have
paraded in their ancient habiliments through the room like a procession
from the martial past, they would have found much for their attention in
this scene of the martial present. American khaki seems to predominate,
although at several tables are Canadian officers in uniforms of the same
colour but of different tailoring.

The tables are flecked with all varieties of French uniforms, from
scarlet pants with solitary black stripes down the leg, to tunics of
horizon blue. In one corner there are two turbaned Algerians with heads
bent close over their black coffee, and one horn of the hall rack shows
a red fez with a gold crescent on the crown.

Consider the company. That freckle-faced youth with the fluffed reddish
hair of a bandmaster is a French aviator, and among the row of
decorations on his dark blue coat is one that he received by reason of a
well known adventure over the German lines, which cannot be mentioned
here. That American colonel whose short grey hair blends into the white
wall behind him is a former member of the United States war college and
one of the most important factors in the legislation that shaped the
present military status of his country. That other Frenchman with the
unusual gold shoulder straps is not a member of the French army. He is
a naval officer, and the daring with which he carried his mapping chart
along exposed portions of the line at Verdun and evolved the
mathematical data on which the French fired their guns against the
German waves has been the pride of both the navy and the army.

Over there is a young captain who this time last year was a "shavetail"
second in command at a small post along the line of communications in
Chihuahua. Next to him sits a tall dark youngster wearing with pride his
first Sam Browne belt and "U. S. R." on his collar. He carted human
wreckage to the hospitals on the French front for two years before Uncle
Sam decided to end the war. There's another one not long from the
"Point," booted and spurred and moulded to his uniform. He speaks with a
twang of old Virginia on every syllable and they say his family--but
that has nothing to do with the fact that he is aid to a major general
and is in these parts on a mission.

There are three American women in the room. One who is interested in Y.
M. C. A. work and a number of newspapers, wears a feminine adaptation of
the uniform and holds court at the head of a table of five officers.
Another, Mrs. Robert R. McCormick, who is engaged in the extension of
the canteen work of a Paris organisation, is sitting at our table and
she is willing to wager her husband anything from half a dozen gloves to
a big donation check that Germany will be ready for any kind of peace
before an American offensive in the spring.

The interests of the other American woman are negative. She professes no
concern in the fact that war correspondents' life insurances are
cancelled, but she repeats to me that a dead correspondent is of no use
to his paper, and I reply that if madame puts yet another one of her
courses on the board, one correspondent will die with a fork in his hand
instead of a pencil.

The diners are leaving. Each opening of the salon door brings in a gust
of dampness that makes the tablecloths flap. Rain coats swish and rustle
in the entry. Rain is falling in sheets in the black courtyard. The moon
is gone.

A merry party trails down the stone gallery skirting the quadrangle.
Their hobnailed soles and steel plated heels ring on the stone flags.
The arches echo back their song:

    "In days of old
    A warrior bold
    Sang merrily his lay, etc. etc. etc.
    My love is young and fair.
    My love has golden hair,
    So what care I
    Though death be nigh, etc. etc. etc."

With frequent passages where a dearth of words reduce the selection to
musical but meaningless ta-de-ta-tas, the voices melt into the blackness
and the rain.

"Great times to be alive," I say to the wife. "This place is saturated
with romance. I don't have to be back to the post until to-morrow night.
Where will we go? They are singing 'Carmen' in the old opera house on
the square. What do you say?"

"There's a Charlie Chaplin on the programme next to the hotel," the wife
replies.

Romance was slapped with a custard pie.



CHAPTER VI

"FRONTWARD HO!"


When the artillery training had proceeded to such a point that the
French instructors were congratulating our officers upon their
proficiency, the rumours spread through the post that the brigade had
been ordered to go to the front--that we were to be the first American
soldiers to actually go into the line and face the Germans.

The news was received with joy. The men were keen to try out their newly
acquired abilities upon the enemy. Harness was polished until it shone.
Brass equipment gleamed until you could almost see your face in it. The
men groomed the horses until the animals got pains from it. Enlisted men
sojourning in the Guard House for petty offences, despatched their
guards with scrawled pleadings that the sentences be changed to fines so
that they could accompany the outfits to the front.

With one special purpose in view, I made application to General March
for an assignment to Battery A of the Sixth Field Artillery. I received
the appointment. The Sixth was the first regiment of the brigade and A
was the first battery of the regiment. I knew that we would march out in
that order, that Battery A would entrain first, detrain first, go in the
line first, and I hoped to be present at the firing of the first
American shot in the war.

We pulled out of the post on schedule time early in the morning, two
days later. Officers and men had been up and dressed since midnight. Ten
minutes after their arising, blankets had been rolled and all personal
equipment packed ready for departure with the exception of mess kits.

While the stable police details fed the horses, the rest of us "leaned
up against" steak, hot biscuits, syrup and hot coffee. The cook had been
on the job all night and his efforts touched the right spot. It seemed
as if it was the coldest hour of the night and the hot "chow" acted as a
primer on the sleepy human machines.

In the darkness, the animals were packed into the gun carriages and
caissons down in the gun park, and it was 4 A. M. on the dot when the
captain's whistle sounded and we moved off the reserve. As we rattled
over the railroad crossing and took the road, the men made facetious
good-byes to the scene of their six weeks' training.

Soldiers like movement--we were on the move. Every one's spirits were up
and the animals were frisky and high-stepping in the brisk air. Chains
rattled as some of the lead pairs mussed up the traces and were brought
back into alignment by the drivers. The cannoneers, muffled in great
coats, hung on the caisson seats and chided the drivers.

We were off. Where we were going, seemed to make no difference. Rumours
could never be depended upon, so none of us knew our destination, but
all of us hoped that we were going into action. Every man in the battery
felt that the schooling was over and that the battery, if given a
chance, could prove that it needed no further training.

At the same time, some of the men expressed the fear that we were on our
way to some other training camp for some post-graduate course in firing
or maybe for the purpose of instructing other less advanced batteries.
The final consensus of opinion was, however, that "beefing" about our
prospects wouldn't change them, and that anything was better than
staying in the same place forever.

Two miles from the post the road crossed the railroad tracks. The
crossing bore a name as everything else did in that land of poetical
nomenclature. There was only one house there. It was an old grey stone
cottage, its walls covered with vines, and its garden full of shrubbery.
It was occupied by three persons, the old crossing-tender, his wife--and
one other. That other was Jeanne. Jeanne was their daughter.

We had seen her many times as she opened the crossing gates for traffic
on the road. She was about sixteen years old. Her ankles were encased in
thick grey woollen hose of her own knitting and, where they emerged from
her heavy wooden shoes, it looked as if every move in her clumsy
footgear might break them off.

As we approached the crossing, Gallagher, who rode one of the lead pair
on piece No. 2, began to give vent to his fine Irish tenor. Gallagher
was singing:

    "We were sailing along
    On Moonlight bay,
    You could hear the voices ringing,
    They seemed to say,
    'You have stolen my heart
    Now, don't go away,'
    As we kissed and said good-bye
    On Moonlight bay."

It would almost have seemed that there was need of some explanation for
Gallagher's musical demonstration on this cold, dark morning, but none
was demanded. Gallagher apparently knew what he was doing.

His pair of lead horses were walking in much too orderly a fashion for
the occasion. Apparently the occasion demanded a little greater show of
dash and spirit. Gallagher sunk his spurs into the flanks of his mount
and punched its mate in the ribs with the heavy handle of his riding
crop.

The leads lunged forward against their collars. The sudden plunge was
accompanied by a jangle of chains as the traces tightened. The gun
carriage jolted and the cannoneers swore at the unnecessary bouncing.

"Easy, Zigg-Zigg, whoa, Fini." Gallagher pulled on the lines as he
shouted in a calculated pitch the French names of his horses. And then
the reason for Gallagher's conduct developed.

A pair of wooden shutters on a first floor window of the gate-tender's
cottage opened outward. In the window was a lamp. The yellow rays from
it shone upward and revealed a tumbled mass of long black hair, black
eyes that gleamed, red cheeks and red lips. Then a sweet voice said:

"Gude-bye, Meeky."

"Orry wore, Jeen," replied Gallagher.

"_Après la guerre_, Meeky," said Jeanne.

"Orry wore, Jeen," repeated Gallagher.

"Oh, Jeanie, dear, please call me 'Meeky,'" sang out one of the men,
astride one of the wheel pair of the same gun.

The window had closed, but before the light disappeared, black eyes
flashed hate at the jester, and Gallagher, himself, two horses ahead,
turned in the saddle and told the taunter to shut his mouth, observing
at the same time that "some guys didn't know a decent girl when they saw
one."

We rode on. Soon, on the left, the sun came up cold out of
Switzerland's white topped ridges miles away, and smiling frigidly
across the snow-clad neutral Alps, dispelled the night mist in our part
of the world.

The battery warmed under its glow. Village after village we passed
through, returning the polite salutes of early rising grand-sires who
uncovered their grey heads, or wrinkled, pink-faced grandmothers, who
waved kerchiefs from gabled windows beneath the thatch and smiled the
straight and dry-lipped smile of toothless age as they wished us good
fortune in the war.

We messed at midday by the roadside, green fields and hills of France,
our table decorations, cold beef and dry bread, our fare, with canteens
full to wash it down. When the horses had tossed their nose-bags
futilely for the last grains of oats, and the captain's watch had timed
the rest at three-quarters of the hour, we mounted and resumed the
march.

The equipment rode easy on man and beast. Packs had been shifted to
positions of maximum comfort. The horses were still fresh enough to need
tight rein. The men had made final adjustments to the chin straps on
their new steel helmets and these sat well on heads that never before
had been topped with armoured covering. In addition to all other
equipment, each man carried two gas masks. Our top sergeant had an
explanation for me as to this double gas mask equipment.

"I'll tell you about it," he said, as he ruthlessly accepted the
next-to-the-last twenty-five centime Egyptian cigarette from my
proffered case. I winced as he deliberately tore the paper from that
precious fine smoke and inserted the filler in his mouth for a chew.

"You see, England and France and us is all Allies," he said. "Both of
them loves us and we love both of them. We don't know nothing about gas
masks and they knows all there is to know about them. The French say
their gas mask is the best. The British say their gas mask is the best.

"Well, you see, they both offer us gas masks. Now Uncle Sam don't want
to hurt nobody's feelings, so he says, 'Gentlemen, we won't fight about
this here matter. We'll just use both gas masks, and give each of them a
try-out.'

"So here we are carrying two of these human nose-bags. The first time we
get into a mess of this here gas, somebody will send the order around to
change masks in the middle of it--just to find out which is the best
one."

The sergeant, with seeming malice, spat some of that fine cigarette on a
roadside kilometer stone and closed the international prospects of the
subject.

Our battery jangled through a tunnelled ridge and emerged on the other
side just as a storm of rain and hail burst with mountain fury. The
hailstones rattled on our metal helmets and the men laughed at the sound
as they donned slickers. The brakes grated on the caisson wheels as we
took the steep down-grade. The road hugged the valley wall which was a
rugged, granite cliff.

I rode on ahead through the stinging hailstones and watched our battery
as it passed through the historic rock-hewn gateway that is the entrance
to the mediæval town of Besançon. The portal is located at a sharp turn
of the river. The gateway is carved through a mountain spur. Ancient
doors of iron-studded oak still guard the entrance, but they have long
since stood open. Battlements that once knew the hand of Vaubon frown
down in ancient menace to any invader.

[Illustration: CAPT. CHEVALIER, OF THE FRENCH ARMY, INSTRUCTING AMERICAN
OFFICERS IN THE USE OF THE ONE-POUNDER]

[Illustration: IN THE COURSE OF ITS PROGRESS TO THE VALLEY OF THE VESLE
THIS 155 MM. GUN AND OTHERS OF ITS KIND WERE EDUCATING THE BOCHE TO
RESPECT AMERICA. THE TRACTOR HAULS IT ALONG STEADILY AND SLOWLY, LIKE A
STEAM ROLLER]

No Roman conqueror at the head of his invading legions ever rode through
that triumphal arch with greater pride than rode our little captain
at the head of his battery. Our little captain was in stature the
smallest man in our battery, but he compensated for that by riding the
tallest horse in the battery.

He carried his head at a jaunty angle. He wore his helmet at a nifty
tilt, with the chin strap riding between his underlip and his dimpled,
upheld chin. He carried his shoulders back, and his chest out. The reins
hung gracefully in his left hand, and he had assumed a rather
moving-picture pose of the right fist on his right hip. Behind him flew
the red guidon, its stirruped staff held stiffly at the right arm's
length by the battery standard bearer.

Both of them smiled--expansive smiles of pride--into the clicking lens
of my camera. I forgave our little captain for his smile of pride. I
knew that six weeks before that very day our little captain had fitted
into the scheme of civilian life as a machinery salesman from Indiana.
And there that day, he rode at the head of his two hundred and fifty
fighting men and horses, at the head of his guns, rolling down that road
in France on the way to the front.

In back of him and towering upward, was that historic rock that had
known the tread and passage of countless martial footsteps down through
the centuries. Behind him, the gun carriages rattled through the
frowning portal. Oh, if the folks back on the Wabash could have seen him
then!

We wound through the crooked narrow streets of Besançon, our steel-tired
wheels bounding and banging over the cobblestones. Townsfolk waved to us
from windows and doorways. Old women in the market square abandoned
their baskets of beet roots and beans to flutter green stained aprons in
our direction. Our column was flanked by clattering phalanxes of
wooden-shoed street gamins, who must have known more about our movements
than we did, because they all shouted, "Gude-bye."

Six weeks' familiarity between these same artillerymen on town leave and
these same urchins had temporised the blind admiration that caused them
first to greet our men solely with shouts of "_Vive les Américains_."
Now that they knew us better, they alternated the old greeting with
shouts of that all-meaning and also meaningless French expression, "Oo
la la."

Our way led over the stone, spanned bridge that crossed the sluggish
river through the town, and on to the hilly outskirts where mounted
French guides met and directed us to the railroad loading platform.

The platform was a busy place. The regimental supply company which was
preceding us over the road was engaged in forcibly persuading the last
of its mules to enter the toy freight cars which bore on the side the
printed legend, "Hommes 40, Chevaux 8."

Several arclights and one or two acetylene flares illuminated the scene.
It was raining fitfully, but not enough to dampen the spirits of the Y.
M. C. A. workers who wrestled with canvas tarpaulins and foraged
materials to construct a make-shift shelter for a free coffee and
sandwich counter.

Their stoves were burning brightly and the hurriedly erected stove
pipes, leaning wearily against the stone wall enclosing the quay, topped
the wall like a miniature of the sky line of Pittsburgh. The boiling
coffee pots gave off a delicious steam. In the language of our battery,
the "Whime say" delivered the goods.

During it all the mules brayed and the supply company men swore. Most
humans, cognizant of the principles of safety first, are respectful of
the rear quarters of a mule. We watched one disrespecter of these
principles invite what might have been called "mulecide" with utter
contempt for the consequences. He deliberately stood in the dangerous
immediate rear of one particularly onery mule, and kicked the mule.

His name was "Missouri Slim," as he took pains to inform the object of
his caress. He further announced to all present, men and mules, that he
had been brought up with mules from babyhood and knew mules from the
tips of their long ears to the ends of their hard tails.

The obdurate animal in question had refused to enter the door of the car
that had been indicated as his Pullman. "Missouri Slim" called three
other ex-natives of Champ Clark's state to his assistance. They
fearlessly put a shoulder under each of the mule's quarters. Then they
grunted a unanimous "heave," and lifted the struggling animal off its
feet. As a perfect matter of course, they walked right into the car with
him with no more trouble than if he had been an extra large bale of hay.

"Wonderful mule handling in this here army," remarked a quiet,
mild-mannered man in uniform, beside whom I happened to be standing. He
spoke with a slow, almost sleepy, drawl. He was the new veterinarian of
the supply company, and there were a number of things that were new to
him, as his story revealed. He was the first homesick horse doctor I
ever met.

"I come from a small town out in Iowa," he told me. "I went to a
veterinary college and had a nice little practice,--sorter kept myself
so busy that I never got much of a chance to think about this here war.
But one day, about two months ago, I got a letter from the War
Department down in Washington.

"They said the hoss doctor college had given them my name as one of the
graduates and the letter said that the War Department was making out a
list of hoss doctors. The letter asked me to fill out the blank and send
it to Washington.

"'Joe,' my wife says to me, 'this here is an honour that the country is
paying to you. The Government just wants the names of the patriotic
professional citizens of the country.' So we filled out the blank and
mailed it and forgot all about it.

"Well, about two weeks later, I got a letter from Washington telling me
to go at once to Douglas, Arizona. It sorter scared the wife and me at
first because neither of us had ever been out of Iowa, but I told her
that I was sure it wasn't anything serious--I thought that Uncle Sam
just had some sick hosses down there and wanted me to go down and look
them over.

"Well, the wife put another shirt and a collar and an extra pair of
socks in my hand satchel along with my instruments and I kissed her and
the little boy good-bye and told them that I would hurry up and
prescribe for the Government hosses and be back in about five days.

"Two days later I landed in Douglas, and a major shoved me into a
uniform and told me I was commissioned as a hoss doctor lieutenant. That
afternoon I was put on a train with a battery and we were on our way
east. Six days later we were on the ocean. We landed somewhere in France
and moved way out here.

"My wife was expecting me back in five days and here it is I've been
away two months and I haven't had a letter from her and now we're moving
up to the front. It seems to me like I've been away from Iowa for ten
years, and I guess I am a little homesick, but it sure is a comfort to
travel with an outfit that knows how to handle mules like this one
does."

The supply company completed loading, and the homesick horse doctor
boarded the last car as the train moved down the track. Our battery took
possession of the platform. A train of empties was shunted into position
and we began loading guns and wagons on the flat cars and putting the
animals into the box cars.

Considerable confusion accompanied this operation. The horses seemed to
have decided scruples against entering the cars. It was dark and the
rain came down miserably. The men swore. There was considerable kicking
on the part of the men as well as the animals.

I noticed one group that was gathered around a plunging team of horses.
The group represented an entanglement of rope, harness, horses and men.
I heard a clang of metal and saw the flash of two steel-shod hoofs. A
little corporal, holding his head up with both hands, backed out of the
group,--backed clear across the platform and sat down on a bale of hay.

I went to his assistance. Blood was trickling through his fingers. I
washed his two scalp wounds with water from a canteen and applied first
aid bandages.

"Just my luck," I heard my patient mumbling as I swathed his head in
white strips and imparted to him the appearance of a first-class front
line casualty.

"You're lucky," I told him truthfully. "Not many men get kicked in the
head by a horse and escape without a fractured skull."

"That isn't it," he said; "you see for the last week I've been wearing
that steel helmet--that cast-iron sombrero that weighs so much it almost
breaks your neck, and two minutes before that long-legged baby kicked
me, the tin hat fell off my head."

By the time our battery had been loaded, another battery was waiting to
move on to the platform. Our captain went down the length of the train
examining the halter straps in the horse cars and assuring himself of
the correct apportionment of men in each car. Then we moved out on what
developed to be a wild night ride.

The horse has been described as man's friend and no one questions that a
horse and a man, if placed out in any large open space, are capable of
getting along to their mutual comfort. But when army regulations and the
requirements of military transportation place eight horses and four men
in the same toy French box car and then pat all twelve of them
figuratively on the neck and tell them to lie down together and sleep
through an indefinite night's ride, it is not only probable, but it is
certain, that the legendary comradeship of the man and the horse ceases.
The described condition does not encompass the best understood relation
of the two as travelling companions.

On our military trains in France, the reservations of space for the
human and dumb occupants of the same car were something as follows: Four
horses occupied the forward half of the car. Four more horses occupied
the rear half of the car. Four men occupied the remaining space. The
eight four-footed animals are packed in lengthwise with their heads
towards the central space between the two side doors. The central space
is reserved for the four two-footed animals.

Then the train moves. If the movement is forward and sudden, as it
usually is, the four horses in the forward end of the car involuntarily
obey the rules of inertia and slide into the central space. If the
movement of the train is backward and equally sudden, the four horses in
the rear end of the car obey the same rule and plunge forward into the
central space. On the whole, night life for the men in the straw on the
floor of the central space is a lively existence, while "riding the
rattlers with a horse outfit."

Our battery found it so. I rode a number of miles that night sitting
with four artillerymen in the central space between the side doors which
had been closed upon orders. From the roof of the car, immediately above
our heads, an oil lantern swung and swayed with every jolt of the wheels
and cast a feeble light down upon our conference in the straw. We
occupied a small square area which we had attempted to particularise by
roping it off.

On either side were the blank surfaces of the closed doors. To either
end were the heads of four nervous animals, eight ponderous hulks of
steel-shod horseflesh, high strung and fidgety, verging almost on panic
under the unusual conditions they were enduring, and subject at any
minute to new fits of excitement.

We sat at their feet as we rattled along. I recalled the scene of the
loose cannon plunging about the crowded deck of a rolling vessel at sea
and related Hugo's thrilling description to my companions.

"Yeah," observed Shoemaker, driver of the "wheelers" on No. 4 piece,
"Yeah, but there ain't no mast to climb up on and get out of the way on
in this here boxcar."

"I'd rather take my chances with a cannon any day," said 'Beady' Watson,
gunner. "A cannon will stay put when you fix it. There's our piece out
on the flat car and she's all lashed and blocked. It would take a wreck
to budge her off that flat. I wish the B. C. had let me ride with the
old gun out there. It would be a little colder but a lot healthier. Try
to go to sleep in here and you'll wake up with a horse sitting on you."

"Where do you suppose we are going anyway?" asked Slater, fuse cutter in
the same section. "I'm strong for travel, but I always like to read the
program before we start to ramble. For all we know we might be on our
way to Switzerland or Italy or Spain or Egypt or somewhere."

"Why don't you go up and ask the Captain?" suggested Boyle, corporal in
charge of the car. "Maybe the Colonel gave him a special message to
deliver to you about our dusty-nation. You needn't worry though. They
ain't going to bowl us out of France for some time yet."

"Well, if we're just joy-riding around France," replied Slater, "I hope
we stop over to feed the horses at Monte Carlo. I've heard a lot about
that joint. They say that they run the biggest crap game in the world
there, and the police lay off the place because the Governor of the
State or the King or something, banks the game. They tell me he uses
straight bones and I figure a man could clean up big if he hit the game
on a payday."

"Listen, kid, you've got this tip wrong," said Shoemaker. "If there's
anything happens to start a riot among these horses, you are going to
find that you're gambling with death. And if we ever get off this train,
I think we have a date with Kaiser Bill."

"I've got a cousin somewhere in the German army. He spells his
'Shoemaker' with a 'u.' My dad told me that my grandfather and this
cousin's grandfather had a business disagreement over a sauerkraut
factory some time before the Civil War and my grandfather left Germany.
Since then, there ain't been no love lost between the branches of the
family, but we did hear that Cousin Hans had left the sauerkraut
business and was packing a howitzer for the Kaiser."

"Well, I hope we come across him for your sake," said Watson. "It's
kinda tough luck to get cheated out of a big business like that, but
then you must remember that if your cousin's grandfather hadn't pulled
the dirty on your grandfather, your grandfather might never have gone to
America and most likely you'd still be a German."

"I guess there's some sense in that, too," replied Shoemaker; "wouldn't
that been hell if I'd been on the other side in this war? But anyhow, I
do hope we run into Cousin Hans somewhere."

The horses had been comparatively quiet for some time, but now they
seemed to be growing restless. They pricked their ears and we knew
something was bothering them. The discussion stopped so that we could
listen better.

Above the rattle of the train, there came to us the sound of firing. It
seemed to come from the direction in which we were going. With
surprising quickness, the explosions grew louder. We were not only
speeding toward the sounds of conflict, but the conflict itself seemed
to be speeding toward us.

Then came a crash unmistakably near. One of the horses in the forward
end reared, and his head thumped the roof of the car. Once again on four
feet, he pranced nervously and tossed his blood-wet forelock.
Immediately the other horses began stamping.

Another crash!--this time almost directly overhead. In the light of the
swinging lantern, I could see the terror in the eyes of the frightened
brutes. We clung to their halters and tried to quiet them but they
lifted us off our feet.

"Put a twitch on that one's nose and hold him down," Boyle ordered.

"Gosh," said Slater, obeying, "we must be right up on the front line.
Hope they don't stop this train in No Man's Land. Hold still, you crazy
b----"

"Cousin Hans must have heard you talking," Watson shouted to Shoemaker.
"Maybe you're going to see him quicker than you expected."

The train was slowing down. The brakes shrieked and grated as we came to
a jerky stop. Three of us braced ourselves at the heads of the four
horses in the rear of the car and prevented them from sliding on top of
us. Boyle and Slater were doing their best to quiet the forward four.
The explosions overhead increased. Now we heard the report of field
pieces so close that they seemed to be almost alongside the track.

There came a sharp bang at one of the side doors, and I thought I
recognised the sound of the lead-loaded handle of the captain's riding
whip. His voice, coming to us a minute later above the trampling and
kicking of the panic-stricken animals, verified my belief.

"Darken that lantern," he shouted. "Keep all lights out and keep your
helmets on. Stay in the cars and hang on to the horses. There is an air
raid on right above us."

"Yes, sir," replied Boyle, and we heard the captain run to the next car.
I blew out the light and we were in complete darkness, with eight
tossing, plunging horses that kicked and reared at every crash of the
guns nearby or burst of the shells overhead.

We hung on while the air battle went on above. One horse went down on
his knees and in his frantic struggles to regain his feet, almost kicked
the feet from under the animal beside him.

At times, thunderous detonations told us that aerial bombs were doing
their work near at hand. We supposed correctly that we were near some
town not far behind the lines, and that the German was paying it a night
visit with some of his heaviest visiting cards.

I opened one side door just a crack and looked out. The darkness above
blossomed with blinding blotches of fire that flashed on and off. It
seemed as though the sky were a canopy of black velvet perforated with
hundreds of holes behind which dazzling lights passed back and forth,
flashing momentary gleams of brilliance through the punctures. Again,
this vision would pass as a luminous dripping mass would poise itself on
high and cast a steady white glare that revealed clusters of grey smoke
puffs of exploded shrapnel.

We had to close the door because the flashes added to the terror of the
horses, but the aerial activity passed almost as suddenly as it had come
and left our train untouched. As the raiding planes went down the wind,
followed always by the poppings of the anti-aircraft guns, the sound of
the conflict grew distant. We got control over the horses although they
still trembled with fright.

There came another rap at the door and I hurriedly accepted the
captain's invitation to accompany him forward to a first-class coach
where I spent the remainder of the night stretched out on the cushions.
As our train resumed its way into the darkness, I dreamed of racing
before a stampede of wild horses.



CHAPTER VII

INTO THE LINE--THE FIRST AMERICAN SHOT IN THE WAR


A damp, chill, morning mist made the dawn even greyer as our battery
train slid into a loading platform almost under the walls of a large
manufacturing plant engaged in producing war materials.

In spite of the fact that the section chiefs reported that not a man had
been injured, and not so much as a leg broken in the crowded horse cars,
every man in the battery now declared the absence of any doubt but the
air raid had been directly aimed at Battery A.

"There might be a spy in this here very outfit," said 'Texas' Tinsdale,
the battery alarmist. "Else how could them German aviators have known
that Battery A was on the road last night? They knew we was on the way
to the front and they tried to get us."

"Hire a hall," shouted the gruffy top sergeant. "We've got two hours to
unload. A lot of you fireside veterans get busy. Gun crews get to work
on the flats and drivers unload horses. No chow until we're ready to
move out."

The sign on a station lamp-post told us the name of the town. It was
Jarville. But it jarred nothing in our memories. None of us had ever
heard of it before. I asked the captain where we were.

"Just about thirty miles behind the front," he replied. "We are moving
up to our last billets as soon as we unload and feed."

The horses had made the ride wearing their harness, some of which had
become entangled and broken in transit. A number of saddles had slipped
from backs and were down behind forelegs.

"We're learning something every minute," the captain exclaimed.
"American army regulations call for the removal of all harness from the
horses before they are put into the cars, but the French have learned
that that is a dangerous practice over here.

"You can't unload unharnessed horses and get them hitched to the guns as
quick as you can harnessed horses. The idea is this. We're pretty close
behind the lines. A German air party might make this unloading platform
a visit at any time and if any of them are in the air and happen to see
us unloading, they'd sure call on us.

"The French have learned that the only way to make the best of such a
situation, if it should arise, is to have the horses already harnessed
so that they can be run out of the cars quickly, hitched to the guns in
a jiffy and hurried away. If the horses are in the cars unharnessed, and
all of the harness is being carried in other cars, confusion is
increased and there is a greater prospect of your losing your train,
horses, guns and everything from an incendiary bomb, not to mention low
flying machine work."

His explanation revealed a promising attitude that I found in almost all
American soldiers of all ranks that I had encountered up to that time in
France. The foundation of the attitude was a willingness to admit
ignorance of new conditions and an eagerness to possess themselves of
all knowledge that the French and British had acquired through bitter
and costly experience.

Further than that, the American inclination pushed the soldier students
to look beyond even those then accepted standards. The tendency was to
improve beyond the French and British, to apply new American principles
of time or labour-saving to simple operation, to save man-power and
horseflesh by sane safety appliances, to increase efficiency, speed,
accuracy--in a word, their aim was to make themselves the best fighting
men in the Allied cause.

One instance of this is worthy of recounting. I came upon the young
Russian who was the battery saddler. He was a citizen of the United
States whose uniform he wore, but he was such a new citizen, that he
hardly spoke English. I found him handling a small piece of galvanised
iron and a horse shoe. He appeared to be trying to fit the rumpled piece
of metal into the shoe.

In his broken English he explained that he was trying to fashion a light
metal plate that could be easily placed between a horse's shoe and the
hoof, to protect the frog of the foot from nails picked up on the road.
With all soldiers wearing hobnailed boots, the roads were full of those
sharp bits of metal which had caused serious losses of horseflesh
through lameness and blood poisoning.

       *       *       *       *       *

The unloading had continued under the eyes of smiling French girls in
bloomers who were just departing from their work on the early morning
shift in the munition factory beside the station. These were the first
American soldiers they had seen and they were free to pass comment upon
our appearance. So were the men of Battery A, who overlooked the oiled,
grimed faces and hands of the bloomered beauties, and announced the
general verdict that "they sure were fat little devils."

The unloading completed, a scanty snack consisting of two unbuttered
slices of white bread with a hunk of cold meat and maybe the bite of an
onion, had been put away by the time the horses' nose bags were empty.
With a French guide in the lead, we moved off the platform, rattled
along under a railroad viaduct, and down the main street of Jarville,
which was large enough to boast street car tracks and a shell-damaged
cathedral spire.

The remaining townsfolk had lived with the glare and rumble of the front
for three years now and the passage back and forth of men and horses and
guns hardly elicited as much attention as the occasional promenade of a
policeman in Evanston, Illinois. But these were different men that rode
through those streets that day.

This was the first battery of American artillery that had passed that
way. This was an occasion and the townspeople responded to it. Children,
women and old men chirped "vivas," kissed hands, bared heads and waved
hats and aprons from curb and shop door and windows overhead.

There was no cheering, but there were smiles and tears and "God bless
you's." It was not a vociferous greeting, but a heart-felt one. They
offered all there was left of an emotion that still ran deep and strong
within but that outwardly had been benumbed by three years of nerve-rack
and war-weariness.

Onward into the zone of war we rode. On through successive battered
villages, past houses without roofs, windows with shattered panes, stone
walls with gaping shell holes through them, churches without steeples,
our battery moved toward the last billeting place before entering the
line.

This was the ancient town of Saint-Nicolas-du-Port on the banks of the
river Meurthe. Into the Place de la Republic of the town the battery
swung with a clamorous advance guard of schoolchildren and street
gamins.

The top sergeant who had preceded the battery into the town, galloped up
to the captain upon our entry and presented him with a sheaf of yellow
paper slips, which bore the addresses of houses and barns and the
complements of men and horses to be quartered in each. This was the
billeting schedule provided by the French major of the town. The guns
were parked, the horses picketed and the potato peelers started on their
endless task. The absence of fuel for the mess fires demanded immediate
correction.

It was a few minutes past noon when the captain and I entered the office
of the French Town Major. It was vacant. The officers were at
_déjeuner_, we learned from an old woman who was sweeping the
commandant's rooms. Where?--Ah, she knew not. We accosted the first
French officer we met on the street.

"Where does the Town Major eat?" the Captain inquired in his best
Indianapolis French. After the customary exchange of salutes,
introductions, handshakes and greetings, the Frenchman informed us that
Monsieur Le Commandant favoured the _pommard_, that Madame Larue served
at the Hôtel de la Fountaine.

We hurried to that place, and there in a little back room behind a
plate-cluttered table with a red and white checkered table cloth, we
found the Major. The Major said he spoke the English with the fluency.
He demonstrated his delusion when we asked for wood.

"Wood! Ah, but it is impossible that it is wood you ask of me. Have I
not this morning early seen with my own eyes the wood ordered?"

"But there is no wood," replied the Captain. "I must have wood for the
fires. It is past noon and my men have not eaten."

"Ah, but I am telling you there is wood," replied the Major. "I saw your
supply officer pay for the wood. By now I believe it has been delivered
for you in the Place de la République."

"But it hasn't," remonstrated the Captain, "and the fires have not yet
been started, and----"

"But it is on the way, probably," said the Major. "Maybe it will be
there soon. Maybe it is there now."

The Captain took another tack.

"Where was the wood bought?" he asked.

"From the wood merchant beyond the river," replied the Major. "But it is
already on the way, and----"

"How do you go to the wood merchant?" insisted the Captain. "We have got
to have the wood toot sweet."

"Ah! _tout de suite_--_tout de suite_--_tout de suite_," repeated the
Major in tones of exasperation. "With you Americans it is always _tout
de suite_. Here----"

He took my notebook and drew a plan of streets indicating the way to the
place of the wood merchant. In spite of his remark and the undesired
intrusion of business upon his _déjeuner_, the Major's manner was as
friendly as could be expected from a Town Major. We left on the run.

The wood merchant was a big man, elderly and fat. His face was red and
he had bushy grey eyebrows. He wore a smock of blue cloth that came to
his knees. He remonstrated that it was useless for us to buy wood from
him because wood had already been bought for us. He spoke only French.
The Captain dismissed all further argument by a direct frontal attack on
the subject.

"_Avez-vous de bois?_" asked the Captain.

"_Oui_," the merchant nodded.

"_Avez-vous de chevaux?_" the Captain asked.

"_Oui_," the merchant nodded again.

"_Avez-vous de voiture?_" the Captain asked.

"_Oui_,"--another nod.

"All right then," continued the Captain, and then emphasising each word
by the sudden production of another stiff finger on his extended hand,
he said, "_Du bois--des chevaux--une voiture_--de whole damn
business--and toot sweet."

In some remarkable fashion the kindly wood merchant gathered that the
Captain wanted wood piled in a wagon, drawn by a horse and wanted it in
a hurry. _Tout de suite_, pronounced "toot sweet" by our soldiers, was a
term calling for speed, that was among the first acquired by our men in
France.

The old man shrugged his shoulders, elevated his hand, palm outward, and
signified with an expression of his face that it was useless to argue
further for the benefit of these Americans. He turned and gave the
necessary loading orders to his working force.

That working force consisted of two French girls, each about eighteen
years of age. They wore long baggy bloomers of brown corduroy, tight at
the ankles where they flopped about in folds over clumsy wooden shoes.
They wore blouses of the same material and tam o'shanter hats to match,
called _bérets_.

Each one of them had a cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth.
One stood on the ground and tossed up the thirty or forty-pound logs to
her sister who stood above on top of the wagon. The latter caught them
in her extended arms and placed them in a pile. To the best of my
recollection, neither one of the girls missed a puff.

While the loading proceeded, the wood merchant, speaking slowly in
French, made us understand the following:

"Many peculiar things happen in the war, Monsieur," he said. "Your
country, the America, is the land of wonders. Listen, my name is Helois.
Ten days ago there came to me one of the washerwomen who clean the
clothes on the banks of the Meurthe, and she said to me:

"'Ah, Monsieur, the wood merchant. You are the sly fox. I have your
secret.' And I say to her that I know not of what she speaks.

"'You boast in the town that your two sons are at the front,' she said,
'but I know that one at least of them is not.' And I was dumbfounded. I
say to her, 'Woman, it is a lie you tell me. Both of my boys are with
their regiments, in the trenches even now, if by the grace of the good
God they still live.'

"'No,' she say to me, 'one of your sons hides in the hotel of Madame
Larue. How do I know this secret, Monsieur the wood merchant? I know
because this day have I washed the shirt, with his name on it, at the
river bank. His name, Helois,--the Lieutenant Helois--was stamped on the
collar and the shirt came from the hotel, La Fontaine.'

"I tell her that it is a mistake--that it is the great injustice to me
she speaks, and that night I dressed in my best clothes to penetrate
this mystery--to meet this man who disgracefully used the name of my
son--to expose this impostor who would bring shame to the name of
Helois, the wood merchant, whose two sons have been fighting for France
these three long years.

"And so, Monsieur, I meet this man at the hotel. She was right. His name
was Helois. Here is his card. The Lieutenant Louis F. Helois, and he is
a lieutenant in the United States Army."

"So it was a mistake," replied the Captain, handing the card back to the
wood merchant, whose lobster red features bore an enigmatical smile.

"No,--not the mistake, the truth," replied the wood merchant. "Not my
son--but my grandson--the son of my son--the son of my third son who
went to America years ago. And now he comes back in the uniform of
liberty to fight again for France. Ah, _Messieurs les Officiers_--the
sons of France return from the ends of the world to fight her cause."

While the wood merchant was telling us that the American grandson had
only stopped three days in the town and then had moved up to service at
the front, the air was shattered by a loud report. It was the snap of
the whip in the hands of the young French amazon, standing high on the
load of wood. We escorted the fuel proudly to the Place de la
République. Soon the fires were burning briskly and the smell of onions
and coffee and hot chow was on the air.

The stoves were pitched at the bottom of a stone monument in the centre
of the square. Bags of potatoes and onions and burlap covered quarters
of beef and other pieces of mess sergeants paraphernalia were piled on
the steps of the monument, which was covered with the green and black
scars from dampness and age.

The plinth supported a stone shaft fifteen feet in height, which touched
the lower branches of the trees. The monument was topped with a huge
cross of stone on which was the sculptured figure of the Christ.

Little Sykoff, the battery mess sergeant, stood over the stove at the
bottom of the monument. He held in his hand a frying pan, which he shook
back and forth over the fire to prevent the sizzling chips in the pan
from burning. His eyes lowered from an inspection of the monument and
met mine. He smiled.

"Mr. Gibbons," he said, "if that brother of mine, who runs the
photograph gallery out on Paulina and Madison Streets in Chicago, could
only see me now, he sure would tell the Rabbi. Can you beat it--a Jew
here frying ham in the shadow of the Cross."

It was rather hard to beat--and so was the ham. We made this concession
as we sat on the plinth of the monument and polished our mess kits with
bread. And such bread--it was the regulation United States army issue
bread--white, firm and chuck full of nourishment--bread that seemed like
cake to the French youngsters who tasted it and who returned with open
mouths and outstretched hands for more of the "good white bread."

After the meal, those members of Battery A not detailed for immediate
duty denied themselves none of the joys that a new town, in a strange
land, holds for a soldier.

Saint-Nicolas-du-Port boasts a remarkable cathedral of mediæval
architecture, of enormous dimensions. It was crumbling with age, but
still housed the holy. Time and the elements had left the traces of
their rough usage upon the edifice.

Half of the statues on the broad façade of the cathedral had been
broken, and now the niches afforded domiciles for families of pigeons.
On the ground, in a careless pile, to one side of the frontal arch, was
an ignominious pile of miscellaneous arms and legs and heads of
sculptured figures, resting there in anything but saintly dignity. Two
of our young artillerymen were standing in front of the cathedral
surveying it.

"Certainly is in need of repairs," said one of them. "I'll bet they
haven't done no bricklaying or plumbing on this place since before the
Civil War."

"That ain't hardly the right way to treat old Saints," replied his
companion, referring to the pile of broken statuary. "Seems like they
ought to cement the arms and legs and heads back on those old boys and
old girls and put them back on their pedestals. I guess, though, there
ain't nobody living to identify the pieces, so they could get the right
arms and heads on the right bodies."

Our battery had among its drivers an old timer who might have been
called a historian. His opinion held weight in the organisation. He
professed to be able to read American ball scores and war news out of
French newspapers, a number of which he always carried. Later that day,
I heard him lecturing the cathedral critics on their lack of
appreciation of art and history.

"New things ain't art," he told them; "things has got to be old before
they are artistic. Nobody'd look at the Venus dee Milo if she had all
her arms on. You never hear nobody admiring a modern up-to-date castle
with electric lighting and bath tubs in it. It simply ain't art.

"Now, this cathedral is art. This country around here is just full of
history. Here's where whole book stores of it was written. Why, say,
there was batteries of artillery rolling through this country a million
years ago. It was right around here that Napoleon joined forces with
Julius Cæsar to fight the Crusaders. This here is sacred ground."

In the evening, a number of the battery, located the _buvette_ that
carried across its curtained front the gold lettered sign _bar
Parisian_. It was a find. Some thirty American artillerymen crowded
around the tables.

Cigarette smoke filled the low-ceilinged room with blue layers, through
which the lamp light shone. In one corner stood a mechanical piano which
swallowed big copper sous and gave out discord's metallic melody. It was
of an American make and the best number on its printed programme was
"Aren't you Coming Back to Old Virginia, Molly?" Sous followed sous into
this howitzer of harmony and it knew no rest that night. Everybody
joined in and helped it out on the choruses.

Things were going fine when the door opened at about nine thirty, and
there stood two members of the American Provost Guard. They carried with
them two orders. One instructed Madame, the proprietress, to dispense no
more red ink or beer to American soldiers that night, and the other was
a direction to all Americans around the table to get back to their
billets for the night.

The bunch left with reluctance but without a grumble. It was warm and
comfortable within the _bar Parisian_ and Madame's smiles and red wine
and beer and Camembert cheese composed the Broadway of many recent
dreams. But they left without complaint.

They made their rollicking departure, returning Madame's parting smiles,
gallantly lifting their steel helmets and showering her with vociferous
"bong swore's." And--well it simply must be told. She kissed the last
one out out the door and, turning, wiped away a tear with the corner of
her apron. Madame had seen youth on the way to the front before.

The billets were comfortable. Some were better than others. Picket line
details slept in their blankets in the hay over the stables. Gun crews
drew beds and pallets on the floor in occupied houses. In these homes
there was always that hour before retirement for the night when the old
men and remaining women of the French household and their several
military guests billeted in the place, would gather about the fireplace
in the kitchen and regale one another with stories, recounted by the
murder of French and English languages and a wealth of pantomime.

Louise, the eighteen-year-old daughter of the town-crier--he who daily
beat the drum in front of the Hôtel de Ville and read lengthy
bulletins, was interested in the workings of Gunner Black's colt
automatic. Gunner Black, most anxious to show her, demonstrated the
action of the pistol but, forgetting that inevitable shell in the
chamber, shot himself in the arm.

It was only an incident. The noise scared Louise, but not the wound. She
had seen too many Americans get shot in the moving pictures.

The captain and I were quartered in the house of the Curé of the
cathedral. The old housekeeper of the place made the captain blush when
she remarked her surprise that there were such young captains in the
American army. Her name was Madame Dupont, and she was more than pleased
to learn from the captain that that had been the maiden name of his
mother.

The captain's room had the interior dimensions and heavy decorations of
the mystic inner sanctum of some secret grand lodge. Religious paintings
and symbols hung from the walls, which were papered in dark red to match
the heavy plush hangings over the ever closed windows.

Two doors in the blank wall swung open revealing a hermetically sealed
recess in which a bed just fitted. This arrangement, quite common in
France, indicated that the device now popular in two-room sleeping
apartments in America, must have been suggested by the sleeping customs
of mediæval times.

Early the next morning, our battery pulled out for the front. We were
bound for the line. We took the roads out of Saint Nicolas to the east,
making our way toward that part of the front that was known as the
Luneville sector. Our way lay through the towns of Dombasle,
Sommerviller, Maixe, Einville, Valhey, Serres, to the remains of the
ruined village of Hoeville.

The sector runs almost along the border between France and old Lorraine,
occupied by the Germans since 1870. Even the names of the old French
towns beyond the border had been changed to German in the effort of the
Prussians to Germanise the stolen province.

It was in this section during the few days just prior to the outbreak of
the war that France made unwise demonstration of her disinclination
toward hostilities with Germany. Every soldier in France was under arms,
as was every soldier in Europe. France had military patrols along her
borders. In the French chamber of deputies, the socialists had rushed
through a measure which was calculated to convince the German people
that France had no intentions or desire of menacing German territory. By
that measure every French soldier was withdrawn from the Franco-German
border to a line ten miles inside of France. The German appreciation of
this evidence of peacefulness was manifested when the enemy, at the
outbreak of the war, moved across the border and occupied that ten-mile
strip of France.

France had succeeded in driving the enemy back again in that part of
Lorraine, but only at the cost of many lives and the destruction of many
French towns and villages. Since the close of the fighting season of
1914, there had been little or no progress on either side at this point.
The opposing lines here had been stationary for almost three years and
it was known on both sides as a quiet sector.

The country side was of a rolling character, but very damp. At that
season of the year when our first American fighting men reached the
Western front, that part of the line that they occupied was particularly
muddy and miserable.

Before nine o'clock that morning as we rode on to the front, the
horse-drawn traffic, including our battery, was forced to take the side
of the road numerous times to permit the passage of long trains of motor
trucks loaded down with American infantrymen, bound in the same
direction.

Most of the motor vehicles were of the omnibus type. A number of them
were worthy old double-deckers that had seen long years of peaceful
service on the boulevards of Paris before the war. Slats of wood ran
lengthwise across the windows of the lower seating compartment and
through these apertures young, sun-burned, American faces topped with
steel helmets, peered forth.

Some of our men reposed languidly on the rear steps of the busses or on
the tops. Most of the bus-loads were singing rollicking choruses. The
men were in good spirits. They had been cheered in every village they
had passed through on the way from their training area.

"Howdy, bowleg," was the greeting shouted by one of these motoring
mockers, who looked down on our saddled steeds, "better get a hustle on
them hayburners. We're going to be in Berlin by the time you get where
the front used to be."

"Yes, you will," replied one of the mounted artillerymen, with a
negative inflection. "You'll get a hell of a long ways without us. If
you doughboys start anything without the artillery, you'll see Berlin
through the bars of a prisoner's cage."

"Lucky pups--the artillery--nothing to do but ride," was the passing
shout of another taunter, perched high on a bus. This was an
unanswerable revision of an old taunt that the artillery used to shout
to passing infantry in the days when a foot soldier was really a foot
soldier. Then the easy-riding mounted troops, when passing an infantry
column on the road, would say, "Pretty soft for the doughboys--nothing
to do but walk."

"Times certainly have changed," one of our battery drivers felt it
necessary to remark to me in defence of his branch of the service. "But
there ain't no spark plugs or carburetors to get out of order on our
mounts.

"However, we do have our troubles. That runaway wheeler in No. 2 section
broke away from the picket line last night and Kemball and I were
detailed to hunt all over town for him.

"You know that dark, winding, narrow street, that winds down the hill
back of the cathedral. Well, it was about midnight and blacker than the
ace of spades, when Kemball and I pushed along there in the dark,
looking for that onery animal.

"Suddenly, we heard a sharp clatter on the cobblestones half a block up
the hill. It was coming our way full speed. 'Here he comes now,' said
Kemball, 'and he's galloping like hell. Jump into a doorway or he'll
climb all over us.'

"We waited there pressed against the wall in the dark as the galloping
came up to us and passed. What dy'e s'pose it was? It wasn't that
runaway horse at all. Just a couple of them French kids chasing one
another in wooden shoes."

The road to the front was a populous one. We passed numerous groups of
supply wagons carrying food and fodder up to the front lines. Other
wagons were returning empty and here and there came an ambulance with
bulgy blankets outlining the figures of stretcher cases, piled two high
and two wide. Occasionally a Y. M. C. A. runabout loaded down with
coffee pots and candy tins and driven by helmeted wearers of the Red
Triangle, would pass us carrying its store of extras to the boys up
front.

We passed through villages where manufacturing plants were still in
operation and, nearer the front, the roads lay through smaller hamlets,
shell torn and deserted, save for sentries who stood guard in wooden
coops at intersections. Civilians became fewer and fewer, although there
was not a village that did not have one or two women or children or old
men unfit for uniform.

Finally the road mounted a rolling hill and here it was bordered by
roadside screens consisting of stretched chicken wire to which whisps of
straw and grass and bits of green dyed cloth had been attached. Our men
riding behind the screen peered through apertures in it and saw the
distant hills forward, from which German glasses could have observed all
passage along that road had it not been for the screen.

So we moved into position. It was late in the night of October 22nd,
1917, that our batteries of artillery and companies of infantry moved
through the darkness on the last lap of their trip to the front. The
roads were sticky and gummy. A light rain was falling. The guns boomed
in front of us, but not with any continued intensity. Through streets
paved with slippery cobbles and bordered with the bare skeletons of
shell-wrecked houses, our American squads marched four abreast. Their
passing in the darkness was accompanied by the sound of the unhastened
tread of many hobnailed boots.

At times, the rays of a cautiously flashed electric light would reveal
our infantrymen with packs on back and rifles slung over their
shoulders. A stiff wind whipped the rain into their faces and tugged the
bottoms of their flapping, wet overcoats.

Notwithstanding the fact that they had made it on foot a number of miles
from the place where they had disembarked from the motor trucks, the men
marched along to the soft singing of songs, which were ordered
discontinued as the marching columns got closer to the communicating
trenches which led into the front line.

In the march were machine gun carts hauled by American mules and rolling
kitchens, which at times dropped on the darkened road swirls of glowing
red embers that had to be hurriedly stamped out. Anxious American staff
officers consulted their wrist watches frequently in evidence of the
concern they felt as to whether the various moving units were reaching
designated points upon the scheduled minute.

It was after midnight that our men reached the front line. It was the
morning of October 23rd, 1917, that American infantrymen and Bavarian
regiments of _Landwehr_ and _Landsturm_ faced one another for the first
time in front line positions on the European front.

Less than eight hundred yards of slate and drab-coloured soft ground,
blotched with rust-red expanses of wire entanglements, separated the
hostile lines.

There was no moon. A few cloud-veiled stars only seemed to accentuate
the blackness of the night. There, in the darkness and the mud, on the
slippery firing step of trench walls and in damp, foul-smelling dugouts,
young red-blooded Americans tingled for the first time with the thrill
that they had trained so long and travelled so far to experience.

Through unfortunate management of the Press arrangements in connection
with this great historical event, American correspondents accredited by
the War Department to our forces, were prevented from accompanying our
men into the front that night. Good fortune, however, favoured me as
one of the two sole exceptions to this circumstance. Raymond G. Carroll,
correspondent of the Philadelphia _Public Ledger_, and myself,
representing the Chicago _Tribune_ and its associated papers, were the
only two newspaper men who went into the line with the men that night.
For enjoying this unusual opportunity, we were both arrested several
days later, not, however, until after we had obtained the first-hand
story of the great event.

A mean drizzle of rain was falling that night, but it felt cool on the
pink American cheeks that were hot with excitement. The very wetness of
the air impregnated all it touched with the momentousness of the hour.
Spirits were high and the mud was deep, but we who were there had the
feeling that history was chiselling that night's date into her book of
ages.

Occasionally a shell wheezed over through the soggy atmosphere, seeming
to leave an unseen arc in the darkness above. It would terminate with a
sullen thump in some spongy, water-soaked mound behind us. Then an
answering missive of steel would whine away into the populated
invisibility in front of us.

French comrades, in half English and half French, gushed their
congratulations, and shook us by the hand. Some of us were even hugged
and kissed on both cheeks. Our men took the places of French platoons
that were sent back to rest billets. But other French platoons remained
shoulder to shoulder with our men in the front line. The presence of our
troops there was in continuation of their training for the purpose of
providing a nucleus for the construction of later contingents. Both our
infantry and our artillery acted in conjunction with the French infantry
and artillery and the sector remained under French command.

Our men were eager to ask questions and the French were ever ready to
respond. They first told us about the difference in the sound of shells.
Now that one that started with a bark in back of us and whined over our
heads is a _départ_. It is an Allied shell on its way to the Germans.
Now, this one, that whines over first and ends with a distant grunt,
like a strong wallop on a wet carpet, is an _arrivée_. It has arrived
from Germany. In the dugouts, our men smoked dozens of cigarettes,
lighting fresh ones from the half-consumed butts. It is the appetite
that comes with the progressive realisation of a long deferred hope. It
is the tension that comes from at last arriving at an object and then
finding nothing to do, now that you are there. It is the nervousness
that nerveless youth suffers in inactivity.

The men sloshed back and forth through the mud along the narrow confines
of the trench. The order is against much movement, but immobility is
unbearable. Wet slickers rustle against one another in the narrow
traverses, and equipment, principally the French and English gas masks,
hanging at either hip become entangled in the darkness.

At times a steel helmet falls from some unaccustomed head and, hitting
perhaps a projecting rock in the trench wall, gives forth a clang which
is followed by curses from its clumsy owner and an admonition of quiet
from some young lieutenant.

"Olson, keep your damn fool head down below the top of that trench or
you'll get it blown off." The sergeant is talking, and Olson, who
brought from Minnesota a keen desire to see No Man's Land even at the
risk of his life, is forced to repress the yearning.

"Two men over in B Company just got holes drilled through their beans
for doing the same thing," continued the sergeant. "There's nothing you
can see out there anyhow. It's all darkness."

Either consciously or unconsciously, the sergeant was lying, for the
purpose of saving Olson and others from a fool's fate. There was not a
single casualty in any American unit on the line that first night.

"Where is the telephone dugout?" a young lieutenant asked his French
colleague. "I want to speak to the battalion commander."

"But you must not speak English over the telephone," replied the
Frenchman, "the Germans will hear you with the instruments they use to
tap the underground circuit."

"But I was going to use our American code," said the front line novice;
"if the Germans tap in they won't be able to figure out what it means."

"Ah, no, my friend," replied the Frenchman, smiling. "They won't know
what the message means, but your voice and language will mean to them
that Americans are occupying the sector in front of them, and we want to
give them that information in another way, _n'est ce pas?_"

Undoubtedly there was some concern in the German trenches just over the
way with regard to what was taking place in our lines. Relief periods
are ticklish intervals for the side making them. It is quite possible
that some intimation of our presence may have been given.

There was considerable conversation and movement among our men that
night. Jimmy found it frequently necessary to call the attention of
Johnny to some new thing he had discovered. And of a consequence, much
natural, but needless, chattering resulted.

I believe the Germans did become nervous because they made repeated
attacks on the enveloping darkness with numbers of star shells. These
aerial beauties of night warfare released from their exploding
encasements high in the air, hung from white silk parachutes above the
American amateurs.

The numerous company and battery jesters did not refrain from imitative
expressions of "Ahs" and "Ohs" and "Ain't it bootiful?" as their
laughing upturned faces were illuminated in the white light.

That night one rocket went up shortly before morning. It had a different
effect from its predecessors. It reared itself from the darkness
somewhere on the left. Its flight was noiseless as it mounted higher and
higher on its fiery staff. Then it burst in a shower of green balls of
fire.

That meant business. One green rocket was the signal that the Germans
were sending over gas shells. It was an alarm that meant the donning of
gas masks. On they went quickly. It was the first time this equipment
had been adjusted under emergency conditions, yet the men appeared to
have mastered the contrivances.

Then the word was passed along the trenches and through the dugouts for
the removal of the masks. It had not been a French signal. The green
rocket had been sent up by the Germans. The enemy was using green
rockets that night as a signal of their own. There had been no gas
shells. It was a false alarm.

"The best kind of practice in the world," said one of our battalion
commanders; "it's just the stuff we're here for. I hope the Germans
happen to do that every night a new bunch of our men get in these
trenches."

While the infantry were experiencing these initial thrills in the front
line, our gunners were struggling in the mud of the black gun pits to
get their pieces into position in the quickest possible time, and
achieve the honour of firing that first American shot in the war.

Each battery worked feverishly in intense competition with every other
battery. Battery A of the 6th Field, to which I had attached myself,
lost in the race for the honour. Another battery in the same regiment
accomplished the achievement.

That was Battery C of the 6th Field Artillery. I am reproducing,
herewith, for what I believe is the first time, the exact firing data on
that shot and the officers and men who took part in it.

       *       *       *       *       *

By almost superhuman work through the entire previous day and night,
details of men from Battery C had pulled one cannon by ropes across a
muddy, almost impassable, meadow. So anxious were they to get off the
first shot that they did not stop for meals.

They managed to drag the piece into an old abandoned French gun pit. The
historical position of that gun was one kilometre due east of the town
of Bathelemont and three hundred metres northeast of the
Bauzemont-Bathelemont road. The position was located two miles from the
old international boundary line between France and German-Lorraine. The
position was one and one-half kilometres back of the French first line,
then occupied by Americans.

The first shot was fired at 6:5:10 A. M., October 23rd, 1917. Those who
participated in the firing of the shot were as follows:

  Lieutenant F. M. Mitchell, U.S.R., acted as platoon chief.
  Corporal Robert Braley laid the piece.
  Sergeant Elward Warthen loaded the piece.
  Sergeant Frank Grabowski prepared the fuse for cutting.
  Private Louis Varady prepared the fuse for cutting.
  Private John J. Wodarczak prepared the fuse for cutting.
  Corporal Osborne W. De Varila prepared the fuse for cutting.
  Sergeant Lonnie Domonick cut the fuse.
  Captain Idus R. McLendon gave the command to fire.
  Sergeant Alex L. Arch fired first shot.

The missile fired was a 75 millimetre or 3-inch high-explosive shell.
The target was a German battery of 150 millimetre or 6-inch guns located
two kilometres back of the German first line trenches, and one kilometre
in back of the boundary line between France and German-Lorraine. The
position of that enemy battery on the map was in a field 100 metres west
of the town which the French still call Xanrey, but which the Germans
have called Schenris since they took it from France in 1870. Near that
spot--and damn near--fell the first American shell fired in the great
war.

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE: It is peculiar to note that I am writing this chapter at Atlantic
City, October 23rd, 1918, just one year to the day after the event. That
shot surely started something.



CHAPTER VIII

THE FIRST AMERICAN SECTOR


It was in the Luneville sector, described in the preceding chapter, that
the first American fighting men faced the Germans on the western front.
It was there that the enemy captured its first American prisoners in a
small midnight raid; it was there that we captured some prisoners of
theirs, and inflicted our first German casualties; it was there that the
first American fighting man laid down his life on the western front.

In spite of these facts, however, the occupation of those front line
posts in that sector constituted nothing more than a post-graduate
course in training under the capable direction of French instructors who
advised our officers and men in everything they did.

At the conclusion of the course, which extended over a number of weeks,
the American forces engaged in it were withdrawn from the line and
retired for a well-earned rest period and for reorganisation purposes in
areas back of the line. There they renewed equipment and prepared for
the occupation of the first all-American sector on the western front.

That sector was located in Lorraine some distance to the east of the
Luneville front. It was north and slightly west of the city of Toul. It
was on the east side of the St. Mihiel salient, then occupied by the
Germans.

The sector occupied a position in what the French called the
Pont-à-Mousson front. Our men were to occupy an eight-mile section of
the front line trenches extending from a point west of the town of
Flirey, to a point west of the ruins of the town of Seicheprey. The
position was not far from the French stronghold of Verdun to the
northwest or the German stronghold of Metz to the northeast, and was
equidistant from both.

That line changed from French blue to American khaki on the night of
January 21st. The sector became American at midnight. I watched the men
as they marched into the line. In small squads they proceeded silently
up the road toward the north, from which direction a raw wind brought
occasional sounds resembling the falling of steel plates on the wooden
floor of a long corridor.

A half moon doubly ringed by mist, made the hazy night look grey. At
intervals, phantom flashes flushed the sky. The mud of the roadway
formed a colourless paste that made marching not unlike skating on a
platter of glue.

This was their departure for the front--this particular battalion--the
first battalion of the 16th United States Infantry. I knew, and every
man in it knew, what was before them.

Each man was in for a long tour of duty in trenches knee-deep with
melted snow and mud. Each platoon commander knew the particular portion
of that battle-battered bog into which he must lead his men. Each
company commander knew the section of shell-punctured, swamp land that
was his to hold, and the battalion commander, a veteran American
soldier, was well aware of the particular perils of the position which
his one thousand or more men were going to occupy in the very jaw-joint
of a narrowing salient.

All branches of the United States military forces may take special pride
in that first battalion that went into the new American line that night.
The commander represented the U. S. Officers Reserve Corps, and the
other officers and men were from the reserves, the regulars, West Point,
the National Guard and the National Army. Moreover, the organisation
comprised men from all parts of the United States as well as men whose
parents had come from almost every race and nationality in the world.
One company alone possessed such a babble of dialects among its new
Americans, that it proudly called itself, the Foreign Legion.

For two days the battalion had rested in the mud of the semi-destroyed
village of Ansauville, several miles back of the front. A broad, shallow
stream, then at the flood, wound through and over most of the village
site. Walking anywhere near the border of the water, one pulled about
with him pounds of tenacious, black gumbo. Dogs and hogs, ducks and
horses, and men,--all were painted with nature's handiest camouflage.

Where the stream left the gaping ruins of a stone house on the edge of
the village, there was a well-kept French graveyard, clinging to the
slope of a small hill. Above the ruins of the hamlet, stood the steeple
of the old stone church, from which it was customary to ring the alarm
when the Germans sent over their shells of poison gas.

Our officers busied themselves with, unfinished supply problems. Such
matters as rubber boots for the men, duck boards for the trenches, food
for the mules, and ration containers necessary for the conveyance of hot
food to the front lines, were not permitted to interfere with the
battalion's movements. In war, there is always the alternative of doing
without or doing with makeshifts, and that particular battalion
commander, after three years of war, was the kind of a soldier who made
the best of circumstances no matter how adverse they may have been.

That commander was Major Griffiths. He was an American fighting man. His
military record began in the Philippine Insurrection, when, as a
sergeant in a Tennessee regiment of National Guard, he was mentioned in
orders for conspicuous gallantry. At the suppression of the
insurrection, he became a major in the United States Constabulary in the
Philippines. He resigned his majority in 1914, entered the Australian
forces, and was wounded with them in the bloody landing at Gallipoli. He
was invalided to England, where, upon his partial recovery, he was
promoted to major in the British forces and was sent to France in
command of a battalion of the Sherwood Foresters. With them, he received
two more wounds, one at the Battle of Ypres, and another during the
fighting around Loos.

He was in an English hospital when America entered the war, but he
hurried his convalescence and obtained a transfer back to the army of
his own country. He hadn't regained as yet the full use of his right
hand, his face still retained a hospital pallor, and an X-ray photograph
of his body revealed the presence of numerous pieces of shell still
lodged there. But on that night of January 21st, he could not conceal
the pride that he felt in the honour in having been the one chosen to
command the battalion of Americans that was to take over the first
American sector in France. Major Griffiths survived those strenuous days
on the Pont-à-Mousson front, but he received a fatal wound three months
later at the head of his battalion in front of Catigny, in Picardy. He
died fighting under his own flag.

Just before daylight failed that wintry day, three poilus walked down
the road from the front and into Ansauville. Two of them were helping a
third, whose bandaged arm and shoulder explained the mission of the
party. As they passed the rolling kitchens where the Americans were
receiving their last meal before entering the trenches, there was
silence and not even an exchange of greetings or smiles.

This lack of expression only indicated the depth of feeling stirred by
the appearance of this wounded French soldier. The incident, although
comparatively trivial, seemed to arouse within our men a solemn grimness
and a more fervent determination to pay back the enemy in kind. In
silence, our men finished that last meal, which consisted of cold corned
beef, two slices of dry bread per man, and coffee.

The sight of that one wounded man did not make our boys realise more
than they already did, what was in front of them. They had already made
a forty mile march over frozen roads up to this place and had incurred
discomforts seemingly greater than a shell-shattered arm or a
bullet-fractured shoulder. After that gruelling hiking experience, it
was a pleasant prospect to look forward to a chance of venting one's
feelings on the enemy.

At the same time, no chip-on-the-shoulder cockiness marked the
disposition of these men about to take first grips with the Germans,--no
challenging bravado was revealed in the actions or statements of these
grim, serious trail-blazers of the American front, whose attitude
appeared to be one of soldierly resignation to the first martial
principle, "Orders is orders."

As the companies lined up in the village street in full marching order,
awaiting the command to move, several half-hearted attempts at
jocularity died cold. One irrepressible made a futile attempt at
frivolity by announcing that he had Cherokee blood in his veins and was
so tough he could "spit battleships." This attempted jocularity drew as
much mirth as an undertaker's final invitation to the mourners to take
the last, long look at the departed.

One bright-faced youngster tingling with the thrill of anticipation,
leaped on a gun carriage and absently whistled a shrill medley,
beginning with "Yaka-hula," and ending with "Just a Song at Twilight."
There was food for thought in the progress of his efforts from the
frivolous to the pensive, but there was little time for such thoughts.
No one even told him to shut up.

While there was still light, an aerial battle took place overhead. For
fifteen minutes, the French anti-aircraft guns banged away at three
German planes, which were audaciously sailing over our lines. The
Americans rooted like bleacherites for the guns but the home team failed
to score, and the Germans sailed serenely home. They apparently had had
time to make adequate observations.

During the entire afternoon, German sausage balloons had hung high in
the air back of the hostile line, offering additional advantages for
enemy observation. On the highroad leading from Ansauville, a
conspicuous sign _L'enemie vous voit_ informed newcomers that German
eyes were watching their movements and could interfere at any time with
a long range shell. The fact was that the Germans held high ground and
their glasses could command almost all of the terrain back of our lines.

Under this seemingly eternal espionage punctuated at intervals by heavy
shelling, several old women of the village had remained in their homes,
living above the ground on quiet days and moving their knitting to the
front yard dugout at times when gas and shell and bomb interfered. Some
of these women operated small shops in the front rooms of their damaged
homes and the Americans lined up in front of the window counters and
exchanged dirty French paper money for canned _pâté de foi gras_ or jars
of mustard.

A machine gun company with mule-drawn carts led the movement from
Ansauville into the front. It was followed at fifty yard intervals by
other sections. Progress down that road was executed in small groups--it
was better to lose one whole section than an entire company.

That highroad to the front, with its border of shell-withered trees, was
revealed that night against a bluish grey horizon occasionally rimmed
with red. Against the sky, the moving groups were defined as impersonal
black blocks. Young lieutenants marched ahead of each platoon. In the
hazy light, it was difficult to distinguish them. The only difference
was that their hips seemed bulkier from the heavy sacks, field glasses,
map cases, canteens, pistol holsters and cartridge clips.

Each section, as it marched out of the village, passed under the eye of
Major Griffiths, who sat on his horse in the black shadow of a wall. A
sergeant commanding one section was coming toward him.

"Halt!" ordered the Major. "Sergeant, where is your helmet?"

"One of the men in my section is wearing it, sir," replied the Sergeant.

"Why?" snapped the Major.

"Somebody took his and he hadn't any," said the Sergeant, "so I made him
wear mine, sir."

"Get it back and wear it yourself," the Major ordered. "Nothing could
hurt the head of a man who couldn't hang on to his own helmet."

The order was obeyed, the section marched on and a bareheaded Irishman
out of hearing of the Major said, "I told the Sergeant not to make me
wear it; I don't need the damn thing."

Another section passed forward, the moonlight gleaming on the helmets
jauntily cocked over one ear and casting black shadows over the faces of
the wearers. From these shadows glowed red dots of fire.

"Drop those cigarettes," came the command from the all watchful, unseen
presence mounted on the horse in the shadow of the wall. Automatically,
the section spouted red arcs that fell to the road on either side in a
shower of sparks.

"It's a damn shame to do that." Major Griffith spoke to me standing
beside his horse. "You can't see a cigarette light fifty yards away, but
if there were no orders against smoking, the men would be lighting
matches or dumping pipes, and such flashes can be seen."

There was need for caution. The enemy was always watchful for an
interval when one organisation was relieving another on the line. That
period represented the time when an attack could cause the greatest
confusion in the ranks of the defenders. But that night our men
accomplished the relief of the French Moroccan division then in the line
without incident.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two nights later, in company with a party of correspondents, I paid a
midnight visit to our men in the front line trenches of that first
American sector. With all lights out, cigarettes tabooed and the siren
silenced, our overloaded motor slushed slowly along the shell-pitted
roads, carefully skirting groups of marching men and lumbering supply
wagons that took shape suddenly out of the mist-laden road in front of
us.

Although it was not raining, moisture seemed to drip from everything,
and vapours from the ground, mixing with the fog overhead, almost
obscured the hard-working moon.

In the greyness of the night sight and smell lost their keenness, and
familiar objects assumed unnatural forms, grotesque and indistinct.

From somewhere ahead dull, muffled thumps in the mist brought memories
of spring house cleaning and the dusting out of old cushions, but it was
really the three-year-old song of the guns. Nature had censored
observation by covering the spectacle with the mantle of indefiniteness.
Still this was the big thing we had come to see--night work in and
behind the front lines of the American sector.

We approached an engineers' dump, where the phantoms of fog gradually
materialised into helmeted khaki figures that moved in mud knee-deep and
carried boxes and planks and bundles of tools. Total silence covered all
the activity and not a ray of light revealed what mysteries had been
worked here in surroundings that seemed no part of this world.

An irregular pile of rock loomed grey and sinister before us, and,
looking upward, we judged, from its gaping walls, that it was the
remains of a church steeple. It was the dominating ruin in the town of
Beaumont.

"Turn here to the left," the officer conducting our party whispered into
the ear of the driver.

The sudden execution of the command caused the officer's helmet to rasp
against that of the driver with a sound that set the cautious whispering
to naught.

"Park here in the shadow," he continued. "Make no noise; show no light.
They dropped shells here ten minutes ago. Gentlemen, this is regimental
headquarters. Follow me."

In a well buttressed cellar, surmounted by a pile of ruins, we found the
colonel sitting at a wooden table in front of a grandfather's clock of
scratched mahogany. He called the roll--five special correspondents,
Captain Chandler, American press officer, with a goatee and fur coat to
match; Captain Vielcastel, a French press officer, who is a marquis and
speaks English, and a lieutenant from brigade headquarters, who already
had been named "Whispering Willie."

The colonel offered sticks to those with the cane habit. With two
runners in the lead, we started down what had been the main street of
the ruined village.

"I can't understand the dropping of that shell over here to-night," the
colonel said. "When we relieved the French, there had been a
long-standing agreement against such discourtesy. It's hard to believe
the Boche would make a scrap of paper out of that agreement. They must
have had a new gunner on the piece. We sent back two shells into their
regimental headquarters. They have been quiet since."

Ten minutes' walk through the mud, and the colonel stopped to announce:
"Within a hundred yards of you, a number of men are working. Can you
hear 'em?"

No one could, so he showed us a long line of sweating Americans
stretching off somewhere into the fog. Their job was more of the endless
trench digging and improving behind the lines. While one party swung
pick and spade in the trenches, relief parties slept on the ground
nearby. The colonel explained that these parties arrived after dark,
worked all night, and then carefully camouflaged all evidences of new
earth and departed before daylight, leaving no trace of their night's
work to be discovered by prying airman. Often the work was carried on
under an intermittent shelling, but that night only two shells had
landed near them.

An American-manned field gun shattered the silence, so close to us that
we could feel its breath and had a greater respect for its bite. The
proximity of the gun had not even been guessed by any of our party. A
yellow stab of flame seemed to burn the mist through which the shell
screeched on its way toward Germany.

Correspondent Junius Woods, who was wearing an oversized pair of hip
rubber boots, immediately strapped the tops to his belt.

"I am taking no chance," he said; "I almost jumped out of them that
time. They ought to send men out with a red flag before they pull off a
blast like that."

The colonel then left us and with the whispering lieutenant and runners
in advance, we continued toward the front.

"Walk in parties of two," was the order of the soft-toned subaltern.
"Each party keep ten yards apart. Don't smoke. Don't talk. This road is
reached by their field pieces. They also cover it with indirect machine
gun fire. They sniped the brigade commander right along here this
morning. He had to get down into the mud. I can afford to lose some of
you, but not the entire party. If anything comes over, you are to jump
into the communicating trenches on the right side of the road."

His instructions were obeyed and it was almost with relief that, ten
minutes later, we followed him down the slippery side of the muddy bank
and landed in front of a dugout.

In the long, narrow, low-ceilinged shelter which completely tunnelled
the road at a depth of twenty feet, two twenty-year-old Americans were
hugging a brazier filled with charcoal. In this dugout was housed a
group from a machine gun battalion, some of whose members were snoring
in a double tier of bunks on the side.

Deep trenches at the other end of the dugout led to the gun pits, where
this new arm of the service operated at ranges of two miles. These
special squads fired over the heads of those in front of them or over
the contours of the ground and put down a leaden barrage on the front
line of the Germans. The firing not only was indirect but was without
correction from the rectifying observation, of which the artillery had
the benefit by watching the burst of their missiles.

Regaining the road, we walked on through the ruins on the edge of the
village of Seicheprey, where our way led through a drunken colony of
leaning walls and brick piles.

Here was the battalion headquarters, located underneath the old stones
of a barn which was topped by the barest skeleton of a roof. What had
been the first floor of the structure had been weighted down heavily
with railroad iron and concrete to form the roof of the commander's
dugout. The sides of the decrepit structure bulged outward and were
prevented from bursting by timber props radiating on all sides like the
legs of a centipede. A mule team stood in front of the dugout.

"What's that?" the whispering lieutenant inquired in hushed tones from a
soldier in the road, as he pointed over the mules to the battalion
headquarters.

"What's what?" the soldier replied without respect.

The obscurity of night is a great reducer of ranks. In the mist officer
and man look alike.

"Why, that?" repeated "Whispering Willie" in lower, but angrier tones.
"What's that there?" he reiterated, pointing at the mules.

"Can't you see it's mules?" replied the man in an immoderate tone of
voice, betraying annoyance.

We were spared what followed. The lieutenant undoubtedly confirmed his
rank, and the man undoubtedly proffered unto him the respect withheld by
mistake. When "Whispering Willie" joined us several minutes later in the
dugout, his helmet rode on the back of his head, but his dignity was on
straight.

The Battalion Commander, Major Griffith, was so glad to see us that he
sent for another bottle of the murky grey water that came from a well on
one side of a well populated graveyard not fifty yards from his post.

"A good night," he said; "haven't seen it so quiet in three years. We
have inter-battalion relief on. Some new companies are taking over the
lines. Some of them are new to the front trenches and I'm going out with
you and put them up on their toes. Wait till I report in."

He rang the field telephone on the wall and waited for an answer. An oil
lamp hung from a low ceiling over the map table. In the hot, smoky air
we quietly held our places while the connection was made.

"Hello," the Major said, "operator, connect me with Milwaukee." Another
wait----

"Hello, Milwaukee, this is Larson. I'm talking from Hamburg. I'm leaving
this post with a deck of cards and a runner. If you want me you can get
me at Coney Island or Hinky Dink's. Wurtzburger will sit in here."

"Some code, Major," Lincoln Eyre, correspondent, said. "What does a pack
of cards indicate?"

[Illustration: GRAVE OF FIRST AMERICAN KILLED IN FRANCE

Translation: Here Lie the First Soldiers of the Great Republic of the
United States of America, Fallen on French Soil for Justice and for
Liberty, November 3rd, 1917]

"Why, anybody who comes out here when he doesn't have to is a funny
card," the Major replied, "and it looks as if I have a pack of them
to-night. Fritz gets quite a few things that go over our wires and we
get lots of his. All are tapped by induction.

"Sometimes the stuff we get is important and sometimes it isn't. Our
wire tapping report last night carried a passage something like
this:--The German operator at one post speaking to the operator at
another said:

"'Hello, Herman, where did that last shell drop?'

"Second operator replied, 'It killed two men in a ration party in a
communicating trench and spilt all the soup. No hot food for you
to-night, Rudolph.'

"Herman replying: 'That's all right. We have got some beer here.'

"Then there was a confusion of sounds and a German was heard talking to
some one in his dugout. He said:

"'Hurry, here comes the lieutenant! Hide the can!'

"That's the way it goes," added the Major, "but if we heard that the
society editor of the _Fliegende Blaetter_ and half a dozen pencil
strafers were touring the German front line, we'd send 'em over
something that would start 'em humming a hymn of hate. If they knew I
was joy riding a party of correspondents around the diggin's to-night,
they might give you something to write about and cost me a platoon or
two. You're not worth it. Come on."

Our party now numbered nine and we pushed off, stumbling through uneven
lanes in the centre of dimly lit ruins. According to orders, we carried
gas masks in a handy position.

This sector had a nasty reputation when it comes to that sample of
Teutonic culture. Fritz's poison shells dropped almost noiselessly and,
without a report, broke open, liberating to enormous expansion the
inclosed gases. These spread in all directions, and, owing to the
lowness and dampness of the terrain, the poison clouds were
imperceptible both to sight or smell. They clung close to the ground to
claim unsuspecting victims.

"How are we to know if we are breathing gas or not?" asked the
Philadelphia correspondent, Mr. Henri Bazin.

"That's just what you DON'T know," replied the Major.

"Then when will we know it is time to adjust our masks?" Bazin
persisted.

"When you see some one fall who has breathed it," the Major said.

"But suppose we breathe it first?"

"Then you won't need a mask," the Major replied, "You see, it's quite
simple."

"Halt!" The sharp command, coming sternly but not too loud from
somewhere in the adjacent mist, brought the party to a standstill in the
open on the edge of the village. We remained notionless while the Major
advanced upon command from the unseen. He rejoined us in several minutes
with the remark that the challenge had come from one of his old men, and
he only hoped the new companies taking over the line that night were as
much on their jobs.

"Relief night always is trying," the Major explained. "Fritz always
likes to jump the newcomers before they get the lay of the land. He
tried it on the last relief, but we burnt him."

While talking the Major was leading the way through the first trench I
had ever seen above the surface of the ground. The bottom of the trench
was not only on a level with the surrounding terrain, but in some places
it was even higher. Its walls, which rose almost to the height of a
man's head, were made of large wicker woven cylinders filled with earth
and stones.

Our guide informed us that the land which we were traversing was so low
that any trench dug in the ground would simply be a ditch brimful of
undrainable water, so that, inasmuch as this position was in the first
line system, walls had been built on either side of the path to protect
passers-by from shell fragments and indirect machine gun fire. We
observed one large break where a shell had entered during the evening.

Farther on, this communicating passage, which was more corridor than
trench, reached higher ground and descended into the earth. We reeled
through its zig-zag course, staggering from one slanting corner to
another.

The sides were fairly well retained by French wicker work, but every
eighth or tenth duck board was missing, making it necessary for trench
travellers to step knee-deep in cold water or to jump the gap.
Correspondent Eyre, who was wearing shoes and puttees, abhorred these
breaks.

We passed the Major's post of command, which he used during intense
action, and some distance on, entered the front line. With the Major
leading, we walked up to a place where two Americans were standing on a
firing step with their rifles extended across the parapet. They were
silently peering into the grey mist over No Man's Land. One of them
looked around as we approached. Apparently he recognised the Major's
cane as a symbol of rank. He came to attention.

"Well," the Major said, "is this the way you let us walk up on you? Why
don't you challenge me?"

"I saw you was an officer, sir," the man replied.

"Now, you are absolutely sure I am YOUR officer?" the Major said slowly
and coldly, with emphasis on the word "your." "Suppose I tell you I am a
German officer and these men behind me are Germans. How do you know?"

With a quick movement the American brought his rifle forward to the
challenge, his right hand slapping the wooden butt with an audible
whack.

"Advance one, and give the countersign," he said with a changed voice
and manner and the Major, moving to within whispering distance, breathed
the word over the man's extended bayonet. Upon hearing it, the soldier
lowered his gun and stood at attention.

It was difficult to figure whether his relief over the scare was greater
than his fears of the censure he knew was coming.

"Next time anybody gets that close to you without being challenged," the
Major said, "don't be surprised if it is a German. That's the way they
do it. They don't march in singing 'Deutschland Über Alles.'

"If you see them first, you might live through the war. If they see you
first, we will have wasted a lot of Liberty bonds and effort trying to
make a soldier out of you. Now, remember, watch yourself."

We pushed on encountering longer patches of trench where duck boards
were entirely missing and where the wading sometimes was knee-deep. In
some places, either the pounding of shells or the thawing out of the
ground had pushed in the revetments, appreciably narrowing the way and
making progress more difficult. Arriving at an unmanned firing step
large enough to accommodate the party, we mounted and took a first look
over the top.

Moonlight now was stronger through the mist which hung fold over fold
over the forbidden land between the opposing battle lines. At intervals
nervous machine guns chattered their ghoulish gibberish or tut-tut-ted
away chidingly like finicky spinsters. Their intermittent sputtering to
the right and left of us was unenlightening. We couldn't tell whether
they were speaking German or English. Occasional bullets whining
somewhere through that wet air gave forth sounds resembling the ripping
of linen sheets.

Artillery fire was the exception during the entire night but when a
shell did trace its unseen arc through the mist mantle, its echoes gave
it the sound of a street car grinding through an under-river tunnel or
the tube reverberations of a departing subway train.

We were two hundred yards from the German front lines. Between their
trenches and ours, at this point, was low land, so boggy as to be almost
impassable. The opposing lines hugged the tops of two small ridges.

Fifty yards in front was our wire barely discernible in the fog. The
Major interrupted five wordless reveries by expressing, with what almost
seemed regretfulness, the fact that in all his fighting experience he
had never seen it "so damn quiet." His observation passed without a
remark from us.

The Major appeared to be itching for action and he got into official
swing a hundred yards farther on, where a turn in the trench revealed to
us the muffled figures of two young Americans, comfortably seated on
grenade boxes on the firing step.

From their easy positions they could look over the top and watch all
approaches without rising. Each one had a blanket wrapped about his legs
and feet. They looked the picture of ease. Without moving, one, with his
rifle across his lap, challenged the Major, advanced him, and received
the countersign. We followed the Major in time to hear his first
remark:

"Didn't they get the rocking chairs out here yet?" he said with the
provoked air that customarily accompanies any condemnation of the
quartermaster department.

"No, sir," replied the seated sentry. "They didn't get here. The men we
relieved said that they never got anything out here."

"Nor the footstools?" the Major continued, this time with an
unmistakable tone.

The man didn't answer.

"Do you two think you are taking moon baths on the Riviera?" the Major
asked sternly. "You are less than two hundred yards from the Germans.
You are all wrapped up like Egyptian mummies. Somebody could lean over
the top and snake off your head with a trench knife before you could get
your feet loose. Take those blankets off your feet and stand up."

The men arose with alacrity, shedding the blankets and removing the
grenade box chairs. The Major continued:

"You know you are not sitting in a club window in Fifth Avenue and
watching the girls go by. You're not looking for chickens out there.
There's a hawk over there and sometimes he carries off precious little
lambs. Now, the next time anybody steps around the corner of that
trench, you be on your feet with your bayonet and gun ready to mix
things."

The lambs saluted as the Major moved off with a train of followers who,
by this time, were beginning to feel that these trenches held other
lambs, only they carried notebooks instead of cartridge belts.

Stopping in front of a dugout, the Major gathered us about to hear the
conversation that was going on within. Through the cracks of the door,
we looked down a flight of steep stairs, dug deep into this battlefield
graveyard. There were lights in the chamber below and the sound of
voices came up to us. One voice was singing softly.

    "Oh, the infantry, the infantry, with the dirt behind their ears,
    The infantry, the infantry, they don't get any beers,
    The cavalry, the artillery, and the lousy engineers,
    They couldn't lick the infantry in a hundred million years."

"I got a brother in the artillery," came another voice, "but I am ready
to disown him. They talk a lot about this counter battery work, but it's
all bunk. A battery in position has nice deep dugouts and hot chow all
the time. They gets up about 9 o'clock in the morning and shaves up all
nice for the day.

"'Bout 10 o'clock the captain says, 'I guess we will drop a few shells
on that German battery on the other side of the hill.' So they pops off
forty or fifty rounds in that general direction and don't hit anything
'cause the German battery immediately roots down into its nice, deep
dugouts. As soon as our battery lays off and gets back into its holes,
the German battery comes out and pops back forty or fifty at 'em and, of
course, don't hurt them neither.

"Then it is time for lunch, and while both of these here batteries is
eating, they get so sore about not having hit each other during the
morning, that they just call off counter battery work for the day and
turn their guns on the front lines and blow hell out of the infantry. I
haven't got any use for an artilleryman. I'm beginning to think all of
them Germans and Allies are alike and has an agreement against the
doughboys."

The Major interrupted by rapping sharply on the door.

"Come in," was the polite and innocent invitation guilelessly spoken
from below. The Major had his helmet on, so he couldn't tear his hair.

"Come up here, you idiots, every one of you."

The Major directed his voice down into the hole in an unmistakable and
official tone. There was a scurrying of feet and four men emerged
carrying their guns. They were lined up against the trench wall.

"At midnight," the Major began, "in your dugout in the front line forty
yards from the Germans, with no sentry at the door, you hear a knock on
the door and you shout, 'Come in.' I commend your politeness, and I know
that's what your mothers taught you to say when visitors come, but this
isn't any tea fight out here. One German could have wiggled over the top
here and stood in this doorway and captured all four of you
single-handed, or he could have rolled a couple of bombs down that hole
and blown all of you to smithereens. What's your aim in life--hard
labour in a German prison camp or a nice little wooden cross out here
four thousand miles from Punkinville? Why wasn't there any sentry at
that door?"

The question remained unanswered but the incident had its effect on the
quartet. Without orders, all four decided to spend the remainder of the
night on the firing step with their eyes glued on the enemy's line. They
simply hadn't realised they were really in the war. The Major knew this,
but made a mental reservation of which the commander of this special
platoon got full benefit before the night was over.

The front line from here onward followed a small ridge running generally
east and west, but now bearing slightly to the northward. We were told
the German line ran in the same general direction, but at this point
bore to the southward.

The opposing lines in the direction of our course were converging and we
were approaching the place where they were the closest in the sector. If
German listening posts heard the progress of our party through the line,
only a telephone call back to the artillery was necessary to plant a
shell among us, as every point on the system was registered.

As we silently considered various eventualities immaterial to the
prosecution of the war but not without personal concern, our progress
was brought to a sudden standstill.

"Huh-huh-halt!" came a drawn-out command in a husky, throaty stammer,
weaker than a whisper, from an undersized tin-hatted youngster planted
in the centre of the trench not ten feet in front of us. His left foot
was forward and his bayoneted rifle was held ready for a thrust.

"Huh-huh-huh-halt!" came the nervous, whispering command again, although
we had been motionless since the first whisper.

We heard a click as the safety catch on the man's rifle lock was thrown
off and the weapon made ready to discharge. The Major was watching the
nervous hand that rested none too steadily on the trigger stop. He
stepped to one side, but the muzzle of the gun followed him.

"Huh-huh-huh-halt! I tuh-tuh-tell you."

This time the whisper vibrated with nervous tension and there was no
mistaking the state of mind of the sentry.

"Take it easy," replied the Major with attempted calm. "I'm waiting for
you to challenge me. Don't get excited. This is the commanding
officer."

"What's the countersign?" came from the voice in a hard strain.

"Troy," the Major said, and the word seemed to bring worlds of
reassurance to the rifleman, who sighed with relief, but forgot to move
his rifle until the Major said:

"Will you please take that gun off me and put the safety back in?"

The nervous sentry moved the gun six inches to the right and we
correspondents, standing in back of the Major, looked into something
that seemed as big as the La Salle street tunnel. I jumped out of range
behind the Major. Eyre plunged knee-deep into water out of range, and
Woods with the rubber boots started to go over the top.

The click of the replaced safety lock sounded unusually like the snap of
a trigger, but no report followed and three hearts resumed their
beating.

"There is no occasion to get excited," the Major said to the young
soldier in a fatherly tone. "I'm glad to see you are wide-awake and on
the job. Don't feel any fears for your job and just remember that with
that gun and bayonet in your hands you are better than any man who turns
that trench corner or crosses out there. You've got the advantage of
him, and besides that you are a better man than he is."

The sentry, now smiling, saluted the Major as the latter conducted the
party quietly around the trench corner and into a sap leading directly
out into No Man's Land. Twice the trench passed under broad belts of
barbed wire, which we were cautioned to avoid with our helmets, because
any sound was undesirable for obvious reasons.

After several minutes of this cautious advance, we reached a small
listening post that marked the closest point in the sector to the German
line. Several silent sentries were crouching on the edge of the pit.
Gunny sacks covered the hole and screened it in front and above. We
remained silent while the Major in the lowest whisper spoke with a
corporal and learned that except for two or three occasions, when the
watchers thought they heard sounds near our wire, the night had been
calm.

We departed as silently as we came. The German line from a distance of
forty yards looked no different from its appearance at a greater
distance, but since it was closer, it was carried with a constant tingle
of anticipation.

Into another communicating trench and through better walled
fortifications of splintered forest, the Major led us to a place where
the recent shelling had changed twenty feet of trench into a gaping
gulley almost without sides and waist-deep in water. A working detail
was endeavouring to repair the damage. In parties of two, we left the
trench and crossed an open space on the level. The forty steps we
covered across that forbidden ground were like stolen fruit. Such
rapture! Bazin, who was seeking a title for a book, pulled "Eureka!"

"Over the top armed with a pencil," he said. "Not bad, eh?"

Back in Seicheprey, just before the Major left us for our long trip back
to quarters, he led the way to the entrance of a cemetery, well kept in
the midst of surrounding chaos. Graves of French dead ranged row upon
row.

"I just wanted to show you some of the fellows that held this line until
we took it over," he said simply. "Our own boys that we've lost since
we've been here, are buried down in the next village."

We silently saluted the spot as we passed it thirty minutes later.



CHAPTER IX

THE NIGHT OUR GUNS CUT LOOSE


As soon as our forces had made themselves at home in the Toul sector, it
was inevitable that belligerent activity would increase and this, in
spite of the issuance of strict orders that there should be no
development of the normal daily fire. Our men could not entirely resist
the temptation to start something.

As was to be expected, the Germans soon began to suspect that they were
faced by different troops from the ones who had been confronting them.
The enemy set out to verify his suspicions. He made his first raid on
the American line.

It was in a dense mist on the morning of January 30th that the Germans
lowered a terrific barrage on one of our advance listening posts and
then rushed the position with a raiding party outnumbering the
defendants ten to one.

Two Americans held that post--five more succeeded in making their way
through the storm of falling shells and in coming to the assistance of
the first two. That made seven Americans in the fight. When the fighting
ceased, every one of the seven had been accounted for in the three
items, dead, wounded or captured.

That little handful of Americans, fought, died or were wounded in the
positions which they had been ordered to hold. Although the engagement
was an extremely minor one, it being the first of its kind on the
American sector, it was sufficient to give the enemy some idea of the
determination and fighting qualities of the individual American
soldier. Their comrades were proud of them, and were inclined to
consider the exploit, "Alamo stuff."

Two of the defenders were killed, four were wounded, and one was
captured. The wounded men reported that the captured American continued
to fight even after being severely wounded. He was the last to remain on
his feet and when a bomb blew his rifle from his hand and injured his
arm, he succumbed to superior numbers and was carried off by his
captors.

After the hurried sortie, the Germans beat a hasty retreat so that the
position was reoccupied immediately by another American detail.

The "Alamo" seven had not been taken by surprise. Through a downpour of
rather badly placed shells, they held their position on the firing step
and worked both their rifles and machine guns against the raiding party,
which they could not see, but knew would be advancing behind the curtain
of fire. Hundreds of empty cartridges and a broken American bayonet
constituted impartial testimony to the fierceness of the fighting. After
the first rush, in which the defenders accounted for a number of
Germans, the fighting began at close quarters, the enemy peppering the
listening post with hand-grenades.

In the meantime the German barrage had been lifted and lengthened until
it was lowered again between the "Alamo" seven and their comrades in the
rear.

There were calls to surrender, but no acceptances. The fighting became
hand-to-hand with bayonet and gun butt. The defenders fought on in the
hope that assistance soon would arrive from the American artillery.

But the Germans had planned the raid well. Their first barrage cut all
telephone wires leading back from our front lines and the signal rocket
which one of the men in the listening post had fired into the air, had
been smothered in the dense mist. That rocket had called for a
defensive barrage from American artillery and when no answer came to it,
a second one was fired, but that also was snuffed out by the fog.

The net result of the raid was that the Germans had captured one of our
wounded men and had thereby identified the organisation opposing them as
the First Regular Division of the United States Army, composed of the
16th, 18th, 26th, and 28th Regular U. S. Infantry Regiments and the 5th,
6th and 7th Regular U. S. Army Field Artillery. The division was under
the command of Major General Robert Lee Bullard.

In the days and weeks that followed, the daily exchange of shells on the
sector increased to two and three times the number it had been before
our men arrived there. There were nightly patrols in No Man's Land and
several instances where these patrols met in the dark and engaged one
another with casualties on both sides.

One night a little over a month later--the early morning of March 4th,
to be exact--it was my privilege to witness from an exceptional vantage
point, the first planned and concentrated American artillery action
against the enemy. The German lines selected for this sudden downpour of
shell, comprised two small salients jutting out from the enemy's
positions in the vicinity of the ruined village of Lahayville, in the
same sector.

In company with an orderly who had been despatched as my guide, I
started from an artillery battalion headquarters shortly before
midnight, and together we made our way up the dark muddy road that led
through the dense Bois de la Reine to the battery positions. Half an
hour's walk and O'Neil, the guide, led me off the road into a darker
tunnel of overlaced boughs where we stumbled along on the ties of a
narrow gauge railroad that conveyed heavy shells from the road to the
guns. We passed through several gun pits and stopped in front of a huge
_abri_ built entirely above ground.

Its walls and roof must have been between five and seven feet thick and
were made from layers of logs, sandbags, railroad iron and slabs of
concrete reinforced with steel. It looked impenetrable.

"Battery commander's headquarters," O'Neil said to me as we entered a
small hot room lighted by two oil lamps and a candle. Three officers, at
two large map tables, were working on sheets of figures. Two wooden
bunks, one above the other, and two posts supporting the low ceiling
completed the meagre furnishings of the room. A young officer looked up
from his work, O'Neil saluted, and addressed him.

"The Major sent me up with this correspondent. He said you could let him
go wherever he could see the fun and that you are not responsible for
his safety." O'Neil caught the captain's smile at the closing remark and
withdrew. The captain showed me the map.

"Here we are," he said, indicating a spot with his finger, "and here's
what we are aiming at to-night. There are two places you can stay to see
the fun. You can stay in this shelter and hear the sound of it, or you
can go up a little further front to this point, and mount the platform
in our observation tree. In this _abri_ you are safe from splinters and
shrapnel but a direct hit would wipe us out. In the tree you are exposed
to direct hits and splinters from nearby bursts but at least you can see
the whole show. It's the highest point around here and overlooks the
whole sector."

I sensed that the captain expected a busy evening and looked forward
with no joy to possible interference from a questioning visitor, so I
chose the tree.

"All right," he said, "you've got helmet and gas masks, I see. Now how's
your watch? Take the right time off mine. We have just synchronised ours
with headquarters. Zero is one o'clock. You had better start now."

He called for an orderly with a German name, and the two of us left.
Before I was out of the room, the captain had returned to his
mathematics and was figuring out the latest range variations and making
allowances for latest developments in wind, temperature and barometer.
The orderly with the German name and I plunged again into the trees and
brought up shortly on the edge of a group of men who were standing in
the dark near a large tree trunk. I could hear several other men and
some stamping horses off to one side.

The party at the foot of the tree was composed of observers, signal
linemen and runners. All of them were enlisted men. I inquired who were
to be my comrades in the tree top and three presented themselves. One
said his name was Pat Guahn, the second gave his as Peter Griffin and
the third acknowledged Mike Stanton. I introduced myself and Griffin
said, "I see we are all from the same part of Italy."

At twenty minutes to one, we started up the tree, mounting by rudely
constructed ladders that led from one to the other of the four crudely
fashioned platforms. We reached the top breathless and with no false
impressions about the stability of our swaying perch. The tree seemed to
be the tallest in the forest and nothing interfered with our forward
view. The platform was a bit shaky and Guahn put my thoughts to words
and music by softly singing--

    "Rock-a-bye baby, in the tree top,
    When the shell comes the runners all flop,
    When the shell busts, good-bye to our station,
    We're up in a tree, bound for damnation."

The compass gives us north and we locate in the forward darkness an
approximate sweep of the front lines. Guahn is looking for the flash of
a certain German gun and it will be his duty to keep his eyes trained
through the fork of a certain marked twig within arm's reach.

"If she speaks, we want to know it," Guahn says; "I can see her from
here when she flashes and there's another man who can see her from
another place. You see we get an intersection of angles on her and then
we know where she is just as though she had sent her address. Two
minutes later we drop a card on her and keep her warm."

"Is that that gun from Russia we heard about?" Griffin asks.

"No," answers Guahn, "we are not looking for her from that station.
Besides, she isn't Russian. She was made by the British, used by the
Russians, captured by the Germans and in turn is used by them against
Americans. We have found pieces of her shell and they all have an
English trade mark on them. She fires big eight inch stuff."

Griffin is watching in another direction for another flash and Stanton
is on the lookout for signal flares and the flash of a signal light
projector which might be used in case the telephone communication is
disturbed by enemy fire. It is then that the runners at the base of the
tree must carry the message back by horse.

Only an occasional thump is heard forward in the darkness. Now and then
machine guns chatter insanely as they tuck a seam in the night. At
infrequent intervals, a star shell curves upward, bursts, suspends its
silent whiteness in mid-air, and dies.

In our tree top all seems quiet and so is the night. There is no moon
and only a few stars are out. A penetrating dampness takes the place of
cold and there is that in the air that threatens a change of weather.

The illuminated dial of my watch tells me that it is three minutes of
one and I communicate the information to the rest of the Irish quartet.
In three minutes, the little world that we look upon from our tree top
is due to change with terrific suddenness and untold possibilities.

Somewhere below in the darkness and to one side, I hear the clank of a
ponderous breech lock as the mechanism is closed on a shell in one of
the heavy guns. Otherwise all remains silent.

Two minutes of one. Each minute seems to drag like an hour. It is
impossible to keep one's mind off that unsuspecting group of humans out
there in that little section of German trench upon which the heavens are
about to fall. Griffin leans over the railing and calls to the runners
to stand by the horses' heads until they become accustomed to the coming
roar.

One minute of one. We grip the railing and wait.

Two flashes and two reports, the barest distinguishable interval, and
the black horizon belches red. From extreme left to extreme right the
flattened proscenium in front of us glows with the ghastliness of the
Broockon.

Waves of light flush the dark vault above like the night sky over South
Chicago's blast furnaces. The heavens reflect the glare. The flashes
range in colour from blinding yellow to the softest tints of pink. They
seem to form themselves from strange combinations of greens and mauves
and lavenders.

The sharp shattering crash of the guns reaches our ears almost on the
instant. The forest shakes and our tree top sways with the slam of the
heavies close by. The riven air whimpers with the husky whispering of
the rushing load of metal bolts passing above us.

Looking up into that void, we deny the uselessness of the act and seek
in vain to follow the trains of those unseen things that make the air
electric with their presence. We hear them coming, passing, going, but
see not one of them.

"There's whole blacksmith's shops sailing over our heads on the way to
Germany," Pat Guahn shouts in my ear. "I guess the Dutchman sure knows
how to call for help. He doesn't care for that first wallop, and he
thinks he would like about a half million reserves from the Russian
front."

"That darkness out in No Man's Land don't make any hit with him either,"
Stanton contributes. "He's got it lit up so bright I'm homesick for
Broadway."

Now comes the thunder of the shell arrivals. You know the old covered
wooden bridges that are still to be found in the country. Have you ever
heard a team of horses and a farm wagon thumping and rumbling over such
a bridge on the trot?

Multiply the horse team a thousand times. Lash the animals from the trot
to the wild gallop. Imagine the sound of their stampede through the
echoing wooden structure and you approach in volume and effect the
rumble and roar of the steel as it rained down on that little German
salient that night.

"Listen to them babies bustin'," says Griffin. "I'm betting them
groundhogs is sure huntin' their holes right now and trying to dig clear
through to China."

That was the sound and sight of that opening salvo from all guns, from
the small trench mortars in the line, the lightest field pieces behind
them, the heavy field pieces about us and the ponderous railroad
artillery located behind us.

Its crash has slashed the inkiness in front of us with a lurid red
meridian. I don't know how many hands had pulled lanyards on exactly the
same instant but the consequent spread of fire looked like one
continuous flame.

Now the "seventy-fives" are speaking, not in unison, but at various
speeds, limited only by the utmost celerity of the sweating gun crews.

But the German front line is not the only locality receiving unsolicited
attention. Enemy gun positions far behind the lines are being plastered
with high explosives and anesthetised with gas shells.

So effective is the American artillery neutralisation of the German
batteries, that it is between fifteen and twenty minutes before the
first enemy gun replies to the terrific barrage. And though expected
momentarily, a German counter barrage fails to materialise.

In our tree top we wait for the enemy's counter shelling but the
retaliation does not develop. When occupying an exposed position, the
suspense of waiting for an impending blow increases in tenseness as the
delay continues and the expectations remain unrealised. With no
inclination to be unreasonable, one even prays for the speedy delivery
of the blow in the same way that the man with the aching tooth urges the
dentist to speed up and have it over with.

"Why in hell don't they come back at us?" Griffin asks. "I've had myself
all tuned up for the last twenty minutes to have a leg blown off and be
thankful. I hate this waiting stuff."

"Keep your shirt on, Pete," Stanton remarks. "Give 'em a chance to get
their breath and come out of their holes. That barrage drove 'em down a
couple hundred feet into the ground and they haven't any elevators to
come up on. We'll hear from 'em soon enough."

We did, but it was not more than a whisper as compared with what they
were receiving from our side of the line. The German artillery came into
lethargic action after the American barrage had been in constant
operation for thirty minutes and then the enemy's fire was only
desultory. Only an occasional shell from Kulturland came our way, and
even they carried a rather tired, listless buzz, as though they didn't
know exactly where they were going and didn't care.

Six or eight of them hummed along a harmless orbit not far above our
tree top and fell in the forest. It certainly looked as though we were
shooting all the hard-stuff and the German end of the fireworks party
was all coloured lights and Roman candles. Of the six shells that passed
us, three failed to explode upon landing.

"That makes three dubs," said Guahn.

"You don't mean dubs," Stanton corrected him, "you mean duds and even
then you are wrong. Those were gas pills. They just crack open quietly
so you don't know it until you've sniffed yourself dead. Listen, you'll
hear the gas alert soon."

Even as he spoke, we heard through the firing the throaty gurgling of
the sirens. The alarm started on our right and spread from station to
station through the woods. We adjusted the respirators and turned our
muffled faces toward the firing line. Through the moisture fogged
glasses of my mask, I looked first upon my companions on this rustic
scaffold above the forest.

War's demands had removed our appearances far from the human. Our heads
were topped with uncomfortable steel casques, harder than the backs of
turtles. Our eyes were large, flat, round glazed surfaces unblinking and
owl-like. Our faces were shapeless folds of black rubber cloth. Our
lungs sucked air through tubes from a canvass bag under our chins and we
were inhabiting a tree top like a family of apes. It really required
imagination to make it seem real.

"Looks like the party is over," came the muffled remark from the masked
figure beside me. The cannonading was dying down appreciably. The
blinking line of lights in front of us grew less.

A terrific upward blast of red and green flame from the ground close to
our tree, reminded us that one heavy still remained under firing orders.
The flash seen through the forest revealed in intricate tracings the
intertwining limbs and branches of the trees. It presented the
appearance of a piece of strong black lace spread out and held at arm's
length in front of a glowing grate.

From the German lines an increased number of flares shot skyward and as
the cannon cracks ceased, save for isolated booms, the enemy machine
guns could be heard at work, riveting the night with sprays of lead and
sounding for all the world like a scourge of hungry woodpeckers.

"God help any of the doughboys that are going up against any of that
stuff," Griffin observed through his mask.

"Don't worry about our doughboys," replied Stanton; "they are all safe
in their trenches now. That's most likely the reason why our guns were
ordered to lay off. I guess Fritzie got busy with his typewriters too
late."

I descended the tree, leaving my companions to wait for the orders
necessary for their departure. Unfamiliar with the unmarked paths of
the forest and guided only as to general directions, I made my way
through the trees some distance in search of the road back from the
front.

A number of mud and water-filled shell holes intervened to make the
exertion greater and consequently the demand upon lungs for air greater.
After floundering several kilometres through a strange forest with a gas
mask on, one begins to appreciate the temptation that comes to tear off
the stifling nose bag and risk asphyxiation for just one breath of fresh
air.

A babel of voices in the darkness to one side guided me to a log cabin
where I learned from a sentry that the gas scare had just been called
off. Continuing on the road, I collided head on in the darkness with a
walking horse. Its rider swore and so did I, with slightly the advantage
over him as his head was still encased. I told him the gas alarm was off
and he tore away the mask with a sigh of relief. I left him while he was
removing the horse's gas mask.

A light snow was beginning to fall as I said good-night to the battalion
commander in front of his roadside shack. A party of mounted runners was
passing on the way to their quarters. With an admirable lack of dignity
quite becoming a national guard cavalry major in command of regular army
artillery, he said:

"Good-night, men, we licked hell out of them."

The Toul sector, during its occupation by Americans, always maintained a
high daily rating of artillery activity. The opposing forces were
continually planning surprises on one another. At any minute of the
night or day a terrific bombardment of high explosive or gas might break
out on either side. Both sides operated their sound ranging apparatus
to a rather high degree of efficiency.

By these delicate instruments we could locate the exact position of an
unseen enemy battery. Following that location, the battery would
immediately be visited with a concentrated downpour of hot steel
intended to wipe it out of existence. The enemy did as much for us, so
that in the artillery, when the men were not actually manning the guns
in action, they were digging gun pits for reserve positions which they
could occupy if the enemy happened to get the proper range of the old
positions. In this casual counter battery work our artillery adopted a
system by which many lives were saved.

If a German battery began shelling one of our battery positions, the
artillerymen in that position were not called upon to stand by their
guns and return the fire. The order would be given to temporarily
abandon the position and the men would be withdrawn a safe distance. The
German battery that was firing would be responded to, two to one, by
other American batteries located nearby and which did not happen to be
under fire at the time. By this system we conserved our strength.

Our infantry was strong in their praise of the artillery. I observed
this particularly one day on the Toul front when General Pershing
dropped in unexpectedly at the division headquarters, then located in
the hillside village of Bourcq. While the commander and his party were
awaiting a meal which was being prepared, four muddy figures tramped
down the hallway of the Château. Through the doorway the general
observed their entrance.

The two leading figures were stolid German soldiers, prisoners of war,
and behind them marched their captors, two excusably proud young
Americans. One of them carried his bayoneted rifle at the ready, while
the second carried the equipment which had been taken from the
prisoners. The American commander ordered the group brought before him
and asked one of the Americans to relate the story of the capture.

"We in the infantry got 'em, sir," replied one, "but the artillery
deserved most of the credit. It happened just at dawn this morning. Jim
here, and myself, were holding down an advance machine gun post when the
Germans laid down a flock of shells on our first line trench. We just
kept at the gun ready to let them have it if they started to come over.

"Pretty soon we saw them coming through the mist and we began to put it
to 'em. I think we got a bunch of them but they kept on coming.

"Then somebody back in our first line shot up the signal for a barrage
in our sector. It couldn't have been a minute before our cannon cut
loose and the shells began to drop right down in the middle of the
raiding party.

"It was a good heavy barrage, sir, and it cut clean through the centre
of the raiders. Two Germans were ahead of the rest and the barrage
landed right in back of them. The rest started running back toward their
lines, but the first pair could not go back because they would have had
to pass through the barrage. I kept the machine gun going all the time
and Jim showed himself above the trench and pointed his rifle at the
cut-off pair.

"They put up their hands right quick and we waved to 'em to come in.
They took it on the jump and landed in our trench as fast as they could.
We took their equipment off them and we were ordered to march them back
here to headquarters. That's all there was to it, sir."

The enemy in front of Toul manifested an inordinate anxiety to know more
about the strength of our forces and the character of the positions we
occupied. A captured German document issued to the Fifth Bavarian
Landwehr infantry brigade instructed every observer and patrol to do his
or its best "to bring information about the new enemy."

"Nothing is known as yet about the methods of fighting or leadership,"
the document set forth, "and all information possible must be gathered
as to particular features of American fighting and outpost tactics. This
will then be used for extending the information bulletin. Any
observation or identification, however insignificant, may be of the
greatest value."

The document directed that data on the following questions be obtained:

"Are sentry posts sentry posts or stronger posts? Further advanced
reconnoitring patrols? Manner of challenging? Behaviour on post during
day and night? Vigilance? Ambush tactics and cunning?

"Do they shoot and signal on every occasion? Do the posts hold their
ground on the approach of a patrol, or do they fall back?

"Are the Americans careful and cautious? Are they noisy? What is their
behaviour during smoke screens?"

The enemy's keen desire to acquire this information was displayed in the
desperate efforts it made. One day the French troops occupying the
trenches on the right flank of the American sector, encountered a
soldier in an American uniform walking through their positions.

He was stopped and questioned. He said he had been one of an American
patrol that had gone out the night before, that he had lost his way in
No Man's Land and that he thought he was returning to his own trenches,
when he dropped into those held by the French.

Although the man wore our uniform and spoke excellent English and seemed
straightforward in his replies, as to his name and rank and
organisation, the French officer before whom he was brought was not
completely satisfied. To overcome this hesitancy, the suspected man
opened his shirt and produced an American identification tag verifying
his answers.

The French officer, still suspicious, ordered the man held while he
telephoned to the American organisation mentioned to ascertain whether
any man of the name given was missing from that unit.

"Yes," replied the American captain. "We lost him last October, when we
were in the front line down in the Luneville sector. He was captured
with eight others by the Germans."

"Well, we've got him over here on your right flank. He came into our
lines this morning--" the French officer started to say.

"Bully," came the American interruption over the wire. "He's escaped
from the Germans and has come clear through their lines to get back to
his company. He'll get a D. S. C. for that. We'll send right over for
him."

"But when we questioned him," replied the Frenchman, "he said he left
your lines only last night on patrol and got lost in No Man's Land."

"I'll come right over and look at that party, myself," the American
captain hastily replied.

He reached the French officer's dugout several hours later and the
suspect was ordered brought in.

"He must be crazy, sir," the French orderly said. "He tried to kill
himself a few minutes ago and we have had to hold him."

The man was brought into the dugout between two poilus who held his
arms. The American captain took a careful look and said:

"That's not our man. He wears our uniform correctly and that's our
regulation identification tag. Both of them must have been taken away
from our man when he was captured. This man is an impostor."

"He's more than that," replied the Frenchman with a smile. "He's a
German spy."

The prisoner made no reply, but later made a full confession of his act,
and also gave to his interrogators much valuable information, which,
however, did not save him from paying the penalty in front of a firing
squad. When he faced the rifles, he was not wearing the stolen uniform.



CHAPTER X

INTO PICARDY TO MEET THE GERMAN PUSH


Toward the end of March, 1918, just at the time when the American
Expeditionary Forces were approaching the desired degree of military
effectiveness, the fate of civilisation was suddenly imperilled by the
materialisation of the long expected German offensive.

This push, the greatest the enemy had ever attempted, began on March
21st, and the place that Hindenburg selected for the drive was Picardy,
the valley of the Somme, the ancient cockpit of Europe. On that day the
German hordes, scores upon scores of divisions, hurled themselves
against the British line between Arras and Noyon.

Before that tremendous weight of manpower, the Allied line was forced to
give and one of the holding British armies, the Fifth, gave ground on
the right flank, and with its left as a hinge, swung back like a gate,
opening the way for the Germans toward Paris.

There have been many descriptions of the fierce fighting put up by the
French and British to stem the German advance, but the most interesting
one that ever came to my notice, came from one of the few American
soldiers that participated in the defence. Two weeks after the opening
of the battle and at a time when the German advance had been stopped, I
came upon this American in a United States Military Hospital at Dijon.

An interne led me to the bedside of Jimmy Brady, a former jockey from
the Pimlico turf in Baltimore, and now a proud wearer of Uncle Sam's
khaki. In his own quaint way, Jimmy told me the story of what a little
handful of Americans did in the great battle in Picardy. Jimmy knew.
Jimmy had been there.

"Lad," he said, "I'm telling you it was a real jam. I learned one hell
of a headful in the last ten days that I'll not be forgetting in the
next ten years. I've got new ideas about how long this war is goin' to
last. Of course, we're going to lick the Boches before it ends, but I've
sorter given up the picture I had of myself marching up Fifth Avenue in
a victory parade on this coming Fourth of July. I'll say it can't be
done in that time.

"Our outfit from old ---- engineers, and believe me there's none better,
have been working up in the Somme country for the last two months. We
were billeted at Brie and most of our work had been throwing bridges
across the Canal du Nord about three miles south of Peronne. I'm telling
you the Somme ain't a river. It's a swamp, and they just hardly squeeze
enough water outer it to make a canal which takes the place of a river.

"We was working under the British. Their old bridges over the canal were
wooden affairs and most of them had signs on them reading, 'This bridge
won't hold a tank,' and that bridge wouldn't bear trotting horses, and
so on. Some of 'em we tore down must have been put in for scenery
purposes only. We were slamming up some husky looking steel structures
like you see in the States, and believe me it makes me sick to think
that we had to blow 'em all up again before the Boches got to 'em.

"I see by the papers that the battle began on the 21st, but I've got no
more idea about the date of it than the King of Honolulu. They say it's
been on only about ten days, but I couldn't swear it hadn't been on
since New Year's Eve. It sure seemed a long time. As I told you, we were
working just south of Peronne on the main road between St. Quentin and
Amiens. She started on a foggy morning and for two days the music kept
getting closer. On the first day, all traffic was frontward, men, guns,
and camions going up towards the lines, and then the tide began to flow
back.

"Ambulances and camions, full of poor wounded devils, filled the road,
and then came labour battalions of chattering Chinks, Egyptians, and
Fiji Islanders and God knows what. None of these birds were lingering,
because the enemy was sprinkling the roads with shells and sorter
keeping their marching spirits up. Orders came for us to ditch our packs
and equipment all except spades, rifles, belts and canteens, and we set
off toward the rear.

"Do you mind your map of the Somme? Well, we pulls up at Chaulnes for a
breath. It was a big depot and dump town--aeroplanes and everything
piled up in it. We were ordered onto demolition work, being as we was
still classed as non-combatants. I don't know how many billions of
dollars' worth of stuff we blew up and destroyed, but it seemed to me
there was no end of it. Fritz kept coming all the time and they hiked us
on to Aubercourt and then to Dormant, and each place we stopped and dug
trenches, and then they shoots us into camions and rushes us north to a
town not far out of Amiens.

"With about forty men, we marched down the road, this time as
non-combatants no longer. We stopped just east of the village of
Marcelcave and dug a line of trenches across the road. We had twenty
machine guns and almost as many different kinds of ammunition as there
was different nationalities in our trench. Our position was the fifth
line of defence, we was told, but the guns kept getting closer and a
lot of that long range stuff was giving us hell. Near me there was a
squad of my men, one Chink, three Canadians, and we two Dublin
fusileers.

"Then we begin to see our own guns, that is, British guns, beginning to
blow hell out of this here village of Marcelcave right in front of us.
It made me wild to see the artillery making a mistake like that, so I
says to one of these here Dublin fusileers:

"'Whatinell's 'matter wid dose guns firing on our own men up there in
the village? If this is the fifth line, then that must be our fourth
line in the village?'

"'Lad,' says the Dublin fusileer to me, 'I don't want to discourage you
for the life of me, but this only used to be the fifth line. We are in
the first line now and it's up to you and me and the Chink and the rest
of us to keep the Fritzes out of Amiens. At this moment we are all
that's between.'

"We started to the machine guns and began pouring it in on 'em. The
minute some of 'em would start out of the town we would wither them.
Holy mother, but what a beautiful murder it was!

"I didn't know then, and don't know yet, what has become of all the rest
of our officers and men, but I sorter felt like every shot I sent over
was paying 'em back for some of their dirty work. We kept handing it to
'em hot. You oughter seen that Chink talking Mongolian to a machine gun,
and, believe me, he sure made it understand him. I'm here to say that
when a Chink fights, he's a fighting son-of-a-gun and don't let anybody
kid you different.

"Well, our little mob held 'em off till dark and then British Tommies
piled in and relieved us. We needed it because we hadn't had a bite in
seventy hours and I had been lying in the mud and water for twice that
time. Just before relief comes on, two skulking figures comes over the
top. I was thinking that maybe these was Hindus or Eskimos coming to
join our little international party and we shouts out to 'em and asks
'em where they hails from. Both of 'em yelled back, 'Kamerad,' and then
I knew that we'd not only held the fort, but had captured two prisoners
even if they was deserters.

"I marched 'em back that night to the next town and took 'em into a
grocery store, where there was a lot of Tommies helping themselves to
the first meal in days. While we were eating bread and cheese and
sardines and also feeding me two prisoners, we talks to them and finds
out that, as far as they are concerned, the Kaiser will never get their
vote again.

"One Tommy says to one of my prisoners: 'Kaiser no good--pas bon, ain't
it?' and the prisoner said, 'Yah,' and I shoved my elbow into his ribs
and right quick he said, 'Nein.' Then the Tommy said: 'Hindenburg dirty
rotter, nacy pa?' and the Fritz said, 'Yah. Nein,' and then looked at me
and said 'Yah' again. They was not bad prisoners and I marched 'em
twenty miles that night, just the three of us--two of them in front and
me in back with the rifle over me arm.

"And the joke of it was that both of them could have taken the gun and
killed me any minute for all I could have done."

"How do you figure that, Corporal?" I asked.

For reply, Jimmy Brady drew from beneath the blankets a pair of knotted
hands with fingers and thumbs stiffened and bent in and obviously
impossible to use on a trigger. Brady is not in the hospital for wounds.
Four days and nights in water and mud in the battle of battles had
twisted and shrunken him with rheumatism. But he is one rheumatic who
helped to save Amiens.

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon the heels of the German successes in Picardy, developments followed
fast. Principal among these, was the materialisation of a unified
command of all the armies of the Allies. General Ferdinand Foch was
selected and placed in supreme command of every fighting man under the
Allied flags.

One of the events that led up to this long delayed action, was the
unprecedented action of General Pershing, when he turned over the
command of all the American forces in France to General Foch. He did
this with the words:

  "I come to say to you that the American people would hold it a great
  honour for our troops were they engaged in the present battle. I ask
  it of you in my name and in that of the American people.

  "There is at this moment no other question than that of fighting.
  Infantry, artillery, aviation--all that we have are yours to dispose
  of as you will. Others are coming which are as numerous as will be
  necessary. I have come to say to you that the American people would
  be proud to be engaged in the greatest battle in history."

The action met with the unqualified endorsement of every officer and man
in the American forces. From that minute on, the American slogan in
France was "Let's go," and every regiment began to hope that it would be
among the American organisations selected to do battle with the German
in Picardy. Secretary of War Baker, then in France, expressed his
pleasure over General Pershing's unselfish offer with the following
public statement on Mar. 30th:

  "I am delighted with the prompt and effective action of General
  Pershing in placing all American troops at the disposal of the
  Allies in the present situation. His action will meet with hearty
  approval in the United States, where the people desire their
  Expeditionary Force to be of the utmost service to the common cause.

  "I have visited practically all the American troops in France, some
  of them quite recently, and had an opportunity to observe the
  enthusiasm with which the officers and men receive the announcement
  that they may be used in the present conflict. Regiments to which
  the announcement was made, broke spontaneously into cheers."

Particularly were there cheers when the news spread through the ranks of
the First United States division, then on duty on the line in front of
Toul, that it had been the first American division chosen to go into
Picardy. I was fortunate enough to make arrangements to go with them.

I rode out from old positions with the guns and boarded the troop train
which took our battery by devious routes to changes of scenery,
gratifying both to vision and spirit. We lived in our cars on tinned
meat and hard bread, washed down with swallows of _vin ordinaire_,
hurriedly purchased at station _buvettes_. The horses rode well.

Officers and men, none of us cared for train schedule simply because
none of us knew where we were going, and little time was wasted in
conjecture. Soldierly curiosity was satisfied with the knowledge that we
were on our way, and with this satisfaction, the hours passed easily.
In fact, the blackjack game in the officers' compartment had reached the
point where the battery commander had garnered almost all of the French
paper money in sight, when our train passed slowly through the environs
of Paris.

Other American troop trains had preceded us, because where the railroad
embankment ran close and parallel to the street of some nameless
Faubourg, our appearance was met with cheers and cries from a welcoming
regiment of Paris street gamins, who trotted in the street beside the
slow moving troop train and shouted and threw their hats and wooden
shoes in the air. Sous and fifty centime pieces and franc pieces
showered from the side doors of the horses' cars as American soldiers,
with typical disregard for the value of money, pitched coin after coin
to the scrambling mob of children. At least a hundred francs must have
been cast out upon those happy, romping waves of childish faces and
up-stretched dirty hands.

"A soldier would give his shirt away," said a platoon commander, leaning
out of the window and watching the spectacle, and surreptitiously
pitching a few coins himself. "Hope we get out of this place before the
men pitch out a gun or a horse to that bunch. Happy little devils,
aren't they? It's great to think we are on our way up to meet their
daddies."

Unnumbered hours more passed merrily in the troop train before we were
shunted into the siding of a little town. Work of unloading was started
and completed within an hour. Guns and wagons were unloaded on the quay,
while the animals were removed from the cars on movable runways or
ramps. As each gun or wagon reached the ground, its drivers hitched in
the horses and moved it away. Five minutes later we rode out of the
yards and down the main street of the town.

Broad steel tires on the carriages of the heavies bumped and rumbled
over the clean cobbles and the horses pranced spryly to get the kinks
out of their legs, long fatigued from vibrations of the train. Women,
old and young, lined the curbs, smiling and throwing kisses, waving
handkerchiefs and aprons and begging for souvenirs. If every request for
a button had been complied with, our battery would have reached the
front with a shocking shortage of safety pins.

Darkness came on and with it a fine rain, as we cleared the town and
halted on a level plain between soft fields of tender new wheat, which
the horses sensed and snorted to get at. In twenty minutes, Mess
Sergeant Kelly, from his high altar on the rolling kitchen, announced
that the last of hot coffee had been dispensed. Somewhere up ahead in
the darkness, battery bugle notes conveyed orders to prepare to mount.
With the rattle of equipment and the application of endearing epithets,
which horses unfortunately don't understand, we moved off at the sound
of "forward."

Off on our left, a noiseless passenger train slid silently across the
rim of the valley, blue dimmed lights in its coach windows glowing like
a row of wet sulphur matches. Far off in the north, flutters of white
light flushed the night sky and an occasional grumbling of the distant
guns gave us our first impression of the battle of battles. Every man in
our battery tingled with the thrill. This was riding frontward with the
guns--this was rolling and rumbling on through the night up toward the
glare and glamour of war. I was riding beside the captain at the head of
the column. He broke silence.

"It seems like a far cry from Honolulu with the moon playing through the
palm trees on the beach," he said quizzically, "to this place and these
scenes and events to-night, but a little thing like a flip of coin
decided it for me, and I'm blessing that coin to-night.

"A year ago January, before we came into the war, I was stationed at San
Antonio. Another officer friend of mine was stationed there and one day
he received orders to report for duty at Honolulu. He had a girl in San
Antonio and didn't want to leave her and he knew I didn't have a girl
and didn't give a damn where I went, or was sent, so long as it was with
the army. He put up the proposition of mutual exchange being permitted
under regulations.

"He wanted to take my place in San Antonio and give me his assignment in
Honolulu, which I must say looked mighty good in those days to anybody
who was tired of Texas. I didn't think then we'd ever come to war and
besides it didn't make much difference to me one way or the other where
I went. But instead of accepting the proposition right off the reel, I
told Jim we'd flip a coin to decide.

"If it came tails, he would go to Honolulu. If it came heads, I would go
to Honolulu. He flipped. Tails won. I'm in France and poor Jim is out
there in Honolulu tending the Ukulele crop with prospects of having to
stay there for some time. Poor devil, I got a letter from him last week.

"Do you know, man knows no keener joy in the world than that which I
have to-night. Here I am in France at the head of two hundred and fifty
men and horses and the guns and we're rolling up front to kick a dent in
history. The poor unfortunate that ain't in this fight has almost got
license to shoot himself. Life knows no keener joy than this."

It was a long speech for our captain, but his words expressed not only
the feeling of our battery, but our whole regiment, from the humblest
wagon driver up to the colonel who, by the way, has just made himself
most unpopular with the regiment by being promoted to a Brigadier
Generalship. The colonel is passing upward to a higher command and the
regiment is sore on losing him. One of his humblest critics has
characterised the event as the "first rough trick the old man ever
pulled."

Midnight passed and we were still wheeling our way through sleeping
villages, consulting maps under rays of flashlights, gathering
directions some of the time from mile posts and wall signs, and at other
times gaining knowledge of roads and turns and hills from sleepy heads
in curl wrappers that protruded from bedroom chambers and were
over-generous in advice.

The animals were tired. Rain soaked the cigarettes and made them draw
badly. Above was drizzle and below was mud. There were a few grumbles,
but no man in our column would have traded places with a brother back
home even if offered a farm to boot.

It was after three in the morning when we parked the guns in front of a
château, brought forward some lagging combat wagons and discovered the
rolling kitchen had gone astray. In another hour the animals had been
unhitched but not unharnessed, fed and watered in darkness and the men,
in utter weariness, prepared to lie down and sleep anywhere. At this
juncture, word was passed through the sections that the battery would
get ready to move immediately. Orders were to clear the village by six
o'clock. Neither men nor horses were rested, but we moved out on time
and breakfasted on the road.

The way seemed long, the roads bad and the guns heavy. But we were
passing through an Eden of beauty--green fields and rolling hills
crested by ancient châteaux. At times, the road wound down through
hillside orchards, white and pink with apple blooms. Fatigue was heavy
on man and beast, but I heard one walking cannoneer singing, "When It's
Apple Blossom-time in Normandie." Another rider in the column recalled
the time when his father used to give him ten cents for standing on the
bottom of an upturned tin basin and reciting, "Over the mountains
winding down, horse and foot into Frederickstown."

"The jar of these guns as they grind over the gravel is enough to grind
the heart out of you," said a sweating cannoneer who was pressing a
helping shoulder to one of the heavies as we negotiated a steep hill.

"What in hell you kicking about," said the man opposite. "Suppose you
was travelling with one of them guns the Germans are using on Paris--I
mean that old John J. Longdistance. You'd know what heavy guns are then.
They say that the gun's so big and takes so many horses to haul it, that
the man who drives the lead pair has never spent the night in the same
town with the fellow who rides wheel swing."

A young reserve lieutenant with mind intensely on his work, combined for
my benefit his impressions of scenery with a lesson in artillery
location. His characterisation of the landscape was as technical as it
was unpoetical.

"A great howitzer country," was the tenor of his remarks. "Look at the
bottom of that slide. Fine position for one fifty-five. Take that gully
over there. That's a beaut of a place. No use talking. Great howitzer
country."

During the afternoon, a veterinarian turned over two horses to a French
peasant. One was exhausted and unable to proceed, and the other suffered
a bad hoof, which would require weeks for healing. News that both
animals were not going to be shot was received with joy by two men who
had ridden them. I saw them patting the disabled mounts affectionately
on the neck and heard one of them say,

"'Salright, old timer--'salright. Frenchy here is going to take care of
you all right. Uncle Sam's paying the bill and I am coming back and get
you soon's we give Fritzie his bumps."

An hour later, a young cannoneer gave in to fatigue and ignored orders
to the extent of reclining on gun trail and falling asleep. A rut in the
road made a stiff jolt, he rolled off and one ponderous wheel of the gun
carriage passed over him. One leg, one arm and two ribs were broken and
his feet crushed, was the doctor's verdict as the victim was carried
away in an ambulance.

"He'll get better all right," said the medico, "but he's finished his
bit in the army."

The column halted for lunch outside of a small town and I climbed on
foot to the hilltop castle where mediæval and modern were mixed in mute
mélange. A drawbridge crossed a long dry moat to cracked walls of rock
covered with ivy. For all its well preserved signs of artistic ruin, it
was occupied and well fitted within. From the topmost parapet of one
rickety looking tower, a wire stretched out through the air to an old,
ruined mill which was surmounted by a modern wind motor, the tail of
which incongruously advertised the words "Ideal power," with the
typical conspicuity of American salesmanship.

Near the base of the old mill was another jumble of moss-covered rocks,
now used as a summer house, but open on all sides. At a table in the
centre of this open structure, sat a blond haired young American soldier
with black receivers clamped to either ear. I approached and watched him
jotting down words on a paper pad before him. After several minutes of
intent silence, he removed the harness from his head and told me that he
belonged to the wireless outfit with the artillery and this station had
been in operation since the day before.

"Seems so peaceful here with the sun streaming down over these old
walls," he said.

"What do you hear out of the air?" I asked.

"Oh, we pick up a lot of junk," he replied, "I'm waiting for the German
communiqué now. Here's some Spanish stuff I just picked up and some more
junk in French. The English stations haven't started this afternoon. A
few minutes ago I heard a German aeroplane signalling by wireless to a
German battery and directing its fire. I could tell every time the gun
was ordered to fire and every time the aviator said the shot was short
or over. It's kinder funny to sit back here in quiet and listen in the
war, isn't it?" I agreed it was weird and it was.

In darkness again at the end of a hard day on the road, we parked the
guns that night in a little village which was headquarters for our
regiment and where I spent the night writing by an old oil lamp in the
Mayor's office. A former Chicago bellhop who spoke better Italian than
English and naturally should, was sleeping on a blanket roll on the
floor near me. On the walls of the room were posted numerous flag-decked
proclamations, some now yellow with the time that had passed over them
since their issue back in 1914. They pertained to the mobilisation of
the men of the village, men whose names remain now only as a memory.

But in their place was the new khaki-clad Chicago bellhop snoring there
on the floor and several thousand more as sturdy and ready as he, all
billeted within a stone's throw of that room. They were here to finish
the fight begun by those village peasants who had marched away four
years before when the Mayor of the town posted that bulletin. These
Americans stood ready to go down to honoured graves beside them.

Our division was under the French high command and was buried in the
midst of the mighty preparations then on foot. Our ranks were full, our
numbers strong, our morale high. Every officer and man in the
organisation had the feeling that the eyes of dashing French
comrades-in-arms and hard fighting British brothers were on them. Our
inspiration was in the belief that the attention of the Allied nations
of the world and more particularly the hope and pride of our own people
across the sea, was centred upon us. With that sacred feeling, the first
division stood resolute to meet the test.

Some of the disquieting news then prevalent in the nervous civilian
areas back of the lines, reached us, but its effect, as far as I could
see, was nil. Our officers and men were as unconcerned about the reports
of enemy successes as though we were children in the nursery of a
burning house and the neighbourhood was ringing with fire alarms. German
advances before Amiens, enemy rushes gaining gory ground in Flanders,
carried no shock to the high resolve that existed in the Allied reserves
of which we were a part.

Our army knew nothing but confidence. If there was other than optimism
to be derived from the current events, then our army was inclined to
consider such a result as gratifying, because it could be calculated to
create a greater measure of speed and assistance from the slowly
functioning powers in America. The reasoning was that any possible
pessimism would hurry to the wheel every American shoulder that had
failed to take up its individual war burden under the wave of optimism.
The army had another reason for its optimism. Our officers knew
something about the dark days that had preceded the first battle at the
Marne. They were familiar with the gloomy outlook in 1914 that had led
to the hurried removal of the French government from Paris to Bordeaux.
Our men recalled how the enemy was then overrunning Belgium, how the old
British "Contemptibles" were in retreat, and how the German was within
twenty miles of the French capital.

In that crisis had come the message by Foch and the brilliant stroke
with which he backed it up. What followed was the tumble and collapse of
the straddling German effort and the forced transformation in the
enemy's plans from a war of six weeks to a war of four years.

Our army knew the man who turned the trick at the Marne. We knew that we
were under his command, and not the slightest doubt existed but that it
was now our destiny to take part in another play of the cards which
would call and cash the German hand. Our forces in the coming
engagements were staking their lives, to a man, on Foch's ace in the
hole.

That was the deadly earnestness of our army's confidence in Foch. The
capture of a hill top in Picardy or the loss of a village in Flanders
had no effect upon that confidence. It found reinforcement in the
belief that since March 21st, America had gained a newer and keener
appreciation of her part in the war.

Our army began to feel that the American people, more than three
thousand miles away from the battle fronts, would have a better
understanding of the intense meaning that had been already conveyed in
General Pershing's words, "Confidence is needed but overconfidence is
dangerous." In other words, our soldiers in the field began to feel that
home tendencies that underrated the enemy's strength and underestimated
the effort necessary to overcome him, had been corrected. The army had
long felt that such tendencies had made good material for Billy Sunday's
sermons and spread-eagle speeches, but they hadn't loaded guns or placed
men in the front line.

We felt that this crisis had brought to America a better realisation of
the fact that Germany had not been beaten and that she was yet to be
beaten and that America's share in the administration of that beating
would have to be greater and more determined than had heretofore been
deemed necessary. It was the hope of the army that this realisation
would reach the people with a shock. Shocks were known to make
realisations less easy to forget. Forgetfulness from then on might have
meant Allied defeat.

Lagging memories found no billet in the personnel of that First
Division. Its records, registering five hundred casualties, kept in mind
the fact that the division had seen service on the line and still had
scores to settle with the enemy.

Its officers and men, with but few exceptions, had undergone their
baptism in German fire and had found the experience not distasteful. The
division had esprit which made the members of every regiment and
brigade in it vie with the members of any other regiment and brigade.
If you had asked any enlisted man in the division, he would have told
you that his company, battery, regiment or brigade "had it all over the
rest of them."

That was the feeling that our division brought with them when we marched
into Picardy to meet the German push. That was the spirit that dominated
officers and men during the ten days that we spent in manoeuvres and
preparations in that concentration area in the vicinity of the ancient
town of Chaumont-en-Vexin in the department of the Oise. It was the
feeling that made us anxious and eager to move on up to the actual
front.



CHAPTER XI

UNDER FIRE


On the day before our departure for the front from the concentration
area in Picardy, every officer in the division, and they numbered almost
a thousand, was summoned to the temporary divisional headquarters, where
General Pershing addressed to them remarks which have since become known
as the commander's "farewell to the First." We had passed out from his
command and from then on our orders were to come from the commander of
the French army to which the division was to be attached.

General Pershing stood on a mound at the rear of a beautiful château of
Norman architecture, the Château du Jard, located on the edge of the
town of Chaumont-en-Vexin. The officers ranged themselves in informal
rows on the grass. Birds were singing somewhere above in the dense,
green foliage, and sunlight was filtering through the leaves of the
giant trees.

The American commander spoke of the traditions which every American
soldier should remember in the coming trials. He referred to the
opportunity then present for us, whose fathers established liberty in
the New World, now to assist the Old World in throwing off its yoke of
tyranny. Throughout this touching farewell to the men he had trained--to
his men then leaving for scenes from which some of them would never
return--the commander's voice never betrayed the depth of feeling behind
it.

That night we made final arrangements for the morrow's move. I
travelled with the artillery where orders were received for the
reduction of all packs to the lightest possible as all men would be
dismounted and the baggage wagons would be reserved for food, ammunition
and officers' luggage only. Officers' packs, by the same order, had to
shrink from one hundred and fifty pounds to twenty.

There were many misgivings that night as owners were forced to discard
cherished belongings. Cumbersome camp paraphernalia, rubber bathtubs,
pneumatic mattresses, extra blankets, socks, sweaters, etc., all parted
company from erstwhile owners. That order caused many a heart-break and
the abandonment of thousands of dollars' worth of personal equipment in
our area.

I have no doubt that some of the village maidens were surprised at the
remarkable generosity of officers and men who presented them with
expensive toilet sets. Marie at the village _estaminet_ received five of
them all fitted in neat leather rolls and inscribed with as many
different sets of initials. The old men of the town gloried in the
sweaters, woollen socks and underwear.

There was no chance to fudge on the slim baggage order. An officer,
bound by duty, weighed each officer's kit as it reached the baggage
wagons and those tipping the scales at more than the prescribed twenty
pounds, were thrown out entirely. I happened to be watching the loading
when it came turn for the regimental band to stow away its encased
instruments in one wagon. It must be remembered that musicians at the
front are stretcher bearers. The baggage judge lifted the case
containing the bass horn.

"No horn in the world ever weighed that much," he said. "Open it up,"
was the terse command. The case was opened and the base horn pulled out.
The baggage officer began operations on the funnel. I watched him
remove from the horn's interior two spare blankets, four pairs of socks,
an extra pair of pants and a carton of cigarettes. He then inserted his
arm up to the shoulder in the instrument's innards and brought forth two
apples, a small tin of blackberry jam and an egg wrapped in an
undershirt.

The man who played the "umpah umpah" in the band was heartbroken. The
clarinet player, who had watched the operation and whose case followed
for inspection, saved the inspector trouble by removing an easily hidden
chain of sausage. I noticed one musician who was observing the ruthless
pillage but, strangely, his countenance was the opposite of the others.
He was actually smiling. I inquired the cause of his mirth.

"When we packed up, those guys with the big hollow instruments all had
the laugh on me," he said. "Now I've got it on them. I play the
piccolo."

All the mounted men under the rank of battery commanders were dismounted
in order to save the horses for any possibilities in the war of
movement. A dismounted artilleryman carrying a pack and also armed with
a rifle, is a most disconsolate subject to view just prior to setting
out for a long tramp. In his opinion, he has been reduced too near the
status of the despised doughboy.

It really doesn't seem like artillery unless one has a horse to ride and
a saddle to strap one's pack on. In the lineup before we started, I saw
two of these gunners standing by weighted down with their cumbersome,
unaccustomed packs. They were backed against a stone wall and were
easing their burdens by resting the packs on the stone ledge. Another
one similarly burdened passed and, in a most serious tone, inquired:

"Say, would either of you fellows like to buy another blanket roll?" The
reply of two dejected gunners would bar this story from publication.

We were on the march early in the morning, but not without some initial
confusion by reason of the inevitable higher orders which always come at
the last minute to change programmes. On parallel roads through that
zone of unmarred beauty which the Normans knew, our columns swung along
the dusty highroads.

There were many who held that America would not be thoroughly awake to
the full meaning of her participation in the war until the day there
came back from the battlefields a long list of casualties--a division
wiped out or decimated. Many had heard the opinions expressed in France
and many firmly believed that nothing short of such a shock would arouse
our nation to the exertion of the power and speed necessary to save the
Allied cause from defeat.

On this march, that thought recurred to some and perhaps to many who
refrained soberly from placing it in words. I knew several in the
organisation who felt that we were on our way to that sacrifice. I can
not estimate in how many minds the thought became tangible, but among
several whom I heard seriously discussing the matter, I found a perfect
willingness on their part to meet the unknown--to march on to the
sacrifice with the feeling that if the loss of their life would help
bring about a greater prosecution of the war by our country, then they
would not have died in vain.

If this was the underlying spirit, it had no effect whatever upon
outward appearances which could hardly be better described than with
Cliff Raymond's lilting words: "There are roses in their rifles just the
same." If this move was on to the sacrifice--if death awaited at the
end of the road, then those men were marching toward it with a song.

It takes a hard march to test the morale of soldiers. When the feet are
road-sore, when the legs ache from the endless pounding of hobnails on
hard macadam, when the pack straps cut and burn to the shoulder blades,
and the tin hat weighs down like a crown of thorns, then keep your ear
open for a jest and if your hearing is rewarded, you will know that you
march with men.

Many times that first day, those jests came to enliven dejected spirits
and put smiles on sweat-rinsed faces. I recall our battery as it
negotiated the steep hills. When the eight horses attached to the gun
carriages were struggling to pull them up the incline, a certain
subaltern with a voice slow, but damnably insistent, would sing out,
"Cannoneers, to the wheels." This reiterated command at every grade
forced aching shoulders already weary with their own burdens to strain
behind the heavy carriages and ease the pull on the animals.

Once on a down grade, our way crossed the tracks of a narrow gauge
railroad. Not far from the crossing could be seen a dinky engine puffing
and snorting furiously in terrific effort to move up the hill its
attached train of loaded ammunition cars. The engine was having a hard
fight when some light-hearted weary one in our column gave voice to
something which brought up the smile.

"Cannoneers, to the wheel!" was the shout and even the dignified
subaltern whose pet command was the butt of the exclamation, joined in
the wave of laughs that went down the line.

An imposing château of the second empire now presided over by an
American heiress, the wife of a French officer, was regimental
headquarters that night. Its barns and outbuildings were the cleanest
in France according to individuals who had slept in so many barns that
they feel qualified to judge.

"Painfully sanitary," said a young lieutenant, who remarked that the
tile floor might make a stable smell sweeter but it hardly offered the
slumbering possibilities of a straw shakedown. While the men arranged
their blankets in those quarters, the horses grazed and rolled in green
paddocks fenced with white painted rails. The cooks got busy with the
evening meal and the men off duty started exploring the two nearby
villages.

For the American soldier, financial deals were always a part of these
explorations. It was seldom more than an hour after his arrival in a
populated village before the stock market and board of trade were in
full operation. These mobile establishments usually were set up in the
village square if headquarters did not happen to be located too close.
There were plenty to play the rôles of bulls and bears; there was much
bidding and shouting of quotations.

The dealings were not in bushels of wheat or shares in oils or rails.
Delicacies were the bartered commodities and of these, eggs were the
strongest. The German intelligence service could have found no surer way
to trace the peregrinations of American troops about France, than to
follow up the string of eggless villages they left behind them.

As soon as billets were located, those without extra duty began the egg
canvass of the town. There was success for those who made the earliest
start and struck the section with the most prolific hens. Eggs were
bought at various prices before news of the American arrivals had caused
peasants to set up a new scale of charges. The usual late starter and
the victim of arrangements was the officer's striker who lost valuable
time by having to take care of his officer's luggage and get the latter
established in billets. It was then his duty to procure eggs for the
officer's mess.

By that time, all natural egg sources had been obliterated and the only
available supply was cornered by the soldiers' board of trade. The
desired breakfast food could be obtained in that place only. It was the
last and only resort of the striker, who is euphoniously known as a dog
robber. In the board of trade he would find soldiers with helmets full
of eggs which could be bought at anywhere from two to three times their
original price. It was only by the payment of such prices that the
officer was able to get anything that could possibly leave a trace of
yellow on his chin. If there was a surplus, the soldiers themselves had
ample belt room to accommodate it.

In one village tavern, I saw one soldier eat fourteen eggs which he
ordered Madame to fry in succession. I can believe it because I saw it.
Madame saw it also, but I feel that she did not believe her eyes. A
captain of the Judge Advocate's office also witnessed the gastronomic
feat.

"Every one of those eggs was bought and paid for," he said. "Our
department handles claims for all stolen or destroyed property and we
have yet to receive the first claim from this town. Of course every one
knows that a hungry man will steal to eat and there are those who hold
that theft for the purpose of satisfying demands of the stomach is not
theft. But our records show that the American soldier in France is ready
to, willing to, and capable of buying what he needs outside of his
ration allowance.

"We have some instances of stealing, but most of them are trivial.
Recently, we took from the pay of one whole battalion the cost of
thirty-one cheeses which were taken from a railroad restaurant counter.
The facts were that some of our troops en route were hungry and the
train was stopping only for five minutes and the woman behind the
counter didn't have time to even take, much less change, the money
offered, so the men grabbed the cheeses and ran out just in time to
board the train as it was moving off.

"There was one case, though, in which Uncle Sam didn't have the heart to
charge any one. He paid the bill himself and maybe if you could send the
story back home, the citizens who paid it would get a laugh worth the
money. It happened during a recent cold spell when some of our troops
were coming from seaboard to the interior. They travelled in semi-opened
horse cars and it was cold, damn cold.

"One of the trains stopped in front of a small railroad station and six
soldiers with cold hands and feet jumped from the car and entered the
waiting room, in the centre of which was a large square coal stove with
red hot sides. One man stood on another one's shoulders and disjointed
the stove pipe. At the same time, two others placed poles under the
bottom of the stove, lifted it off the floor and walked out of the room
with it.

"They placed it in the horse car, stuck the pipe out of one door and
were warm for the remainder of the trip. It was the first time in the
history of that little village that anybody had ever stolen a red hot
stove. The French government, owning the railroads, made claim against
us for four hundred francs for the stove and eleven francs' worth of
coal in it. Uncle Sam paid the bill and was glad to do it.

"I know of only one case to beat that one and that concerned an
infantryman who stole a hive full of honey and took the bees along with
it. The medical department handled one aspect of the case and the
provost marshal the other. The bees meted out some of the punishment and
we stung his pay for the costs."

There was one thing, however, that men on the move found it most
difficult to steal and that was sleep. So at least it seemed the next
morning when we swung into the road at daybreak and continued our march
into the north. Much speculation went the rounds as to our destination.
The much debated question was as to whether our forces would be
incorporated with Foch's reserve armies and held in readiness for a
possible counter offensive, or whether we should be placed in one of the
line armies and assigned to holding a position in the path of the German
push. But all this conjecture resulted in nothing more than passing the
time. Our way led over byroads and side lanes which the French master of
circulation had laid down for us.

Behind an active front, the French sanctified their main roads and
reserved them for the use of fast motor traffic and the rushing up of
supplies or reserves in cases of necessity. Thousands of poilus too old
for combat duty did the repair work on these main arteries. All minor
and slow moving traffic was side-tracked to keep the main line clear. At
times we were forced to cross the main highroads and then we encountered
the forward and backward stream of traffic to and from the front. At one
of those intersections, I sought the grass bank at the side of the road
for rest. Two interesting actors in this great drama were there before
me. One was an American soldier wearing a blue brassard with the white
letters M. P. He was a military policeman on duty as a road marker
whose function is to regulate traffic and prevent congestion.

Beside him was seated a peculiar looking person whose knee length skirts
of khaki exposed legs encased in wrap puttees. A motor coat of yellow
leather and the visored cap of a British Tommy completed the costume.
The hair showing beneath the crown of the cap was rather long and
straight, but betrayed traces of having been recently close cropped. For
all her masculine appearance, she was French and the young road marker
was lavishing upon her everything he had gleaned in a Freshman year of
French in a Spokane high school.

I offered my cigarette case and was surprised when the girl refrained.
That surprise increased when I saw her extract from a leather case of
her own a full fledged black cigar which she proceeded to light and
smoke with gusto. When I expressed my greater surprise, she increased it
by shrugging her shoulders prettily, plunging one gauntleted hand into a
side pocket and producing a pipe with a pouch of tobacco.

There was nothing dainty about that pipe. It had no delicate amber stem
nor circlet of filigree gold. There was no meerschaum ornamentation. It
was just a good old Jimmy pipe with a full-grown cake in the black burnt
bowl, and a well bitten, hard rubber mouth piece. It looked like one of
those that father used to consent to have boiled once a year, after
mother had charged it with rotting the lace curtains. If war makes men
of peace-time citizens, then----

[Illustration: FIRST OF THE GREAT FRANCO-AMERICAN COUNTER-OFFENSIVE AT
CHÂTEAU-THIERRY. THE FRENCH BABY TANKS, KNOWN AS "CHARS D'ASSAUTS,"
ENTERING THE WOOD OF VILLERS-COTTERETS, SOUTHWEST OF SOISSONS]

[Illustration: YANKS AND POILUS VIEWING THE CITY OF CHÂTEAU-THIERRY,
WHERE, IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY, THE YANKS TURNED THE TIDE OF BATTLE
AGAINST THE HUNS]

But she was a girl and her name was Yvonne. The red-winged letter on her
coat lapel placed her in the automobile service and the motor ambulance
stationed at the road side explained her special branch of work. She
inquired the meaning of my correspondent's insignia and then
explained that she had drawn pastelles for a Paris publication before
the war, but had been transporting _blessés_ since. The French lesson
proceeded and Spokane Steve and I learned from her that the longest word
in the French language is spelled "Anticonstitutionellement." I
expressed the hope that some day both of us would be able to pronounce
it.

On the girl's right wrist was a silver chain bracelet with
identification disk. In response to our interested gaze, she exhibited
it to us, and upon her own volition, informed us that she was a
descendant of the same family as Jeanne d'Arc. Steve heard and winked to
me with a remark that they couldn't pull any stuff like that on anybody
from Spokane, because he had never heard that that Maid of Orleans had
been married. Yvonne must have understood the last word because she
explained forthwith that she had not claimed direct descendence from the
famous Jeanne, but from the same family. Steve looked her in the eye and
said, "Jay compraw."

She explained the meaning of the small gold and silver medals suspended
from the bracelet. She detached two and presented them to us. One of
them bore in relief the image of a man in flowing robes carrying a child
on his shoulder, and the reverse depicted a tourist driving a motor
through hilly country.

"That is St. Christophe," said Yvonne. "He is the patron saint of
travellers. His medal is good luck against accidents on the road. Here
is one of St. Elias. He is the new patron saint of the aviators. You
remember. Didn't he go to heaven in a fiery chariot, or fly up on golden
wings or something like that? Anyhow, all the aviators wear one of his
medals."

St. Christophe was attached to my identification disk. Steve declared
infantrymen travelled too slowly ever to have anything happen to them
and that he was going to give his to a friend who drove a truck. When I
fell in line with the next passing battery and moved down the road,
Spokane Steve and the Yvonne of the family of Jeanne had launched into a
discussion of prize fighting and chewing tobacco.

       *       *       *       *       *

In billets that night, in a village not far from Beauvais, the singing
contest for the prize of fifty dollars offered by the battalion
commander Major Robert R. McCormick was resumed with intense rivalry
between the tenors and basses of batteries A and B. A "B" Battery man
was croaking Annie Laurie, when an "A" Battery booster in the audience
remarked audibly,

"Good Lord, I'd rather hear first call." First call is the bugle note
that disturbs sleep and starts the men on the next day's work.

A worried lieutenant found me in the crowd around the rolling kitchen
and inquired:

"Do you know whether there's a provost guard on that inn down the road?"
I couldn't inform him, but inquired the reason for his alarm.

"I've got a hunch that the prune juice is running knee deep to-night,"
he replied, "and I don't want any of my section trying to march
to-morrow with swelled heads."

"Prune juice" is not slang. It is a veritable expression and anybody who
thinks that the favourite of the boarding house table cannot produce a
fermented article that is _très fort_ in the way of a throat burner, is
greatly mistaken. In France the fermented juice of the prune is called
"water of life," but it carries a "dead to the world" kick. The simple
prune, which the army used to call "native son" by reason of its
California origin, now ranks with its most inebriating sisters of the
vine.

The flow of _eau de vie_ must have been dammed at the inn. On the road
the next day, I saw a mule driver wearing a sixteen candle power black
eye. When I inquired the source of the lamp shade, he replied:

"This is my first wound in the war of movement. Me and the cop had an
offensive down in that town that's spelt like Sissors but you say it
some other way." I knew he was thinking of Gisors.

The third and fourth day's march brought us into regions nearer the
front, where the movement of refugees on the roads seemed greater, where
the roll of the guns came constantly from the north, where enemy motors
droned through the air on missions of frightfulness.

There was a major in our regiment whose knowledge of French was confined
to the single affirmative exclamation, "Ah, oui." He worked this
expression constantly in the French conversation with a refugee woman
from the invaded districts. She with her children occupied one room in
the cottage. When the major started to leave, two days later, the
refugee woman addressed him in a reproving tone and with tears. He could
only reply with sympathetic "Ah, oui's," which seemed to make her all
the more frantic.

An interpreter straightened matters out by informing the major that the
woman wanted to know why he was leaving without getting her furniture.

"What furniture?" replied the puzzled major.

"Why, she says," said the interpreter, "that you promised her you would
send three army trucks to her house back of the German lines and bring
all of her household goods to this side of the line. She says that she
explained all of it to you and you said, 'Ah, oui.'"

The major has since abandoned the "ah, oui" habit.

At one o'clock one morning, orders reached the battalion for
reconnaissance detail; each battery to be ready to take road by
daylight. We were off at break of day in motor trucks with a reel cart
of telephone wire hitched on behind. Thirty minutes later we rumbled
along roads under range of German field pieces and arrived in a village
designated as battalion headquarters to find that we were first to reach
the sector allotted for American occupation. The name of the town was
Serevilliers.

Our ears did not delude us about the activity of the sector, but I found
that officers and men of the detail were inclined to accept the heavy
shelling in a non-committal manner until a French interpreter attached
to us remarked that artillery action in the sector was as intense as any
he had experienced at Verdun.

If the ever present crash of shells reminded us that we were opposite
the peak of the German push, there was plenty of work to engage minds
that might otherwise have paid too much attention to the dangers of
their location. A chalk cellar with a vaulted ceiling and ventilators,
unfortunately opening on the enemy side of the upper structure, was
selected as the battalion command post. The men went to work immediately
to remove piles of dirty billeting straw under which was found glass,
china, silverware and family portraits, all of which had been hurriedly
buried by the owners of the house not two weeks before.

While linemen planned communications, and battery officers surveyed gun
positions, the battalion commander and two orienting officers went
forward to the frontal zone to get the first look at our future targets
and establish observation posts from which our firing could be
directed. I accompanied the small party, which was led by a French
officer familiar with the sector. It was upon his advice that we left
the roads and took cuts across fields, avoiding the path and road
intersections and taking advantage of any shelter offered by the ground.

Virgin fields on our way bore the enormous craters left by the explosion
of poorly directed German shells of heavy calibre. Orders were to throw
ourselves face downward upon the ground upon the sound of each
approaching missile. There is no text book logic on judging from the
sound of a shell whether it has your address written on it, but it is
surprising how quick that education may be obtained by experience.
Several hours of walking and dropping to the ground resulted in an
attuning of the ears which made it possible to judge approximately
whether that oncoming, whining, unseen thing from above would land
dangerously near or ineffectively far from us. The knowledge was common
to all of us and all of our ears were keenly tuned for the sounds. Time
after time the collective judgment and consequent prostration of the
entire party was proven well timed by the arrival of a shell
uncomfortably close.

We gained a wooded hillside that bristled with busy French
seventy-fives, which the German tried in vain to locate with his
howitzer fire. We mounted a forest plateau, in the centre of which a
beautiful white château still held out against the enemy's best efforts
to locate it with his guns. One shell addressed in this special
direction fortunately announced its coming with such unmistakable
vehemence that our party all landed in the same shell hole at once.

Every head was down when the explosion came. Branches and pieces of tree
trunk were whirled upward, and the air became populated with deadly
bumble bees and humming birds, for such is the sound that the shell
splinters make. When I essayed our shell hole afterward, I couldn't
fathom how five of us had managed to accommodate ourselves in it, but in
the rush of necessity, no difficulty had been found.

Passing from the woods forward, one by one, over a bald field, we
skirted a village that was being heavily shelled, and reached a trench
on the side of the hill in direct view of the German positions. The
enemy partially occupied the ruined village of Cantigny not eight
hundred yards away, but our glasses were unable to pick up the trace of
a single person in the débris. French shells, arriving endlessly in the
village, shot geysers of dust and wreckage skyward. It was from this
village, several days later, that our infantry patrols brought in
several prisoners, all of whom were suffering from shell shock. But our
men in the village opposite underwent the same treatment at the hands of
the German artillery.

It was true of this sector that what corresponded to the infantry front
line was a much safer place to be in than in the reserve positions, or
about the gun pits in villages or along roads in our back area. Front
line activity was something of minor consideration, as both sides seemed
to have greater interests at other points and, in addition to that, the
men of both sides were busy digging trenches and shelters. There were
numerous machine gun posts which swept with lead the indeterminate
region between the lines, and at night, patrols from both sides explored
as far as possible the holdings of the other side.

Returning to the battalion headquarters that night by a route apparently
as popular to German artillery as was the one we used in the forenoon,
we found a telephone switchboard in full operation in the sub-cellar,
and mess headquarters established in a clean kitchen above the ground.
Food was served in the kitchen and we noticed that one door had suffered
some damage which had caused it to be boarded up and that the plaster
ceiling of the room was full of fresh holes and rents in a dozen places.
At every shock to the earth, a little stream of oats would come through
the holes from the attic above. These falling down on the officer's neck
in the midst of a meal, would have no effect other than causing him to
call for his helmet to ward off the cereal rain.

We learned more about the sinister meaning of that broken door and the
ceiling holes when it became necessary later in the evening to move mess
to a safer location. The kitchen was located just thirty yards back of
the town cross roads and an unhealthy percentage of German shells that
missed the intersection caused too much interruption in our cook's work.

We found that the mess room was vacant by reason of the fact that it had
become too unpleasant for French officers, who had relinquished it the
day before. We followed their suite and were not surprised when an
infantry battalion mess followed us into the kitchen and just one day
later, to the hour, followed us out of it.

Lying on the floor in that chalk cellar that night and listening to the
pound of arriving shells on nearby cross roads and battery positions, we
estimated how long it would be before this little village would be
completely levelled to the ground. Already gables were disappearing from
houses, sturdy chimneys were toppling and stone walls were showing
jagged gaps. One whole wall of the village school had crumbled before
one blast, so that now the wooden desks and benches of the pupils and
their books and papers were exposed to view from the street. On the
blackboard was a penmanship model which read:

"Let no day pass without having saved something."

An officer came down the dark stone steps into the cellar, kicked off
his boots and lay down on some blankets in one corner.

"I just heard some shells come in that didn't explode," I remarked. "Do
you know whether they were gas or duds?"

"I don't know whether they were gas or not," he said, "but I do know
that that horse out in the yard is certainly getting ripe."

The defunct animal referred to occupied an uncovered grave adjoining our
ventilator. Sleeping in a gas mask was not the most unpleasant form of
slumber.



CHAPTER XII

BEFORE CANTIGNY


It is strange how sleep can come at the front in surroundings not unlike
the interior of a boiler factory, but it does. I heard of no man who
slept in the cellars beneath the ruins of Serevilliers that night being
disturbed by the pounding of the shells and the jar of the ground, both
of which were ever present through our dormant senses. Stranger still
was the fact that at midnight when the shelling almost ceased, for small
intervals, almost every sleeper there present was aroused by the sudden
silence. When the shelling was resumed, sleep returned.

"When I get back on the farm outside of Chicago," said one officer, "I
don't believe I will be able to sleep unless I get somebody to stand
under my window and shake a thunder sheet all night."

It is also remarkable how the tired human, under such conditions, can
turn off the switch on an energetic imagination and resign himself
completely to fate. In those cellars that night, every man knew that one
direct hit of a "two ten" German shell on his particular cellar wall,
would mean taps for everybody in the cave. Such a possibility demands
consideration in the slowest moving minds.

Mentalities and morale of varying calibre cogitate upon this matter at
varying lengths, but I doubt in the end if there is much difference in
the conclusion arrived at. Such reflections produce the inevitable
decision that if one particular shell is coming into your particular
abode, there is nothing you can do to keep it out, so "What the hell!"
You might just as well go to sleep and forget it because if it gets you,
you most probably will never know anything about it anyway. I believe
such is the philosophy of the shelled.

It must have been three o'clock in the morning when a sputtering motor
cycle came to a stop in the shelter of our cellar door and a gas guard
standing there exchanged words with some one. It ended in the sound of
hobnails on the stone steps as the despatch rider descended, lighting
his way with the yellow shaft from an electric pocket lamp.

"What is it?" inquired the Major, awakening and rolling over on his
side.

"Just come from regimental headquarters," said the messenger. "I'm
carrying orders on to the next town. Adjutant gave me this letter to
deliver to you, sir. The Adjutant's compliments, sir, and apologies for
waking you, but he said the mail just arrived and the envelope looked
important and he thought you might like to get it right away."

"Hmm," said the Major, weighing the official looking envelope in one
hand and observing both the American stamps in one corner and numerous
addresses to which the missive had been forwarded. He tore off one end
and extracted a sheet which he unfolded and read while the messenger
waited at his request. I was prepared to hear of a promotion order from
Washington and made ready to offer congratulations. The Major smiled and
tossed the paper over to me, at the same time reaching for a notebook
and fountain pen.

"Hold a light for me," he said to the messenger as he sat on the edge of
the bed and began writing. "This is urgent and I will make answer now.
You will mail it at regimental headquarters." As his pen scratched
across the writing pad, I read the letter he had just received. The
stationery bore the heading of an alumni association of a well-known
eastern university. The contents ran as follows:

  "Dear Sir: What are you doing for your country? What are you doing
  to help win the war? While our brave boys are in France facing the
  Kaiser's shell and gas, the alumni association has directed me as
  secretary to call upon all the old boys of the university and invite
  them to do their bit for Uncle Sam's fighting men. We ask your
  subscription to a fund which we are raising to send cigarettes to
  young students of the university who are now serving with the
  colours and who are so nobly maintaining the traditions of our Alma
  Mater. Please fill out the enclosed blank, stating your profession
  and present occupation. Fraternally yours, ---- Secretary."

The Major was watching me with a smile as I concluded reading.

"Here's my answer," he said, reading from a notebook leaf:

  "Your letter reached me to-night in a warm little village in France.
  With regard to my present profession, will inform you that I am an
  expert in ammunition trafficking and am at present occupied in
  exporting large quantities of shells to Germany over the air route.
  Please find enclosed check for fifty francs for cigarettes for
  youngsters who, as you say, are so nobly upholding the sacred
  traditions of our school. After all, we old boys should do something
  to help along the cause. Yours to best the Kaiser. ----, Major.
  ---- Field Artillery, U. S. A. On front in France."

"I guess that ought to hold them," said the Major as he folded the
letter and addressed an envelope. It rather seemed to me that it would
but before I could finish the remark, the Major was back asleep in his
blankets.

By daylight, I explored the town, noting the havoc wrought by the shells
that had arrived in the night. I had thought in seeing refugees moving
southward along the roads, that there was little variety of articles
related to human existence that they failed to carry away with them. But
one inspection of the abandoned abodes of the unfortunate peasants of
Serevilliers was enough to convince me of the greater variety of things
that had to be left behind. Old people have saving habits and the French
peasants pride themselves upon never throwing anything away.

The cottage rooms were littered with the discarded clothing of all ages,
discarded but saved. Old shoes and dresses, ceremonial high hats and
frock coats, brought forth only for weddings or funerals, were mixed on
the floor with children's toys, prayer books and broken china. Shutters
and doors hung aslant by single hinges. In the village _estaminet_ much
mud had been tracked in by exploring feet and the red tiled floor was
littered with straw and pewter measuring mugs, dear to the heart of the
antiquary.

The ivory balls were gone from the dust covered billiard table, but the
six American soldiers billeted in the cellar beneath had overcome this
discrepancy. They enjoyed after dinner billiards just the same with
three large wooden balls from a croquet court in the garden. A croquet
ball is a romping substitute when it hits the green cushions.

That afternoon we laid more wire across fields to the next town to the
north. Men who do this job are, in my opinion, the most daring in any
organisation that depends for efficiency upon uninterrupted telephone
communication. For them, there is no shelter when a deluge of shells
pours upon a field across which their wire is laid. Without protection
of any kind from the flying steel splinters, they must go to that spot
to repair the cut wires and restore communication. During one of these
shelling spells, I reached cover of the road side _abri_ and prepared to
await clearer weather.

In the distance, down the road, appeared a scudding cloud of dust. An
occasional shell dropping close on either side of the road seemed to add
speed to the apparition. As it drew closer, I could see that it was a
motor cycle of the three wheeled bathtub variety. The rider on the cycle
was bending close over his handle bars and apparently giving her all
there was in her, but the bulky figure that filled to overflowing the
side car, rode with his head well back.

At every irregularity in the road, the bathtub contraption bounced on
its springs, bow and stern rising and falling like a small ship in a
rough sea. Its nearer approach revealed that the giant torso apparent
above its rim was encased in a double breasted khaki garment which might
have marked the wearer as either the master of a four in hand or a
Mississippi steamboat of the antebellum type. The enormous shoulders,
thus draped, were surmounted by a huge head, which by reason of its
rigid, backward, star-gazing position appeared mostly as chin and double
chin. The whole was topped by a huge fat cigar which sprouted upward
from the elevated chin and at times gave forth clouds like the forward
smoke-stack on the _Robert E. Lee_.

I was trying to decide in my mind whether the elevated chin posture of
the passenger was the result of pride, bravado or a boil on the Adam's
apple, when the scudding comet reached the shelter of the protecting
bank in which was located the chiselled dog kennel that I occupied. As
the machine came to halt, the superior chin depressed itself ninety
degrees, and brought into view the smiling features of that smile-making
gentleman from Paducah--Mr. Irvin S. Cobb. Machine, rider and passenger
stopped for breath and I made bold to ask the intrepid humourist if he
suffered from a too keen sense of smell or a saw edge collar.

"I haven't a sensitive nose, a saw edge collar or an inordinate
admiration for clouds," the creator of Judge Priest explained with
reference to his former stiff-necked pose, "but George here," waving to
the driver, "took a sudden inspiration for fast movement. The jolt
almost took my head off and the wind kept me from getting it back into
position. George stuck his spurs into this here flying bootblack stand
just about the time something landed near us that sounded like a kitchen
stove half loaded with window weights and window panes. I think George
made a record for this road. I've named it Buh-Looey Boulevard."

When the strafing subsided we parted and I reached the next deserted
town without incident. It was almost the vesper hour or what had been
the allotted time for that rite in those parts when I entered the yard
of the village church, located in an exposed position at a cross roads
on the edge of the town. A sudden unmistakable whirr sounded above and I
threw myself on the ground just as the high velocity, small calibre
German shell registered a direct hit on the side of the nave where roof
and wall met.

While steel splinters whistled through the air, an avalanche of slate
tiles slid down the slanting surface of the roof, and fell in a
clattering cascade on the graves in the yard below. I sought speedy
shelter in the lee of a tombstone. Several other shells had struck the
churchyard and one of them had landed on the final resting place of the
family of Roger La Porte. The massive marble slab which had sealed the
top of the sunken vault had been heaved aside and one wall was
shattered, leaving open to the gaze a cross section view of eight heavy
caskets lying in an orderly row.

Nearby were fresh mounds of yellow earth, surmounted by now unpainted
wooden crosses on which were inscribed in pencil the names of French
soldiers with dates, indicating that their last sacrifice for the
tri-colour of la Patria had been made ten days prior. In the soil at the
head of each grave, an ordinary beer bottle had been planted neck
downward, and through the glass one could see the paper scroll on which
the name, rank and record of the dead man was preserved. While I
wondered at this prosaic method of identification, an American soldier
came around the corner of the church, lighted a cigarette and sat down
on an old tombstone.

"Stick around if you want to hear something good," he said, "That is if
that last shell didn't bust the organ. There's a French poilu who has
come up here every afternoon at five o'clock for the last three days and
he plays the sweetest music on the organ. It certainly is great. Reminds
me of when I was an altar boy, back in St. Paul."

We waited and soon there came from the rickety old organ loft the
soothing tones of an organ. The ancient pipes, sweetened by the
benedictions of ages, poured forth melody to the touch of one whose
playing was simple, but of the soul. We sat silently among the graves as
the rays of the dying sun brought to life new colouring in the leaded
windows of stained glass behind which a soldier of France swayed at the
ivory keyboard and with heavenly harmony ignored those things of death
and destruction that might arrive through the air any minute.

My companion informed me that the poilu at the organ wore a uniform of
horizon blue which marked him as casual to this village, whose French
garrisons were Moroccans with the distinctive khaki worn by all French
colonials in service. The sign of the golden crescent on their collar
tabs identified them as children of Mahomet and one would have known as
much anyway upon seeing the use to which the large crucifix standing in
what was the market place had been put.

So as not to impede traffic through the place, it had become necessary
to elevate the field telephone wires from the ground and send them
across the road overhead. The crucifix in the centre of the place had
presented itself as excellent support for this wire and the sons of the
prophet had utilised it with no intention of disrespect. The uplifted
right knee of the figure on the cross was insulated and wired. War, the
moderniser and mocker of Christ, seemed to have devised new pain for the
Teacher of Peace. The crucifixion had become the electrocution.

At the foot of the cross had been nailed a rudely made sign conveying to
all who passed the French warning that this was an exposed crossing and
should be negotiated rapidly. Fifty yards away another board bore the
red letters R. A. S. and by following the direction indicated by arrows,
one arrived at the cellar in which the American doctor had established a
Relief Aid Station. The Medico had furnished his subterranean apartments
with furniture removed from the house above.

"Might as well bring it down here and make the boys comfortable," he
said, "as to leave it up there and let shells make kindling out of it.
Funny thing about these cellars. Ones with western exposure--that is,
with doors and ventilators opening on the side away from the enemy seem
scarcest. That seems to have been enough to have revived all that talk
about German architects having had something to do with the erection of
those buildings before the war. You remember at one time it was said
that a number of houses on the front had been found to have plaster
walls on the side nearest the enemy and stone walls on the other side.
There might be something to it, but I doubt it."

Across the street an American battalion headquarters had been
established on the first floor and in the basement of the house, which
appeared the most pretentious in the village. Telephone wires now
entered the building through broken window panes, and within maps had
been tacked to plaster walls and the furniture submitted to the hard
usage demanded by war. An old man conspicuous by his civilian clothes
wandered about the yard here and there, picking up some stray implement
or nick-nack, hanging it up on a wall or placing it carefully aside.

"There's a tragedy," the battalion commander told me. "That man is mayor
of this town. He was forced to flee with the rest of the civilians. He
returned to-day to look over the ruins. This is his house we occupy. I
explained that much of it is as we found it, but that we undoubtedly
have broken some things. I could see that every broken chair and window
and plate meant a heart throb to him, but he only looked up at me with
his wrinkled old face and smiled as he said, 'It is all right, Monsieur.
I understand. _C'est la guerre._'"

The old man opened one of his barn doors, revealing a floor littered
with straw and a fringe of hobnailed American boots. A night-working
detail was asleep in blankets. A sleepy voice growled out something
about closing the door again and the old man with a polite,
"_Pardonnez-moi, messieurs_," swung the wooden portal softly shut. His
home--his house--his barn--his straw--_c'est la guerre_.

An evening meal of "corn willy" served on some of the Mayor's remaining
chinaware, was concluded by a final course of fresh spring onions. These
came from the Mayor's own garden just outside the door. As the cook
affirmed, it was no difficulty to gather them.

"Every night Germans drop shells in the garden," he said. "I don't even
have to pull 'em. Just go out in the morning and pick 'em up off the
ground."

I spent part of the night in gun pits along the road side, bordering the
town. This particular battery of heavies was engaged on a night long
programme of interdiction fire laid down with irregular intensity on
cross roads and communication points in the enemy's back areas. Under
screens of camouflage netting, these howitzers with mottled bores
squatting frog-like on their carriages, intermittently vomited flame,
red, green and orange. The detonations were ear-splitting and cannoneers
relieved the recurring shocks by clapping their hands to the sides of
their head and balancing on the toes each time the lanyard was pulled.

Infantry reserves were swinging along in the road directly in back of
the guns. They were moving up to forward positions and they sang in an
undertone as they moved in open order.

    "Glor--ree--us, Glor--ree--us!
    One keg of beer for the four of us.
    Glory be to Mike there are no more of us,
    For four of us can drink it all alone."

Some of these marchers would come during an interval of silence to a
position on the road not ten feet from a darkened, camouflaged howitzer
just as it would shatter the air with a deafening crash. The suddenness
and unexpectedness of the detonation would make the marchers start and
jump involuntarily. Upon such occasions, the gun crews would laugh
heartily and indulge in good natured raillery with the infantrymen.

"Whoa, Johnny Doughboy, don't you get frightened. We were just shipping
a load of sauerkraut to the Kaiser," said one ear-hardened gunner.
"Haven't you heard the orders against running your horses? Come down to
a gallop and take it easy."

"Gwan, you leatherneck," returns an infantryman, "You smell like a
livery stable. Better trade that pitchfork for a bayonet and come on up
where there's some fighting."

"Don't worry about the fighting, little doughboy," came another voice
from the dark gun pit. "This is a tray forte sector. If you don't get
killed the first eight days, the orders is to shoot you for loafing.
You're marching over what's called 'the road you don't come back on.'"

A train of ammunition trucks, timed to arrive at the moment when the
road was unoccupied, put in appearance as the end of the infantry column
passed, and the captain in charge urged the men on to speedy unloading
and fumed over delays by reason of darkness. The men received big shells
in their arms and carried them to the roadside dumps where they were
piled in readiness for the guns. The road was in an exposed position and
this active battery was liable to draw enemy fire at any time, so the
ammunition train captain was anxious to get his charges away in a hurry.

His fears were not without foundation, because in the midst of the
unloading, one German missile arrived in a nearby field and sprayed the
roadway with steel just as every one flattened out on the ground. Five
ammunition hustlers arose with minor cuts and one driver was swearing at
the shell fragment which had gone through the radiator of his truck and
liberated the water contents. The unloading was completed with all
speed, and the ammunition train moved off, towing a disabled truck. With
some of the gunners who had helped in unloading, I crawled into the
chalk dugout to share sleeping quarters in the straw.

"What paper do you represent?" one man asked me as he sat in the straw,
unwrapping his puttees. I told him.

"Do you want to know the most popular publication around this place?" he
asked, and I replied affirmatively.

"It's called the _Daily Woollen Undershirt_," he said. "Haven't you seen
everybody sitting along the roadside reading theirs and trying to keep
up with things? Believe me, it's some reading-matter, too."

"Don't let him kid you," said the section chief, "I haven't had to read
mine yet. The doctor fixed up the baths in town and yesterday he passed
around those flea charms. Have you seen them?"

For our joint inspection there was passed the string necklace with two
linen tabs soaked in aromatic oil of cedar, while the section chief
gave an impromptu lecture on personal sanitation. It was concluded by a
peremptory order from without for extinction of all lights. The candle
stuck on the helmet top was snuffed and we lay down in darkness with the
guns booming away on either side.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our positions were located in a country almost as new to war as were the
fields of Flanders in the fall of '14. A little over a month before it
had all been peaceful farming land, far behind the belligerent lines.
Upon our arrival, its sprouting fields of late wheat and oats were
untended and bearing their first harvest of shell craters.

The abandoned villages now occupied by troops told once more the mute
tales of the homeless. The villagers, old men, old women and children,
had fled, driving before them their cows and farm animals even as they
themselves had been driven back by the train of German shells. In their
deserted cottages remained the fresh traces of their departure and the
ruthless rupturing of home ties, generations old.

On every hand were evidences of the reborn war of semi-movement. One day
I would see a battery of light guns swing into position by a roadside,
see an observing officer mount by ladder to a tree top and direct the
firing of numberless rounds into the rumbling east. By the next morning,
they would have changed position, rumbled off to other parts, leaving
beside the road only the marks of their cannon wheels and mounds of
empty shell cases.

Between our infantry lines and those of the German, there was yet to
grow the complete web of woven wire entanglements that marred the
landscapes on the long established fronts. Still standing, silent
sentinels over some of our front line positions were trees, church
steeples, dwellings and barns that as yet had not been levelled to the
ground. Dugouts had begun to show their entrances in the surface of the
ground and cross roads had started to sprout with rudely constructed
shelters. Fat sandbags were just taking the places of potted geraniums
on the sills of first floor windows. War's toll was being exacted daily,
but the country had yet to pay the full price. It was going through that
process of degeneration toward the stripped and barren but it still held
much of its erstwhile beauty.

Those days before Cantigny were marked by particularly heavy artillery
fire. The ordnance duel was unrelenting and the daily exchange of shells
reached an aggregate far in excess of anything that the First Division
had ever experienced before.

Nightly the back areas of the front were shattered with shells. The
German was much interested in preventing us from bringing up supplies
and munition. We manifested the same interest toward him. American
batteries firing at long range, harassed the road intersections behind
the enemy's line and wooded places where relief troops might have been
assembled under cover of darkness. The expenditure of shells was
enormous but it continued practically twenty-four hours a day. German
prisoners, shaking from the nervous effects of the pounding, certified
to the untiring efforts of our gunners.

The small nameless village that we occupied almost opposite the German
position in Cantigny seemed to receive particular attention from the
enemy artillery. In retaliation, our guns almost levelled Cantigny and a
nearby village which the enemy occupied. Every hour, under the rain of
death, the work of digging was continued and the men doing it needed no
urging from their officers. There was something sinister and emphatic
about the whine of a "two ten German H. E." that inspired one with a
desire to start for the antipodes by the shortest and most direct route.

The number of arrivals by way of the air in that particular village
every day numbered high in the thousands. Under such conditions, no
life-loving human could have failed to produce the last degree of
utility out of a spade. The continual dropping of shells in the ruins
and the unending fountains of chalk dust and dirt left little for the
imagination, but one officer told me that it reminded him of living in a
room where some one was eternally beating the carpet.

This taste of the war of semi-movement was appreciated by the American
soldier. It had in it a dash of novelty, lacking in the position warfare
to which he had become accustomed in the mud and marsh of the Moselle
and the Meuse. For one thing, there were better and cleaner billets than
had ever been encountered before by our men. Fresh, unthrashed oats and
fragrant hay had been found in the hurriedly abandoned lofts back of the
line and in the caves and cellars nearer the front.

In many places the men were sleeping on feather mattresses in
old-fashioned wooden bedsteads that had been removed from jeopardy above
ground to comparative safety below. Whole caves were furnished, and not
badly furnished, by this salvage of furniture, much of which would have
brought fancy prices in any collection of antiques.

Forced to a recognition solely of intrinsic values, our men made prompt
utilisation of much of the material abandoned by the civilian
population. Home in the field is where a soldier sleeps and after all,
why not have it as comfortable as his surroundings will afford? Those
caves and vegetable cellars, many with walls and vaulted ceilings of
clean red brick or white blocks of chalk, constituted excellent shelters
from shell splinters and even protected the men from direct hits by
missiles of small calibre.

Beyond the villages, our riflemen found protection in quickly scraped
holes in the ground. There were some trenches but they were not
contiguous. "No Man's Land" was an area of uncertain boundary. Our
gunners had quarters burrowed into the chalk not far from their gun
pits. All communication and the bringing up of shells and food were
conducted under cover of darkness. Under such conditions, we lived and
waited for the order to go forward.

Our sector in that battle of the Somme was so situated that the opposing
lines ran north and south. The enemy was between us and the rising sun.
Behind our rear echelons was the main road between Amiens and Beauvais.
Amiens, the objective of the German drive, was thirty-five kilometres
away on our left, Beauvais was the same distance on our right and two
hours by train from Paris.

We were eager for the fight. The graves of our dead dotted new fields in
France. We were holding with the French on the Picardy line. We were
between the Germans and the sea. We were before Cantigny.



CHAPTER XIII

THE RUSH OF THE RAIDERS--"ZERO AT 2 A. M."


While the First U. S. Division was executing in Picardy a small, planned
operation which resulted in the capture of the German fortified
positions in the town of Cantigny, other American divisions at other
parts along the line were indulging in that most common of frontal
diversions--the raid.

I was a party to one of these affairs on the Toul front. The 26th
Division, composed of National Guard troops from New England, made the
raid. On Memorial Day, I had seen those men of the Yankee Division
decorating the graves of their dead in a little cemetery back of the
line. By the dawning light of the next morning, I saw them come trooping
back across No Man's Land after successfully decorating the enemy
positions with German graves.

It was evening when we dismissed our motor in the ruined village of
Hamondville and came into first contact with the American soldiers that
had been selected for the raid. Their engineers were at work in the
street connecting sections of long dynamite-loaded pipes which were to
be used to blast an ingress through the enemy's wire. In interested
circles about them were men who were to make the dash through the break
even before the smoke cleared and the débris ceased falling. They were
to be distinguished from the village garrison by the fact that the
helmets worn by the raiders were covered with burlap and some of them
had their faces blackened.

In the failing evening light, we walked on through several heaps of
stone and rafters that had once been villages, and were stopped by a
military policeman who inquired in broad Irish brogue for our passes.
These meeting with his satisfaction, he advised us to avoid the road
ahead with its dangerous twist, known as "Dead Man's Curve," for the
reason that the enemy was at that minute placing his evening
contribution of shells in that vicinity. Acting on the policeman's
suggestion, we took a short cut across fields rich with shell holes. Old
craters were grown over with the grass and mustard flowers with which
this country abounds at this time of year. Newer punctures showed as
wounds in the yellow soil and contained pools of evil-smelling water,
green with scum.

Under the protection of a ridge, which at least screened us from direct
enemy observation, we advanced toward the jagged skyline of a ruined
village on the crest. The odour of open graves befouled the sheltered
slope, indicating that enemy shells had penetrated its small protection
and disturbed the final dugouts of the fallen.

Once in the village of Beaumont, we followed the winding duckboards and
were led by small signs painted on wood to the colonel's headquarters.
We descended the stone steps beneath a rickety looking ruin and entered.

"Guests for our party," was the Colonel's greeting. The command post had
a long narrow interior which was well lighted but poorly ventilated, the
walls and floor were of wood and a low beamed ceiling was supported by
timbers. "Well, I think it will be a good show."

"We are sending over a little party of new boys just for practice and a
'look-see' in Hunland. We have two companies in this regiment which feel
they've sorter been left out on most of the fun to date, so this affair
has been arranged for them. We put the plans together last week and
pushed the boys through three days of training for it back of the
lines. They're fit as fiddlers to-night and it looks like there'll be no
interruption to their pleasure.

"No one man in the world, be he correspondent or soldier, could see
every angle of even so small a thing as a little raid like this," the
Colonel explained. "What you can't see you have got to imagine. I'm
suggesting that you stay right in here for the show. That telephone on
my adjutant's desk is the web centre of all things occurring in this
sector to-night and the closer you are to it, the more you can see and
learn. Lieutenant Warren will take you up the road first and give you a
look out of the observatory, so you'll know in what part of Germany our
tourists are going to explore."

Darkness had fallen when we emerged, but there were sufficient stars out
to show up the outline of the gaping walls on either side of our way. We
passed a number of sentries and entered a black hole in the wall of a
ruin. After stumbling over the uneven floor in a darkened passage for
some minutes, we entered a small room where several officers were
gathered around a table on which two burning candles were stuck in
bottles. Our guide, stepping to one end of the room, pulled aside a
blanket curtain and passed through a narrow doorway. We followed.

Up a narrow, steep, wooden stairway between two walls of solid masonry,
not over two feet apart, we passed, and arrived on a none too stable
wooded runway with a guide rail on either side. Looking up through the
ragged remains of the wooden roof frame, now almost nude of tiles, we
could see the starry sky. Proceeding along the runway, we arrived,
somewhere in that cluster of ruins, in a darkened chamber whose
interior blackness was relieved by a lighter slit, an opening facing
the enemy.

Against the starry skyline, we could see the black outline of a flat
tableland in the left distance which we knew to be that part of the
heights of Meuse for whose commanding ridge there have been so many
violent contests between the close-locked lines in the forest of
Apremont. More to the centre of the picture, stood Mont Sec, detached
from the range and pushing its summit up through the lowland mist like
the dorsal fin of a porpoise in a calm sea. On the right the lowland
extended to indistinct distances, where it blended with the horizon.

In all that expanse of quiet night, there was not a single flicker of
light, and at that time not a sound to indicate that unmentionable
numbers of our men were facing one another in parallel ditches across
the silent moor.

"See that clump of trees way out there?" said the lieutenant, directing
our vision with his arm. "Now then, hold your hand at arm's length in
front of you, straight along a line from your eyes along the left edge
of your hand to that clump of trees. Now then, look right along the
right edge of your hand and you will be looking at Richecourt. The Boche
hold it. We go in on the right of that to-night."

We looked as per instructions and saw nothing. As far as we were
concerned Richecourt was a daylight view, but these owls of the lookout
knew its location as well as they knew the streets of their native towns
back in New England. We returned to the colonel's command post, where
cots were provided, and we turned in for a few hours' sleep on the
promise of being called in time.

It was 2 A. M. when we were summoned to command post for the colonel's
explanation of the night's plans. The regimental commander, smoking a
long pipe with a curved stem, sat in front of a map on which he
conducted the exposition.

"Here," he said, placing his finger on a section of the line marking the
American trenches, "is the point of departure. That's the jumping off
place. These X marks running between the lines is the enemy wire, and
here, and here, and here are where we blow it up. We reach the German
trenches at these points and clean up. Then the men follow the enemy
communicating trenches, penetrate three hundred metres to the east edge
of Richecourt, and return.

"Zero hour is 2:30. It's now 2:10. Our raiders have left their trenches
already. They are out in No Man's Land now. The engineers are with them
carrying explosives for the wire. There are stretcher bearers in the
party to bring back our wounded and also signal men right behind them
with wire and one telephone. The reports from that wire are relayed here
and we will also be kept informed by runners. The whole party has thirty
minutes in which to crawl forward and place explosives under the wire.
They will have things in readiness by 2:30 and then the show begins."

Five minutes before the hour, I stepped out of the dugout and looked at
the silent sky toward the front. Not even a star shell disturbed the
blue black starlight. The guns were quiet. Five minutes more and all
this was to change into an inferno of sound and light, flash and crash.
There is always that minute of uncertainty before the raiding hour when
the tensity of the situation becomes almost painful. Has the enemy
happened to become aware of the plans? Have our men been deprived of the
needed element of surprise? But for the thousands of metres behind us,
we know that in black battery pits anxious crews are standing beside
their loaded pieces waiting to greet the tick of 2:30 with the jerk of
the lanyard.

Suddenly the earth trembles. Through the dugout window facing back from
the lines, I see the night sky burst livid with light. A second later
and the crash reaches our ears. It is deafening. Now we hear the whine
of shells as they burn the air overhead. The telephone bell rings.

"Yes, this is Boston," the Adjutant speaks into the receiver. We listen
breathlessly. Has something gone wrong at the last minute?

"Right, I have it," said the Adjutant, hanging up the receiver and
turning to the Colonel; "X-4 reports barrage dropped on schedule."

"Good," said the Colonel. "Gentlemen, here's what's happening. Our
shells are this minute falling all along the German front line, in front
of the part selected for the raid and on both flanks. Now then, this
section of the enemy's position is confined in a box barrage which is
pounding in his front and is placing a curtain of fire on his left and
his right and another in his rear. Any German within the confines of
that box trying to get out will have a damn hard time and so will any
who try to come through it to help him."

"Boston talking," the Adjutant is making answer over the telephone. He
repeats the message. "233, all the wire blown up, right."

"Fine," says the Colonel. "Now they are advancing and right in front of
them is another rolling barrage of shells which is creeping forward on
the German lines at the same pace our men are walking. They are walking
in extended order behind it. At the same time our artillery has taken
care of the enemy's guns by this time so that no German barrage will be
able to come down on our raiders. Our guns for the last three minutes
have been dumping gas and high explosives on every battery position
behind the German lines. That's called 'Neutralisation.'"

"Boston talking." The room grows quiet again as the Adjutant takes the
message.

"2:36. Y-1 reports O. K."

"Everything fine and dandy," the Colonel observes, smiling.

"Boston talking." There is a pause.

"2:39. G-7 reports sending up three red rockets east of A-19. The
operator thinks it's a signal for outposts to withdraw and also for
counter barrage."

"Too late," snaps the Colonel. "There's a reception committee in Hades
waiting for 'em right now."

At 2:40 the dugout door opens and in walks Doc Comfort from the Red
Cross First Aid Station across the road.

"Certainly is a pretty sight, Colonel. Fritzies' front door is lit up
like a cathedral at high mass."

At 2:41. "A very good beginning," remarks a short, fat French Major who
sits beside the Colonel. He represents the French army corps.

2:43. "Boston talking,--Lieutenant Kernan reports everything quiet in
his sector."

2:45. "Boston talking," the Adjutant turns to the Colonel and repeats,
"Pittsburgh wants to know if there's much coming in here."

"Tell them nothing to amount to anything," replies the Colonel and the
Adjutant repeats the message over the wire. As he finished, one German
shell did land so close to the dugout that the door blew open. The
officer stepped to the opening and called out into the darkness.

"Gas guard. Smell anything?"

"Nothing, sir. Think they are only high explosives."

2:47. "Boston talking--enemy sent up one red, one green rocket and then
three green rockets from B-14," the Adjutant repeats.

"Where is that report from?" asks the Colonel.

"The operator at Jamestown, sir," replies the Adjutant.

"Be ready for some gas, gentlemen," says the Colonel. "I think that's
Fritzie's order for the stink. Orderly, put down gas covers on the doors
and windows."

I watched the man unroll the chemically dampened blankets over the doors
and windows.

2:49. "Boston talking--23 calls for barrage."

The Colonel and Major turn immediately to the wall map, placing a finger
on 23 position.

"Hum," says the Colonel. "Counter attack, hey? Well, the barrage will
take care of them, but get me Watson on the line."

"Connect me with Nantucket," the Adjutant asks the operator. "Hello,
Watson, just a minute," turning to Colonel, "here's Watson, sir."

"Hello, Watson," the Colonel says, taking the receiver. "This is Yellow
Jacket. Watch out for counter attack against 23. Place your men in
readiness and be prepared to support Michel on your right. That's all,"
returning 'phone to the Adjutant, "Get me Mr. Lake."

While the Adjutant made the connection, the Colonel explained quickly
the planned flanking movement on the map. "If they come over there," he
said to the French Major, "not a God-damn one of them will ever get back
alive."

The French Major made a note in his report book.

"Hello, Lake," the Colonel says, taking the 'phone. "This is Yellow
Jacket. Keep your runners in close touch with Michel and Watson. Call me
if anything happens. That's all."

3:00. "Boston talking--G-2 reports all O.K. Still waiting for the
message from Worth."

3:02. "Storming party reports unhindered progress. No enemy encountered
yet."

This was the first message back from the raiders. It had been sent over
the wire and the instruments they carried with them and then relayed to
the Colonel's command post.

"_Magnifique_," says the French Major.

3:04. "Boston talking. X-10 reports gas in Bois des Seicheprey."

3:05. "Boston talking. Hello, yes, nothing coming in here to amount to
anything. Just had a gas warning but none arrived yet."

3:07. "Boston talking,----Yes, all right" (turning to Colonel),
"operator just received message from storming party 'so far so good.'"

"Not so bad for thirty-seven minutes after opening of the operation,"
remarks the Colonel.

"What is 'so far so good'?" inquires the French Major, whose knowledge
of English did not extend to idioms. Some one explained.

3:09. "Boston talking--Watson reports all quiet around 23 now."

"Guess that barrage changed their minds," remarks the Colonel.

With gas mask at alert, I walked out for a breath of fresh air. The
atmosphere in a crowded dugout is stifling. From guns still roaring in
the rear and from in front came the trampling sound of shells arriving
on German positions. The first hints of dawn were in the sky. I
returned in time to note the hour and hear:

3:18. "Boston talking--O-P reports enemy dropping line of shells from
B-4 to B-8."

"Trying to get the boys coming back, hey?" remarks the Colonel. "A fat
chance. They're not coming back that way."

3:21. "Boston talking--23 reports that the barrage called for in their
sector was because the enemy had advanced within two hundred yards of
his first position. Evidently they wanted to start something, but the
barrage nipped them and they fell back fast."

"Perfect," says the French Major.

3:25. "Boston talking--two green and two red rockets were sent up by the
enemy from behind Richecourt."

"Hell with 'em, now," the Colonel remarks.

3:28. "Boston talking--all O. K. in Z-2. Still waiting to hear from
Michel."

"I rather wish they had developed their counter attack," says the
Colonel. "I have a reserve that would certainly give them an awful
wallop."

3:30. "Boston talking--more gas in Bois des Seicheprey."

3:33. "Boston talking--white stars reported from Richecourt."

"They must be on their way back by this time," says the Colonel, looking
at his watch.

3:37. "Boston talking,--enemy now shelling on the north edge of the
town. A little gas."

3:40. "Boston talking--X-1 reports some enemy long range retaliation on
our right.

"They'd better come back the other way," says the Colonel.

"That was the intention, sir," the lieutenant reported from across the
room.

3:42. "Boston talking--signalman with the party reports everything O.
K."

"We don't know yet whether they have had any losses or got any
prisoners," the Colonel remarks. "But the mechanism seems to have
functioned just as well as it did in the last raid. We didn't get a
prisoner that time, but I sorter feel that the boys will bring back a
couple with them to-night."

3:49. "Boston talking--G-9 reports some of the raiding party has
returned and passed that point."

"Came back pretty quick, don't you think so, Major?" said the Colonel
with some pride. "Must have returned over the top."

It is 3:55 when we hear fast footsteps on the stone stairs leading down
to the dugout entrance. There is a sharp rap on the door followed by the
Colonel's command, "Come in."

A medium height private of stocky build, with shoulders heaving from
laboured breathing and face wet with sweat, enters. He removes his
helmet, revealing disordered blonde hair. He faces the Colonel and
salutes.

"Sir, Sergeant Ransom reports with message from Liaison officer. All
groups reached the objectives. No enemy encountered on the right, but a
party on the left is believed to be returning with prisoners. We blew up
their dugouts and left their front line in flames."

"Good work, boy," says the Colonel, rising and shaking the runner's
hand. "You got here damn quick. Did you come by the Lincoln trench?"

"No, sir, I came over the top from the battalion post. Would have been
here quicker, but two of us had to carry back one boy to that point
before I could get relieved."

"Wounded?"

"No, sir,--dead."

"Who was it?" asks the young lieutenant.

"Private Kater, sir, my squad mate."

As the sergeant raised his hand in parting salute, all of us saw
suspended from his right wrist a most formidable weapon, apparently of
his own construction. It was a pick handle with a heavy iron knob on one
end and the same end cushioned with a mass of barbed wire rolled up like
a ball of yarn. He smiled as he noticed our gaze.

"It's the persuader, sir," he said. "We all carried them."

He had hardly quitted the door when another heavily breathing figure
with shirt half torn off by barbed wire appeared.

"K Company got there, sir; beg pardon, sir. I mean sir, Sergeant Wiltur
reports, sir, with message from Liaison officer. All groups reached the
objectives. They left their dugouts blazing and brought back one machine
gun and three prisoners."

"Very good, Sergeant," said the Colonel. "Orderly, get some coffee for
these runners."

"I'd like to see the doctor first, sir," said the runner with the torn
shirt. "Got my hand and arm cut in the wire."

"Very well," said the Colonel, turning to the rest of the party, "I knew
my boys would bring back bacon."

More footsteps on the entrance stairway and two men entered carrying
something between them. Sweat had streaked through the charcoal coating
on their faces leaving striped zebra-like countenances.

"Lieutenant Burlon's compliments, sir," said the first man. "Here's one
of their machine guns."

"Who got it?" inquired the Colonel.

"Me and him, sir."

"How did you get it?"

"We just rolled 'em off it and took it."

"Rolled who off of it?"

"Two Germans, sir."

"What were they doing all that time?"

"Why, sir, they weren't doing anything. They were dead."

"Oh, very well, then," said the Colonel. "How did you happen to find the
machine gun?"

"We knew where it was before we went over, sir," said the man simply.
"We were assigned to get it and bring it back. We expected we'd have to
fight for it, but I guess our barrage laid out the crew. Anyhow we
rushed to the position and found them dead."

"All right," said the Colonel, "return to your platoon. Leave the gun
here. It will be returned to you later and will be your property."

I went out with the machine gun captors and walked with them to the
road. There was the hum of motors high overhead and we knew that
American planes were above, going forward to observe and photograph
German positions before the effects of our bombardments could be
repaired. A line of flame and smoke pouring up from the enemy's front
line showed where their dugouts and shelters were still burning.

Daylight was pouring down on a ruined village street, up which marched
the returning raiders without thought of order. They were a happy,
gleeful party, with helmets tipped back from their young faces wet and
dirty, with rifles swung over their shoulders and the persuaders
dangling from their wrists. Most of them were up to their knees and
their wrap puttees were mostly in tatters from the contact with the
entanglements through which they had penetrated.

As they approached, I saw the cause for some of the jocularity. It was a
chubby, little, boyish figure, who sat perched up on the right shoulder
of a tall, husky Irish sergeant. The figure steadied itself by grasping
the sergeant's helmet with his left hand. The sergeant steadied him by
holding one right arm around his legs.

But there was no smile on the face of the thus transformed object. His
chubby countenance was one of easily understood concern. He was not a
day over sixteen years and this was quite some experience for him. He
was one of the German prisoners and these happy youngsters from across
the seas were bringing him in almost with as much importance as though
he had been a football hero. He was unhurt and it was unnecessary to
carry him, but this tribute was voluntarily added, not only as an
indication of extreme interest, but to reassure the juvenile captive of
the kindly intentions of his captors.

"Jiggers, here's the Colonel's dugout," one voice shouted. "Put him down
to walk, now."

The big sergeant acted on the suggestion and the little Fritz was
lowered to the ground. He immediately caught step with the big sergeant
and took up the latter's long stride with his short legs and feet
encased in clumsy German boots. His soiled uniform had been the German
field grey green. His helmet was gone but he wore well back on his head
the flat round cloth cap. With his fat cheeks he looked like a typical
baker's boy, and one almost expected to see him carrying a tray of rolls
on his head.

"For the luva Mike, Tim," shouted an ambulance man, "do you call that a
prisoner?"

"Sure he does look like a half portion," replied Sergeant Tim with a
smile. "We got two hundred francs for a whole one. I don't know what we
can cash this one in for."

"He ought to be worth more," some one said; "that barrage cost a million
dollars. He's the million dollar baby of the raid."

"Sergeant, I'm not kidding," came one serious voice. "Why turn him in as
a prisoner? I like the kid's looks. Why can't we keep him for the
company mascot?"

The discussion ended when the Sergeant and his small charge disappeared
in the Colonel's quarters for the inevitable questioning that all
prisoners must go through. Several wounded were lying on the stretchers
in front of the first aid dugout waiting for returning ambulances and
passing the time meanwhile by smoking cigarettes and explaining how
close each of them had been to the shell that exploded and "got 'em."

But little of the talk was devoted to themselves. They were all praise
for the little chaplain from New England who, without arms, went over
the top with "his boys" and came back with them. It was their opinion
that their regiment had some sky pilot. And it was mine, also.



CHAPTER XIV

ON LEAVE IN PARIS


"So this--is Paris,"--this observation spoken in mock seriousness, in a
George Cohan nasal drawl and accompanied by a stiff and stagy wave of
the arm, was the customary facetious pass-word with which American
soldiers on leave or on mission announced their presence in the capital
of France.

Paris, the beautiful--Paris, the gay--Paris, the historical--Paris, the
artistic--Paris, the only Paris, opened her arms to the American soldier
and proceeded toward his enlightenment and entertainment on the sole
policy that nothing was too good for him.

I saw the first American soldiers under arms reach Paris. It was early
in the morning of July 3rd, 1917, when this first American troop train
pulled into the Gare d'Austerlitz. It was early in the morning, yet
Paris was there to give them a welcome. The streets outside the station
were jammed with crowds. They had seen Pershing; they had seen our staff
officers and headquarters details, but now they wanted to see the type
of our actual fighting men--they wanted to see the American poilus--the
men who were to carry the Stars and Stripes over the top.

The men left the cars and lined up in the station yard. It had been a
long, fifteen hour night ride and the cramped quarters of the troop
train had permitted but little sleep. There was no opportunity for them
to breakfast or wash before they were put on exhibition. Naturally, they
were somewhat nervous.

The standing line was ordered to produce its mess cups and hold them
forward. Down the line came a bevy of pretty French girls, wearing the
uniform of Red Cross nurses. They carried canisters of black coffee and
baskets of cigarettes. They ladled out steaming cupfuls of the black
liquid to the men. The incident gave our men their first surprise.

Rum or alcohol has never been a part of the United States army ration.
In the memory of the oldest old-timers in the ranks of our old regular
army, "joy water" had never been issued. On the other hand, its use had
always been strictly forbidden in the company messes. Our men never
expected it. Thus it was that, with no other idea occurring to them,
they extended their mess cups to be filled with what they thought was
simply strong hot coffee. Not one of them had the slightest suspicion
that the French cooks who had prepared that coffee for their new
American brothers in arms, had put a stick in it--had added just that
portion of cognac which they had considered necessary to open a man's
eyes and make him pick up his heels after a long night in a troop train.

I watched one old-timer in the ranks as he lifted the tin cup to his
lips and took the initial gulp. Then he lowered the cup. Across his face
there dawned first an expression of curious suspicion, then a look of
satisfied recognition, and then a smile of pleased surprise, which he
followed with an audible smacking of the lips. He finished the cup and
allowed quite casually that he could stand another.

"So this is Paris,"--well, it wasn't half bad to start with. With that
"coffee" under their belts, the men responded snappily to the march
order, and in column of four, they swung into line and moved out of the
station yard, at the heels of their own band, which played a stirring
marching air.

Paris claimed them for her own. All that the war had left of Paris' gay
life, all the lights that still burned, all the music that still played,
all the pretty smiles that had never been reduced in their quality or
quantity, all that Paris had to make one care-free and glad to be
alive--all belonged that day to that pioneer band of American
infantrymen.

The women kissed them on the street. Grey-headed men removed their hats
to them and shook their hands and street boys followed in groups at
their heels making the air ring with shrill "Vive's." There were not
many of them, only three companies. The men looked trim and clean-cut.
They were tall and husky-looking and the snap with which they walked was
good to the eyes of old Paris that loves verve.

With a thirty-two-inch stride that made their following admirers stretch
their legs, the boys in khaki marched from the Austerlitz station to the
Neuilly barracks over a mile away, where they went into quarters. Paris
was in gala attire. In preparation for the celebration of the following
day, the shop windows and building fronts were decked with American
flags.

Along the line of march, traffic piled up at the street intersections
and the gendarmes were unable to prevent the crowds from overflowing the
sidewalks and pressing out into the streets where they could smile their
greetings and throw flowers at closer range. A sergeant flanking a
column stopped involuntarily when a woman on the curb reached out,
grabbed his free hand, and kissed it. A snicker ran through the platoon
as the sergeant, with face red beneath the tan, withdrew his hand and
recaught his step. He gave the snickering squads a stern, "Eyes front!"
and tried to look at ease.

How the bands played that day! How the crowds cheered! How the flags and
handkerchiefs and hats waved in the air, and how thousands of throats
volleyed the "Vive's!" This was the reception of our first fighting men.
But on the following day they received even a greater demonstration,
when they marched through the streets of the city on parade, and
participated in the first Parisian celebration of American Independence
Day.

Parisians said that never before had Paris shown so many flags, not even
during the days three years before, when the sons of France had marched
away to keep the Germans out of Paris. It seemed that the customary
clusters of Allied flags had been almost entirely replaced for the day
by groups composed solely of the French tri-colour and the Stars and
Stripes. Taxis and fiacres flew flags and bunting from all attachable
places. Flag venders did wholesale business on the crowded streets.
Street singers sang patriotic parodies, eulogising Uncle Sam and his
nephews, and garnered harvests of sous for their efforts.

The three companies of our regulars marched with a regiment of French
colonials, all veterans of the war and many of them incapacitated for
front service through wounds and age. French soldiers on leave from the
trenches and still bearing the mud stains of the battle front life,
cheered from the sidewalks. Bevies of middinettes waved their aprons
from the windows of millinery shops. Some of them shouted, "Vive les
Teddies!" America--the great, good America--the sister republic from
across the seas was spoken of and shouted all day long. Paris
capitulated unconditionally to three companies of American infantry.

From that day on, every American soldier visiting Paris has been made to
feel himself at home. And the unrestricted hospitality did not seem to
be the result of an initial wave of enthusiasm. It was continuous. For
months afterward, any one wearing an American uniform along the
boulevards could hear behind him dulcet whispers that carried the words
_très gentil_.

At first, our enlisted men on leave in Paris or detailed for work in the
city, were quartered in the old Pipincerie Barracks, where other
soldiers from all of the Allied armies in the world were quartered. Our
men mingled with British Tommies, swarthy Italians and Portuguese, tall
blond Russians, French poilus, Canadians, Australians and New
Zealanders. At considerable expense to these comrades in arms, our men
instructed them in the all-American art of plain and fancy dice rolling.

Later when our numbers in Paris increased, other arrangements for
housing were made. The American policing of Paris, under the direction
of the Expeditionary Provost General, Brigadier General Hillaire, was
turned over to the Marines. Whether it was that our men conducted
themselves in Paris with the orderliness of a guest at the home of his
host, or whether it was that the Marines with their remarkable
discipline suppressed from all view any too hearty outbursts of American
exuberance, it must be said that the appearance and the bearing of
American soldiers in Paris were always above reproach.

I have never heard of one being seen intoxicated in Paris, in spite of
the fact that more opportunities presented themselves for drinking than
had ever before been presented to an American army. The privilege of
sitting at a table in front of a sidewalk café on a busy boulevard and
drinking a small glass of beer unmolested, was one that our men did not
take advantage of. It was against the law to serve any of the stronger
liqueurs to men in uniform, but beer and light wines were obtainable all
the time. All cafés closed at 9:30. In spite of the ever present
opportunity to obtain beverages of the above character, there was many
and many an American soldier who tramped the boulevards and canvassed
the cafés, drug stores and delicatessen shops in search of a
much-desired inexistent, ice cream soda.

Many of our men spent their days most seriously and most studiously,
learning the mysteries of transportation on the busses and the Paris
underground system, while they pored over their guide books and digested
pages of information concerning the points of interest that Paris had to
offer. Holidays found them shuffling through the tiled corridors of the
Invalides or looking down into the deep crypt at the granite tomb of the
great Napoleon. In the galleries of the Louvre, the gardens of the
Tuilleries, or at the Luxembourg, the American uniform was ever present.
At least one day out of every ten day leave was spent in the palace and
the grounds at Versailles.

The theatres of Paris offered a continual change of amusement. One of
the most popular among these was the Folies Bergères. Some of our men
didn't realise until after they entered the place that it was a French
theatre. Due to the French pronunciation of the name, some of the
American soldiers got the idea that it was a saloon run by an Irishman
by the name of Foley. "Bergère" to some was unpronounceable, so the
Folies Bergères was most popularly known in our ranks as "Foley's
place."

Another popular amusement place was the Casino de Paris, where an echo
from America was supplied by an American negro jazz band, which
dispensed its questionable music in the _promenoir_ during the
intermission. There were five negroes in the orchestra and each one of
them seemed to have an ardent dislike for the remaining four.
Individually they manifested their mutual contempt by turning their
backs on one another while they played. Strange as it may seem, a most
fascinating type of harmony resulted, producing much swaying of
shoulders, nodding of heads and snapping of fingers among the American
soldiers in the crowd. French men and women, with their old world
musical taste, would consider the musical gymnastics of the demented
drummer in the orchestra, then survey the swaying Americans and come to
the conclusion that the world had gone plumb to hell.

All types of American soldiers made Paris their mecca as soon as the
desired permissions had been granted. One day I sat opposite a
remarkable type whom I found dining in a small restaurant. I noticed the
absence of either beer or wine with his meal, and he frankly explained
that he had never tasted either in his life. He thanked me, but refused
to accept a cigarette I offered, saying without aside that he had yet
his first one to smoke. When I heard him tell Madame that he did not
care for coffee, I asked him why, and he told me that his mother had
always told him it was injurious and he had never tasted it.

I became more interested in this ideal, young American soldier and
questioned him about his life. I found that he and his father had worked
in the copper mines in Michigan. They were both strong advocates of
union labour and had participated vigorously in the bloody Michigan
strikes.

"Father and I fought that strike clear through," he said. "Our union
demands were just. Here in this war I am fighting just the same way as
we fought against the mine operators in Michigan. I figure it out that
Germany represents low pay, long hours and miserable working conditions
for the world. I think the Kaiser is the world's greatest scab. I am
over here to help get him."

       *       *       *       *       *

One day in the Chatham Hotel, in Paris, I was dining with an American
Brigadier General, when an American soldier of the ranks approached the
table. At a respectful distance of five feet, the soldier halted,
clicked his heels and saluted the General. He said, "Sir, the orderly
desires permission to take the General's car to headquarters and deliver
the packages."

"All right, Smith," replied the General, looking at his watch. "Find out
if my other uniform is back yet and then get back here yourself with the
car in half an hour."

"Thank you, sir," replied the man as he saluted, executed a snappy right
about face and strode out of the dining-room.

"Strange thing about that chauffeur of mine," said the General to me. "I
had a lot of extra work yesterday on his account. I had to make out his
income tax returns. He and his dad own almost all the oil in Oklahoma.
When he paid his income tax, Uncle Sam got a little over a hundred
thousand dollars. He went in the army in the ranks. He is only an
enlisted private now, but he's a good one."

       *       *       *       *       *

Walking out of the Gare du Nord one day, I saw a man in an American
uniform and a French Gendarme vainly trying to talk with each other. The
Frenchman was waving his arms and pointing in various directions and the
American appeared to be trying to ask questions. With the purpose of
offering my limited knowledge of French to straighten out the
difficulty, I approached the pair and asked the American soldier what he
wanted. He told me but I don't know what it was to this day. He spoke
only Polish.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was not alone amidst the gaiety of Paris that our soldiers spread the
fame of America. In the peaceful countrysides far behind the flaming
fronts, the Yankee fighting men won their way into the hearts of the
French people. Let me tell you the story of a Christmas celebration in a
little French village in the Vosges.

Before dawn there were sounds of movement in the murky half-light of the
village street. A long line of soldiers wound their way past flaming
stoves of the mess shacks, where the steaming coffee took the chill out
of the cold morning stomachs.

Later the sun broke bright and clear. It glistened on the snow-clad
furrows of the rolling hills, in which, for centuries, the village of
Saint Thiébault has drowsed more or less happily beside its ancient
canal and in the shadow of the steeple of the church of the good Saint
Thiébault.

Now a thousand men or more, brown-clad and metal-helmeted, know the huts
and stables of Saint Thiébault as their billets, and the seventy little
boys and girls of the parish know those same thousand men as their new
big brothers--_les bons Américains_.

The real daddies and big brothers and uncles of those seventy youngsters
have been away from Saint Thiébault for a long time now--yes, this is
the fourth Christmas that the urgent business in northern France has
kept them from home. They may never return but that is unknown to the
seventy young hopefuls.

[Illustration: MARINES MARCHING DOWN THE AVENUE PRESIDENT WILSON ON THE
FOURTH OF JULY IN PARIS]

[Illustration: BRIDGE CROSSING MARNE RIVER IN CHÂTEAU-THIERRY DESTROYED
BY GERMANS IN THEIR RETREAT FROM TOWN]

There was great activity in the colonel's quarters during the morning,
and it is said that a sleuthing seventy were intent on unveiling the
mystery of these unusual American preparations. They stooped to get a peep
through the windows of the room, and Private Larson, walking his post in
front of the sacred precincts, had to shoo them away frequently with
threatening gestures and Swedish-American-French commands, such as "Allay
veet--Allay veet t'ell outer here."

An energetic bawling from the headquarters cook shack indicated that one
juvenile investigator had come to grief. Howls emanated from little Paul
Laurent, who could be seen stumbling across the road, one blue, cold
hand poking the tears out of his eyes and the other holding the seat of
his breeches.

Tony Moreno, the company cook, stood in front of the cook shack shaking
a soup ladle after the departing Paul and shouting imprecations in
Italian-American.

"Tam leetle fool!" shouted Tony as he returned to the low camp stove and
removed a hot pan, the surface of whose bubbling contents bore an
unmistakable imprint. "Deese keeds make me seek. I catcha heem wit de
finger in de sugar barrel. I shout at heem. He jumpa back. He fall over
de stove and sita down in de pan of beans. He spoila de mess. He burn
heese pants. Tam good!"

And over there in front of the regimental wagon train picket line, a
gesticulating trio is engaged in a three cornered Christmas discussion.
One is M. Lecompte, who is the uniformed French interpreter on the
Colonel's staff, and he is talking to "Big" Moriarity, the teamster, the
tallest man in the regiment. The third party to the triangle is little
Pierre Lafite, who clings to M. Lecompte's hand and looks up in awe at
the huge Irish soldier.

"He wants to borrow one of these," M. Lecompte says, pointing to the
enormous hip boots which Moriarity is wearing.

"He wants to borrow one of me boots?" repeated the Irishman. "And for
the love of heavin, what would he be after doin' wid it? Sure and the
top of it is higher than the head of him."

"It is for this purpose," explains the interpreter. "The French children
do not hang up their stockings for Christmas. Instead they place their
wooden shoes on the hearth and the presents and sweets are put in them.
You see, Pierre desires to receive a lot of things."

"Holy Mother!" replies Moriarity, kicking off one boot and hopping on
one foot toward the stables. "Take it, you scamp, and I hopes you get it
filled wid dimonds and gold dust. But mind ye, if you get it too near
the fire and burn the rubber I'll eat you like you was a oyster."

The Irish giant emphasised his threat with a grimace of red-whiskered
ferocity and concluded by loudly smacking his lips. Then little Pierre
was off to his mother's cottage, dragging the seven league boot after
him.

With the afternoon meal, the last of the packages had been tied with red
cords and labelled, and the interior of the Colonel's quarters looked
like an express office in the rush season. The packages represented the
purchases made with 1,300 francs which the men of the battalion had
contributed for the purpose of having Christmas come to Saint Thiébault
in good style.

M. Lecompte has finished sewing the red and white covering which is to
be worn by "Hindenburg," the most docile mule in the wagon train, upon
whom has fallen the honour of drawing the present loaded sleigh of the
Christmas saint.

"Red" Powers, the shortest, fattest and squattiest man in the
battalion, is investing himself with baggy, red garments, trimmed with
white fur and tassels, all made out of cloth by hands whose familiarity
with the needle has been acquired in bayonet practice. Powers has donned
his white wig and whiskers and his red cap, tasseled in white. He is
receiving his final instructions from the colonel.

"You may grunt, Powers," the colonel is saying, "but don't attempt to
talk French with that Chicago accent. We don't want to frighten the
children. And remember, you are not Santa Claus. You are Papa Noel.
That's what the French children call Santa Claus."

It is three o'clock, and the regimental band, assembled in marching
formation in the village street, blares out "I Wish I Were in the Land
of Cotton," and there is an outpouring of children, women and soldiers
from every door on the street. The colonel and his staff stand in front
of their quarters opposite the band, and a thousand American soldiers,
in holiday disregard for formation, range along either side of the
street.

The large wooden gate of the stable yard, next to the commandant's
quarters, swings open; there is a jingle of bells, and "Hindenburg,"
resplendent in his fittings, and Papa Noel Powers sitting high on the
package-heaped sleigh, move out into the street. Their appearance is met
with a crash of cymbals, the blare of the band's loudest brass, and the
happy cries of the children and the deeper cheers of the men.

Christmas had come to Saint Thiébault. Up the street went the
procession, the band in the lead playing a lively jingling piece of
music well matched to the keenness of the air and the willingness of
young blood to tingle with the slightest inspiration.

"Hindenburg," with a huge pair of tin spectacles goggling his eyes,
tossed his head and made the bells ring all over his gala caparison.
Papa Noel, mounted on the pyramid of presents, bowed right and left and
waved his hands to the children, to the soldiers, to the old men and the
old women.

As the youngsters followed in the wake of the sleigh, the soldiers
picked them up and carried them on their shoulders, on "piggy" back, or
held them out so they could shake hands with Papa Noel and hear that
dignitary gurgle his appreciation in wonderful north pole language.

When Papa Noel found out that he could trust the flour paste and did not
have to hold his whiskers on by biting them, he gravely announced, "Wee,
wee," to all the bright-eyed, red-cheeked salutations directed his way.

The band halted in front of the ancient church of Saint Thiébault, where
old Father Gabrielle stood in the big doorway, smiling and rubbing his
hands. Upon his invitation the children entered and were placed in the
first row of chairs, the mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, and young
women sat in back of them, and further back sat the regimental officers.
The soldiers filled the rest of the church to the doors.

The brief ceremony ended with a solemn benediction and then the curtains
were drawn back from one of the arches in front of and to the left of
the main altar.

There stood Saint Thiébault's first Christmas tree, or at least the
first one in four years. It was lighted with candles and was resplendent
with decorations that represented long hours of work with shears and
paste on the part of unaccustomed fingers. Suggestions from a thousand
Christmas minds were on that tree, and the result showed it. The star of
Bethlehem, made of tinsel, glistened in the candlelight.

Not even the inbred decorum of the church was sufficient to restrain the
involuntary expressions of admiration of the saint by the seventy
youngsters. They oh-ed and ah-ed and pointed, but they enjoyed it not a
whit more than did the other children in the church, some of whose ages
ran to three score and more.

Papa Noel walked down the centre aisle leading a file of soldiers, each
of whom carried a heaping armful of packages. Young necks craned and
eyes bulged as the packages were deposited on the tables in front of the
communion rail. M. Lecompte raised his hands for silence and spoke.

"These Americans," he said, "have come to our country to march and to
fight side by side with your fathers and your big brothers and your
uncles and all the men folk who have been away from Saint Thiébault so
long. These Americans want to take their places for you to-day. These
Americans in doing these things for you are thinking of their own little
girls and little boys away back across the ocean who are missing their
fathers and big brothers and uncles to-day, just the same as you miss
yours."

There were wet eyes among the women and some of the older men in khaki
closed their eyes and seemed to be transporting themselves thousands of
miles away to other scenes and other faces. But the reverie was only for
a minute.

M. Lecompte began calling the names for the distribution of gifts and
the children of Saint Thiébault began their excited progress toward the
tables. Here Papa Noel delivered the prized packages.

"For Marie Louise Larue," said M. Lecompte, "a hair ribbon of gold and
black with a tortoise bandeau."

"For Gaston Ponsot, a toy cannon that shoots and six German soldiers at
least to shoot."

"For Colette Daville, a warm cape of red cloth with a collar of wool."

"For Alphonse Bénois, an aeroplane that flies on a string."

"For Eugenie Fontaine, a doll that speaks."

"For Emilie Moreau, a pair of shoes with real leather soles and tops."

"For Camille Laurent, red mittens of wool and a sheepskin muff."

"For Jean Artois, a warship that moves and flies the American flag."

It continued for more than an hour. The promoters of the celebration
were wise to their work. There was more than one present for each child.
They did not know how many. Time after time, their names were called and
they clattered forward in their wooden shoes for each new surprise.

The presents ran the range of toys, clothing, games, candies and nuts,
but the joy was in sitting there and waiting for one's name to be called
and going forward to partake of that most desirable "more."

Big Moriarity had his hands in the incident that served as a climax to
the distribution. He had whispered something to M. Lecompte and the
result was that one little duffer, who sat all alone on a big chair, and
hugged an enormous rubber boot, waited and waited expectantly to hear
the name "Pierre Lafite" called out.

All the other names had been called once and not his. He waited. All the
names had been called twice and still not his. He waited through the
third and the fourth calling in vain, and his chin was beginning to
tremble suspiciously as the fifth calling proceeded without the sound
of his name.

The piles of packages on the tables had been getting smaller all the
time. Then M. Lecompte pronounced the very last name.

"Pierre Lafite," he called.

Pierre's heart bounded as he slipped off the chair and started up the
aisle dragging his big rubber boot. The rest of the children had
returned to their seats. All the elders in the church were watching his
progress.

"For Pierre Lafite," repeated M. Lecompte, holding up the enormous boot.
"A pair of real leather shoes to fit in the foot of the boot." He placed
them there.

"And a pair of stilts to fit in the leg of the boot." He so placed them.

"And a set of soldiers, twenty-four in number, with a general
commanding, to go beside the stilts." He poured them into the boot.

"And a pair of gloves and a stocking cap to go on top of the soldiers.

"And a baseball and a bat to go on top of the gloves.

"And all the chinks to be filled up with nuts and figs, and sweets.
_Voilà_, Pierre," and with these words, he had poured the sweetmeats in
overflowing measure into the biggest hip boot in the regiment.

Amid the cheers of the men, led by big Moriarity, Pierre started toward
his seat, struggling with the seven league boot and the wholesale booty,
and satisfied with the realisation that in one haul he had obtained more
than his companions in five.

Company B quartet sang "Down in a Coal Hole," and then, as the band
struck up outside the church, all moved to the street. The sun had gone
down, the early winter night had set in, and the sky was almost dark.

"Signal for the barrage," came the command in the darkness.

There were four simultaneous hisses of fire and four comets of flame
sprang up from the ground. They broke far overhead in lurid green.

"Signal for enemy planes overhead," was the next command, and four more
rockets mounted and ended their flights in balls of luminous red. Other
commands, other signals, other rockets, other lights and flares and
pistol star shells, enriched a pyrotechnical display which was
economically combined with signal practice.

The red glare illuminated the upturned happy faces of American and
French together. Our men learned to love the French people. The French
people learned to love us.



CHAPTER XV

CHÂTEAU-THIERRY AND THE BOIS DE BELLEAU


I have endeavoured to show in preceding chapters the development of the
young American army in France from a mere handful of new troops up to
the creation of units capable of independent action on the front. Only
that intense and thorough training made it possible for our oversea
forces to play the veteran part they did play in the great Second Battle
of the Marne.

The battle developed as a third phase of the enemy's Western Front
offensives of the year. The increasing strength of the American forces
overseas forced Germany to put forth her utmost efforts in the forlorn
hope of gaining a decision in the field before the Allied lines could
have the advantage of America's weight.

On March 21st, the Germans had launched their first powerful offensive
on a front of fifty miles from Arras to Noyon in Picardy and had
advanced their lines from St. Quentin to the outskirts of Amiens.

On April 9th, the German hordes struck again in Flanders on a front of
twenty miles from Lens northward to the River Lys and had cut into the
Allied front as far as Armentières.

There followed what was considered an abnormal delay in the third act of
the demonstration. It was known that the Germans were engaged in making
elaborate arrangements for this mid-summer push. It was the enemy hope
in this great offensive to strike a final effective blow against the
hard-pressed Allied line before America's rising power could be thrown
into the fight.

The blow fell on the morning of May 27th. The front selected for the
assault was twenty-five miles in width, extending from the Ailette near
Vauxaillon to the Aisne-Marne Canal near Brimont. The Prussian Crown
Prince was the titular chief of the group of armies used in the assault.
One of these forces was the army of General von Boehm, which before the
attack had numbered only nine divisions and had extended from the Oise
at Noyon to east of Craconne. The other army was that of General Fritz
von Bülow, previously composed of eight divisions and supporting a front
that extended from Craconne across the Rheims front to Suippe, near
Auberive. On the day of the attack, these armies had been strengthened
to twice their normal number of divisions, and subsequently captured
German plans revealed that the enemy expected to use forty-five
divisions or practically half a million men in the onslaught.

The battle began at dawn. It was directed against the weakly held French
positions on the Chemin des Dames. It was preceded by a three hour
bombardment of terrific intensity. The French defenders were outnumbered
four to one. The Germans put down a rolling barrage that was two miles
deep. It destroyed all wire communications and flooded battery
emplacements and machine gun posts with every brand of poison gas known
to German kultur. Dust and artificial smoke clouds separated the
defenders into small groups and screened the attacking waves until they
had actually penetrated the French positions.

The French fought hard to resist the enemy flood across the Chemin des
Dames with its ground sacred with tragic memories, but a withdrawal was
necessary. The French command was forced to order a retreat to the
Aisne. Hard-fighting French divisions and some units of the British
Fifth Army, which had been badly hit in Picardy in March, made an
orderly withdrawal southward.

On the second day of the fight the enemy made a strong thrust toward
Soissons, and after keeping the city under continual bombardment,
succeeded in overcoming all resistance and occupying the city on May
29th. On the first day of the attack alone, twelve thousand explosive,
incendiary and poison gas shells were hurled in amongst the hospitals in
Soissons. American ambulance units did heroic work in the removal of the
wounded.

The Germans forced a crossing on the Aisne. On the following day, May
30th, they had crossed the Vesle River and had captured
Fère-en-Tardenois. On the following day their victorious hordes had
reached the Marne and were closing in on Château-Thierry.

Some idea of the terrific strength of the enemy offensive may be gained
from a recapitulation which would show that in five days the Germans had
pushed through five successive lines of Allied defence, and had
penetrated more than twenty-five miles. On the first day, they had
captured the Chemin des Dames, on the second day, they had overcome all
resistance on the Aisne, on the third day, their forces, pushing
southward, had crossed the Vesle River, on the fourth day, they had
destroyed the lines of resistance along the Ourcq, on the fifth day,
they had reached the Marne.

It was a crisis. The battle front formed a vast triangle with the apex
pointing southward toward Paris. The west side of the triangle extended
fifty miles northward from the Marne to the Oise near Noyon. The east
side of the triangle ran north-eastward thirty miles to Rheims. The
point of this new thrust at Paris rested on the north bank of the Marne
at Château-Thierry. The enemy had advanced to within forty miles of the
capital of France; the fate of the Allied world hung in the balance.

Undoubtedly I am prejudiced, but I like to feel that I know the real
reason why the German hordes stopped at Château-Thierry on the north
bank of the Marne. To me that reason will always be this--because on the
south bank of the Marne stood the Americans.

On that day and in that event there materialised the German fears which
had urged them on to such great speed and violence. In the eleventh
hour, there at the peak of the German thrust, there at the climax of
Germany's triumphant advances, there at the point where a military
decision for the enemy seemed almost within grasp, there and then the
American soldier stepped into the breech to save the democracy of the
world.

The Marne River makes a loop at this place and Château-Thierry lies on
both banks. The Marne there is called a river, but it would hardly come
up to the American understanding of the word. The waterway is more like
a canal with banks built up with stone blocks. There are streets on
either bank, and these being the principal streets of the town, are
bordered with comparatively high buildings.

While the Germans were on the outskirts of the city, American forces had
made brilliant counter attacks on both sides. To the west of
Château-Thierry the German advance forces, seeking to penetrate Neuilly
Wood, had been hurled back by our young troops. To the east of
Château-Thierry the enemy had succeeded in crossing the Marne in the
vicinity of Jaulgonne.

This operation was carried out by the German 36th Division. On the night
of May 30th, at a point where the Marne looped northward eight miles to
the east of Château-Thierry, the enemy succeeded in putting a few men
across the river.

Along the south bank of the river at that place, the Paris-Châlons ran
through a number of deep cuts and one tunnel. The enemy took shelter in
these natural protections. They suffered serious losses from the Allied
artillery which also destroyed some of their pontoons across the river,
but in spite of this, the Germans succeeded in re-enforcing the units on
the south bank to the strength of about a battalion.

Almost at the same time, the French defenders at this place received
re-enforcements from the Americans. Units of the 3rd United States
Regular Division and the 28th U. S. Division, comprised largely of
Pennsylvania National Guardsmen, were rushed forward from training
areas, miles back of the line, where they were engaged in fitting
themselves for line duty. These incompletely trained American units
abandoned their bayonet-stabbing of gunny-sacks and make-believe warfare
to rush forward into the real thing.

On June 2nd, these Americans, under command of French officers, began
the counter attack to sweep the Germans back from the south bank. By
that time the enemy had succeeded in putting twenty-two light bridges
across the Marne and had established a strong bridgehead position with a
number of machine guns and a strong force of men in the railway station
on the south bank of the river opposite Jaulgonne.

This position was attacked frontally by the Americans and French. Our
novices in battle were guilty of numerous so-called strategical
blunders, but in the main purpose of killing the enemy, they proved
irresistible. The Germans broke and ran. At the same time, the French
artillery lowered a terrific barrage on the bridges crossing the river,
with the result that many of the fleeing enemy were killed and more
drowned. Only thirty or forty escaped by swimming. One hundred of them
threw down their arms and surrendered. The remainder of the battalion
was wiped out. At the close of the engagement the Americans and the
French were in full command of the south bank.

But it was in Château-Thierry itself that the Germans made their most
determined effort to cross the river and get a footing on the south
bank, and it was there, again, that their efforts were frustrated by our
forces. On May 31st, American machine gun units, then in training
seventy-five kilometres south of the Marne, were hurriedly bundled into
motor lorries and rushed northward into Château-Thierry.

The Germans were advancing their patrols into the north side of the
city. They were pouring down the streets in large numbers, with the
evident purpose of crossing the bridges and establishing themselves on
the south bank.

It was four o'clock in the afternoon of May 31st that those American
machine gunners got their first glimpse of real war. That night while
the German artillery raked the south bank of the river with high
explosive shells, those Americans, shouldering their machine guns,
marched into the city and took up defensive positions on the south bank
of the river.

During the night many houses were turned into ruins. Shells striking the
railroad station had caused it to burn. In the red glare our men saw the
houses about them collapse under clouds of dust and débris. Under cover
of darkness the Germans filtered through the streets on the north side
of the river. The American machine gunners went into position in the
windows of houses on the south bank and in gardens between the houses,
and from these positions it was possible to command all of the bridge
approaches and streets leading to the river on the opposite side.

During the night, Lieutenant John T. Bissell, a young Pittsburgher but
recently graduated from West Point, started across one of the bridges
and reached the north bank with a squad of a dozen men and two machine
guns. This little unit went into position in a place commanding the
forked highways which converged not far from the northern approach of
the iron bridge crossing the river. It was this unit's function to
prevent the enemy advance from this direction. The unit was separated
from its comrades on the south bank by the river and about two hundred
yards. In spite of the fact that the enemy artillery intensified its
shelling of the south bank, the American machine gunners remained at
their posts without firing and played a waiting game.

With the coming of dawn the Germans began to make their rushes for the
bridges. Small compact forces would dart forward carrying light machine
guns and ammunition with them. They encountered a terrific burst of
American fire and wilted in front of it. Those that survived crawled
back to the shelter of protecting walls, where they were re-enforced
with fresh units, and again the massed formations charged down the
streets toward the bridges. The slaughter of Germans increased until the
approaches were dotted with bodies of the enemy slain.

On June 1st, the Germans having consolidated positions on the hills
commanding the city from the north, they directed a terrific artillery
and machine gun fire into our exposed positions on the south bank, as
well as the small posts still held on the north bank by Lieutenant
Bissell and his machine gunners. Although the position held by the
little American group had long been considered untenable, the members of
it stuck it out until nightfall, when they received orders to retire to
the south bank. At the same time, French colonials which had held a
position throughout the day on the north bank on the edge of the town,
withdrew in accordance with the same plan. The retirement of both
parties was covered by our machine gunners on the south bank, who poured
a hot fire into the evacuated areas as the Germans began occupying them.

By 10:30 that night the completion of the movement was signalised by a
terrific explosion, as the French colonials blew up one of the stone
bridges over which they had withdrawn. But the destruction of the bridge
had cut off the little band of Americans and left them almost surrounded
by the enemy on the north bank of the river, which was now becoming
strongly populated by the enemy. Through the darkness could be heard the
sound of shuffling, hobnailed boots, and even above the crack of the
guns there came the weird swish of the grey coats as they pushed forward
in mass formations.

The little party of thirteen Americans dismantled their guns and, with
each man carrying his allotted piece, they began working their way along
the river bank toward the main bridge, where they discovered that the
enemy was almost upon them. They immediately went into position behind
the stone parapet on the very brink of the river, and, although in
constant danger from the American fire that poured out from the south
bank, they poured streams of lead point-blank into the advancing German
ranks.

The Americans on the south bank were not aware of the plight of the
little party on the north bank. In spite of their losses, the Germans
continued their grewsome rushes toward the approaches of the iron bridge
across which our machine gunners were pouring a devastating fire.
Lieutenant Bissell and his men made one effort to cross the bridge, but
were forced to crawl back to shelter on the north bank, carrying with
them three of their wounded. They found themselves between a cross-fire.
Then Bissell, alone, approached as near as he dared, and the first
intimation that the Americans on the south bank had of the fact that
Americans were in front of them was when Lieutenant Cobey heard
Bissell's voice calling his name. A cease fire order was immediately
given and Bissell and his men rushed across the bridge, carrying their
wounded with them.

On the following day the Germans were in occupation of all the houses
facing the north bank of the river, and could be seen from time to time
darting from one shelter to another. Throughout the day their artillery
maintained a terrific downpour of shells on the positions held by our
men on the south bank. So intense was the rifle fire and activity of
snipers, that it meant death to appear in the open. The Americans manned
their guns throughout the day, but refrained from indulging in machine
gun fire because it was not desired to reveal the locations of the guns.
Nightfall approached with a quiet that was deadly ominous of impending
events.

At nine o'clock the enemy formations lunged forward to the attack. Their
dense masses charged down the streets leading toward the river. They
sang as they advanced. The orders, as revealed in documents captured
later, came straight from the high command and demanded the acquisition
of a foothold on the south bank at all costs. They paid the costs, but
never reached the south bank.

The American machine gun fire was withering. Time after time, in the
frequent rushes throughout the night, the remnants of enemy masses would
reach sometimes as far as the centre of the big bridge, but none of them
succeeded in reaching the south bank. The bridge became carpeted with
German dead and wounded. They lay thick in the open streets near the
approaches. By morning their dead were piled high on the bridge and
subsequent rushes endeavoured to advance over the bodies of their fallen
comrades. In this battle of the bridges and the streets, our men showed
a courage and determination which aroused the admiration of the French
officers, who were aware by this time that forty-eight hours before
these same American soldiers had seen battle for the first time.

Our machine gunners turned the northern bank of the river into a No
Man's Land. Their vigilance was unrelenting and every enemy attempt to
elude it met with disaster. There were serious American casualties
during that terrific fire, but they were nothing in comparison with the
thousand or more German dead that dotted the streets and clogged the
runways of the big bridge in piles. The last night of the fight enormous
charges of explosive were placed beneath the bridge and discharged.

The bridge was destroyed. High into the air were blown bits of stone,
steel, timber, débris, wreckage and the bodies of German dead, all to
fall back into the river and go bobbing up and down in the waters of the
Marne.

Thus did the Americans save the day at Château-Thierry, but it became
immediately necessary for the French high command to call upon our young
forces for another great effort. In response to this call, the Second
United States Division, including one brigade of the United States
Marines, the 5th and 6th Regiments, started for the front. The division
was then occupying support positions in the vicinity of Gisors behind
the Picardy line. At four o'clock on the morning of May 31st the Marine
brigade and regiments of United States infantry, the 9th and the 23rd
Regulars, boarded camions, twenty to thirty men and their equipment in
each vehicle.

They were bound eastward to the valley of the Marne. The road took them
through the string of pretty villages fifteen miles to the north of
Paris. The trucks loaded with United States troops soon became part of
the endless traffic of war that was pouring northward and eastward
toward the raging front. Our men soon became coated with the dust of the
road. The French people in the villages through which they passed at top
speed cheered them and threw flowers into the lorries.

Between Meaux and Château-Thierry, where the road wound along the Marne,
our men encountered long trains of French refugees, weary mothers
carrying hungry babies at the breast, farm wagons loaded with household
belongings, usually surmounted by feather mattresses on which rode
grey-haired grandfathers and grandmothers. This pitiful procession was
moving toward the rear driving before it flocks of geese and herds of
cattle. On the other side of the road war, grim war, moved in the
opposite direction.

The Second Division was bound for the line to the northwest of
Château-Thierry. On June 1st, the 6th Marines relieved the French on the
support lines. The sector of the 6th Regiment joined on the left the
sector held by two battalions of the 5th. The line on the right was held
by the French. On June 2nd, the hard-pressed French line, weak and weary
from continual rear guard actions, over a hard fighting period of
almost a week, fell back by prearranged plan and passed through the
support positions which we held. To fill gaps between units, the Marines
extended their brigade sector to between twelve and fourteen kilometres.
As the French withdrew to the rear, hard pressed by the enemy, the
Marines held the new first line.

The regimental headquarters of the 6th was located in a stone farmhouse
at a cross-roads called La Voie Châtel, situated between the villages of
Champillon and Lucy-le-Bocage. There was clear observation from that
point toward the north. At five o'clock in the afternoon on that day of
clear visibility, the Germans renewed their attacks from the north and
northeast toward a position called Hill 165, which was defended by the
5th Regiment.

The Germans advanced in two solid columns across a field of golden
wheat. More than half of the two columns had left the cover of the trees
and were moving in perfect order across the field when the shrapnel fire
from the American artillery in the rear got range on the target. Burst
after burst of white smoke suddenly appeared in the air over the column,
and under each burst the ground was marked with a circle of German dead.
It was not barrage fire: it was individual firing against two individual
moving targets and its success spoke well for the training which that
brigade of American artillery had received.

French aviators from above directed the fire of our guns, and from high
in the air signalled down their "bravos" in congratulation on the
excellent work. At the same time, the machine gunners of the 5th covered
the ravines and wooded clumps with a hot fire to prevent small bodies of
the enemy from infiltrating through our lines. The French marvelled at
the deliberateness and accuracy of our riflemen.

The Germans, unaware that a change had taken place in the personnel that
faced them, reeled back demoralised and unable to understand how such a
sudden show of resistance had been presented by the weakened French
troops which they had been driving before them for a week. The enemy's
advance had been made openly and confidently in the mistaken flush of
victory. Their triumphant advances of the previous week had more than
supported the statements of the German officers, who had told their men
that they were on the road to Paris--the end of the war and peace. It
was in this mood of victory that the enemy encountered the Marines'
stone wall and reeled back in surprise.

That engagement, in addition to lowering the enemy morale, deprived them
of their offensive spirit and placed them on the defensive. The next few
days were spent in advancing small strong points and the strengthening
of positions. In broad daylight one group of Marines rushed a German
machine gun pit in the open, killed or wounded every man in the crew,
disabled the gun and got back to their lines in safety.

It was at five o'clock on the bright afternoon of June 6th that the
United States Marines began to carve their way into history in the
battle of the Bois de Belleau. Major General Harbord, former Chief of
Staff to General Pershing, was in command of the Marine brigade. Orders
were received for a general advance on the brigade front. The main
objectives were the eastern edge of the Bois de Belleau and the towns of
Bussiares, Torcy and Bouresches.

Owing to the difficulty of liaison in the thickets of the wood, and
because of the almost impossible task of directing it in conjunction
with the advancing lines, the artillery preparation for the attack was
necessarily brief. At five o'clock to the dot the Marines moved out from
the woods in perfect order, and started across the wheat fields in four
long waves. It was a beautiful sight, these men of ours going across
those flat fields toward the tree clusters beyond from which the Germans
poured a murderous machine gun fire.

The woods were impregnated with nests of machine guns, but our advance
proved irresistible. Many of our men fell, but those that survived
pushed on through the woods, bayoneting right and left and firing as
they charged. So sweeping was the advance that in some places small
isolated units of our men found themselves with Germans both before and
behind them.

The enemy put up a stubborn resistance on the left, and it was not until
later in the evening that this part of the line reached the northeast
edge of the woods, after it had completely surrounded a most populous
machine gun nest which was located on a rocky hill. During the fighting
Colonel Catlin was wounded and Captain Laspierre, the French liaison
officer, was gassed, two casualties which represented a distinct blow to
the brigade, but did not hinder its further progress.

On the right Lieutenant Robertson, with twenty survivors out of his
entire platoon, emerged from the terrific enemy barrage and took the
town of Bouresches at the point of the bayonet. Captain Duncan,
receiving word that one Marine company, with a determination to engage
the enemy in hand-to-hand combat, had gone two hundred yards in advance,
raced forward on the double quick with the 96th Marine Company, and was
met by a terrific machine gun barrage from both sides of Bouresches.

Lieutenant Robertson, looking back, saw Duncan and the rest of his
company going down like flies as they charged through the barrage. He
saw Lieutenant Bowling get up from the ground, his face white with pain,
and go stumbling ahead with a bullet in his shoulder. Duncan, carrying a
stick and with his pipe in his mouth, was mowed down in the rain of
lead. Robertson saw Dental Surgeon Osborne pick Duncan up. With the aid
of a Hospital Corps man, they had just gained the shelter of some trees
when a shell wiped all three of them out.

In the street fighting that ensued in Bouresches, Lieutenant Robertson's
orderly, Private Dunlavy, who was later killed in the defence of the
town, captured one of the enemy's own machine guns and turned it against
them.

In the dense woods the Germans showed their mastery of machine gun
manipulation and the method of infiltration by which they would place
strong units in our rear and pour in a deadly fire. Many of these guns
were located on rocky ridges, from which they could fire to all points.
These Marines worked with reckless courage against heavy odds, and the
Germans exacted a heavy toll for every machine gun that was captured or
disabled, but in spite of losses the Marine advance continued.

Lieutenant Overton, commanding the 76th Company, made a brilliant charge
against a strong German position at the top of a rocky hill. He and his
men captured all of the guns and all of their crews. Overton was hit
later when the Germans retaliated by a concentration of fire against the
captured position for forty-eight hours.

Lieutenant Robertson, according to the report brought back by a
regimental runner, was last seen flat on a rock not twenty yards away
from one enemy gun, at which he kept shooting with an automatic in each
hand. He was hit three times before he consented to let his men carry
him to the rear.

"There was not an officer left in the 82nd Company," according to a
letter by Major Frank E. Evans, Adjutant of the Sixth. "Major Sibley and
his Adjutant reorganised them under close fire and led them in a charge
that put one particular machine gun nest out of business at the most
critical time in all the fighting. I heard later that at that stage some
one said: 'Major Sibley ordered that--' and another man said: 'Where in
hell is Sibley?' Sibley was twenty yards away at that time and a hush
went down the line when they saw him step out to lead the charge.

"And when the word got around through that dead-tired, crippled outfit
that 'the Old Man' was on the line, all hell could not have stopped that
rush."

In such fashion did the Marines go through the Bois de Belleau. Their
losses were heavy, but they did the work. The sacrifice was necessary.
Paris was in danger. The Marines constituted the thin line between the
enemy and Paris. The Marines not only held that line--they pushed it
forward.

The fighting was terrific. In one battalion alone the casualties
numbered sixty-four per cent. officers and sixty-four per cent. men.
Several companies came out of the fighting under command of their first
sergeants, all of the officers having been killed or wounded.

I witnessed some of that fighting. I was with the Marines at the opening
of the battle. I never saw men charge to their death with finer spirit.
I am sorry that wounds prevented me from witnessing the victorious
conclusion of the engagement. In view of my subsequent absence from the
fight, I wish to give credit and thanks at this place to Major Frank E.
Evans, who as Adjutant of the 6th Regiment of Marines, provided me with
much of the foregoing material which occurred while I was in the
hospital.

The bravery of that Marine brigade in the Bois de Belleau fight will
ever remain a bright chapter in the records of the American Army. For
the performance of deeds of exceptional valour, more than a hundred
Marines were awarded Distinguished Service Crosses. General Pershing, in
recognition of the conduct of the Second Division, issued the following
order:

  "It is with inexpressible pride and satisfaction that your commander
  recounts your glorious deeds on the field of battle. In the early
  days of June on a front of twenty kilometres, after night marches
  and with only the reserve rations which you carried, you stood like
  a wall against the enemy advance on Paris. For this timely action
  you have received the thanks of the French people whose homes you
  saved and the generous praise of your comrades in arms.

  "Since the organisation of our sector, in the face of strong
  opposition, you have advanced your lines two kilometres on a front
  of eight kilometres. You have engaged and defeated with great loss
  three German divisions and have occupied important strong
  points--Belleau Wood, Bouresches, and Vaux. You have taken about
  1,400 prisoners, many machine guns, and much other material. The
  complete success of the infantry was made possible by the splendid
  co-operation of the artillery, by the aid and assistance of the
  engineer and signal troops, by the diligent and watchful care of the
  medical and supply services, and by the unceasing work of the
  well-organised staff. All elements of the division have worked
  together as a well-trained machine.

  "Amid the dangers and trials of battle, every officer and every man
  has done well his part. Let the stirring deeds, hardships, and
  sacrifices of the past month remain forever a bright spot in our
  history. Let the sacred memory of our fallen comrades spur us on to
  renewed effort and to the glory of American arms."

All of the German prisoners captured by the Marines in the Bois de
Belleau could express only surprise over the fighting capacity of their
captors. Prisoners' statements are not entirely trustworthy, but here is
one that was not intended for American consumption. It was written by a
German soldier, who was killed in the Bois de Belleau before he had an
opportunity to mail it. It was removed from his body. It reads:

                                         "France, June 21, 1918.

  "We are now in the battle zone and canteens dare not come to us on
  account of the enemy, for the Americans are bombarding the villages
  fifteen kilometres behind the present front with long-range guns,
  and you will know that the canteen outfit and the others who are
  lying in reserve do not venture very far, for it is not 'pleasant to
  eat cherries' with the Americans. The reason for that is that they
  have not yet had much experience. The American divisions are still
  too fiery. They are the first divisions that the French have
  entered.... We will also show the Americans how good we are, for the
  day before yesterday we bombarded them heavily with our gas. About
  400 of us are lying around here. We have one corner of the woods and
  the American has the other corner. That is not nice, for all of a
  sudden he rushes forward and one does not know it beforehand.
  Therefore, one must shoot at every little noise, for one cannot
  trust them. Here always two men have dug a hold for themselves. Here
  one lies day and night without a blanket, only with a coat and a
  shelter-half. One freezes at night like a tailor, for the nights are
  fiercely cold. I hope that I will be lucky enough to escape from
  this horrible mess, for up to now I have always been lucky. Many of
  my comrades are already buried here. The enemy sweeps every evening
  the whole countryside with machine gun and rifle fire, and then
  artillery fire. But we in front line are safer than in the support
  position. At present our food is miserable. We are now fed upon
  dried vegetables and marmalade and when at night we obtain more food
  it is unpalatable. It is half sour and all cold. In the daytime we
  receive nothing."

But it might be wise to support this statement from a German soldier in
the ranks by excerpts from an official German army report which was
captured July 7th on a German officer. The document was a carefully
weighed treatise on the fighting capacity of the United States Marines.
The document had the following heading:

  _"Intelligence Officer of the Supreme Command at Army Headquarters,
  Number 7, J. Number 3,528, Army Headquarters, June 17, 1917._

  _"Second American Infantry Division._

  _"Examination of Prisoners from the 5th, 6th, 9th and 23rd
  Regiments, captured from June 5th to 14th, in the Bouresches
  Sector."_

After setting forth all information gained, concerning the purpose of
attack and the arrival of the American units on the line, the German
Intelligence Report continues, as follows:

  "The Second American Division may be classed as a very good
  division, perhaps even as assault troops. The various attacks of
  both regiments on Belleau Wood were carried out with dash and
  recklessness. The moral effect of our firearms did not materially
  check the advances of the enemy. The nerves of the Americans are
  still unshaken.

  "VALUE OF THE INDIVIDUAL--the individual soldiers are very good.
  They are healthy, vigorous, and physically well-developed men, of
  ages ranging from eighteen to twenty-eight, who at present lack only
  necessary training to make them redoubtable opponents. The troops
  are fresh and full of straightforward confidence. A remark of one of
  the prisoners is indicative of their spirit: 'We kill or get
  killed.'

  "MORALE--the prisoners in general make an alert and pleasing
  impression. Regarding military matters, however, they do not show
  the slightest interest. Their superiors keep them purposely without
  knowledge of the military subjects. For example, most of them have
  never seen a map. They are no longer able to describe the villages
  and roads through which they marched. Their idea of the organisation
  of their unit is entirely confused. For example, one of them told us
  that his brigade had six regiments and his division twenty-four.
  They still regard the war from the point of view of the 'big
  brother' who comes to help his hard-pressed brethren and is
  therefore welcomed everywhere. A certain moral background is not
  lacking. The majority of the prisoners simply took as a matter of
  course that they have come to Europe to defend their country.

  "Only a few of the troops are of pure American origin; the majority
  is of German, Dutch and Italian parentage, but these semi-Americans,
  almost all of whom were born in America and never have been in
  Europe before, fully feel themselves to be true born sons of their
  country.

                                           (Signed) "VON BERG,
                               "Lieutenant and Intelligence Officer."

       *       *       *       *       *

Since the days I read Hugo's chapters on the Battle of Waterloo in "Les
Misérables," I always considered as an ideal of fighting capacity and
the military spirit of sacrifice the old sergeant of Napoleon's Old
Guard. Hugo made me vividly see that old sergeant standing on a field
with a meagre remnant of the Old Guard gathered around him. Unable to
resist further, but unwilling to accept surrender, he and his followers
faced the British cannon. The British, respecting this admirable
demonstration of courage, ceased firing and called out to them, "Brave
Frenchmen, surrender."

The old sergeant, who was about to die, refused to accept this offer of
his life from the enemy. Into the very muzzles of the British cannon the
sergeant hurled back the offer of his life with one word. That word was
the vilest epithet in the French language. The cannons roared and the
old sergeant and his survivors died with the word on their lips. Hugo
wisely devoted an entire chapter to that single word.

But I have a new ideal to-day. I found it in the Bois de Belleau. A
small platoon line of Marines lay on their faces and bellies under the
trees at the edge of a wheat field. Two hundred yards across that flat
field the enemy was located in trees. I peered into the trees but could
see nothing, yet I knew that every leaf in the foliage screened scores
of German machine guns that swept the field with lead. The bullets
nipped the tops of the young wheat and ripped the bark from the trunks
of the trees three feet from the ground on which the Marines lay. The
minute for the Marine advance was approaching. An old gunnery sergeant
commanded the platoon in the absence of the lieutenant, who had been
shot and was out of the fight. This old sergeant was a Marine veteran.
His cheeks were bronzed with the wind and sun of the seven seas. The
service bar across his left breast showed that he had fought in the
Philippines, in Santo Domingo, at the walls of Pekin, and in the streets
of Vera Cruz. I make no apologies for his language. Even if Hugo were
not my precedent, I would make no apologies. To me his words were
classic, if not sacred.

As the minute for the advance arrived, he arose from the trees first and
jumped out onto the exposed edge of that field that ran with lead,
across which he and his men were to charge. Then he turned to give the
charge order to the men of his platoon--his mates--the men he loved. He
said:

"COME ON, YOU SONS-O'-BITCHES! DO YOU WANT TO LIVE FOREVER?"



CHAPTER XVI

WOUNDED--HOW IT FEELS TO BE SHOT


Just how does it feel to be shot on the field of battle? Just what is
the exact sensation when a bullet burns its way through your flesh or
crashes through your bones?

I always wanted to know. As a police reporter I "covered" scores of
shooting cases, but I could never learn from the victims what the
precise feeling was as the piece of lead struck. For long years I had
cherished an inordinate curiosity to know that sensation, if possible,
without experiencing it. I was curious and eager for enlightenment just
as I am still anxious to know how it is that some people willingly drink
buttermilk when it isn't compulsory.

I am still in the dark concerning the inexplicable taste for the sour,
clotted product of a sweet, well-meaning cow and the buttery, but I have
found out how it feels to be shot. I know it now by experience.

Three Germans bullets that violated my person left me as many scars and
at the same time completely satisfied my curiosity. I think now if I can
ever muster up enough courage to drink a glass of buttermilk, I shall
have bereft myself of my last inquisitiveness.

It happened on June 6th just to the northwest of Château-Thierry in the
Bois de Belleau. On the morning of that day I left Paris by motor for a
rush to the front. The Germans were on that day within forty miles of
the capital of France. On the night before, the citizens of Paris, in
their homes and hotels, had heard the roll of the guns drawing ever
nearer. Many had left the city.

But American divisions were in the line between the enemy and their
goal, and the operation of these divisions was my object in hustling to
the front. On the broad, paved highway from Paris to Meaux, my car
passed miles and miles of loaded motor trucks bound frontward. Long
lines of these carried thousands of Americans. Other long lines were
loaded down with shells and cartridge boxes. On the right side of the
road, bound for Paris and points back of the line, was an endless stream
of ambulances and other motor trucks bringing back wounded. Dense clouds
of dust hung like a pall over the length of the road. The day was hot,
the dust was stifling.

From Meaux we proceeded along the straight highway that borders the
south banks of the Marne to LaFerte, at which place we crossed the river
and turned north to Montreuil, which was the newly occupied headquarters
of the Second United States Army Division, General Omar Bundy
commanding. On the day before, the two infantry brigades of that
division, one composed of the 5th and 6th U. S. Marines, under command
of Brigadier General Harbord, the other composed of the 9th and 23rd U.
S. Infantry, had been thrown into the line which was just four miles to
the north and east.

The fight had been hot during the morning. The Marines on the left flank
of the divisional sector had been pushing their lines forward through
triangle woods and the village of Lucy-le-Bocage. The information of
their advances was given to me by the Divisional Intelligence officer,
who occupied a large room in the rear of the building that was used as
Divisional Headquarters. The building was the village _Mairie_, which
also included the village school-house. Now the desks of the school
children were being used by our staff officers and the walls and
blackboards were covered with maps.

I was accompanied by Lieutenant Oscar Hartzell, formerly of the _New
York Times_ staff. We learned that orders from the French High Command
called for a continuation of the Marine advance during the afternoon and
evening, and this information made it possible for us to make our plans.
Although the Germans were shelling roads immediately behind the front,
Lieutenant Hartzell and I agreed to proceed by motor from Montreuil a
mile or so to a place called La Voie du Châtel, which was the
headquarters of Colonel Neveille of the 5th Marines. Reaching that place
around four o'clock, we turned a despatch over to the driver of our
staff car with instructions that he proceed with all haste to Paris and
there submit it to the U. S. Press Bureau.

Lieutenant Hartzell and I announced our intentions of proceeding at once
to the front line to Colonel Neveille.

"Go wherever you like," said the regimental commander, looking up from
the outspread maps on the kitchen table in the low-ceilinged stone
farm-house that he had adopted as headquarters. "Go as far as you like,
but I want to tell you it's damn hot up there."

An hour later found us in the woods to the west of the village of Lucy
le Bocage, in which German shells were continually falling. To the west
and north another nameless cluster of farm dwellings was in flames. Huge
clouds of smoke rolled up like a smudge against the background of blue
sky.

The ground under the trees in the wood was covered with small bits of
white paper. I could not account for their presence until I examined
several of them and found that these were letters from American mothers
and wives and sweethearts--letters--whole packages of them, which the
tired, dog-weary Marines had been forced to remove from their packs and
destroy in order to ease the straps that cut into aching grooves in
their shoulders. Circumstances also forced the abandonment of much other
material and equipment.

Occasional shells were dropping in the woods, which were also within
range from a long distance, indirect machine gun fire from the enemy.
Bits of lead, wobbling in their flight at the end of their long
trajectory, sung through the air above our heads and clipped leaves and
twigs from the branches. On the edge of the woods we came upon a hastily
dug out pit in which there were two American machine guns and their
crews.

The field in front of the woods sloped gently down some two hundred
yards to another cluster of trees. This cluster was almost as big as the
one we were in. Part of it was occupied by the Germans. Our machine
gunners maintained a continual fire into that part held by the enemy.

Five minutes before five o'clock, the order for the advance reached our
pit. It was brought there by a second lieutenant, a platoon commander.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, looking at the green brassard and
red "C" on my left arm.

"Looking for the big story," I said.

"If I were you I'd be about forty miles south of this place," said the
Lieutenant, "but if you want to see the fun, stick around. We are going
forward in five minutes."

That was the last I saw of him until days later, when both of us,
wounded, met in the hospital. Of course, the first thing he said was, "I
told you so."

We hurriedly finished the contents of the can of cold "Corned Willy"
which one of the machine gunners and I were eating. The machine guns
were taken down and the barrels, cradles and tripods were handed over to
the members of the crew whose duties it was to carry them.

And then we went over. There are really no heroics about it. There is no
bugle call, no sword waving, no dramatic enunciation of catchy commands,
no theatricalism--it's just plain get up and go over. And it is done
just the same as one would walk across a peaceful wheat field out in
Iowa.

But with the appearance of our first line, as it stepped from the
shelter of the woods into the open exposure of the flat field, the woods
opposite began to cackle and rattle with the enemy machine gun fire. Our
men advanced in open order, ten and twelve feet between men. Sometimes a
squad would run forward fifty feet and drop. And as its members
flattened on the ground for safety another squad would rise from the
ground and make another rush.

They gained the woods. Then we could hear shouting. Then we knew that
work was being done with the bayonet. The machine gun fire continued in
intensity and then died down completely. The wood had been won. Our men
consolidated the position by moving forward in groups ever on the
watch-out for snipers in the trees. A number of these were brought down
by our crack pistol shots.

At different times during the advance runners had come through the woods
inquiring for Major John Berry, the battalion commander. One of these
runners attached himself to Lieutenant Hartzell and myself and together
the three of us located the Major coming through the woods. He granted
permission for Lieutenant Hartzell and me to accompany him and we
started forward, in all a party of some fifteen, including ten runners
attached to the battalion commander.

Owing to the continual evidences of German snipers in the trees, every
one in our party carried a revolver ready in his hand, with the
exception of myself. Correspondents, you will remember, are
non-combatants and must be unarmed. I carried a notebook, but it was
loaded. We made our way down the slope of the wooded hillside.

Midway down the slope, the hill was bisected by a sunken road which
turned forward on the left. Lying in the road were a number of French
bodies and several of our men who had been brought down but five minutes
before. We crossed that road hurriedly knowing that it was covered from
the left by German machine guns.

At the bottom of the slope there was a V-shaped field. The apex of the V
was on the left. From left to right the field was some two hundred yards
in width. The point where we came out of the woods was about one hundred
yards from the apex. At that point the field was about one hundred yards
across. It was perfectly flat and was covered with a young crop of oats
between ten and fifteen inches high.

This V-shaped oat field was bordered on all sides by dense clusters of
trees. In the trees on the side opposite the side on which we stood,
were German machine guns. We could hear them. We could not see them but
we knew that every leaf and piece of greenery there vibrated from their
fire and the tops of the young oats waved and swayed with the streams of
lead that swept across.

Major Berry gave orders for us to follow him at intervals of ten or
fifteen yards. Then he started across the field alone at the head of the
party. I followed. Behind me came Hartzell. Then the woods about us
began to rattle fiercely. It was unusually close range. That lead
travelled so fast that we could not hear it as it passed. We soon had
visual demonstration of the hot place we were in when we began to see
the dust puffs that the bullets kicked up in the dirt around our feet.

Major Berry had advanced well beyond the centre of the field when I saw
him turn toward me and heard him shout:

"Get down everybody."

We all fell on our faces. And then it began to come hot and fast.
Perfectly withering volleys of lead swept the tops of the oats just over
us. For some reason it did not seem to be coming from the trees hardly a
hundred yards in front of us. It was coming from a new direction--from
the left.

I was busily engaged flattening myself on the ground. Then I heard a
shout in front of me. It came from Major Berry. I lifted my head
cautiously and looked forward. The Major was making an effort to get to
his feet. With his right hand he was savagely grasping his left wrist.

"My hand's gone," he shouted. One of the streams of lead from the left
had found him. A ball had entered his left arm at the elbow, had
travelled down the side of the bone, tearing away muscles and nerves of
the forearm and lodging itself in the palm of his hand. His pain was
excruciating.

"Get down. Flatten out, Major," I shouted, and he dropped to the ground.
I did not know the extent of his injuries at that time but I did know
that he was courting death every minute he stood up.

"We've got to get out of here," said the Major. "We've got to get
forward. They'll start shelling this open field in a few minutes."

I lifted my head for another cautious look.

I judged that I was lying about thirty yards from the edge of the trees
in front of us. The Major was about ten yards in front of me.

"You are twenty yards from the trees," I shouted to the Major. "I am
crawling over to you now. Wait until I get there and I'll help you. Then
we'll get up and make a dash for it."

"All right," replied the Major, "hurry along."

I started forward, keeping as flat on the ground as it was possible to
do so and at the same time move. As far as was feasible, I pushed
forward by digging in with my toes and elbows extended in front of me.
It was my object to make as little movement in the oats as possible. I
was not mistaken about the intensity of fire that swept the field. It
was terrific.

And then it happened. The lighted end of a cigarette touched me in the
fleshy part of my upper left arm. That was all. It just felt like a
sudden burn and nothing worse. The burned part did not seem to be any
larger in area than that part which could be burned by the lighted end
of a cigarette.

At the time there was no feeling within the arm, that is, no feeling as
to aches or pain. There was nothing to indicate that the bullet, as I
learned several days later, had gone through the bicep muscle of the
upper arm and had come out on the other side. The only sensation
perceptible at the time was the burning touch at the spot where the
bullet entered.

I glanced down at the sleeve of my uniformed coat and could not even see
the hole where the bullet had entered. Neither was there any sudden flow
of blood. At the time there was no stiffness or discomfort in the arm
and I continued to use it to work my way forward.

Then the second one hit. It nicked the top of my left shoulder. And
again came the burning sensation, only this time the area affected
seemed larger. Hitting as it did in the meaty cap of the shoulder, I
feared that there would be no further use for the arm until it had
received attention, but again I was surprised when I found upon
experiment that I could still use it. The bone seemed to be affected in
no way.

Again there was no sudden flow of blood, nor stiffness. It seemed hard
for me to believe at the time, but I had been shot twice, penetrated
through by two bullets and was experiencing not any more pain than I had
experienced once when I dropped a lighted cigarette on the back of my
hand. I am certain that the pain in no way approached that sensation
which the dentist provides when he drills into a tooth with a live nerve
in it.

So I continued to move toward the Major. Occasionally I would shout
something to him, although, at this time, I am unable to remember what
it was. I only wanted to let him know I was coming. I had fears, based
on the one look that I had obtained of his pain-distorted face, that he
had been mortally shot in the body.

And then the third one struck me. In order to keep as close to the
ground as possible, I had swung my chin to the right so that I was
pushing forward with my left cheek flat against the ground and in order
to accommodate this position of the head, I had moved my steel helmet
over so that it covered part of my face on the right.

Then there came a crash. It sounded to me like some one had dropped a
glass bottle into a porcelain bathtub. A barrel of whitewash tipped over
and it seemed that everything in the world turned white. That was the
sensation. I did not recognise it because I have often been led to
believe and often heard it said that when one receives a blow on the
head everything turns black.

Maybe I am contrarily constructed, but in my case everything became pure
white. I remember this distinctly because my years of newspaper training
had been in but one direction--to sense and remember. So it was that,
even without knowing it, my mind was making mental notes on every
impression that my senses registered.

I did not know yet where I had been hit or what the bullet had done. I
knew that I was still knowing things. I did not know whether I was alive
or dead but I did know that my mind was still working. I was still
mentally taking notes on every second.

The first recess in that note-taking came when I asked myself the
following question:

"Am I dead?"

I didn't laugh or didn't even smile when I asked myself the question
without putting it in words. I wanted to know. And wanting to know, I
undertook to find out. I am not aware now that there was any appreciable
passage of time during this mental progress. I feel certain, however,
that I never lost consciousness.

How was I to find out if I was dead? The shock had lifted my head off
the ground but I had immediately replaced it as close to the soil as
possible. My twice punctured left arm was lying alongside my body. I
decided to try and move my fingers on my left hand. I did so and they
moved. I next moved my left foot. Then I knew I was alive.

[Illustration: HELMET WORN BY FLOYD GIBBONS WHEN WOUNDED, SHOWING DAMAGE
CAUSED BY SHRAPNEL]

Then I brought my right hand up toward my face and placed it to the left
of my nose. My fingers rested on something soft and wet. I withdrew the
hand and looked at it. It was covered with blood. As I looked at it,
I was not aware that my entire vision was confined to my right eye,
although there was considerable pain in the entire left side of my face.

This was sufficient to send me on another mental investigation. I closed
my right eye and--all was dark. My first thought following this
experiment was that my left eye was closed. So I again counselled with
myself and tried to open my left eye--that is, tried to give the mental
command that would cause the muscles of the left eye to open the lid and
close it again.

I did this but could not feel or verify in any way whether the eye lid
responded or not. I only knew that it remained dark on that side. This
brought me to another conclusion and not a pessimistic one at that. I
simply believed, in spite of the pain, that something had struck me in
the eye and had closed it.

I did not know then, as I know now, that a bullet striking the ground
immediately under my left cheek bone, had ricocheted upward, going
completely through the left eye and then crashing out through my
forehead, leaving the eyeball and upper eyelid completely halved, the
lower eyelid torn away, and a compound fracture of the skull.

Further progress toward the Major was impossible. I must confess that I
became so intensely interested in the weird sensations and subjective
research, that I even neglected to call out and tell the wounded officer
that I would not be able to continue to his assistance. I held this view
in spite of the fact that my original intentions were strong. Lying
there with my left cheek flat on the ground, I was able to observe some
minutes later the wounded Major rise to his feet and in a perfect hail
of lead rush forward and out of my line of vision.

It was several days later, in the hospital, that I learned that he
reached the shelter of the woods beyond without being hit again, and in
that place, although suffering intense pain, was able to shout back
orders which resulted in the subsequent wiping out of the machine gun
nest that had been our undoing. For this supreme effort, General
Pershing decorated him with the Distinguished Service Cross.

I began to make plans to get out of the exposed position in which I was
lying. Whereas the field when I started across it had seemed perfectly
flat, now it impressed me as being convex and I was further impressed
with the belief that I was lying on the very uppermost and most exposed
curvature of it. There is no doubt that the continued stream of machine
gun lead that swept the field superinduced this belief. I got as close
to the ground as a piece of paper on top of a table. I remember
regretting sincerely that the war had reached the stage of open movement
and one consequence of which was that there wasn't a shell hole anywhere
to crawl into.

This did not, however, eliminate the dangerous possibility of shelling.
With the fatalism that one acquires along the fronts, I was ready to
take my chances with the casual German shell that one might have
expected, but I devoted much thought to a consideration of the French
and American artillery some miles behind me. I considered the
possibility of word having been sent back that our advancing waves at
this point had been cut down by enemy machine gunners who were still in
position preventing all progress at this place. I knew that such
information, if sent back, would immediately be forwarded to our guns
and then a devastating concentration of shells would be directed toward
the location of the machine gun nests.

I knew that I was lying one hundred yards from one of those nests and I
knew that I was well within the fatal bursting radius of any shells our
gunners might direct against that German target. My fear was that myself
and other American wounded lying in that field would die by American
guns. That is what would have happened if that information had reached
our artillery and it is what should have happened.

The lives of the wounded in that field were as nothing compared with the
importance of wiping out that machine gun nest on our left which was
holding up the entire advance.

I wanted to see what time it was and my watch was attached to my left
wrist. In endeavouring to get a look at it, I found out that my left arm
was stiff and racked with pain. Hartzell, I knew, had a watch, but I did
not know where he was lying, so I called out.

He answered me from some distance away but I could not tell how far or
in what direction. I could see dimly but only at the expense of great
pain. When he answered I shouted back to him:

"Are you hit?"

"No, are you?" he asked.

"Yes, what time is it?" I said.

"Are you hit badly?" he asked in reply.

"No, I don't think so," I said. "I think I'm all right."

"Where are you hit?" he asked.

"In the head," I said; "I think something hit my eye."

"In the head, you damn fool," he shouted louder with just a bit of anger
and surprise in his voice. "How the hell can you be all right if you are
hit in the head? Are you bleeding much?"

"No," I said. "What time is it, will you tell me?"

"I'm coming over to get you," shouted Hartzell.

"Don't move, you damn fool, you want to kill both of us?" I hastened to
shout back. "If you start moving, don't move near me. I think they think
I'm dead."

"Well you can't lie there and bleed to death," Hartzell replied. "We've
got to do something to get to hell out of here. What'll we do?"

"Tell me what time it is and how long it will be before it's dark," I
asked.

"It's six o'clock now," Hartzell said, "and it won't be dark 'til nine;
this is June. Do you think you can stick it out?"

I told him that I thought I could and we were silent for some time. Both
of us had the feeling that other ears--ears working in conjunction with
eyes trained along the barrels of those machine guns a hundred yards on
our left--would be aroused to better marksmanship if we continued to
talk.

I began to take stock of my condition. During my year or more along the
fronts I had been through many hospitals and from my observations in
those institutions I had cultivated a keen distaste for one thing--gas
gangrene. I had learned from doctors its fatal and horrible results and
I also had learned from them that it was caused by germs which exist in
large quantities in any ground that has been under artificial
cultivation for a long period.

Such was the character of the very field I was lying in and I came to
the realisation that the wound in the left side of my face and head was
resting flatly on the soil. With my right hand I drew up my British box
respirator or gas mask and placed this under my head. Thus I rested with
more confidence, although the machine gun lead continued to pass in
sheets through the tops of the oats not two or three inches above my
head.

All of it was coming from the left,--coming from the German nests
located in the trees at the apex of the V-shaped field. Those guns were
not a hundred yards away and they seemed to have an inexhaustible supply
of ammunition. Twenty feet away on my left a wounded Marine was lying.
Occasionally I would open my right eye for a painful look in his
direction.

He was wounded and apparently unconscious. His pack, "the khaki doll,"
was still strapped between his shoulders. Unconsciously he was doing
that which all wounded men do--that is, to assume the position that is
the most comfortable. He was trying to roll over on his back.

But the pack was on his back and every time he would roll over on this
it would elevate his body into full view of the German gunners. Then a
withering hail of lead would sweep the field. It so happened that I was
lying immediately in line between those German guns and this unconscious
moving target. As the Marine would roll over on top of the pack his
chest would be exposed to the fire.

I could see the buttons fly from his tunic and one of the shoulder
straps of the back pack part as the sprays of lead struck him. He would
limply roll off the pack over on his side. I found myself wishing that
he would lie still, as every movement of his brought those streams of
bullets closer and closer to my head. I even considered the thickness of
the box respirator on which I had elevated my head off the ground. It
was about two inches thick.

I remembered my French gas mask hanging from my shoulder and recalled
immediately that it was much flatter, being hardly half an inch in
thickness. I forthwith drew up the French mask to my head, extracted the
British one and rested my cheek closer to the ground on the French one.
Thus, I lowered my head about an inch and a half--an inch and a half
that represented worlds of satisfaction and some optimism to me.

Sometimes there were lulls in the firing. During those periods of
comparative quiet, I could hear the occasional moan of other wounded on
that field. Very few of them cried out and it seemed to me that those
who did were unconscious when they did it. One man in particular had a
long, low groan. I could not see him, yet I felt he was lying somewhere
close to me. In the quiet intervals, his unconscious expression of pain
reminded me of the sound I had once heard made by a calf which had been
tied by a short rope to a tree. The animal had strayed round and round
the tree until its entanglements in the rope had left it a helpless
prisoner. The groan of that unseen, unconscious wounded American who
laid near me on the field that evening sounded exactly like the pitiful
bawl of that calf.

Those three hours were long in passing. With the successive volleys that
swept the field, I sometimes lost hope that I could ever survive it. It
seemed to me that if three German bullets had found me within the space
of fifteen minutes, I could hardly expect to spend three hours without
receiving the fatal one. With such thoughts on my mind I reopened
conversation with Hartzell.

"How's it coming, old man?" I shouted.

"They're coming damn close," he said; "how is it with you? Are you
losing much blood?"

"No, I'm all right as far as that goes," I replied, "but I want you to
communicate with my wife, if its 'west' for me."

"What's her address?" said Hartzell.

"It's a long one," I said. "Are you ready to take it?"

"Shoot," said Hartzell.

"'Mrs. Floyd Gibbons, No. 12 Bis, Rue de la Chevalier de la Barre,
Dijon, Côte d'Or, France.'" I said slowly.

"My God," said Hartzell, "say it again."

Back and forth we repeated the address correctly and incorrectly some
ten or twelve times until Hartzell informed me that he knew it well
enough to sing it. He also gave me his wife's address. Then just to make
conversation he would shout over, every fifteen minutes, and tell me
that there was just that much less time that we would have to lie there.

I thought that hour between seven and eight o'clock dragged the most,
but the one between eight and nine seemed interminable. The hours were
so long, particularly when we considered that a German machine gun could
fire three hundred shots a minute. Dusk approached slowly. And finally
Hartzell called over:

"I don't think they can see us now," he said; "let's start to crawl
back."

"Which way shall we crawl?" I asked.

"Into the woods," said Hartzell.

"Which woods?" I asked.

"The woods we came out of, you damn fool," he replied.

"Which direction are they in?" I said, "I've been moving around and I
don't know which way I am heading. Are you on my left, or on my right?"

"I can't tell whether I'm on your left or your right," he replied. "How
are you lying, on your face or on your back?"

"On my face," I said, "and your voice sounds like it comes from in back
of me and on the left."

"If that's the case," said Hartzell, "your head is lying toward the
wrong woods. Work around in a half circle and you'll be facing the right
direction."

I did so and then heard Hartzell's voice on my right. I started moving
toward him. Against my better judgment and expressed wishes, he crawled
out toward me and met me half way. His voice close in front of me
surprised me.

"Hold your head up a little," he said, "I want to see where it hit you."

"I don't think it looks very nice," I replied, lifting my head. I wanted
to know how it looked myself, so I painfully opened the right eye and
looked through the oats eighteen inches into Hartzell's face. I saw the
look of horror on it as he looked into mine.

Twenty minutes later, after crawling painfully through the interminable
yards of young oats, we reached the edge of the woods and safety.

That's how it feels to be shot.



CHAPTER XVII

"GOOD MORNING, NURSE"


Weakness from the loss of blood began to grow on me as Lieutenant
Hartzell and I made our way through the deepening shadows of the wooded
hillside in the rear of the field on which I had been shot. In an
upright position of walking the pains in my head seemed to increase. We
stopped for a minute and, neither of us having first aid kits with us, I
resurrected a somewhat soiled silk handkerchief with which Hartzell
bound up my head in a manner that applied supporting pressure over my
left eye and brought a degree of relief.

Hartzell told me later that I was staggering slightly when we reached a
small relief dugout about a mile back of the wood. There a medical corps
man removed the handkerchief and bound my head with a white gauze
bandage. I was anxious to have the wound cleaned but he told me there
was no water. He said they had been forced to turn it over to the men to
drink. This seemed to me to be as it should be because my thirst was
terrific, yet there was no water left.

We stumbled rearward another half mile and, in the darkness, came upon
the edge of another wooded area. A considerable number of our wounded
were lying on stretchers on the ground. The Germans were keeping up a
continual fire of shrapnel and high explosive shell in the woods,
apparently to prevent the mobilisation of reserves, but the doctors,
taking care of the wounded, proceeded with their work without notice to
the whine of the shells passing overhead or the bursting of those that
landed nearby. They went at their work just as though they were caring
for injured men on a football field.

Hartzell stretched me out on the ground and soon had a doctor bending
over me. The doctor removed the eye bandage, took one look at what was
beneath it and then replaced it. I remember this distinctly because at
the time I made the mental note that the doctor apparently considered my
head wound beyond anything he could repair. He next turned his attention
to my arm and shoulder. He inserted his scissors into my left sleeve at
the wrist and ripped it up to the shoulder. He followed this operation
by cutting through my heavy khaki tunic from the shoulder to the collar.
A few more snips of the nickel-plated blades and my shirt and undershirt
were cut away. He located the three bullet holes, two in the arm and one
across the top of the shoulder, and bound them up with bandages.

"We're awful shy on ambulances," he said; "you will have to lie here a
while."

"I feel that I can walk all right if there is no reason why I
shouldn't," I replied.

"You ought to be in an ambulance," said the doctor, "but if you feel
that you can make it, you might take a try at it."

Then turning to Lieutenant Hartzell, he said, "Keep right with him, and
if he begins to get groggy, make him lie down."

So Hartzell and I resumed our rearward plodding or staggering. He walked
at my right side and slightly in front of me, holding my right arm over
his right shoulder and thereby giving me considerable support. We had
not proceeded far before we heard the racing motor of an automobile
coming from behind us. An occasional shell was dropping along the road
we were now on.

A stick struck my legs from behind in the darkness. And then an
apologetic voice said:

"Beg your pardon, sir, just feeling along the road for shell holes.
Ambulance right behind me, sir. Would you mind stepping to one side?
Come on, Bill," to the driver of the ambulance, "it looks all clear
through here."

The automobile with the racing motor turned out to be a light ambulance
of a popular Detroit make. Its speeding engine was pure camouflage for
its slow progress. It bubbled and steamed at the radiator cap as it
pushed along at almost a snail's pace.

"All full?" Hartzell shouted into the darkness of the driver's seat.

"To the brim," responded the driver. "Are you wounded?"

"No, but I have a wounded man with me," said Hartzell. "He can sit
beside you on the seat if you have room."

"Get right in," said the driver, and Hartzell boosted me into the front
seat. We pushed along slowly, Hartzell walking beside the car and the
driver's assistant proceeding ahead of us, searching the dark road with
his cane for new shell craters.

Occasionally, when our wheels would strike in one of these, groans would
come from the ambulance proper.

"Take it easy," would come a voice through pain-pressed lips; "for
Christ's sake, do you think you are driving a truck?"

I heard the driver tell Hartzell that he had three men with bullet
splintered legs in the ambulance. Every jolt of the car caused their
broken bones to jolt and increased the pounding of their wearied nerves
to an extremity of agony. The fourth occupant of the ambulance, he
said, had been shot through the lungs.

Some distance along, there came a knock on the wooden partition behind
my back,--the partition that separates the driver's seat from the
ambulance proper. The car stopped and the driver and Hartzell went to
the rear door and opened it. The man with the shot through the lungs was
half sitting up on his stretcher. He had one hand to his mouth and his
lips, as revealed in the rays of the driver's flashlight, were red wet.

"Quick--get me--to a doctor," the man said between gulps and gurgles.

The driver considered. He knew we were ten miles from the closest doctor.
Then he addressed himself to the other three stretcher-cases--the men
with the torture-torn legs.

"If I go fast, you guys are going to suffer the agonies of hell," he
said, "and if I go slow this guy with the hemorrhage will croak before
we get there. How do you want me to drive?"

There was not a minute's silence. The three broken leg cases responded
almost in unison.

"Go as fast as you can," they said.

And we did. With Hartzell riding the running board beside me and the
crater finder clinging to the mud guards on the other side, we sped
through the darkness regardless of the ruts and shell holes. The jolting
was severe but never once did there come another complaint from the
occupants of the ambulance.

In this manner did we arrive in time at the first medical clearing
station. I learned later that the life of the man with the hemorrhage
was saved and he is alive to-day.

The clearing station was located in an old church on the outskirts of a
little village. Four times during this war the flow and ebb of battle
had passed about this old edifice. Hartzell half carried me off the
ambulance seat and into the church. As I felt my feet scrape on the
flagstoned flooring underneath the Gothic entrance arch, I opened my
right eye for a painful survey of the interior.

The walls, grey with age, appeared yellow in the light of the candles
and lanterns that were used for illumination. Blankets, and bits of
canvas and carpet had been tacked over the apertures where once stained
glass windows and huge oaken doors had been. These precautions were
necessary to prevent the lights from shining outside the building and
betraying our location to the hospital-loving eyes of German bombing
'planes whose motors we could hear even at that minute, humming in the
black sky above us.

Our American wounded were lying on stretchers all over the floor. Near
the door, where I entered, a number of pews had been pushed to one side
and on these our walking wounded were seated. They were smoking
cigarettes and talking and passing observations on every fresh case that
came through the door. They all seemed to be looking at me.

My appearance must have been sufficient to have shocked them. I was
hatless and my hair was matted with blood. The red-stained bandage
around my forehead and extending down over my left cheek did not hide
the rest of my face, which was unwashed, and consequently red with fresh
blood.

On my left side I was completely bare from the shoulder to the waist
with the exception of the strips of white-cloth about my arm and
shoulder. My chest was splashed with red from the two body wounds. Such
was my entrance. I must have looked somewhat grewsome because I
happened to catch an involuntary shudder as it passed over the face of
one of my observers among the walking wounded and I heard him remark to
the man next to him:

"My God, look what they're bringing in."

Hartzell placed me on a stretcher on the floor and went for water, which
I sorely needed. I heard some one stop beside my stretcher and bend over
me, while a kindly voice said:

"Would you like a cigarette, old man?"

"Yes," I replied. He lighted one in his own lips and placed it in my
mouth. I wanted to know my benefactor. I asked him for his name and
organisation.

"I am not a soldier," he said; "I am a non-combatant, the same as you.
My name is Slater and I'm from the Y. M. C. A."

That cigarette tasted mighty good. If you who read this are one of those
whose contributions to the Y. M. C. A. made that distribution possible,
I wish to herewith express to you my gratefulness and the gratefulness
of the other men who enjoyed your generosity that night.

In front of what had been the altar in the church, there had been
erected a rudely constructed operation table. The table was surrounded
with tall candelabrum of brass and gilded wood. These ornate accessories
had been removed from the altar for the purpose of providing better
light for the surgeons who busied themselves about the table in their
long gowns of white--stained with red.

I was placed on that table for an examination and I heard a peculiar
conversation going on about me. One doctor said, "We haven't any more of
it." Then another doctor said, "But I thought we had plenty." The first
voice replied, "Yes, but we didn't expect so many wounded. We have used
up all we had." Then the second voice said, "Well, we certainly need it
now. I don't know what we're going to do without it."

From their further conversation I learned that the subject under
discussion was anti-tetanus serum--the all-important inoculation that
prevents lockjaw and is also an antidote for the germs of gas gangrene.
You may be sure I became more than mildly interested in the absence of
this valuable boon, but there was nothing I could say that would help
the case, so I remained quiet. In several minutes my composure was
rewarded. I heard hurried footsteps across the flagstoned flooring and a
minute later felt a steel needle penetrating my abdomen. Then a cheery
voice said:

"It's all right, now, we've got plenty of it. We've got just piles of
it. The Red Cross just shot it out from Paris in limousines."

After the injection Hartzell informed me that the doctors could do
nothing for me at that place and that I was to be moved further to the
rear. He said ambulances were scarce but he had found a place for me in
a returning ammunition truck. I was carried out of the church and
somewhere in the outer darkness was lifted up into the body of the truck
and laid down on some straw in the bottom. There were some fifteen or
twenty other men lying there beside me.

The jolting in this springless vehicle was severe, but its severity was
relieved in some of our cases by the quieting injections we had
received. The effects of these narcotics had worn off in some of the men
and they suffered the worse for it. One of them continually called out
to the truck driver to go slower and make less jolting. To each request
the driver responded that he was going as slow as he could. As the
jolting continued the man with the complaining nerves finally yelled out
a new request. He said:

"Well, if you can't make it easier by going slow, then for God's sake
throw her into high and go as fast as you can. Let's get it over as
quick as we can."

Lying on my back in the truck with a raincoat as a pillow, I began to
wonder where we were bound for. I opened my eye once and looked up
toward the roof of the leafy tunnel which covered the road. Soon we
passed out from beneath the trees bordering the roadside and I could see
the sky above. The moon was out and there were lots of stars. They gave
one something to think about. After all, how insignificant was one
little life.

In this mood, something in the jolting of the camion brought to my mind
the metre and words of George Amicks' wistful verses, "The Camion
Caravan," and I repeat it from memory:

      "Winding down through sleeping town
      Pale stars of early dawn;
    Like ancient knight with squire by side,
    Driver and helper now we ride--
      The camion caravan.

      "In between the rows of trees
      Glare of the mid-day sun;
    Creeping along the highway wide,
    Slowly in long defile, we ride--
      The camion caravan.

      "Homeward to _remorque_ and rest,
      Pale stars of early night;
    Through stillness of the eventide,
    Back through the winding town we ride--
      The camion caravan."

Sometime during the dark hours of the early morning we stopped in the
courtyard of a hospital and I was taken into another examination room
illuminated with painfully brilliant lights. I was placed on a table for
an examination, which seemed rather hurried, and then the table was
rolled away some distance down a corridor. I never understood that move
until some weeks later when a Lieutenant medical officer told me that it
was he who had examined me at that place.

"You're looking pretty fit, now," he said, "but that night when I saw
you I ticketed you for the dead pile. You didn't look like you could
live till morning."

His statement gave me some satisfaction. There is always joy in fooling
the doctor.

Hartzell, who still accompanied me, apparently rescued me from the "dead
pile" and we started on another motor trip, this time on a stretcher in
a large, easier-riding ambulance. In this I arrived shortly after dawn
at the United States Military Base Hospital at Neuilly-sur-Seine, on the
outskirts of Paris.

There were more hurried examinations and soon I was rolled down a
corridor on a wheeled table, into an elevator that started upward. Then
the wheeled table raced down another long corridor and I began to feel
that my journeyings were endless. We stopped finally in a room where I
distinctly caught the odour of ether. Some one began removing my boots
and clothes. As that some one worked he talked to me.

"I know you, Mr. Gibbons," he said. "I'm from Chicago also. I am
Sergeant Stephen Hayes. I used to go to Hyde Park High School. We're
going to fix you up right away."

I learned from Hayes that I was lying in a room adjoining the operating
chamber and was being prepared for the operating table. Some information
concerning the extent of my injuries and the purpose of the operation
would have been comforting and would have relieved the sensation of
utter helpless childishness that I was experiencing.

I knew I was about to go under the influence of the anesthetic and that
something was going to be done to me. I had every confidence that
whatever was done would be for the best but it was perfectly natural
that I should be curious about it. Was the operation to be a serious one
or a minor one? Would they have to remove my eye? Would they have to
operate on my skull? How about the arm? Would there be an amputation?
How about the other eye? Would I ever see again? It must be remembered
that in spite of all the examinations I had not been informed and
consequently had no knowledge concerning the extent of my injuries. The
only information I had received had been included in vague remarks
intended as soothing, such as "You're all right, old man." "You'll pull
through fine." "You're coming along nicely." But all of it had seemed
too professionally optimistic to satisfy me and my doubts still
remained.

They were relieved, however, by the pressure of a hand and the sound of
a voice. In the words spoken and in the pressure of the hand, there was
hardly anything different from similar hand pressures and similar spoken
phrases that had come to me during the night, yet there was everything
different. This voice and this hand carried supreme confidence. I could
believe in both of them. I felt the hand pressure on my right shoulder
and the mild kindly voice said:

"Son, I am going to operate on you. I have examined you and you are all
right. You are going to come through fine. Don't worry about anything."

"Thank you, very much," I said, "I like your voice. It sounds like my
father's. Will you tell me your name?"

"I am Major Powers," the kindly voice said. "Now just take it easy, and
I will talk to you again in a couple of hours when you feel better."

The speaker, as I learned later, was Major Charles Powers, of Denver,
Colorado, one of the best-known and best-loved surgeons in the West. A
man far advanced in his profession and well advanced in his years, a man
whose life has not been one of continual health, a man who, upon
America's entry of the war, sacrificed the safety of the beneficial air
rarity of his native Denver to answer the country's call, to go to
France at great personal risk to his health--a risk only appreciated by
those who know him well. It was Major Powers who operated upon the
compound fracture in my skull that morning.

My mental note-taking continued as the anesthetist worked over me with
the ether. As I began breathing the fumes I remember that my senses were
keenly making observations on every sensation I experienced. The thought
even went through my mind that it would be rather an unusual thing to
report completely the impressions of coma. This suggestion became a
determination and I became keyed up to everything going on about me.

The conversation of the young doctor who was administering the
anesthetic interested me unusually. He was very busy and business-like
and although I considered myself an important and most interested party
in the entire proceedings, his conversation ignored me entirely. He not
only did not talk to me, but he was not even talking about me. As he
continued to apply the ether, he kept up a running fire of entirely
extraneous remarks with some other person near the table. I did not
appreciate then, as I do now, that I was only one of very, very many
that he had anesthetised that morning and the night before, but at the
time his seeming lack of all interest in me as me, piqued me
considerably.

"Are you feeling my pulse?" I said. I could not feel his hand on either
of my wrists, but I asked the question principally to inject myself into
the conversation in some way or other, preferably in some way that would
call him to account, as I had by this time aroused within me a keen and
healthy dislike for this busy little worker whom I could not see but who
stood over me and carried on conversations with other people to my utter
and complete exclusion. And all the time he was engaged in feeding me
the fumes that I knew would soon steal away my senses.

"Now, never you mind about your pulse," he replied somewhat peevishly.
"I'm taking care of this." It seemed to me from the tone of his voice
that he implied I was talking about something that was none of my
business and I had the distinct conviction that if the proceedings were
anybody's business, they certainly were mine.

"You will pardon me for manifesting a mild interest in what you are
doing to me," I said, "but you see I know that something is going to be
done to my right eye and inasmuch as that is the only eye I've got on
that side, I can't help being concerned."

"Now, you just forget it and take deep breaths, and say, Charlie, did
you see that case over in Ward 62? That was a wonderful case. The bullet
hit the man in the head and they took the lead out of his stomach. He's
got the bullet on the table beside him now. Talk about bullet
eaters--believe me, those Marines sure are."

I hurled myself back into the conversation.

"I'll take deep breaths if you'll loosen the straps over my chest," I
said, getting madder each minute. "How can I take a full breath when
you've got my lungs strapped down?"

"Well, how's that?" responded the conversational anesthetist, as he
loosened one of the straps. "Now, take one breath of fresh air--one
deep, long breath, now."

I turned my head to one side to escape the fumes from the stifling towel
over my face and made a frenzied gulp for fresh air. As I did so, one
large drop of ether fell on the table right in front of my nose and the
deep long breath I got had very little air in it. I felt I had been
tricked.

"You're pretty cute, old timer, aren't you?" I remarked to the
anesthetist for the purpose of letting him know that I was on to his
game, but either he didn't hear me, or he was too interested in telling
Charlie about his hopes and ambitions to be sent to the front with a
medical unit that worked under range of the guns. He returned to a
consideration of me with the following remark:

"All right, he's under now; where's the next one?"

"The hell I am," I responded hastily, as visions of knives and saws and
gimlets and brain chisels went through my mind. I had no intention or
desire of being conscious when the carpenters and plumbers started to
work on me.

I was completely ignored and the table started moving. We rolled across
the floor and there commenced a clicking under the back of my head, not
unlike the sound made when the barber lowers or elevates the head-rest
on his chair. The table rolled seemingly a long distance down a long
corridor and then came to the top of a slanting runway.

As I started riding the table down the runway I began to see that I was
descending an inclined tube which seemed to be filled with yellow
vapour. Some distance down, the table slowed up and we came to a stop in
front of a circular bulkhead in the tunnel.

There was a door in the centre of the bulkhead and in the centre of the
door there was a small wicket window which opened and two grotesquely
smiling eyes peered out at me. Those eyes inspected me from head to foot
and then, apparently satisfied, they twinkled and the wicket closed with
a snap. Then the door opened and out stepped a quaint and curious figure
with gnarled limbs and arms and a peculiar misshapen head, completely
covered with a short growth of black hair.

I laughed outright, laughed hilariously. I recognised the man. The last
time I had seen him was when he stepped out of a gas tank on the 18th
floor of an office building in Chicago where I was reclining at the time
in a dentist chair. He was the little gas demon who walked with me
through the Elysian fields the last time I had a tooth pulled.

"Well you poor little son-of-a-gun," I said, by way of greeting. "What
are you doing way over here in France? I haven't seen you for almost
two years, since that day back in Chicago."

The gas demon rolled his head from one side to the other and smiled, but
I can't remember what he said. My mental note-taking concluded about
there because the next memory I have is of complete darkness, and lying
on my back in a cramped position while a horse trampled on my left arm.

"Back off of there," I shouted, but the animal's hoofs didn't move. The
only effect my shouting had was to bring a soft hand into my right one,
and a sweet voice close beside me.

"You're all right, now," said the sweet voice, "just try to take a
little nap and you'll feel better."

Then I knew it was all over, that is, the operation was over, or
something was over. Anyhow my mind was working and I was in a position
where I wanted to know things again. I recall now, with a smile, that
the first things that passed through my mind were the threadbare
bromides so often quoted "Where am I?" I recall feeling the urge to say
something at least original, so I enquired:

"What place is this, and will you please tell me what day and time it
is?"

"This is the Military Base Hospital at Neuilly-sur-Seine just on the
outskirts of Paris, and it is about eleven o'clock in the morning and
to-day is Friday, June the seventh."

Then I went back to sleep with an etherised taste in my mouth like a
motorman's glove.



CHAPTER XVIII

GROANS, LAUGHS AND SOBS IN THE HOSPITAL


There were fourteen wounded American soldiers in my ward--all men from
the ranks and representing almost as many nationalistic extractions.
There was an Irishman, a Swede, an Italian, a Jew, a Pole, one man of
German parentage, and one man of Russian extraction. All of them had
been wounded at the front and all of them now had something nearer and
dearer to them than any traditions that might have been handed down to
them from a mother country--they had fought and bled and suffered for a
new country, _their_ new country.

Here in this ward was the new melting pot of America. Not the melting
pot of our great American cities where nationalistic quarters still
exist, but a greater fusion process from which these men had emerged
with unquestionable Americanism. They are the real and the new
Americans--born in the hell of battle.

One night as we lay there, we heard an automobile racing through a
street in this sleepy, warm little _faubourg_ of Paris. The motor was
sounding on its siren a call that was familiar to all of us. It was the
alarm of a night attack from the air. It meant that German planes had
crossed the front line and were on their way with death and destruction
for Paris.

A nurse entered the room and drew the curtains of the tall windows to
keep from our eyes the flash and the glitter of the shells that soon
began to burst in the sky above us as the aerial defences located on the
outer circle of the city began to erect a wall of bursting steel around
the French capital. We could hear the guns barking close by and
occasionally the louder boom that told us one of the German bombs had
landed. Particles of shrapnel began falling in the garden beneath the
windows of our ward and we could hear the rattle of the pieces on the
slate roof of a pavilion there. It is most unpleasant, it goes without
saying, to lie helpless on one's back and grapple with the realisation
that directly over your head--right straight above your eyes and
face--is an enemy airplane loaded with bombs. Many of us knew that those
bombs contained, some of them, more than two hundred pounds of melilite
and some of us had witnessed the terrific havoc they wrought when they
landed on a building. All of us knew, as the world knows, the particular
attraction that hospitals have for German bombs.

The aerial bombardment subsided after some ten or fifteen minutes and
soon we heard the motor racing back through the streets while a musician
in the car sounded on a bugle the "prologue" or the signal that the raid
was over. The invaders had been driven back. All of us in the ward tried
to sleep. But nerves tingled from this more or less uncomfortable
experience and wounds ached and burned. Sleep was almost out of the
question, and in the darkened ward I soon noticed the red glow of
cigarette after cigarette from bed to bed as the men sought to woo
relief with tobacco smoke.

We began to discuss a subject very near and very dear to all wounded
men. That is, what they are going to do as soon as they get out of the
hospital. It is known, of course, that the first consideration usually
is, to return to the front, but in many instances in our ward, this was
entirely out of the question.

So it was with Dan Bailey who occupied a bed two beds on my right. His
left leg was off above the knee. He lost it going over the top at
Cantigny.

"I know what I'm going to do when I get home," he said, "I am going to
get a job as an instructor in a roller skating rink."

In a bed on the other side of the ward was a young man with his right
arm off. His name was Johnson and he had been a musician. In time of
battle, musicians lay aside their trombones and cornets and go over the
top with the men, only they carry stretchers instead of rifles. Johnson
had done this. Something had exploded quite close to him and his entire
recollection of the battle was that he had awakened being carried back
on his own stretcher.

"I know where I can sure get work," he said, glancing down at the stump
of his lost arm. "I am going to sign up as a pitcher with the St. Louis
Nationals."

Days later when I looked on Johnson for the first time, I asked him if
he wasn't Irish, and he said no. Then I asked him where he lost his arm
and he replied, "At the yoint." And then I knew where he came from.

But concerning after-the-war occupations, I endeavoured that night to
contribute something in a similar vein to the general discussion, and I
suggested the possibility that I might return to give lessons on the
monocle.

The prize prospect, however, was submitted by a man who occupied a bed
far over in one corner of the room. He was the possessor of a
polysyllabic name--a name sprinkled with k's, s's and z's, with a
scarcity of vowels--a name that we could not pronounce, much less
remember. On account of his size we called him "Big Boy." His was a
peculiar story.

He had been captured by three Germans who were marching him back to
their line. In telling me the story Big Boy said, "Mr. Gibbons, I made
up my mind as I walked back with them that I might just as well be dead
as to spend the rest of the war studying German."

So he had struck the man on the right and the one on the left and had
downed both of them, but the German in back of him, got him with the
bayonet. A nerve centre in his back was severed by the slash of the
steel that extended almost from one shoulder to the other, and Big Boy
had fallen to the ground, his arms and legs powerless. Then the German
with the bayonet robbed him. Big Boy enumerated the loss to
me,--fifty-three dollars and his girl's picture.

Although paralysed and helpless, there was nothing down in the mouth
about Big Boy--indeed, he provided most of the fun in the ward. He had
an idea all of his own about what he was going to do after the war and
he let us know about it that night.

"All of you guys have told what you're going to do," he said, "now I'm
going to tell you the truth. I'm going back to that little town of mine
in Ohio and go down to the grocery store and sit there on a soap box on
the porch.

"Then I'm going to gather all the little boys in the neighbourhood round
about me and then I'm going to outlie the G. A. R."

There was one thing in that ward that nobody could lie about and that
was the twitches of pain we suffered in the mornings when the old
dressings of the day before were changed and new ones applied.

The doctor and his woman assistant who had charge of the surgical
dressings on that corridor would arrive in the ward shortly after
breakfast. They would be wheeling in front of them a rubber-tired,
white-enamelled vehicle on which were piled the jars of antiseptic
gauze and trays of nickel-plated instruments, which both the doctor and
his assistant would handle with rubber-gloved hands. In our ward that
vehicle was known as the "Agony Cart," and every time it stopped at the
foot of a bed you would be pretty sure to hear a groan or a stifled wail
in a few minutes.

We had various ways of expressing or suppressing the pain. You who have
had a particularly vicious mustard plaster jerked off that tender spot
in the back, right between the shoulders, have some small conception of
the delicate sensation that accompanies the removal of old gauze from a
healing wound.

Some of the men would grit their teeth and grunt, others would put their
wrists in their mouths and bite themselves during the operation. Some
others would try to keep talking to the doctor or the nurse while the
ordeal was in progress and others would just simply shout. There was
little satisfaction to be gained from these expressions of pain because
while one man was yelling the other thirteen in the ward were shouting
with glee and chaffing him, and as soon as his wounds had been redressed
he would join in the laughs at the expense of those who followed him.

There was a Jewish boy in the ward and he had a particularly painful
shell wound in his right leg. He was plucky about the painful treatment
and used to say to the doctor, "Don't mind me yelling, doc. I can't help
it, but you just keep right on."

The Jew boy's cry of pain as near as I can reproduce it went something
like this, "Oy! Oy!! Oy!!! YOY!!! Doctor!"

The Jew boy's clear-toned enunciation of this Yiddish lullaby, as the
rest of the ward called it, brought many a heartless, fiendish laugh
from the occupants of the other beds. We almost lost one of our
patients on account of that laugh. He nearly laughed himself to
death--in fact.

This near victim of uncontrollable risibilities was an Italian boy from
the East Side of New York. A piece of shrapnel had penetrated one of his
lungs and pleurisy had developed in the other one. It had become
necessary to operate on one of the lungs and tape it down. The boy had
to do his best to breathe with one lung that was affected by pleurisy.
Every breath was like the stab of a knife and it was quite natural that
the patient would be peevish and garrulous. The whole ward called him
the "dying Wop." But his name was Frank.

When the Jew boy would run the scale with his torture cry, the "dying
Wop" would be forced to forget his laboured breathing and give vent to
laughter. These almost fatal laughs sounded something like this:

"He! Hee!! Hee!!! (on a rising inflection and then much softer) Oh, Oh,
Oh! Stop him, stop him, stop him!" The "He-Hee's" were laughs, but the
"Oh-oh's" were excruciating pain.

Frank grew steadily worse and had to be removed from the ward. Weeks
afterward I went back to see him and found him much thinner and
considerably weaker. He occupied a bed on one of the pavilions in the
garden. He was still breathing out of that one lung and between gasps he
told me that six men had died in the bed next to him. Then he smiled up
at me with a look in his eyes that seemed to say, "But they haven't
croaked the 'dying Wop' yet."

"This here--hospital stuff----" Frank told me slowly, and between gasps,
"is the big fight after all. I know--I am fighting here--against
death--and am going to win out, too.

"I'm going to win out even though it is harder to fight--than
fighting--the Germans--up front. We Italians licked Hell out of them--a
million years ago. Old General Cæsar did it and he used to bring them
back to Rome and put 'em in white-wing suits on the streets."

For all his quaint knowledge of Cæsar's successes against the
progenitors of Kulturland of to-day, Frank was all American. Here was a
rough-cut young American from the streets of New York's Little Italy.
Here was a man who had almost made the supreme sacrifice. Here was a man
who, if he did escape death, faced long weakened years ahead. It
occurred to me that I would like to know, that it would be interesting
to know, in what opinion this wounded American soldier, the son of
uneducated immigrant parents, would hold the Chief Executive of the
United States, the man he would most likely personify as responsible for
the events that led up to his being wounded on the battlefield.

"Frank," I asked, "what do you think about the President of the United
States?"

He seemed to be considering for a minute, or maybe he was only waiting
to gather sufficient breath to make an answer. He had been lying with
his eyes directed steadfastly toward the ceiling. Now he turned his face
slowly toward me. His eyes, sunken slightly in their sockets, shone
feverishly. His pinched, hollow cheeks were still swarthy, but the
background of the white pillow made them look wan. Slowly he moistened
his lips, and then he said:

"Say--say--that guy--that guy's--got hair--on his chest."

That was the opinion of the "dying Wop."

After Frank's removal from our ward, the rest of us frequently sent
messages of cheer down to him. These messages were usually carried by a
young American woman who had a particular interest in our ward. Not
strange to say, she had donned a Red Cross nursing uniform on the same
day that most of us arrived in that ward. She was one of the American
women who brought us fruit, ice cream, candy and cigarettes. She wrote
letters for us to our mothers. She worked long hours, night and day, for
us. In her absence, one day, the ward went into session and voted her
its guardian angel. Out of modesty, I was forced to answer "Present"
instead of "Aye" to the roll-call. The Angel was and is my wife.

As Official Ward Angel it was among the wife's duties to handle the
matter of visitors, of which there were many. It seemed, during those
early days in June, that every American woman in France dropped whatever
war work she was doing and rushed to the American hospitals to be of
whatever service she could. And it was not easy work these women
accomplished. There was very little "forehead-rubbing" or "moving
picture nursing." Much of it was tile corridor scrubbing and pan
cleaning. They stopped at no tasks they were called upon to perform.
Many of them worked themselves sick during the long hours of that rush
period.

Sometimes the willingness, eagerness and sympathy of some of the
visitors produced humourous little incidents in our hospital life.
Nearly all of the women entering our ward would stop at the foot of "Big
Boy's" bed. They would learn of his paralysed condition from the chart
attached to the foot of the bed. Then they would mournfully shake their
heads and slowly pronounce the words "Poor boy."

And above all things in the world distasteful to Big Boy was that one
expression "Poor boy" because as soon as the kindly intentioned women
would leave the room, the rest of the ward would take up the "Poor boy"
chorus until Big Boy got sick of it. Usually, however, before leaving
the ward the woman visitor would take from a cluster of flowers on her
arm, one large red rose and this she would solemnly deposit on Big Boy's
defenceless chest.

Big Boy would smile up to her a look which she would accept and
interpret as one of deep, undying gratitude. The kindly-intentioned one
surrounding herself with that benediction that is derived from a sacred
duty well performed, would walk slowly from the room and as the door
would close behind her, Big Boy's gruff drawling voice would sing out in
a call for the orderly.

"Dan, remove the funeral decorations," he would order.

Dan Sullivan, our orderly, was the busiest man in the hospital. Big Boy
liked to smoke, but, being paralysed, he required assistance. At regular
intervals during the day the ward room door, which was close to Big
Boy's bed, would open slowly and through the gap four or six inches wide
the rest of the ward would get a glimpse of Dan standing in the opening
with his arms piled high with pots and utensils, and a cigarette hanging
from the corner of his mouth.

[Illustration: THE NEWS FROM THE STATES]

[Illustration: SMILING WOUNDED AMERICAN SOLDIERS]

With one hand he would extract the cigarette, insert hand and arm
through the opening in the door until it hovered above Big Boy's face.
Then the hand would descend and the cigarette would be inserted in Big
Boy's mouth just as you would stick a pin in a pin-cushion. Big Boy
would lie back comfortably and puff away like a Mississippi steamboat
for four or five minutes and then the door would open just a crack
again, the mysterious hand and arm would reach in once more and the
cigarette would be plucked out. That was the way Big Boy got his
"smokes."

If Big Boy's voice was gruff, there was still a gruffer voice that used
to come from a man in the corner of the ward to the left of my bed.
During the first four or five days I was an inmate of the ward, I was
most interested in all the voices I heard because I lay in total
darkness. The bandages extended down from the top of my head to my upper
lip, and I did not know whether or not I ever would see again. I would
listen carefully to all remarks within ear-shot, whether they be from
doctors, nurses or patients. I listened in the hope that from them I
might learn whether or not there was a possibility of my regaining
vision. But all of their remarks with regard to my condition were
ambiguous and unsatisfactory. But from this I gained a listening habit
and that was how I became particularly interested in the very gruff
voice that came from the corner on my left.

Other patients directing remarks into that corner would address them to
a man whom they would call by name "Red Shannahan." I was quick to
connect the gruff voice and the name "Red Shannahan," and as I had lots
of time and nothing else to do, I built up in my mind's eye a picture of
a tall, husky, rough and ready, tough Irishman, with red hair--a man of
whom it would be conceivable that he had wiped out some two or three
German regiments before they got him. To find out more about this
character, I called over to him one day.

"Red Shannahan, are you there?" I said.

"Yes, Mr. Gibbons, I'm here," came the reply, and I was immensely
surprised because it was not the gruff voice at all. It was the mild,
unchanged voice of a boy, a boy whose tones were still in the upper
register. The reply seemed almost girlish in comparison with the
gruffer tones of the other patients and I marvelled that the owner of
this polite, mannerly, high-pitched voice could be known by any such
name as "Red Shannahan." I determined upon further investigation.

"Red Shannahan, what work did you do before you became a United States
soldier?" I asked.

"Mr. Gibbons," came the reply, almost girlishly, "I am from Baltimore. I
drove the wagon for Mr. Bishop, the canary bird and gold fish man."

All that had happened to this canary bird fancier and gold fish tamer
was that he had killed two Germans and captured three before they got
him.

Among those who came to visit us in that ward, there appeared one day a
man I had not seen in many years. When I knew him last he had been a
sport-loving fellow-student of mine at college and one of the fastest,
hardest-fighting ends our 'Varsity football squad ever had. Knowing this
disposition of the man, I was quite surprised to see on the sleeve of
his khaki service uniform the red shield and insignia of the Knights of
Columbus.

I was well aware of the very valuable work done by this institution
wherever American soldiers are in France, but I could not imagine this
former college chum of mine being engaged in such work instead of being
in the service. He noticed my silence and he said, "Gib, do you remember
that game with the Indians on Thanksgiving Day?"

"Yes," I replied, "they hurt your leg that day."

"Yes," replied my old college mate, whom we might as well call MacDougal
inasmuch as that was not his name. "Yes, they took that leg away from me
three years later."

I knew then why MacDougal was with the K. C. and I wondered what
service he would perform in our ward in the name of his organisation. I
soon found out. Without introduction, MacDougal proceeded to the bedside
of Dan Bailey, the Infantryman with one leg off, who was lying in a bed
on my right. MacDougal walked back and forth two or three times past the
foot of Bailey's bed.

"How does that look?" he said to Bailey. "Do I walk all right?"

"Looks all right to me," replied Bailey; "what's the matter with you?"

MacDougal then began jumping, skipping and hopping up and down and
across the floor at the foot of Bailey's bed. Finishing these exercises
breathlessly, he again addressed himself to the sufferer with one leg.

"How did that look?" he said. "Did that look all right?"

"I don't see anything the matter with you," replied Bailey, "unless it
is that you're in the wrong ward."

Then MacDougal stood close by Bailey's bedside where the boy with one
leg could watch him closely. MacDougal took his cane and struck his own
right leg a resounding whack. And we all knew by the sound of the blow
that the leg he struck was wooden.

In that peculiar way did MacDougal bring into the life of Dan Bailey new
interest and new prospects. He proved to Dan Bailey that for the rest of
his life Dan Bailey with an artificial limb could walk about and jump
and skip and hop almost as well as people with two good legs. That was
the service performed by the Knights of Columbus in our ward.

There was one other organisation in that hospital that deserves mention.
It was the most exclusive little clique and rather inclined towards
snobbishness. I was a member of it. We used to look down on the
ordinary wounded cases that had two eyes. We enjoyed, either rightly or
wrongly, a feeling of superiority. Death comes mighty close when it
nicks an eye out of your head. All of the one-eyed cases and some of the
no-eyed cases received attention in one certain ward, and it was to this
ward after my release from the hospital that I used to go every day for
fresh dressings for my wounds. Every time I entered the ward a
delegation of one-eyed would greet me as a comrade and present me with a
petition. In this petition I was asked and urged to betake myself to the
hospital library, to probe the depths of the encyclopædias and from
their wordy innards tear out one name for the organisation of the
one-eyed. This was to be our life long club, they said, and the
insistence was that the name above all should be a "classy" name. So it
came to pass that after much research and debate one name was accepted
and from that time on we became known as the Cyclops Club.

A wonderful Philadelphia surgeon was in charge of the work in that ward.
Hundreds of American soldiers for long years after the war will thank
him for seeing. I thank him for my sight now. His name is Dr. Fewell.
The greatest excitement in the ward prevailed one day when one of the
doctor's assistants entered carrying several flat, hard wood cases, each
of them about a yard square. The cases opened like a book and were laid
flat on the table. Their interiors were lined with green velvet and
there on the shallow receptacles in the green velvet were just dozens of
eyes, gleaming unblinkingly up at us.

A shout went up and down the ward and the Cyclopians gathered around the
table. There was a grand grab right and left. Everybody tried to get a
handful. There was some difficulty reassorting the grabs. Of course, it
happened, that fellows that really needed blue or grey ones, managed to
get hold of black ones or brown ones, and some confusion existed while
they traded back and forth to match up proper colours, shades and sizes.

One Cyclopian was not in on the grab. In addition to having lost one
eye, he had received about a pound and a half of assorted hardware in
his back, and these flesh wounds confined him to his bed. He had been
sleeping and he suddenly awoke during the distribution of the glassware.
He apparently became alarmed with the thought that he was going to be
left out of consideration. I saw him sit bolt upright in bed as he
shouted clear across the ward:

"Hey, Doc, pass the grapes."

When it became possible for me to leave that hospital, I went to another
one three blocks away. This was a remarkable institution that had been
maintained by wealthy Americans living in France before the war. I was
assigned to a room on the third floor--a room adjoining a sun parlour,
overlooking a beautiful Old World garden with a lagoon, rustic bridges,
trees and shrubbery.

In early June, when that flood of American wounded had come back from
the Marne, it had become necessary to erect hospital ward tents in the
garden and there a number of our wounded were cared for. I used to
notice that every day two orderlies would carry out from one of the
small tents a small white cot on which there lay an American soldier.
They would place the cot on the green grass where the sunlight, finding
its way through the leafy branches of the tree, would shine down upon
the form of this young--this very young--fighter from the U. S. A.

He was just two months over seventeen years of age. He had deliberately
and patriotically lied one year on his age in order that he might go to
France and fight beneath our flag.

He was wounded, but his appearance did not indicate how badly. There
were no bandages about his head, arms or body. There was nothing to
suggest the severity of his injuries--nothing save his small round spot
on the side of his head where the surgeons had shaved away the
hair--just a small round spot that marked the place where a piece of
German hand-grenade had touched the skull.

This little fellow had forgotten everything. He could not remember--all
had slipped his mind save for the three or four lines of one little
song, which was the sole remaining memory that bridged the gap of four
thousand miles between him and his home across the sea.

Over and over again he would sing it all day long as he lay there on the
cot with the sunlight streaming all over him. His sweet boyish voice
would come up through the leafy branches to the windows of my room.

I frequently noticed my nurse standing there at the window listening to
him. Then I would notice that her shoulders would shake convulsively and
she would walk out of the room, wet eyed but silent. And the song the
little fellow sang was this:

    "Just try to picture me
    Back home in Tennessee,
    Right by my mother's knee
    She thinks the world of me.
    She will be there to meet me
    With a hug and kiss she'll greet me,
    When I get back, when I get back
    To my home in Tennessee."

American doctors and American nurses, both by their skill and care and
tenderness, nursed that little fellow back to complete recovery, made
him remember everything and shortly afterward, well and cured, he
started back, safe and sound, to his home in Tennessee.

Nothing I can ever say will overstate my estimation of the credit that
is deserved by our American doctors and nurses for the great work they
are doing. I am not alone in knowing this. I call to witness any
Canadian, Englishman or Frenchman, that, if he is wounded, when in the
ambulance, he usually voices one request, "Take me to an American
hospital."

I knew of one man who entered that United States Military Base Hospital
near Paris, with one bullet through the shoulder, another through an
arm, an eye shot out and a compound fracture of the skull, and those
American doctors and nurses by their attention and skilfulness made it
possible for him to step back into boots and breeches and walk out of
the hospital in ten days.

It so happens that I am somewhat familiar with the details in that case
because I am the man.



CHAPTER XIX

"JULY 18TH"--THE TURN OF THE TIDE


Through the steady growth of Marshal Foch's reserves, by the speedy
arrival of American forces, the fourth German offensive of 1918, the
personally directed effort launched by the Crown Prince on May 27th, had
been brought to a standstill.

The German thrust toward Paris had been stopped by the Americans at
Château-Thierry and in the Bois de Belleau. It would be an injustice not
to record the great part played in that fighting by the French Army
attacked, but it would be equally unjust not to specify as the French
have gallantly done, that it was the timely arrival of American strength
that swung the balance against the enemy. For the remainder of that
month of June and up to the middle of July, the fighting was considered
local in its character.

The German offensive had succeeded in pushing forward the enemy front
until it formed a loop extending southward from the Aisne to the Valley
of the Marne. This salient was called the Château-Thierry pocket. The
line ran southward from a point east of Soissons to Château-Thierry,
where it touched the Marne, thence eastward along both sides of the
river to the vicinity of Oeuilly where it recrossed the Marne and
extended northward to points beyond Rheims.

Château-Thierry was thus the peak of the German push--the apex of the
triangle pointing toward Paris. The enemy supplied its forces in this
peak principally by the road that ran southward from Soissons and
touched the Marne at Château-Thierry. To the west of this road and just
south of the city of Soissons, is the forest of Villers-Cotterets. The
enemy occupied the northern and eastern limits of the forest and the
remainder of it was in the hands of the French.

This forest has always been considered one of the sentinels of Paris. It
was located on the right flank of the German salient. It was a menace to
that flank, and offered a most attractive opportunity for an Allied
counter offensive from that direction. The Germans were not unmindful of
this.

The enemy knew that in the forest of Villers-Cotterets it would be
possible for Marshal Foch to mobilise his much-feared reserves by taking
advantage of the natural screen provided by the forest. That Foch
reserve still remained a matter for enemy consideration in spite of the
fact that the successive German offensive since March 21st had met with
considerable success with regard to the acquisition of territory. The
Germans, however, had been unable to ascertain whether Foch had been
forced to bring his reserves into the fight.

The situation demanded a full realisation by the enemy of the possible
use of this reserve at any time and they knew that their lines in
Villers-Cotterets Forest offered an ever present invitation for the
sudden application of this reserve strength. Their lines at that point
were necessarily weak by the superiority of the Allied position and, as
a consequence, the Germans guarded this weak spot by holding in reserve
behind the line a number of divisions of the Prussian Guard.

For the same reason, the enemy maintained constant observation of the
French position. Their planes would fly over the forest every day taking
photographs. They sought to discover any evidences indicating that Foch
might be preparing to strike a blow from that place. They made careful
note of the traffic along the roads through the forest. They maintained
a careful watch to ascertain whether new ammunition dumps were being
concealed under the trees. Their observers tried to ascertain whether
any additional hospital arrangements had been made by the French at that
point. Any of these things would have indicated that the French were
preparing to strike through the forest but the Germans found nothing to
support their suspicions.

Nevertheless, they maintained their lines at maximum strength. A belief
existed among the German High Command that an attack might be made on
July 4th, out of consideration to American sentiment. When the attack
did not develop on that day, they then thought that the French might
possibly spring the blow on July 14th, in celebration of their own
national fête day. And again they were disappointed in their surmises.

This protracted delay of an impending blow worried the enemy. The
Germans realised full well that they were fighting against time. Their
faith in the capacity of their submarines to prevent American strength
from reaching the line, had been abandoned. They now knew that every day
that passed meant just that many more American soldiers arriving in
France, and the consequent strengthening of the Allied forces during a
season when the Germans, through their repeated offensives, were
suffering terrible losses and were consequently growing weaker.

So, on July 14th, when the Allied counter-offensive had still failed to
materialise, the German forces, by the necessity for time, moved to a
sudden and faulty decision. They convinced themselves that they had
overestimated the Allied strength. They accepted the belief that the
reason Foch had not attacked was because he did not have sufficient
strength to attack. With this, then, as a basis for their plans, they
immediately launched another offensive, hoping that this might be the
one in which they could deliver the final blow.

This action began on Monday morning, July 15th, and extended from
Château-Thierry eastward along the valley of the Maine, northward to
Rheims and thence eastward. By a remarkable coup, one small patrol of
French and Americans deprived the enemy of the element of surprise in
the attack. On the morning of the previous day, this patrol successfully
raided the enemy lines to the east of Rheims and brought back prisoners
from whom it was learned that the Germans intended striking on the
following morning. The objectives of the offensive were the French
cities of Épernay and Châlons. The accomplishment of this effort would
have placed the Rheims salient in the hands of the enemy and brought the
German lines southward to positions straddling the Marne, down the
valley of which they would thus be able to launch another offensive on a
straight road to Paris.

The Germans needed considerable strength for this new effort. To muster
the shock divisions necessary for the attack, they had to weaken their
lines elsewhere. The first reserves that they drew for this offensive
were the Prussian Guard divisions which they had been holding in
readiness in back of the weak spot in their line in the
Villers-Cotterets Forest. Those divisions were hurriedly transported
across the base of the V-shaped salient and thrown into the attack to
the east and the southwest of Rheims.

The Germans found the Allied line prepared to receive them. Their
attacking waves were mowed down with terrific machine gun fire from
French and American gunners, while at the same time heavy artillery
barrages played upon the German back areas with deadly effect in the
massed ranks of the reserves. The fighting was particularly vicious. It
was destined to be the Germans' last action of a grand offensive nature
in the entire war.

On the line east of Rheims, the German assault was particularly strong
in one sector where it encountered the sturdy ranks of the Rainbow
Division of United States National Guardsmen, drawn from a dozen or more
different states in the Union. Regiments from Alabama and New York held
the front line. Iowa and Ohio were close in support. In the support
positions, sturdy youngsters from Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota
manned the American artillery.

The French general commanding the sector had not considered it possible
that this comparatively small American force could withstand the first
onslaught of the Germans. He had made elaborate plans for a withdrawal
to high ground two or three miles southward, from which he hoped to be
able to resist the enemy to greater advantage. But all day long, through
the 15th and the 16th and the 17th of July, those American lines held,
and the advancing waves of German storm troops melted before our guns.
Anticipating a renewal of the attack on the next day, General Gouraud
issued an order on the evening of July 17th. It read:

"_To the French and American Soldiers of the Army._

  "We may be attacked from one moment to another. You all feel that a
  defensive battle was never engaged in under more favourable
  conditions. We are warned, and we are on our guard. We have
  received strong reinforcements of infantry and artillery. You will
  fight on ground, which, by your assiduous labour, you have
  transformed into a formidable fortress, into a fortress which is
  invincible if the passages are well guarded.

  "The bombardment will be terrible. You will endure it without
  weakness. The attack in a cloud of dust and gas will be fierce but
  your positions and your armament are formidable.

  "The strong and brave hearts of free men beat in your breast. None
  will look behind, none will give way. Every man will have but one
  thought--'Kill them, kill them in abundance, until they have had
  enough.' And therefore your General tells you it will be a glorious
  day."

And so the line held, although the French General had in preparation the
plans for withdrawal. When, at the end of the third day, the American
line still occupied the same position, the French General found that his
labour in preparing the plans for withdrawal had been for nothing. He is
reported to have thrown his hands up in the air and remarked, "There
doesn't seem to be anything to do but to let the war be fought out where
the New York Irish and the Alabamans want to fight it."

There was one humorous incident worthy of record in that fighting. Great
rivalry existed between the New York regiment and the Alabama regiment,
both of which happened to be units of the same brigade. Both the New
Yorkers and the Alabamans had a mutual hatred for the German but, in
addition to that, each of them was possessed with a mutual dislike for
the other. There had been frequent clashes of a more or less
sportsmanlike and fistic nature between men from both of the regiments.

On the second day of the fighting, the Germans had sent over low-flying
airplanes which skimmed the tops of our trenches and sprayed them with
machine gun fire. A man from Alabama, who had grown up from childhood
with a squirrel rifle under his arm, accomplished something that had
never been done before in the war. From his position in a trench, he
took careful aim with his rifle and brought down one of the German
planes. It was the first time in the history of the Western Front that a
rifleman on the ground had done this.

When the colonel of the New York regiment heard this, he was wild with
envy and let it be known that there would be trouble brewing unless his
regiment at least equalled the feat. So, on the following day, an
Irishman in the ranks stood up and brought one German plane down to the
credit of the old Sixty-ninth.

       *       *       *       *       *

To the southwest of Rheims, Germans, who succeeded in breaking through
the lines at one place on the south banks of the Marne, encountered
American reinforcements and were annihilated to the number of five
thousand. At no place did the enemy meet with the success desired.

The Germans had launched their attack at six o'clock on the morning of
July 15th. At Vaux their demonstration was considered a feint, but along
the Marne to the east of Château-Thierry, between Fossy and Mezy, the
assaulting waves advanced with fury and determination. At one place,
twenty-five thousand of the enemy crossed the river, and the small
American forces in front of them at that place were forced to retire on
Conde-en-Bire. In a counter attack, we succeeded in driving fifteen
thousand of them back to the north bank, the remaining ten thousand
representing casualties with the exception of fifteen hundred, who were
captured.

Further eastward, the Germans established bridgehead positions on the
south bank of the river at Dormas. The enemy enjoyed a minor success in
an attack on the line near Bligny to the southwest of Rheims, where
Italian troops fought with remarkable valour. Everywhere else the lines
held solid and upon the close of that first night, Marshal Foch said, "I
am satisfied--_Je suis content_."

At dawn the following day, the enemy's futile efforts were resumed along
the river east of Château-Thierry. The Germans suffered appalling losses
in their efforts to place pontoon bridges at Gland and at
Mareuil-le-Port. St. Agnan and La Chapelle Monthodon fell into the hands
of Americans on the same day.

On the 17th, the enemy's endeavours to reach Festigny on both banks of
the river came to naught, but to the southeast of Rheims, his assaulting
waves reached the northern limits of Montagne Forest. The Germans were
trying to pinch out the Rheims salient. This was the condition of the
opposing lines on the night of July 17th,--the night that preceded the
day on which the tide of victory turned for the Allies.

Foch was now ready to strike. The Allied Commander-in-Chief had decided
to deliver his blow on the right flank of the German salient. The line
chosen for the Allied assault was located between a point south of
Soissons and Château-Thierry. It represented a front of some twenty-five
miles extending southward from the valley of the Aisne to the Marne.
Villers-Cotterets Forest was the key position for the Allies.

It was from out that forest that the full strength of the blow was to
be delivered. To make the blow effective at that most vital point,
Marshal Foch needed a strong and dependable assaulting force. He needed
three divisions of the hardest fighting soldiers that he could get. He
had a considerable army to select from. As Commander-in-Chief of all the
Allied armies, he was in command of all of the British army, all of the
French army, all of the American army, the Italian, the Belgian,--all of
the military forces of the Allied nations of the world. Marshal Foch's
command numbered eleven million bayonets.

The Commander-in-Chief had all of these veteran fighting men from which
he could select the three divisions necessary to deliver this blow upon
which the civilisation of the world depended.

The first division he chose was the Foreign Legion of the French army.
In four years of bloody fighting, the Foreign Legion, composed of
soldiers of fortune from every country in the world, had never been
absent in an attack. It had lived up thoroughly to its reputation as the
most fearless unit of shock troops in the French army.

And then for the other two divisions that were needed, Marshal Foch
selected, from all the eleven million men under his command, the First
and the Second Regular United States Army Divisions. The Second Division
included the immortal Brigade of United States Marines, that had covered
themselves with glory in the Bois de Belleau.

It was a great distinction for those two American divisions to have thus
been selected to play such a vital part in the entire war. It was an
honour that every officer and man in both divisions felt keenly.

I have in my map case a torn and much folded little piece of paper. I
received it that night of July 17th in Villers-Cotterets Forest. A
similar piece of paper was received by every officer in those two
American divisions. To me this piece of paper represents the order which
resulted in victory for the Allied world. It reads:

 _Headquarters Third Army Corps American Expeditionary Forces_,

              _France, July 17, 1918_

_Memorandum_:

  The Third Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces has been
  created and consists of the 1st. and 2nd. Divisions, two divisions
  that are known throughout France.

  Officers and men of the Third Corps, you have been deemed worthy to
  be placed beside the best veteran French troops. See that you prove
  worthy. Remember that in what is now coming you represent the whole
  American nation.

                                              R. L. BULLARD,
                                                 Major General,
                                           Commanding 3rd. Corps.

       *       *       *       *       *

The German planes flying high over Villers-Cotterets Forest all day
during the 17th, had seen nothing. The appearance of all the myriad
roads that cross and recross the forest in all directions was normal.
But that night things began to happen in the forest.

For once at least, the elements were favourable to our cause. There was
no moon. The night was very dark and under the trees the blackness
seemed impenetrable. A heavy downpour of rain began and although it
turned most of the roads into mud, the leafy roof of the forest held
much of the moisture and offered some protection to the thousands of
men who spent the night beneath it. Thunder rolled as I had never heard
it roll in France before. The sound drowned the occasional boom of
distant cannon. At intervals, terrific crashes would be followed by
blinding flashes of lightning as nature's bolts cut jagged crevices in
the sombre sky and vented their fury upon some splintered giant of the
forest.

The immediate front was silent--comparatively silent if one considered
the din of the belligerent elements. In the opposing front lines in the
northern and eastern limits of the forest, German and Frenchmen alike
huddled in their rude shelters to escape the rain.

Then, along every road leading through the forest to the north and to
the east, streams of traffic began to pour. All of it was moving forward
toward the front. No traffic bound for the rear was permitted. Every
inch of available road space was vitally necessary for the forces in
movement. The roads that usually accommodated one line of vehicles
moving forward and one line moving to the rear, now represented two
streams--solid streams--moving forward. In those streams were gun
carriages, caissons, limbers, ammunition carts and grunting tractors
hauling large field pieces.

In the gutters on either side of the road, long lines of American
infantry plodded forward through the mud and darkness. In the occasional
flash of a light, I could see that they were equipped for heavy
fighting. Many of them had their coats off, their sleeves rolled up,
while beads of sweat stood out on the young faces that shown eager
beneath the helmets. On their backs they carried, in addition to their
cumbersome packs, extra shoes and extra bandoliers of cartridges.

From their shoulders were suspended gas masks and haversacks. Their
waists were girded with loaded ammunition belts, with bayonet hanging at
the left side. Some of them wore grenade aprons full of explosives.
Nearly all of them carried their rifles or machine gun parts slung
across their backs as they leaned forward under their burdens and
plunged wearily on into the mud and darkness, the thunder and lightning,
the world destiny that was before them. Their lines were interspersed
with long files of plodding mules dragging small, two-wheeled, narrow
gauge carts loaded down with machine gun ammunition.

Under the trees to either side of the road, there was more movement.
American engineers struggled forward through the underbrush carrying, in
addition to their rifles and belts, rolls of barbed wire, steel posts,
picks and shovels and axes and saws. Beside them marched the swarthy,
undersized, bearded veterans of the Foreign Legion. Further still under
the trees, French cavalry, with their lances slung slantwise across
their shoulders, rode their horses in and out between the giant trunks.

At road intersections, I saw mighty metal monsters with steel plated
sides splotched with green and brown and red paint. These were the
French tanks that were to take part in the attack. They groaned and
grunted on their grinding gears as they manoeuvred about for safer
progress. In front of each tank there walked a man who bore suspended
from his shoulders on his back, a white towel so that the unseen
directing genius in the tank's turret could steer his way through the
underbrush and crackling saplings that were crushed down under the tread
of this modern Juggernaut.

There was no confusion, no outward manifestations of excitement. There
was no rattle of musketry, shouting of commands or waving of swords.
Officers addressed their men in whispers. There was order and quiet save
for the roll of thunder and the eternal dripping of water from the wet
leaves, punctuated now and then by the ear-splitting crashes that
followed each nearby flash of lightning.

Through it all, everything moved. It was a mighty mobilisation in the
dark. Everything was moving in one direction--forward--all with the same
goal, all with the same urging, all with the same determination, all
with the same hope. The forest was ghostly with their forms. It seemed
to me that night in the damp darkness of Villers-Cotterets Forest that
every tree gave birth to a man for France.

All night long the gathering of that sinister synod continued. All night
long those furtive forces moved through the forest. They passed by every
road, by every lane, through every avenue of trees. I heard the
whispered commands of the officers. I heard the sloshing of the mud
under foot and the occasional muffled curse of some weary marcher who
would slip to the ground under the weight of his burden; and I knew, all
of us knew, that at the zero hour, 4:35 o'clock in the morning, all hell
would land on the German line, and these men from the trees would move
forward with the fate of the world in their hands.

There was some suspense. We knew that if the Germans had had the
slightest advance knowledge about that mobilisation of Foch's reserves
that night, they would have responded with a downpour of gas shells,
which spreading their poisonous fumes under the wet roof of the forest,
might have spelt slaughter for 70,000 men.

But the enemy never knew. They never even suspected. And at the tick of
4:35 A. M., the heavens seemed to crash asunder, as tons and tons of hot
metal sailed over the forest, bound for the German line.

That mighty artillery eruption came from a concentration of all the guns
of all calibres of all the Allies that Foch could muster. It was a
withering blast and where it landed in that edge of the forest occupied
by the Germans, the quiet of the dripping black night was suddenly
turned into a roaring inferno of death.

Giant tree trunks were blown high into the air and splintered into
match-wood. Heavy projectiles bearing delayed action fuses, penetrated
the ground to great depth before exploding and then, with the expansion
of their powerful gases, crushed the enemy dugouts as if they were egg
shells.

Then young America--your sons and your brothers and your husbands,
shoulder to shoulder with the French--went over the top to victory.

The preliminary barrage moved forward crashing the forest down about it.
Behind it went the tanks ambling awkwardly but irresistibly over all
obstructions. Those Germans that had not been killed in the first
terrific blast, came up out of their holes only to face French and
American bayonets, and the "Kamerad" chorus began at once.

Our assaulting waves moved forward, never hesitating, never faltering.
Ahead of them were the tanks giving special attention to enemy machine
gun nests that manifested stubbornness. We did not have to charge those
death-dealing nests that morning as we did in the Bois de Belleau. The
tanks were there to take care of them. One of these would move toward a
nest, flirt around it several minutes and then politely sit on it. It
would never be heard from thereafter.

It was an American whirlwind of fighting fury that swept the Germans in
front of it early that morning. Aeroplanes had been assigned to hover
over the advance and make reports on all progress. A dense mist hanging
over the forest made it impossible for the aviators to locate the
Divisional Headquarters to which they were supposed to make the reports.
These dense clouds of vapour obscured the earth from the eyes of the
airmen, but with the rising sun the mists lifted.

Being but a month out of the hospital and having spent a rather
strenuous night, I was receiving medical attention at daybreak in front
of a dressing station not far from the headquarters of Major General
Harbord commanding the Second Division. As I lay there looking up
through the trees, I saw a dark speck diving from the sky. Almost
immediately I could hear the hum of its motors growing momentarily
louder as it neared the earth. I thought the plane was out of control
and expected to see it crash to the ground near me.

Several hundred feet above the tree tops, it flattened its wings and
went into an easy swoop so that its under-gear seemed barely to skim the
uppermost branches. The machine pursued a course immediately above one
of the roads. Something dropped from it. It was a metal cylinder that
glistened in the rays of the morning sun. Attached to it was a long
streamer of fluttering white material. It dropped easily to the ground
nearby. I saw an American signalman, who had been following its descent,
pick it up. He opened the metal container and extracted the message
containing the first aerial observations of the advance of the American
lines. It stated that large numbers of prisoners had been captured and
were bound for the rear.

Upon receipt of this information, Division Headquarters moved forward on
the jump. Long before noon General Harbord, close behind his advancing
troops, opened headquarters in the shattered farm buildings of Verte
Feuille, the first community centre that had been taken by our men that
morning. Prisoners were coming back in droves.

I encountered one column of disarmed Germans marching four abreast with
the typical attitude of a "Kamerad" procession. The first eight of the
prisoners carried on their shoulders two rudely constructed litters made
from logs and blankets. A wounded American was on one litter and a
wounded Frenchman on the other.

A number of German knapsacks had been used to elevate the shoulders of
both of the wounded men so that they occupied positions half sitting and
half reclining. Both of them were smoking cigarettes and chatting gaily
as they rode high and mighty on the shoulders of their captives, while
behind them stretched a regal retinue of eight hundred more.

As this column proceeded along one side of the road, the rest of the
roadway was filled with men, guns and equipment all moving forward.
Scottish troops in kilts swung by and returned the taunts which our men
laughingly directed at their kilts and bare knees.

Slightly wounded Americans came back guarding convoys of prisoners. They
returned loaded with relics of the fighting. It was said that day that
German prisoners had explained that in their opinion, the British were
in the war because they hated Germany and that the French were in the
war because the war was in France, but that Americans seemed to be
fighting to collect souveniers.

I saw one of these American souvenier collectors bound for the rear. In
stature he was one of the shortest men I had ever seen in our uniform.
He must have spent long years in the cavalry, because he was frightfully
bowlegged. He was herding in front of him two enormous German prisoners
who towered head and shoulders above him.

He manifested a confidence in his knowledge of all prisoners and things
German. Germans were "foreigners." "Foreigners" spoke a foreign
language. Therefore to make a German understand you, it was only
necessary to speak with them in a foreign language. French was a foreign
language so the bowlegged American guard made use of his limited
knowledge.

"Allay! Allay! Allay veet t'ell outer here," he urged his charges.

He was wearing his helmet back on his head so that there was exposed a
shock of black, blood-matted hair on his forehead. A white bandage ran
around his forehead and on the right side of his face a strip of cotton
gauze connected with another white bandage around his neck. There was a
red stain on the white gauze over the right cheek.

His face was rinsed with sweat and very dirty. In one hand he carried a
large chunk of the black German war bread--once the property of his two
prisoners. With his disengaged hand he conveyed masses of the food to
his lips which were circled with a fresco of crumbs.

His face was wreathed in a remarkable smile--a smile of satisfaction
that caused the corners of his mouth to turn upward toward his eyes. I
also smiled when I made a casual inventory of the battlefield loot with
which he had decorated his person. Dangling by straps from his right hip
were five holsters containing as many German automatic pistols of the
Lueger make, worth about $35 apiece. Suspended from his right shoulder
by straps to his left hip, were six pairs of highly prized German field
glasses, worth about $100 apiece. I acquired a better understanding of
his contagious smile of property possession when I inquired his name and
his rank. He replied:

"Sergeant Harry Silverstein."

Later, attracted by a blast of extraordinary profanity, I approached one
of our men who was seated by the roadside. A bullet had left a red
crease across his cheek but this was not what had stopped him. The
hobnail sole of his shoe had been torn off and he was trying to fasten
it back on with a combination of straps. His profane denunciations
included the U. S. Quartermaster Department, French roads, barbed wire,
hot weather and, occasionally, the Germans.

"This sure is a hell of a mess," he said, "for a fellow to find himself
in this fix just when I was beginning to catch sight of 'em. I enlisted
in the army to come to France to kill Germans but I never thought for
one minute they'd bring me over here and try to make me run 'em to
death. What we need is greyhounds. And as usual the Q. M. fell down
again. Why, there wasn't a lassoe in our whole company."

       *       *       *       *       *

The prisoners came back so fast that the Intelligence Department was
flooded. The divisional intelligence officer asked me to assist in the
interrogation of the captives. I questioned some three hundred of them.

An American sergeant who spoke excellent German, interrogated. I sat
behind a small table in a field and the sergeant would call the
prisoners forward one by one. In German he asked one captive what branch
of the service he belonged to. The prisoner wishing to display his
knowledge of English and at the same time give vent to some pride,
replied in English.

"I am of the storm troop," he said.

"Storm troop?" replied the American sergeant, "do you know what we are?
We are from Kansas. We are Cycloners."

Another German student of English among the prisoners was represented in
the person of a pompous German major, who, in spite of being a captive,
maintained all the dignity of his rank. He stood proudly erect and held
his head high. He wore a disgusted look on his face, as though the
surroundings were painful. His uniform was well pressed, his linen was
clean, his boots were well polished, he was clean shaven. There was not
a speck of dust upon him and he did not look like a man who had gone
through the hell of battle that morning. The American sergeant asked him
in German to place the contents of his pockets on the table.

"I understand English," he replied superciliously, with a strong accent,
as he complied with the request. I noticed, however, that he neglected
to divest himself of one certain thing that caught my interest. It was a
leather thong that extended around his neck and disappeared between the
first and second buttons of his tunic. Curiosity forced me to reach
across the table and extract the hidden terminal of that thong. I found
suspended on it the one thing in all the world that exactly fitted me
and that I wanted. It was a one-eyed field glass. I thanked him.

He told me that he had once been an interne in a hospital in New York
but happening to be in Germany at the outbreak of the war, he had
immediately entered the army and had risen to the rank of a major in the
Medical Corps. I was anxious for his opinion, obvious as it might have
seemed.

"What do you think of the fighting capacity of the American soldier?" I
asked him.

"I do not know," he replied in the accented but dignified tones of a
superior who painfully finds himself in the hands of one considered
inferior. "I have never seen him fight. He is persuasive--yes.

"I was in a dugout with forty German wounded in the cellar under the
Beaurepaire Farm, when the terrible bombardment landed. I presume my
gallant comrades defending the position died at their posts, because
soon the barrage lifted and I walked across the cellar to the bottom of
the stairs and looked up.

"There in the little patch of white light on the level of the ground
above me, I saw the first American soldier I have seen in the war. But
he did not impress me much as a soldier. I did not like his carriage or
his bearing.

"He wore his helmet far back on his head. And he did not have his coat
on. His collar was not buttoned; it was rolled back and his throat was
bare. His sleeves were rolled up to the elbow. And he had a grenade in
each hand.

"Just then he looked down the stairs and saw me--saw me standing
there--saw me, a major--and he shouted roughly, 'Come out of there, you
big Dutch B----d, or I'll spill a basketful of these on you.'"

All through that glorious day of the 18th, our lines swept forward
victoriously. The First Division fought it out on the left, the Foreign
Legion in the centre and the Second Division with the Marines pushed
forward on the right. Village after village fell into our hands. We
captured batteries of guns and thousands of prisoners.

On through the night the Allied assault continued. Our men fought
without water or food. All road space behind the lines was devoted to
the forwarding of reserves, artillery and munitions. By the morning of
the 19th, we had so far penetrated the enemy's lines that we had crossed
the road running southward from Soissons to Château-Thierry, thereby
disrupting the enemy's communications between his newly established base
and the peak of his salient. Thus exposed to an enveloping movement that
might have surrounded large numbers, there was nothing left for the
Germans to do but to withdraw.

The Allied army commander, who directed the Americans on that glorious
day, was General Joseph Mangin. His opinion of the immortal part played
on that day by those two American divisions may be seen in the following
order which he caused to be published:

_Officers, Noncommissioned Officers, and Soldiers of the American Army_:

  Shoulder to shoulder with your French comrades, you threw yourselves
  into the counter-offensive begun on July 18th. You ran to it as if
  going to a feast. Your magnificent dash upset and surprised the
  enemy, and your indomitable tenacity stopped counter attacks by his
  fresh divisions. You have shown yourselves to be worthy sons of your
  great country and have gained the admiration of your brothers in
  arms.

  Ninety-one cannon, 7,200 prisoners, immense booty, and ten
  kilometres of reconquered territory are your share of the trophies
  of this victory. Besides this, you have acquired a feeling of your
  superiority over the barbarian enemy against whom the children of
  liberty are fighting. To attack him is to vanquish him.

  American comrades, I am grateful to you for the blood you generously
  spilled on the soil of my country. I am proud of having commanded
  you during such splendid days and to have fought with you for the
  deliverance of the world.

The Germans began backing off the Marne. From that day on, their
movement to date has continued backward. It began July 18th. Two
American Divisions played glorious parts in the crisis. It was their
day. It was America's day. It was the turn of the tide.



CHAPTER XX

THE DAWN OF VICTORY


The waited hour had come. The forced retreat of the German hordes had
begun. Hard on their heels, the American lines started their northward
push, backing the Boche off the Marne.

On the morning of July 21st I rode into Château-Thierry with the first
American soldiers to enter the town. The Germans had evacuated
hurriedly. Château-Thierry was reoccupied jointly by our forces and
those of the French.

Here was the grave of German hopes. Insolent, imperialistic longings for
the great prize, Paris, ended here. The dream of the Kultur conquest of
the world had become a nightmare of horrible realisation that America
was in the war. Pompously flaunted strategy crumpled at historic
Château-Thierry.

That day of the occupation, the wrecked city was comparatively quiet.
Only an occasional German shell--a final parting spite shell--whined
disconsolately overhead and landed in a cloud of dust and débris in some
vacant ruin that had once been a home.

For seven long weeks the enemy had been in occupation of that part of
the city on the north bank of the river. Now the streets were littered
with débris. Although the walls of most of the buildings seemed to be in
good shape, the scene was one of utter devastation.

The Germans had built barricades across the streets--particularly the
streets that led down to the river--because it was those streets that
were swept with the terrific fire of American machine guns. At the
intersections of those streets the Germans under cover of night had
taken up the cobblestones and built parapets to protect them from the
hail of lead.

Wrecked furniture was hip deep on the Rue Carnot. Along the north bank
of the river on the Quai de la Poterne and the Promenade de la Levée,
the invader had left his characteristic mark. Shop after shop had been
looted of its contents and the fronts of the pretty sidewalk cafés along
this business thoroughfare had been reduced to shells of their former
selves.

Not a single living being was in sight as we marched in. Some of the old
townsfolk and some young children had remained but they were still under
cover. Among these French people who had lived for seven weeks through
the hell of battle that had raged about the town, was Madame de Prey,
who was eighty-seven years old. To her, home meant more than life. She
had spent the time in her cellar, caring for German wounded.

The town had been systematically pillaged. The German soldiers had
looted from the shops much material which they had made up into packages
to be mailed back to home folks in the Fatherland. The church, strangely
enough, was picked out as a depository for their larcenies. Nothing from
the robes of the priests down to the copper faucet of a water pipe had
escaped their greed.

The advancing Americans did not linger in the town--save for small
squads of engineers that busied themselves with the removal of the
street obstructions and the supply organisations that perfected
communication for the advancing lines. These Americans were Yankees
all--they comprised the 26th U. S. Division, representing the National
Guard of New England.

Our lines kept pushing to the north. The Germans continued their
withdrawal and the Allied necessity was to keep contact with them. This,
the Yankee Division succeeded in doing. The first obstacle encountered
to the north of Château-Thierry was the stand that the Germans made at
the town of Epieds.

On July 23rd, our infantry had proceeded up a ravine that paralleled the
road into Epieds. German machine guns placed on the hills about the
village, swept them with a terrible fire. Our men succeeded in reaching
the village, but the Germans responded with such a terrific downpour of
shell that our weakened ranks were forced to withdraw and the Germans
re-entered the town.

On the following day we renewed the attack with the advantage of
positions which we had won during the night in the Bois de Trugny and
the Bois de Châtelet. We advanced from three sides and forced the
Germans to evacuate. Trugny, the small village on the edge of the woods,
was the scene of more bloody fighting which resulted in our favour.

Further north of Epieds, the Germans having entrenched themselves along
the roadway, had fortified the same with a number of machine guns which
commanded the flat terrain in such a way as to make a frontal attack by
infantry waves most costly. The security of the Germans in this position
received a severe shock when ten light automobiles, each one mounting
one or two machine guns, started up the road toward the enemy, firing as
they sped. It was something new. The Germans wanted to surrender, but
the speed of the cars obviated such a possibility. So the enemy fled
before our gasoline cavalry.

The Germans were withdrawing across the river Ourcq, whose valley is
parallel to that of the Marne and just to the north. The enemy's
intentions of making a stand here were frustrated by violent attacks,
which succeeded in carrying our forces into positions on the north side
of the Ourcq. These engagements straightened out the Allied line from
the Ourcq on the west to Fère-en-Tardenois on the east, which had been
taken the same day by French and American troops.

By this time the German withdrawal was becoming speedier. Such strong
pressure was maintained by our men against the enemy's rear guards that
hundreds of tons of German ammunition had to be abandoned and fell into
our hands. Still the retreat bore no evidences of a rout.

The enemy retired in orderly fashion. He bitterly contested every foot
of ground he was forced to give. The American troops engaged in those
actions had to fight hard for every advance. The German backed out of
the Marne salient as a Western "bad man" would back out of a saloon with
an automatic pistol in each hand.

Those charges that our men made across the muddy flats of the Ourcq
deserve a place in the martial history of America. They faced a
veritable hell of machine gun fire. They went through barrages of
shrapnel and high explosive shell. They invaded small forests that the
enemy had flooded with poison gas. No specific objectives were assigned.
The principal order was "Up and at 'em" and this was reinforced by every
man's determination to keep the enemy on the run now that they had been
started.

Even the enemy's advantage of high positions north of the river failed
to hold back the men from New York, from Iowa, Alabama, Ohio, Illinois,
Minnesota and Indiana, who had relieved the hard fighting Yankees. These
new American organisations went up against fresh German divisions that
had been left behind with orders to hold at all cost. But nothing the
enemy could do could prevent our crossing of the Ourcq.

On July 30th the fighting had become most intense in character. The fact
that the town of Sergy was captured, lost and recaptured nine times
within twenty-four hours, is some criterion of the bitterness of the
struggle. This performance of our men can be better understood when it
is stated that the enemy opposing them there consisted of two fresh
divisions of the Kaiser's finest--his Prussian Guard.

After that engagement with our forces, the Fourth Prussian Guard
Division went into an enforced retirement. When our men captured Sergy
the last time, they did so in sufficient strength to withhold it against
repeated fierce counter attacks by a Bavarian Guard division that had
replaced the wearied Prussians.

But before the crack Guard Division was withdrawn from the line, it had
suffered terrible losses at our hands. Several prisoners captured said
that their company had gone into the fight one hundred and fifty strong
and only seven had survived. That seven were captured by our men in hand
to hand fighting.

While our engineer forces repaired the roads and constructed bridges in
the wake of our advancing lines, the enemy brought to that part of the
front new squadrons of air fighters which were sent over our lines for
the purpose of observation and interference with communications. They
continually bombed our supply depots and ammunition dumps.

After the crossing of the Ourcq the American advance reached the next
German line of resistance, which rested on two terminal strongholds. One
was in the Forêt de Nesles and the other was in the Bois de Meunière.

The fighting about these two strong points was particularly fierce. In
the Bois de Meunière and around the town of Cièrges, the German
resistance was most determined. About three hundred Jaegers held Hill
200, which was located in the centre of Cièrges Forest, just to the
south of the village of the same name. They were well provided with
machine guns and ammunition. They were under explicit orders to hold and
they did.

Our men finally captured the position at the point of the bayonet. Most
of its defenders fought to the death. The capture of the hill was the
signal for a renewal of our attacks against the seemingly impregnable
Meunière woods. Six times our advancing waves reached the German
positions in the southern edge of the woods and six times we were driven
back.

There were some American Indians in the ranks of our units attacking
there--there were lumber jacks and farmer boys and bookkeepers, and they
made heroic rushes against terrific barriers of hidden machine guns. But
after a day of gallant fighting they had been unable to progress.

Our efforts had by no means been exhausted. The following night our
artillery concentrated on the southern end of the woods and literally
turned it into an inferno with high explosive shells. Early in the
morning we moved to the attack again. Two of the Kaiser's most reputable
divisions, the 200th Jaegers and the 216th Reserve, occupied the wood.
The fighting in the wood was fierce and bloody, but it was more to the
liking of our men than the rushes across fire-swept fields. Our men
went to work with the bayonet. And for six hours they literally carved
their way through four kilometres of the forest. Before ten o'clock the
next morning, our lines lay to the north of the woods.

In consolidating the gains in the woods, our men surrounded in a small
clearing some three hundred of the enemy who refused to surrender.
American squads advanced with the bayonet from all sides. The Germans
were fighting for their lives. Only three remained to accept the
ignominy of capture.

Our forward progress continued and by August 4th the Germans were
withdrawing across the Vesle River. The immediate objective that
presented itself to the Americans was the important German supply depot
at Fismes. It was in and around Fismes that some of the bloodiest
fighting in the second battle of the Marne took place. The capture of
Fismes was the crowning achievement of one American division that so
distinguished itself as to be made the subject of a special report to
the French General Headquarters by the French army in which the
Americans fought. In part, the report read:

  "On Aug. 4th the infantry combats were localized with terrible fury.
  The outskirts of Fismes were solidly held by the Germans, where their
  advance groups were difficult to take. The Americans stormed them and
  reduced them with light mortars and thirty-sevens. They succeeded,
  though not without loss, and at the end of the day, thanks to this
  slow but sure tenacity, they were within one kilometre of Fismes and
  masters of Villes, Savoye and Chezelle Farm. All night long rains
  hindered their movements and rendered their following day's task more
  arduous. On their right the French had, by similar stages, conquered
  a series of woods and swamps of Meunière Woods, to the east of St.
  Gilles, and were on the plateau of Bonne Maison Farm. To the left
  another American unit had been able to advance upon the Vesle to the
  east of St. Thiébault.

  "On Aug. 5th the artillery prepared for the attack on Fismes by a
  bombardment, well regulated, and the final assault was launched. The
  Americans penetrated into the village and then began the mean task of
  clearing the last point of resistance. That evening this task was
  almost completed. We held all the northern part of the village as far
  as Rheims road, and patrols were sent into the northern end of the
  village. Some even succeeded in crossing the Vesle, but were satisfied
  with making a reconnaissance, as the Germans still occupied the right
  bank of the river in great strength. All that was left to be
  accomplished was to complete the mopping up of Fismes and the
  strengthening of our positions to withstand an enemy counter attack.

  "Such was the advance of one American division, which pushed the enemy
  forward from Roncheres on July 30th a distance of eighteen kilometres
  and crowned its successful advance with the capture of Fismes on Aug.
  5th."

The German line on the Vesle river fell shortly after the capture of
Fismes. The enemy was forced to fall back to his next natural line of
defence on the Aisne. Between the Vesle and the Aisne, the Americans
assisted the French in the application of such persistent pressure that
the enemy's stubborn resistance was overcome and in many places he was
forced to withdraw before he had time to destroy his depots of supply.

On August 9th, General Degoutte, commanding the Sixth French Army,
issued the following order:

  "Before the great offensive of July 18th, the American troops, forming
  part of the 6th French Army, distinguished themselves by clearing the
  'Brigade de Marine' Woods and the village of Vaux of the enemy and
  arresting his offensive on the Marne and at Fossoy.

  "Since then they have taken the most glorious part in the second
  battle of the Marne, rivalling the French troops in ardour and valour.

  "During twenty days of constant fighting they have freed numerous
  French villages and made, across a difficult country, an advance of
  forty kilometres, which has brought them to the Vesle.

  "Their glorious marches are marked by names which will shine in future
  in the military history of the United States: Torcy, Belleau, Plateau
  d'Etrepilly, Epieds, Le Charmel, l'Ourcq, Seringeset Nesles, Sergy, La
  Vesle and Fismes.

  "These young divisions, who saw fire for the first time, have shown
  themselves worthy of the old war traditions of the regular army. They
  have had the same burning desire to fight the Boche, the same
  discipline which sees that the order given by their commander is
  always executed, whatever the difficulties to be overcome and the
  sacrifices to be suffered.

  "The magnificent results obtained are due to the energy and the skill
  of the commanders, to the bravery of the soldiers.

  "I am proud to have commanded such troops."

       *       *       *       *       *

Through the month of August and up to the first days of September, the
Americans participated in the important operations to the north of
Soissons, where on August 29th they played a big part in the capture of
the Juvigny Plateau.

In this fighting, which was marked by the desperate resistance of the
enemy, the Americans were incorporated in the 10th French Army under the
command of General Mangin. Violent counter attacks by German shock
divisions failed to stem the persistent advances of our forces.

A large hill to the north of Juvigny constituted a key and supporting
position for the enemy. In spite of the large number of machine guns
concealed on its slopes, the Americans succeeded in establishing a line
between the hill and the town. At the same time the American line
extended itself around the other side of the hill. With the consummation
of this enveloping movement, the hill was taken by assault.

On Labor Day, September 2nd, after bitterly engaging four German
divisions for five days, the Americans advanced their lines to
Terny-Sorny and the road running between Soissons and St. Quentin. This
achievement, which was accomplished by driving the Germans back a depth
of four miles on a two mile front, gave our forces a good position on
the important plateau running to the north of the Aisne.

Our observation stations now commanded a view across the valley toward
the famous Chemin des Dames which at one time had been a part of the
Hindenburg line. Before the invasion of the German hordes, France
possessed no fairer countryside than the valley of the Aisne. But the
Germans, retreating, left behind them only wreckage and ashes and ruin.
The valley spread out before our lines was scarred with the shattered
remains of what had once been peaceful farming communities. To the
northwest there could be seen the spires above the city of Laon.

The American units which took part in this bitter fighting that had
continued without a day's cessation since July 18th, were mentioned
specifically in an order issued on August 27th by General Pershing. The
order read:

  "It fills me with pride to record in general orders a tribute to the
  service achievements of the First and Third Corps, comprising the
  First, Second, Third, Fourth, Twenty-sixth, Twenty-eighth,
  Thirty-second and Forty-second Divisions of the American Expeditionary
  Forces.

  "You came to the battlefield at a crucial hour for the Allied cause.
  For almost four years the most formidable army the world has yet seen
  had pressed its invasion of France and stood threatening its capital.
  At no time has that army been more powerful and menacing than when, on
  July 15th, it struck again to destroy in one great battle the brave
  men opposed to it and to enforce its brutal will upon the world and
  civilisation.

  "Three days later in conjunction with our Allies you counter-attacked.
  The Allied armies gained a brilliant victory that marks the turning
  point of the war. You did more than to give the Allies the support to
  which, as a nation, our faith was pledged. You proved that our
  altruism, our pacific spirit, and our sense of justice have not
  blunted our virility or our courage.

  "You have shown that American initiative and energy are as fit for the
  tasks of war as for the pursuits of peace. You have justly won
  unstinted praise from our Allies and the eternal gratitude of our
  countrymen.

  "We have paid for our successes with the lives of many of our brave
  comrades. We shall cherish their memory always and claim for our
  history and literature their bravery, achievement and sacrifice.

  "This order will be read to all organisations at the first assembly
  formations following its receipt.

                                                 "PERSHING."

       *       *       *       *       *

August 10th marked a milestone in the military effort of the United
States. On that day the organisation was completed of the First American
Field Army. I have tried to show in this record how we began the
organisation of our forces overseas. Our first troops to reach France
were associated in small units with the French. Soon our regiments began
to reach the front under French Division Commanders. Then with the
formation of American divisions, we went into the line under French
corps commanders. Later still, American corps operated under French Army
Commanders. Finally, our forces augmented by additional divisions and
corps were organised into the First American Field Army.

Through these various stages of development, our forces had grown until
on August 10th they had reached the stage where they became practically
as independent an organisation as the British armies under Field Marshal
Sir Douglas Haig and the French armies under General Petain. From now on
the American Army was to be on a par with the French Army and the
British Army, all three of them under the sole direction of the Allied
Generalissimo, Marshal Ferdinand Foch.

The personnel of this, the greatest single army that ever fought beneath
the Stars and Stripes, is reproduced in the appendix. It might not be
amiss to point out that an American division numbers thirty thousand
men and that an American corps consists of six divisions and auxiliary
troops, such as air squadrons, tank sections, and heavy artillery, which
bring the strength of an American army corps to between 225,000 and
250,000 men. By the 1st of September, the United States of America had
five such army corps in the field, martialling a strength of about one
and one-half million bayonets. General Pershing was in command of this
group of armies which comprised the First American Field Army.

It was from these forces that General Pershing selected the strong units
which he personally commanded in the first major operation of the First
American Field Army as an independent unit in France. That operation was
the beginning of the Pershing push toward the Rhine--it was the Battle
of St. Mihiel.

It was a great achievement. It signalised the full development of our
forces from small emergency units that had reached the front less than a
year before, to the now powerful group of armies, fighting under their
own flag, their own generals, and their own staffs.

The important material results of the Battle of St. Mihiel are most
susceptible to civilian as well as military comprehension. The St.
Mihiel salient had long constituted a pet threat of the enemy. The
Germans called it a dagger pointed at the heart of eastern France. For
three years the enemy occupying it had successfully resisted all efforts
of the Allies to oust them.

The salient was shaped like a triangle. The apex of the triangle--the
point of the dagger--thrusting southward, rested on the town of St.
Mihiel, on the river Meuse. The western flank of the triangle extended
northward from St. Mihiel to points beyond Verdun. The eastern flank of
the triangle extended in a northeasterly direction toward
Pont-à-Mousson. It was the strongest position held by the Germans in
Lorraine--if not on the entire front.

The geographical formation of the salient was an invitation for the
application of a pincers operation. The point of leverage of the
opposing jaws of the pincers was, most naturally, the apex of the
triangle at St. Mihiel.

One claw of the pincers--a claw some eight miles thick, bit into the
east side of the salient near Pont-à-Mousson on the west bank of the
Moselle River. The other claw of the pincers was about eight miles thick
and it bit into the western flank of the salient in the vicinity of the
little town of Haudiomont, on the heights of the Meuse and just a little
distance to the east of the Meuse River.

The distance across that part of the salient through which the pincer's
claws were biting was about thirty miles, and the area which would be
included in the bite would be almost a hundred and seventy-five square
miles. This, indeed, was a major operation.

The battle began at one o'clock on the morning of September 12th, when
the concentrated ordnance of the heaviest American artillery in France
opened a preparatory fire of unprecedented intensity.

At five o'clock in the dim dawn of that September morning, our infantry
waves leaped from their trenches and moved forward to the assault. The
claw of the pincers on the eastern flank of the salient began to bite
in.

One hour later the claw of the pincers on the western flank of the
salient began to move forward.

On the east, our men went forward on the run over ground that we had
looked upon with envious eyes from the day that the first American
troops reached the front. Before noon we had taken the villages of
Lahayville, St. Baussant, Vilcey and the Bois de Mortmare and we were
still advancing. By nightfall, our lines were still on the move beyond
Essey and we were holding the important town of Thiaucourt and claimed
Villers sur Penny for our own.

The seemingly impregnable fortress of Mont Sec had been surrounded, our
tanks had cleared the way through Pannes, we had taken Nonsard and the
towns of Woinville and Buxières had fallen into our hands.

On the west side of the salient the day had gone equally well for us.
The western claw of the pincers had pushed due east through the towns of
Spada and Lavigneville. Our men had swept on in the night through
Chaillon, we had taken St. Remy and had cleared the Forêt de Montagne.
By midnight their advanced patrols had reached the western part of the
town of Vigneulles. In the meantime, our forces on the eastern side of
the salient were pushing westward toward this same town of Vigneulles.
At three o'clock in the morning the forces from the east were occupying
the eastern part of the town. The pincers had closed; the St. Mihiel
salient had been pinched off.

Our forces actually met at nine o'clock on the morning of September
13th. The junction was made at the town of Heudicourt to the south of
Vigneulles. We had pocketed all of the German forces to the south of
that town. Our centre had moved forward at nine o'clock the night before
and occupied St. Mihiel on the heels of the retreating Germans. But the
withdrawal was too late. Large numbers of them found themselves
completely surrounded in the forests between St. Mihiel on the south and
Heudicourt on the north.

We closed in during the afternoon and started to open the prize
package. Located in the area, encircled by our troops, was the Bois de
Versel, the Bois de Gaumont and the Bois de Woeuvre. Each one of these
little forests gave up its quota of prisoners, while much material and
rich booty of war fell into our hands.

The principal avenue that had been opened for the Germans to make a
possible withdrawal led through Vigneulles and before our pincers had
completely closed, the fleeing enemy had poured out through that gap at
the rate of several thousand an hour. The roads were blocked for miles
with their transportation, and when the American artillery turned its
attention to these thoroughfares, crowded with confused Germans, the
slaughter was terrific. For days after the battle our sanitation squads
were busy at their grewsome work.

In conception and execution the entire operation had been perfect.
Confusion had been visited upon the method-loving enemy from the
beginning. By reason of the disruption of their intercommunications,
faulty liaison had resulted and division had called to division in vain
for assistance, not knowing at the time that all of them were in equally
desperate straits. The enemy fought hard but to no purpose.

One entire regiment with its commander and his staff was captured. With
both flanks exposed, it had suddenly been confronted by Americans on
four sides. The surrender was so complete that the German commander
requested that his roll should be called in order to ascertain the
extent of his losses. When this was done, every one was accounted for
except one officer and one private.

As his command was so embarrassingly complete, the German commander
asked permission to march it off in whatever direction desired by his
captors. The request was granted, and there followed the somewhat
amusing spectacle of an entire German regiment, without arms, marching
off the battlefield under their own officers. The captured regiment was
escorted to the rear by mounted American guards, who smilingly and
leisurely rode their horses cowboy fashion as they herded their captives
back to the pens.

Tons upon tons of ammunition fell into our hands in the woods. At one
place twenty-two railroad cars loaded with large calibre ammunition had
to be abandoned when an American shell had torn up the track to the
north of them. But if the Germans had been unable to take with them
their equipment, they had succeeded in driving ahead of them on the
retreat almost all of the French male civilians between sixteen and
forty-five years that had been used as German slaves for more than four
years.

The Americans were welcomed as deliverers by those French civilians that
remained in the town. They were found to be almost entirely ignorant of
the most commonly known historical events of the war. Secretary of War
Baker and Generals Pershing and Petain visited the town of St. Mihiel a
few hours after it was captured. They were honoured with a spontaneous
demonstration by the girls and aged women, who crowded about them to
express thanks and pay homage for deliverance.

One of our bands began to play the "Marseillaise" and the old French
civilians who, under German domination, had not heard the national
anthem for four long years, broke down and wept. The mayor of the town
told how the Germans had robbed it of millions of francs. First they had
demanded and received one million five hundred thousand francs and later
they collected five hundred thousand more in three instalments. In
addition to these robberies, they had taken by "requisition" all the
furniture and mattresses and civilian comforts that they could find.
They took what they wanted and usually destroyed the rest. They had
stripped the towns of all metal utensils, bells, statues, and water
pipes.

The St. Mihiel salient thus went out of existence. The entire point in
the blade of the dagger that had been thrust at the heart of France had
been bitten off. Verdun with its rows upon rows of sacred dead was now
liberated from the threat of envelopment from the right. The Allies were
in possession of the dominating heights of the Meuse. The railroads
connecting Commercy with Vigneulles, Thiaucourt and St. Mihiel were in
our hands. Our lines had advanced close to that key of victory, the
Briey iron basin to the north, and the German fortress of Metz lay under
American guns.

The battle only lasted twenty-seven hours. In that space of time, a
German force estimated at one hundred thousand had been vanquished, if
not literally cut to pieces, American soldiers had wrested a hundred and
fifty square miles of territory away from the Germans, captured fifteen
thousand officers and men and hundreds of guns. General Pershing on
September 14th made the following report:

  "The dash and vigour of our troops, and of the valiant French
  divisions which fought shoulder to shoulder with them, is shown by the
  fact that the forces attacking on both faces of the salient effected a
  junction and secured the result desired within twenty-seven hours.

  "Besides liberating more than 150 square miles of territory and taking
  15,000 prisoners, we have captured a mass of material. Over 100 guns
  of all calibres and hundreds of machine guns and trench mortars have
  been taken.

  "In spite of the fact that the enemy during his retreat burned large
  stores, a partial examination of the battlefield shows that great
  quantities of ammunition, telegraph material, railroad material,
  rolling stock, clothing, and equipment have been abandoned. Further
  evidence of the haste with which the enemy retreated is found in the
  uninjured bridges which he left behind.

  "French pursuit, bombing and reconnaissance units, and British and
  Italian bombing units divided with our own air service the control of
  the air, and contributed materially to the successes of the operation."

And while this great battle was in progress, the Allied lines were
advancing everywhere. In Flanders, in Picardy, on the Marne, in
Champagne, in Lorraine, in Alsace, and in the Balkans the frontier of
freedom was moving forward.

Surely the tide had turned. And surely it had been America's God-given
opportunity to play the big part she did play. The German was now on the
run. Suspicious whisperings of peace began to be heard in neutral
countries. They had a decided German accent. Germany saw defeat staring
her in the face and now, having failed to win in the field, she sought
to win by a bluff at the peace table.

The mailed fist having failed, Germany now resorted to cunning. The
mailed fist was now an open palm that itched to press in brotherhood the
hands of the Allies. But it was the same fist that struck down the peace
of the world in 1914. It was the same Germany that had ravished and
outraged Belgium. It was the same Germany that had tried to murder
France. It was the same Germany that had covered America with her net of
spies and had sought to bring war to our borders with Mexico and Japan.
It was the same Germany that had ruthlessly destroyed the lives of women
and children, American citizens, non-combatants, riding the free seas
under the protection of the Stars and Stripes. It was the same Germany
that had drugged Russia with her corrupting propaganda and had throttled
the voice of Russian democracy. This Germany, this unrepentant
Germany--this unpunished Germany, launched her drive for peace.

Germany was willing to make any concessions to bring about negotiations
that would save her from a defeat in the field. There was one thing,
however, that Germany wanted to save from the ruin she had brought down
upon herself. That thing was the German army and its strong auxiliary,
the German navy. Neither one of them had been destroyed. The army was in
general retreat and the navy was locked up in the Baltic, but both of
them remained in existence as menaces to the future peace of the world.
With these two forces of might, Germany could have given up her booty of
war, offered reparation for her transgressions and drawn back behind the
Rhine to await the coming of another _Der Tag_ when she could send them
once more crashing across friendly borders and cruising the seven seas
on missions of piracy.

Germany was in the position of a bully, who without provocation and
without warning had struck down from behind a man who had not been
prepared to defend himself. The victim's movements had been impeded by a
heavy overcoat. He had been utterly and entirely unprepared for the
onslaught. The bully had struck him with a club and had robbed him.

The unprepared man had tried to free himself from the overcoat of
pacifism that he had worn so long in safety and in kindliness to his
fellows. The bully, taking advantage of his handicap, had beaten him
brutally. At last the unprepared man had freed himself from the
overcoat and then stood ready not only to defend himself, but to
administer deserved punishment. Then the bully had said:

"Now, wait just a minute. Let's talk this thing over and see if we can't
settle it before I get hurt."

The bully's pockets bulge with the loot he has taken from the man. The
victim's face and head are swollen and bloody and yet the bully invites
him to sit down to a table to discuss the hold-up, the assault, and the
terms of which the loot and the loot only will be returned. The bully
takes it for granted that he is to go unpunished and, more important
still, is to retain the club that he might decide to use again.

The rule of common sense that deals with individuals should be the same
rule that applies to the affairs of nations. No municipal law anywhere
in the world gives countenance to a compromise with a criminal.
International law could be no less moral than municipal law. Prussian
militarism made the world unsafe for Democracy, and for that reason, on
April 6th, 1917, the United States entered the war.

We wanted a decent world in which to live. And the existence of the
Prussian army and its conscienceless masters was incompatible with the
free and peaceful life of the world. We entered the war for an ideal.
That ideal was in the balance when Germany made her 1918 drive for
peace.

Our army in France knew that if peace came with an unwhipped Prussian
army in existence, the world would be just as unsafe for Democracy as it
had ever been. Our army in France wanted no compromise that would leave
Germany in possession of the instruments that had made possible her
crimes against the world. Every man that had shed blood, every man that
had paid the final price, every woman that had shed tears, every
cherished ideal of our one hundred and forty years of national life,
would have been sacrificed in vain, if we had condoned Germany's high
crimes against civilisation and had made a compromise with the criminal.

Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, spokesman of the Allied
world, sounded the true American note when, in his reply to the
insincere German peace proposals, he referred the German Government to
Marshal Foch, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied armies. War by the sword
was to bring peace by the sword.

And as I write these lines in the last days of October, 1918,
unconditional surrender is the song of the dove of peace perched on our
bayonets as we march into the dawn of victory.

       *       *       *       *       *



APPENDIX

PERSONNEL OF THE AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES IN FRANCE


                           =1ST ARMY CORPS=

Major Gen. Hunter Liggett, commanding.

1st and 2nd Division, Regular Army; 26th, (New England), 32d, (Michigan
and Wisconsin), 41st, (Washington, Oregon, North and South Dakota,
Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Minnesota), and 42d
(_Rainbow_, troops from twenty-six States) Divisions, National Guard.

1ST DIVISION--Major Gen. Charles P. Summerall, commanding; Lieut. Col.
Campbell King, Chief of Staff; Major H. K. Loughry, Adjutant General.

1ST BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Major John L. Hines; 16th and 18th Regiments; 2d
Machine Gun Battalion.

2D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Major Gen. Beaumont B. Buck; 26th and 28th
Regiments; 3d Machine Gun Battalion.

1ST BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--(Commanding officer not announced); 5th,
6th, and 7th Regiments; 1st Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--1st Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--2nd Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--1st Machine Gun Battalion.


2ND DIVISION (U. S. M. C.)--Brig. Gen. John E. Le Jeune, commanding;
Brig. Gen. Preston Brown, Chief of Staff.

3RD BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Hanson E. Ely; 9th and 23rd Regiments;
5th Machine Gun Battalion.

4TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY (MARINES)--Brig. Gen. John E. Le Jeune; 5th and
6th Regiments; 6th Machine Gun Battalion.

2D BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig Gen. A. J. Bowley; 12th, 15th, and
17th Regiments; 2d Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--2d Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--1st Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--2d Division Headquarters Troops; 4th Machine Gun
Battalion.

26TH DIVISION--Major Gen. Clarence R. Edwards, commanding; Lieut. Col.
Cassius M. Dowell, Chief of Staff; Major Charles A. Stevens, Adjutant
General.

51ST BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. George H. Shelton; 101st and 102d
Regiments; 102d Machine Gun Battalion.

52D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. C. H. Cole; 103d and 104th Regiments;
103d Machine Gun Battalion.

51ST BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. D. E. Aultman; 101st Trench
Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--101st Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--101st Field Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--26th Headquarters Troop; 101st Machine Gun Battalion.


32ND DIVISION--Major Gen. W. G. Haan, commanding; Lieut. Col. Allen L.
Briggs, Chief of Staff; Major John H. Howard, Adjutant General.

63D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. William D. Connor; 125th and 126th
Regiments; 120th Machine Gun Battalion.

64TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. E. B. Winans; 127th and 128th
Regiments; 121st Machine Gun Battalion.

57TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. G. LeRoy Irwin; 119th, 120th
and 121st Regiments; 107th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--107th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--107th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--32d Headquarters Troops; 119th Machine Gun Battalion.


41ST DIVISION (_Sunset_)--Major. Gen. Robert Alexander, commanding;
Colonel Harry H. Tebbetts, Chief of Staff; Major Herbert H. White,
Adjutant General.

81ST BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Wilson B. Burt; 161st and 162nd
Regiments; 147th Machine Gun Battalion.

82D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Edward Vollrath; 163rd and 164th
Regiments; 148th Machine Gun Battalion.

66TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--(Commanding officer not announced);
146th, 147th, and 148th Regiments; 116th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--116th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--116th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--41st Division Headquarters Troop; 146th Machine Gun
Battalion.


42D DIVISION (_Rainbow_)--Major Gen. C. T. Menoher, commanding; (Chief
of Staff not announced); Major Walter E. Powers, Adjutant General.

83D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. M. Lenihan; 165th and 166th Regiments;
150th Machine Gun Battalion.

84TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. R. A. Brown; 167th and 168th
Regiments; 151st Machine Gun Battalion.

67TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. G. C. Gatley; 149th, 150th and
151st Regiments; 117th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--117th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--117th Field Signal Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--42d Division Headquarters Troop; 149th Machine Gun
Battalion.


                           =2ND ARMY CORPS=

Major Gen. Robert Lee Bullard, Commanding.

4th Division, Regular Army; 28th, (Pennsylvania,) 30th, (Tennessee,
North and South Carolina, and District of Columbia), and 36th (Missouri
and Kansas) Divisions, National Guard; 77th (New York) and 82d (Georgia,
Alabama, and Florida) Divisions, National Army.

4TH DIVISION--Major Gen. George H. Cameron, commanding; Lieut. Col.
Christian A. Bach, Chief of Staff; Major Jesse D. Elliott, Adjutant
General.

7TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. B. A. Poore; 39th and 47th Regiments;
11th Machine Gun Battalion.

8TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. E. E. Booth; 58th and 59th Regiments;
12th Machine Gun Battalion.

4TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. E. B. Babbitt; 13th, 16th and
77th Regiments; 4th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--4th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS---8th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--4th Division Headquarters Troop; 10th Machine Gun
Battalion.


28TH DIVISION--Major Gen. C. H. Muir, commanding; (Chief of Staff not
announced); Lieut. Col. David J. Davis, Adjutant General.

55TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. T. W. Darrah; 109th and 110th
Regiments; 108th Machine Gun Battalion.

56TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Major Gen. William Weigel; 111th and 112th
Regiments; 109th Machine Gun Battalion.

53RD BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. W. G. Price, 107th, 108th,
and 109th Regiments; 103rd Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--103d Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--103d Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--28th Division Headquarters Troop; 107th Machine Gun
Battalion.

30TH DIVISION (_Wild Cat_)--Major Gen. Edward M. Lewis, commanding;
Lieut. Col. Robert B. McBride, Chief of Staff; Lieut. Col. Francis B.
Hinkle, Adjutant General.

59TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Tyson; 117th and 118th
Regiments; 114th Machine Gun Battalion.

60TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Samuel L. Faison; 119th and 120th
Regiments; 115th Machine Gun Battalion.

55TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--(Commanding officer not announced);
113th, 114th and 115th Regiments; 105th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--105th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--165th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--30th Division Headquarters Troop; 113th Machine Gun
Battalion.


35TH DIVISION--Major Gen. Peter E. Traub, commanding; Colonel Robert
McCleave, Chief of Staff; Major J. M. Hobson, Adjutant General.

69TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Nathaniel McClure; 137th and 138th
Regiments; 129th Machine Gun Battalion.

70TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Charles I. Martin; 139th and 140th
Regiments; 130th Machine Gun Battalion.

60TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. L. G. Berry; 128th, 129th, and
130th Regiments; 110th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--110th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--35th Division Headquarters Troop; 128th Machine Gun
Battalion.


77TH DIVISION (Upton)--Major Gen. George B. Duncan, commanding; (Chief
of Staff not announced); Major W. N. Haskell, Adjutant General.

153D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Edward Wittenmeyer; 205th and 306th
Regiments; 305th Machine Gun Battalion.

154TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Evan M. Johnson; 307th and 308th
Regiments; 306th Machine Gun Battalion.

152D BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Reeves; 304th, 305th
and 306th Regiments; 302d Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--302d Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--302d Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--77th Division Headquarters Troop; 304th Machine Gun
Battalion.


82D DIVISION--Major Gen. W. P. Burnham, commanding; Lieut. Col. Royden
E. Beebe, Chief of Staff; Lieut. Col. John R. Thomas, Adjutant General.

163D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Marcus D. Cronin; 325th and 326th
Regiments; 320th Machine Gun Battalion.

164TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Julian R. Lindsay; 327th and 328th
Regiments; 321st Machine Gun Battalion.

157TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. Charles D. Rhodes; 319th,
320th and 321st Regiments; 307th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--307th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--307th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--319th Machine Gun Battalion.


                           =3D ARMY CORPS=

Major Gen. William M. Wright, commanding.

3d and 5th Divisions, Regular Army; 27th (New York) and 33d (Illinois)
Divisions, National Guard; 78th (Delaware and New York) and 80th (New
Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and District of Columbia)
Divisions, National Army.


3D DIVISION--Major Gen. Joseph T. Dickman, commanding; Colonel Robert H.
Kelton, Chief of Staff; Captain Frank L. Purndon, Adjutant General.

5TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. F. W. Sladen; 4th and 7th Regiments;
8th Machine Gun Battalion.

8TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--(Commanding officer not announced); 30th and 38th
Regiments; 9th Machine Gun Battalion.

3D BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. W. M. Cruikshank; 10th, 76th and
18th Regiments; 3d Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--6th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--5th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--3d Division Headquarters Troop; 7th Machine Gun
Battalion.


5TH DIVISION--Major Gen. John E. McMahon, commanding; Colonel Ralph E.
Ingram, Chief of Staff; Major David P. Wood, Adjutant General.

9TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. J. C. Castner; 60th and 61st
Regiments; 14th Machine Gun Battalion.

10TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Major Gen. W. H. Gordon; 6th and 11th Regiments;
15th Machine Gun Battalion.

5TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. C. A. F. Flagler; 19th, 20th,
and 21st Regiments; 5th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--7th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--9th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--5th Division Headquarters Troop; 13th Machine Gun
Battalion.


27TH DIVISION (New York)--Major Gen. J. F. O'Ryan, commanding; Lieut.
Col. Stanley H. Ford, Chief of Staff; Lieut. Col. Frank W. Ward,
Adjutant General.

53D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Alfred W. Bjornstad; 105th and 106th
Regiments; 105th Machine Gun Battalion.

54TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Palmer E. Pierce; 107th and 108th
Regiments; 106th Machine Gun Battalion.

52ND BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. George A. Wingate; 104th,
105th and 106th Regiments; 102d Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--102d Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--102d Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--27th Division Headquarters Troop; 104th Machine Gun
Battalion.


33D DIVISION--Major Gen. George Bell, Jr., commanding; Colonel William
K. Naylot, Chief of Staff; (Adjutant General not announced).

65TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Edward L. King; 129th and 130th
Regiments; 123d Machine Gun Battalion.

66TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Paul A. Wolff; 131st and 132nd
Regiments; 124th Machine Gun Battalion.

58TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. James A. Shipton; 122d, 123d
and 124th Regiments; 108th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--108th Battalion.

SIGNAL TROOPS--108th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--33d Division Headquarters Troop; 112th Machine Gun
Battalion.


78TH DIVISION--Major Gen. James H. McRae, commanding; Lieut. Col. Harry
N. Cootes, Chief of Staff; Major William T. MacMill, Adjutant General.

155TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Mark L. Hersey; 309th and 310th
Regiments; 308th Machine Gun Battalion.

156TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. James T. Dean; 311th and 312th
Regiments; 309th Machine Gun Battalion.

153D BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. Clint C. Hearn; 307th, 308th
and 309th Regiments; 303d Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--303d Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--303d Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--78th Division Headquarters Troop; 307th Machine Gun
Battalion.


80TH DIVISION--Major Gen. Adelbert Cronkhite, commanding; Lieut. Col.
William H. Waldron, Chief of Staff; Major Steven C. Clark, Adjutant
General.

159TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. George H. Jamerson, 317th and 318th
Regiments; 314th Machine Gun Battalion.

160TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Lloyd M. Bratt; 319th and 320th
Regiments; 315th Machine Gun Battalion.

155TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. Gordon G. Heiner; 313th,
314th and 315th Regiments; 305th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--305th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--305th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--80th Division Headquarters Troop; 313th Machine Gun
Battalion.


                           =4TH ARMY CORPS=

Major Gen. George W. Read, commanding.

83d (Ohio and Pennsylvania), 89th (Kansas, Missouri South Dakota,
Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona), 90th (Texas and Oklahoma),
and 92d (negro troops) Divisions, National Army; 37th (Ohio) and 29th
(New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and District of Columbia)
Divisions, National Guard.


29TH DIVISION--Major Gen. C. G. Morton, commanding; Colonel George S.
Goodale, Chief of Staff; Major James A. Ulio, Adjutant General.

57TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Charles W. Barber; 113th and 114th
Regiments; 111th Machine Gun Battalion.

58TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. H. H. Bandholtz; 115th and 116th
Regiments; 112th Machine Gun Battalion.

54TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--(Commanding officer not announced) 110th,
111th and 112th Regiments; 104th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--104th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--104th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--29th Division Headquarters Troop; 110th Machine Gun
Battalion.


37TH DIVISION--Major Gen. C. S. Farnsworth, commanding; Lieut. Col. Dana
T. Merrill, Chief of Staff; Major Edward W. Wildrick, Adjutant General.

73RD BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. C. F. Zimmerman; 145th and 146th
Regiments; 135th Machine Gun Battalion.

74TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. W. P. Jackson; 147th and 148th
Regiments; 136th Machine Gun Battalion.

62D BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--(Commanding officer not announced); 134th,
135th and 136th Regiments; 112th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--112th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--112th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--37th Division Headquarters Troop; 134th Machine Gun
Battalion.


83RD DIVISION--Major Gen. E. F. Glenn, commanding; Lieut. Col. C. A.
Trott, Chief of Staff; Major James L. Cochran, Adjutant General.

165TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Ora E. Hunt; 329th and 330th
Regiments; 323d Machine Gun Battalion.

166TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Malin Craig; 331st and 332d
Regiments; 324th Machine Gun Battalion.

158TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. Adrian S. Fleming; 322d,
323d, and 324th Regiments; 308th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--308th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--308th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--83d Division Headquarters Troop; 322d Machine Gun
Battalion.


89TH DIVISION--Brig. Gen. Frank L. Winn, commanding; (Acting) Colonel C.
E. Kilbourne, Chief of Staff; Major Jerome G. Pillow, Adjutant General.

177TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Frank L. Winn; 353rd and 354th
Regiments; 341st Machine Gun Battalion.

178TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Thomas G. Hanson; 355th and 356th
Regiments; 342d Machine Gun Battalion.

164TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. Edward T. Donnelly; 340th,
341st and 342d Regiments; 314th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--314th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--314th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--89th Division Headquarters Troop; 340th Machine Gun
Battalion.


90TH DIVISION--Major Gen. Henry T. Allen, commanding; Colonel John J.
Kingman, Chief of Staff; Major Wyatt P. Selkirk, Adjutant General.

179TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. John T. O'Neill; 357th and 358th
Regiments; 344th Machine Gun Battalion.

180TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. W. H. Johnston; 359th and 360th
Regiments; 345th Machine Gun Battalion.

165TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. Francis C. Marshall; 343d,
344th, and 345th Regiments; 315th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--315th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--315th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--90th Division Headquarters Troop; 349th Machine Gun
Battalion.


92ND DIVISION--Major Gen. C. C. Ballou, commanding; Lieut. Col. Allen J.
Greer, Chief of Staff; Major Sherburne Whipple, Adjutant General.

183D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Malvern H. Barnum, 365th and 366th
Regiments; 350th Machine Gun Battalion.

184TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. W. A. Hay; 367th and 368th
Regiments; 351st Machine Gun Battalion.

167TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--(Commanding officer not announced);
349th, 350th and 351st Regiments; 317th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--317th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--317th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--92d Division Headquarters Troop; 349th Machine Gun
Battalion.


                           =5TH ARMY CORPS=

Major Gen. Omar Bundy, commanding.

6th Division, Regular Army; 36th (Texas and Oklahoma) Division, National
Guard; 75th (New England), 79th (Pennsylvania, Maryland and District of
Columbia), 85th (Michigan and Wisconsin), and 91st (Washington, Oregon,
Alaska, California, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming and Utah),
Divisions, National Army.


6TH DIVISION--Brig. Gen. James B. Erwin, commanding; Colonel James M.
Pickering, Chief of Staff; Lieut. Col. Robert S. Knox, Adjutant General.

11TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. W. R. Dashiell; 51st and 52d
Regiments; 17th Machine Gun Battalion.

12TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. J. B. Erwin; 53d and 54th Regiments;
18th Machine Gun Battalion.

6TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. E. A. Millar; 3rd, 11th, and
78th Regiments; 6th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--318th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--6th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--6th Division, Headquarters Troop; 16th Machine Gun
Battalion.


36TH DIVISION--Major Gen. W. R. Smith, commanding; Colonel E. J.
Williams, Chief of Staff; Major William R. Scott, Adjutant General.

71ST BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Henry Hutchings; 141st and 142d
Regiments; 132d Machine Gun Battalion.

72D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. John A. Hulen; 143d and 144th
Regiments; 133d Machine Gun Battalion.

61ST BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. John A. Stevens; 131st, 132d
and 133d Regiments, 111th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--111th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--111th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--36th Division Headquarters Troop; 131st Machine Gun
Battalion.


76TH DIVISION--Major Gen. Harry F. Hodges, commanding; (Chief of Staff
not announced); Major George M. Peek, Adjutant General.

151ST BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Frank M. Albright; 301st and 302d
Regiments; 303d Machine Gun Battalion.

152D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. F. D. Evans; 303d and 304th
Regiments; 303d Machine Gun Battalion.

151ST BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Major Gen. William S. McNair; 301st,
302d, and 303d Regiments; 301st Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--301st Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--301st Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--76th Division Headquarters Troop; 301st Machine Gun
Battalion.


79TH DIVISION--Major Gen. Joseph E. Kuhn, commanding; Colonel Tenny
Ross, Chief of Staff; Major Charles B. Moore, Adjutant General.

157TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. William L. Nicholson; 313th and
314th Regiments; 311th Machine Gun Battalion.

158TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--(Commanding officer not announced); 315th and
316th Regiments; 312th Machine Gun Battalion.

154TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. Andrew Hero, Jr., 310th,
311th and 312th Regiments; 304th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--304th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--304th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--79th Division Headquarters Troop; 310th Machine Gun
Battalion.


85TH DIVISION--Major Gen. C. W. Kennedy, commanding; Colonel Edgar T.
Collins, Chief of Staff; Lieut. Col. Clarence Lininger, Adjutant
General.

169TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Thomas B. Dugan; 337th and 338th
Regiments; 329th Machine Gun Battalion.

170TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--(Commanding officer not announced); 339th and
340th Regiments; 330th Machine Gun Battalion.

160TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. Guy M. Preston; 328th, 329th
and 330th Regiments; 310th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--310th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--310th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--85th Division Headquarters Troop; 328th Machine Gun
Battalion.


91ST DIVISION--Brig. Gen. F. H. Foltz, commanding; Colonel Herbert J.
Brees, Chief of Staff; Major Frederick W. Manley, Adjutant General.

181ST BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. John B. McDonald; 361st and 362d
Regiments; 347th Machine Gun Battalion.

182D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Frederick S. Foltz; 363d and 364th
Regiments; 348th Machine Gun Battalion.

166TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. Edward Burr; 346th, 347th and
348th Regiments; 316th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--316th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--316th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--91st Division Headquarters Troop; 346th Machine Gun
Battalion.


                        =UNASSIGNED TO CORPS=

81ST DIVISION--Major Gen. C. J. Bailey, commanding; Colonel Charles D.
Roberts, Chief of Staff; Major Arthur E. Ahrends, Adjutant General.

161ST BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. George W. McIver; 321st and 322nd
Regiments; 317th Machine Gun Battalion.

162D BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. Monroe McFarland; 323d and 324th
Regiments; 318th Machine Gun Battalion.

156TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--Brig. Gen. Andrew Moses; 316th, 317th
and 318th Regiments; 306th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--306th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--306th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--81st Division Headquarters Troop; 316th Machine Gun
Battalion.


93RD DIVISION--(Commander not announced); Major Lee S. Tillotson,
Adjutant General.

185TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--(Commanding officer not announced); 369th and
370th Regiments; 333d Machine Gun Battalion.

186TH BRIGADE, INFANTRY--Brig. Gen. George H. Harries; 371st and 372d
Regiments; 334th Machine Gun Battalion.

168TH BRIGADE, FIELD ARTILLERY--(Commanding officer not announced);
332d, 333d and 334th Regiments; 318th Trench Mortar Battery.

ENGINEER TROOPS--318th Regiment.

SIGNAL TROOPS--318th Battalion.

DIVISION UNITS--332d Machine Gun Battalion.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcribers Notes

1. Passages in italics are surrounded by _underscores_.

2. Passages in bold are indicated by =bold=.

3. Obvious punctuation errors and omissions in original text have been
   repaired.

4. Text spelling was common at the time of its publication.

5. ILLUSTRATIONS TEXT - Spelling, accent and hypenation corrections have
   been made to conform with text.

6. pg. xi (M. FLOYS GIBBONS) appears in the original text of the letter
   and has been corrected to M. FLOYD GIBBONS.

7. pg. xvii - Table of Contents - Chapter XVIII, pg. 328; the chapter
   correctly starts on Pg. 338 - this was corrected.

8. The word manoeuvre uses an oe ligatgure in the original text, and
   has be here represented as oe.

9. All possibly dialectic-phonetic phrases have been retained, including
   the following;

   pg. 31 - "stear" (steer), (we can stear with an oar), quote
   pg. 91 - "Sourkraut" (Sauerkraut), (German as Sourkraut), remembrance
   pg. 276 - "dimonds" (diamonds), (filled wid dimonds), quote
   pg. 370 - "Lueger" (Luger), (of the Lueger make), remembrance

10. 21 Spelling corrections: (x) shows no. of times word was already
    correctly spelled in text.

   pg. xv - "citatation" to "citation" (he received a citation)
   pg. 38 - "tatooed" to "tattooed" (tattooed arms of the)
   pg. 50 - "Harboard" to "Harbord" (4) (Brigadier General Harbord)
   pg. 73 - "practise" to "practice" (9), (began to practice)
   pg. 99 - "surpised" to "surprised" (I was not surprised)
   pg. 107 - "dicharge" to "discharge" (signal for the discharge)
   pg. 139 - "aves-vous" to "avez-vous" (3) (Aves-vous de chevaux?)
   pg. 143 - "Nicholas" to "Nicolas" (2) (Saint-Nicolas-du-Port)
   pg. 157 - "milimetre" to "millimetre" (2), (battery of 150 millimetre)
   pg. 208 - "Ukelele" to "Ukulele" (tending the Ukulele crop)
   pg. 222 - "perigrinations" to "peregrinations" (trace the
             peregrinations)
   pg. 248 - "harrassed" to "harassed" (harassed the road intersections)
   pg. 315 - "ricochetted" to "ricocheted" (had ricocheted upward)
   pg. 346 - "desposit" to "deposit" (would solemnly deposit)
   pg. 349 - "McDougal" to "MacDougal" (7), (MacDougal then began)
   pg. 365 - "turrent" to "turret" (the tank's turret)
   pg. 367 - "blow" to "blown" (trunks were blown high)
   pg. 376 - "barracades" to "barricades" (built barracades across)
   pg. 382 - "distingushed" to "distinguished" (that so distinguished
             itself)
   pg. 383 - "reconnaisance" to "reconnaissance" (2), (making a
             reconnaissance).
   pg. 391 - "knowng" to "knowing" (knowing at the time)


11. 17 hyphenation, Capitalization or diacritical accent corrections made
    as follows:

   pg. xi - "ARMEES" to "ARMÉES" (2) (DES ARMÉES DU NORD) - Fr.
   pg. 24 - "victrola" to "Victrola" ( a cabinet Victrola) - Trademark
   pg. 88 - "coryphees" to "coryphées" (male coryphées who hold) - Fr.
   pg. 88 - "under-sized" to "undersized" (2), (toughest set of
            undersized)
   pg. 111 - "zigzagging" to "zig-zagging" (3) (through zig-zagging
             avenues)
   pg. 183 - "hand grenades" to "hand-grenades" (2), (post with
             hand-grenades)
   pg. 194 - "counter-battery" to "counter battery" (3) (casual counter
             battery work)
   pg. 232 - "debris" to "débris" (4) (person in the débris)
   pg. 251 - "debris" to "débris (4) (the débris ceased falling)
   pg. 269 - "tricolour" to "tri-colour" (2) (of the French tri-colour)
   pg. 274 - "Americains" to "Américains" (les bons Américains) - Fr.
   pg. 307 - "Chatel" to "Châtel" (La Voie du Châtel) - Fr.
   pg. 367 - "dug-outs" to "dugouts" (10), (crushed the enemy dugouts)
   pg. 370 - "t'-ell" to "t'ell" (Allay veet t'ell outer here), as on pg.
             275.
   pg. 373 - "dug-out" to "dugout" (24), (in a dugout with)
   pg. 383 - "Thibault" to "Thiébault" (9) (east of St. Thiébault)
   pg. 385 - "country-side" to "countryside" (5), (no fairer countryside)


12. List of same word variations appearing in this text which have been
    retained.

   "cooperation" (1) and "co-operation" (1)
   "dockside" (1) and "dock-side" (1)
   "farmhouse" (1) and "farm-house" (1)
   "heartbroken" (1) and "heart-break" (1)
   "manpower" (1) and "man-power" (1)
   "midday" (1) and "mid-day" (1)
   "old-timer" (1), "old-timers" (2), "old timer" (3)
   "well kept" (1) and "well-kept" (1)


13. Printers error correction;

   pg 394: - two lines of text were exchanged as follows:

   original text;

                                 "It was the same Germany
   many that had covered America with her net of spies and
   that had tried to murder France. It was the same Ger-
   had sought to bring war to our borders with Mexico and"

   as corrected;

                                  "It was the same Germany
   that had tried to murder France. It was the same Germany
   that had covered America with her net of spies and
   had sought to bring war to our borders with Mexico and"





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